Wednesday, November 23, 2016

AND MORE THANKSGIVING WRESTLING IN CHARLOTTE

November 21, 1966
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
-
48 Years Ago

The Charlotte Observer reported 5460 fans in attendance, and I was one of them, sometimes sitting in my ringside seat.

It was a BIG night of wrestling.

The card started like most of all of them. LUTHER LINDSAY facing PEDRO GODOY in a yawner, the kind of match you want to end so you can get closer to the main events. LUTHER won and most of us didn't care. We wouldn't have cared if PEDRO had won either.

Things started to pick up in the next match when favorite NELSON ROYAL squared off against GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS'. Most everyone loved NELLIE and most everyone hated 'TWO TON' but I loved the big guy because his matches were always entertaining. 'TWO TON' always got the most out of the fans because he was a master at 'working' a crowd. I can't remember what naughty he pulled, but the match went to NELLIE on a DQ. But 'TWO TON' would be back later as he was also manager of the MASKED RED DEMONS.

THE AMAZING ZUMA or ARGENTINA ZUMA, whichever you prefer, took the toll of HENRY VON STROHEIM, one-half of a pseudo-main event German heel team. I believe HENRY (can I call him Hank?) was probably getting ready to leave the area, because his partner KURT was no where to be found that night. Maybe he was back at the hotel packing.

The little people were up next in a tag match. I usually enjoyed the novelty of 'Midget Matches' (we can't say that anymore, ya know) for about five minutes, then it was time to move on. On this night, LITTLE BEAVER and SONNY BOY CASSIDY pinned SKY LOW LOW and BILLY THE KID (not the real one). I'd love to know how many times in their careers that BEAVER and LOW LOW worked one another. I'm sure it was in the thousands.

Now, it was time to get serious.

Two of the all-time heel combos in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS history were to do battle. RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON versus ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH with, of course, their snake-like manager, HOMER O'DELL.

On this night, the crowd was behind the BLONDE BOMBERS all the way. I can't recall which team won which fall, but they were even at one apiece. The third fall found BOGNI & LUBICH beating RIP to a pulp. HAWK was thrown over the top rope to the cement floor (and on MY side of the ring). O'DELL, welding that dreaded cane, cracked 'The Profile' on the noggin' and before HAWK could get to his feet, it looked as if he had lost three gallons of the red stuff.

He managed to crawl back into the ring, but it looked like it was R.I.P. for R-I-P. After teasing all of us for a few more minutes with 'not quite a tag,' HAWK found HANSON's hand, made contact, and in came the big SWEDE. The crowd was hysterical!

SWEDE could have taken on the 300 Spartans at this point. He beat ALDO and BRONCHO at will, then grabbed O'DELL on the apron and 'welcomed' him into the ring via the top rope. Just as the SWEDE is about to ruin the creases in HOMER's tuxedo, he was double-attacked by O'DELL's cronies. HANSON got his hands on the cane and broke it over O'DELL's back about the same time as RIP entered the ring with a metal chair. Observing everything, referee ANGELO MARTINELLI must have figured it was time for a cold one, so he called off any further mutiliation in this one, and it ended in a double DQ, or a no-contest (what was the difference, by the way?).

I have witnessed several thousand wrestling matches in my years, and I can easily say, this was one of the best I EVER saw. Boy, did these five wrestlers know how to work a match and a crowd.

The show actually slumped a bit when the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP match came next. First of all, I was never fully into TEX McKENZIE's camp. He couldn't work any better than my lazy uncle who never worked at all, and I always resented the fact that TEX always made NELSON ROYAL take the beatings when they teamed together.

So, here is McKENZIE, a guy whose legs were longer and clumsier than Olive Oyl's, going up against GENE KINISKI for the WORLD belt. Add in the fact that there was no way (in the 1960s) the NWA was going to let their champion lose the title in Charlotte. KINISKI won the first fall. TEX came back and pinned the champ with a knee lift and judo chop off the ropes, those being the only two moves he knew. And then, KINISKI pinned McKENZIE again to win the final fall.

I suspect the concession stands were plenty busy during the world title match.

Now it was time for BECKER and WEAVER against the MASKED RED DEMONS...one more time.

This time, GEORGE and JOHNNY's SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP is on the line again, but on this night, under TEXAS DEATH MATCH rules. And in addition, it's the BELTS versus the MASKS. One team would walk out with BOTH.

Falls didn't figure in determining the winner (but was a great means of giving the participants a rest break). The Charlotte Observer reported the match went twelve falls (that I don't remember), but at the bell for unlucky fall number thirteen, the masked men were whipped to the point that they couldn't answer the bell, and even 'TWO TON' couldn't get them to their feet.

