Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tim Patterson

Tim Patterson started in California, but drifted into Arizona for the Phoenix indies in 1988, where he engage din some wild matches with Louie Spicolli and Billy Anderson. His feud with Anderson was particularly bloody and ended when Anderson defeated him in a savage chain match in Phoenix.

The WWF matches done for televised tapings that took place in Phoenix around the same time span that Patterson appeared on did not go so well, as he ended up continually on the losing end in the fed.

On the Indy scene, however, his run was short yet spectacular. The Arizona fans hated him with an absolute passion.

Back in California, Patterson remained a mainstay for several years among the varied groups. He also donned a mask and becme one of Los Mercenarios, touring both the southwestern USA and Mexico in the main events.

He also amde quite a side career doing standup comedy in clubs.

He is retired and presently lives in Florida.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Miss Champagne

Miss Champagne was one of those hyped up people who came and went as far as Arizona wrestling is concerned, but what do you expect from a waitress promoter bill Johnson thought would make a good wrestler and propositioned to train. She was a tall blond with some looks, but nothing to set the world on fire. She also had a drinking problem.

Champagne had one memorable bout with Josie Navarro at the old soccer stadium in the Maryvale Mall in Phoenix, circa 1986. Navarro won and carried her most of the way.

So far, so good...

Then came the infamous tour in the northern part of Arizona that Bill Johnson booked. A case of beer was in  the locker room shower area for the wrestlers after their matches. Champagne got into it and drank it all befiore the show. Thus she entered the ring entirely trashed. Draw your own conclusions.

Fortunately for her, she was wrestling another rapidly-trained and inexperienced girl. Had she been in the ring with a seasoned veteran any of a number of vets would have killed her.

After that  she faded from view.

No big loss.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ludwig The Hun

You won't read much about Ludwig The Hun ebcause he did not last long in wrestling. In the early 1980s, when promoter Barry Bernsten started using his martial arts students as undercard wrestlers for economical measures on his cards, this fellow was one of them.

Tossed into the ring withotu proper training, he became not a vehicle for main events, but cannon fodder to convince people that wrestling was real. In one of his first matches he received a major injury while working with another opponent who, hastily trained as well, did not have a clue.

After the match, he complained of chest pains that grew so intense he went to the emergency room. In the hospital he was given an operation to remove a damaged spleen.

The Hun showed up after his release from the hospital and proudly showed off his surgical scar to any fans who were curious, but his career was done before it even got off the ground.

For a while he worked security at the wrestling shows and then faded into oblivion.

Gory Guerrero

Salvador "Gory"Guerrero is considered to be one of the finest of Mexican wrestlers, though he was born in the mining town of Ray, Arizona. He started out in Mexico, however, where he grew up and become a major draw in Guadalajara. Originally intending to wrestle as a villain, he considered using the name of Joe Morgan to capitalize on his American heritage, but nixed the idea early on. Instead, he shifted to the role of fan favorite and became a big hit.

He adapted the nickname of Gory because his matches were usually bloody. Though he could show scientific skill equal to any rival, he was not above brawling or slamming people into the front row of chairs.

In Mexico, Guerrero ebcame a major force and starred in several films, as well as the ring. He faced all the top stars, teamed with several others and became friends with the legendary El Santo.

His finishing move was a form of camel clutch that forced opponents into submission.

He later relocated to the El Paso/Juarez area where he was occupied with promotion of the sport as well as working on his owns cards until he caught up with him. He was also active in real estate after retirement and in various civic organizations,. He was likewise heavily involved in the area Masonic lodge.

Guerrero likewise trained his sons and several others to wrestle.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Guerrero made numerous appearances in Arizona where he was launched into the main events. As was par for the course, he feuded with the top villain, Don Arnold. As par for the course, these matches escalated into brawls and bloodbaths,. Usually, Guerrero did mosr of the bleeding, before making a  comeback when just ion the verge of a victory, Arnold would do something dirty to win.

The feud went over so well, Guerrero brought Arnold to Texas, along with Blas Corona, Tito Montez and Brute Bemis. He likewise sent Pancho Pico, El Mustang and others to Phoenix.

