Friday, October 17, 2008

Big Time Wrestling, and a Tribute

For those who like the history of this post, I have put in many links. Enjoy your trip in the time machine. And in this revision I fixed all the links.

This is a revision of a post I wrote in early 2007. I actually wrote it as I had a request from Struke when we first became friends through the internet, before he started his own blog. The reason I am rewriting this today is because I have gotten many more hits than usual, and they all were from a Google search pointing to this post.

I figure the reason for all the hits were due to the passing of legendary wrestling announcer, Jack Reynolds. He was a long time broadcaster in the Cleveland area, but I remember him first as the host of Championship Wrestling on WUAB channel 43 in Cleveland. He is also a member of the Broadcast Hall of Fame. From all I've from the local media, Jack was a real pro and a gentleman. He will be missed. My condolences go to his son, FOX 8 sports anchor Tony Rizzo and the rest of the family. Click here for the obituary of Joseph "Jack Reynolds" Rizzo.

Update 10/18/08-Article in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer about the life of Jack Reynolds.

Pro wrestling has been a significant part of television since at least the 1950's. ESPN Classic used to show some bouts from the 50's with wrestlers like Gorgeous George, Sailor Art Thomas, and Angelo Poffo(father of "Macho Man" Randy Savage).

When I was in high school in the early seventies, my brother and I watched "Championship Wrestling" on WUAB/43. The announcer was Jack Reynolds, veteran radio personality in the Cleveland area. The North American Champion at the time was Johnny Powers. Every Saturday night at 7:00 we would hear the refrain from Mason Williams' "Classical Gas", along with the announcement, Championship Wrestling with Johnny Powers, and yours truly Jack Reynolds". At one time Johnny's chief rival was Waldo von Erich, who hailed fron Stuttgart, Germany. Other wrestlers who come to the channel 43 studios Lil Abner Osborne, The Love Brothers, Haystacks Calhoun, Beautiful Bruce Swayze, and a multitude of others.

Johnny Powers would later win the World championship, then lose it to von Erich.

Some things I remember from that time: Abdullah the Butcher made his debut, with Bruce Swaze as his manager, when he went into the ring at the conclusion of a Lil Abner match by throwing fire in Abner's face.

Pampiro Firpo, the wild bull of the Pampas, had long, stringy hair which would hang in his face. When he was being interviewed, he would be what appeared to be a shrunken head. He would say, holding the "head" towards the camera, "You know what this is? This is my inspiration".

Back in those days you also had Bruno Sammartino, who was a long time champion making frequent appearance in C-town. Dominic Denucci, the Sicilian Cannonball would thrill everyone with his moves off the top rope. Sitting next at times to announcer Ron Martinez harassing him as he was trying to call a match(He would refer to Martinez as "Mr. TV announcer") was ErnieLadd "Big Cat" , former NFL player.

Those days there was some believability in the matches, and if you had the ability but not a way with words, you could still wrestle. Your "promos" were just handled by a manager.

The good guys, or "faces"(short for baby face), were good guys for a long time. The "heels", or bad guys, were those you loved to hate. A "face turn" or "heel turn" didn't happen often, and it was treated as a big event. I remember when Johnny Powers turned "heel" after years of being a "face" he started carrying around a bugle, because he was now "blowing his own horn". I also remember when Ernie Ladd turned face.

The wrestlers were at times retired football players, and none were the steroid enhanced human cartoons we see on WWE nowadays. Any women were there because they could wrestle, not because they looked good in silicone.

8 comments:

coltfan said...

I didn't know that about you cliff I love pro wrestling , and I also believe it needs to go back to it's hayday not so steroided up. I used to wrestle in a small group michelle was my manager it has been a few years ago.

dons_mind said...

this is a really great post cliff. being a old buckeye myself i surely recall watching wrestling with jack reynolds and powers and bruno and all the good wrestlers of the past.

my brother and i were always fans of the albano brothers....

good memories. thanks.....

Liquid said...

Thank you for this post!

struke said...

Cliff...great post. A trip down wrestling's memory lane is always good!

Michelle Dawn said...

I love the trip down memory lane on wrestling, my dad raised me on it. Great post Cliff

Pat Jenkins said...

great post is right wixy... by chance have you seen that new show from hogan, i think it is clebrity wrestling camp? i caught a little bit of it and it was quite funny.

Bella said...

I enjoyed the post Cliff. Something I never knew...

=)

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