Hey Boy! Where'd You Get Them Ears? Book Review Page 2

Chapters 6-7:  The Twenties Boesch begins chapter 6 by talking about carnival (carny) shows and his experiences with them in New York.  He chronicles how Ed "Strangler" Lewis ascends to the throne of world champion, and describes how Jack Curley was one of the early promoters to achieve success, and infamy as well.  Boesch talks with passion about the Wayne Munn-Lewis title change that was mired in controversy and relishes as he mentions a lawsuit filed by Stanislaus Zbyszko against the New York American newspaper.  In the frivolous lawsuit, Zbyszko wanted $250,000 from the paper because they ran pictures of him and a gorilla, claiming that the theory of evolution was more than a theory by looking at the comparisons between the two.  Zbyszko claimed that the article and the pictures caused his wife to lose affection for him, and that it broke up their marriage!!!   

Boesch uses Chapter 7 to describe how Gus Sonneberg rose to the top with his win over Strangler Lewis for the title, and the 1929 match between Dick Shikat and Jim Londos that drew a purported 30,000 fans.  

Chapters 8-14:  The Thirties As the thirties roll around with Chapter 8, Boesch writes further about Shikat's win over Londos, and talks about his debut against Benny Ginsburg on October 25, 1932.  Boesch who was barely 20 years old and 195 lbs. at the time of his debut, won his first match in 25 minutes, but had to wrestle Ginsburg again the next night.  The match went differently the second time around.  He also relates how promoter Jack Pfefer, who he says affected his life greatly, dubbed Boesch as Jewish, even though he was not.  Boesch was so protective of his newfound "Jewishness" that he would wait to shower until people left the lockerroom!!!  Boesch further covers the title factions that were beginning to form, especially with the Lewis camp and the Ed Don George camp.  Henri DeGlane had beaten Lewis for the title by disqualification, and had lost all respect amongst nearly everyone in the business.  Don George beat DeGlane for one version of the title, but never got the respect due him as champion.  Here he jumps around a bit, as he goes back to the June 1932 match between Dick Shikat and Strangler Lewis for the "world" title.  Then he shifts back to his new career, as he works his way up the wrestling ladder against numerous opponents, such as Karol Zbyszko.  Then he chronicles the controversial "win" by Joe Savoldi over Jim Londos that further fractured the world title lineage.  Boesch concludes Chapter 8 with his 1934 experience in Canada.   

As Chapter 9 commences, Boesch heads to California to wrestle, and notices the difference between West Coast and East Coast action.  The West Coast favored more light heavyweights, while the East Coast had more heavyweights.  Boesch takes the time to review some light heavyweight history, mentioning Leroy McGuirk and his wars with Wild Red Berry and Irish Danny McShain.  Boesch chronicles the rise of Man Mountain Dean to stardom in Chapter 10, and reveals how he became a crossover star in Hollywood for a short time.  He spends some time talking about wrestling in California, and chronicles how Danno O'Mahoney beats Ed Don George for the world title.  Boesch would then talk about how he left California for the Northwest. One night in Portland, Orgeon, Boesch describes his first foray into broadcasting, as Rollie Truitt asks him to call the last fall of the main event.  Boesch describes how he was "bitten by the broadcasting bug."   

Chapter 10 concludes with a discourse on Houston drawing card Whiskers Savage, and how he was drawing huge crowds at a time when not all of the country was as fortunate at the gate.  Chapter 11 deals exclusively with Boesch's trip to wrestle in New Zealand and Australia.  Boesch talks about wrestling and helping promoter Floyd Musgrave in Seattle in the late 1930's, and talked about how his back pain nearly ended his career in 1937.  He mentions the late Lou Thesz and his explosion onto the wrestling scene with glowing terms, a pattern that would continue throughout the book.  In 1938, with his back better, Boesch returned to New York for work and matches, while Musgrave ran the Seattle promotion nearly into the ground.  Boesch exclaims at the end of the chapter how if he ever went into promoting, he would "never have a partner."   

