Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TEXANS, DEMONS AND LUMBERJACKS...oh my.

September 10, 1966
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
51 Years Ago

TONI ROSE

THE MASKED RED DEMONS
with MGR. GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

TEX McKENZIE

KLONDIKE BILL

NELSON ROYAL

ABE JACOBS
---
A LUMBERJACK MATCH has been scheduled to see if two top wrestling teams, TEX McKENZIE and NELSON ROYAL on one side, and THE MASKED RED DEMONS on the other, can settle their differences.

Six other big wrestlers will spot themselves around the ring to prevent any runouts of a type taken by the RED DEMONS two weeks ago. With one of the masked men dangerously close to having his identity exposed, the DEMONS bolted to the safety of their dressing room, and the Texans won that match on a count out.

The LUMBERJACK MATCH is set for the best two-out-of-three falls within a one hour time limit.

Huge KLONDIKE BILL, with lumberjack experience, will pair up with the fast New Zealand native ABE JACOBS to meet two big men, GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS and 'BIG BOY' BLONDELL in the other best-of-three falls tag match of the evening.

A special event will send girl grapplers TONI ROSE and DIXIE JORDAN against one another in what should be a crowd pleaser. These two ladies have a history.

Newcomer DON KENT, who debuted here last week, meets the veteran CORSICA JEAN in a singles match, which kicks off the card at 8:15.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE QUEEN OF JCP


It took Mary Ann Kostecki only one professional wrestling match to decide to change her name.

The transition in identification came not so many years ago in a small Ohio town where the shapely St. Louis blonde with the green eyes made her mat debut under the tutelage of the late Billy Wolfe.

"Sure, I was nervous until the bell rang, but you might say I was more embarrassed when I heard the ring announcer struggling with my name. I won the match and Billy agreed I had a name nobody could remember," said the statuesque young lady.

The new name...PENNY BANNER.

It has been written previously that Penny selected the name from the movie ARROWHEAD, a film she had seen that starred Charlton Heston, one of her favorite actors. "Heston's name in the movie was Banner, and my mother had always called me Penny as a little girl. So I became Penny Banner from my second wrestling match."

She didn't know it at the time but when Penny joined a judo class at a YMCA, it was her first step toward a pro mat career and eventually national stardom. Sam
Muchnick, president of the National Wrestling Alliance saw Penny giving a judo demonstration on television and was impressed with what he saw. Muchnick called her the next day after seeing the blonde flip a few Marines who were also on the TV show. The NWA President gave Penny a letter to Billy Wolfe, who ran an all-girl wrestling school in Columbus, Ohio, and she was on her way. And she was starting with the right man as Wolfe had been instrumental in the careers of the likes of Mildred Burke, Juanita Coffman, Therese Thies, Mae Weston and The Fabulous Moolah.

When asked how long it took in training before she was assigned her first wrestling match, Penny replied, "When I first began training, Mr. Wolfe told me it usually took about six to nine months of serious conditioning before any girl got her first chance. But with my judo and physical education experience, I got the green light after one week."
.

As she gained experience, Penny sharpened her skills and rolled up an impressive string of wins while campaigning through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. Girl wrestling is very popular in these areas. She continued her march over some of the top female performers in the country and sought a match with June Byers, who had succeeded Mildred Burke as the NWA women's champion. "It started that Byers was taking on all comers, and I made up my mind that this was my big chance. I walked into the ring in Columbus one night and challenged her. She accepted my challenge." Penny surprised a lot of people that night by taking the highly-touted Texas lass to a ten-minute time limit draw. A later match for the title saw Byers winning the first fall, Penny the second, and time expiring before the third fall could begin.


June Byers was the victim of a serious automobile accident shortly after her last match with Penny and forced to retire. Banner then teamed up with Bonnie Watson for tag events and were highly successful until romance broke up the duo when Bonnie married. Betty Hawkins became Penny's partner, and they won the Western Canada girls' tag title and were undefeated for two years. Betty then married, and Penny was forced to again find a new partner. She was Lorraine Johnson. Together, they won the Women's World Tag Title in St. Joseph, Missouri and had a long winning streak until Cupid entered the picture again. But this time it was Penny who married...a popular Indianapolis wrestler, Johnny Weaver. The two would later have a daughter, Wendi, who at six months of age made Banner think differently about her career. "My wrestling schedule was keeping me away from Wendi and Johnny. Being a wrestler was thrilling but my family was more important to me."


