Sunday, December 18, 2016

Boxing Day and Holiday cards

Christmas, Holiday, and Boxing Day cards were something of a tradition in Toronto. The 25th was out but there were cards held on the 26th of December dating back to the early days of wrestling in the city and cards at Massey Hall.  A 1930 card at the venue saw fans turned away for a card headed by Stanley Stasiak vs Joe Malcewiez.

At Maple Leaf Gardens on Dec 26 1935 7,500 came out to see a World Title bout between Dan O'Mahony and Lou Plummer.

A 1970 show held on the 27th drew 16,000 for The Sheik vs Lord Layton. It could be said it was  largely because of The Sheik who was kick-starting the scene here, and in the middle of a long winning streak, but the holidays helped.  'Considering last night's turnout, it would seem that a pair of wrestling tickets has replaced the traditional oranges and walnuts as stocking stuffers this Christmas.' wrote Allen Ryan in the Star. 

The kids weren't forgotten either with many of the holiday cards featuring the fan favorite midget wrestlers in action. Dave McKigney and his Wrestling Bear made a few shows too.

The next year in 1971 Tunney saw the same success on the 26th with The Sheik and Layton again getting 15,000 fans out to the Gardens.

There were actual Boxing day cards held in every decade, some with success and some not so much.

The ones held in my era were not always great cards but as with others over the 50 years it often had more to do with the overall landscape of pro wrestling in the city at the time .

The Holiday show on Dec 27 1981 did draw about 14,000 fans to see Canadian champ John Studd take on Leroy Brown but the Andre The Giant-Killer Kahn bout was the real attraction.

Besides the ones listed above there were Boxing day cards held in 1935, 1947, 1952, 1963, 1965, and 1976.

The others held on the 27th and a few on the 28th were often billed as  'Christmas' or 'Holiday' shows.

The 27th of December also stands as the first time Tunney ran a Sunday show at MLG. In 1964 Joe Perlove of the Star cited Tunney's 'humanitarianism' for 'getting many fathers out of the house....for after three straight days of home and mother and kids with noisy Christmas presents father has to be tickled dizzy to flee into the night.'

He got 9,000 out for that first Sunday show, still good in the era of weekly shows. He ran another show the Thursday following on the 31st and another on Jan 3 for a total of 3 shows in 8 days. Over the 3 they drew 20,500 fans during the holidays.

The last one of the NWA era was Dec 26 1983 with a main of Roddy Piper and Dory Funk Jr  vs The Assassins. The card was fun but not great as the scene here was already on a downward curve.