Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rick Davidson

John & Rick Davidson were a major tag team in the Michigan/Ohio area in the late 1970s, where they cheated and brawled their way through a number of opponents. Sadly, they were hot at a time when wrestling was not, going through a lag between the era of cable television and the death of the territorial days. Had they come along earlier or later they could have really made it big, perhaps even becoming immortals in the profession.

Rick eventually went to Los Angeles to work for Labell and at this time, this one great promotion was in its death throws as well. Davidson did what he could, had some interesting matches and eventually decided to head  eastward again.

It was at this time he did his only stint to my knowledge in Arizona. It would have been some time in 1982 if memory serves me right,. where he drove through Phoenix and picked up an extra paycheck on a Friday night.

As a guy coming from Los Angeles and being a one-night deal, he was billed as a special attraction to face Jody Arnold.

Arnold had spent more than a decade as a top heel in Arizona, when he suddenly made a turn and became a fan favorite. He was more or less the man to beat with the Pheonix promotion. Thus, Davidson was thrown against him.

The bout went 2/3 falls, with the two men trading pins the first two times aorund. In the third fall, Jody managed to catch Davidson in one of his famed power slams that literally rocked the ring. Afterward, it was a matter of pinning his opponent.

The match was over and Jody had added prestige in the eyes of the regional fans, while Davidson simply collected his pay and moved onward, never to returns to Phoenix again.

The Los Cruces Armory

Like Arizona, new Mexico did not always get a fair shake in the publicity area. During the 1950s, there was a working agreement between Arizona and one Pietro Roise, who ran shows at the Los Cruces Armory in New Mexico. This office has received very little press or remembrance in history.

Several wrestlers who were active in Arizona at the time ventured into New Mexico under this promotion, either wrestling with fellow grapplers from Arizona with whom they already had feuds or facing the Texans brought in from Amarillo and El Paso.

Among those heading eastward into New Mexico were Hans Scrabel, Juan Humberto, Ricky Waldo, Tom Renesto, Lou Plummer, Bull Montana, Henry Pulusso, Kit Fox, Bull Montana and Brute Bemis.

One of the most popular grapplers working the New Mexico/Arizona circuit was one Bobby Pico (real name Roberto Pico, not to be confused with Pancho Pico/Julio Arguello who was a different person). The odd thing about Bobby Pico was he did not fight in the flying luchador style, but was more of a brawler, giving the villains a taste of their own medicine.

Don Arnold, already established as a muscular heel who used gigantic words and stressed his brain power as a deadly combination with his brawn in Arizona, became hated in New Mexico as well. Usually, his devastating bearhug and backbreaker were the only things needed to win his matches, but a roll of dimes hidden in his fist also helped him gain a few illegal victories here. 

Though the promoter focused his efforts on the Armory shows in Los Cruces, he also did infrequent events in other towns.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gangsta Man

"Who is this Snoop Dog-looking mother..."

This was the statement of a wrestler unfamiliar with wrestling in Tucson when he saw the tall, thin black man with his bandanna and street clothes, ambling to the ring on a promotional video..

Enter Gangsta Man.

Active approximately 1995-1999, he saw most of his work in Tucson and though far too small and skinny to make it in the big time, he had his  moment on Indy cards. Though not the most skilled or built of wrestlers, he had an ability for doing the most with what he had. He was also good on the mike, which covered some of his inexperience in other facets of wrestling.

And he did kind of resemble Snoop Dog.

To see this guy was to dislike him, for a multitude of reasons. Some fans really hated the "bopper" image he gave off, while others loathed his audacity for not really being built like or looking like a wrestler, but going out there to do it anyway.  He just oozed slime and many fans flat did not like his appearance or his tirades on  the microphone. This of course had the people yelling for his scalp whenever he was in front of them.

Had he just been more muscular or heavier, he might have gone someplace.

For whatever reason, he never really looked into doing Mexico, as did many of the smaller wrestlers from Arizona, finding success in places like San Luis Rio Colorado, Nogales or Mexicali.

Maybe he was happy just doing his own thing in his native Tucson?

In any case, Gangsta Man became a big part of Arizona wrestling for a while, then called it quits as quickly and  mysteriously as he arrived.

For a while there was talk of teaming him with The Black Mamba, another drawing card in Arizona, but this never came to be.

Some of the people he faced in Tucson included Ron Sutherland, The Death Dealer, Billy Scream   and Super Serial Killer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Irish Mist

Irish Mist had humble beginnings as a cocktail waitress in Phoenix, when promoters thought due to her looks, she could be a draw as a wretsler. She looked kind of like Brooke Shields, so maybe they did have something, but in an incredible blunder, they failed to capitalize. Instead of having her booked as a fan favorite, they had her on the cards as a rule breaker.

Having her go out as a manager for Sergeant Shuttle 1&2 for a time, when she was training to wrestle, really did nothing for her image. No matter how hot she was as a looker, no one was going to side with a couple Neo-Nazis, not even in the most red-neckish parts of Arizona.

Where both she and the promotion could have made a killing selling shirts with her image on it, signed photos and other junk, they did not because the people hated her due to her affiliation with the top heels. They just would not cheer for her and would not buy anything with her face on it.

Irish Mist started wrestling in 1990 and was done by 1993. During her brief career, most of her matches were with Miss Vicious. The curious thing was Vicious was normally hated with a passion by Arizona fans, but became an instant favorite when matched against Irish Mist.

No one ever bothered to ask why someone from "Ireland" would not have an Irish accent and would associate with Nazis.

One of Mist's best matches came at Graham Central Station in Phoenix before a crowd of over 1,000. Again facing Miss Vicious, the match seemed certain to be headed toward a stalemate when in the final few seconds of the encounter, Vicious managed a surprise pin.

Billy Scream

Billy Scream started out in Tucson as a trainee of Ron Sutherland, making his debut in Tucson in the late 1980s. He also saw action in Phoenix and environs, but only on an irregular basis. Among the people he faced were The Lumberjacks, John Ringer, Death Dealer, The Golden Eagle, Lance Ferraro, JT Law and The Black Mamba.

Though closely resembling one of The Nasty Boys, both in  physical appearance and style, he was always a fan favorite with the audience.

On many occasions, Scream teamed with his trainer and would also come to his rescue in singles matches where Sutherland was being double teamed. It became common to see Scream charging the ring with a chair in hand, cleaning house.

Scream retired in 1994, but made a comeback when Sutherland started promoting his Rage In The Cage promotion. Though he did not appear on every card and had to take time out for injuries sustained along the way, he was still a mainstay, facing a variety ion opponents.

The inevitable happened when Scream made one of his celebrated run-ins, got Sutherland disqualified and caused his mentor to turn on him. After a very brief Tucson run as a villain, Sutherland recanted his evil ways and mended his rift with his favorite stduent.

Scream quit for good in 2000.

A Parade Of Famous Masons Book & E Book

A Parade Of Famous Masons is another book and e book by me at http://www.lulu.com/content/9091275

The book opens in the first section with lists of masonic lodge members in varied realms of work such as actors,  politicians, bullfighters, ball players, writers and even wrestlers. The wrestlers include such notables as Wild Red Berry, Harley Race, Jim Londos, Jerry Graham,  Gory Guerrero, Bull Ramos  and Two Ton Harris.

The second and third portions of the book offer more in-depth bios and stories. There is a particularly interesting story about Jim Londos and how, at least according to masonic lore, he chose to deals with a rival promoter who came to the newly-opened Phoenix Madison Square Garden during a show and sliced a load of car tires on the parking lot to try to make fans afraid of attending the shows.

Eddie Guerrero In Arizona

Eddie Guerrero first came to Arizona in 1991 as a political ploy, when promoter Sergeant Shultz wanted to open a door for himself in Juarez, where Eddie had booking power. Thus, though he was  "The Unknown Guerrero" at the time, he was brought into Phoenix as a special attraction. The match saw him teamed with CC Starr to take on Shultz 1&2. It should be noted that this Indy promotion did pack them in, drawing on the average of 1.000 at Graham Central Station, a large area night club. The bout ended with Starr and Guerrero winning by disqualification.

Shortly afterward, Eddie would hit the big time in AAA, followed with his run in WCW and the WWF. For these promotions, he would become a big draw. After all,. there was name recognition right off the bat due to Gory Guerrero being a mainstay in the area and well-recognized by the older fans, as well as the matches his older sons had in the area. While Gory has often been mistakenly branded a Mexican wrestler, he was born in the small town of Ray, Ariozna.

Eddie looked back on his career, wild lifestyle and conversion to Christianity in his own autobiography, while much has been written on him in the magazines, books and on the net. There is no point in rehashing the bulk of it. Biographies, statistics and career info may be found from a number of sources on and off line.

After Eddie suffered a fatal heart attack, he was laid to rest in Scottsdale, Arizona, far away from his deceased father and founder of the dynasty, who rests in El Paso.

The legend, however, lives on.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Flama Negra

Over the years there were different Flamas or "Flames": wrestling in Arizona. There was Flama Roja from Juarez and Flama Azul.from Caborca. Another Flama, Flama Negra or Black Flama, came out of Nogales in 1987 and wrestled for about a decade in Arizona. Migrating back and forth, he became a top draw on both sides of the border.

In the Pheonix area, Flama Negra had matches with The Black Mamba, Sergeant Shultz, Special Forces and others. In many ways, however, he was not your typical luchador.Though he did all the fancy lucha moves, he was also capable in the American style and could give an opponent quite a brawl when provoked. To win his matches, one of his favorite moves was the leap off the top rope a la Mil Mascaras.

On the Mexican side of the border, he had a torrid feud with the villainous Pedro El Bello (sort of a Mexican Adrian Street). Their matches ended up invariably blood baths with both men slamming each other into chairs, tables and walls.

For whatever reason, this feud was never played up in Arizona.

Instead, Eruption, a rotund luchador from Texas with red tights and a golden mask, became the focal point of his dislike. The two men met in several matches in Phoenix and the suburbs, Usually, Eruption would win the matches where they were pitted against each other, by the use of a pair of brass knuckles or other illegal objects. The feud ended when Eruption had a nonfatal heart atatck that was still bad enough to force him from the ring and send him back to the sign shop he owned in Phoenix.

Flama Negra eventually returned to Nogales and retire din 2002.

