Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meet Danny Drake

In the 1950s and 1960s, George Drake was a popular draw in Arizona, though for some unexplained reason he decided to take his own life. Decades have  passed since that time and sadly, he has faded from the memory of many historians.

Enter a new Drake who is no relation to the one noted above,  but heading to Arizona as well.

Meet Danny Drake, who started out in West Virginia, but is heading west. He plans to be in Tempe by summer, which might not be the wisest time to arrive, yet he is on his way.

"I hate the snow," Drake commented. "That's why I am moving out of the east and heading elsewhere. California, Arizona and the Mexican border all have wrestling and  plan to get in on it. I am sure I will do better there than I have in West Virginia as in that area everybody and his brother is or thinks he is a wrestler  or promoter. Too many outfits running and too few good ones. Plus the behavior of some of these guys tends to be so unprofessional it is mind-blowing in the Ohio/West Virginia area. . I want to go elsewhere and do some lucha style."

Good luck on your relocation, Danny.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's In A Name

Real names vs ring names of varied  wrestlers who worked Arizona.

Bill Anderson/Bill Laster
Chris Colt/Chuck Harris
Ron Dupree/Russ Grobes
The Lumberjacks/Russ and David Walters
Jack Ringer/John Lee
John Ringer/John Wall
Eddie Lopez/Al Romero
Bronco Lazar/Bruno Rodriguez
Dusty Rhodes/Virgil Runnels
Jimmy Jack Funk/Jesse Barr
Razor Ramon/Scott Hall
HonkytonkMan/ Wayne Farris
Billy Graham/Wayne Coleman
Missing Link/Dewey Robertson
Don Kent/Leo Smith
Eddie Graham/Ed Gossett
Pancho Pico/Julio Arguello
Super Argo/Art Anmerlo
Maniac Mike Gordon/Gordon Voris
The Sheik/Ed Farhat
Igor/Dick Garza
Don Fargo/Don Kult
Tarzan Tyler/Camille Tourville
Crazy Horse/Larry Lafambois
King Milo/Lewis Feinmann
JT Law/JT McGee
Mr Southern Comfort/Jim Thornton
Ed Blair/Ed Todd
Cheif Attacullaculla/Rod Blair
Taylor Thomas  /Linda Thomas
Candi Divine/Candace Rummel
Eddie Sullivan/Ruben Huizar
Rip Tyler/Dean Vaughn
Chuck Karbo/Charles Campbell
Kurt Von Steiger/Arnold Pastick
Christopher Henderson/Bert Prentice
Farmer Jones/Bob Dean
The Golden Eagle/Jim McFarland
Adrian Adonis/Keith Franks
John Shane/John Thompson
Johnny Kostas/Johnny Kostolias
Arizona Red/Hazel Cowen
The Insatiable Sadie/Joann Owen
Cowboy Bob Yuma/Frank Vaughn
Tito Montez/Ed Montamayor
Goliath/Pablo Crispan
Ringo/ Aurelio Rodriguez
Mr Murder/ Barry Bernsten Jr
Randy Savage/Randy Poffo
Mr Wrestling/David Rose
Mr Wrestling/Gordon Nelson
Mildred Burke/Mildred Bliss
Tona Tomah/Tonah Ford
Phil Melby/Paul Gottlieb
Dr Thom Parks/Tim Hicks
Paul Harvey/Hervey Kramer
The Mortician/Bud Brown
Paul Bearer/Bill Moody
Buddy Rogers/Herman Rhode
The Mercenary/Dan Clift
Bladerunner/Chuck Whitmarsh

Dick Trout

Dick Trout had an amazing run as a wrestler. I finally was able to find a picture of him recently and learn what he looked like. During a lengthy career, he held numerous titles, including a version fo the World Jr. Heavyweight crown and various regional straps. He traveled about the country and seemed popular in whatever area booked him. For a man with a name corresponding with a fish, he seemed to be quite a surprisingly tough character.

Trout was a major draw in California, having long feuds with Red Berry, Gorilla Ramos, Paavo Katonan and others. Like many working the Los Angeles circuit in the 1940s and 1950s, he also made trips to Arizona on a regular basis. usually, he had matches with his California opponents, carrying over into Phoenix and Tucson.

Trout was considered extremely skilled as a technical wrestler, utilizing a wide variety of holds and routines. He often finished his matches with an airplane spin or a simple power slam, which was amazing for his  small size.

Arizona was of course just one of the territories he appeared in . For the frequency he worked and the number of places he traveled to, it remains amazing there is not more out on him either in books or on the net.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Black Ku Klux Klan

The Black Ku Klux Klan  seemed like a contradiction when they came into Arizona int he 1950s, though the heat they provoked was instantaneous. I have no idea who hid under the hoods. Though their tag team name didn't seem to make much sense, they rose quickly in the ranks, especially when fighting ethnic opponents.

They wore black hoods rather than Klan garb. They spoke with heavy southern accents. They claimed to be the best team on either side of the Mason/Dixon line.

What is presented here was about the only data I could find on them.

One thing, hwoever, is a tad disturbing.

Historically, there was supposed to ahve been a real "Black Ku Klux Klan" down south, though not commonly known in most cycles The Black KKK consisted of ultraviolet Klansmen kicked out of the official Klan, who pursued violence to the extreme.

How did this pair knew this?

One fidns some documentatuion fot hsi apior working in the Pacific Northwest and in Arizona/New Mexico, but thats eems like the end of it.