Other wrestlers he faced off with in his Arizona trips over the years included The Hood, Gypsy Biviano, Don Kent, Chuck Karbo, Tony Barbetta and Juan Humberto.

Years after the fact, he remains remembered. A New Times article on lucha libre in Phoenix in 2010 mentioned Guerrero at length. He likewise has bios in my books, The Garden Will Not Die, The Last Bell Call and A Parade Of Famous Masons. Several internet bios are also available.

Guerrero died in 1990.

The Corona Family

The Corona family out of Phoenix owned the old Palace Theater, as well as a dance hall and a rodeo ring. They were betetr known for running concert sand bloodless bullfights with bullfighters from Mexico, facing real fighting  bulls that were not killed. They did, however, make varied ventures into wrestling at their venues.Their success was not always great and their overhead often kileld them when it came to bringing in Mexican stars rather  than just using Arizona people..

Various wrestlers who appeared for them at their dance hall, rodeo ring or theater include Centella Negra, Rip Tyler, Eddie Sullivan, the Lumberjacks, Tony Hernandez, Jack Kessig, Freddie Gomez, Los Toros Bravos, Cerberus, Fishman, Super Argo, Chanoc, Eddie Lopez, Atlantis, Burton Barf, Indio Seri, Indio Salvaje, Zombie Palacio, Lizmark, Carlos El Malo, Samurai Kung Chang, Nano Ortega, Tom Ramirez, Super Aero, Tamba    and El Nazi.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Tragedy For David Rose

Condolences to David Rose, longtime Arizona mainstay in pro wrestling, who lost his wife Sunday after an extended illness.

A very short blog. What else can be said?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pistol Pere

Coming from Douglas, Arizona, Pistol Pete (Martinez in Arizona and Marquis in California) was a regular for a time at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden in the early 1970s. Some of the people he faced included Chuck Hondo, Billy Anderson, John Shane and Tony Hernandez.

Arizona served as  a training ground for Pistol Pete more than anything else, for as a younger wrestler new to the game, he was able to perfect his skills, then move onward.

In the late 1970s, he would move to California and get in on the last days of Mike Labell's promotion at the Olympic Auditorium.

After Labell closed, Pete continued for several years working with a number of California promotions. he also teamed for a long while with a huge black wrestler called Buddha Khan,  whom he met while working for Labell. 

He also entered the world of acting,

As of this writing Pete still lives in California and stays in touch with varied wrestlers, friends and fans online,

Johnny Kostas

Johnny Kostas was an international star who wrestled throughout Europe, the Orient, Canada, Latin America and the USA. Coming from Greece, he was trained as a "master shooter" and could tie people in knots in a heartbeat.

More often than not, Kostas wrestled in his bare feet and dropkicked the hell out of his opponents.

Arizona became a place where he was seen regularly late in his career, as he decided to look to eventual retirement  there and buy a  house in Tucson.

From the late 1960s into the early 1970s, when he decided to call ti quits, he was a regular in Phoenix. One of his biggest feuds was with the then upcoming Jody Arnold. The two of them met in many savage bouts in Tucson, Phoenix and Casa Grande.

Other people he faced on a regular basis included Kurt & Karl Von Steiger, Chuck Karbo, Don Arnold, Don Kent, Kiko Torres and Spike Jones.

At one point when his feud with the Von Steigers became intense, he imported a "cousin" under a mask by the name of Edmundo Manuel to help him fend off the German invasion.

After retiring,. Kostas would live in Tucson for many years. When his health started to falter, he made a trip back to his native Greece. Upon his death, his cremated remains were scattered on the Greek coast.He was in his 80s.

The Black Mamba

The Black Mamba first emerged on the Arizona scene in 1986 when promoter Barry Bernsten made a failed attempt to revive his old promotion. Within a year, however, he had improved so much he was main eventing for  a different promotion operating out of the same area and continued to work for a number of years for others which came along.

Aside from wrestling, he remains to this day a talented singer and gourmet cook.

Though usually hated by the fans, Mamba was sometimes cheered when fighting other rule breakers such as The Lumberjacks, The Beast and Sergeant Shultz.

