Thursday, October 31, 2019

Unmasked! -- Wrestlers who lost their masks in Toronto : Gary Will's TWH

Masked wrestlers in Toronto date back to the first appearance of the area's first Masked Marvel in 1932. More than 20 wrestlers lost their masks in the ring in Toronto:

36/06/18   The UnknownHal RumbergJim McMillen
38/09/29Masked MarvelTed CoxMayes McLain
41/11/27Masked WolfJohn GrandovichThe Angel
43/08/12Red ShadowLeo NumaWild Bill Longson
44/01/05The CzarDick LeverBobby Managoff
48/01/08The MummyPedro MartinezMasked Marvel
49/01/27Mr. XEarl McCreadyMasked Marvel & tag partners
49/02/17Masked MarvelLew ReynheerWhipper Billy Watson
51/02/22Masked ManagerMayes McLainWhipper Billy Watson
51/08/30Masked MarvelLou NewmanThe Zebra
51/11/29The ZebraGeorge BollasWhipper Billy Watson
52/12/26Masked MarvelFrank ValoisRed Mask
53/06/11Red MaskDutch HefnerLou Thesz
59/06/04Great BoloAl LovelockWhipper Billy Watson
61/05/25Black TerrorLaverne BaxterWhipper Billy Watson
64/01/16The DestroyerJoe ChristieJohnny Valentine
64/05/06Mighty Herculesnot identifiedJohnny Valentine
66/07/10Masked Yankee DandyBob StanleeWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
66/07/10Masked Yankee Doodle   Moose EvansWhipper Watson/Bulldog Brower
71/07/11Masked AssassinGuy MitchellThe Sheik
74/04/07The CrusaderDewey Robertson   The Sheik
80/05/25Masked Superstar #2John StuddBlackjack Mulligan
84/04/15AssassinRay HernandezJimmy Valiant

Four Masked Marvels were unmasked in Toronto, but the first one -- the one from 1932 -- never was. It was said to be Al Getzewich, who was unmasked later that year in Ottawa by Strangler Lewis.

The later versions of the Masked Marvel were sometimes called The Mask, as in the ad at right. That's for the August 30, 1951 show where Zebra unmasked The Mask and revealed him to be Vancouver's Lou Newman.

The Mighty Hercules from 1964 was said to be Bobby Graham in the papers, but he was the only one who was not formally identified after having his mask removed.

-by Gary Will 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Top Drawing Matches 1978-1984

In continuation of Gary Will's Top-drawing-matches-year-by-year-1929-1977

We get a lot of inquiries about attendance. In Toronto there were eras when attendance looked to be honestly reported by the office or MLG* In others it appears the reporter doing the write-up either estimated or went by what he was told by the office, and other times when there were no figures reported at all.
*Maple Leaf Gardens as a whole was covered in different eras breaking down attendance for different sports and events.

Those times when it was reported we could assume they were mostly correct or close, especially if we were there. Still there were a lot of 10,000 and 12,000 and 15,000 even type numbers not reflective of an actual attendance figure.

From what was reported- and what I have available -the following were the best drawing cards of each year 1978-1984. Some were reported in the paper, others in the bulletins. If you can add or correct please do. MLG unless noted.

02/05 1978 Att: 11,000
AWA TITLE: Nick Bockwinkel W Chief Jay Strongbow
Angelo Mosca WDQ Chief Peter Maivia
Ken Patera DCOR Dusty Rhodes
The Crusaders W Chris Tolos/Dan Johnston
Mil Mascaras WP Terry Yorkston
Stan Stasiak D Waldo Von Erich
Sweet Daddy Siki D The Wildman
Butcher Vachon D Duncan MacTavish
Lord Alfred Hayes WP Steve Bolus

12/30 1979 Att: 14,000+
WWWF TITLE: Bob Backlund WP Pat Patterson
Jimmy Snuka/Ray Stevens W Ric Flair/Dewey Robertson
Andre the Giant W Destroyer/Brute Bernard
Johnny Weaver WSleep Frank Monte
Billy Red Lyons WP John Bonello
Sweet Daddy Siki WP John Forsythe

02/10 1980 Att: 16,973
CANADIAN TITLE: Dewey Robertson W Destroyer
US TITLE: Jimmy Snuka LDQ Ric Flair
TEXAS STREET FIGHT: Blackjack Mulligan W Big John Studd
Pedro Morales W Brute Bernard
Blue Demons W Klondike Bill/Nick DeCarlo
Chris Tolos W Ricky Johnson

11/15/1981 Att: 16,000 [50th Anniversary Show]
NWA TITLE: Ric Flair W Harley Race
Andre the Giant DDQ Killer Kahn
CANADIAN TITLE: John Studd LCOR Angelo Mosca
TV TITLE: Outlaw Ron Bass W Mike Miller
Johnny Weaver W Charlie Fulton
Tony Parisi/Mike Davis W Doug Vines/Izzy Slapowitz

08/22 1982 Att: 15,119 
WWF TITLE, STEEL CAGE: Bobby Backlund W Jimmy Snuka
Andre the Giant WP Big John Studd
MID-ATLANTIC TAG TEAM TITLE, 2/3 FALLS: Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Pvt. Kernodle/Pvt. Nelson to win title
Paul Jones W Mysterious Ninja
Johnny Weaver W Alec Girard
Tony Parisi WP Ken Timbs

07/10 1983 Att: 20,000 + [Night of Champions @ Exhibition Stadium}
NWA TITLE: Harley Race WDQ Ric Flair
CANADIAN TITLE: Angelo Mosca W One Man Gang
US TITLE: Greg Valentine DCOR Wahoo McDaniel
TV TITLE: Great Kabuki W Jimmy Valiant
NWA TAG TEAM TITLE: Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood W Dory Funk Jr/Jake Roberts
WOMEN'S TITLE: Fabulous Moolah W Princess Victoria
Johnny Weaver/Mike Rotundo W Alec Girard/Tim Gerrard
Sgt. Jacques Goulet/Kelly Kiniski W Bob Marcus/Joe Marcus
Nick DeCarlo/Billy Ryan W The Executioner/Mike Armstrong
* few different attendances reported 14,000-20,000

