Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some Ontario Posters

I used to have a bunch of these but gave most away to other fans. These are all Wildman shows except the pink one for MLW in St Catherines 1981.

The one above for Port Elgin is from summer 1977. That one is hanging in our office. It's a good conversation starter. Even non wrestling fans recognise Andre, and if they are an old time wrestling fan it certainly opens up the conversation and often leads to an extended reflection on how much fun it all was back then. Good for business sometimes, and my favourite poster of them all. They used that pic of Andre in many areas, their take on King Kong in front of the NYC skyline. That summer Andre toured Ontario working on both McKigney (Wildman) and Tunney shows.

On the old MLWP site we had about a hundred posters from all through the 1970's. There are a few others on this blog including some MLG just do a search on the right

These are all mostly early '80's (couple mid) except the Napanee which is '76 and the Picton is '77

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Angelo Mosca Jr

Angelo Mosca Jr. gets a lot of heat online, a lot of it based on the few youtube bouts out there, not exactly reflective of his entire ring tenure. Granted he was no Lou Thesz but he wasn't anywhere near the worst wrestler either. The bout vs Ivan Koloff in which Jr. won the Mid-Atlantic Title is particularly hard to watch (a nice dropkick one of the few highlights) but is hardly indicative of his entire wrestling career.

He grew up the son of one of the most famous CFL players in Canadian history who earned his nicknames the hard way. 'Mean & Nasty' was a carry over from his Football days when he was known as the 'meanest man in Football', on and off the field Sr. was a true life 'heel.'

Jr. followed in his fathers footsteps playing football through his teen years. In June 1981 Jr, as a defensive guard was cut at the BC Lions training camp, effectively ending his pro ball dreams. He went on to earn a degree from Concordia University and went into working in the sport and fitness field.

He and his father were close though his parents separated when he was 4 years old but he had seen a lot of his father while growing up. By the time he was old enough to be aware of Sr's name his father's playing days were over. Sr's 'Tell it to my face' campaign for Schick razors earned Jr. some razzing from his fellow schoolmates.
Saving Pop from a beatdown at MLG 1984 

Years later while planning a charity fundraiser (Still Mosca) paying tribute to Sr. and raising funds for Alzheimer research Jr. would admit that he was learning more about his father talking to old friends and teammates in preparation for the event. Jr was helping Sr. film some of his memories including reflecting on friends passed on. 'I'm learning more about him from some of the other people I've been contacting, even when we travelled together and I was wrestling with him you didn't talk about stuff like that. It's just you're on the road. I'm a very quiet introspective guy. We just travelled.'
*credit Greg Oliver  

He would begin training in 1983 alongside Sr. and others for 6 months. Sr, was especially happy about Jr. coming into the profession and was immensely proud of his namesake.

He debuted in wrestling in 1984 at the age of 24 against veteran Ox Baker. Sr. was 47 at the time and winding down his wrestling career.

They would travel together, Jr. admitting that the constant travel was the hardest part. They would work out in the gym together, travel to their bouts then fly back to Charlotte, NC where they were both living at the time, Jr. on his own and Sr. with his then 'very understanding wife' Gwen.

Sr., reflecting on his son's career in 2008 said 'My son's a good guy but he was never cut out for the business. He liked the money. I used to get him up early in the morning to go to the gym and stuff. He'd say, 'Dad, do we have to do this?' I'd say 'The good looking hooker makes the money.'  That's the way I took the business. We were whores. I was a big guy. I had a fair physique on me, and I took care of myself. My son, I don't know if he really wanted to pay that price."
* credit Greg Oliver

Despite the lack of interest Jr. received a big push from the start. He debuted at MLG as a late addition in Apr 1984 in the Canadian Title Tournament to decide a new champion after Angelo Sr. was forced to vacate the title due to injury. He beat Terry Kay and then faced Kabuki in the quarter final. He would win the bout in just 38 seconds (always a couple really short bouts in those tourneys to fit all the matches)  but Kabuki would spray his green mist and Jr. would be out for the remainder, which Koloff eventually won.

