Thursday, August 4, 2016

Toronto Programs 1930s-1980s

Collecting Toronto Wrestling programs can be a frustrating task. There are huge gaps where no programs were made, or at the least , none survived. We will take a look at the programs issued over the years.

The earliest one I have is 1930. You can see the whole program here Previous Blog Entry - 1930 Program Nice full program from the Mickailoff days, 14 pages with a photo on near every page, rules listing, and a line up card. price 10c

Next one is a 1935. The Wrestling content of that one is here Previous Blog Entry - 1935 Program This one has other sports content, hockey mostly but still has 6 pages of Wrestler bios, plus the event specific line up center spread. cost 15c


There are others through the late 1930's and early 1940's that follow the same format as above. Not all of the Wrestling nights had Wrestling on the cover either. There are examples with an Elephant (Circus) or figure skaters (Ice Capades) for events that were coming up that were the focus rather than the Wrestling card. Still those had the lineup spread in the middle and some other pages devoted to wrestlers.

The next change I can find is in the late 1940's. They went to a Maple Leaf Sports Magazine. Photo on the front with headliner or close for that night. About 50 pages covering all sports with several on the wrestlers and the 2 page center spread with the lineup sheet. cost 25c

1947 Example



Then there is a gap. I can't find any from the 1950's as of yet. Surprising as that era had a huge amount of coverage in print, the dailies had wrestling coverage nearly every day of the week. Once TV started it was bigger than ever. Sports writer Frank Ayerst started working for Frank Tunney and would later pen the programs and a column in the dailies but I have yet to find any 50's - gottem ? send em please!

 Next ones are the early 1960's. A shorter format but wrestling specific. A bi-fold with 2 pages of info, a lineup card and a blank page with a holder for an insert photo with one of the stars. Ayerst wrote a cover piece and then the page inside had a tidbits type column similar to his newspaper pieces, often with inside info or personal type stuff about the wrestlers. price 25c

This one is from '63

That type to at least 1965 and then a gap again.

The 1970's, huge cards when the Sheik was on top here, full houses and a revival in wrestling in Toronto - but no programs?

Have yet to see anything from the Sheik era, in fact the only 1970's program found so far is this 1977 glossy type put together by Stan Obodiac, the then Maple Leaf Gardens publicity head. Similar in feel to a Maple Leafs hockey program this one is 12 pages and while not event specific (no lineup card) it features the participants from the July 11 1977 card held at Exhibition Stadium. Also has a NWA title history  and a page on Whipper Watson and Lord Layton, long removed from the scene by this time. Contributors listed are Norm Kimber (Announcer & Frank's publicity guy at this time) son Eddie and nephew Jack. cost unknown.

Then another gap, a bit of unrest between the Sheik era and the M-A era but nothing in the 78-79 years and the beginning of the association with the Crockett stars.

My buddy Griff who makes me look like an amateur when it comes to hunting down MLW artifacts still has not found anything previous to Oct 19 1980 which is in the Stranglehold format. The Oct issue is listed as number 5 but unable to locate the earlier ones. Put together by Gary Kamansack under the Arena Magazine and Mancuso Publishing name. They were responsible for the Detroit area programs, also the fabulous Wrestling Exchange magazine, as well as programs for George Cannon's Superstars. Slick feel with good (mostly) local photos and a card specific lineup sheet. think these were 75c maybe 1$

This one Nov 16 1980 

A bit of a gap through the end of 1980 and then starting in early 1981 and regular to the end of the NWA era in mid 1984. Appears Mancuso and Arena pulled out in 1981, the format stayed mostly the same although the look started to go downhill and wasn't as good, cutout photos and such like the one below from 1983. Still with card specific lineup. cost 1$ still I think

When Jack Tunney switched to using the WWF stars they kept the Stranglehold format for a time as the one below shows. Thats where I stop but they did switch to the WWF magazine some time after, a generic type with an inserted lineup sheet


If you can supply a pic from any of the years that have gaps please send over. If you have programs for sale please contact me  !

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ex Show 1983 Proudfoot Columnn

33 years ago this month were the two big Ex shows put on by the newly in charge Jack Tunney after Frank's death months earlier. Jack had something to prove and the shows did well, stacked with the top stars of the day. The first show 'Night Of The Champions' and the 'Return Of The Champions' 2 weeks later drew a reported 20,000 and 14,000 respectively.

The Ex had been run before during the summer of 1977 and would later be the site of the 'Big Event' in 1986 but these shows stand as two of the biggest - and best shows of the last days of the NWA in Toronto

Note that in the end notes after the article, it mentions Jack may be interested in the boxing side. After Frank's experiences with the boxing world it's surprising Jack was interested at all.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Peterboro 1945 Poster

This poster was on ebay recently, don't see too many from the outside towns from this far back.

I spent some time years back at the Peterboro (Peterborough as its more commonly spelled) Library and did the year of 1953 when they were running weekly shows - Oshawa Wrestling History - Peterborough 1953

I haven't had time to get back but the city was a regular stop for Tunney through the 1950's with Oshawa Promoter Pat Milosh handling the shows in 1952 and 1953 at the very least. Others ran the town too, Red Garner and his Central Canadian Wrestling Alliance, Gus Marmon and the Olympic Wrestling Club, and later Dave McKigney with his Big Bear circuit

For more on the Ontario scene see Maple Leaf Wrestling - Promoters in Ontario

Monday, May 2, 2016

Thesz in Barrie 1962

Lou Thesz would make frequent appearances in Toronto as well as the major cities on the circuit, Ottawa, Hamilton, and London. The smaller towns would be more infrequent.

This ad for Barrie makes note of the fact that Thesz is getting ready for a shot at Buddy Rogers NWA crown 'next week'. The next bout between the two appears to be the one here in Toronto in Jan 1963 when Thesz won the crown.

I couldn't find the results for this night in Barrie but 3 days later at MLG Thesz fought Argentina Rocca to a double countout.