Quick Bits: The East-West Connection

In January 1982 Maple Leaf Gardens was abuzz with anticipation for the first area appearance of the East-West Connection. Adrian Adonis had previously appeared here as Keith Franks back in 1975-76 while tag partner Jesse Ventura was making his MLG debut.
   It was my first time seeing them in person but they were already one of our favorite tag teams. Their bouts with Gagne & Brunzell in the AWA over the tag titles was a constant on the Winnipeg TV we got here. On this night they would take on the 'Italian Connection,' Domenic Denucci and Tony Parisi. An entertaining bout with the good guys frustrating the heels with a barrage of ring tricks. Adonis eventually pulls the tights for the pin on Denucci and ref Terry Yorkston awards the victory to the former tag champs.
 We didn't know it yet but both Adonis & Ventura had just moved to the WWF  under the managerial tutelage of Freddie Blassie. They were mostly wrestling solo and Adonis in particular gives Backlund some tough matches. The following night after their MLG debut Adonis was in Madison Square Garden beating the stuffing out of Backlund when the ref stopped the bout due to excessive blood loss of the champ.

  Toronto promoter Frank Tunney also made the trip to MSG the next day appearing in the ring alongside Vince Sr., WWF President Hisashi Shima, and then NWA President Jim Crockett Jr. as they made an announcement about an upcoming  tournament to take place in Japan.
  Adonis & Ventura were both scheduled for the Cadillac Tournament to be held two weeks later but it was snowed out. They eventually had it in March and both return for the tourny. Adonis lost his first round matchup to Ricky Steamboat while Ventura fared better beating Mike Rotundo, then Johnny Weaver, before losing to Jimmy Valiant in the finals.

  It was unfortunate for the fans that we didn't get to see more of them at the time especially as a team. Both return post 1984 in the WWF days and appear fairly regularly. Still, Adonis will be forever connected locally as the tragic crash that took his life also claimed our own Dave McKigney and Pat Kelly.

More on this bout in the look at Terry Yorkston
-AC and photos by...