One must assume other  offices found the routine too risque or too offensive, leaving the duo to unmask and work under different names.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Soviet

Just when people thought Russian routines were dead, The Soviet came on the scene in Arizona and proved everyone wrong. With his muscular build, shaved head and questionable accent, he did the likes of Ivan Koloff proud.

Emerging on the Phoenix scene in 1995, The Soviet was seen regularly in both California and Arizona. Ed Ahrens used him in the AIWA and Ron Sutherland in Tucson gave him a big push, as did other offices int he Southwest.

More often than not, The Soviet feuded with The Navajo Kid/Navajo Warrior, matching his crushing bear hug against the Indian's chops and slams. In the bulk of these encounters, Navajo came out ahead.

The Soviet also had a fairly brutal encounter with one Super Mangler in Tucson for Sutherland's office.

"It was one of the all-time stiffest matches I have ever seen," commented former manager Rainbow, who was at the event, viewing this match from the background. "I do not recall who, but someone else was watching behind me and remarked about being glad he wasn't up there with either of them and he sure had a point. You could hear these two pounding each other all the way back by the locker room."

The Navajo Warrior feud also spilled into the AIWA, which again saw these two facing each other and the unpopular "Russian" going down in defeat.

For varied California promotions, The Soviet faced Shooting Star, Super Chicano and Flama Azul. among the notables.

The Soviet has since gone back to being an American, retired and lives in California.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sheik In Arizona

The first time I could find any record of The Sheik appearing in Arizona may be found in the 1960s, when eh drifted through the state. I assume he made a few stops while driving between Texas and California for extra cash. He did not appear at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden, but had one match in Tucson and another in Casa Grande. One encounter was with Tito Montez and another with Tito Copa. He then went on his merry way.

In 1973, a Phoenix drugstore chain owner developed the idea of running wrestling, investing in television time and working with Sheik's Detroit base to run shows at the high-priced Phoenix fairgrounds. For all of his ambition, the lasted half a year.

Sheik had five matches during the run, the first being the  best in a wild bloodbath with Luis Martinez that saw them go to a double disqualification. Both men bled, brawled and had to be drawn apart by all the other wrestlers on the card.

The second match saw Sheik bloodied with his own pencil and battered by Bobo Brazil, but Brazil got carried away and ended up disqualified. A timekeeper's table made it into the ring and they wound up slamming each other into it.

The third match in Phoenix saw Sheik and Killer Brooks losing to Bobo Brazil and  Luis Martinez by disqualification. Brooks and Martinez, rather than Sheik, bled this time.  

 The next go of things saw Sheik and Dory Funk Jr. bloody each other and go to a double disqualification, which of course set the stage for a return match.

The final show saw Sheik and Funk face each other again, but in the turmoil, none of the fans were sure of the end result.

It was, however, the end of the promotion in Phoenix as the backer lost too much money and packed it in.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trotsky The Bear

There have been many wrestling bears over the years. Victor, Gentleman Ben and Igor come to mind. Even the unpredictable Jerry Graham owned a bear for a while and once when the trailer hitch broke, he put the animal in the back seat of his Cadillac convertible and drove to the arena, sharing beers with it all the while.

Trotsky was one of the bears seen in Arizona over the years and remained undefeated. Granted, the animal was limited with the number of moves it used, usually just falling on an opponent and with its massive weight, holding the unlucky wrestler down for the pin.

Don Arnold lost to the bear. Several times, in fact!

It was not one of his favorite opponents.

"I hated wrestling that bear," Arnold emphasized whenever asked. "I hated it. That bear stank and I mean it REALLY stank. It smelled like shit. Whenever I faced that bear I was glad to have it pin me and be done with it. Even afterward, I had to take like three showers to get the damned smell off of me. I just hated that bear, but because I was one of the biggest guys in the Arizona territory as far as size went at the time, I always got stuck wrestling it."

Was it that the bear was poorly cared for?

"No," Arnold maintained. "It smelled like a bear because it was a bear. They kept it clean, they fed it and they took good care of the thing, but it just smelled. Physically, I did not mind wrestling it, for any fear of the animal, as it was really as tame as could be, but it just reeked."

Nonetheless, Trotsky remained one of the most popular attractions in Arizona for a long while. Don Arnold might ahve been its favorite opponent, but the feeling was clearly not shared by Arnold.

Western-The Horror Novel

Another of my projects out on Lulu at for orders.

This is a selection of Twilight Zone type ghost stories centered around a fictional Arizona town called Headstone. We have an evil gunfighter named Johnny Dragon who notches his head with a straight razor rather than notching his gun when he kills someone (no idea where that came from).. An outlaw who escapes the gallows stumbles into The Rope Museum and meets his fate. Three outlaws are visited by the ghost of a man they murdered. A vampire stalks the west. You get the drift.

Wrestler is the tale of a carnival grappler who takes on and beats all comers. He has an edge, being a werewolf in human disguise. Had to fit a wrestling theme into this somewhere.

Now if I sell film rights and my reps sell foreign reprint rights I will be happy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gorgeous George In Arizona

Gorgeous George was a mainstay in Arizona throughout the 1950s, for the location was a convenient drive from his California base and likewise a stopover point when driving between Los Angeles and Texas. He appeared numerous times at the Phoenix Madison Square Garden and Tucson Garden as well as other arenas.

"I wrestled Gorgeous George three times," Tito Montez often told people. "He was drunk all three times."

George's drinking was legendary, as were some of his antics outside the ring. A tale exists within wrestling of how he stopped to pick up a six pack of eber to go at a bar outside globe, while heading to Phoenix and some drunk cowboys, not recognizing him,. made fun of him. George turned around, beat the hell out of all three, took hsi beer and drove off.

