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Wrestling News! Sept 16... New entry on the Maple Leaf Blog has a Ring Spotlight from 1980, a look at 'Wild Bill' Potts and the amateur scene from 1936... also a look at 'Wild Bill Zim! a colorful wrestler who worked quite a bit on Kasaboski's Northland circuit... also a Jack Corcoran portrait from the Toronto Archives, and a look at Whipper Watson collecting Masks ...Also added the Q&A with Roger Baker to the Blog so others may see it...Working on some new stuff, a look at Ted McKinley, and some new Classic Photos on the way...
We look at the year 1980 in Maple Leaf Wrestling and across Ontario. The territory heats up with the Mid-Atlantic stars, the circuit towns with the Wildman with a return to London, ON, and wrestling is back in Ottawa too after a long absence.
We see the MLG debuts of Roddy Piper, Bobby Duncum, George Wells, and the only area appearance of Bruiser Brody in a busy year for the local fans.
Local favorite Ric Flair continues his winning ways and starts the path to the NWA Title and we see a few changes with the Canadian Heavyweight Title.
Angelo Mosca, after a long time as a villain becomes the local favorite while Hossein The Arab/The Iron Sheik makes a case for the most hated heel not only here but south of the border.
'Tiger' Tom Nelson
The name may not be too familiar for us younger fans but Tommy Nelson, or 'Tiger Tom' as he was known in his wrestling days was a big part of the Toronto history both as a wrestler and as a promoter in the area.
He was one of the group that sailed to the U.K. in 1936 that set off the chain of events that would shape the city's wrestling landscape for many years to come (see Watson, Whipper!).
When he returned to Canada and was done with grappling Tommy would work alongside Frank Tunney in promoting cards all over the region right through the 1960's.
We take a look at his story in our newest feature on the names that shaped the history of the Toronto scene.
Classic Photo: Whipper vs Masked Marvel 1947
With special ref Jack Dempsey looking on, Whipper tries to start on his collection of Masks. Whipper would collect many of them in the years to come but not on this night.
Former boxing champ Dempsey would referee many big bouts here in the classic era as would many other former boxers including Jack Sharkey, Max Baer, Rocky Marciano, and 'Jersey' Joe Walcott.
This Marvel was the third version, a previous one had been unmasked in 1938 as Ted Cox
Whipper meanwhile would finally collect this Masked Marvel's mask in February 1949 revealing Lew Reynheer under the hood.
Pages From The Scrapbook - Raphael Halpern
Into the classic scrapbooks again , this time 1961-1962 and the Wrestling Rabbi Raphael Halpern.
Halpern came into Toronto in late 1961 and was a popular wrestler and a real Rabbi who left a long legacy both in wrestling and in his many other pursuits. We look at his time here and his battles with our #1 heel at the time -Bulldog Brower.
Hope you enjoy these looks inside these fantastic scrapbooks covering the Toronto scene in the 1950's and 1960's ! If you want the full size images drop me a line
Roger Baker talks Sweet Daddy Siki
We get to ask Roger Baker about Sweet Daddy Siki who is the feature of a new Documentary on his life and career. Siki was a regular here for many years while Roger was taking photos from ringside at MLG and around the area, and writing stories for the major magazines of the day.
Roger's 8mm film is a big part of the doc (great footage of Bruno/Whipper vs Siki/Brower) and he is featured himself in segments shot at his world famous 'wrestling room' in Ontario. With a unique perspective and vast wrestling knowledge, we are very pleased to spend a few minutes picking his wrestling mind on 'Mr Irresistible' Sweet Daddy Siki.
Classic Photo: Weaver vs Hayes 1982
A shot of the MLG Cage from Jan 1982 prior to a Johnny Weaver vs Lord Alfred Hayes bout. This was the first of 2 cage bouts that night, followed by a Mosca Studd brawl which saw Mosca take the Canadian Title from Studd.
Weaver would come back out to assist Mosca after Studd attacked him with the title belt after their bout, Weaver would get re-bloodied when Studd took a whack at him with the gold.
THANKS TO ROGER BAKER for contributions to the MLWP. Many of the Classic photos come from Roger's collections from his many years as a fan and then Professional Photog shooting Wrestling & Boxing bouts at MLG and around Ontario. We are fortunate to have his contributions to the articles as he shares his memories from the classic days of Ontario Pro Wrestling. Roger wrote many great stories for the Wrestling mags of the day that featured his photos and time spent with many of the biggest stars ever to appear at Maple Leaf Gardens. Thank you Roger!
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Number 1 Feud... ... There are a few feuds that stand out in the M-A era 78-84...The Mulligan-Studd bouts in 1980 under Texas Death Match rules were some of the most violent bouts of the era, two big guys going at each other, giving it all for the fans where they may not have in other bouts, Studd especially. They would continue in 1982 with Blackjack Jr. just starting his career and getting involved and showing why he would go on to be one of the best in the ring - as Barry Windham. Studd wasn't the best wrestler but was good when matched against the big men. Bouts vs Andre and Mosca in Toronto were always entertaining, slowed down but with the power of the big slams in the ring and on the ramp...The Valiant-Koloff was good too, Valiant doesn't get a lot of respect now and that crazy style doesn't hold up well through video but MLG was LOUD when he was on the card. Koloff always gave a good bout and made the match-ups more fun beating down Valiant until he made his inevitable comeback. Koloff had some good bouts vs Flair as well as Steamboat when the Mid Atlantic TV was the best show on the air, we could see the TV angles then they would have the bouts here...Not the best but close would be the Wahoo-Piper-Abdullah angle that lit up M-A TV and we got the bout soon after with Dusty and Wahoo vs Abdullah and Piper. Wahoo didn't get up here much he was one of the most colorful of the M-A stars and bigger than life type so that bout stands out. Piper always great and a rare appearance by Abdullah. I missed him in the earlier days and that 1980 bout with Dory Funk Jr, and Dusty too was a rare MLG appearance...The best feud hands down for me was Flair-Valentine (+Andersons). That one played out over a couple of years and had many highlights both on TV and here at MLG. Flair and Valentine tag partners then hated rivals, the reunion and then the Andersons, the toughest, realest tag there ever was (in this era anyways) getting involved (them and Flair went back before the Toronto connection, when Flair was a 'cousin'). The baseball bat , the broken nose(s), the figure fours, the blood, the title's, and the emotion throughout those angles make it my #1 feud of the M-A era...