Two weeks later he would get the main event teamed with Sr. against Koloff and Kabuki. They would appear together on the cover of the Stranglehold program and get the win. Prior to the bout Jr. told a reporter ' the best thing about wrestling is working with this guy right here,' thumping his father on the thigh. 'I just hope I can pass on a few things to him' replied Sr. The bout ends when Jr' finally tags into to save his Dad from a beat down and pins Kabuki. The villains throw him out of the ring and go to work on Sr with Koloff's chain. Jr. regains the ring and grabs the chain and chases the bad guys away to a huge roar from the crowd. The success would continue through the Carolina's with Jr. seeing success on the Southern circuit as well.

The two would appear on the same cards leading into a June card at MLG which saw Jr. get the win over Koloff and collect the belt his father had previously worn. Only Sr. was present at the next card and Jr's championship glory was be short lived as it was announced a few days later that Jack Tunney went with the WWF and the title was retired (forgotten) with nary a defence.

Jr would show up in Dec 1984 with Toronto now under the WWF banner and appear on TV briefly with Sr. as a short lived announcer for the Hamilton/Brantford TV tapings. One more appearance in Feb 1985 and that was it for Jr.

In 1986 Mosca Sr would attempt to jump start the return of the NWA in Ontario with a big show in Hamilton dubbed 'Moscamania.' Jr. figured prominently on the Poster for the event, depicted just below Jimmy Valiant and Dusty Rhodes. The card did well drawing 12,000 fans with a gate of $140,000 to see a main of NWA champ Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. Jr. teamed with Vic Rossitani against the Kelly Twins. Sr. attempted to create a schedule across the smaller towns and despite a syndicated TV deal but it failed to materialise as promised.

Both father and son would be featured on the popular CTV show Lifetime which ran the same night as a big WWF show at MLG. Sr,  in contrast to Jr was still enjoying the spotlight and would show up in many TV commercials, appear on shows like Night Heat, and was part of several business ventures capitalising on his name.
Finally posing with the Cdn Title
photo courtesy Barry Hatchet

The two would see some action on Dave McKigney's Big Time circuit teaming up to take on Sweet Daddy Siki and Killer Karl Krupp in a small show at the St Lawrence Market in Toronto in March 1986. A short distance but a long way from the bright lights at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Junior would stay on for some of the summer shows and return for MoscaMania II in Kitchener in November. That show was a disappointment drawing just 1,500, most of whom went to see the Road Warriors though Hawk never showed and was replaced by manager Paul Ellering. Jr took on Siki and it was back to the circuit.

The general consensus for those who saw him on the smaller circuit was that he was much improved, smoother in the ring and better adjusted to the pro style.

In Feb 1987 Sr. again ran Hamilton with an NWA show. Jr took on Shaska (aka Pistol Pez) Whatley in the opener and shortly thereafter wrapped up his ring career.

Jr would later work in the Hamilton penal system, mostly with young offenders. and in the recent years would appear with his Dad at a couple of wrestling meet and greets.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Frank Tunney & the Inner Circle 1969

A fascinating photo by Roger Baker featuring the main cogs in the MLW wheel for most of it's history

The occasion was Frank Tunney's 30th aniversary as a promoter (1939-1969) and a gathering in the Hot Stove Lounge at MLG.

Frank is surrounded by his 'inner circle' his trusted group of wrestlers, writers, announcers, promoters, and friends. The total tenure for the men pictured (aside from Diamond) would be somewhere around 340 years of MLW history in this photo.

Frank Tunney was covered on the main site at Frank Tunney : The Early Days

There are 3 generations of Ring Announcers, Frank Ayerst (past), Jerry Hiff (present), Norm Kimber (future) spanning from 1950 to 1986

Frank Ayerst was also Frank's publicist for many years
He was featured in a previous blog post MLW Blog: Frank Ayerst

Jerr Hiff was ring announcer from 1955 -1973

Norm Kimber joined the office as an assistant around 1953  and was ring announcer from 1973 - 1986 in addition to doing publicity chores

Whipper Watson worked for Frank from 1940 to 1971 but continued to be associated right into the 1980's. He worked as a promoter also for Frank running the outside towns during his career. There is a ton of Whipper around all 3 MLW sites.

