Saturday, June 30, 2012


Not much happens in Bisbee. In the early 1880s, the town made national news as a flawed payroll robbery led to a shootout in the street and varied people dying. The culprits were later tracked down, caught and hanged in Tombstone, while the supposed gang leader, John Heath, was lynched from a telegraph pole. Since then, life in Bisbee has been rather dull.

It is odd how way back when, Bisbee was a bustling place for pro wrestling.

One of the first attempts at presenting shows offered miners being paid money to fight each other in a roped off area, while bets were laid on the side. Sometimes a work and soemtimes a shoot, these wrestling contests often escalated into savage brawls with serious injuries that were undeniably real.

Traveling carnivals often came through the area as well, with their tough man taking on all comers.

By World War II, the wrestling was all but dead in Bisbee. The Tucson office would occasionally do a spot show, sending in Don Arnold, Brute Bemis, The Gorky Brothers, Chief Shoulderblades, Juan Garcia, Kangaroo Karson, Kenny Mayne, Monte Ladue, Johnny James or others off their established wheel.

Fans wanting wrestling who lived in Bisbee and the surroundings just found it easier to go up to Tucson or across the border in Agua Prieta..

In Wild West times, Bisbee had an interesting wrestling era. 

Now, nada! It doesn't look like much will change either.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blindfold Matches

No one seems sure where the idea of blindfold matches started. Some have credited this to Ed Francis in Honolulu, who may have come up with the first blindfold battle royal, but most surely the concept goes back further.

Phoenix had it's share of blindfold matches in order to keep people from cheating or to just add a novel twist. Invariably, the bad guys always lifted the blindfold to gain a dishonest advantage anyway.

There was at least one blindfolded battle royal held in Phoenix in 1982, where David Rose promoted, wrestled and won the event. Others taking part were The Lumberjacks, The Golden Eagle, Ringo Rodriguez, myself, Cowboy Bob Yuma, Pedro El Grande, Mike Gordon and Danny Snyder.

In the early 1970s, Tito Montez and Ron Dupree did a blindfold tag match with Chuck Karbo and Freddie Gomez, but Karbo screwed them over by lifting the blindfold, breaking the rules and gaining a pin.

Silly? Perhaps. Still an interesting tidbit within wrestling history.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thanks To Gerald Thurman

Finding photos of the exterior Pheonix Madison Square Garden in all its glory is next to impossible as no one seemed to ever bother taking a shot of the outside. The focus was always action within and everyone  seemed to think the place would be around forever rather than torn down.

As luck would have it this fellow just happened to be shooting historic buildings and take some stills of the Garden just before it was torn down. Thus at least some shots are preserved and a few appear at varied places here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Morenci was a big mining boom town, It is not as buzzing as it once was. Likewise, no one seems to hold  wrestling here any more.

From the 1940s to the 1960s Morenci was a stop off for varied offices, but never a part of a regular circuit. The town was used  for a spot show a few times per year.

Even that doesn't happen any longer, as indications show the last time Morenci housed wrestling was a card   in the late 1990s by Steve Gator Wolf. He drew a very large crowd with Mike Knox as a key draw.

People seen in the past there included Charro Azteca, Kenny Mayne,  Don Arnold, Rick Waldo, Tito Montez,  Carlos El Malo, Phil Sapien, George Drake, The Gorky Brothers, Golden Hawk, Wally Steele, Sugi Yamamoto, Kung Chang, Maniac Mike Gordon, Rudy Lopez, Toro Bravo 1 &2, Eddie Lopez, Chief  Big Heart, Jerry Graham, Charlie Carr,  Cerberus, Dick Trout, Rudy Navarro and Dr. X.  

Now, nothing....

Maybe some Indy promoter will take note.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Phoenix Madison Square Garden Museum Blog

A new blog related to "weird things" titled Weird America has an article up now at on the museum for the the Phoenix Madison Square Garden on the premises of the office complex where the arena once stood.

New Covers For Books On Lulu

This weekend I will be working to add some nicer covers to the original generic ones for some of my books on Lulu, most notably MEWL, The Last Bell Call, A Parade Of Famous Masons, Masters Of The Weird and This Saturday Night At The  Akron Armory.

One problem was getting photos to scan with high enough resolution to work on Lulu's format.

