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 - Greg Mosorjak

This month I am looking at the promotions that influenced these great territories with the first look at Pittsburgh.

Obviously Pittsburgh had a strong WWWF influence. They recognized Bruno Sammartino as the world champ, later they would do so for Ivan Koloff, Pedro Morales and Stan Stasiak. But with Bruno owning the promotion and being WWWF champ, there was lots of cross over.

Pittsburgh was its own promotion with its own feuds and angles and wrestlers. But Bruno's opponents would be guys he just worked while they were in the WWWF, or some times they would try out an opponent first in Pittsburgh before that wrestler would move on to the WWWF and the big money market of New York and Madison Square Garden.

Ivan Koloff was one such opponent that built his feud with Bruno in Pittsburgh first. Others such as Jos Leduc would get their push in Pittsburgh before heading to New York. George Steele was another heel that came to prominence in Pittsburgh before he ventured to the WWF and the big money. Over time Killer Kowalski, Prof. Tanaka, Cowboy Bill Watts, Smasher Sloan, Virgil the Kentucky Butcher, Stan Stasiak, Mr. Fuji, Crusher Verdu, Bulldog Brower, Baron Scicluna, King Curtis, Blackjack Mulligan and many, many others would start or end their WWWF runs with a stop in Pittsburgh.

Some Like Baron Scicluna would end up staying. But not all the influence over Pittsburgh came from the WWWF.

The majority of the TV jobbers were from Canada, working either the NWF Buffalo area or Toronto. Guys like Bull Johnson, Terry Yorkston, Al Schiller, Doc Beach, Rujack Woods, and others would come in for Pittsburgh TV and put over the Baron Scicluna's, Dom Denucci's and Johnny DeFazio's. 

After Pedro Martinez bought out Geeto Mongol and made Pittsburgh part of their territory, this increased the new blood Pittsburgh fans saw.

Wrestlers like Luis Martinez, The Fargo Brothers and Lil' Abner Osborne now made appearances.

When Bruno came back into the fold in 1973, he formed an alliance with Dick the Bruiser and his WWA (Bruno & Cowboy Bob Ellis were tag champs at this time there). Pittsburgh now got to see new wrestlers like Baron von Raschke, The Blackjacks, Bobby Heenan, Ricky Cortez and Cowboy Parker. The last year of this promotion saw it use all its ties with lots of NWF wrestlers (Eric the Red, Kurt von Hess, Gino Brito, The Love Brothers and The Kangaroo's) all invading the area along with the WWWF talent and Canadian Wrestlers like the Wolfman and the Bear Man making surprise stops.

Buffalo/Cleveland had its share of outside influence as well. Detroit was a main supplier of talent. According to TV commentator Ron Martinez, The Sheik paid his dad Pedro Martinez $1200 a week to book his talent on NWF cards in Buffalo, Cleveland, Akron and whatever spot shows they had. The Sheik had so much talent that he didn't need to let it leave the market because of a lack of work. Between the Detroit shows and working the NWF towns, Detroit wrestlers like Pampero Firpo, Bobo Brazil, Ben Justice, The Kangaroo's, and Mighty Igor were all Detroit regulars who were just as frequent in Buffalo or Cleveland. In fact the Toronto promotion also used much of the same talent as Detroit or the NWF. Through the crossover into Pittsburgh and you had 4 promotions using a lot of the same talent at one point. Pedro Martinez in hopes of cornering the market first bought out Pittsburgh to gain influence and another foot hold in the region. Then later took over the Montreal office for a brief period.

During this time in the early 1970's they put the NWF strap on Jacques Rougeau. This would see an influx of the Montreal talent like Raymond Rougeau, Jacques & Johnny Rougeau, Mad Dog Gagnon and even the return of Hans Schmidt. If you were a wrestling fan in this Great Lakes region in the early 1970's, you were lucky enough to see some of the best wrestlers of that era come in and wrestle.   More...

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