The Death Dealer

Morgan Wormwood "Ye Olden Dealer Of Death" or Death Dealer for short, made his pro debut in Phoenix in 1988 as a student of Ron Sutherland out of Tucson. He lost his first match to JT Law.

The guy was  not the greatest of wrestlers, but he had one hell of a name. He also had great gear, with chains, a knight's helmet and a large sword. His portrayal of a traveling executioner from right out of Henry VIII's time was unique.I have to hand it to him there.

The thing I remember most about him was his boots. He did no wear traditional footwear, but these custom boots that made it look like he had goat hooves coming out of his legs.

Other people the odd-looking Death Dealer faced in Tucson and Phoenix included Gravedigger, The Time Traveler, Lance Ferraro, Bladerunner, The Black Mamba, Billy Scream, Kimara and The California Kid.

How many times he won or lost does not stick with me.. 

What sticks with me would be those goat feet boots.

He's lucky there's honor among thieves and wrestlers, to a point or I  would have stolen the things and worn them elsewhere myself.

The Death Dealer made his last run in the late 1990s when Sutherland was doing  his Rage In The Cage promotion in Tucson. He retired in 2001.

The Ripper & The Warlock

The Ripper and The Warlock were pushed for a time in Arizona as brawling bikers or a poor man's Comancheros tag team when Harvey Kramer (Paul Harvey) tried running the Phoenix./Tucson circuit. Their debut went like this.

Both men were booked in single matches. The Ripper was in an opener with Benny Mendeblis and made it plain he was offended at being the curtain-jerker on the card. This of course brought the desired jeers from the fans, which increased after the villain jumped his opponent before the bell.

The Ripper, in true heel form, bit, stomped, chinked, punched, kicked and slammed his opponent for a good five minutes until Mendeblis made a comeback. Just when it ape pared Dropper was goign down, out came The Warlock and tethered they tromped the popualr Hispanic wrestle.

Benny won the victory on a disqualification, but looked far worse for wear than Ripper.

Later on the card, The Warlock faced Billy Anderson in like fashion and stomped the living hell out of him. Just as the tide started to turn, however, with the two filling out of the ring to brawl in the stands, out came Ripper . He in turn helped Warlock lose the match by disqualification, but get in plenty of underhand shots on his opponent. 

A new tag team was born.

At least for a time.

Eventually, the fair separated . I think The Warlock headed for Canada, but am not sure with The Ripper.

Ripper's real name was Richard Miller and Warlock's was Nick De Carlo.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hot Stuff Hellraiser

While Mexico had its own wrestling devil in the form of Belcebu , who appeared in red tights, red boots and a devil mask, Arizona had its own version circa 1990.

Hot Stuff Hellraiser was a short, stocky wrestler in a red outfit and with the customary devil mask with cloth horns. He was not particularly talented when in the ring, but his garb was so bizarre, he was over with the public anyway. Though the promotion wanted to pass him off as a luchador, he was obviously an Anglo wrestler under the hood and had no clue when it came to executing lucha moves. Thus, when pairs up to face a real luchador from Mexico, he was pretty well lost in the ring and his actions bungled. The routine, reportedly created for the man by co-booker Bronco Lazar, didn't include much thought as to whether this spawn of Satan was supposed to be good or bad. When matched against the likes of Thrillseeker or Lance Ferraro he was booed, but when facing off with Sergeant Schultz, The Black Mamba or The Mad Monks. he was cheered loudly. In most cases, he did not win. regardless of the opponent.

One of the most memorable moments in his career came in a match where his sewn on devil tail came off his trunks and he ended up being choked with it.

In spite of his frequent botching of moves and the loss of his tail, Hot Stuff stuck around for some three years and then went back to the flames of Hell where he reportedly came from.

Never fear. Arizona would see an influx of bizarre routines even sillier than Hot Stuff's in the years to follow, such as Stinky The Garbage Man, Peter Pan and Chuckie El Munstro, a diminutive wrestler who dressed like Chuckie  from Child's Play.

The Pedro Gonzalez Arena

Pedro Gonzalez was a businessmen who built both a large bullring and a boxing/wrestling arena in the early 1950s in the Mexican border town of Nogales, across from Arizona. Since the city was devoid of these things at the time, the Gonzalez venture was welcomed with much rejoicing.

The bullring was located on the south side of town, with the wrestling arena set on a hillside a short distance away. The former seated 5,000 and the latter around 2,500.

Gonzalez proved himself intent on bringing the best of both worlds to the border. Top bullfighters such as Carlos Arruza, Luis Procuna , Calesero, Alfredo Leal and Morenito de Talavera came to his bullring. His wrestling arena attracted the likes of Mano Negro, Blue Demon, Santo, Gorilla Ramos and Gory Guerrero.

As age crept up on him, Goznalez sold the bullring and rented out the wrestling rented to a number of promoters, including Bucky Zepeda and Tony Martin.

Over the years for Goznalez and other promoters, wretslers from Arizona often came down to perform, including JT Law, Bonecrusher, The Lumberjacks, Kurt Von Steiger and .The Mercenaries.

Other Mexican wrestlers seen at the local arena included Mel Mascaras, Orcida, Orca, Flama Negra, Centella Negra, Resplandor, Indio Seri, Pedro El Bello, Rayo De Jalisco, Rayo De Sonora, Flama Negra, Flama Azul, Tamba, Twin Devils, Fiera, Pirata Morgan, Samurai, Black Mask, Amadeus, Andar, Black Widow,  Enigma, Makriz, El Vikingo, King Kong, Sergio Saravia, Coyo Castro, Black Gordman, Legionario Mustang, Nova, Apache Salvaje, Rito Romero, Karloff, Circulo Rojo,  Toro Socorro, Enrique Romero, Juan Garcia, Chanoc,  Zombie Palacio, Estrella De Jalisco, Kung Chang, Belcebu and more.

The bullring still stands, but I have no idea if the wrestling arena is still there or not. I had heard the arena passed to the hands of Pedro's daughter after his death and she was looking to sell the property. That was    several years ago.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

See Me In Alliance

If you live in Ohio, you can see me as of this writing on the first and third Saturday of every month in Alliance, Ohio. Since MCW has run here for almost two years, it is not likely they will be moving any time soon. Info at http://www.mcwpro.com

Keep in mind they run an adult show, kind of like ECW. Things are not like they once were.

At least in some respects.

While I have had to change with the times and adapt along with the nature of wrestling itself, I cannot help but  think I am one of the last of my kind. While I have become modernized, there is still enough of the old style left to reflect on an era that has slowly passed away.

At age 52, I have survived most of the trails and outlasted most of my associates.

Mike Contreras, Spike Cantillo, Bubba Storm, Thrillseeker, Mamba, Donna Day, The Lumberjacks, John Ringer, Enigma, Jody Arnold, Luis Martinez, Eli Hernandez, Bobby Jaggers, Cowboy Bob Ellis  and others  have retired.

Even worse, people I knew like Eddie Sullivan, Fred Blassie, Lou Albano, The Grand Wizard, Baron Scicluna, Barry Bernsten, Bob Yuma, Bill Berger, Mike Gordon, Lou Thesz, Tona Tomah,  Penny Banner, Rip Tyler, Louie Spicolli, Stephen De Leon, Jerry Graham, Bob Sallee, La Fiera, Dream Machine, Oliver Humperdink,  Mike Shaw, Victoria Vulcan, Moolah, Jimmy Banks, Navajo Frank, Buddy Rose and others are all dead.

There are some others out there who are older than me and active either as wrestlers or managers, but not many.

I may not be the last of my kind, but I feel like I am cutting it pretty close.

Come see an old goat in action while you still can.

The link to the MCW page provides updates on cards.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thrillseeker Terry Zeller

Thrillseeker Terry Zeller drifted into Phoenix from Portland, Oregon in 1988 and just happened to wander into a local wrestling arena where Indy shows were held on a weekly basis. He was quickly signed on. For the next several years, he would appear both as a fan favorite and a rule breaker, depending where he wad needed and confront a number of capable challengers. During his Arizona run, he also became a regular on AIWA cards out in California, plus occasional WWF tv matches and trips to the Mexican border.

On WWF TV takings, he lost to The Undertaker and Brutus Beefcake, but had an impressive match with Bob Backlund.  He also had the  dubious distinction of being flattened by Lex Lugar when he had the audacity  to look into Lugar's mirror and primp himself before the cheering crowd.

In the Indy promotions, where he faced people more his size, he had a more effective run. Some of his opponents included Tom Ramirez, Louie Spicolli, JT Law, Lance Ferraro, Sgt. Shultz, The Beast, Ron Sutherland,  The Ranger, The Mercenary, Bonecrusher, John Ringer, Flama Negra, Eruption, Tony Hernandez, Mike Contreras, Eli Hernandez,  Baby Love, The Golden Eagle, David Rose, The Lumberjacks, Zodiac,  TC Ryder and CC Starr.

Thrillseeker's longest and greatest feud was with the Black Mamba, with these two meeting in nearly every kind of match known to man and the bulk of them being bloodbaths. Ironically, the pair grew tired of pounding each other, teamed up and won a version of the Western States Tag Team title.

Thrillseeker's Arizona run came to an end in 1995,  when he moved to Las Vegas,.

Rod Fenton

Rod Fenton was born in Edmonton, Canada and though small in size, ranging from 10 to a maximum of 190 pounds, became quite a drawing card in various parts of the United States, including Texas and Ohio. Sometimes clean-shaven and sometimes wearing a full beard to make himself look more fierce, as well a heavier, Fenton could work as scientifically as any man, with sensational flying moves to his credit and an assortment of take downs. As a rule breaker, however, he was utterly vicious and underhanded, often provoking crowds to a riot pitch.

Though accomplished as a wrestler, it was as a promoter Fenton became better known, both in Tucson, Arizona and back in his native Canada.

While running Arizona, some of the people he brought in were Gorgeous George, Lou Thesz, Monty Ladue, Michael Leone, Dick Jordan, Dick Trout, Anton Leone  and Mildred Burke. He also arranged the debut of an unknown Gene Kiniski in Tucson. Kiniski would of course go on to become NWA champion and a wrestling legend.

Not everyone was fond of Fenton as a promoter. Don Jardine, the original masked Spoiler, tore him apart in sheet interviews some years ago, while Pat Barrett shared few fond memories of the man. The Gorgeous George biography on the stands now also accounts how Fenton talked George into having a leg numbed so he could work a match and being called every name in the book by the irate wrestler the next day when the pain-killing element wore off.