There's another tale of how promoter Rod Fenton talked The Gorgeous One into having his leg numbed before a match so he could go out and wrestle. George took the shots, wrestled and badly injured himself without even feeling it. The next day when the Novocaine or whatever the hell it was they gave him wore off and the pain was excruciating, he called Fenton and yelled every profanity known to man at him over the phone. 

George usually worked in single matches, but occasionally teamed with traveling companion Howard Cantonwine and others during his long Arizona run. Some of the people he faced included Phil Melby, Don Arnold, The Garibaldis  and Fred Blassie.

Win, lose or draw, George was always a hit with the people. Drunk ro sober,t he audience ate up every move he made. The robes, the dyed hair and the "Georgie Pins" or bobby pins he passed out at matches were all a work of pure genius that made him a pioneer in the wrestling game.

One of the oddest and silliest things he ever pulled was to have a supposed oxygen tank with Fresh California Air written on it,  brought to ringside, that he would take a whiff of when the supposedly rancid smell of Phoenix got to him.

He should see what California air around the Los Angeles/Hollywood area is like now!

George died young from a heart attack, more likely than not egged on by his Bohemian lifestyle. He burned the candle in the middle as well as both ends and the bill came due for him. It was a sad end to the man who revolutionized pro wrestling and helped put it back on the map after a period of dullness. He lived hard, fought hard and died hard, but that might well have been the way he would have wanted it.

His antics worked though and no one can deny that. Decades after his death, he remains a recognized icon in wrestling.

And it got him "put over" here too, didn't it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Russ Barker

Russ Barker died in 1992 in Phoenix, after a lifelong battle with a rampant diabetic condition finally took its toll on him. By then he was a double amputee in a wheelchair.

During his better days, he was one of the finest referees in the history of the state.

Even after losing both legs to the diabetic problem, he still could not stay away from .He ended up working as a "commissioner" in Phoenix and caused a riot when The Lumberjacks overturned him in his wheel chair. The incident was, by the way, reportedly his idea.

Throughout the 1970s, Barker was one of the top refs at the old Pheonix Madison Square Garden and afterward when Barry Bernsten opened the "New Madison Square Garden" on 40th and Van Buren following the closure of the original building. He continued to work into the 1980s, where the riot-provoking episode took place at a different arena on Lincoln Avenue, logn after he was wheelchair -bound.

Aside from wrestling, Barker had a longtime love for playing billiards.

Sadly, a referee never gets much credit in wrestling, but when he died the whole of Phoenix's grappling family mourned.

He was considered one of the best ever as an official in the squared circle.

When once confronted by a fan who asked why he let some of the rulebreakers get by with cheating instead of disqualifying them, he offered one of the best answers ever.

"The fans get mad if I don't disqulaify someone every time a  punch is thrown, but they would be just as mad or madder if I stopped every match the minute there was a slight infraction and madder  still, if I disqualified their favorites. What I do is let a little bit of rulebreaking sldie on both sides, until or unless it gets blatant or out of hand and then the bell rings. Otherwise, you would have nothing but one minute matches out there. The poeple also forget that in the ring one has to be on his toes, but vision is limtied. They sometimes see things I do not see because they are at a different vantage point. Being a referee is harder than some people think."

Monday, April 11, 2011

King Milo

King Milo emerged in Tucson in the 1990s and it was never fully established what he was king of. Whether past kings of wrestling such as Ernie Ladd, Bobby Shane, Jerry Lawler or Harley Race had anything to fear from him in the competition deportment, was likewise never established. In any case though, he did get a lot of heat from he fans, graduating from a manager role to that of a wrestler. And King Milo probably sounded better when announced than using his real name of plain old Louie Feinman.

"He can wrestle decently," commented one of his Phoenix counterparts. "The thing is, he's one of these guys who would rather wrap himself in barbed wire and running into you. He loves the hardcore style and if that isn't what you want to book, he is pretty much not the wrestler for you."

Thus, King Milo found a home in Rage In The Cage wrestling, both as a wrestler and as a manager for others. RCW promoter Ron Sutherland wanted profanity, violence and brutal matches, which Milo was happy to be involved with. Brawling was his calling. Granted, he did know holds and moves, but if he had his choice he would as the other guy put it, "rather wrap himself in barbed wire and run into you."

Milo had an exceptionally brutal match in Tucson with Shooting Star from California. He also had some wild matches with the rest of the RCW crew.

Though Milo is out of it as a participant (though still young enough to make a return if desired), he still follows the game. He has a Face Book page for himself and keeps in touch with a load of past participants from the RCW days.

In fairness to this particular "King" in retrospect, he was more than just the routine hard core wrestler. He had a better than average understanding of ring psychology and was also quite capable on the mike.

"He had this kind of high pitched voice that really didn't fit his body or appearance," commented another of the managers from RCW. "It was really grating to listen o him on the microphone and that got him over big with the people. They were booing whenever he went to the announcer's table, because they did not want to listen to whatever he had to say. he could have gotten on the mike and read a weather report and the people would have booed him. Milo might not have been the greatest, but he had his moment.'

Tank Ballerno

If I did not mention him here, Tank Ballerno could fade into history with nobody and I mean nobody remembering him at all. His career was that short.

Tank came on when promoter Barry Bernsten was losing his established wrestlers right and left. The veterans were getting tired of his b.s. and simply walking out, which left him in dire need of training others. Tank became one of the trainees.

Ballerno had a decent look about him. He was a stocky, bearded man with a weightlifter's build, but didn't have it in him to stick with the rigorous workout procedures and especially didn't have much of a stomach for Bernsten's "commander in chief"attitude. Thus he came on the scene in 1982 and faded a short time afterward.

