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 - Greg Mosorjak

On June 26, 1971 I attended another great show in Johnstown, PA at the War Memorial Arena.  Just 5 days after my 10th Birthday, this was not a gift from my dad, as we attended every match in Johnstown we could, based on his work schedule, but was a treat in the summertime.  I recall this was the summer we delayed our family summer vacation, so I could attend the matches.  A few days later we would take off for Atlantic City and a week in the sun (long before the casinos came in).  

Most of the time there was never a mention of who was on the card.  On TV the commentator Chilly Billy Cardille, would list a few names of who would be there this time.  Unless an angle was set up from a previous show I would go in happy with whoever was there.  Sometimes the Johnstown Tribune would have a photo and a few matches listed a week or so before the show.  In this case I knew the International Tag team Champions the Mongols would be there, also George Steele, but not much else.  For a few weeks prior on TV a new wrestler named Java Ruuk, who was a wild man, destroying everyone in sight, I hoped he would be there that night.  My dad took my cousin Joey Martin and me as usual.  We had seats about midway up off the floor, our usual spot.  We went to the ring before the matches and noticed lots of graffiti written on the mat, names, the Battman symbol and things like Bruno is still the champ.  We wrote our names on the mat as well.  The first wrestler came to the ring, he was an older guy we never remembered seeing before, veteran Jack Vansky.  He signed autographs in the corner, not knowing who he was we weren’t interested.  Then walking briskly in his Arab headdress came Java Ruuk.  Ruuk was a mad man, jerking around as he walked.  The lights went down and the national anthem played.  As soon as the lights came back on Ruuk was all over the older Vansky.  He took his headdress and choked Vansky with it.  Ruuk used a foreign object to batter the old veteran.  Vansky would get a few moments of offense in but eventually succumbed to the evil Java Ruuk (who is better known to most wrestling fans as Johnny Rodz)

The second match was a two out of three tag team match.  Apparently a lot of wrestlers didn’t show up to Johnstown this night, as there would only be 3 matches.  Out first came the popular duo of Jumping Johnny DeFazio & John L Sullivan (later Johnny Valiant).  They signed autographs in the corner as usual, I already had DeFazio’s autograph but got a wrestling magazine I brought with me signed again and also got John L Sullivan’s.  Their opponents were the International Tag team Champions The Mongols, Beepo & Geeto.  The Mongols were masters at getting the crowd to hate them.  They wore sheep wool wraps to the ring and Geeto carried a metal chain he slammed on the mat and swung around.  The Mongols were too devious and powerful for DeFazio & Sullivan.  They worked over both wrestlers without much resistance.  Their illegal tactics and double-teaming really started getting the fans angry.  While battering John L Sullivan outside the ring the fans pelted the Mongols with trash, pop corn boxes, drink cups, etc.  Finally after to many illegal tactics that ref Izzie Model did not see a fan tried to help.  A cop removed him before he had a chance.  After pinning Sullivan in the first fall, they continued this onslaught.  While in the next fall they were again outside the ring stomping on Johnny DeFazio, several unruly fans went after them.  They quickly tossed DeFazio in the ring pinned him and left.  They were bombarded by cups, boxes and other items and several more fans had to be removed.  They took a brief intermission to clean up the ring and made an announcement that anyone trying to interfere with the wrestlers would be ejected and arrested.  My dad pointed out to us why we shouldn’t throw things like the others were, as much as we really wanted to.  The main event was next: the hated duo of George “The Animal “ Steele & Baron Mikel Scicluna met the popular team of Dominic DeNucci & Tony Parisi.  When I first started watching wrestling on TV, Parisi went by the name Antonio Pugleise, and was billed as Bruno Sammartino’s cousin.  This was an exciting bout I recall with lots of back and forth advantages for both teams.  George Steele had his trusty foreign object that the ref Izzie Model never seemed to see.  The Baron also used a hidden object on both Parisi & DeNucci.  The worked over Parisi most of the match and when he finally tagged in DeNucci he cleaned house.  He held Scicluna in the corner and wound his arm around many times to get velocity on his punches, the crowd counted every time.  Steele came in the ring and Parisi caught his wind as all four wrestlers brawled, they went outside the ring were the crowd began tossing more trash at the team of Scicluna and Steele.  DeNucci climbed back in the ring and the bell rang.  The ref counted out Steele & Scicluna, though I may believe that they just wanted to end it and get them out of there before they were attacked.  No one attacked them that I knew of on the way back to the ring.  I think most of the crowd was legitimately afraid of the crazy Animal George Steele.  It wasn’t the biggest card to ever come to Johnstown, but it certainly wasn’t dull.  On the way home we got another lecture from my dad why to never throw cups at the wrestlers. 


I will do an in depth look at George Steele in the Pittsburgh territory based on a recent interview I did with him.

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