Behind Frank Tunney is 'Tiger' Tommy Nelson, former wrestler turned promoter who ran some of the outlying towns for Frank. He had accompanied Whipper (and Tiger Tasker below) to England in 1936 and wrestled all over Europe before returning.
He was featured on the main site at 'Tiger' Tom Nelson

Behind Nelson is wrestler Paul Diamond who was starring at MLG at the time

"Lord' Athol Layton wrestled for Frank from 1950 to 1977, referreed for many of those years, and hosted the Toronto ( and others) TV Wrestling show for most of the 1960's and '70's.
We looked at him on the main site at Lord Athol Layton

Pat Flanagan (the original Watson - Winnet) wrestled and refereed for Frank from 1941 to 1976. He also worked as a liason between the Toronto office and the outlying towns, helping to book the wrestlers and other duties.
We looked at him on the main site at Pat Flanagan ; The Irish Tornado

Fred Atkins, like Flanagan and Layton wrestled, then referred, from 1948 to 1983. He also trained many wrestlers and worked as a manager in the 1960's while still wrestling, his charges including Tiger Jeet Singh, Giant Baba, and Professor Hiro.
He was featured on the main site at Fred Atkins : Ferocious Fred

'Tiger' Ken Tasker again a former wrestler turned ref who worked for Frank from the early 1940's to the late 1970's. he was famously along for the ride to England in 1936 with Whipper and Nelson and was one of the main refs for most of his tenure in that capacity.
We looked at Tiger in a previous blog post MLW Blog: Tiger Tasker

The gentleman at the far right bottom is ref Cliff Worthy. He was a long time wrestling and boxing referee from the 1930's to the '60's and had been a regular on the amateur scene here, at one time a 'Canadian Champ.'

It's cut off but the portrait above them overlooking the party is ...Frank Tunney
A portrait of Whipper is on the other side of the wall just out ouf view
The Hot Stove was paying tribute to them as Tunney once had his office where they built the Lounge

Below is after Whipper had some fun with Frank.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the use of these incredible photos, click to enlarge

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bull Curry 1968

One of the more memorable characters of pro wrestling the incomparable Bull Curry at MLG in 1968. Roger Baker sent me these photos while Bull was appearing here regularly that year mostly teaming with Tiger Jeet Singh.

By the time I started watching Bull was retired but his image persevered and he continued to show up in the mags and in popular culture. His Toronto tenure was short 1968-1973 and when his high flying son Fred came along around 1970 Bull wrestled on the good side of the fence for a while. He even took on The Sheik at the Gardens with Fred making the save after Sheik carved him up during a short bout.

He did wrestle around Ontario a bit dating back to the late 1930's but I don't see him in Toronto though he may have come in in those early days. He did frequent Windsor (I have a OAC licence issued to him in 1937) as the Detroit promotions were active on our side of the border dating back to the beginnings of pro wrestling.

In his first bout in '68 teamed with Dutch Momberg against Whipper Watson and Bulldog Brower he was described as a 'newcomer to the local scene'. Indeed he was (apparently) but at 10 days past his 55th birthday.

In that bout he left no doubt to his legend when he hit Whipper with he chair announcer Jerry Hiff normally sat in and then attempted to strangle Whip with the cord the ring hammer (for the bell) was attached to. He was finally disqualified when he attacked ref Joe Gollob. OAC commissioner Merv McKenzie, present at the festivities fined Curry 200$ for his actions (not for trying to kill Whipper, that's allowed, but for hitting the ref, that's not allowed).

His last bout in Toronto was in July 1973 against another long timer Ivan Kalmikoff.
Thanks to Roger Baker for the great photos , click to enlarge, that's Al'Bunny' Dunlop in the 2nd photo