A Parade Of Famous Masons (with wrestler bios) at

Masters Of The Weird at


Crusher Gary Key

Crusher Gary Key had the knack for being a heel, as a throwback to the days of Buddy Rogers, Baron  Leone and Don Arnold. In fact, he may have very slightly resembled Leone in mannerisms, with a long cape and glowing hair.

Coming from California where he was trained by Jesse Hernandez and Billy Anderson, his first wrestling-connected activity in Phoenix was not an actual show. He came in with a crew to help take part in The Empty Ring play in Phoenix, which Superstar Billy Graham and Jake Roberts did in a church. He played a ":fan: sitting in the "stands" as Jake Roberts demolished Anderson and then went about to proclaim the joys of Christianity  during this 1996 extravaganza, The stage play, actually held in one of the area mega-churches with a ring set up on the altar, drew some 6,000 people. This, however, is the topic for another blog on another day.

Key was back a few months later while making an appearance for AAA  promotional efforts. He was seen on the opener in a big show held at the Phoenix Colosseum, Though he was the first match on the lineup, his was one of the better showings of the day.

Key would make other appearances in Arizona in the 1990s  for varied groups, but the bulk of his showings were in California instead, where he received a bigger push and could unveil his talents as a villain

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Mighty Avengers

Various Assassins, Avengers, Mr Wrestlings and Mongols came through Arizona over the decades. The Mighty Avengers mentioned here worked the Arizona circuit in 1975 and were not around for long, unless of course, they took off their hoods and continued under other names which remains probable.

These Avengers feuded with a wrestler known simply as Apache Joe and a a variety of tag team partners in  the border triangle of Arizona, California and Mexico. They were main-eventers in Yuma and across the line in San Luis Rio Colorado.

Again,. not too much else remains on these particular Avengers or their opponent, Apache Joe.

All of those involved with this feud either faded into history or went on under different names.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Wasp

The Wasp was a rulebreaking masked man who came unto the Arizona scene in the early 1960s and though he may have been originally intended to be a job guy who would lose to big stars, he gained so much heat he was given an actual push by the varied Arizona bookers.

The Wasp made appearances in all the big and small Arizona towns, including Phoenix, Tucson, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Yuma, Globe, Douglas, Prescott and Benson.

He was handily defeated by Lou Thesz during a big match with him,. but everyone lost to Thesz. In other cases, this human insect frequently  came out on top.

One of his biggest victories over a major star was a win in Yuma over Lou Plummer.

The Wasp also had a run with the Arizona State title, which isn't bad for a man originally designed to perform on the undercard.

Eventually, things came to an end when The Wasp was unmasked to be Dave Ruhl, who had wrestled under this name beforehand in the 1950s in the very same area,

There is also a great deal that may be said about Dave Ruhl without the mask, but that will be a subject for another time and blog.

Joe Costello

Joe Costello came into Arizona from Salina, Kansas in 1960 and though he was relative unknown, proved to be extremely popular with the fans. Prior to his arrival, he had been active in Topeka and other towns on the Midwestern circuit.

Though he was usually active as a single in the Yuma, Casa Grande, Tucson area, he also teamed on occasional cards with Indio Bravo.

During his southwestern stint, he likewise found bookings in California, New Mexico and across the border in Mexico itself.

Some opponents he faced included Don Arnold, Enrique Mendoza and Farmer Cox, though his main rival, with whom he had a short feud was one Tarzan Tourvelle, who later became notorious as Tarzan Tyler.

Costello evidently died at the height of his rising success, though I cannot find a cause for his demise. He passed away on October 30, 1961, evidently  at the age of 30.

Juan Sebastian

I heard tell Juan Sebastian was married to female wrestler, Belle Starr, but do not know much more about that one. I do know, however, eh was quiet impressive for a smaller guy and used a wicked knee lift on his opponents.

The first time this man really started to gain ground was in the late 1950s, where he received a reasonable push in Ohio. In 1958 he and one Cyclone Hess held the regional tag team title together for a short spell.

Also in 1958, he held a version of the Michigan championship in that state by defeating Dick Garza, who would later become more famous as The Mighty Igor.

Possibly to get away from the hard Midwestern winters, Juan Sebastian drifted into Arizona both before and after his Ohio run, where he again found moderate success. Though cheered in an obligatory set of matches with Don Arnold, he was booed as a ruklebreaker against the likes of Alberto Torres and Jesse James

He also had some stints in the Toronto area, including some hectic matches there with Sam Steamboat and bookings throughout the south..