Boesch starts Chapter 13 with a discussion on the toughness of the female wrestlers who were on the scene with him as the thirties rolled to a close.  He then mentions a historical footnote, as reportedly the nephew of Houston promoter Morris Siegel helped Siegel invent the tag team match in the area.  Boesch then turns his attention to the subject of "showmanship," the closest he would come to breaking Kayfabe during the entire book.  He mentioned numerous ways of showmanship as displayed by longtime star Milo Steinborn.  Many of the accounts are quite funny, even though dated by the passage of time.  Boesch returns to Australia and New Zealand in Chapter 14, and begins to recognize the looming threat of war as he sees people all over in military uniforms.  He then turns his attention to promoters that were once wrestlers, and ends the chapter by describing his wrestling experience in Hawaii.  

Chapters 15-18:  The Forties As the forties began, Boesch takes a trip to Japan to watch a sumo tournament.  He chronicles his wrestling experiences, in the Philippines, (Manila most extensively), and goes back to Australia to wrestle.  Boesch tells a humorous story of how he was able to call a horse race while in Australia, and ends Chapter 15 by recalling how even though coming home to America was a risk for the threat of submarine warfare, it was worth it to him.   

Boesch resumed his career in earnest in Chapter 16, and recalls the first wrestler walk out in Los Angeles.  He mentions how Dutch Rhode became "Buddy" Rogers, although this reviewer is not sure of the accuracy of the story.  Boesch was in Ft. Worth, Texas, when he received word of Pearl Harbor.  After a discussion of the Texas wrestling scene, Boesch describes how he went to Camp Wallace (between Galveston and Houston, Texas) to give exhibitions and demonstrations to the men there.  He tried many times without success to enter the war, and finally was inducted into the military on October 23, 1942, 2 days shy of his tenth anniversary in pro wrestling.  Boesch spends a short time on his wartime exploits, and relays to the reader how he returned to active wrestling duties in New York within days of his return home from the European portion of the war.  

Boesch begins Chapter 17 by describing the famous Houston Symphony-Morris Siegel "tag team" effort to raise money in war bonds for soldiers.  The event, which combined symphony music and wrestling would raise nearly a million dollars in bonds for the war effort.  He also describes how he first wrestled Lou Thesz in San Antonio.  He gives an excellent foreshadowing of things to come with a discussion on the advent of television in America, and returns to Australia again to wrestle.  He comes down with a horrible case of boils after a four day-four match schedule.  Sadly, the chapter ends with his discussion of the October 22, 1947 car accident that ended (short of a few brief comebacks) his career three days before his fifteenth anniversary in pro wrestling.  

Chapter 18 starts with a discussion of the advent of television in America, and the effect television had on sports in general, and specifically wrestling.  Wrestling became an early staple of television, and would reach its zenith during the early days in the fifties.  But, promoters feared that televised wrestling would kill house show gates, because their reasoning was "why would anyone pay for something that they can watch from the comfort of their own home?" (quote from reviewer, not from Boesch)  Boesch relates to the reader how the NWA came around, and describes how Lou Thesz becomes NWA champion.  He closes the chapter with a discourse on how Houston was forced to change the way they presented matches due to television's beginning to kill the town.  He talks about how promoter Morris Siegel would show only part of a card, and encourage people to come to the matches live instead of watching on television.  

Chapters 19-20:  The Fifties Boesch begins his examination of the fifties with a look at the man who for many would define the fifties in wrestling; Gorgeous George.  George, who went to a local Houston area high school (Milby High School), rose to the top due to his "showmanship," and the growing presence of television.  He then switches to legend Bull Curry, and how Curry became a star in Houston.  The Brass Knucks championship was made for Curry to fight over, and because of his feuds, numerous matches were implemented for the first time in Houston.  Most notable were matches that are still around today, like the cage match and the Texas Death match.  Boesch also chronicles his short comeback against Duke Keomuka in 1953.  In 1955, Texas was complying with national de-segregation laws, and because of it, Morris Siegel promoted the first Texas main event with an African-American wrestler named Luther Lindsey.  For a time, black wrestlers could not wrestle white wrestlers.  Siegel had Lindsey wrestle Duke Keomuka in the first match of mixed races which was met with some interesting and humorous exchanges between Boesch and critics.  Boesch closes the chapter with a discussion of how he felt Jim Barnett changed the face of television wrestling with the invention of studio wrestling in Indianapolis.  

