Thursday, July 31, 2014

OVER THE TOP ROPE BATTLE ROYAL TIME

October 2, 1965
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
---
49 Years Ago

ABE JACOBS

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN

IKE EAKINS

JOHNNY HEIDEMAN
--
JESSE JAMES

'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS
---
A wild type of professional wrestling comes up at the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight when ten heavyweights, including mammoths HAYSTACKS CALHOUN and TWO TON HARRIS collide in an OVER-THE-TOP ROPE BATTLE ROYAL.

The rules stipulate that a wrestler must be thrown over the top rope down to the arena floor to be eliminated from the match. The last man standing in the ring will be declared the winner and shall receive the top paycheck.

The ten wrestlers involved will first be paired up in five singles matches, then shall return for the evening's BATTLE ROYAL finale.

The five matches are as follows:

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN versus GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

ABE JACOBS versus IKE EAKINS

STEVE BOLUS versus PEDRO ZAPATA

JESSE JAMES versus 'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS

PEPPY GOMEZ versus JOHNNY HEIDEMAN

Action begins at 8:15.

GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING'S "FIRST LADY"

Today I salute the 'FIRST LADY' --- as far as I'm concerned, she is, hands down, the 'FIRST LADY' of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING.

PEGGY LATHAN

Peggy is my friend, in fact, a very close friend. But, I'll be honest, Peggy is EVERYBODY's friend. If you have attended any of Greg Price's NWA FANFESTS, you've seen her. Folks even buzz after the various FANFESTs, "Who's the woman all of the wrestlers hang around?" That's Peggy.

But, 'FIRST LADY' of MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING? How did this happen?

Young Peggy began watching JCP wrestling on television around 1965 (I could say she was two years old at the time, but never mind about that part of the story. Let's just say that I am older than Peggy, and we'll let it go at that.)

She ventured out to her first arena JCP show in late 1968 and soon was attending three-to-four shows PER WEEK. (How I envy her for that! She saw some great wrestling.) A weekly itinerary for Peggy, her mother and her grandmother 'Nannie' Smith * included shows in Greenville, S.C.Spartanburg, S.C.Anderson, S.C. and Asheville, N.C. EVERY WEEKPeggy went even when she was sick. Very few weeks went by that found these ladies not in their front row ringside seats. This road schedule lasted from 1968 until 1983. Throughout the 1970s, they would often be joined by Lynn and Debbie Tate (Lynn would later marry wrestler Bill White). In the 1980s, other friends Jean HollandRita Cantrell and Clay Sweet became part of the entourage.

When I asked Peggy how she got to know the wrestlers, she answered that she would go up and talk to the guys, and they would see her on the front row every week, so they knew her face. Bobby Kay was the first wrestler Peggy remembers meeting. Then came the legendary Johnny Weaver, then Ronnie Garvin and Ole AndersonPeggy met Gene Anderson soon after meeting Ole, since The Minnesota Wrecking Crew was always together. It wasn't long before she would babysit Gene's son, Brad, when his dad would bring him to Spartanburg. "Brad was about five, I guess. He'd sit with me and watch the matches," Peggy told me.

The wrestler Peggy gives credit to for introducing her to most of the guys she now knows was a fellow named Flair.

PEGGY and RIC...Then

PEGGY and RIC...more recently

PEGGY and OLE ANDERSON
---
Many fans will remember the night in Greenville, S.C., when Ole was knife-attacked by an idiot fan and cut all the way diagonally down his chest. Lynn and Debbie Tate and Peggy were outside the dressing room. Peggy recalls, "We were in the hallway leading to the outside. The dressing rooms were downstairs. There were a couple of wrestlers there. The only one I remember is Bill Eadie (later The Masked Superstar, but at this time, he was one of The Mongols). Lynn was a nursing student at Clemson University, so she and Debbie held icy towels on Ole's chest, and I was elevating his left arm and putting pressure on his left hand as he had a bad cut across and below his thumb. Then after the paramedics arrived and took Ole, I rode to Greenville General Hospital with Gene, because he didn't know where it was, and I stayed with Gene in the ER until Ole was released about two in the morning."


PEGGY and 'The Dean' JOHNNY WEAVER
---
Peggy's love for JCP wrestling continued until the company was sold to TURNER ENTERTAINMENT in 1988, and there are very few of the wrestlers she didn't know. And they all loved her...and still do.

