Whipper Billy Watson vs Gorgeous George, March 12, 1959: Gary Will's TWH

It may be the most famous match in Toronto that didn't involve a world title switch. On March 12, 1959 Whipper Billy Watson defeated Gorgeous George in a match where the stipulations were that Watson would retire if he lost and George would have his head shaved if he was defeated. It was a no-curfew, there-must-be-a-winner match, so promoter Frank Tunney had just about guaranteed the fans that one of the stipulations would be carried out. And it was.

George had just turned 44 the previous month, but he was an old 44 and his hall-of-fame career was clearly on the downswing. He had made his first appearance in Toronto in 1948 and wrestled Watson at Maple Leaf Gardens that year and again in 1956. Watson had won both of the previous matches and this would be their third meeting in Toronto.

The stipulations were only announced five days before the match. On February 26, George had made his first appearance in Toronto in three years, defeating a clean-cut youngster named Wally Sieber who was being groomed as the next Whipper Billy Watson (it didn't last long; he soon left town and went back to his earlier evil German gimmick and became known world-wide as Waldo Von Erich). Watson himself had been away for nearly three months, and came back on the same show to wrestle Gene Kiniski in the main event. The show drew 12,000 fans.

Neither Watson nor George appeared on the next Toronto show on March 5, but a couple of days after that card, it was announced that they would meet each other in a hair vs career match on the 12th.

It drew 14,000 fans, which was the largest attendance for any Toronto show that year. The end came with George in Watson's sleeper, the Canuck Commando Unconscious, and Kiniski running into the ring to attack Watson, earning Whipper a DQ win. A parade of babyfaces -- Sieber, Pat Flanagan, Ilio DiPaolo and Mike Valentino (the future Baron Mikel Scicluna) -- raced in from the dressing room to save Watson and after chasing off Kiniski, they helped referee Joe Gollob keep George still while Gardens barber George Hansen did the honours. George's valet (and real-life wife), Cherie, caught the hair in a towel as it was shaved off.

A shorn George was back two weeks later for a rematch against Watson, which Whipper again won. Watson had put up his hair in that match, which drew 12,000. George then wrestled in a couple of main event tag matches partnered with Kiniski.

George came back to Toronto two years later and drew 5,000 fans for a main event against Watson, which was a good number at that time. In May 1961, George lost again to Watson in a match where Cherie's hair was at stake. It drew 8,000. A few pieces of hair were cut off, but then the chivalrous Watson told the barber to stop. There was one rematch between the two the following week, and that was the last time George wrestled in Toronto.

In November 1962, George lost his hair again -- this time to The Destroyer in Los Angeles.

-by Gary Will

Title Histories: Canadian Heavyweight Title


22/07George Walker
   Billed as champion on arrival; still billed as champion, 24/02
29/05Jack Taylor
   Billed as champion on arrival
31/05Earl McCready
   Billed as champion on arrival; still billed as champion, 34/10
38/06Yvon Robert
   Billed as champion on arrival
41/06Earl McCready
   Billed as champion on arrival; Whipper Billy Watson claims the title after defeating McCready in the second fall of a best-of-three match, that went to a draw, 41/06/05, Toronto, ON; Watson claims the Canadian title was on the line in each fall; McCready defeats Watson, 41/06/12, Toronto, ON, to end the dispute; a scheduled match between McCready and Yvon Robert on 41/11/06, Toronto, ON, is billed as a battle between Canadian title claimants; Robert is a no-show for the match and neither wrestler's claim to the title is mentioned again
54/06Al Mills
   Billed as champion on arrival for one match
78/12/17      Dino BravoToronto, ON
   Defeats Gene Kiniski
79/04/08Greg ValentineToronto, ON
79/06/03Dino Bravo [2]Toronto, ON
   Bravo leaves the area
79/09/09Dewey RobertsonToronto, ON
   Defeats Greg Valentine in tournament final
80/05/25Great Hossein Arab (Iron Sheik)Toronto, ON
80/07/20Angelo MoscaToronto, ON
80/08/10Great Hossein Arab [2]Toronto, ON
80/12/28Angelo Mosca [2]Toronto, ON
81/07/12Mr. FujiToronto, ON
81/07/26Angelo Mosca [3]Toronto, ON
81/09/20Big John StuddToronto, ON
82/01/17Angelo Mosca [4]Toronto, ON
83/07/24Sergeant SlaughterToronto, ON
84/01/22Angelo Mosca [5]Toronto, ON
84/04/29Ivan KoloffToronto, ON
   Defeats Brian Adidas in tournament final
84/06/10Angelo Mosca Jr.Toronto, ON

-By Gary Will 

Whippers Beverages

If you browse on e-bay from time to time you will find some old 'Whipper's Beverages' bottles, caps , and occasionally other merchandise from the short lived foray by Whipper Watson into the beverage business.

The bottles are highly collectable and can go for hundreds of dollars. They featured a pose of Whipper with his British Empire Title from the mid 1940's on the front while the back of the neck had 'The Champion of Drinks.' The reverse of the bottle featured a wrestling hold illustrated and the name of the hold below it.

I'm not sure how many different versions there were but have noted about 10 different holds pictured on the bottles I've seen.

Whipper got in to the beverage business in early 1948. It was set up through Dominion Beverages and he went in with his brother George who worked for the RCMP at the time and for many years after. They were evidently very busy as of July 1948 as Whipper was out looking for new digs as they had too much inventory for their current location.

An item at the time also mentioned another venture with George, a cabinet making operation said to be worth 20k, while the Beverages company with 3 trucks said to be worth 40k. 

At MLG 1949
They were, in the meantime, keeping their overflow at a farm, likely Whipper's spread up in Kewsick, Whipper was talking with area storekeepers who were eager for him to make personal appearances to promote the drinks.

They didn't list ingredients back then but it's likely there was a ton of sugar in these, kind of against the healthy living that Whipper promoted throughout his life. They had Cream Soda, Root Beer, Orange, Lime, and others. 

The marketing involved Whipper's Safety Club which you could join by sending in some bottlecaps from the drinks. They claimed up to 150,000 members across Canada and into the U.S.

Whipper was very busy on all fronts as he was making real money by this time headlining the weekly cards in Toronto. He also buys into a Kitchen run by his (other) brother Larry which ran out of a plant where they prepared the orders. Whipper also enlisted some friends as Distributors, fellow wrestler Billy Stack handled his home area of Bowmanville in 1950.

By 1951 it was done
Notice to creditors
Trustee under the Bulk Sales Act to receive purchase monies from the sale of the plant and equipment of Whippers Beverages Ltd 435 Dawes Rd Toronto which have been sold to Seven-Up Ontario and Dominion Dry Ginger Ale Company for distribution among the creditors of Whippers Beverages Limited.