As Chapter 20 commences, Boesch makes mention of the cracks that were beginning to form in the NWA.  He hones in on the 1957 match between Lou Thesz and Edouard Carpentier in Chicago that eventually led to the formation of the AWA in 1960.  He further chronicles the beginning of the WWWF with the exchange of the NWA title from Buddy Rogers to Thesz in January 1963, and the May 1963 match that sees Bruno Sammartino defeat Rogers in less than a minute.  The chapter ends with a discussion of the numerous titles that sprang up and how they affected the gates and attendance figures of local territories.  

Chapters 21-22:  The Sixties Although Boesch mentioned the early sixties in Chapter 20, he dives into the decade with abandon in Chapter 21.  Boesch once again talks in detail about the light heavyweights, most notably Danny Hodge.  He talks with sadness about the passing away of such legends as George Hackenschmidt, Rididozan, Yukon Eric, Primo Carnera, Stanislaus Zbyszko, and Ed Lewis.  Another loss rocked Boesch, as on December 27, 1966 (the birthdate of Bill Goldberg), Houston promoter Morris Siegel passed away.  Boesch at first would not promote in the territory due to loyalty to Siegel.  After a conversation with the widow of Siegel in which she allowed Boesch to buy the town, he began 1967 as the promoter in Houston.  As Boesch began promoting, he formed an affiliation with Southwest Sports in Dallas with Fritz Von Erich.  Also, the addition of stars like Jose Lothario, Johnny Valentine, and Wahoo McDaniel helped gates, most notably the burgeoning feud between Valentine and McDaniel.  As the decade and the chapter closes, Boesch talks about the hesitancy he first felt when Dory Funk Jr. won the NWA title from Gene Kiniski.  After Funk had his first title defense in Houston against Valentine, Boesch was won over, and put Funk second to Thesz as the best champion. In Chapter 22, Boesch takes a detour from his historical timeline, and devotes the chapter to Mexican wrestlers who made it big in the United States.  He begins by talking about Mexico City promoter Salvatore Lutteroth, and his success and control over the wrestlers.  Boesch remembers the first Mexican wrestler he saw in the States, Juan Humberto, in 1933, and recalls an attempted unionization of Mexican wrestlers to try and rest some control from Lutteroth.  Boesch chronicles how in the late forties, Mexican wrestlers began to come into the U.S., and have success.  Black Guzman was one of the first, and he was followed by such stars as Rito Romero, Cyclone Anaya, and Jose Lothario.  Boesch further describes the Mexican talent array with discourses on El Santo, and Mil Mascaras.  One of the funniest moments in the book comes as Boesch recalls an altercation between Mascaras and the Houston police over a mistaken assumption and a taxi.  Boesch ends the chapter detaling how Gory Guerrero wins the NWA light heavyweight title.  