Others he faced over the years included Bull Zambrano, The Ripper, JT Law, Louie Spicolli, Steve Gatorwolf, David Rose, John Ringer and more.

Of all the people Mamba feuded with in Arizona, his longest and greatest feud would have been with Thrillseeker Terry Zeller. The two met in just about every type of match known to man, when to the surprise of all, they stopped fighting each other in the middle of a Texas Death Match, deciding it was more logical to team up than feud. So they formed a tag team, won a version of the Western States Tag Team title, but dissolved it and ended up fighting each other again.

Though more often than not active as a wrestler, he became a manager of sorts at the same time, via the formation of his Mamba Inc, where he assembled a whole throng of villains to help him in his evil ways.

Mamba also made it to Mexico for varied matches. He was seen in San Luis Rio Colorado, Nogales, Hermosillo and other places.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Toolie's Nightclub

Where they were not running at Graham, Central Station, Mike Esparza and Bill Johnson were busy running at Toolie's Night Club in Phoenix on McDowell Road.

Louie Spicolli had many of his early matches here and came into his own facing the likes of Sergeant Schultz, Krusher Krugnov and Eruption.

Others seen for this promotion included The Beast, Miss Vicious, The Black Mamba, Dr Skin, Thrillseeker Terry Zeller, Justuin Powers, The Lumberjacks, Tom Ramirez, The Grim Reaper, Crazy Horse,  Steve Dezire, CC Starr, The Ranger, Renegado, Orcida, Orca, Silver Fox, Flama Negra, Tim Tall Tree, Stephen De Leon and more.

Many of these matches, complete with commentary, were taped and still circulate among fans.

Of the varied wrestlers, Spicolli and De Leon would meet tragic ends. Spicolli would die from a bad mixture of pills and alcohol, while De Leon would be killed in a motorcycle crash.

Among some of the most memorable incidents were those provided by arch villain Steve Dezire,  especially when he came into the ring and insulted The lack mamba into a match, by wearing a hubcap over his neck and insisting mamba would be on his way to steal it, being he could not resist temptation and all. He then produced a black baby doll, squeezed it and insisted it was saying "Mamba. Mamba."

Ray Gordon

Born in New Zealand to either Yugoslavian or Hungarian parents, as there are versions of the tale that conflict, Ray Gordon became a popular wrestler in the "Down Under" area before becoming an international star. He worked for many of the old territories and was always regarded as a top hand.

Gordon likewise trained many wrestlers, such as the mufti-time World titleholder, Harley Race. in Arizona, Gordon was likewise partly responsible for the training of the then young Jody Arnold.

"He was just SO tough," Arnold would later remark. "He was like a freak of nature. I was more muscular than him. There were a lot of people more muscular than him. The only thing was, he would fool you by looking at him. He was superhuman when it came to strength. I have never seen anyone that strong. In a ring workout he could push and move anyone tryout to stand still, but when he stood his ground you could not move him. He was just so tough."

During the 1960s, Gordon had many matches in Arizona, facing the likes of Don Arnold, The Comancheros, Don Kent, George Drake and Spike Jones. His matches with Chuck Karbo were exceptionally wild and spanned several years.

This feud reached its peak in 1968, during a televised match where Gordon was facing Henry Pulusso. All of a sudden John Shane and Karbo charged the ring and helped Henry beat the hell out of Gordon. Cowboy Bob Ellis and Tito Montez charged in to make a save, which of course set up a six man tag feud.

In spite of this happening, Gordon and Karbo also continued to meet in a number of single matches that usually evolved into bloody brawls. More often than not, Gordon's airplane spin or Boston crab would win out over Karbo's backbreaker.

Gordon retired in 1971 and moved to Canada, where he died some years later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fred Blassie

Though he was known as a rulebreaker who liked to bite open the heads of those he faced in most places, Blassie was popular  with the people during his Arizona run in the 1950s. In fact, one of the period magazines of the time stated he was second in popularity only to the famed Count Billy Varga in the Pheonix area.