Ref MARTINELLI signaled it was over and raised BECKER and WEAVER's hands in victory. They held onto their titles and now would be able to discover exactly who these soon-to-be UNMASKED RED DEMONS were. With both men still prone on the ring from their beating, GEORGE took off one mask and JOHNNY the other and held them high in the air to the crowd's approval.

"Find out who they are Angelo," ring announcer GEORGE HARBEN requested over the microphone. Supposedly, MARTINELLI went over to them and said something ingenius like, "Hey, who are you?"

ANGELO went over to HARBEN, whispered in his ear, and HARBEN announced to all of us, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the RED DEMONS are JIMMY and BILLY HINES."

Everyone yelled, even though it really didn't mean anything. I'd never heard of JIMMY and BILLY HINES anyway. What it did mean, however, was pretty much the end of the main event run of this team who had been in JCP since late spring. I always liked the main event masked teams like THE BOLOS and THE INFERNOS, and now there wouldn't be one.

The HINES boys had a few more main event matches with 'TWO TON' but soon left the territory. When the hoods came off, so did the luster and mystique of the team.

But we still had GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER as our SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS.

But lurking in the bushes would be BOGNI & LUBICH, HAWK & HANSON or BRUTE BERNARD & SKULL MURPHY waiting for their night when they would win the belts.

And, of course, that night would come.

I related my recollections of this particular match to JOHNNY a few months before he passed away, and he said, "Yes, we did that same match all over the territory."

I was sorry he told me that.

But after I thought about what he said, it made me appreciate the fact that these men, even though they would work each other night after night, still could make each audience feel they were seeing something special.

That's how great they were.

Monday, November 21, 2016

THANKSGIVING AT CHARLOTTE'S BIG DOME

November 27, 1961
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
---
55 years Ago

The outstanding wrestling card of Autumn takes place in the Queen City tonight at the "Big Dome" CHARLOTTE COLISEUM.

The first bell will ring promptly at 8:15, and fourteen of the nation's most sought-after grapplers will spring into action.

The arrogant German team of KURT and KARL VON BRAUNER will mix with LENNY MONTANA and the polished PAT O'CONNOR in the best-of-three falls main event.

"GENTLEMAN" SAUL WEINGROFF, the crowd-baiting, cane-bearing handler of the European tandem, has been "barred" from ringside unless he wears a straight jacket.

"I'll be there," promises Saul. "I feel I am being persecuted by this handicap, but my boys want me there, so I won't let them down."

The complete line-up of wrestling stars is impressive.

THE GREAT BOLO, the brutal masked villain, is back and collides with SWEET DADDY SIKI.

RIP "THE PROFILE" HAWK and New Zealand's ABE JACOBS will test one another.

Another tag match will take place when the popular duo of GEORGE BECKER and CHIEF BIG HEART face THE MASKED MEDICS in another two-out-of-three falls battle.

A ladies match featuring Miss RITA CORTEZ is scheduled.

An autograph session will take place starting at 7:00.

Tickets can be purchased at the NATIONAL HAT SHOP in downtown Charlotte or at the Coliseum box office.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

SEE YOU AT RINGSIDE

November 25, 1967
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

49 Years Ago


The wild man from the Pampas, PAMPERO FIRPO, and his rugged tag team partner, THE MISSOURI MAULER, will be out to halt the winning streak of the popular Indian duo of BOBBY RED CLOUD and CHIEF LITTLE EAGLE in tonight's wrestling main event at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

The Indians have been on the warpath lately with victories over highly-touted teams and have built up a loyal following. Their opponents tonight are extremely rough and powerful, and the best-of-three falls contest should be loaded with action.

"Back to the reservation to make mocassins," THE MISSOURI MAULER predicts. "When Mr. FIRPO and I are finished with them, their squaws will have to nurse them both back to health."

Another two-out-of-three falls tag encounter pits two new combinations against one another. Popular LES THATCHER joins RUDY KAYE to face "BULLDOG" LEE HENNING and the mysterious masked wrestler, THE MUMMY.

TINY MILLS, a big operator, meets popular Negro star, LUTHER LINDSAY, and young ALEX MEDINA takes on newcomer CHUCK STANLEY in the singles matches of the evening.

Belltime is 8:15.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ANYONE FOR CARDS?


GREENSBORO, N.C. - 1966

GEORGE BECKER, JOHNNY WEAVER & LOU THESZ beat ALDO BOGNI, BRONCHO LUBICH & HOMER O'DELL in six man action.

