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2024 Wrestling RIP thread


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Akebono was getting a lot of attention in some U.S. media outlets as early as 1992 when he was closing in on his promotion. I swear I recall the Washington Post interviewing his family in Hawaii. And outlets like SportsCenter and George Michael Sports Machine would mention sumo from time to time on its telecasts.

As far as Yokozuna the wrestler, his Wiki mentioned that when Samu and Fatu had their first WWE TV match as "The Samoans" in 1992, Gorilla Monsoon mentioned that a "much larger Samoan" would be joining them soon, so it sounds like there was a thought of Yoko working as Kokina Maximus (or something similar) when he debuted. Found the French-language version of said match (Samu/Fatu vs. Jim Brunzell/Phil Apollo), but I'm not sure if the match ever aired for U.S. viewers.

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Didn't know that. Was WWF planning on having a trios title or something? Given how great Yoko looked when he came in and definitely how he was presented, I think they knew it would've been easier to slide him into one of the vacant slots up at the top since 1992 going into 1993 was pretty hectic. They also never presented Afa as one of the top managers or as a real mouthpiece. Plus, in the first year or so, the Headshrinkers aren't pushed above a certain level despite absolutely murdering jobbers every week. That is when Yoko is pretty much pushed as WWF champion or the guy about to challenge for the WWF title. Would they have gotten a bigger push if Rodney is in the mix?

It's also funny that when Samu quit a couple years later, one or two of the shows tapings weren't fully caught up. So there is one week where Fatu is with Sionne who had just been inserted into the mix. Then, the next week Fatu is with Samu in his last televised match as a Headshrinker. Either the same week or the next week, he is then back with Sionne. I believe the official explanation is (or explanations are) LOL IT'S A TRIO, Samu ate some bad fish, and also Captain Lou wants it to be a surprise which tag team it will be. However, obviously, you never see all three together. The thing is...it makes absolutely zero sense. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jason Knight posted that Billy Reil passed away. I was backstage at a Fat Frank show when Frank said "hey go ref this match" to me for a match with Billy. It happened twice and those were the only two matches that I ever refed. Billy always remembered that whenever I saw him. I gladly shared my homebrew with him. He was way too young for this to happen. Boo!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Billy Blue River, who promoted and wrestled independently for years, passed away on 5/15 at the age of 79. Born William Wenhold, he had been living in Mississippi and been crippled for many years. He was the husband of Beverly Shade, who wrestled in the 70s as not a part of Moolah’s stable. He won the son of Bill Wenhold Sr., who wrestled independently in the Northeast for 30 years. He had good size, being 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, and told Slam! Wrestling’s Greg Oliver this horror story about his beginnings in Florida in 1962 at the age of 17. “At age 17, I started training with Johnny (Swede) Carlin who was Eddie Graham’s flunky and refereed every now and then. In 1962 after vigorous training including wrestling members of the university of Tampa wrestling team days at a time I was booked on a wrestling show promoted by Carlin in Palmetto, Florida. Being naive I did not know about opposition to the main office. There was a newspaper story appeared in the paper about me helping some children at a high school wrestling event. Somehow Eddie Graham found my phone number and had Cowboy Luttrell call me. I went to the Sportatorium and was sitting on Cowboy’s desk talking to him when Graham came in and said, “Hey Rivers.” I turned my head and he sucker punched me. I was getting off the floor and seen (Hiro) Matsuda and Duke Keomuka ready to jump me. I was told to get out and never call myself a wrestler again. I went home and the phone rang and it was Cowboy wanting me to come back to the office. I did so. Eddie apologized and said he wanted me to go to Tennessee to work for (Nick) Gulas. I was there a week and one night I was booked in the semi final against Alex Perez. Eddie Graham was also on the card. Alex and I worked two falls (note I was green). During the third fall I came off the ropes and Perez broke my nose and while I was out dislocated both my knees. I made it to the dressing room and I was told that Eddie paid to have a job done on me. I returned to Florida and after about six months I was able to work out. I was working out at a dojo when I met some other wrestlers including Sam Steamboat, all had heat with Graham. I decided that living in this great country I did not believe in a monopoly. I started promoting and training wrestlers, starting with shooting then working if they made it.” He met Beverly Shade, who had wrestled some in the late 50s, but had left the business, in 1968 and they married the next year. They remained married 54 years until her death on June 2, 2023, at the age of 86. Blue River mostly ran bar shows in St. Petersburg, and Graham just hated that he was doing anything in “his state.” At one point Graham told some of his toughest wrestlers to go to one of his shows but Blue River thought they were up to trouble and had security escort them out, and they left without an incident. He told Oliver that at another point, when they used Ella Waldek and Ray Villmer, who were name pro wrestlers and started drawing bigger crowds, that Graham called Shade and told her if her husband promoted another show he would end up in a ditch with his head cut off. He claimed she responded that if he does that, she’ll blow the Sportatorium (the building where they taped television and where the offices for the promotion were, sky high. Graham also called up his mother and said that they were going to blow up his house. Days later he claimed he was kidnapped by Graham, Matsuda and Keomuka and said they wouldn’t let him go unless he agreed to stop running shows in their territory. He said he agreed and they let him go. But he then had his father start promoting. He worked at regular jobs as wrestling was never his livelihood. But his health went bad as he got older, as he could barely move, lost his hearing and at another point ruptured his bowels and almost died from that.

 

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That's already the third one of that generation of wXw wrestlers to die way too young (after Karsten Beck in 2020 (cancer) and Absolute Andy just a couple of months ago (I don't think his cause-of-death was ever announced)). I stopped following the scene when those guys got their break but yes, Bad Bones was definitely one of the centerpieces of wXw for a decade or so.

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1 hour ago, driver said:

I knew people could be protective of their territory, but what the actual shit.

People should listen to Greg Klein's pod about the 1950s Texas wrestling war, which probably includes arson at the sportatorium. 

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4 hours ago, RIPPA said:

Apparently hise wife confirmed it was a heart attack

I remember downloading the 08 16 Karat tournament off torrent sites and I was familiar with him from watching WXW shows from that time. I was just watching Rene Dupree's podcast and both Paul London and Renee broke out in tears. Didn't realize how close they were to him.

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On 5/20/2024 at 5:30 PM, odessasteps said:

People should listen to Greg Klein's pod about the 1950s Texas wrestling war, which probably includes arson at the sportatorium. 

Listened and it was very interesting. I never realized Texas was that big of a wrestling state back then.

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1 minute ago, odessasteps said:

You figure at one point, it had “separate” promotions in Dallas, Houston, El Paso, San Antonio and Amarillo. Plus running all the other mid size cities. Compare to California, where you mainly had 2 big offices (LA and SF). 

I just realized the scope of the thing and the fact that Cali only had LA and SF is kind of odd because of the size of the state.

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It’s not my area of knowledge, so I couldn’t tell you how many outlaw promotions there were up and down the state. Eventually, you had some Lucha promotions in SoCal both in LA and SD. 

As I think Greg talked about, the Dallas office also ran the whole “Texas booking office” and who knows how large that was, the same way Nick and Roy ran the Tennessee booking office, which prob covers at least a half dozen states. 

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1 minute ago, driver said:

I just realized the scope of the thing and the fact that Cali only had LA and SF is kind of odd because of the size of the state.

Well, think of how California is constructed and how the population is spread out and then look at Texas. So much of California's population is concentrated in the Bay Area and LA County. 

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