Facing the likes of Jim Wright, Gorgeous George and Don Arnold surely added to the reason why fans loved him,

By the 1960s, Blassie just stopped coming to Arizona, having found a far better living for himself by going  between Japan and Los Angeles..

In California he wrestled first  as a villain, then went to become one of the most cheered stars of all time, following a major feud with John Tolos.

In his WWF stints, however, he was back to villainy, first in an unsuccessful bid to wrestle the World title from Pedro Morales and then or a far longer run as a manager. 

When with the WWF, Blassie made various appearances in Arizona in the manager role and also did some work as a public relations man, speaking at business conventions and seminars for cable TV.

He wrote his autobiography shortly before his death. An outstanding last feat for a man who lived to be in his 80s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Graham Central Station

Incredibly for a promotion with no television, the UWF of Bill Johnson and Mike Esparza drew audiences of 1,000 to 2,000 in Phoenix at Graham Central Station during their run.

Aside from a host of local wrestlers such as Mike Contreras, Special Forces, The Sicilian Slammer, Miss Vicious, Irish Mist, Black Mamba and John Ringer, several wrestlers were brought in from both Mexico and California for the cards.

Billy Anderson, Louie Spicolli and some others were among the Californians, while Mando & Eddie Guerrero were booked from Juarez.

Sergeant Shultz remained the key villain and brought in his "brothers" for a number of wild tag team matches. The Neo-Nazis remained one of the most hated tag teams in the history of Arizona wrestling, surpassed perhaps only by the Lumberjacks and Chris Colt/Ron Dupree.

Billy Anderson had an exceptionally bloody chain match in Phoenix which saw both men covered with blood.

Others who appeared at this venue included myself as manager, plus a host of other wrestlers.

The Pale Riders, Danny Medina, Russian bear, Mike Contreras, Two-Hyped, The Ripper, Bill Luegar, Colonel Natasha, Bayou Blossom and Sicilian Slammer were a few of them.

Wild Red Berry

Ralph "Wild Red" Berry was a colorful wrestler and a holder of the World Jr. Heavyweight title a number of times. Since he operated out of Hollywood during these many reigns, he was likewise a regular in Arizona during the 1940s, with special emphasis on the Phoenix Madison Square Garden.

One of Berry's main Phoenix opponents was Gorilla Ramos out of Juarez, with whom he swapped the belt numerous times. He and Ramos had some bloody brawls that got so out of hand, some fans actually left the building sick to their stomachs from the gore.

Berry knew how to irritate a crowd. Even before the days of television boom, he was able to milk an audience with radio interviews and talks with newspaper reporters. The same held true for actions on the mike at the  shows. Using mufti-syllable words that only a college professor could understand, he slammed everyone in sight. At times he would quote Shakespeare, Dante or even from the Bible to make a point. Articulate far beyond most of his audience, they listeners were not always sure of what he was saying, but knew whatever it was, they didn't like it.

After retiring as a wrestler, Berry became a prominent manager, handling The Kangaroos, Gorilla Monsoon Hans & Max Mortier and others.

When he quit doing that also, he settled down in his native Kansas, where he became prominent in area politics and in the Masons.

He died after a round of golf, when he sat on his porch drinking milk.  .

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Kamala-The Ugandan Giant, was  bot really from Uganda, as was and is often the case in wrestling,  with people taking colorful identifications and nationalities. He is in fact one James Harris.

In the 1980s, Kamala toured the United States and as part of the circuit was seen live in Arizona varied times, as well as on the downpour of television tapes.

Posing as a cannibal with war paint and looking like something right out of Trader Horn, he stunned fans both in appearance and with his agility for such a tall and obese grappler..

Arizona wrestler CC Starr was one of the locals who experienced Kamala's leap off the top rope when he did TV taping matches in Phoenix for the WWF.

Perhaps one of his greatest feuds would be with The Undertaker in the WWF.  On a lesser scale, when he first started doing the Kamala routine, he had a wild and bloody feud with Jerry Lawler for the Memphis  office.

In his day he was amazing, but all things come to an end. He retired form active wrestling but continued to make the conventions and autograph signing events  .