As Wendi grew up, Penny and Johnny switched their home from St. Louis to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Johnny made his wrestling home. Penny wrestled a limited schedule, finding the balance between her career and being a good wife and mother.

When time permits, the Weaver clan enjoy golf and bowling plus Johnny's penchant for watching Sunday sports on TV and a good game of cards. Penny and Wendi, now twelve, love horses and are excellent riders. They own quarter horses not far from their home and compete in numerous shows in the Charlotte area. They have a roomful of ribbons and trophies in their home which they have won competing.

Penny enjoys simple tastes in cooking vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast beef, stuffed peppers and sauerkraut. She also believes every woman should take good care of their bodies. "Our bodies are like a house. If we take care of it, it will take care of us. I like to work out three times a week." Banner has had her share of injuries over the years, including a bad knee which is one of her main weaknesses right now. It has been dislocated five times with ligament and tendon damage.

But for now, Penny will continue to wrestle when she wants. And why not? Penny Banner still rates high among the top ten female wrestlers in the world today.



Taken from WRESTLING REVUE, January 1974 and written by GENE GORDON.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A FAN CLUB FOR RIP AND SWEDE

The tag team combination of RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON was a duo wrestling fans loved to hate. And then again, many fans just loved them.

I was one of those fans. Another was a young man named ROCK RIDDLE. ROCK was much more ambitious than I. He started a HAWK / HANSON fan club and actually had a convention for his 'BLONDE BOMBER' heroes (maybe more than one), and 'The Profile' attended.

Here's RIP and ROCK at the convention.



The meeting shall come to order (ROCK is at bottom left).

RIP and SWEDE taking care of business.

The 'BLONDE BOMBERS' actually being besieged by autograph seekers. (HAWK and HANSON were getting ready to wrestle THE MISSOURI MAULER and HIRO MATSUDA, so maybe that's why.)

Young ROCK RIDDLE grew up and became a professional wrestler.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

OUTDOOR WRESTLING AT ITS BEST

May 4, 1966
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

51 Years Ago

Three Charlotte newcomers are on the big outdoor wrestling card tonight at MEMORIAL STADIUM, promoter JIM CROCKETT has announced.

The three debuting are all billed in the preliminary matches to the RUSSIAN CHAIN MATCH, which serves as the main event.

Big man KLONDIKE BILL, who is scientific-minded (but can rough it up when necessary), meets the rugged, tough villain IKE EAKINS.

BRUISER MORGAN, another of the first-timers, tangles with "Flying" SANDY SCOTT.

The third to make his debut will be promising young BOBBY SHANE, who tries out the experience of EL GAUCHO.

All are set for one fall.

The main event brings together BORIS "THE GREAT" MALENKO and fan favorite GEORGE SCOTT in a RUSSIAN CHAIN MATCH.

These men, bitter enemies, are shackled at the wrists by a six-foot length of chain and battle each other until one can drag the other around the ring twice. The normal falls do not count in this match. Chain matches are usually extremely brutal and bloody, and both men stand a good chance of spending the night in a hospital emergency room.

The SOUTHERN HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP goes on the line tonight when THE MISSOURI MAULER climbs into the ring to face KARL GOTCH.

THE MAULER is the defending champion but has met few battlers of GOTCH's caliber. They'll go at it for the best-of-three falls with a one-hour time limit.

LUTHER LINDSEY, the North Carolina tussler, who is regarded as the best of the Negro wrestlers working today, joins forces with GEORGE "CATALINA" DRAKE to test BRONCHO LUBICH and ALDO BOGNI in tag team warfare. Of course, HOMER O'DELL, the slimy manager of LUBICH and BOGNI, will be in his men's corner.

Action begins at 8:15 and will continue under the stars.

Monday, May 15, 2017

HAYSTACKS AND LUMBERJACKS

April 19, 1965
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
---
52 Years Ago

HAYSTACK CALHOUN, the mountain that walks like a man, returns to Charlotte tonight, and GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER couldn't be happier.