Aside from his passion for wrestling, Fenton liked big cigars, horses and gambling. Some wrestlers commented in his main run that payoffs corresponded with how good of a week he had at the track rather than the house at the wrestling show.

Fenton was also heavily involved in the Masons and Shrine.

Fenton's last hurray as a promoter came in 1972. His last big card was held at the Travel Lodge Theater (now Celebrity Theater) in Phoenix. The lineup featured Johnny Kostas vs Kiko Torres, Willie Wilson vs Cowboy Lang, Tona Tomah vs Belle Starr, Lou Thesz vs Jerry Kozak, Moose Morowski versus Ricky Romero and a Texas Death Match between Ciclon Negro and Dory Funk Sr.

For all hi critics, there were some who praised him, including Tomah, who made this mention of him in regard to the above show.

"Starr couldn't get to Phoenix due to legitimate plane trouble and the match had to be canceled. Fenton sent her a pay off anyway!"

Fenton died in Tucson in 1973.

Toro Bravo 1&2

The Toro Bravo tag team was more active across the border in Mexico than in Arizona, though they were brought in for varied lucha offices running spot shows in Arizona. Translated as "The Brave Bulls" in English, the pair wore masks with bull horns on them, which were of course removed before they wrestled.  Beneath, they wore standard black masks, with black ring garb.

Both have since passed away,. There are bios of them in The Last Bell Call at http://www.lulu.com/content/8183756

Both rest in cemeteries in the Mexican interior, far away from the border where they flourished.

Had they been pushed properly, the two could have been a major hit in Arizona, but there were supposedly problems with keeping them legal and keeping them working in Arizona. Reportedly, when they crossed the border, they never bothered with work permits and simply claimed they were mailing visits to relatives on the American side of the line, while being paid under the table.

Mexico has often produced "silly" routines, such a Hombre Simeo in a monkey outfit, Los Robots in metallic shimmer  gear and Tortugas Ninja in Ninja Turtle outfits. Purists might claim The Brave Bulls just to be another dumb routine, but those who saw them in action realized aside from the weird entrance masks, they were deathly serious in the ring.  Furthermore, America has little room to talk! What country gave the wrestling world The Gobbledygook-er, Battle Cat, Lazar-tron and The MVP?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Spur Match

Arizona was "hardcore" before everybody else and his brother started brawling and added this word to the profession's jargon. I do not recall the date, but out of the many bloodbaths I saw in Arizona, one of the worst was a Texas Spur Bout (Why a "Texas" spur and not an "Arizona" one is a mystery of the ages) between Chris Colt and Tito Montez. It would have been sometime in the early 1970s.

Someplace I still have photos of this, including one final shot of Tito Montez looking anything but a winner, leaning against the ropes with blood all over him and the spur in his hand.

The irony is this match solved nothing, for Montez and Colt had been going at it since 1968 or so and would continue to hammer each other long afterward.

I do not remember the reason for the bout. These two didn't need a reason.

As with most main events in Arizona from the 1920s through the 1990s, this match was 2/3 falls. A spur hung on a pole over one of the turnbuckles and of course, much time was spent trying to get at it.

I seem to think Colt got it first, then lost it and after bloodying Montez, ended up bleeding himself.  They traded falls, but in the final moments of the match, Montez won the third pin with a sunset flip.

By that time the combatants and the ring were covered with blood in a match that would have put ECW to shame.

Colt ran to the locker room, with fans still throwing garbage at him and calling him names, which serves to show just how much "heat" he had in Phoenix. In other places, having been bloodied and beaten down like this would have killed him off in the eyes of the audience, but in his case he was sodetested, thew crowd still wanted him hurt worse.

It was back to the drawing board for the bad guy. As he beat a  quick exit, Tito stayed to relish his win, while the crowd roared.

For a moment anyway, good had triumphed over evil.

I am trying to remember the undercard as well, but cannot recall too much as this main event overshadowed everyone. I seem to think Spike Jones, Rudy Navarro, Paul Harvey and Nano Ortega were there.  Spike and Nano might have faced each other.  

Then, maybe they didn't.

Danny Medina

Danny Medina started in Phoenix in 1985 under the training of Maniac Mike Gordon and Chief Crazy Horse.  Originally, as a rotund Hispanic, he was intended to be seen as a bandito routine, under the alias of Bernardo The Beautiful, but he opted for his own name instead.

"There's something wrong with a guy who sues his own name," complained at least one veteran, but the newcomer was firm with his stance on this. 

Some of the people he faced included The Ranger, The Mercenary, Steve Vega, Sergeant Shultz, The Lumberjacks,  Bonecrusher, Section 8, Chief Atacullaculla (who couldn't love that name). Bull Zambrano, JT Law, Lance Ferraro and  John Ringer.  As a finisher, he usually used a crushing bearhug.

Medina  had two bloody feuds. One was with the Mexican wrestler, Tom Ramirez, from out of Juarez and the other was with his mentor, Mike Gordon.

Medina is presently retired and living in Phoenix. His health is good enough in spite of his weight, where he might be able to make a brief comeback sometime if he desires. After all, there are people older than him    active in Arizona right now.

Recently, on a personal note, he suffered the death of his wife, to whom he had been married for decades.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bad Luck State?

While it might make a good plot for a Final destination movie on one hand or it might be just looking at coincidence on another, many wrestlers who appeared in Arizona suffered very tragic ends. A partial list shows this. Now for a look on the spooky side of life. Granted also, the WCW and WWF people wrestled everywhere, but if I did not include them, sure as hell someone would bring that up.Not all of these deaths happened in Arizona, but still...

The Terrible Turk (drowned)
The Terrible Turk II (killed in car crash)
Bob Sallee (suicide)
George Drake (suicide)
Moondog Spot (heart attack in ring)
Ike Eakins (died from ring injuries)
Al Torres (died from ring injuries)
Jim Wright (in-ring heart attack in Phoenix)
Stephen De Leon (killed in motorcycle wreck)
Ali Pasha (heart attack after wrestling)
Miss Elizabeth (bad pill and alcohol combo)
Louie Spicolli (bad pill and alcohol combo) 
Joey Morella (killed in car crash)
La Fiera (murdered)
Firpo Zybysco (murdered)
Sherri Martel  (overdose)
Ron Dupree (in ring heart attack)
Chris Colt (died from AIDS)
Tojo Yamamoto (suicide)
Ray Gunkle (heart attack after wrestling)
Garibaldi (heart attack after wrestling))
Buddy O' Brian (killed in a scuffle with police
Tony Romano (heart attack after wrestling )
Iron Mike (in ring heart attack)
Tec-9 (overdose)
Kola Kwariani (died after a fight with hoodlums)
Yukon Eric (suicide)
Magnificent Maurice (killed in plane crash)
Eddie Graham (suicide)
Jim Hady (in ring heart attack)
Kerry Von Erich (suicide)
Mike Awesome (suicide)
Kanyon (suicide)
Junkyard Dog (killed in car crash)
Matt Holliday *ring photographer (overdose)
Adrian Adonis (killed in car crash)
Buzz Sawyer (overdose)
Chris Benoit (suicide)
Woman (murdered)
Curt Hennig (overdose)
Dino Bravo (murdered)
Jerry Blackwell (killed in car crash)
Tarzan Tyler (killed in car crash)
Owen Hart (fall from top of arena rafters)
Bobby Duncum Jr (overdose)
Crash Holly (overdose)
Mars Bennett (killed in car crash)
Ripper Leone (killed in car crash)
Luther Lindsy (in ring heart attack)
Crash Holly (overdose)
Test (overdose)
Luna Vachon (suicide)
Hercules Cortez (killed in car crash)
Renegade (suicide)
Battle Cat (killed in car crash) 
Jim Chambers (killed in industrial accident)
Jerry Miller (killed in car crash)

Jimmy Valentine

I remember in the early 1980s how on an Indy card in Ohio, I ran into some dipshit calling himself Billy Valentine, who claimed to be Greg's brother and Johnny"s son. He couldn't even lie straight as he offered this gem.

"Johnny's wrestling in Texas and Greg's in Washington now."

First off, Greg was in the southern states at the time and Johnny for a second point, wasn't doing anything, as he was in a wheelchair.

Thirdly, this fool was no relation. Trying to scam the marks was one thing, but NOT the wrestlers.

Arizona had another Valentine in the 1970s, but at least he never claimed to be kin to the famous Johnny .

Jimmy Valentine drifted into Arizona in 1971 and stayed for a couple years. He was tall, but not particularly  well-built. I would no call him fat, but he was on the heavier side. He carried it well due to his height.

For the bulk of his Arizona run, he was seen on the undercard in Pheonix, Tucson, Casa Grande, Flagstaff and other locations. Some of the people he faced included Ali Bey, Rudy Navarro,  Chuck Karbo, Jody Arnold, Kurt Von Steiger, Jody Arnold, Mitri, Jay Dillon, The Hornets, Al Seneceros, Tom Ramirez, Chris Colt, Ron Dupree,  Johnny Mann and Apache Gringo. Sometimes he won. Sometimes he lost.

Regardless of whether he ended the match up or down, he was always popular with the fans. He used an airplane spin, a power slam and other strongman moves to finish the matches where he did obtain a victory. 

Valentine also had some main event matches with Bobby Mayne (Jaggers). Afterward, he dyed his brown hair blond, announced he was teaming with his former enemy and the Valentine/Mayne connection was born. It was not the proverbial marriage made in heaven. After a short run as a villain, the team was dissolved and Valentine left Arizona for good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whispers Among The Tombstones

Whispers Among The Tombstones is another of my books out on Lulu. Information at http://www.lulu.com/content/7155196

Wild West graveyards and burial locations are the focus of the project. Find out where people like Pat Garrett, Billy The Kid, Jesse James, Billy Clanton, John Heath, The Bisbee Bandits, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Sam Bass, John Hardin, Kid Corry and many others from legend now sleep, as well as more obscure politicians, lawmen, bandits and others. Biographies of the deceased are also offered.

There are also some wrestlers featured such as Frank Gotch, Bill Muldoon and Fred Beel.

Arizona wrestling fans might find the section on Jim Londos to be interesting, from his term as Worshipful Master of the very same lodge in New York attended by Teddy Roosevelt, to his long run as a wrestler and promoter in Phoenix.