Sadly, his blood pressure and diabetic condition raged out of control to the point where in 2011, he had to have a foot surgically removed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Colorado Kid

Eli Corella was as capable a wrestler as anyone. Short and stocky, he was trained by David Rose and arrived on the Arizona scene in the late 1970s. He continued to wrestle until 1985.

Originally, he was an "Indian" as JR Youngblood, but this was later changed to match his  Hispanic heritage as The Colorado Kid.

The grappler usually was seen on the undercard, but had his share of wins, usually with an airplane spin to help him gain a victory.

I recall wrestling him once and losing to him with that airplane spin of his alright. I am just not sure of the date. I think in 1980. A win over me would be no big deal to brag on as  always considered myself a far better manager than a wrestler.

Other people he faced and I am not sure what the won or loss record would be include Maniac Mike Gordon, The Lumberjacks, John Ringer, Ringo Rodriguez, Mr. X and The Golden Eagle.

One of the bloodiest matches he ever engaged in was one on one with Lumberjack #1 in Phoenix, where he was turned into a bloody mess for the first time ever. Seeing him bloodied pushed the crowd to a riot pitch  and several fans were thrown out for trying to rush the ring as just when The Colorado Kid started his comeback, Lumberjack #2 interfered.

Sergeant Shultz

A vile and muscular Neo Nazi, Sergeant Schultz first emerged in the Arizona rings in the late 1990s, mauling and brawling his way to the top. While he never held a title in Arizona, he was the first to claim he didn't need one.

"I don't want to be God damned champion," he claimed in all too fluid English in one 1990 interview.

In singles matches he stormed over just about everyone in his path, Billy Anderson, Louie Spicolli, Thrillseeker Terry Zeller, The Ranger, The Mercenary, lance Ferraro, The Black Mamba, The Ripper, El Principal, Flyboy , Amadeus, Silver Shadow, Eli Hernandez, Danny Medina, CC Starr  and  Mike Contreras were some of those he faced.

One of the gigantic villain;s most devastating moves was a wicked flyign elbow smash that he named "The Medina" after taking out Danny Medina with a series of them in a Phoenix bout that required the Hispanic wrestler to be helped from the ring with cracked ribs.

Shultz also squared off with Eddie Guerrero in a tag match and Mil Mascaras in a singles matches in Phoenix, with slightly less successful results.  One cannot win them all, you have to suppose, but he came close.

As if trouble needed a double, let alone a triple, a Sergeant Schultz 2 and 3, "brothers" to the original, also emerged on the scene.

Shultz also became a big draw,  particularly in the Juarez area of Mexico under the name of Commando Nazi.

In Juarez, his manhandling of varied opponents caused more than one rift, with fans throwing chairs and other debris into the ring.

Shultz eventually retired from the ring to enjoy cigars, motorcycles, Coors beer  and a someone less riotous  life.

Zombie Palacio

Since Gory Guerrero was big in Arizona (in fact he was not born in Mexico as many believe, but int he small mining town of Ray, Arizona)m he would take many Arizona wretslers to the El Paso/Juarez area where he later promoted. He would also send his crew to Phoenix at various intervals, making an exchange program of benefit to all.

Zombie Palacio was one of the students Gory Guerrero trained and was pushed heavily in the Mexican border towns.

He wore a monster mask and sometimes wrapped himself in mummy tape rather than wrestlign gear, but no matter what uniform he chose to wear, he was always uncanny in appearance.

"I swear the morons in the crowd thoguht he was a real monster," Mike Gordon used to laugh when reflecting on this grappler's style and routine. :He would come out of the locker room and you knwo how you would have people hanging around taking hpotos or wanting autographs? Well, propel would get one look at him and run. like "Oh shit, here he comes." He would eat thsi up and sometimes chase after them. It was hilarious."

Palacio made only a handful of Arizona appearances in his career. In the 1980s, Super Argo had spoken of bringing him in, but ran out of funds and closed down his shows which were being held at St. Mary's Gym in Phoenix, before the monster man could make a showing.