Though never a star of international fame, he remained a capable journeyman throughout his career, who was welcomed in several territories.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nelson Royal

Anoither wrestler known mainly for a long career in the southern states, Nelson Royal did travel around. A charismatic man with a sleeper for a finisher, he was usualkly well-liked in the locker room and beloved by the fans. Few people, if any, recall anything bad ever being said about him in the past or now, some years following his death.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Royal did do some matches in Arizona, most notably in the Yuma and Tucson areas. The year of 1960 itself was one that saw him having some truly outstanding matches in the territory. At this time, he had two wild feuds with Charro Azteca and Wild Red Donavan. Though he usually faced one or the other in singles comepotitioon, he also teamed with El Gran Lotherio for a set of tag team confronattions against this pair. For a short spell, Lotahrio and Royal were holders of the Western States tag team belts.

In the same time span, Royal was also afforded the obligatory feud with the legendary master villain of the area, Don Arnold. Nothing new here though as everyone feuded with Arnold from the early 1950s into the 1970s.

Royal also won and for a brief stint, maintained the Western States singles championship crown.

He never stayed long in the west, in spite of his success. North & South Carolina were his areas of chocie and that was where he always returned.

After his retirement, Royal did well with a store selling Wild West boots, clothing and range gear.

He died from a heart attack following a church service in 2002. he was 66 years old.

Meet Me Tonight In Dover

Meet Me Tonight at the Dover Library in Dover, Ohio as I take part in a writing seminar and book signing, held in the basement meeting rooms at 6:30 p.m. until 8 in the evening. The event is free with myself and others sponsored by the Not in Our Write Minds (love the play on words) writing group out of Canton.

Some of my past books such as Matadores Latinos and the like are still available in the book stores or from but the bulk of my newer wrestling books are ordered only online, at wrestling shows or at signing sessions like this one.

Some of these books include:

Dale's Tales

Whispers Among The Tombstones

The Garden Will Not Die 

A Parade Of Famous Masons


Copies of these will be at the library for the lecture/sale.

The library is located across from the high school in downtown Dover. Dover is roughly 20 minutes south of  Canton on I-77.

Rip Hawk

Rip Hawk, like Dick Dunn Len Rossi, Rip Tyler and others who drifted into Arizona, was recognized especially as a southern wrestler. He is remembered in the archives for his longstanding tag team with the late Swede Hanson and for his work as a heel with dyed blond hair.

Early in his career, he spent some time in Arizona, while working for Rod Fenton out of Tucson, as well as other area promtoers. In these matches, he was on the undercard and still quite green, but picked up a load of tips that clearly helped him down the road.

One of his defining moments came in Yuma in October of 1957, when he held Bob Geigel to a draw.

When Hawk returned to the Carolinas fresh off his trip into the Will West, there was a notable difference. He was a far more confident heel and much better at working up a crowd.  His eventual pairing with Swede Hanson would secure his place forever in the history books,

The Hawk &  Swede connection would tag their way through many bloody brawls with Sam Steamboat & Mr.. Wrestling, The Anderson Brothers, Johnny Weaver & George Becker and Brute Bernard & Skull  Murphy  in particular,

As with many in his profession, he went from a nervous guy in the openers to one of the sport;s greatest performers.

Hawk conditioned to wrestle into the late 1970s, even after a heart attack momentarily sidelined him. More incredibly, in his final days of activity, he converted to the role of fan favorite.

While Swede Hanson passed away a while ago, Rip Hawk is still alive and doing as well as a man born as one Harvey Evers in 1921 might be expected.


Cometa was a small man as far as wretslers went in the USA, though big enough for the lucha libre across the border from Arizona, where he practiced his trade. For all practical purposes, he was the typical luchador with the mask, fast moves and muscled, but thin frame.

The perky little grappler was a bigger draw within northern Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s, making appearances  within Sonora, Chihuahua and Baja California. Ge was occasionally seen in Arizona when varied lucha libre promotions ran, but was never in for long, due to immigration status.

:What a lot of guys back then would do, at least as far as I was told in locker room talk form some of the veterans who worked that area in territorial days, was this,": commented Ohio-based wrestler and manager Richard Friar. :They would get permits to cross the border as a tourist or visitor and wear their gear under their clothes or at least wear their boots when driving across the border station or walking across where someone in America would be waiting for them. When asked their purpose for their visit they would come up with some crap like "Oh, I'm gonna visit my grandmother in Tucson" or :I'm going shopping for three days in Texas" and that was it. They just wouldn't bother with the more lengthy process of getting work permits and since many promotions back then paid in cash under the table, it was no big deal to do it this way. They didn't stay as illegal aliens, but took the money and ran.  This would have been before the September 11th attacks and all the more stringent border security u that followed. It was a different and easier ball game back then.