If you don't believe me, check out this year's NWA FANFEST in Charlotte.

Peggy's Grandmother 'NANNIE' SMITH


Photos courtesy of Peggy and / or THE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A TIP OF THE MASK...

...to five great wrestling stars who each sold plenty of tickets for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and always gave the fans their money's worth...

DICK MURDOCH
(1946-1996)

He wrestled as a 'babyface' or as a 'heel'. Either way, the fans LOVED him, and so did the other wrestlers. A second generation wrestler. They'll never be another like him.

KLONDIKE BILL
(Bill Soloweyko)
(1931-2000)

A main eventer for JCP in the 1960s, then lower card as his career come to a close. Stayed with the company after active ring work and was head of the ring crew.
A gentle giant of a man whom everyone liked.

JOHNNY WEAVER
(1935-2008)

Rich Landrum dubbed him 'The Dean of Professional Wrestling'. He could do it all---wrestle, book, promote. Johnny was at the top of the heap for CROCKETT PROMOTIONS for at least ten years, both as a single and tag partner. To state it bluntly, JOHNNY was THE MAN before there was a Flair.)

BLACKJACK MULLIGAN
(Robert Windham)

Here's a man who did it all in the business, and regardless of what he did, he was over BIG TIME. The fans loved BJ---and loved to hate him when they were supposed to do so. Ask any wrestler who knows him, and I'm sure you will hear a great story about a guy who gave his all to the business.

DINO BRAVO
(Adolfo Bresciano)
(1949-1993)

In JCP, held the WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP with MR. WRESTLING (TIM WOODS). Top main eventer in whatever territory he worked. Was murdered in his Quebec home.

Friday, July 25, 2014

THE BILLY / BRONCHO BASH

March 25, 1963
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

A renewal of a big feud between Indian great BILLY TWO RIVERS and rugged Yugoslavian BRONCHO LUBICH will headline tonight's PARK CENTER wrestling card presented by promoter JIM CROCKETT.

TWO RIVERS holds a win over LUBICH in their last meeting, a bout that generated hard feelings on both sides, and the rematch should be a honey. It's set for two-of-three falls, one hour time limit.

The semifinal squares off two brother teams for tag team action. Fan favorites GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT go against DOC and MIKE GALLAGHER. This one is set for 45 minutes, two-of-three falls.

Three singles bouts complete the card.

These have GEORGE BECKER facing FRANK VALOIS.

CRUSHER ANGELO goes against DALE LEWIS.

DON WHITTLER battles JIM GRABMIRE.

All are one fall contests, with the first beginning at 8:15 p.m.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE GREAT BOLO GOES TO COURT

January 27, 1959
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

TOM RENESTO as THE GREAT BOLO
---
A west coast professional wrestler calling himself 'THE GREAT BOLO' wants the courts to unmask Charlotte's version of the hooded villain.

AL LOVELOCK, who claims he was licensed to wrestle under the ring name of 'THE GREAT BOLO' in 1953, filed a suit against THOMAS F. RENESTO in Superior Court Monday, asking $20,000 in actual and $100,000 in punitive damages.

LOVELOCK, from Houston, Texas, also seeks a court order preventing RENESTO from using the name and mask of 'THE GREAT BOLO'.

JIM CROCKETT
---
The bulky wrestler claims that RENESTO served as his 'second' while he was winning matches in Arizona, California, Texas and other states.

RENESTO made his first 'BOLO' appearance in Charlotte in February, 1958. Since then, he has developed into a major attraction for promoter JIM CROCKETT's wrestling shows all over both Carolinas and Virginia, while managing to avoid being unmasked.

He won a Charlotte match just Monday night, defeating LARRY 'CRUSHER' HAMILTON, but his share of the purse was attached as a result of the court action.

TOM RENESTO
---
LOVELOCK's lawsuit also requests that JIM CROCKETT be prevented from presenting RENESTO as 'THE GREAT BOLO'.

Neither CROCKETT nor RENESTO could be reached for immediate comment.

Taken from an ASSOCIATED PRESS story which appeared in the January 27, 1959 issue of THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.