"I think he could have cared less about Texas, New Mexico and Arizona," commented  one Indy wrestler, Red Star,  "He was so big in Mexico and especially Juarez that he really did not need to travel outward or fo through the hassle of getting work permits in America. The funny thing is now no modern fans remember him, but in his prime hew as such a big ward and I mean BIG."

Masked Frankenstein

In 1978, Masked Frankenstein made his way into he ring in Phoenix and the crowd was not sure what to think. A lumbering wrestler in a monster mask, brought in with chains and led out with a fiery torch like something from a Karloff movie, seemed a bit far fetched at first. If the crowd laughed in the beginning, however, they were not laughing when he demolished Mike Gordon in his debut and continued to bloody up then beat a host of opponents before winning a big battle royal.

The story Tom Ramirez initiated as a spokesman for this lurching hulk was that he had been a popular wrestler in Mexico and had been in a bad car wreck in Toluca. besides physical scars, the story said he had lost his mind and believed himself to literally be the Frankenstein Monster.

Be that as it may, Ramirez also used this opportunity to launch his son into the wrestling realm as a manager for Masked Frankenstein calling himself The Keeper.

The masked villain received a major push and was thrown into a feud with Mr.Wrestling (David Rose) when he suddenly received a chance to tour Mexico, then onward to Los Angeles to work for Labell,. The evil <asked Frankenstein was out of Phoenix faster than someone could say "Growl" in search of bigger bookings.

The Los Angeles run saw Masked Frankenstein's name changed to The Monster, where he again gained ground and received a big push. He ended up leaving Los Angeles, however, when he and Andre The Giant became engaged in the fight to end all fights, with both men injuring each other, If anyone doubted the masked  man's toughness, one need only consider this match where he came closer to handing Andre the greatest legitimate beating of his life than anyone. the Giant won out,. but it was not pretty. Several bookers were perturbed at both men, for both reportedly missed bookings due to injuries they gave each other.

In 1981, The Monster was back circulating between Arizona and Mexico, but with his more familiar alias as Frankenstein. He ended up facing his old nemesis, David Rose and others. The Lumberjacks, Pedro El Grande and Jody Arnold had their hands full with him too.

Masked Frankenstein called it quits or was perhaps disassembled in 1989.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Maniac Mike Gordon! One Year Later!

November marks the sad passing and one year anniversary of the death of Gordon Michael Voris, otherwise known as Maniac Mike Gordon. Though never a famous name, he gave his all for wrestling and frankly, put in more than he received back from it.

He died from a heart attack in front of his wife in his apartment outside Toronto.

Gordon spent several years in Arizona, though his best run was in the 1970s decade, where he faced Tito Montez, David Rose, Tony Hernandez, Super Argo, Chuck Hondo, Eddie Sullivan, Cowboy Bob Yuma, Woody Farmer and others.

Rest well, Mike. Rest well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mitsu Arakawa

An effective tag team wrestler, Mitsu Arakawa held the AWA and WWWF tag team titles during his long career, but was better known as a singles attraction. His judo chops, throwing salt in the eyes of opponents and breaking the rules made him a hated heel among fans in the 1950s through the 1970s, who still remembered World War II all too vividly.

In the late 1950s, Arakawa had an Arizona run as he migrated between there, Texas and California.

Yuma was one of the areas where he was seen with some consistency. He also appeared in Casa Grande, Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Atakawa died in 2000.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Charro Azteca

Charro Aztecawas not typical of Mexican wrestlers, for he did not wear a mask. He, however, did do the  sensational flying leaps, dropkicks and moves that dazzled his opponents in true luchador style.

While this grappler was seen in numerous parts of the United States, he remained a major draw in Arizona in the 1950s where he was a perennial fan favorite.

Charro had several bloody matches with Arizona's key villain, Don Arnold. They met in Phoenix, Tucson, Casa  Grande and other locations with mixed results. more often than not, Arnold would pull some dirty tactics just when the Mexican was about to win and score an underachieved victory.

Charro also faced Brute Bemis, the Christy brothers and El Diablo on a continual basis.

Charro occasionally teamed with Gory Guerrero and a young Tito Montez.

The popular wrestler retired and passed away long ago.