The Mad Monks

The Mad Monks 1&2 emerged in Arizona from Nogales in 1990. Though their wrestling ability was average at best, they did have the gear.  That I have to concede.

The two dressed in hooded robes that came off when they wrestled, only to reveal brown singlets and bizarre masks with hair on the sides and nothing on top, to give them the Friar Tuck look. They entered the ring to Gregorian chants. They taunted their opponents in Spanish with suggestions they should repent rather than submit at difficult times.

Since the two wrestled in the lucha libre style, they were usually matched against fellow Mexican wrestlers, Amadeus and Fly Boy. The crowd hated the Monks with a passion, so their popular opponents usually ended up with a home stadium advantage. More often than not, the Monks went down to defeat.

The Mad Monks versus Fly Boy versus Amadeus feud wasn't exactly on par with The Comancheros versus Pancho Pico & Ben Justice, Ricky Romero versus Moose Morowski or Flair versus Sting, but it did draw well,

The show wrapped up when the Monks returned to Nogales, as they were only in the USA on limited work permits.

The Rootin, Tootin Buckaroos

They have been billed as being from Arizona, but whether they actually came from there or wrestled there under  other names is like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg, by virtue of the fact no one knows.

The relative facts of  the matter  have the Buckaroos,  known as Tex Tootin and Rex Rootin, emerging in Ohio in 2007. One may keep up with their exploits at http://www.mcwpro.com who're they are presently active. They are distinct, wearing cowboy outfits and mass with gunfighter mustaches kluged to the faces. For a while they had a manager wearing a mask as well, with pigtails sticking out from the hood, named Side Saddle Sally. Since 2010, she has evidently been sent back to the ranch.

In their interviews they use every western cliche in the book from old Marty Robbing songs to Once upon A Time In The West.  They come into the ring to rollicking country music and use a straddle on the ropes as if riding mechanical bulls to introduce themselves to the audience. They finish off opponents with either bulldog headlocks or a lariat clothesline,  which is of scours what all cowboy wrestlers, good or bad, like to use.

As a tag team, they have pulled ups some wins, but as singles, they tend to come out on the losing side of things. Normally, they are jeered by the crowd, but when pitted against other villains, they are sometimes cheered. One case, again at an MCW card, had Rex Rootin facing Jebediah, who remains easily one of the top heels in the promotion. The fans went for the cowboy, but he still ended up beaten.

As of now, the Rootin, Tootin Buckaroos continue to appear throughout the Ohio/Michigan area and are assumed to be the prime candidates to win an upcoming MCW Tag Team Tournament to be held in the spring of 2011.  Time will tell on this one.

There is a My Space page devoted to the Rootin, Tootin Buckaroos and also a Face Book Fan Page.

If they didn't really come from Arizona, all I can say is...they should have!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Detroit Interlude

Chris Colt was a mainstay in Arizona. More on that some other day. The focus of this article involves a match of  his that took place in Detroit rather than Phoenix or Tucson.

Though I grew up in Arizona, I was born in Ohio. Due to this, we would usually go back to Akron on a vacation every summer. I remember one year, how thrilled I was to see Colt on a television tape for The Sheik's promotion in Detroit. I was not thrilled for long. In this encounter he faced Whipper Watson Jr. It was not the match of the century.

The match was a non-match. That is the only way to describe it. For the duration of the time limit, Colt ducked in and out of the ring, beating the count and slipping back to the arena floor. Watson stomped his feet, did back flips and ordered the referee to do something, but Colt refused to offer any attack. Finally, the bell soudned and the contest ended in a draw without either wrestler doing so much as a lockup.

To say this ordeal was subnormal would be an understatement.

It took me over three decades to find out what was really going on and what booking genius came up with  this  fiasco. While speaking with Whipper Watson Jr on Face Book, I received a long sought after
explanation.

"I remember that match," Watson explained. "Colt was pissed off at The Sheik,  so he told me not to touch him."

Thus the two men went out here and did nothing.

I can well imagine what Sheik's reaction was during and after this match.

Or perhaps he calmed down and went with it? After all, the bout was shown on tv and not cut.

Pepe Romero

Pepe Romero appeared in Arizona during the late 1960s into the early 1970s, but never made much of a splash. More often than not, he was a carpenter used to build up other wrestlers and lost the bulk of his matches. That is putting it nicely. I cannot recall ever seeing him gain a pin.

Over the years, I have tried to find out whatvere happened to him and had no luck. He might have returned to his native Mexico, if he really was from there as he was billed. He might have quit. He might have traveled elsewhere and taken a different name.

During his Arizona stay, he usually got in some good licks in his matches. He was especially versed with a fine flying dropkick and some rapid-fire armdrags. Even though the crowd figured he was outmatched, they always cheered for him, only to be let down when in the end, he was pinned .

Some of the people he faced included Sweet Daddy Watts, Bearcat Wright, Chuck Karbo, Don Arnold, Jody Arnold, Don Kent, The Comancheros and Chuck Hondo. Being a smaller guy, he was usually overwhelmed size wise by his opponents, which was the general idea.

It would have been nice if he could have won a match or two during his Arizona run.

I mean, it is not that he was untalented. He just was never allowed to truly shine.

More likely than not, that would be the reason why he left Arizona.

What happened to him afterward would be anyone's guess.

Don Arnold

Don Arnold started wrestling in 1950 shortly after his military career ended. In the time that followed, he obtained a phd as well and worked by day as a high school teacher.

Though he was a fan favorite in most places he wrestled, Arnold tended to be a rule breaker in Arizona. He was booked in Phoenix and Tucson often, as it was a short drive from his long-term San Diego home base.

The list of people Arnold faced on the Arizona circuit is a log one as it spanned from the 1950s into the early 1970s. Among the notables were Ramon Torres, Brute Bemis, Gorgeous George, Les Thatcher, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Luis Martinez, Tito Montez, Gory Guerrero, Dick Hutton, Phil Melby, Armon Hussein, Vic Christy, Frankie Cain, Ray Gordon, Pepe Romero, Enrique Torres, Rick Waldo, Bruce Kirk, Georgie Drake, Phil Melby, Tito Copa, Bill Melby, Eddie Lopez, Mike Mazurki, Ted Christy, Nelson Royal, Frank Zomar, Charro Azteca, Chief Golden Hawk, Foldaway Venus, Oni Wiki Wiki, Charlie Kalani (Professor Tanaka), John Tolos, Leo Garibaldi, Johnny Demchuck, Lord Blears, Lord Leslie Carlton, Jim Wright, Kangaroo Bob Karson, Tarzan Tyler, Juan Humberto, Jesse James, Juan Sebastian, Howard Cantonwine, Blas Corona, Toni Hernandez,   Nano Ortega, Jerry Usher, Ian Campbell, Ripper Leone, Pancho Pico and Jesse James.

Arnold was part of the tag team match at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden where Jim Wright died in the ring in the early 1960s. After tagging out from a double-teaming, the ill-fated wretsler slumped on the turnbuckle and fell off the ring apron, clutching his chest. He was the victim of a sudden and fatal heart attack. . 

Aside from his high-profile wrestling, Arnold's private life was and still is full of oddities. He spent much of his life living in nudist colonizes and was even married in  a naked ceremony. He wrote small books including one on the naturist lifestyle titled Basic Nudism. As a militant atheist, even at the age of 80, he was taking part in atheist protests clamoring for the separation of church and state. He is still alive as of this writing and staying with his daughter in Hawaii, though a series of strokes over the past few years have left him in poor health.

For a more conclusive look at this talented and enduring wrestler, one might try and find a huge back issue of the sheet, Wrestling Then & Now, that covers his entire career at length, with photos. Back issues might still be available by contacting Evan_Ginzburg@yahoo.com for information.

Arnold also appears giving interviews in a DVD produced by Indy cinema icon Dwayne Walker.  There is also some old action footage circulating on vhs of him wrestling Goon Henry, Tarzan Tyler and a few others. Stuff also crops up on U Tube.

Sadly, there does not appear to be any surviving TV footage from any of his Arizona matches.

Before he left Arizona, Don helped introduce a ":nephew" using the name of Jody Arnold, who was actually no  relation, to the Pheonix circuit. This boost alone, by the mere adaption of the Arnold name, aided the newcomer in becoming an instant hit.

That, however, is another story.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Andar

Andar wrestled in Arizona from the late 1980s into the 1990s, as a traveling "monk"  dressed in brown and wearing a mask. No everyone was impressed by him as behind his back, some of the wrestlers referred to him a "caca" or :shit" in Spanish and proclaimed he looked like a giant lump of...well...anyway......

Andar came from San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, near the Mexican border, where he was also seen from time  to time. he was an  instrumentalist in getting more than a handful of Arizona grapplers booked in this area as well.

In Arizona, Andar was usually ont he undercard. More often than not, he faced fellow luchadores such as The Mad Monks, Pedro El Bello, Amadeus, Cerberus and Resplandor. Sometimes, he faced much larger wrestlers and was quickly smashed down, as when he was thrown in the ring against Sergeant Shultz or Eruption.

For a brief time, Andar also wrestled without his mask as Silver Fox.

Eventually, Andar returned to San Luis and retired. I have no idea what happened to him since.

Amadeus

Amadeus showed up in Mexico shortly after the film of the same name about Mozart came out on the big screen. He had several matches along the Mexican border in towns such as Nogales, San Luis Rio Colorado, Agua  Prieta and Naco, where he was roughly mid-level as a wrestler on the cards.

In 1990, he was booked into Arizona at regular intervals and remained for a couple years, when a wrestling promotion operated at a Hispanic swap meet in Phoenix.

Amadeus used the typical flying moves used day most lucha figures, but at this time such was not commonplace in America and he became a big hit.  He wore a variety of different masks, including one with msuical notes upon it to keep with the musical theme.

Among the people Amadeus feuded with were Sergeant Shultz and J.T.Law. He and Fly Boy also faced The Mad Monks in a short feud.

Eventually, the luchador returned to his native Mexico and rounded out his career down there.

He presently makes his home in Nogales.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kurt Von Hess & Karl Von Shotz in Arizona

Kurt Von Hess and Karl Von Shotz were a great team in the 1970s. They even held the NWA World Tag Team  title. As far as I know, however, they only appeared once in Phoenix.

The debut for this hated tag team took place in the early 1970s, when The Sheik made an attempt to run Arizona with the backing of the owner of a pharmaceutical chain,.

Von Hess & Von Shotz put their belts on the line against Fred Curry & Terry Funk.