Tank had some decent moves, such as a good airplane spin and a power slam, but he was as green as grass and this showed.  He was matched up against The Lumberjacks, John Ringer and a few others who were still with Bernsten at the time. These vets carried him through what spanned his career.

Then for reasons known only to Tank and Bernsten, but clearly over a conflict between the two of them, the newcomer vanished as quickly as he arrived.

Ballerno never appeared for any other promotion.

Over the decades, many wrestlers started in Arizona and went on to good or even great things. Afa & Sika, Jerry Graham, Billy Graham, Eddie Sullivan and even modestly, myself.

On the other hand there were load of "one shot wonders' who wrestled only for a few matches to perhaps a few years before dropping out of sight. Bear Cumberland, Davie Mendez, Mariam Bermudas, The Red Fox, The Menominee Princess, The Cherokee Brothers, Miss Champagne, Taylor Thomas, Dallas, Road Angel, The Southern rebel, Charlie The Choker, The Sicilian Slammer and many more come to my mind. Ballerno   would fall into this latter list.

Well, at least he gets a few seconds of glory here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Bengali was a mainstay in Los Angeles and also seen in Texas quite often, but had relatively few appearances in Arizona. I know he did one big spot for The Sheik when the Detroit office made a short-lived effort to run Phoenix  facing Dario Romero from Amarillo, plus a few other spots for varied promoters.

Though Hispanic, Bengali pretended to be from India. It was not so much his wrestling ability, but his gear that really caught my eye. He had these tiger striped trunks and these claw gloves he wore into the ring, though the last items were removed before he went into action. Couldn't have him clawing the hell out of someone like a real tiger, now could we!

He was always used as a heel, yet remained cordial to fans and always willing to sign autographs or pose for photos. This sometimes gave promoters fits as they wanted him to keep the heat up and not have any members of the audience liking him.

That was never a problem as once he hit he ring, he was booed loudly, even by those he signed autographs for.

Gio figuire.

I think the only person who ever cheered for him was me.

After all, he had such ass-kicking ring gear.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Theater in A Squared Circle

Released in 1999, Theater In A Squared Circle by Jeff Archer is a creative book dividing wrestling into a set of acts like a stage play. Sheet writers, journalists, heels, promoters...there are examples from all angles within.

I am especially pleased with the Dale Pierce section.

There is also a lengthy chapter on the late Louie Spicolli.

Spicolli had numerous matches for the Indies in the late 1980s and early 1990s before hitting the big time, falling into "the lifestyle" and tragically dying. This book may well offer one of the finest profiles ever on this fallen star.

In his Indy days, Spicolli faced The Ranger, John Ringer, Sgt.Shultz, Steve Vega, Eruption, The Beast, Section 8, Thrillseeker and others, sometimes as a  villain but usually as a fan favorite.

You can read a lot about Arizona in this book, which for a change pays attention to this overlooked area.

There is also a long chapter on Killer Kowalski, one of the most fascinating wrestlers and certainly one of the greatest storytellers to ever enter the trade.

There are also several fine photos in the text.

The greatest thing about this book is how it placed focus on some of the lesser known people and those behind the scenes, not commonly dealt with elsewhere. A far cry from the flood of WWE propaganda books that have since flooded the market.

A worthy item for any wrestling library.


Orca was a rotund Mexican woman who appeared continually along the Mexican border in the 1980s and was over quote handily as a heel. Usually, she feuded with another woman known as Orcida and it was a good thing there was such a size difference as no one would have been able to tell them apart otherwise. Both wore masks.

On occasion, Orca was brought to Arizona, usually as a match up with Orcida again. She had a couple showing sin Tucson and Phoenix for varied lucha promoters, but was never a regular.

She seemed to prefer Mexico.

Eventually, Orca lost her mask south of the border and retired some time later. It was surprising to see she never tired to make a comeback with the then budding AAA, as she could have conceivably made a killing with them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Halloween & The Fans

I do not know who Halloween really was. I only saw him when AAA came through Arizona in 1996 or so and loved the routine he did. I also lived for the interaction he had with the fans the few times this promotion came through. It was the funniest part of their cards, except for the one night where another of their wrestlers was so drunk he fell off the ring apron in the middle of a tag team match.

Halloween wore one of those jack o lantern masks seen in Halloween III, though this one never tightened on him, crushed his skull and caused him to spit up spiders like in the movie.

"He's gonna get the seeds knocked out of him."

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

"Doctor Loomis is looking for you."

"La  Parka is gonna hit him so hard he's gonna break his shell."

"La Parka is gonna make pumpkin pie out of this bastard."

On and on it would of, in Spanish and in English, with Halloween playing up to the same. He usually had some smartassed response to everyone, but the insults from the stands just kept coming. 

"Go back to the farm."

"Go back to the pumpkin patch."

"Don't let the squirrels eat you."

"You aren't a real pumpkin."

"No shit," is all I have to say to that last one.

As far as  talent went, Halloween might not have set the world on fire, but he certainly drew a loud response from the crowd.

The cries from the audience often made the night.

Strangely, AAA never gained a foothold in Arizona like they did in Mexico or in other border states and with that, the reign of wrestling's Great Pumpkin came to an least in the Phoenix/Tucson area.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


He took his name from the mythical dog with three heads, guarding the entrance to the underworld in Greek lore. He, himself, had only one head on his shoulders and it was always covered with a black mask.