Chapters 23-26:  The Seventies Chapter 23 begins Boesch's look back at the seventies.  He talks about the Fritz Von Erich-Johnny Valentine feud, and the beginning of the rise of the Von Erich dynasty.  Wahoo McDaniel is heavily mentioned here, as Boesch recalls the 1971 war McDaniel had with Dory Funk Jr. over the NWA title.  The two men met eight times for the title in Houston, drawing huge crowds at each match.  Boesch goes on to discuss McDaniel's feud with Boris Malenko, and how Malenko was always entertaining on the microphone.  At the end of 1970, Houston was named the City of the Seventies by the NWA, and Boesch was presented the award by at the time U.S. Representative George Bush.  Boesch also had something to give the future President......and apparently, he accepted as well.  Boesch then breaks the timeline to talk about a phone call he received from Air Force Two in September 1984 from Bush, inquiring on whether wrestling would be at the Coliseum the next day (a Tuesday).  He had to inform the president that there would not be, but if the Vice President could hold on until that Sunday, there would be.  Bush could not.  Boesch then reviews 1971-1973, and recaps his battles with Dory Funk Sr.  The chapter ends with a look at how Jack Brisco defeats Dory Funk Jr. in Houston for the NWA title.  

Chapter 24 begins with innovation, as Boesch travels to Birmingham, Alabama.  He sees potential in a two-ring battle royal, which would become a huge attraction for years in Houston, as well as the invention of the six-man two ring tag team match.  Boesch describes his attempts at interviewing Andre The Giant, a battle royal favorite.  In his recap of 1974, Boesch describes the Ivan Putski-Great Mephisto feud, the debut of the Blackjacks in Houston, and the Ken Patera-Superstar Graham angle/feud.  In his look back at 1975, Boesch recalls how he drew mediocre crowds at the AstroArena when he couldn't lease the Sam Houston Coliseum.  The chapter concludes with a 1976 look at the Sheik, his "rented" snake, and his crazy matches in Houston.  

Boesch begins his 1977 review in Chapter 25 with a look at a January match for the NWA title between champion Terry Funk and the Sheik.  Although Funk retained the belt, he would lose it three weeks later to Harley Race in Toronto.  Boesch claims that the Sheik was partially responsible.  He goes on to talk about the shenanigans of manager Gary Hart, and how Hart convinced longtime fan favorite Jose Lothario to sign with him with a promise of a world title shot.  As 1977 wore on, Dusty Rhodes came in to battle Hart, and Jimmy Snuka and Bruiser Brody would pass through to wow fans with their abilities.  On May 21, 1977, Boesch was proud to present a night of firsts, as the card he promoted would be the first card on a Sunday in the state of Texas, the first card with all three major federations represented, the first card in the new Summit arena (now called the Compaq Center), and the first card promoted in the afternoon.   

Boesch describes how AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel had to fill in for NWA champion Harley Race when Race failed to appear.  The explanation Race gives for missing the match has to be read to be believed.  Just twelve days later, Boesch wrestled his final match against Gary Hart in a unique setting....a bathtub in the ring.  Boesch chronicles 1978 with how he as a broadcaster made life miserable for Hart by helping to turn Bad Leroy Brown face against Hart, and how Houston favorite Al Madril won the NWA junior heavyweight title from Nelson Royal.  Although Madril would soon vacate the title due to a bout with hepatitis, the scenario was used to turn Gino Hernandez heel.   

Chapter 26 is also a break from Boesch's historical construct.  Boesch notes that he wrote many wrestlers and people in the industry for their memories and for information confirmation.  Leo Garibaldi was one of the first to write back at length, and Boesch allows the reader to see Garibaldi's correspondence with Boesch.    

Chapters 27-33:  The Eighties Boesch starts his look back on the eighties in Chapter 27 with a foreshadowing of the power of cable television, and a look at the state of wrestling across the country.   His relationship with Fritz Von Erich and Southwest Sports would begin to unravel, and he lost his Sunday morning timeslot on local channel 39, despite garnering good ratings.  Joe Blanchard would move into Houston to compete with Boesch, and ended up drawing less than 200 fans to the AstroArena.  In December of 1980, Boesch and Blanchard would enter into a co-promotion arrangement that would see Wahoo McDaniel return to the Houston area.   