As far as I know, this might have been the only time Funk and Curry ever teamed together.

In any case, the match was the main event, but had a hard act to follow with the semi-main featuring Luis Martinez vs The Sheik in an absolute blood bath.

Predictably, the Germans did their double teaming and distracting the referee, until the good guys started fighting back. Surprisingly, Funk did not engage in his typical brawling, but used holds and routines, though eh did throw in a punch once in a while. Curry did his famed dropkicks and other flying moves to retaliate against the villains.

In the end, Von Hess and Shotz were counted out, which saw the Curry/Funk team winning the match, but not the belts.

So much for that.

Don Fargo in Arizona

Though he spent a good deal of time in Texas and California, Don Fargo only made a handful of appearances in Arizona over the years, which is somewhat surprising.

He was in Arizona for the first time as part of The Dalton Gang, doing an evil gunfighter routine in the 1960s.

The second set of bookings I can find from him seems to date back to 1970, when he came in for a brief stint as part of the "New Chain Gang" in the Phoenix/Tucson area. This would have been after the shooting of his former partner back east, Frank Dillinger. The angle saw him teaming with Paul Dupree/Chris Colt while Colt's established partner, Ron Dupree sat out as a single. (Ronnie was, however, not afraid fo being a third man at ringside and naturally interfering in the matches).

The Fargo/Colt connection saw them feuding with Armon Hussein and Tito Montez until the point where the two fan favorites sent Fargo packing. 

In 1976 or so, Larry Hennig made a brief attempt at running wrestling in Arizona, where he had moved to attempt a real estate business. Neither his wrestling venture nor his real estate sales went well and he was back in Minnesota in no time.

In his return match, some fans still remembered him from way abck when at the Phoenix Madison Square  Garden and booed vociferously. Fargo faced Ricky Romero in what ended up a wild brawl that spilled outside the ring. The two were counted out, with  Fargo having his head rammed into the timekeeper's table and being bloodied.

A few months later, Fargo faced Cornelio "Tony" Hernandez in an opening bout in Tempe and beat him fairly easily.

One of the high point came in the middle of the match, when Fargo became angered by an old woman at ringside.

"Right in your lap," he shouted back. "Right in your lap."

He then hurled Hernandez through the ropes 

This was Fargo's final match in Arizona as far as I can recall, though he continued to wrestle for several years and even promote briefly in Tennessee.

He is still alive at around 80 years old, as of this writing. .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Phil Melby

Phil Melby lays claim to being the last student trained by Jim Londos before this legendary wrestler left Arizona to invest in a  farm in California. Born Paul Gottlieb, he was given the name to be a "brother" to Bill Melby with  mutual consent.

Melby traveled to various  parts of the USA and was also a major draw as a heel, teaming with Rudy Navarro along the Mexican border. Though he made the circuits, he was  always returning to Arizona both to wrestle and work at other successful businesses in daylight hours.

Among the people he wrestled in Arizona from the 1950s through the 1980s were Chuck Karbo, Gene Anderson, Killer Kane, Don Arnold, Dr Jerry Graham, Lou Thesz, The Comancheros, Henry Pulusso, John Shane, Gorgeous George, Jim Wright, Mongol Lu Kimm and Lord Leslie Carlton, with whom he had a bloody feud.  

Melby's last match came in Phoenix in 1986 when he teamed with Reggie Parks to take on The Mongolian Stomper and Tony Hernandez.

For a brief time, Melby held the "North American Championship" recognized by the Arizona promotion from the 1940s into the 1960s, which was held by such notables as Buddy Rogers and Don Arnold.

An interesting side note on Melby. He also worked on weekends as a train robber at Legend City amusement park in Tempe for a time. The incident is recapped in my book on defunct amusement parks, When The  Laughter Dies Away. http://www.lulu.com/content/1223686

Throughout the 1990s. Melby was nicknamed "The Comeback Kid" when he defied death to emerge from a stroke, a heart attack and a battle with cancer. Clearly, his greatest victories came after retirement!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gene Anderson in Arizona

Long before Arn Anderson, there was the original "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" team of "brothers" Ole, Lars and Gene Anderson. Most often they are associated in history with their Minneapolis area home base and down south in places such as the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama.

Gene did make a brief run to Arizona in 1965, but did not stay long. He first showed up in Phoenix in February of that year and lost to Phil Melby at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden.

Two months later, he was back at The Garden, where he teamed with Hans Steiner to take on Armon Hussein and Rocket Monroe.

The first encounter saw Hussein and Steiner winning the affair.

The reuslt sof as rematch the followign week have been lost to the ages.

Afterward, Gene headed back east and as far as anyone can recall never appeared in Arizona again as a single or with his "relatives" in the wrestling world, though tree trio went on to make a great name for themselves elsewhere.

Gene Anderson died on Halloween in 1991, long after retirement form the ring.

Gentleman Jeff Hodge

A powerful bodybuilder, Jeff Hodgkinson became Jeff Hodge under the training  of Tito Montez and spent much of the 1970s wrestling in Arizona.

Among the people Hodge faced were Mikko Mongol (Mike Gordon), Freddie Gomez, Chuck Karbo and Jimmy Kent.

Hodge retired from wrestling when he felt the cost of gas and transportation was getting too high (he should see prices now) . He made two brief comebacks, one in 1981 when Chuck Hondo tried running shows at the t. Mary's Gym in Phoenix and lasted less than a month as a promoter. The second time came in 1983 when Hodge made one appearance at the building where Berry Bernsten was running shows and found him so dislike-able as a promoter he quit after hsi first match there, never to wrestle again.

Due to his physique and strength, Hodge used the typical arsenal of strongman holds, such as the power slam, the bear hug and the back breaker.

A Lanny Poffo Story

Southern states tended to by the fortress for Lanny Poffo. Arguably, some of his best matches came in the run with ICW operated by his own family and for the Memphis office afterward. Even now, he live sin retirement in Florida, where he ism involved in a  number of other business ventures. he recently wrote a kid's book speaking against the perils of smoking and still makes occasional appearances at autograph fests.

Lanny also wrestled in Arizona during his WWF stint. In fact, I was there when he made his Phoenix debut, though I cannot  recall what opponent he faced.

The odd thing about Lanny, both during this presentation and in subsequent matches where he was sometimes Osgood and soemtimes bad, he alleyways remained amazing cordial to fans.  I did not find out until years later, why thsi was so.

Poffo has repeatedly said he will never refuse a fan an autograph and the reason for this stems from his own childhood, where he encountered the supposedly-lovable Art Linkletter at a TV studio.

Little Lanny asked Art fro his autograph.

Lovable Art told him "F--- off!"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dick Cheney

This is not a political blog. I do not do political blogs. Vice President Cheney is not the topic of this post, though I would relish the chance to see him demolished in  a  wrestling ring.

This Dick Cheney was a professional wrestler, but I have been able to find out very little about him aside from the fact he was active in the late 1950s and early 1960s, seeing action in Arizona and California.

There are results showing him appearing on cards in Los Angeles and other California locations, including  matches with the likes of Gorgeous George and Dick Trout.

In Arizona, he was not a regular, but appeared in Yuma, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson from time to time.

Cheney was matched a handful of times with Don Kent. Tucson served as a setting of some of their confrontations, with Kent coming out ahead. 

I would really relish the thought of the more famous Dick Cheney from our time getting tromped regally by Kent or Gorgeous George, but such is not the case. I would buy a front row ticket for such.

This, however, is not the reality of things.

The Dick Cheney who wrestled would obviously have been a different person, but I know little else about  him. I don't even have a clue what he looked like.

Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo

A wrestler with no build, minimal ability in the ring and the most uncanny mask known to man,  Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo not only had some matches in Arizona in the 1990s, but made it as far as Indies in Ohio and New Jersey, as well as the Mexican border.  He was great on the mike at least and could talk up a storm. This was his fortress.

He would always speak of himself in the third person and with the most grating voice he could muster, like a cartoon rooster speaking in a half-crow.

But then, what could you expect from a man in a rooster mask?

"This is not a mask," he would proclaim. "This is my real face. I was once a pet rooster on a farm and a little girl kept me as a pet, but her father wanted to cut my head off and cook me, so she prayed to the Good Fairy,  who turned me into a  real, live boy, but she only did it halfway and this is what resulted."

He also had an abundance of catch phrases.

"Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo is cock of the walk and something to crow about."

"Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo is gonna smash you like broken eggs."

"Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo is death from the barnyard."

"Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo doesn't do sports entertainment. Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo fights for real."

"Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo will peck you to death. Look at that pecker on Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo's  face."

An an extremely small time Jersey promotion in 2000 or so, the "pecker" which was a piece of leather sewn on the mask to look like a beak, was pulled off by an overzealous opponent. Rather than coming unglued himself, the giant rooster man went ahead with the match until the end.

If you missed seeing Mr. Cock A Doodle Doo in action, take heart as there is gossip he will return to action for some California Indies prior to the end of 2011.

They're Tearing Down Joe Finn's Arena

Tales From The Cemetery On The Hill is a murky collection of short horror tales set in Sugarcreek, Ohio which is a few miles form where I live. A sadistic murderer known as The Sin Killer cuts out the hearts of people he believes to be doing evil and leaving these organs on chuirch doorsteps. IN the book, he visits the grave site of his most recent victim, only to be confronted by a creepy caretaker, who informs him the cemetery is cursed and people buried here tended to die violently. He also informs him they have stories to tell and by leading him to selected graves, he hears their voices in the wind,

An American bullfighter brought home to Ohio for burial, speaks from beyond the tomb, recalling how he  ended  up fatally gored in the bullring in Peru,  but his spirit failed to  realize he was dead. A drunken man is sucked into the movie screen of a spaghetti western. A magician reveals the secret of his magic remains more than just a set of tricks. A horny single man engages in a relationship with a woman he learns to be a succubus. You get the drift?

They're Tearing Down Joe Finn's Arena us a gloomy wrestling story abotu a wrestler who killed a man in the ring, going aback to the dilapidated arena where the tragedy happened. Upon hearing the building condemned, he breaks into the place, to find the lights mysteriously turned on where there should be no power and a cast of ghosts awaiting his arrival.

The despondent grappler then rehashes his past and the events leading up to the in-ring disaster, unfolding a grim tale that makes The Wrestler look like a Disney cartoon. In the end, he learns what the spirits want.