Coming from Caborca,. Mexico, Cerberus worked on both sides of the line and had occasional appearances in Arizona for a number of different offices. The lucha libre promotions in particular, were keen to use him, for he was a smaller guy who used a lot of sensational moves that the people liked.

Cerberus should not be confused with Calibus,  another luchador from the same era, active on both sides of the line, who wore a white outfit and was an entriely different person.

Even more oddly, these two never squared off.

Cerberus was not seen in Pheonix very often, but utilization came more in the smaller towns such as Florence, Sierra Vista, Casa Grande and on the Indian Reservations when varied people ran there. The Corona family used him during their short-lived efforts to bring lucha libre to Arizona in the early 1980s.

Sadly, this masked grappler liked to drink, both at shows and afterward. His lifestyle caught up to him in 2008, when he passed away. He had ruined his personal health thanks to a Bohemian lifestyle.

He was seen with consistency in Sonora and Chihuahua for varied lucha offices. Though his dream was to perform in Mexico City, there is no evidence he ever made it there.

The signature move Cerberus used was the dive off the top rope a la Mil Mascaras and Dos Caras. He also did a great looking flying head scissors hold.

Sneaky Red Smith

Sneaky Red Smith was an out-of-shape cab driver who somehow felt he could make it as a pro wrestler and with the Bernsten promotion in Phoenix offering to train practically anyone if the price was right, he found an in. He was red in more ways than one, for aside from his blazing hair, he was usually bloodied, even in opening matches.

He was, as his name implied, "sneaky" as well, usually depending on a number of foreign objects to help him gain an edge. He snuck pencils, sandpaper, cords of rope, brass knuckles, chains, can openers, hunks of wood, bottle caps and even a bar of soap into the ring to try to win a victory, but even these extremes failed him. More often than not, he had his own illegal obejcts confiscated by his opponent and used against him.

From his debut in 1981 to his retirement in 1987, I do not recall him winning a single match, though he might have gotten one or two pins in there someplace that I missed.

Super Argo, Pedro El Grande, Eddie Sullivan, Eddie Lopez, Benny Mendeblis, Ron Newstrome, Skeleton Man, Mr. Murder, Two Ton Henkle, Mike Gordon, David Rose, The Cherokee Borthers, Flama Azul and Mike Contreras were just some of the regional people who beat him. Much larger foes such as Tony Hernandez and Jody Arnold, demolished him in a matter of minutes.

Like the coyote in the old Roadrunner cartoons, he was constantly going back to the drawing board. Every week, when the best of plans backfired on him, he was up to something new. The fans loved it, for they realized no matter what he tried, he would screw things up somehow.

One of the ultimate humiliations came when Jody Arnold knocked Red's dentures out of his mouth, then after much drama back and forth, stomped on them.

Well, at least he never had the indignation of losing a mixed match to a woman...

Oh, wait,,,

That happened too!

Red may never have been much of a winner. He may have gained more comic relief than genuine heat. He may have had the build of a sweet potato. Still, one has to admire his persistance. If everyone today had an attitude like his, some of the contmeporary Indy outfits would get somewhere.


Chuckie was a spinoff of the Child's Play film series, with a very short Mexican wretsler actually working matches in a Halloween costume, circa 1996-2004. I know the identification of the man behind the mask, but since he never chose to reveal himself, I will not do so here.

While the routine might have seemed silly on the surface, it actually worked in front of the crowd, especially in the varied Lucha Libre offices that came and went over the years. Keep in mind, Mexico is the place that gave the world Hombre Simeo who appeared in a gorilla costume, Pasqualin, who was a clown long before Doink, Freddy in a Nightmare  On Elm Street getup and Toro Bravo 1&2 masquerading as Minotaurs.So why Chuckie? Why not!

The general idea was not that this was a real life kid's doll possesssed by the soul of a demon, as that would have been too far out there, even for Arizona. The implication was this wrestler was a nutty fan, obsessed with the movies and adopting the role. Now that, the fans bought into.

Keep in mind how Masked Frankenstein (The Monster in los Angeles) was a big hit with the people in the 1970s and 1980s in Arizona. The state was clearly in need of a new monster, so to speak and Chuckie filled the void.

Again, I know who it was scurrying around the ring like a psychotic squirrel, while the crowd mixed boos with laughter, but will not reveal it here.

Even though hidnered by the gear and Chuckie mask, the guy could actually do a lot of moves and routines. There were times also where he ended up literally hurled across the ring, to land draped across the turnbuckles, hanging upsoide down with his tennis shoe-covered feet in the air.

Mike Contreras had some very rough matches with this wrestler, as did some of the luchadores imported from Nogales and San Luis Rio Colorado. He was also seen in tag team matches and six man tags, paired with much larger men, which made for an odd contrast.

To him, wrestling was...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Little more than...


Child's play!

The AIWA In Arizona

For many years the AIWA out of Maywood, California was a credible Indy promotion, runnign shows in the Los Angeles suburbs and airing their product on public access cable.  Dr, Jerry Graham did his last stint as a wrestler here, relying on name value alone and having little more to give. The late Stephen de Leon had several main events for this office, prior to dying in a nasty motorcycle wreck. Thrillseeker Terry Zeller, Victor Rivera, Harry Hell, The Mercenaries, Badd Blood, Bubba Storm, Rainbow, Guerrero Azteca, Super Chicano, Bubba  Storm, Mark Kissel, Tec 9,  Steve Dalton, Country Boy Calhoun, Luscious Laura, Alex Knight, Tormenta, The Universal Playboy, The Samoan Bulldog, Spike Cantillo, Handsome Jack Studd, Johnny Legend, The Sewer Rat, The Ballards, Flame, The Duchess of Discipline, MTV, The Time Traveler, Lightning Cheryl Russo, Athena 2000, Chris Daniels and Thrashmaster were just some of the crew. Ed Ahrens had a good thing going with his promotion.

