He had started wrestling in Ottawa and Montreal in 1960 on a part time basis while earning his reputation as 'Mean and Nasty' on -and off- the football field. He had been in some trouble while at University of Wyoming in 1958. They cancelled his athletic scholarship for 'scholastic deficiency and disciplinary reasons.' He had also been sent away from Notre Dame for similar infractions.
When he finally made his Toronto wrestling debut years later it was the Sheik era in the city. Mosca got his chance vs Sheik in June 1971, his first main event at the Gardens.
In late 1975 he returned to MLG, this time as a full out heel playing up his football reputation. In Dec 1976 he faced Andre the Giant in the semi final bout under a rare Sheik title loss (to Thunderbolt Patterson).
On his next return here the Mid Atlantic era had begun. By early 1980 he was firmly seated to become the main local star on the scene. Previous local stars Dino Bravo and Dewey Robertson, had both finished their main event runs, Bravo had left in 1979 while Dewey was soon to go. With the launch of the new Canadian Heavyweight Title (back in Dec 1978)we had a local title that Mosca went on to hold through 5 reigns.
This was a bit of a conundrum for the Maple Leaf fans as we got the WWF TV show here at midnight Saturdays on WUTV Buffalo. When he later looked to have killed Pat Patterson with a water pitcher it left many of us scratching our heads.
While Canadian champ, Mosca challenged NWA champ Harley Race. This card was moved to a rare 1:30pm afternoon start as the Maple Leafs were in a playoff series with the New York Islanders (we lost!). Both Mosca and Race were counted out after a tough brawl with very few wrestling holds.
His new-found popularity as the star of Toronto wrestling attracted some mainstream coverage which had been minimal in the recent past. All three Toronto dailies, the Globe, the Star, and the Sun featured full page articles on the wrestling revival, with more coverage than had been seen in many years. Big Ange was the star of several features both in and around Toronto and in other towns on the circuit. On the May 20 1981 episode of the Global Network’s That’s Life, one of the stories was a 'visit with Angelo Mosca.’ On one afternoon in London for a card, he appeared on CFPL radio’s Sports Call and people were calling in for 2 1/2 hours to talk to him. The Toronto Star also ran a full page feature looking at his wrestling and football careers with a photo from a recent MLG bout vs Ivan Koloff.
The memorable title win came in Jan 1982. After a bloody Johnny Weaver-Alfred Hayes cage bout they left the cage up for a Canadian Title bout Studd vs Mosca. The two faced down on the ramp as Mosca waited for Studd to climb the stairs. Mosca attacked and the bout was on. It ended with Studd pinning Mosca. It appeared that way anyways. Ref Terry Yorkston, inside the cage as was the case here, gets hit, and in a daze (Yorkston played the semi-buffoon type well) awarded the victory to Mosca. The fans went wild when Mosca grabbed the belt to celebrate but the celebration didn't last long with Studd viciously attacking the new champ. Weaver (bandaged up from his bloody cage bout) along with John Bonello returned to the cage to help Mosca. Both end up taking a beating from Studd before helping Mosca get the upper hand. A bloodied Studd emerged from the cage and took a lot of abuse from the fans on his way down the ramp. Mosca, bloody and beaten emerged from the cage as the new champ to begin his fourth reign with the title.
A big card two weeks later was a double world title night. Flair vs Race and Mosca vs Bockwinkel. The AWA champ was making his first appearance since 1979 and had a tough bout with Mosca. Big Ange battered the champ and looked to be on the verge of winning when John Studd charged the ring and attacked Mosca. He and Bockwinkel laid a beating on Mosca until he was able to fight back and chase them from the ring. Official decision was a dq win for Mosca.
A feud with Gene Kiniski in June 1982 was better than expected. Kiniski, who went way back here (debut 1956) was still as ornery as he was back then. Stomping and snarling, he was a good opponent for Mosca in a short run. Kiniski had held versions of a Canadian title in his career and they played up the mutual football backgrounds and ‘greatest Canadian’ bit.
