Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Greg Mosorjak
Lots of top stars began their
careers in the Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Buffalo territories.
Some started off as rookies and others while already stars in
Canada moved here to gain national prominence in the United States.
Others moved here to try new gimmicks to raise them above the
preliminary status that they experienced in other promotions.
For whatever the reason, this was a hotbed of young talent getting
a push to stardom.
Jos LeDuc had already established
himself in Montreal and parts of Canada as a rising young star with a
great future. Jos came to
Pittsburgh prior to his debut in the WWWF rings in New York and Boston and
Philadelphia, to prepare for that territory.
Here Jos Leduc took off as the Canadian Lumberjack strongman.
They had him do feats of strength on TV including a large team of
men in a tug of war. He had
great battles with Bruno Sammartino, The Battman, and Johnny DeFazio. His famous TV match against Victor Rivera helped push an
already known Victor Rivera to a higher level as well.
Rivera bloodied LeDuc in a wild TV match that is often regarded as
one of the most memorable TV matches ever on Studio Wrestling.
LeDuc would go on to main event in just about every territory in
the US, with his greatest fame coming in Memphis.
Future AWA World Champ and local
Pittsburgher Larry Whisler got his start here and became Larry Zbyszko,
and would eventually feud with his mentor Bruno Sammartino and call
himself the "Living Legend".
Zbyszko was a great example of homegrown talent that Bruno had an
eye for and helped build into one of the better-known superstars of the
1980's. Larry would leave
Pittsburgh and become a star in the WWWF, Georgia and the AWA.
He would also have a successful run in the
Crockett promotion and WCW.
Another young Pittsburgher who
sought out Bruno was Johnny Valiant.
Johnny would break in as John L. Sullivan and did ok as a baby
prelim wrestler. Bruno sent
him off to other areas and he returned a few years later as a heel John L
Sullivan and then quickly took on the Johnny Valiant persona and rocketed
to stardom. Along with Jimmy
Valiant- The Valiant Brothers became one of the most dominant tag teams in
the 1970's. Johnny would go
on in the 1980's as a successful manager in the WWF and AWA.
Bill Eadie was another Pittsburgh
guy who began wrestling in the Pittsburgh area. Bill met Geeto Mongol in the early 1970's at State College,
PA in the dressing room of a show and was convinced to became a wrestler.
After some training by Geeto, Eadie began wrestling preliminary
matches in Pittsburgh as the Paramedic.
He would travel around to Detroit as well before Geeto convinced
him to shave his head grow a big moustache and become Bolo Mongol.
The Mongols would join the new IWA and later move to the Mid
Atlantic area. After Geeto left, Eadie donned a mask and became The Masked
Superstar, one of the greatest masked wrestlers in the history of the
sport. He would in the 1980's
change his gimmick again, this time become AX as part
of the WWF tag team Demolition. One
of the nicest guys in the business, Bill still wrestles on the independent
George "The Animal"
Steele didn't start out in Pittsburgh, but after moving his weekend and
summer matches to the Pittsburgh area, George Steele went from a mid
carder to a main eventer. His
crazy antics (much toned down from his 1980's persona on WWF TV) made him
a hated villain and a sure challenger for Bruno Sammartino.
Bruno and Steele main event in the territory for many years and has
to be consider the Pittsburgh areas top feud.
George might have started in Detroit but he rose to fame in
Orwell Paris was a TV jobber who would come down from Canada and put over Bruno Sammartino, Battman and others on Pittsburgh's studio Wrestling. Changing his name to Red McNulty, he returned to Canada and honed his craft, later changing his name to Ivan Koloff and returned to Pittsburgh as a main event superstar and eventually the man who ended Bruno's title reign.More...