Obviously, LOVELOCK was not successful in his lawsuit in blocking 'THE GREAT BOLO' in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, as TOM RENESTO continued as the masked character in JCP until 1964, along the way adding JODY HAMILTON as his lookalike partner for tag team purposes. The two then left for other wrestling territories and changed their ring name to THE ASSASSINS.

The irony of this story is that although 'THE GREAT BOLO' was never unmasked or his identity exposed in the wrestling ring, his real name was revealed in the court papers when the suit was filed and the story was reported in the press.

I wonder how many wrestling fans were paying attention.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MAYBE YOU WERE THERE


CHARLESTON, W.V. - 1969

GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER topped THE MISSOURI MAULER and HIRO MATSUDA

HAYSTACK MULDOON beat NIKITA MULKOVICH

SAILOR ART THOMAS and THE AMAZING ZUMA bested EL GAUCHO and PEDRO GODOY

BOB RAMSTEAD lost to 'BULLDOG' LEE HENNING


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 1971

THE INFERNOS with J.C. DYKES whipped RONNIE and TERRY GARVIN

JACK BRISCO and SANDY SCOTT topped NIKITA MULKOVICH and JOHNNY HEIDEMAN

ROCK HUNTER bested ALEX MEDINA

JERRY BRISCO beat JOE SOTO

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 1969

HAYSTACK CALHOUN, SAM STEAMBOAT and THE AMAZING ZUMA beat BRONCHO LUBICHALDO BOGNI and GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS in six man action.

GREG PETERSON beat LEON BAXTER

LES WOLFF topped EL GAUCHO

SILENTO RODRIGUEZ bested BILLY SPEARS


NORFOLK, VA. - 1968

LARS and GENE ANDERSON won from GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER on a disqualification

TONI ROSE defeated DONNA CHRISTENELLO

PAMPERO FIRPO and THE MISSOURI MAULER stopped RUDY KAYE and LES THATCHER

BOB NANDOR topped GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

THE AMAZING ZUMA over JERRY LONDON

LEXINGTON, N.C. - 1967

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT topped HARU SASAKI and P.Y. CHUNG

LARS and GENE ANDERSON beat CHIEF LITTLE EAGLE and JERRY LONDON

PEDRO GODOY over SONNY FARGO

ROGER KIRBY and THE MUMMY wrestled to a draw.


CHARLESTON, S.C. - 1969

GENE and OLE ANDERSON defeated GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER

PENNY BANNER beat BELLE STARR

THE MASKED RED DEMONS lost to SAM STEAMBOAT and BOBBY NICHOLS via DQ

BOB RAMSTEAD wrestled 'BULLDOG' LEE HENNING to a draw

Saturday, July 19, 2014

O BROTHERS, WHERE ART THOU?

May 3, 1969
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

Two of professional wrestling's highest ranked and rowdiest tag teams will collide head-on in a super BATTLE OF THE BULLIES match tonight at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

Brothers GENE and OLE ANDERSON, the MINNESOTA WRECKING CREW, will meet RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON, the BLONDE BOMBERS.

Despite the ANDERSON's combined weight of 492 pounds, HANSON at 285 and HAWK at 231 will have a weight advantage. As for wrestling ability, toughness and rulebreaking, the two teams would be a photo-finish. It's a two-of-three falls explosion with a one-hour time limit.

Two other leading brother teams, swift roughnecks JIMMY and BILLY HINES and the spectacular FLYING SCOTTS, GEORGE and SANDY, meet in another two-out-of-three falls contest.

The SCOTTS will be trying to break a win streak established by the pesky HINES boys, who at one time terrorized this area as THE MASKED RED DEMONS.

The veteran BULLDOG LEE HENNING meets the popular youngster BILLY SPEARS, and tough guy ROCK HUNTER takes on fan favorite GREG PETERSON in two supporting matches.

Action begins at 8:15 p.m.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART THREE

September 2, 1966
STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA




CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


Time for one more outdoor wrestling card before Jack Frost starts to appear.

The third and final JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling show of the summer, again sponsored by the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, came to town Labor Day weekend.

And what a treat for the locals...a true legend in all sports...LOU THESZ, multiple-time WORLD'S HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION.

On this night, THESZ, then fifty years of age, showed those of us in attendance, that he could still go at full throttle.