At the big Night of Champions card in July 1983 Mosca faced One Man Gang in front of anywhere from 16-22,000 fans at the old Exhibition Stadium. At the follow up two weeks later in front of 10-14,000 Mosca lost the title to Sgt. Slaughter.
At the time Mosca was 50 years old, mostly retired from the ring, and doing TV ads and running several different business ventures around town. A few days after the show in Hamilton he was in Toronto doing a TV commercial for Lite beer and said he made 25k in what was his 14th or 15th commercial since he had done the Schick Razor 'Tell it to my face' campaign some years before.
Angelo Sr. was a guest star on the popular Night Heat TV show, and in June of that year was elected to the CFL Hall Of Fame. In Nov 1986 he was alongside Whipper Watson when Whipper received an award from the Canadian Children's Foundation. Mosca accompanied Whip as he carried a child on his shoulders, as he had done at the many Easter Seals dinners.
The main event brought Toronto favorite Ric Flair back for the first time since May 1984 to defend his NWA Title against Dusty Rhodes. At that time Flair was a heel while Rhodes was a fan favorite but the fans didn't want any of it. Flair had long been beloved here and during the Flair-Rhodes bout the fans started cheering Flair. They reversed roles with Rhodes 'second' Baby Doll Roberts interfering. Flair took the win to a huge ovation and the card which also featured the Road Warriors, Jimmy Valiant (always hugely popular here), Abdullah The Butcher, Sgt. Slaughter and a host of local guys was declared a huge success. Longtime MLG ring announcer Norm Kimber, recently let go by the Toronto office, did the introductions for the night.
Mosca later told a reporter that he couldn't get the show on in Toronto and that's what killed it. Doug Bassett, head of the CTV had told him 'it wasn't family oriented television.' At that time they had WWF, International Wrestling from Montreal, and the Maple Leaf WWF shows on TV in Toronto. While the WWF was tame, the International show was a harder style, a throwback to the 70's with bloody bouts and great brawls. If Mosca had been able to last, the Montreal based stars may have appeared here. Bravo, Abdullah, etc. but he would have had to run the Gardens or the EX. MLG was still exclusive so it was limited venues outside of summer months.
EX VILLIAN CHARMS
The TV show later appeared on TSN as well as CTV and is a good show to seek out. Mosca not the greatest announcer (whole other article) but Avruskin one of the best. Sr. presented another card in Kitchener on Nov 23rd 1986 with a main of Nikita Koloff vs Wahoo McDaniel as Mosca Mania II. This one was a reverse of the first one, several no shows and most of the cast filled out with locals. Only 1.500 showed up, most of whom went to see the Road Warriors. Hawk never showed and was replaced by manager Paul Ellering. Jr. took on Siki and then it was back to the circuit for both Jr. and Siki. Despite the setback it was not to deter Mosca from staging another Hamilton show in Feb 1987.
Unfortunately he ran it on the same night as big WWF show at MLG featuring Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis in a 'retirement bout and Savage/Steamboat. Mosca in turn had Flair vs Nikita Koloff but only drew 3,000 compared to the 17,000 at a packed MLG. On Mosca's show Blanchard battled Rhodes and they reversed roles too with the fans booing Dusty. A fan told me he had 'stickered' the MLG bathrooms prior with notice of the upcoming Hamilton card but it didn't seem to help much. There were rumors of bad payouts on shows (heard years later), and then he sold his interest in it and that was the end of Mosca's promotional tenure.
Both Moscas were featured on the popular CTV show Lifetime which ran the same night as a big WWF show at MLG. Sr. continued to show up in TV commercials, and various ventures capitalizing on his name. Remember the Peach Pages?; a business directory he started with a partner in 1989. In recent years he had revisited his old Canadian title belt at tribute and fan events in the area, sometimes accompanied by a still fit (and very friendly to the fans) Junior.