"There's always a spot for you, kid,"  the ghost of Finn, the promoter, informs him. 

And indeed there is....

The wrestlers are all composite characters that are based on no one in particular. Though set in Canton, Ohio, Joe Finn's Arena was drawn much from the destruction of the Phoenix Madison Square Garden.

In a moment of offbeat humor, our key wrestler ends up leaving Ohio and doing a brief wrestling stint in Phoenix.

Tales From The Cemetery On The Hill may be ordered in book or e book form from http://www.lulu.com/content/5099181

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jack Ringer

Born John Lee in Bagley, Minnesota, on July 19, 1939, where he presently makes his home, it was under his real name that he entered the ring, following training by Rene Goulet and Ed Carpentier. He made appearances in Omaha and other spots in the Nebraska territory, but was also seen in the AWA where he was usually on the undercard.

It was when he became Jack Ringer in the Arizona circuit in 1971 that he really caught on. Changing his style to that of an underhanded brawler in the ring and an outspoken egomaniac on the mike, he was an overnight hit.

Ringer made waves for a feud with Cowboy Bib Ellis in which he invariably battered the beloved cowboy star bloody, though there was seldom a clear cut victor in any of their encounter, usually, one or the other ended up disqualified.

The vocal and loathed villain made been more enemies among the fans when he next feuded with Armon Hussein. Things got out of hand more than once in Phoenix, where fans tried to jump the ring, most notably when Ringer threw a plastic bag over the popular black star's head and seemed bent on putting out his lights forever.

In Tucson, however, Ringer sparked one of the greatest riots in the history of this state, which was frankly, known for riots at shows. Fans not only started trying to attack Ringer, but ended up brawling among themselves over God knows what after one of his matches with Hussein.

Ringer ended his Arizona run with a feud with Danny Kroffat and headed back to the Midwest afterward.

The reputation he left behind was so strong and  the name so hated, a "brother" emerged by the name of John Ringer and carried on as a vile rule breaker for well over a decade in the Phoenix area.

The Beautiful Bambi Ball

"The Beautiful Bambi Ball didn't have a face that could stop a clock. She had a face that could   stop a Swiss watch."

These words came from the wrestler, The Golden Eagle and thinking back to my teen years, I would need to agree.

Bambi Ball a lucky her face was NOT her fortune.

Now she was a ncie enough person. She signed my autograph book, though she was a heel. She would pose for pictures with fans when they were lucky enough for her face not to crack the camera lens. She would carry on conversations with people while taking nervous drags off her cigarette outside the locker room.She was of course aware she was no glamor girl any longer so to speak and capitalized on it.

I had heard she was quite a looker when young, but when she drifted into Arizona in the 1970s, she could  have passed for The Wicked Witch Of The West if someone had slapped green greasepaint over her.

Accounts have her wrestler for the old Tony Santos promotion in New England, for various promotion in Texas and even as far as Japan, so she was nos mall time grappler by any means. In Arizona though, she did no get that many actual matches due to a shortage of woman wrestler at the time. Often, she would simply wait by the locker room and interfere from out of the blue to help the likes of Jody Arnold, Ron Dupree and Chris Colt win their matches.

Princess Tona Tomah was eventually brought out of retirement for a feud with her which saw these two old war horses regally going at it. I believe it was the last hurray for both of them in the ring. 

After she left Arizona, whatever happened to eh ranks along with the great mysteries of life such as the location of Jimmy Hoffa or Judge Crater.

If anyone  has any data,. please add it in a comment.

As for her routine of a physically unbeauitiful person, male or female, taking on a nickname such as she used? That was and is as old as the hills. In 2011, it was still being used when a morbidly oevrwieght girl wrestler emerged on the scene, calling herself The Beauty Queen. Though she claimed to be every man's dream, she was physically more of a nightmare.

Not sure whatever happened to Bambi, but her routine lives on .

Sunday, March 13, 2011

John Ringer

John Ringer drifted into Arizona in the Mid-1970s and took this alias as the brother to one Jack Ringer who had been a top draw a few years earlier. They were actually no relation and Ringer was not the real name for either man.

One of Ringer"s  first big feuds was with Benny Mendeblis, with whom he traded the Arizona Jr. Heavyweight title several times. Among their battles was an epic brawl at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden in 1978, which saw both men covered with blood and Ringer winning the belt from his opponent yet again, by putting his feet on the ropes as the ref counted.

In 1979, Ringer wrestled on the final card ever held at the "Garden" and commented how some fans, knowing this was  the end, actually broke up some of he floorboards, not as an act do vandalism, but to take as keepsakes from an era that was over.

By 1980, he was active for a number of promotions, including the USWA headed by David Rose, a Mexican promotion run by the Coruna familial and a short0lived effort by Chuck Hondo to present shows at St., Mary;s Gym in Phoenix.

Some of Ringer's opponents throughout this decade included Mr Wrestling (Rose), Mike Gordon, Cowboy Bob Yuma, Pedro El Grande, Jody Arnold, Mr. Murder, Ron Newstrome, Hollywood Brown, Chief Youngblood, Nano Ortega, Eddie Lopez,  Eli Hernandez, Danny Medina, Chief Crazy Horse. Louie Spicolli and The Ranger. 

A feud with another light heavyweight, Danny Snyder, ended up as long and bloody as his past feud with Mendeblis. These two likewise traded the Arizona Junior Heavyweight title a number of times and usually ended their matches covered with blood. 

One of the high points in his career came when he teamed with Superstar Billy Graham for a short Phoenix  stint. Ringer also formed a formidable tag team with the late Eddie Sullivan.

Ringer's last years of activity as a wrestler came in the early 1990s when Michael Shultz ran at Graham Central Station nightclub in Phoenix. Incredibly for an office with television, they drew over 1,000 on their cards.

After calling it quits, Ringer returned to his native New Jersey, but has since come back to Arizona again. He presently helps out with Real Deal Wrestling promotion in Phoenix.

Stinky The Garbage Man

One would envision the name of Stinky The Garbage man as a spin on Duke The Dumpster from the WWF   but such was not the case, He wore regular trunks and a blue mask that did not match. He wrestled in his bare feet because he could either not afford or did not want to spend the money for new wrestling boots. He was fat and out of shape. Nonetheless, he was over with the public, in spite of himself.

"Stinky stinks!   Stinky stinks! Stinky stinks!"

This was the chant that always popped up when he wrestled.

Whether they referred to body odor or his lack of ability was never made clear.

Stinky lasted a few years on the Indy scene in Arizona and even made it across the border into Mexico. There are accounts of him appearing in Nogales, Agua Prieta  and even as far south as Hermosillo.

As far as victories go, Stinky lost a hell of a lot more than he won. Among those he lost to were CC Starr, Widowmaker William Barker and The Devil's Disciple, the last of whom beat him in less than two minutes. He also had one short feud with Bladerunner.

One of the funniest things came during a Wrestling Marathon held at a Glendale swap meet in 1998, where the wretslers had to work multiple matches to fill in a day's worth of show. By the time of the final battle royal, he was totally out of gas and he retired shortly afterward.

I assume he went back to the junkyard.

Either that or he junked his routine, removed his mask and decided to wrestle under another name.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Beasts Of Arizona

In keeping with Wild West mentality, it seemed logical for Arizona to attract a number of brutal wrestlers who acted like wild brutes. Many were simply beastly. A handful even took the nickname.

Here are a few of the ":Beasts" that wrestled in Arizona.

The Beast or at east the first one I can find in the record books, wrestled under a  mask at the Phoenix and Tucson arenas in the late 1960s. He was nothing to write back to the jungle about.

The next Beast was a Canadian who also wrestled briefly with a man named Butcher Brower in Amarillo. He came in once in the early 1970s and quickly lost to Ron Pritchard when The Sheik made a failed attempt to invade Arizona. 

J.C. Mills nicknamed himself  The Arkansas Beast and was a likable fellow outside the ring, but when inside  became one of the "stiffest" comeptitors ever. During a Phoenix match in 1983 he had several teeth knocked out by his opponent, but thought that was just great. The next week in the rematch he gave his opponent a concussion and said opponent was likewise bragging about it later . Go figure.   This particular Beast also had some decent matches with Jody Arnold and Pedro El Grande, but often came out on the losing end, though he kept the rest of his teeth inside his mouth in these encounters.

Then we had The Beast who was an accountant from California,  named Randy something-or-another, who appeared in the late 1980s in Phoenix. He was the best built physically of any of the various beasts and backed it with considerable ability. His opening was odd, where he came into the ring to bongo drums, while carrying a skull and wrestling in trunks made to resemble a loin cloth. 

The Beast discussed here had some hectic matches with The Black Mamba, Thrillseeker Terry Zeller and Ron "Section 8" Sutherland.

Then we have Dan "The Beast" Severn who wad sane outstation wretsler at Arizona State University before entering shootfighting and finally pro wrestling. As a pro Severn came in for the WWF and also made one brief appearance at Rage In The Cage in Tucson,  but most of his action seen back in an eastward direction, near his Michigan/Ohio home base.

Bestia 666 worked mainly in the Mexican border towns and came from either Agua Prieta or San Luis Rio Colorado, but I am not sure which.   He had a handful of matches for varied independent offices in Arizona, but did not gain much ground.  He passed away a while back from a heart attack.  I had heard his real name, but damned if I can remember it.

With that, unless I am forgetting one of them, Arizona has run out of Beasts.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Phoenix Madison Square Garden

The Phoenix Madison Square Garden was an adobe and brick building at 7th Avenue, Grand and Van Buren in downtown Phoenix. Wrestling, boxing, crusades, concerts and other events were held there from 1929 to 1979. Afterward, for the next 25 years, the old arena was a warehouse which became Arizona Jobber Supply. The business housed there would strike anyone with some "smarts" as ironic.

The arena was eventually torn down in spite of protests from wrestling fans and history buffs, to build an office complex, though there is a museum room devoted to the former stadium.

In the 1960s, a wrestler named Big Jim Wright died in this arena from a heart atatck during a tag team match.

Jimmy Garvin made his professional debut there in 1968 as a teenager before heading southward with his :"brothers" and into legend.

In 1978,  a wedding was held with Mr & Mrs. Wrestling, before in-ring weddings staged or real became commonplace in the profession.  