CALHOUN, BECKER and WEAVER will team up in a SIX MAN TAG TEAM LUMBERJACK MATCH at the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM to attempt to, once and for all, put an end to the terrifying threesome of BRONCHO LUBICH, ALDO BOGNI and their manager HOMER O'DELL.

Ten wrestlers have been assigned to station themselves around the ring while the main event action is going on. Should any member of either team try to leave the ring area or be thrown from it, the ten lumberjacks have orders to pitch the combatants back into the melee. It isn't likely any member of the CALHOUN / BECKER / WEAVER trio will do any running. In fact, these three want to stay in the ring with the villainous trio as much as possible. They seldom get the opportunity to get their hands on the slippery O'DELL, who is usually causing trouble in tuxedo attire (and cane) outside the ring.

In tonight's best-of-three falls contest, O'DELL will be a participant in wrestling attire. There's a 60-minute time limit for the match, with a NO DISQUALIFICATION stipulation in effect.

Another tag team match on the card will send two of the baldest and meanest men in the wrestling business, BRUTE BERNARD and SKULL MURPHY, against the rugged team of THE ALASKAN and THE BEAST in a two-out-of-three falls "Battle of the Bullies" clash.

One could toss a coin to determine which of these two rule-breaking teams is the more vicious. Many fans are hoping the two duos will destroy each other, so the wrestling business won't have to deal with either of them any longer.

A fantastic JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS supporting card will underline this giant professional wrestling spectacular, which gets underway at 8:15 p.m.

Tickets can be obtained at the COLISEUM box office or the NATIONAL HAT SHOP in downtown Charlotte.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A LONG TIME FEUD

GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER ruled the tag team world in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS for most of the 1960s.

They faced every top 'heel' team that passed through the territory. The longest ongoing program was with RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON. The next longest would probably be with ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH, but right up there was the on-and-off again feud that BECKER and WEAVER had with THE ANDERSON BROTHERS.

It would start with the duo of LARS and GENE ANDERSON. Later, OLE was brought in, and while the younger 'brother' was being broken in, there were three ANDERSONs. LARS then left the MID-ATLANTIC area, and THE MINNESOTA WRECKING CREW was redefined as GENE and OLE ANDERSON.


GENE ANDERSON attempts to ram JOHNNY WEAVER'S head into the ring apron...or worse!


Judging from the blood on WEAVER's face, GENE was successful.


BECKER pummels a cornered LARS ANDERSON.


JOHNNY just can't seem to get away from GENE's fist.


GENE decides to work on BECKER for a while.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EVERY MATCH A MAIN EVENT

AUGUST 10, 1959
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
-
58 Years Ago

Many wrestling fans are saying that promoter JIM CROCKETT has outdone himself with tonight's pro wrestling card. Every match on the program could headline any wrestling show anywhere in the United States.

But it is the fans in the CHARLOTTE area who shall reap the benefits.

In tonight's headliner at PARK CENTER, the devious duo of MR. MOTO and DUKE KEOMUKA will face another challenge for their SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP. The Japs, who have protected their titles at any cost against all comers in the month they have had the belts, will face a severe challenge when they meet fan favorites GEORGE BECKER and BILLY TWO RIVERS, the top-ranked contenders. The championship encounter is set for the best two-of-three falls, with a one hour time limit.

The semi-final squares off PAT O'HARA and THE GREAT BOLO. Perhaps tonight will be the lucky night for the Irishman in his quest to unmask the hooded ruffian. O'HARA has come close a few times, but THE GREAT BOLO has managed to hang on to his mask...so far. This one's also two-out-of-three falls, forty-five minute limit.

The main prelim sends popular DANO O'SHOCKER against the rugged LARRY 'CRUSHER' HAMILTON for one fall, thirty minutes.

And the 8:15 opener, set for one fall and twenty minutes, has REGGIE PARKS, the handsome Canadian scraper from Ontario, meeting CYCLONE ANAYA.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early to guarantee a seat.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ONE 'HOT' TAG TEAM

THE INFERNOS with Manager J.C. DYKES

JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, throughout the 1960s, was known in the professional wrestling world as the top territory for tag team wrestling. Probably more than ninety percent of the time, a JCP card was topped off with a tag match.

