Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dino Bravo 'Suspended' 1979

It's often hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't back in the day. Even 'official' announcements were mostly just pro wrestling fun, most of them anyways , but not always.

So its summer 1979, Dino Bravo is at the height of his popularity here, proving to be a great Canadian champ and holding it most of the time since it was created for him in late 1978.

He was warring with the likes of Greg Valentine, Ric Flair, and even AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel  as well as defending the title down south as we looked at in a previous blog. He was teaming occasionally with WWF champ Bob Backlund, and the fans were solidly behind him.

Suddenly he disappeared. He was scheduled to face Ken Patera on Aug 19 but never showed. Tunney saved the day by getting Backlund to come in on short notice to offer his title up to Patera instead. The fans were disappointed but not that much. Tunney however may have felt differently. Frank or nephew Jack, by this point likely running the day to day of the office.

It was announced that Bravo had suffered an injury and thus was unable to appear. A couple of weeks later a tidbit said the injury would sideline him for a year and they would need to hold a tournament to decide a new champ.

Dewey Robertson ended up beating Valentine in the tourny final to become the new champ and the show marched on.

Fast forward to April 1980. The AWA was coming into Ottawa Ontario to try a show. Ottawa, once a hotbed of wrestling action had been neglected by both Tunney (who had ran it years before) and the Quebec based promotions who frequented the area in the 1970's.
The AWA is very confused !

Bravo, now wrestling regularly for the AWA and embroiled in a big feud with big Crusher Blackwell was scheduled to be the headline bout for the AWA debut in Ottawa on Apr 13.

A promo on the AWA tv show we got here actually had Gene Okerlund interviewing Blackwell in front of a sign that said 'Maple Leaf Gardens'. Oops. actually Ottawa Civic Auditorium.

Funny thing is Tunney DID have an Apr 13 show at MLG. Wonder what happened there? The AWA card was actually set for Apr 30.

At any rate Bravo appeared in Ottawa to face Blackwell and was told he could not wrestle due to a suspension in Ontario. Blackwell faced Johnny War Eagle instead.

The 'official story' as it was reported in a newspaper was that 'Bravo had originally been suspended by Ontario Athletic Commission Chairman Jim Vipond for being an 'immature and irresponsible person' after no showing for Tunney'.

Vipond was the real deal, he was the guy who made a lot of trouble for Dave 'Wildman' McKigney here and the ruling would appear to have been official.

Was it? appears so

A quote by Tunney in the same article said that he 'had no concerns if he's (Bravo) allowed to wrestle in Ontario again, but he'll never wrestle for me again.' Of course Bravo would return for Tunney in 1982.

The ban was lifted and Bravo showed up in Ottawa for the next card to wrestle Blackwell. The bit at right says about 7,000 expected. They would draw about 5-7'000 over the series of shows spaced out over several months.

That would be it for the AWA in Ottawa....however Tunney must have been keeping a close eye and in 1981 while Mosca was champ he went back in for several shows through 81-82 that did about the same numbers.

At that time Tunney had gone back to a circuit and was running Kingston the day before so Ottawa wasn't a big stretch as compared to the AWA coming in from Minneapolis, or at least Winnipeg.

Bravo returned to Toronto in Jan 1982 to face Frankie Laine and got a huge round of applause from the fans. He returned for the Cadillac Tourny a couple months later and that was it for him during the NWA era.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Most Popular '77-'84

Previously on the MLW Site , reposted here 

Most Popular '77-'84

There is little doubt in a fan poll that the most popular wrestler in Toronto between 1977 - 1984 would be Ric Flair

In polls on the MLWP site he won in categories including Favorite Move- Figure Four.....Best Feud-vs Piper.......Pick A Dream Match Flair- vs Bockwinkel

If we were to look at some stats to support this, would Flair still come out on top?
who's next? who is in third?