Among the many wrestlers who appeared there were Jim Londos, Crybaby Cannon, Pedro El Grande,. Chief Shoulderblades, Grey Mask, Gorilla Ramos,. Primo Carnera, Fred Blassie, Count Billy Varga, Afa & Sika,  Yukon Jake, Yukon Eric, Len Rossi, Dick Dunn, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Cowboy Bob Yuma, Ed Blair, Ray Gordon, Eddie Lope, Karl Von Brock,. Don Kent, Jim Osborne, Jimmy Valentine, Rudy Navarro, Jerry Graham, Billy Graham, Ron Pritchard, Eddie Sullivan, Mitri-The Arabian Assassin, Bobby Mayne (Jaggers), Ricky Romero, Dory Funk Sr, Don Curtis, The Wasp, Lou Thesz, Paavo Katonan, Man Mountain Mike, Jack Ringer, John Ringer, Mr Kleen, Logger Larson, Tito Montez, Buddy Wayne, Kurt Von Steiger, Ricky Thompson, Donnie Anderson, Larry Hennig, Tito Copa, Flama Roja, Ali Pasha, Ali Bey, George Drake, Rick  Waldo, Enrique Torres, Charro Azteca, Ramon Torres, Gory Guerrero, Luis Martinez, The Comancheros, Don Arnold, Jody Arnold, Woody Farmer, Juan Sebastian, Warren Bockwinkel, Kangaroo Larson, The  Mighty Atlas, Ken Lucas, Fidel Grimo, Juan Garcia, Tony Barbetta, The Satin Medic, Buddy Rose, David Rose, Buddy Dixon, Danny Johnson, Chief Big Heart, Phil Melby,  Bill Melby, Armon Hussein, Bearcat Wright, The Assassins, Mike Mazurki, Ted Christy, The Medics, Two Ton Harris, Vic Christy, Frank Jares, Sweet Daddy Watts, Henry Pulusso, Killer Kane, Chief Golden Hawk, Blas Corona, Gran Apollo, Eduardo Lunch, Ian Campbell, The Vulture, Bob Lueck, Nano Ortega, Chuck Hondo, Tony Hernandez, Andre Carpenter, Firpo Zybysco, Spike Jones, Sputnik Monroe, John Shane, The Spoiler, Beauregard, Ripper Collins, Whipper Watson Jr, Toru Socorro, Roy McClarity, Mongol Lu Kin, Dick Trout, Man Mountain Dean, Haystacks Calhoun, Pat Patterson, Johnny Kostas, Rudy Navarro, Paul Harvey, Navajo Frank, Wally Steele, Fred Williams, The Israelite, Ike Williams, Jerry Wood, Tony Marino, Gypsy  Biviano,  Charlie Carr, Bob Hamby, Magnificent Maurice, Duncun McTravish, Gorgeous George Jr, Buddy Colt,  Buddy Fuller, Billy Spears, Jumbo, Tokyo Joe, The Ripper, The Warlock, Mustang, Gallo Castro, Bronco Lazar, Maniac Mike Gordon, Masked Frankenstein, The Mortician, Jose Lothario, Jerry Miller, Bob Geigel, The Kentuckians, Pepe Romero, Blackjack Jim, The Executioner, Gordon Darnell, Lord Carlton, Jan Blears,  Bobby Graham, Monty Ladue, Chief White Eagle, The Terrible Turk, Wilson Kohlbrekker, Jerry Kozak, Gene Viniski, Rod Fenton, Iron Mike Debiase, Tom Ramirez, Johnny Mann, Jay Dillon, Edmundo  Manuel, Sergio  Saravia, Al Madril, Dick Rains,  Hans Steiner. Freddie Baron, Apache Gringo, Don Fargo, Salvador Dominguez, Les Thatcher, John Tolos, Charlie Kalani (Professor Tanaka) Fuji & Sato, Seiji  Yamamoto, Luther Lindsey, Shag Thomas, Frank Ortega, Marcel Firpo,  Leroy McGuirk, Frank Hickey, Jimmy Kent, Hercules Stevenson, Argentina Rocca, Dick Hutton, Gorgeous George, Danny Kroffat, Bill Kirk, Strangler Lewis, The Masked Cloud, Jack Frisco, Commi Kasha, Eddie Graham, the Gorky Brothers, The Lumberjacks, Bruce Kirk, Greg Campbell, Bobby Anderson, The Pro Athlete, Benny Mendeblis, Freddie Gomez, Pat Malone, The Beast, Frank Zomar, Pistol Pete Marquez, Chuck Golden, Paco Nunez Super Argo, Flama Roja, Bobby Pico,  Nick Salinas, Pancho Pico and Frankie Cain.

The list would continue with the likes of Marc Brutus, Kenny Mayne, Dick Daviscourt, Pago Pago,   Broadway Venus, Dan McDonald, Johnny Demchuck, Enrique Romero, Joe Tomasso, Al Kashey. Mitsu  Arakawa, Roberto Garcia, Jesse James, Gene Labell, Chief Ava Fritz Shrabnel, Hans Shrabnel, Alex Perez, Anton Leone, Lee Grable, Wee Willie Davis, Dick Shikat, Buddy OI' Brian, Tarzan Tyler, carter, Dr. Visser, Roy Anderson, Art Neilsen, Rocky McClure, Carlos Guzman, Rito Romero, Sir James Hartley, the Stanlee Brothers, Tiger Joe Marsh, Casey Berger, Mark Toba, El Diablo, Jesse McCain and Juan Humberto. There would of course be others.

Women included Mildred Burke, Mrs, Wrestling, Tanya Stevens, The Masked Beauties,  Papago Inez, Barbara Starr, Ann Casey,  Daisy Maye, Rose Evans, Tona Tomah, Bambi Ball, Jane Sherrill. Marie Vagnone and others.

The arena is gone, but the memories live on, Legends do not die easily  and fade quietly into the night.

Maniac Mike Gordon

Gordon Michael Voris simply shifted his first and middle name to become Maniac Mike Gordon. Born in Springfield, Ohio, he started wrestling in the early 1960s for smaller promotions in the Midwest. He also made it to televised tapings for the bigger offices, though he lost to the likes of Bull Curry and Ernie Ladd.

Gordon's first Arizona run came in the late 1960s. Jody Arnold, who would become a regional superstar, had his first match with him in 1968, which ended in a  draw.

It was a few years afterward that Mike moved down south to work for varied promotions as a Mongol, spotting a shaved head and wearing chains around his neck. No one seemed to notice that for someone from Mongolia, it was a bit odd to see him with a US Marine Corps tattoo on one arm.

As Mikko Mongol, Gordon returned to Arizona in 1975, where he had a long run, drifting to New Mexico and California as well. Among those he feuded with were Navajo Frank, David Rose, Chuck Hondo and Logger Larson.

In 1976, Gordon made one finale trip back to Ohio and returned with his hair grown back, as well as a long beard. The Mongol was gone and Maniac Mike Gordon was in his place. It was under this alias he would spend the remainder of his career, until moving to Canada in 1988, where he would marry a Canadian  woman, retiring afterward.

During Gordon's lengthy last run in Arizona,  he faced Tito Montez , Tony Hernandez, Bobby Anderson, Jody Arnold, Chief Crazy Horse, Danny Snyder, Eddie Lopez, Eddie Sullivan and several others. He had a long feud with Mexican wrestler, Super Argo, ending when Argo defeated him in a bloody beard vs mask match, in which Mike got a shave.

Away from the ring, Gordon loved fishing, cigars and country music.

In November of 2010, he died from a massive heart attack in front of his wife in their Guelph apartment. His remains were cremated and his ashes taken by his sister back to the USA to be scattered.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When The Laughter Dies Away

Lulu Publishing has its drawbacks, as I have said, but also has its advantages and one is getting out any book I want, on any topic, without delay.  I have done a load of stuff here, on a variety of subjects, simply because I wanted to preserve the data in book form, where no one else has written about certain things of interest to me.

When The Laughter Dies Away is orderable only online and at some book signings or lectures I do. It is  not on wrestling, but on fallen amusement parks.

The book may be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/9835595 in book and e book form.

The project is not fancy, just like my blogs here are not elaborate, but that data is unique.

The defunct amusement parks listed remain scattered around the country. Idora Park, Euclid Beach, Rocky Point, Summit Beach, Meyers Lake, Six Gun Territory, Jesse James Village, Apacheland, Mother Goose Land, Janzten Beach, Legend Cit and  Ross Allen';s Reptile Farm are some of them.

There are some wrestling ties.

The Apacheland chapter deals at length with Eddie Sullivan and Cowboy Bob Kelly making a short film in this park and movie set, called Gunfight in Tombstone

The Legend City section covers Phil Melby wrestling at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden on Friday nights and donning cowboy garb to work as a "train robber" on the weekends.

More for nostalgia buffs than wrestling fans, perhaps, When The Laughter Dies Away looks at an era of fond memories that have all but evaporated. In this book, they live again.

Gene Viniski

"I don't think that really IS Gene Kiniski under that mask."

This pearl of wisdom came from a fan at the old Phoenix Madison Square Garden in 1971 as she watched a masked wrestler named Gene Viniski umber across the ring. Guess she didn't bother to check the spelling of  he name.  Likewise, why woudl the promotion have wrought in former NWA Champion Gene Kiniski and put a mask on him?

"I don't think that's Gene Kiniski," she kept rambling.

No shit!

What promoter Ernie Mohammad had done was borrow a page from the textbook of East Coast promoter Tony  Santos, who made a killing using sound alike names  Santos did it will regularity, offering a Hobo Brazil, Rob Ellis and others. Ernie at least had the sense to pull this stunt once or twice and that was it. Kiniski? Viniski? What difference did one letter make? A lot, if you got down to it.

I have no idea who hid behind the mask? It could have been an engineer for the Santa Fe.  It could have been some winos from the flophouse down the street that Ernie recruited to save money.  It could have been some green wrestler who was told to just shut up, wear the mask and use the name. It cloud have been some school  teacher moonlighting for added cash. It could have been anyone. I have no idea otherwise.

Viniski spent about a year in the Arizona rings (circa 1970-1971) and proved to be no Kiniski by any means. Though we are going back to my boyhood years here, i tend to have a memory like an elephant and I do not  recall him winning one single match.  When he was on television he went down. At the house shows, he held his own a little better, but still always ended up pinned.

Some of the people he lost to included Tito Montez, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Pancho Pico, Ben Justice, Ron Pritchard, Bob Lueck and Armon Hussein. He even lost to Ernie's second sound-alike, Jack Frisco (meant of course to sound like Jack Brisco). Now that's really getting sad.