Boesch returns to the topic of Jim Barnett as he describes how WTBS Channel 17 and Georgia Championship Wrestling were becoming national sensations in 1981.  The impending cable explosion would signal the most gigantic shift in wrestling history just three years later.  In April 1981, Boesch reflects on how he had a sold out Sam Houston Coliseum for an NWA title match between Harley Race and Tony Atlas, and Race no showed the match due to missing his plane.  Boesch decided to hold a one night tournament for his own version of the world title which was won by McDaniel.  Boesch would later reverse his decision of making his own world title, but would sever ties with the NWA for a while, strengthening his relationship with the AWA in the mean time.  Just weeks later, Boesch would regain his Sunday morning time slot on Mothers Day 1981.  

Chapter 28 sees more changes on the wrestling scene, as Boesch talks about Ric Flair's rise to the NWA title.  After what Race had done twice in Houston, Boesch was more than complimentary towards Flair.  Complimentary was not the word that Boesch used to describe Wahoo McDaniel's relationship with Tully Blanchard.  Wahoo would leave the area due to his tempestuous with Tully, causing havoc in the front office, and in the relationship between Boesch and Joe Blanchard.  Worries at work would not be the only thing that Boesch would have to face, as he also chronicles the death of his first wife Eleonore from cancer.  The toll the ordeal took led Boesch to go into a partnership with AWA main eventer and champion Nick Bockwinkel, who bought into the Houston office.  Boesch would later sell part of the Houston office to Mid-South/UWF promoter Bill Watts as well. Boesch and Blanchard parted ways, and once again Blanchard tried his luck in Houston with his May 1983 "world" title tournament at the Summit.  Once again Blanchard would fail, but Boesch somehow got the backlash from fans!!!!!  In an uplifting note to the reader, Boesch describes his decision to get married to wife Valerie in 1983, and ends the chapter with a review of the late 1983-early 1984 happenings across the country.  

Close-circuited television was the beginning subject Boesch dealt with in Chapter 29, as he noted that although done before, the best success was achieved by Jim Crockett Jr. with Starrcade 1983.  Quickly, Boesch moved to the subject of Vince McMahon Jr.'s attempt to not only go national, but to wage war with all other promotions.  Boesch made the observation that although promoters could have banded together to stop McMahon, they didn't before it was already too late, and that he was ruthless in going after talent he wanted.  The promoters thought that nobody could promote successfully with the staggering payroll that McMahon had at the time.  Boesch goes into further detail in telling the reader how McMahon went to each territory and courted their best stars, and how McMahon formed TNT on the USA network.  He correctly dissects the reason for McMahon failing when the purchase of the time slot on WTBS from Georgia Championship Wrestling didn't pay off at all.  Chapter 29 concludes with Boesch looking at WrestleMania I.    

Boesch notes in Chapter 30 that 1984 was the most successful year ever for cards at the Sam Houston Coliseum, and recapped 1984-1986 in the promotional war that engulfed wrestling.  Many of the stars featured at the Coliseum during 1984 would be picked off in the ensuing years by either McMahon or Crockett.  He describes how during 1985 and 1986, Bill Watts began to make mistakes with the business that were starting to become alarming to Boesch.  Watts was not satisfied with where he was, and made the mistake of judging ratings as an indicator of great success, especially when gates were going down.  Watts would begin to syndicate his program too aggressively, and the company would get hurt in the process.  According to Boesch, Watts also began to ignore commitments and contracts.  Boesch relays that  in March 1986, Watts had made the name switch from Mid-South Wrestling to the Universal Wrestling Federation.  Sadly, Boesch also talks about the death of Gino Hernandez, and the tragedies of Mike Von Erich in 1985 Kerry Von Erich in June 1986, and Magnum T.A. in October 1986.  

In Chapter 31, Boesch talks about the rest of 1986, as Watts had great ratings, but dwindling crowds.  He reviews the attempted and short lived symbiosis between Watts and Jim Crockett that lasted for only a few months, as Watts was increasingly looking for help in his fight to stay alive.  He then takes time to talk about the importance of a figurehead performer for each area, mentioning Rhodes and Flair, and talking about Hogan.  Boesch then turns his attention to the short lived possibility of Watts and Verne Gagne doing business together, which never was realized, and how Watts was beginning to not communicate his plans to Boesch.   