One indication of popularity is getting on the cover of the Toronto Program for each card

Most times on the Program cover
Out of 66 (available) covers 1977-1984 -includes shared covers

Ric Flair - 14
Angelo Mosca - 7
Roddy Piper - 7
Jimmy Valiant - 6
Jay Youngblood - 4
Jimmy Snuka - 4
Sgt Slaughter - 3
Greg Valentine - 3
Andre The Giant - 3
Ricky Steamboat - 3
Harley Race - 3
Hossein The Arab - 2
Blackjack Mulligan - 2
Sir Oliver Humperdink - 2
Austin Idol - 2
Bob Backlund - 2
Ivan Koloff - 2
1 Time each
Kimala...Dick Slater...Buzz Sawyer...
Mike Rotundo...Jos Leduc...Kabuki...
One Man Gang...Don KernodleAngelo Mosca Jr...Ron Bass...John Studd...
Dusty Rhodes...Wahoo McDaniel...Buddy Rose...Leroy Brown...Ray Stevens

If we were to look at Main Events during this same time frame, the champs of the day would all rank high but Flair cedes top spot to the Canadian Champ through some of the years - Angelo Mosca

Main Events at MLG

Angelo Mosca - 32
Ric Flair - 21
Bob Backlund - 19
Greg Valentine - 14
Harley Race - 12
Ricky Steamboat - 11
Jimmy Snuka - 10
Roddy Piper - 10
John Studd - 10
Hossein The Arab - 7
Nick Bockwinkel - 6
Sgt Slaughter - 6
Ray Stevens -5
Ivan Koloff - 4
Jay Youngblood - 4
Andre The Giant - 4
Blackjack Mulligan - 3

Scientifically speaking for main events you would have to consider factors such as Mosca being a local guy while Flair was defending his NWA belt around the world for many of these years, or that Backlund & Race would rank high as they came in as World Champs and be at the top of the cards but.... if we were to just add those 2 tallies together

to decide the Most Popular - or successful of the 1977-1984 era.....

Total - Program Covers & Main Events

Angelo Mosca - 39

Ric Flair - 35
Bob Backlund - 21
Greg Valentine - 17
Roddy Piper - 17
Harley Race - 15
Jimmy Snuka - 14
Sgt Slaughter - 9
Hossein The Arab - 9
Andre The Giant - 7

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Siki Doc thoughts

A while back we spoke with MLG photographer Roger Baker about the then upcoming documentary on Sweet Daddy Siki. The doc was shown in Canada on the Doc Channel some months back.
MLW Blog - Roger talks Siki

I enjoyed it, It was well done overall. There were relatively few factual errors and was better researched than most anything else I have ever seen on Pro Wrestling, which usually gets the gloss over approach.

It was interesting to hear Siki tell his own story, of his life beyond pro wrestling and the battles he faced. In that context it made for a very enlightening piece, quite emotional coming from his own voice.

At one point Siki tells of being underpaid by Frank Tunney in relation to other stars.
That's that first time I ever heard or read that about Tunney who has long had a reputation of being one of the more honest and well paying promoters.

From numbers I have seen he paid his main event stars huge money for the day, at least back in the 50's and 60's.

Siki was a star in the 60's but also worked a lot here in the 1970's. In the 60's while he had a short time on top he was more like a level B star, occasional mains but mostly in the top 3-4 bouts of the 6-7 bout cards. In the 1970's he was lower on the cards as he got older and worked back to enhancement type level.

It wasn't clear what era he was referring to, or who he was comparing to, guys like Brower, Whip, Tiger Jeet, Sheik etc would have all been above him on pay scale while others like Jim Hady, Ilio DiPaulo, Billy Red etc would have been closer in stature.

I'm not sure if Tunney paid as to the level of the bout on the card as other promoters did, from what I have seen he split a portion of the gate with the main eventers and then semi was just below. The others on the card may have been graded as they often did in other promotions.

At any rate an interesting comment, would be good to have that expanded to further our knowledge of the inner workings of the promotion.

Another cool moment for me was when they showed a photo of Oshawa promoter Pat Milosh presenting Siki with a tournament trophy after Siki had won Oshawa's 2nd annual Wrestling Tournament in August 1966

Photo is at right, excuse quality I took a photo of the tv , if anyone has this photo please send me !