In any case, Gene Viniski eventually faded into the record books without pain or glory.

Either that or he took off the hood and returned to action under a different name, without anyone being any smarter.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Makriz

Along the Mexican border, Makriz was a big draw in the 1990s. Coming from Nogales, he was a regular at the old Pedro Gonzalez Arena in that city. He also ventured across the border on varied occasions, though he was never seen with consistency in Arizona.

Wearing a bizarre mask with a fright wig sewn on top and cloth fangs protruding from his mouth, Makriz was doing the vampire routine long before Gangrel in the WWF.  The public absolutely hated him. Beyond his somewhat silly routine, he was an underhanded heel of the worst order.

In Nogales and environs, Makriz faced Bucky Zepeda, Rsplandor, Indio Seri, Mr. Cobra, Vikingo and others. Sometimes he won and sometimes he lost. Regardless of the situation, he was  always booed.

When miscellaneous lucha libre promotions ran in Arizona, he was brought in with them and usually appeared at mid-card level.

The AWA In Arizona

Vern Gagne ran a successful promotion for many years with his AWA, but Arizona was a jinx for him and he just did not seem to catch on.  Not once, but twice, he announced he was coming into Arizona to show all those  small item promotions how a big operation did things. Evidently, the big operation didn't do its homework as both times he lost his ass.

Rather than sweat the competition, the local offices just continued to run and watch the AWA spend itself down the drain with televised airtime, expensive venues and high transportation costs.

The first time Gagne tried things in Arizona was in the 1970s, with a Tucson invasion that bombed. With himself  int he main events, the name appeal lasted for a little while, but then boredom set in with the fans.

Gagne failed to realize the wrestling he AWA offered was too "tame": for Arizona fans who were used to the likes of The Comancheros, Pancho Pico, Don Kent and Killer Kane, who were brawlers all. With little fighting outside the ring and no blood, the AWA lost its fan base quickly. The audience went to the cheaper shows presented by the coals, where bloodshed was the thing. The great promotional war ended with hardly a shot being fired.

Evidently a slow learner, Gagne was back in 1983 with the intent of taking over the territory once more. As before, the local office in Phoenix just waited for him to crash and burn.

Once more Gagne came with television and rented out the Phoenix Fairgrounds Colosseum, which was at the time the biggest and most expensive venue in Arizona. 

It was not that his shows were poor quality,. He unloaded all his big names.  Ken Patera, The Blackjacks, Bobby Heenan, Crusher, Bockwinkel, David Shultz, Baron Von Raschke. Good stuff, mind you. This go of things the promotion even caught on and had some blood flow.

It seemed a bit odd to see Baron Von Rashcke not in his more common role as a high-stepping Nazi villain who brawled like crazy and clawed the hell out of people, in the roll of a favorite. Then again, the Arizona spectators once made hated heel Kurt Von Steiger one of their most popualr heroes when he started facing fellow villains, so....

Overall, Theo product took a while but was slowly catching on when it bottomed out.

The problem was the overhead was again way too high.

After less than 8 months, the AWA was gone from Arizona once more. This time for good.

The "small time" promotions he intended to crush survived by simply waiting for the inevitable.

Charlie The Choker

The name was catchy enough, but there was not much else to brag on concerning this grappler who appeared mainly in the Indian reservations on small time cards in the 1980s. A trainee of Chief Crazy Horse, who barely knew how to wrestle himself, The Choker was handicapped before he ever entered the ring.

Claiming to be from Hungary, Charlie entered the ring dancing and twisting to some lame music that in modern times woudl have made a good soundtrack for Borat.  he claimed to speak only broken English and woudl shout out warnings to the audience in a voice that sounded like Dracula.

:Hey, Charlie gonna win tonight!"

"Charlie choke! Charlie choke!"

:Charlie gonna kill him tonight!"

"Why you no cheer for Charlie!"

"People all hate Charlie! Charlie hate you!"

The routine was for this masked wrestler to use nothing but choke holds and variations of the same. He choked with illegal objects hidden in his trunks like neckties and shoe strings.  He choked on the ropes. He vised a blatant stranglehold.  He even managed to sneak in a choke when applying a sleeper.

Had this whole spiel been given to someone who knew what he was doing out there, the Charlie thing might have gotten over.

Charlie seldom got pinned or pinned anyone. He was always disqualified for choking or on occasion given a win when his opponent did the same stranglehold to him.

Charlie was a regular on shows held on Pima and Papago land.

None of the bigger promotions, including the Phoenix indies, would use him.

Charlie eventually annoucned he was fed up with being discriminated against by promoters and not being given the main evnts he felt he deserved. He claimed he was going back to Hungary.

In truth, he took off his mask and went back to his day job at a mall in Mesa.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tito Montez

From the late 1950s through the 1970s, Tito Montez reigned supreme in Arizona. He held numerous titles, including versions of the Arizona State title, United States Title and "World Tag Team" titles as recognized in the area.  He lost and won back the Arizona belt so many times people lost track of how many times he wore it.  He was also branded "The Champion Of The Cage" due to his beating so many people in this form of match. Only one man, Jody Arnold, ever defeated him in the cage.

As a finisher, Tito used the abdominal stretch and the flying body block. Again, Jody Arnold remains the only man to break out of his dreaded submission hold.

"I faced Gorgeous George three times in Arizona," Montez likes to tell people. "He was drunk all three times."

This is not surprising, as George's drinking became legendary. Tito was facing him on the way up, when George was sadlky on his way down.

For nine weeks straight, Tito feuded with Don Kent at the old Phoenix Madison Square Garden in the 1960s and filled the arena to standing room only each week. He finally defeated Kent in a cage and ended the feud on the tenth week. With the people going home happy, the house was down the following Friday.

Feuds were common for Tito, as were bloody matches. One time while looking through Arizona photos, fellow wrestler Tony Hernandez had this to say when he came to a shot of Montez. "F------ Tito always has blood on him. I wouldn't recopgnize him on the street if he didn't have blood all over his face."

Among Tito's many feuds were runs against The Comancheros, Jody Arnold, Don Arnold, Don Kent, Chuck Karbo, John Shane, Jimmy Kent, Charlie Carr, The Lumberjacks, Kurt Von Steiger, Bobby Mayne(Jaggers), Woody Farmer, the Monroe brothers, The Assassins. The Satin Medic, Eddie Sullivan, Ripper Collins, Apache Gringo, Jim Osborne, Karl Von Brock, Jerry Graham, Maniac Mike Gordon, Bearcat Wright, Sweet Daddy Watts, Fidel Grimo, The Spoiler, Juan Garcia, Duke Keomuka, Henry Pulusso, Chuck Hondo, Spike Jones   and  Two Ton Harris.

Though known mainly as a singles wrestler, he teamed with a number of top stars, including Cowboy Bob Ellis, Jose Lothario, Gory Guerrero, Charro Azteca, Cowboy Bob Yuma, David Rose, Jerry Miller and Tito Copa.

The most unusual partnership came when the hated Kurt Von Steiger was double crossed by Bobby Mayne and Jody Arnold, leading Tito to come to his rescue, with a popular pairing being made afterward.

Though he never appeared in Phoenix Madison Square Garden as far as I recall, the infamous Sheik did come through Arizona in the 1960s and wrestled two matches. One was in Casa Grande and the other in Tucson. Tito Copa took him on one time. Tito Montez also faced him. What a pity Sheik did not stay longer as the feud to end all feuds could have been made.

The Pacific Northwest was also a scene where Tito made constant appearances. In fact, after retirement from the ring he would move out of Arizona to settle in Portland, Oregon and operate  carpet cleaning business.

Some rumors have circulated Tito's health has not been great as of late, but for a man in his 80s he seems to still be going relatively strong as of this writing.

Shortly before his death from a heart attack in November of 2010, Maniac Mike Gordon stated Tito had been one of his most imposing opponents.

"In looking back, I really have to say some of my bets matches were in Arizona in the 1970s. One bgif eud was with Super Argo, but it was with Tito I think I had my best matches. He usually came out on top, butt here were few moments where the people were not making noise. There was no one except the late Buddy Rogers who could get a reaction from the crowd like Tito did. The thing is, the people hated Rogers. They loved Montez. Few wrestlers ever could get the people to rally behind them like Tito Montez. He was like a conquering king in Arizona. There were times after his wins, where the people carried him around the arena on their shoulders. I kid you not!"

Cowboy Bob Yuma

The Pacific Northwest was considered part of the Wild West at one time, so it might not have been totally illogical for one Frank Vaughn to enter the wrestling world as Cowboy Bob Yuma. Under the training of Tito Montez, he was brought downward to Arizona and there he remained for most of his career.

One of Yuma's earliest feuds in the 1970s was with Jimmy Kent, after this Nashville-based  attacked him with a chain in his fist on a television taping and bloodied him horribly. This led to a series of matches between the two of them, with Kent coming out ahead. It was them Tito Montez entered the fray and a feud of his own, where he eventually banished Kent after beating him in a cage bout.

Another villain was waiting on the wings to feud with Yuma,. Enter Hercules Stevenson, a muscular Canadian with a superiority streak a mile wide and the goods to back it up.

Yuma and Hercules met in countless battles, with one or both bleeding from the encounter. The feud spanned over a decade and ended with Stevenson calling it quits in 1988.

Other people Yuma faced on a continual basis included The Viking, Jody Arnold, The Golden Eagle, Maniac Mike Gordon and John Ringer. For a brief time, Yuma held the Arizona State title he won form Arnold in Tucson, but lost back to him in short order. Years later, he and Arnold would make amends and with the latter deciding to wrestle as a fan favorite, would form a popular tag team. Yuma also teamed for a time with David Rose to challenge The Lumberjacks,. More than once, the Western States Tag Team title changed hands between these two teams. As with other cowboys in the wrestling realm, he used a bulldog headlock to finish off his opponents.

After retirement, Yuma re-instated and re-organized the annual Arizona Old Timer Reunions that were created in 1995, but fizzled in 1999. Through the 2000's, he was the one who started the event once again and usually held the annual festivities at his home.

A lingering respiratory ailment eventually took Yuma's life.

I was told the remains were cremated and scattered along the Oregon Coast. A fitting end for this wrestler who left his green and tree-covered homeland to find success in the cactus-covered desert.