In the late 1990s, the AIWA made efforts to run seem shows in Arizona, though invading the state was not  an objective. They simply sold shows to various fund-raising groups on the Colorado River, which were not terribly far from their home base.

Aside from Jack Studd, Tec 9 and their other regulars, Ahrens booked some Arizona people from Phoenix for these cards as well. The Navajo Kid (later known as The Navajo Warrior), The Soviet and The Ranger to round out the deal.

For better or worse, some of the AIWA action may be seen on the DVD, 50 Years of Arizona Wrestling,  via

The office could have developed a strong base in Arizona had he wanted to, but Ahrens did not seem to see this as his calling. Thus, the AIWA continued to draw well in California without ever gaining a strong grip on neighboring Arizona.

Badd Blood

  It is not that B.J. Darnell did not know how to spell. He added the extra letter to Badd Blood because he thought it sounded cool and many of the fans seemed to agree with him.  At least Badd Blood had more of a ring to it than Speed, the original alias he took when he started wrestling in California in the early 1990s.

In 1997, Badd Blood made trips to Arizona for Rage In The Cage in Tucson. Rather than coming in on his own, he arrived with a clique of heels and started the "invasion" angle seen in so many other places. In the company of El Condor, Sheik Abdul and Kimara, he started a miniature war with the local heroes such as Section 8, Billy Scream, Lance Ferraro  and The California Kid.

Badd Blood physically did not look so "bad" or intimidating, as he was a tall, thin wrestler with little muscle tone. He did a lot of flying moves and fancy spins as opposed to power maneuvers. Using chairs and such also helped him establish himself as a serious villain.

One of Badd Blood's best matches came at the race track in Tucson, where he faced another rule breaker in a hell versus heel match. Widowmaker William Barker was his opponent and the two engaged in a wild brawl which saw them taking legitimate injuries. Still, they persisted, though Barker had a deep gash in the back of his head from one of the blows with a chair.

"They came to Arizona quite a bit and I think they were doing it for press for themselves," commented  manager Rainbow. "The pay could not ahve been great, but what I think they were doing was using the Arizona run as a means to get more more money and more pull for themsleves back in California. That's okay in its own right. The main reason they were so gung ho to make these long trips from Los Angeles to tucson was not so much to become big Arizona attractions, but for politics back in California. They could tell people how they were working Arizona and could tell promoters they had bookings in Tucson and if the California promoters wanted them to work the California cards, they woudl ahve to pa more. Also, they could have used the promise of gettign other guys booked from California into Tucson, which they  did. It was a smart move."

After Rage In The Cage moved from the dog track to another venue, the trips for Badd Blood and crew became less common. Eventually, the whole clan decided to focus on California action and an occasional stint on the other side of the Mexican border instead.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ellie Ellis

Cowboy Bob Ellis was a major draw in Arizona over the years. Usually, he was involved in bloody brawls that could put the latter-day "hardcore" promotions such a ECW to shame. His matches with the likes of Eddie Sullivan, The Comancheros, Don Kent and Jack Ringer were epic blood baths. He was the essential good guy, the great White Knight in a cowboy hat rather than armor.

Sound alike names and fake relatives are and were nothign new in wrestling, with promoters wanting to  capitalize on a good thing. There was a Hobo Brazil, a Bummy Rogers and my own favorite, Bruno SaNmartino. There was a Tom Debiase, a Billy Valentine and a Buddy Rogers Jr. These are just a few examples.

Thus it was not surprising to see an Elinor or "Ellie" Ellis arrive on the scene. I know little about her, but seriously doubt that she was any kin to Cowboy Bob. Whether Bob ever endorsed her as a sister or not is again something I would have to gaze into a crystal ball to find out. Suspiciously, I cannot find them working on any cards together in Arizona, which may be a tell-tale sign.

Though Ellie made some appearances in Phoenix, she was used more often by Rod Fenton in Tucson, Flagstaff, Casa  Grande  and Yuma in the early 1960s. Her opponents varied. Most often they were women brought in from California to do the job, but there were never any major feuds or extended grudge matches taking place. Back then, women were for better or worse, an added attraction on the cards. As one promoter back in the Eastern circuit put it when asked about women wrestlers, "Who cares if they can work! The people come to see their ass." So, Ellie was seen as a sex symbol, though the little data remaining on her does indicate she did know how to wrestle effectively. Promoters back then may well have missed the boat by not pushing the women further and for longer feuds.

Ellie used the signature Cowboy Bob Ellis bulldog headlock, which seems odd for a woman to do. But with a name like Ellis, what did you expect?

Her name does crop up in other places, so she evidently made the rounds before either adopting another alias or quitting. Results from the past show her on the cards in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana as well, though again never staying for a great length of time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

J. C. Dykes

J.C. Dykes was a hot deal as a manager in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and other states, but only made one appearance in Arizona as far as I can recall, when Amarillo was sending people to Tucson in the early 1970s. He  came in with The Infernos and did his thing, then left without returning. A pity, as a lengthy stay could have drawn loads of heat.

While his Arizona trip was limited, his exploits elsewhere became legendary. Many times he caused riots and had to fight his way back to the locker room with the aid of his prize tag team. On other occasions he was booed so loudly, even when speaking into the microphone, he could not be heard.

After Dykes retired, he became a minister at a small church in Cleveland, Tennessee. A heart attack ended his life several years ago.