And he and partner ABE "Kiwi Roll" JACOBS would have their hands full, as their opponents this night were two devious ruffians in THE MISSOURI MAULER and THE GREAT MALENKO, one of the top heel teams at the time.

Not surprisingly, the two combos split the first and second falls. Jacobs took the loss for his team--no way Thesz is going to lose a fall clean. At the climax of the third fall, just as Thesz took the "hot tag" and was cleaning up the ring with the "M&M" boys, Malenko pulled the referee in front of him, and Thesz dropkicked the referee, causing an immediate disqualification.

MAULER and MALENKO made a fast exit through their dugout to their dressing room, and I assume, spun out of the Statesville Senior High School parking lot heading back for Charlotte on that pre-Interstate highway night.

Earlier in the evening, KLONDIKE BILL, getting a major push by JCP, took the toll of GEORGE "TWO TON" HARRIS in what was billed as a BATTLE OF THE MAT GIANTS by big-splashing "Bunk" before "Bunk" could big splash him. Oh well, "do unto others..."

Veteran IKE EAKINS crushed KEN HOLLIS and a young BOBBY SHANE (just getting started in the wrestling business) pinned a much-larger "BIG BOY" BLONDELL.

Another great crowd...another great night...another great summer of wrestling in my home town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART TWO

August 12, 1966
STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA


CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE


Just three weeks after drawing a crowd of nearly 1400 fans, Statesville, North Carolina, hosted it's second of three JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling cards of the summer.


There was a minimum of two objects which would be at the baseball park behind Statesville Senior High School this night...a wrestling ring at home plate and...me.

Fortunately, I had lots of company. Another large crowd was in attendance this night to add to the coffers of both JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, which sponsored the event.

The SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP was up for grabs (we thought) this night. Of course, a key championship was not going to change hands in a hamlet the size of Statesville, but the participants had us all believing that it could happen.

Champions BOGNI and LUBICH and challengers McKENZIE and ROYAL were in the third and deciding fall. TEX and NELLIE were on the verge of capturing the titles when that low-down, unscrupulous manager HOMER O'DELL wacked ROYAL with his cane (in the referee's vision), causing his team to be disqualified, thus enabling BRONCHO and ALDO to leave the "City of Progress" with the belts which had accompanied them to our fair town.

Disappointment? Sure, but we had definitely witnessed a great match which made us all "believe" - something rare in today's "sports entertainment."

The MINNESOTA WRECKING CREW, i.e., the original incarnation of the name, wrestled separately this night. LARS took the toll of ABE JACOBS, and GENE toppled youngster PAUL DEMARCO.

KEN HOLLIS pinned CORSICA JEAN to open the show, but this was not a big deal as my grandmother probably could have pinned CORSICA JEAN.

Regardless, any time "many of the top TV wrestling stars" came to town was worth plopping down the two bucks to sit two hours in a hard-on-the-bottom steel chair in the infield dirt of the ball park.

And in just three more weeks, they would return again...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART ONE

Statesville, North Carolina wrestling fans (and I was one) were treated to THREE nights of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling shows during the summer of 1966.

A perfect location for wrestling during the summer months...the wooden grandstand ball park similar to that in the movie BULL DURHAM. Sponsored by the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, who also gave us DOUBLE A BASEBALL at the same site. The ring was set up at home plate, surrounded by metal ringside seat chairs all around. The grandstand served as the General Admission area. The wrestlers entered the ring from the two dugouts.

No rainouts during the summer of 1966. THREE shows in TWO months.

As a fifteen-year old 'rasslin' fan, I found myself at all three shows parked in my $2.00 ringside seat.

This was the first card of the 1966 summer...



CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE





The match results are shown above.
-
For whatever reasons (maybe analysis would reveal why), two memories come back to me about this night.

(1) My cousin, who attended with me, spilled a cup of Coca-Cola on himself during the matches.

(2) One of The Masked Red Demons (either Billy or Jimmy Hines) came out of the dugout for the main event smoking a cigarette (through the mask), discarding it as he approached the ring. I thought to myself - "Atheletes aren't supposed to smoke." Give me a break, I was a naive fifteen year-old who was reading FAMOUS MONSTERS and wrestling magazines, instead of PLAYBOY, at the time. (Don't worry, the PLAYBOYs came later.)

Regardless of my mental stability, I remember the evening fondly.