Bobby Heenan

Bobby Heenan was a veteran when he first drifted into Arizona in 1984, when Gagne made a failed attempt to open up the state to his brand of wrestling, The fact the AWA did not last in Phoenix had nothing to do with the performance of the wrestlers or in the case of Heenan, a manager, but the overhead Gagne was incorrect in  calculating, He spent more money than he made in trying or run the area. As such he lost his ass.

The television tapes and live shows, for what little time they lasted, did help Heenan to get his name known in the area where before, he was familiar only to fans who read the magazines.

In the past, Arizona had a reputation for riotous fans and a sometimes dangerous area for managers. In the past I recall causing a riot or two myself. Sam Bass, Johnny Mann, Ron Dupree and The Mortician did the same. Heenan seemed to know this or was perhaps warned for in his AWA run he would not get anywhere near the fans. Whenever he left the locker room and was not at ringside, he stood in a darkened corner of the arena, nervously smoking and studying the onlookers form the distance. Security was always close at hand when he was out in front of the audience and there was always someone watching  his back.

Heenan of course generated a great eal of heat from the audience. He was one of the most controversial figures and a top draw for the AWA in their Arizona stay. He may well have overshadowed the actual wrestlers on the cards.

During his WCW and WWF runs, Heenan would return to Arizona as a manager or as a commentator, but not with the consistency of before. Even though the nature of the game had changed, he was still very wary of  the audience or so it seemed. He seldom got close to fans or autograph seekers and rarely attended after parties or the hotel bar.

In latter years, Heenan would fight and beat throat cancer. He would also write a book about his exploits.

Bobby Heenan remains one of the all-time greats among wrestling managers and this no one will deny.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Andres Carpentier

Though he was not as bad as Tony Santos or Jack Peffer in the eastern states, who made a fortune by using wrestlers with sound alike names such as BUMMY Rogers, Bruno SaNMartino and HOBO Brazil, Ernie Muhammad would use in now and again for either humor or to try to boost the gate.

Late in his run, Ernie had a Gene Viniski and a Jack Frisco to simulate a Kiniski and a Brisco.

Earlier in his promotional efforts in the 1960s, he brought in one Andres Carpentier, as a cousin to the more famous Ed Carpentier.

Andres was no relation to Ed Carpentier. In fact Ed Carpentier was not a Carpentier himself, as this was a false name too.

Like his more famous "cousin" who had made a name for himself feuding around the globe with Killer  Kowalski and Hans Schmidt, this member of the "family" did the expected dropkicks and high-flying moves the fans expected from someone from that bloodline. They, of course, never questioend anything.

Andres stayed until he grew stale with the public and moved on.

I have no idea who he really was.

Dory Funk Sr.

Dory Funk Sr. made his first run through Arizona in the late 1950s as he migrated between Texas and other states. Some of the people he met in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma or in smaller spot towns were Don Curtis, El Diablo, Rip Rogers (Eddie Graham), Juan Humberto, Don Arnold and Brute Bemis.

Even in this part of his career, he was already known for the development of the spinning toe hold, which forced many into submission. His sons Terry and Dory Jr. would also use the hold as part of a family tradition, the latter of whom forced Gene  Kiniski into submission to win the World title.

While Dory St, remained part of the NWA office for years, from his Amarillo however, he never won their World championship, though Terry and Dory both did.

Dory Sr. didn't win any major titles in his Arizona run, though he had shots at the North American and Arizona crowns.

Back in Amarillo, however, he did lay claim to a bizarre title of sorts when he was branded the World Texas Death Match Championship for his reputed survival of over 200 such anything goes/marathon matches. 

This led to his final Arizona run in 1971, when Rod Fenton started promoting shows (also the aging Fenton's  last hurray).

In February of 1972, he faced rival Ciclon Negro in a grueling Texas Death Match in Phoenix at the Travel Lodge (later Celebrity) Theater. Dory retained his "title" so to speak, by eventually defeating the Venezuelan villain. The two traded numerous falls and were both covered with blood before the thing ended, Funk was the last man standing and declared the winner, with Negro sprawled out on the arena floor, unable to go on.