Whats interesting is that after Siki had won his 3rd bout of the evening -first Mr X(?) then The Beast (Yachetti)- against Hans Schmidt to claim the tourny win, the evil Schmidt promptly smashed the trophy in the middle of the ring as Siki was being presented by Milosh.

They did that a lot in those days, both the Calvert and George Richards trophys were destroyed at MLG, and it happened all over the wrestling world. Good for the trophy shops, not so good for the sponsors or winners.

The photo though looks like it was taken backstage, How did they know Siki was going to win (lol)

If you get the chance to see the doc you won't be disappointed. In the showing I saw the background music was mixed too loud, hopefully they fix that for future airings, still a very good look at a decent guy who overcame a lot to become one of the most recognised names and faces in the history of pro wrestling, here and elsewhere.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Travels with the Canadian Title

From 1978 to 1984 we had the Toronto based 'Canadian Heavyweight Title' to be defended at MLG and around the area. The title was introduced after the departure of The Sheik and his 'U.S. Title' that had been the main championship here since 1974. Prior to that we had the other U.S. Title held by Johnny Valentine, Tiger Jeet Singh and others. That one ran from 1962 to 1972.

Yes a 'US Title was the number one spot in Toronto CANADA for all those years, that's pro wrestling.

To be fair we also had a British Empire championship (Canada was once part of the British Empire) that
was the big one in the 1940's and 1950's. Whipper Watson mostly held that one and continued to be billed as champ until about 1967 although it kind of fizzled out long before that.

Enter the Canadian Title in Oct 1978. Technically pro wrestling wise it traced its lineage back to 1922 and the days of George Walker and later Jack Taylor. We will look at Walker and Taylor in a future blog entry. Earl McCready also held it in the 1930's and again in 1941, if anyone was a 'real Canadian champ' it was him.

Our eras Canadian title would go back and forth between the faces (longer runs) and the heels (shorter runs) and would even travel a bit when in the hands of Dewey Robertson, Dino Bravo, and Angelo Mosca.

The first champ Dino Bravo would appear down in the Carolinas and Virginia where the Mid-Atlantic stars plied their trade and would end up appearing more there - than here.

MLG was only run about twice a month at that time and the local circuit had yet to come back to a fuller schedule so Bravo appeared in the South about 60 times compared to about 10 times here.

He wasn't always defending the title down South but did appear with the belt both on TV and in the arenas as well as a handful of title defences against the likes of Toronto enemy's Greg Valentine and Ric Flair. Bravo would remain a good guy in both areas while holding the title.

Dewey Robertson would also take the belt to the Carolinas where he would wrestle as a 'kinda bad guy', same style but more agressive and at times affiliated with Buddy Rogers who was back in the game first as a wrestler then as a manager.

Dewey would appear with the belt and also defend it in the South all the while staying the epitome of a good guy Canadian up here. He would appear in the South over 40 times while champ compared to 11 times here.

Angelo Mosca would put the most mileage on the Canadian Title during his reigns. While champ he would travel throughout the WWF territory from Hamburg TV Tapings through Philadelphia, Boston,  New York City, and the other stops on the Northeast circuit.

Mosca was still a vicious heel in WWF (he had turned here in the late 70's) challenging champ Bob Backlund, attacking Pat Patterson with a water pitcher (great angle!), and steamrolling over every other good guy in the area, all while being cheered here.

Tunney had also gone back to a fairly busy circuit around Toronto and Mosca was working the arenas around MLG on a regular schedule as well.

He didn't defend the title in WWF but did show up with it occasionally, By the time of his last reign he was now frequenting Florida, again as a heel and he would defend the belt in the Sunshine State.

He also would team in Florida with his Toronto arch-enemy John Studd to the surprise of many fans here (once the photos hit the Apter mags). All in all Mosca would appear well over 100 times elsewhere with about 35 appearances here while champ

see also
MLWP - The Canadian Title Belt