Cometa reportedly came from Benjamin Hill, a small town between Nogales and Sonora and was trained by the late Pedro Gonzalez and his crew.Ge was sometimes the victim fo jokes abotu his home town by other wrestlers, because it was so much smaller than the major cities on the Mexican circuits.

Dick Dunn

Dick Dunn would mainly be known as a wrestler in the southern states such as Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, but he did show up in Arizona in the early 1960s, perhaps looking for a change in pace, where he tried out the dry climate.

A heavy set bruiser of a man, Dunn would have had the making of a great heel for the Phoenix/Tucson/Yuma circuit, but was booked instead as a scientific fan favorite.

From the onset, Dunn was paired to feud with Hans Steiner and together they had some wild matches.

Dunn also teamed with Tito Montez for a short spell, but was more effective in signals competition.

Others he squared off with included Sir Percival Pringle (Not to be confused with Bill Moody/Percy Pringle /Paul Bearer), Ed Sharpe and Ken Lucas.

Rumor has it he even considered moving into Phoenix for a time, but this idea was nixed and he returned southward. He did make it back from time to time, but only at brief intervals.

At one point, he was instrumental in bringing Len Rossi, a major star in the Kentucky/Tennessee area, but then a complete unknown out west, into the Pheonix wrestling circuit.

Like Dunn, Rossi would prove an instant hit with Arizona fans, but would not stay, preferring the Nashville area instead.

Back in his southern home grounds, Dunn wad extremely successful. While working in law enforcement by day, he wrestled by night, holding the Gulf Coast  championship and Southern States tag team title  multiple times.

Dunn died in June of 1995.

His real name was Richard Demenbreun

Monday, June 4, 2012

Suzie Starr

Suzie Starr had only a short career. Originally pushed when the AIWA out of California had a brief Arizona run, she was designed as a tough blond who would wrestle men.

For whatever reason, she did not last long.

Coming out of Parker, Arizona, she had a handful of matches in the smaller towns, which reached a head in a 1997 main event match with her facing male counterpart, Cowboy Mark Kissell.

In this match, she pinned Kissell and looked to be moving upward, but then she just dropped out of sight.

With the passing of time her name has become so obscure it is an impossibility to find photos of her, though in the late 1990s some of her matches, specifically the one with Kissell, were in fact circulating among tape traders.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tito Copa

Tito Copa was an ugly little guy built like a troll. He had a shaved head and more body hair than an ape. Gad he been round in thsi day and age he would have been considered far too short to make the grade and laughed out of the arena, but in the 1950s and 1960s he was a top draw.

His forbearance was obvious to all who saw him in action.

His appearance alone was what made him rather than breaking him. He looked and acted like a psychotic leprechaun which had him jeered right off the bat. Though he could be considered a comedic wrestler under some circumstances, he was more often than not a rough and mauling heel. Though small, he was extremely powerful and had no trouble making the fans believe this.

Copa had long stints in Arizona where he was usually booed by the fans, but he did have at least a few brief moments in the sun as a hero.

One such example came in the Mid-01960s when the infamous Sheik was traveling from California to Texas and stopped in Arizona to take two bookings for easy money. He accepted contracts in Tucson and Casa Grande,m facing Tito Montez and Tito Copa.

The Sheik's reputation preceded him and when pitted against Copa, the little bald heel became an instant fan favorite. Their match was a bloodbath and though the crafty Arab came out on top, he was given a dose of his own medicine by the stocky bald man.  The two fought in the ring, up the aisles and at one point even under the ring,

The Sheik encounter was not the only time Copa heard cheers. Earlier in his career, he received applause when facing Don Arnold in a brutal feud and during a brief spell teaming with Tito Montez. 

It was as a villain, however, that he truly excelled. He was the Mighty Mite of pro wrestling. Among other bloody Arizona feuds was a set of brawls with the ever-popular Pancho Pico. In these, there wad no doubt Copa was the heel.

On occasion Copa was also billed as Tito Kopa.

Tito Copa died from a heart attack in July of 2004...

His real name was Jacobo Secherizberg