One story behind the scenes is seldom spoken of, but Dykes inadvertently saved the life of wrestler Don Green one night in Memphis.

Dykes did not want to drive back alone from Memphis to Nashville after a show and asked Green to ride with him to be sure he stayed awake. Green agreed.

Don Green was supposed to ride back with Pepe Lopez, Frank Hester and Sam Bass.

This car crashed, killing all three men within when the ruined automobile exploded in flames.

Green would have been the fourth man in the car had it not been for Dykes not wanting to drive alone.

Basic Nudism By Don Arnold

Basic Nudism has nothing to do with wrestling, except for the fact it was written intellectual wrestling great, Don Arnold, This small booklet released via Alternative Publishing out of California in 2000, has Arnold covering the history of the nudist lifestyle, which he lived for years away from the ring. An interesting look at  a different, uh...side...of this ex-wrestler.

There are loads of black and white stills of people running around naked in the text, but many of these people would probably look better clothed. In other words, read the book for the text and not the pictures.  That is...of you can find a copy. It was done in a limited edition and is now out of print.

While books on and by wrestlers abound, this one remains unique.

Don Arnold has been dealt with in several blogs here already. He was a mainstay in Arizona for over two decades. Alberto Torres, Gorgeous George, Tito Montez,  Les Thatcher, Tito Montez, Luis Martinez, Pepe Romero, Dick Hutton, Buddy Rogers,  Brute Bemis, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Mr Kleen, Frankie Cain, Ramon Torres, Vic Cristy, Luis Martinez, Bruce Kirk, Jose Lothario, Charro  Azteca, Gory Guerrero, Lou Thesz, Rito Romero, Tito Copa, Lou Plummer, Bill Melby, Phil Melby, Rick Waldo, The Bat, Jim Wright, Haystacks Calhoun, Tarzan Tyler, Charlie Carr, Eddie Lopez, Armon Hussein, Pancho Pico, Bobby Graham, Bobby Pico, The Wasp, Nano Ortega, Tony Hernandez, Kangaroo Karson, Lord Leslie Carlton, Ian Campbell,  Lord Blears, George Drake and Trotsky The Wrestling Bear.  Arnold faced them all.

And he did it wearing clothes.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

High Alert Cody Baker

Over the past decade there has been a growing generation gap in wrestling, between the "old schoolers"  and newer guys. Never has the conflict become more blatant than in Arizona at the moment, with a relatively fresh face named High Alert Cody Baker.

Behind his back and to his face some of the wrestlers at the Real Deal Pro Wrestling shows held every Saturday in Phoenix,  he has derisively been called "Spot Monkey" by some of the veterans, which in layman's terms might best translate as someone who is all flash and no content. Baker in return, has responded with a number of remarks that might best not be said here.

Like many associates in other parts of the USA from the younger set, Baker likes a lot of sensational moves, flips and routines as opposed to the leg locks , headlocks and occasional brawling tactics of the older competition. And he has made his feelings known and made it clear he thinks his style is far superior to the older way of things .

To boost his ego, which needs no boosting, he has been place in the ring with some of the older competition he has shown such contempt for and for better or worse,they have failed to completely teach him the lesson they desire.

Well, there are others waiting in the wings for a crack at him.

Will age and experience win over determination and vigor or will the stubbornness of youthful ambition prevail?

Real Deal Pro Wrestling runs every Saturday at the Mercado Swap Meet grounds in Phoenix.

Check out ans see where and if this conflict  of the generations will end.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Buddy Rogers In Arizona

Historians into the collection of results seem frustrated and contend there is little data related to Buddy Rogers in Arizona that survives, though he was there and had a successful run early in his career.

By all accounts, he faced many of the same people he feuded with in other parts pf the USA, such as Dick Hutton, Don Arnold, Argentina Rocca and Lou Thesz.

During the Arizona run he was billed as North American Champion.

Where he would later be known for his sequined jackets, in his Arizona reign old photos show him partial to fancy capes instead.

The Indian Death Lock was his signature move, even in the early days, as was his strut and his smirk. He also used a pile driver to finish off his opponents, for a change in pace.

Much footage survives of him in action on DVD and on u tube, but from other parts of the USA and later in his career. It is also difficult to find any book on the history of pro wrestling without a biography of him included.

Finding details of his Arizona run, however, remains difficult, though he was definitely there and definitely at the top during his stay.

The Top Ten Tag Teams In Arizona

This list could be arguable. I have restricted it to those I actually saw from 1969 to 1998. Thus those before or after are not dealt with,. I will leave that to those younger or older than me, if anyone wishes to post an alternative list in comments. As far as Arizona goes, these are my choices....

1. The Comancheros
Known as The Hell's Angels in Michigan.Ohio, they were The Comancheros here. Forget the fact these two ::brothers" were actually gay lovers behind the scenes. Forget the fact they both met sad and tragic ends.  Forget the fact heir behavior otuside the ring was as uncanny as it was in it. They were the best heels to ever come to Arizona and the heat they drew from the fans is still talked about by those who saw them. They used every dirty trick in the book and then some, even finding creative ways of their own to increase their villainy. Every tag team feud they were involved with became an epic battle. Tito Montez & Armon Hussein, Bob Lueck & Ron Pritchard, Luis Martienz & Bob Ellis, Eddie Lopez & Kurt Von Steiger, Sato San & Fuji San, Eduardo Lynch & Apollo Mexicano, Ben Justice & Pancho Pico...on and on....