The antics of Watts would continue into Chapter 32, and into 1987.  Watts was desperately trying to find an investor to help infuse some badly needed capital in his promotion.  Others weren't doing well either, as Boesch takes a look at the falling fortune of the World Class area, and Mike Von Erich's April 1987 suicide.  Even though Christmas toy sales of WWF action figures had plummeted and promoters were beginning to once again holler the battle cry of "this is his last year" in reference of McMahon, Boesch wasn't prepared for what happened at WrestleMania 3.  Boesch recalls how he was doubting the ability of the WWF to fill the Pontiac Silverdome, until a phone call with Jim Barnett changed his mind.  Barnett told Boesch that with two weeks to go before the event, over 60,000 tickets were sold.  Boesch was astounded.  He was further astounded when in early April, Watts sold the UWF to Jim Crockett.  Watts had not told too many people, most notably Boesch about the sale.  Boesch began to make calls to Crockett and Watts, but didn't hear from them.  Having established a possible business opportunity with Barnett during his phone call with him two weeks before WrestleMania 3, Boesch recalls how he began to make preparations for a possible move.  

A week later, after meeting with Vince McMahon, and NOT hearing from either Crockett or Watts, Boesch notes that he made the deal to switch his allegiance to the WWF.  Since he could not reach Watts by phone, he sent him a mailgram informing him of the end of the business relationship.  On Aprill 11, the first edition of the WWF infused Houston Wrestling aired, and people complained.  By May 4, Watts' share of Houston was bought out despite his protests.  The May 15 card was the first WWF card at the Sam Houston Coliseum, and although different, it was a decent show.  

As the book closes in Chapter 33, Boesch dissects Crockett's mistake in buying the UWF, most notably the television network expansion, and the killing of the UWF talent.   He then goes into why the last three months of his career were frustrating, as Vince McMahon would send someone from the WWF down weekly to help produce the show with a "WWF" feel to it.  Also, in subsequent cards during the summer of 1987, Boesch recalls how he was appalled that there were seven no shows/substitutions at one card, and more at the July 1987 card.  After trying to convince Vince McMahon to buy the promotion, Boesch agreed to retire with his August 28, 1987 card at the Coliseum.  

That night was one of the biggest highlights of Boesch's career, as legends such as Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Ernie Ladd, Jose Lothario, Danny McShain, Boris Malenko, Stu Hart, Red Bastein, and others made appearances.  Mil Mascaras, Hacksaw Duggan, and Bruno Sammartino wrestled on the card, along with Hulk Hogan and former recent UWF champion One Man Gang.  According to Boesch, the card drew a complete sell out of 12,000 fans, with another 2-3,000 fans turned away due to traffic.  Boesch ends his book with the following quote:  


"I could, just as easily, say to you as I shook your hand:  Welcome to the man that wrestling built.  Wrestling has had a tremendous influence in shaping my life, and my character.  Without wrestling, I can't possibly imagine what I might have done with my life.  Now that I know what I did with it, I thank wrestling.  And I thank God."  

As an avid watcher of Houston Wrestling growing up in the eighties, I was thrilled to be able to review some of my own history through this highly readable book.  I was also intrigued by wrestling life in the forties-seventies, and the historical facts that Boesch throws in his book.  I also learned a great deal of information that I had not known before.  Although the book is decidedly pro-kayfabe for the most part, Boesch maintains his integrity throughout the journey, even when talking about "insider" subjects like his negotiations with Vince McMahon, and his lack of contact with Bill Watts.  For fans of Houston Wrestling, or just wrestling in general, this book is a worthy edition to any library.  

Order the trade paperback of  
Hey Boy! Where'd You Get Them Ears!
from Minuteman Press, Houston Texas.
Phone Numbers:  713-777-6977 or 713-541-2258.

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