The list of main event teams who worked the MID-ATLANTIC area is a 'Who's Who' of the greatest combos ever in the business.

Other than THE BOLOS, the best masked team to ever hit the Carolinas and Virginia was a couple of guys who went by the ring name of THE INFERNOS. Along side them was a red-headed manager J.C. (Jimmy) DYKES.

There were, through the years, several incarnations of the INFERNO team (and countless impersonators), but the original two 'blue tigers' (as Dykes often called them) were FRANKIE CAIN and ROCKY SMITH. Neither men were big in stature by wrestling standards, but could they ever work!

In interviews, DYKES claimed the duo was European and spoke little English. He was the only person who could really communicate with them well, and did much of it by the use of blowing a whistle during their matches to give them strategic commands.

The wrestling fans, to create problems for the evil trio, soon began bringing their own whistles to the matches. The areas would become deafening with several hundred whistles being blown at the same time. A great way for the fans to be involved in the match.

DYKES also carried a metal canteen to the ring, giving his men a needed refreshment between falls of their matches. Naturally, the metal canteen often found its mark on the noggins of many a 'babyface' opponent.

And it was not beneath the dignity of J.C. to throw an occasional fireball at their adversaries. I recall George Becker and Les Thatcher at the receiving end on two different occasions.

But the 'gimmick' of THE INFERNOS that got the most heat (and this team's heat was as hot as the sun) was the loaded boot.


THE INFERNOS and DYKES drew big money in every territory they appeared, be it the Carolinas and Virginia, Florida, Texas, etc. They headlined countless wrestling cards facing each area's top teams (including other 'heel' teams).

J.C. DYKES died in 1993. ROCKY SMITH has also passed away. FRANKIE CAIN was the first to leave the team when he became pro wrestling's THE GREAT MEPHISTO.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I MISS IT

I know that nothing can last forever.

While we have certain things, we tend to take them for granted. These things can range from cars, houses, school to family members, friends, etc.

After they are gone, we must rely on our memories, talking with others, and in some cases, recorded images of the things we hold close to our hearts.

Throughout the years, I have taken a good bit of criticism from some folks for being a fan of professional wrestling.

"Why do you like that stuff?"

I have been asked that question more than once.

My blow-off answer is usually something like, "I guess the same reason you love NASCAR or the NFL or college basketball. Most of us all have the same emotions. We choose to direct them at different things."

And since I was eight years old, wrestling has been a part of my life, and I have never regretted it.

I do regret what has happened to the wrestling business over the last twenty-five + years, that the business today is, for the most part, controlled by one individual. That the workers of today don't have the established territories of years ago to improve their talents (yes, there are indy promotions out there, but it isn't the same as going from JIM CROCKETT to EDDIE GRAHAM to DORY FUNK SR.)

And for everyone who is affected negatively by the business as it exists today, I am saddened.

But, nothing can last forever.

Below are photos of some of the folks who were fortunate enough to work in the 'heyday' of the business.


LES THATCHER battles BULL RAMOS at CHARLOTTE'S PARK CENTER.
This match was in 1968. (The referee is ANGELO MARTINELLI.)


ABE JACOBS has the upper hand on THE GREAT BOLO.
(At least, for the time being.)


TEX McKENZIE battles GENE KINISKI for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.
(I witnessed one such encounter of these two at the original CHARLOTTE COLISEUM. KINISKI took two falls of three to remain champ.)


PENNY BANNER and THE FABULOUS MOOLAH battle it out.
(In my opinion, the top two women wrestlers of their era.)


'Young Lion' PAUL DEMARCO slams BRONCHO LUBICH
(Referee SAM 'Lucky' ROBERTS observes.)


NELSON ROYAL gets tangled up in his work, with RIP HAWK's help, at CHARLOTTE's PARK CENTER.


TONI ROSE is whipped into the corner by JUDY GRABLE.

Man, I wish I had a time machine.

Friday, May 5, 2017

FANS LOVED THE LITTLE GUYS

and they all worked for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS

BILLY THE KID and COWBOY BRADLEY

FARMER PETE and COWBOY LANG

FRENCHY LAMONTE

JAMAICA KID and LITTLE BEAVER

LITTLE BRUISER

LORD LITTLEBROOK

LITTLE TOKYO