2. Sergeant Schultz 1&2
Neo Nazis. Need anything else be said to provoke images of hatred from the fans? Everything was ":bad" about them, from their Nazi era theme song to their double teaming in the ring, Huge bodybuilders, wearing matching masks and gear, they were simply awesome in appearance. Sergeant Shultz #1 also made a name for himself in Mexico as Commando Nazi.

3,. The Blackjacks
Lanza & Mulligan were seen as baby faces in Arizona when Gagne made his short lived run at the fairgrounds. Still, these two showed  how tag teaming should be done. Though rule breakers in most other places, they proved capable as fan favorites. They wore white hats and gear in Arizona to enhance their good image, rather than their customary black, but calling the team the White Jacks probably would not have looked that great in the ads.   ,.

4. The Lumberjacks
Varied teams around the world used this name, but these two were legitimate brothers, Russ and David Walters. Their matches with The Black Mamba & Bone Crusher, Black Mamba & Ron Sutherland, David Rose & Pedro El Grande, Bob Yuma & Tito Montez, Special Forces, CC Starr & Thrillseeker  and others were always a hot item.

5. Special Forces
Dealt with in the March section already, these quasi-military wrestlers were over both as villains and as fan favorites.  Eli Hernandez & Mike Contreras were their main rivals in the ring.

6. The Steiners
WWF and WCW booking brought all the top names to the area, but The Steiners stand out, simply due to fan reaction. Not only one of the greatest tag team,s to step into Arizona, but one of the established great teams all over. Need more be said?

7. The Von Steigers
Kurt & Karl Von Steiger took many areas by storm and in the early 1970s, Arizona was no exception. The team was over big, but did not last that long as Karl hated the Phoenix summers and headed for Canada, Kurt remained behind, promoted and incredibly for a ":Nazi" managed to become a fan favorite, when Bobby Mayne (Jaggers) and Jody Arnold turned on him.

8. Eddie Sullivan & Rip Tyler
They had only a handful of matches on Arizona when Rip visited Eddie in Arizona, from his Pensacola home. These two were hot stuff down south and in Japan. To see them in action out west told why. A pity they did not stay longer in the Arizona area as a team, but Rip was just visiting.

9. Black Gordman & Goliath
A legendary combo of international pull. They made varied appearances for different promotions in Arizona over the years, with Gordman also coming to Phoenix as a single, where he feuded with Ricky Romero.  As a team, they were also paired up to face Jerry & Nick Kozak in what ended up some great tag bouts.

10 David Rose & Pedro El Grande
A long-lasting tag team facing the likes of The Lumberjacks, The Golden Eagle &Maniac Mike Gordon and others on the Indy scene.  They were as loved as their opponents were hated, which always makes for a great formula.. Thew were "high fliers" before such was the norm. Few teams in the smallest of the small or the   biggest of the big had such an arsenal of moves and holds.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wally Steele

No one could ever accuse Wally Steele of copying George "Animal" Steele namewise or in any other area, for he was around long before George lumbered and drooled unto the scene.

Wally emerged in the Arizona/New Mexico in the 1950s, where he was especially popular in Tucson and Yuma. He used powerful leg locks and a wicked-looking airplane spin to win his matches, though he was not above a brawl or two when provoked.

One of Steele's most torrid feuds came in 1959 when he was pitted against the upcoming heel, John Tolos, who at this time was not grappling alongside his brother Chris on the Arizona circuit. Though new to the game at the time, Tolos showed the earmarks of a style that would make him immortal in the wrestling world. He had tremendous talent for gaining heat on the microphone and givng the most obnoxious interviews known to man. He likewise employed sneaky little things like a thumb to the throat or an illegal object pulled from his tights, which would later make him a legend among villains.

Steele, as the fan favorite, ahd to endure the tactics Tolos dumped upon him as he in turn, grew in vaillainry. The odd part was though Steele was a fitting opponent, it was Tolos who would become far more famous between the two of them.

Over the the next two decades, Steele would wretsle infrequently in Arizona and other areas, as he reportedly had a number of daytime business interests to tie him down.

The last match I personally recall for him would have been in Phoenix in either 1977 or 1978, when he happened to show up as a spectator, intending only to say hello to old friends such a sTito Montez and Nano Ortega.

When a wrestler no showed, he ended up put on the card as a filler, but many people still remembered him. While using a borrowed pair of tights and boots, he faced Woody Farmer, but lost to him. He did, however, get the job done so to speak and still demonstrated a few moments of brilliance in the ring.

Whatever happened to him after that is anyone's guess. If someone out there has some added data on him, please feel free to post a comment.

Chief Attacullaculla

Rod Blair of Iowa took the name of an obscure Indian chief who sided with the French the French-Indian Wars or the British in the American Revolution. I am not sure which. I do know, however, the name provided moments of hilarity in the locker room.

Though he looked equally ridiculous with a punk Mohawk and war paint, there was nothing funny about his wrestling and when he drifted into Arizona from 1988-1989, he was utterly hated by the fans. His appearance alone was so uncanny it provoked instant heat. He barely had to do anything and the audience was on him.

Attacullaculla was a hit in the Phoenix area and became a regular on the weekly shows. He had a notable feud with the Mexican wrestler, Caballero Rojo. He also had some matches with Crazy Cowboy, which seemed to make sense, with the wrestling world never being politically correct and all.

Aside from the war dance which in his case provoked jeers rather than cheers and the mandatory tomahawk chops, Attacullaculla used a wide arsenal of dirty tactics to win his matches. He also had a wicked leg drop.

Attacullaculla returned to his native Iowa in late 1989 and remains there to this day, where he is still wrestling and running shows, though in his 40s.