THE MASKED RED DEMONS topped LUTHER LINDSAY & GEORGE "CATALINA" DRAKE.

PAUL DEMARCO toppled Big IKE EAKINS.

JESSE JAMES wrestled ABE JACOBS to a draw.

KLONDIKE BILL  pinned BOB MORGAN.


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - 1966

GEORGE BECKER, JOHNNY WEAVER & TEX McKENZIE defeated HOMER O'DELL, ALDO BOGNI & BRONCHO LUBICH.

RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON won over BILLY TWO RIVERS & ABE JACOBS.

NELSON ROYAL pinned GORY GUERRERO.

KURT VON STROHEIM toppled KARL GOTCH.

HENRY VON STROHEIM defeated STEVE BOLUS.


GREENSBORO, N.C. - 1966

ALDO BOGNI & BRONCHO LUBICH with MGR. HOMER O'DELL beat TEX McKENZIE & NELSON ROYAL to retain the SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP.

GEORGE BECKER & JOHNNY WEAVER defeated BRUTE BERNARD & SKULL MURPHY via Disqualification.

RUDY KAY topped Big IKE EAKINS.

HENRY VON STROHEIM bested KARL GOTCH.

KURT VON STROHEIM over ROGER KIRBY.


GREENSBORO, N.C. - 1967

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT & TEX McKENZIE topple ALDO BOGNI, BRONCHO LUBICH & HOMER O'DELL in six man action.

GEORGE BECKER & JOHNNY WEAVER bested KURT and HENRY VON STROHEIM.

THE MISSOURI MAULER beat Big IKE EAKINS in a battle of the bullies match.

PEGGY ALLEN & TAMMY JONES defeated MARJORIE RAMSEY & JESSICA ROGERS.

NELSON ROYAL pinned THE GREAT MALENKO.

LUTHER LINDSAY over PEDRO GODOY.


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - 1967

RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON vs. THE INFERNOS with MGR. J.C. DYKES ended in a double disqualification.

GEORGE BECKER & JOHNNY WEAVER over P.Y. CHUNG & HARU SASAKI.

ALDO BOGNI & BRONCHO LUBICH with MGR. HOMER O'DELL bested LUTHER LINDSAY & THE AMAZING ZUMA.

NELSON ROYAL pinned BULL RAMOS.

GREG PETERSON topped JERRY LONDON.

LES THATCHER defeated PEDRO GODOY.


GREENSBORO, N.C. - 1967

JOHNNY WEAVER beat NWA HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION GENE KINISKI in a non-title match.

RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON & THE MISSOURI MAULER beat GEORGE BECKER & GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT

NELSON ROYAL & PAUL JONES topped LARS and GENE ANDERSON via disqualification.

HIRO MATSUDA pinned LES THATCHER.

RUDY KAY stump pulled PANCHO VALDEZ.

JESSE JAMES toppled THE MATADOR.


RALEIGH, N.C. - 1972

THUNDERBOLT PATTERSON & JERRY BRISCO topped RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON with MGR. "PLAYBOY" GARY HART via disqualification.

THE ROYAL KANGAROOS destroyed ABE JACOBS & RANDY CURTIS.

SANDY SCOTT stretched GEORGE "TWO TON" HARRIS.

RONNIE GARVIN pinned BILLY HINES.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

THE SAILOR MAN...AND NOT POPEYE

July 13, 1968
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

SAILOR ART THOMAS

GENERAL HOMER O'DELL

THE MISSOURI MAULER

HIRO MATSUDA

THE AMAZING ZUMA

ABE JACOBS

LES THATCHER

JOHNNY HEIDEMAN

TINKER TODD

LES WOLFE

JESSE JAMES
---
Wrestling fans attending the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight will see a newcomer to the area, SAILOR ART THOMAS, when he joins forces with THE AMAZING ZUMA to meet ruffian THE MISSOURI MAULER and his Japanese partner, HIRO MATSUDA, in a best-of-three falls tag team main event.

SAILOR ART has been a sensation since he entered the area recently, and fans have been asking to see him in action here in Lexington. THOMAS and ZUMA should make a dazzling combination. The rugged MAULER / MATSUDA duo is returning after an absence and will have their wiley manager, 'GENERAL' HOMER O'DELL in their corner.

In another two-out-of-three falls contest, young LES THATCHER and friend JESSE JAMES will tangle with JOHNNY HEIDEMAN and TINKER TODD.

LES WOLFE will attempt to extend his winning streak when he meets RICK MILLER in a singles bout.

ABE JACOBS and ALEX MEDINA square off at 8:15 in what should be a great scientific one fall match.