02/12 1984 Att: 17,700 
NWA TITLE:STEEL CAGE; Ric Flair W Harley Race
Jimmy Valiant/Dusty Rhodes WCOR Assassins
Terry Kay/Rudy Kay W Johnny Weaver/Billy Red Lyons
NORTH AMERICAN TITLE: Leo Burke W Vinny Valentino
Buddy Hart W J.J. Dillon
Swede Hanson W John Bonello
Kurt Von Hess D Joe Marcus

July 1984 marks the end of the NWA days in Toronto. The Feb 12 1984 card still held the top spot through the year.

In July 1985 they hit 18,000 at MLG for the first time in 22 years with a Hulk Hogan vs John Studd main, pretty much full to the rafters. We may look at the WWF years in a future post.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

MLG Footage - January 17, 1957

Thanks to Jon Boucher  Twitter @jon_boucher who scored a kinescope print reel on e-bay and converted it for all fans to share !

Billy Red Lyons vs Baron Gattoni
Bill & Ed Miller vs Pat Flanagan & Ken Kenneth
Edouard Carpentier vs Steve Stanlee
The tag bout in the middle and the main are not included.

Note from Roger Baker
      Thanks for the wonderful wrestling memorabilia that took place at M.L.G. so long ago, I remember all of the participants. Phil Lisner, refs Bert Maxwell, Cliff Worthy, Bunny Dunlop,and old friend Joe Gollub. How I remember sitting at times with announcer Jerry Hiff at the ring side table, however always keeping my eyes on what was going on.

As for the wrestlers on this card, Carpentier, Billy Red Lyons, Baron Gattoni who I saw previously on TV from Buffalo, Ed and Bill Miller, Steve Stanlee, our own mule kicking Pat Flanagan.

I may very well have been in attendance for this show ,not sure. Was probably a ticket holding fan, possibly a year away from becoming a roaming wrestling reporter.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Memories of Toronto with Roger Baker; Tex McKenzie

We are very fortunate to have Roger Baker contributing his vast knowledge and memories of Toronto wrestling to this site.  
This time, memories of Tex McKenzie ! 

Tex McKenzie at MLG 

'That Tex he's always got a lot of stories to bend an ear to, me thinks it's mostly his imagination' mused Scottish wrestling star Andy Robin.

Robin was correct on that call. This wrestling photographer spent some time with the happy-go- lucky McKenzie back in the mid 1960's, at this time he was making regular appearances in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Big Tex Mckenzie sending out some postcards in Toronto  

Tex was a fan favorite, and  he would enter the ring waving his huge ''Stetson'' cowboy hat to the cheering fans in attendance.

I made a point to introduce myself to the big guy, and as a result Tex and I got along very well, Several times we went to different arenas were he was appearing, and it was the same enthusiastic response that Tex would receive whenever the ring side announcers would introduce the tall smiling wrestler to the crowd.

Chris Tolos braces for a big knee lift. Johnny Barend in background

Now to go back to Andy Robin's comment about Tex always having another story to tell. Yes it was true. McKenzie was an avid sailor, and he could go on for lengthy periods, expounding on his past sailing experience's, as well as other destinations that would follow after he hung up his wrestling boots.

Another of big Tex's pleasures and one that he often would bring up in conversation was his love of fresh seafood, I was driving with Tex from Toronto, to Hamilton On. were he was to appear that night in a six man tag match, he would partner with Andy Robin and Johnny Barend against Bulldog Brower and the Tolos Brothers John and Chris.

Mackenzie rams Chris Tolos in Hamilton Forum match

On the way back to Toronto Tex and myself made plans to go one of Toronto's best seafood restaurants ''The Town and Country Buffet'' this seafood lovers dream was situated on the West side of Jarvis st. just north of Dundas street east.

All you can eat cracked crab was the seafood special, and this feature along with great service were the hallmarks of this great Toronto restaurant.

Regards , Roger

Tex digs into his meal!

Tex and a very sharp dressed Roger Baker dine at the 'Town & Country Buffet' Toronto 

Toronto's Longest Runs -- The 25-Year Club: Gary Will's TWH

These are the wrestlers with the longest gap between their first Toronto appearance for a major promotion and their last:

Lou Thesz36.6
Lee Henning35.3
Ivan Kalmikoff33.2
Sky Low Low32.4
Whipper Billy Watson31.1
Little Beaver30.7
Joe "Killer" Christie30.0
Ric Flair28.6
Dick Beyer / The Destroyer28.0
Billy Red Lyons27.4
Pat Flanagan27.2
Wee Willie Davis27.0
Killer Kowalski26.7
Gene Kiniski26.5
Al Costello26.3
Nanjo Singh26.2
Lord Athol Layton26.0
Don Jardine / The Spoiler25.8
Mike Mazurki25.8
Bobo Brazil25.3
Bruno Sammartino25.2
Paul "Butcher" Vachon25.2

This is different from a list of wrestlers with the most matches in Toronto, since several of these guys had lengthy gaps where they made no appearances here. For example, Dick Beyer didn't wrestle in Toronto after 1961, until returning 18 years later as The Destroyer. Don Jardine didn't wrestle in Toronto for over 20 years after starting in the area in the late 1950s, but he came back for a few matches as The Spoiler in the mid-1980s. Nanjo Singh served a prison sentence for killing his wife before his final run in Toronto. 

-by Gary Will