Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chris Markoff

A big, brawling man, Chris Markoff spent over two decades in pro wrestling. He was pushed big in Texas and California, but in these runs, oddly, never made it to Arizona.

Strangely, the only set of appearances Markoff ever had in Arizona wa sin the early 1980s, when  Gagne made his ill-fated attempt to take Phoenix away from the indies. The independents outlasted him.

These Phoenix showings were not reflective of Markoff''s long career, as he was nearing retirement at the time and simply appeared to be going through the motions on the undercard. He admittedly generated a good deal of heat as an evil Russian on the AWA cards,  but did not receive the push he saw in years gone by elsewhere.

Markoff also had a long Midwestern run, where he was utilized by The Sheik. Either as a single or  as a tag team partner with Killer Brooks, he was main eventing throughout Michigan and Ohio.  In this run, he feuded at length with Tony Marino and Fred Curry.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When Maivia Turned Black

Those offended by Hulk Hogan's recent racist rant may not be aware of pro wrestling's long history of not being politically correct. Case in point is the late Peter Maivia.

Early in his career, Bobo Brazil toured the west as Negro World Champion. A problem came when he was brought to Arizona at old  Phoenix Madison Square Garden and something happened to his intended opponent.

The then unknown Polynesian wrestler, Peter Maivia, was thrown in at the last minute and told to "pass" as black.

This was not the only time such happened.

When Maivia made his debut for Ray Shire, Shire came back to the  locker room with a stunned look on his face. "There's rows of new black people I never saw before," he announced. (Black was not the word he used).

"Those aren't blacks," Maivia announced (Again, black was not the term he used either).  "Those are islanders. Those are my people."

Maivia, who was going to be jobbed out at first, was suddenly given a win and elevated with the promotion.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ogre Versus Ogre

In recent years, a wrestler calling himself Ogre has become a regular on Arizona cards. He has been dealt with in a blog from a few months back.

In Washington, there is an unrelated Ogre, who looks much like the character from Revenge Of The Nerds. He has been a regular on cards in the Pacific Northwest.

We need to get these two together.

There needs to be an Ogre vs. Ogre match.

Ohio Blog

Several people who worked or work Arizona also worked in Ohio. A worthy blog may be found at http://www.bcrumby.blog.com

Brother Love

Red faced, fat and looking like he was about to have a stroke at any minute, Brother Love became an iconic manager and commentator in the WWF in the 1980s, using the routine of a corrupt evangelist one might have expected to see on TBN rather than in the ring.

Perhaps as a spoof on Hulk Hogan, with the constant overuse of the phrase, "Brother" and perhaps as a jab at evangelists who forever "brothered" their flock, Brother Love took the term to ridiculous lengths intentionally. He called Bobby Heenan "Brother Brain" and "Brother Billion" was his nickname for Ted Dibiase.

While he may not have been the greatest worker in the world, he was entertaining to some and offensive to others, but either way, vibrated a good deal of controversy.

He was, while the WWF would have wanted you to think otherwise, not all that original.

Some years prior, Memphis tried a run with a manager calling himself Rev. Ernest Angel as a spinoff on Ohio-based faith healer, Ernest Angely. The routine made too much heat, including tv studios switchboards being swarmed with angry calls form offended Tennessee Christians. The routine did not last long.

There were two Reverend Mr. Black characters before Brother Love, most likely derived from the Johnny Cash song. One was part of Kevin Sullivan's parade of freaks in Florida. the other was an Arizona based band director by the name of Billy King. The former was around in the 80s and the latter in the 1970s.

Brother Love would be the best known wicked evangelist of all, due mainly to his being presented by the WWF.

Being part of the WWF circuit, he of course traveled around and did make some Arizona appearances, which vibrated sufficient heat.

There was talk Billy King had considered a lawsuit against the promotion or supposedly stealing his routine, but such never went anyplace. After all, he took the character himself off the previously noted Johnny Cash ballad. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bull Curry

Though he had several runs in Texas, rather than the Midwest and Canada where he seems to be best remembered, Wild Bull Curry had only a handful of spot shows in Arizona. He did not work at either the Phoenix Madison Square Garden or  Tucson garden, but only spot shows on rare occasions. This is odd, for his violent style would have been perfect for the Arizona crowd.

Oddly enough, in one of his final Texas showings, three decades after his early years, he faced Arizona icon Eddie Sullivan in one of his farewell matches.

Curry is best known for his years with the Sheik in Detroit, where he had classic and bloody feuds with many people. He was known as a singles wrestler, both as heel and fan favorite, depending on his opponent/. His finish was usually done with a pair of brass knuckles.  He also teamed often in the baby face role, alongside his real-life son, Fred.

Midwestern feuds included programs with The Hell's Angels (aka The Comancheros in Az.), Rocky Johnson, The Sheik, Aztec Joe (Gypsy Joe), Tony Marino and Bobo Brazil.  

Curry died many years ago, but his son survived him and wrestled for many years afterward. Flying Fred Curry was the antithesis of his legendary father, appearing only as a good guy and never bad. He was known for dropkicks and a sleeper hold.

Fred likewise only had one Arizona appearance in his life, in Phoenix in the early 1970s when he and Terry Funk faced Kurt Von Hess and Karl Von Shotz.