A few years after that, Funk died from a sudden heart attack on his ranch.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Terry Funk

Terry Funk first made regular runs into  Arizona in the 1970s when Rod Fenton was working in onjunction with the Arizona office and even when he was not booked on actual cards, he became a familiar face due to Fenton's use of Amarillo television tapes.

Funk returned to Phoenix when The Sheik ran a set of shows in 1973. He saw himself in an odd combo of events, teaming with Fred Curry to take on Kurt Von Hess and Karl Von Shotz.

Funk likewise saw action in Arizoan during his stint as a rulebreaker for the WWF.

Amazingly, it was his father Dory and his brother Dory Jr who proved to be bigger attractions in Arizona, as well as more regular visitors.

Dory Sr. had a lengthy Arizoan run in the late 1950s and returned for Fenton in 1971-1972. Dory Jr was a regular both for Fenton and The Sheik, as well as other promtoers. It might be kinder NOT the dwell upon his WWF run as Hoss Funk.

The whole sitaution seems more peculiar for in the mainstream, in all other parts of the world, Terry's name and reputation domiante, but in Arizona he was overshadowed by his other family members.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Charlie Kalani

Early in his career, a happy Hawaiian wrestler had various matches in Arizona, facing the likes of Don Arnold, John Tolos and Brute Bemis. He would later establish a home base in California, change his name and become the terror of the ring, without giving Arizona much more notice.

The popular Hawaiian would change his nationality to Japanese, give an evil leer, throw salt in the eyes of his opponents and take the world by storm.

He would hold part of the World Tag Team title in the WWF.

He would feud with Pedro Morales, Gorilla Monsoon, Bruno Sammartino and others.

He would appear in other parts oft he United States and become a top drawing card.

Prior to retirement, he would become a regular on the California cards. In fact, he would be regarded as a California institution.

He would also play in several movies.

He passed away in 2000.

Who was this man who went from being a mid-card wrestler as a Hawaiian fan favorite in Arizona to a jeered, but prosperous villain elsewhere?

Charlie Kalani in Arizona would ebcome the dreaded Professor Toru Tanaka everypalce else.

And now you know the scope of the tale.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Saturday Night At The Akron Armory

Like my book on Lulu dealing with the Phoenix Madison Square Garden, my This Saturday Night At The Akron Armory deals with another fallen arena, this one in Akron, Ohio. The book is also available at Lulu publishing via for orders.

Though not fancy, the book tells a story no one else has bothered with and I think does the trick.

Many of the people who appeared in Akron and are mentioned in bios in this book also appeared in Arizona, including The Sheik, Don Arnold, Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Ben Justice, Killer Brooks, Chris Colt, Sue Green, Primo Carnera, Haystacks Calhoun, Luis Martinez, Fred Curry, the Poffos, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Paula Kaye, Bobo Brazil, Bearcat Wright, Tony Marino, John Tolos, Lou Albano, Don Fargo, George Steele, Kurt Von Hess, Don Kent, Jerry Graham and more.

The book also offers bios fo many people who for whatever reasonm never mad eit to Arizona, but were regualrs in the oHio territory such as Johnny Powers, Tiger Jeet, Eric The Red, The Love Borthers and Gentleman Saul Weigneroff.

Rip Rogers

There was a Hustler Rip Rogers active in the 1980s and fairly over with the public, both in ICW and NWA promotions.

Long before, there was another Rip Rogers in Arizona, active in the late 1950s.

This Rip Rogers also had dyed blond hair and a strutting manner, but unlike the one from the 1980s, he didn't hustle, I suppose.

He had matches with Don Curtis, Dory Funk Sr. and others. While he was not a bad wrestler though, there was something truly exciting about him. There was a spark that was missing.

This Rip Rogers was there to fill out a space on the cards and little else.

Later, he would find that missing spark with a mere name change.

The Rip Rogers in Arizona in the 1950s was really one Eddie Gossett under a fake name.

He would adapt yet another fake name, which would stick throughout a long and glorious career.

He would become Eddie Graham.

Now you know the rest of the story.