Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
Flashback - Kiel Auditorium May 24, 1971
- John Edwards
This month’s article takes us back to May 1971 and
another Friday night card at the “air conditioned” Kiel Auditorium,
14th and Market Streets (OK actually on Market, between 14th
and 15th), St. Louis, Missouri. Unlike last month’s entry,
I was not personally at this one, as I was six years old. I do, however,
remember this time frame and the names involved from Sunday mornings on
“Wrestling at the Chase”. I feel that this time period marks (no pun
intended) Sam Muchick’s peak period as a promoter and the strength of
the NWA as a World Title and as an organization. There are a number of
interesting quirks about this card, that I will explain as we go
on....now, off to the matches! Match information courtesy of ChiTown
Rich (thanks Rich!) – sorry, no notes on who beat who or how.
Curtain Raiser Australian Tag Team Action pits Ronnie
Etchison and Steve Bolus vs. Don Fargo and Angelo Poffo (two out of
three falls, 30 minute time limit). This match featured a long time
St. Louis and Kansas City favorite (Etchison) vs. the father of Leapin’
Lanny and the “Macho Man” Randy Savage and a Tennessee favorite.
This speaks to the mobility in the territorial days – Kansas City,
Kentucky, and Tennessee were all a relatively short drive to St. Louis.
This was a two out of three falls affair, giving the stragglers
time to get in their seats. I miss tag ropes!
2. “Rip” Tyler vs. Greg Valentine (one fall, 20
minute time limit). Another
interesting matchup. Greg was, at this time, being billed as the
“younger brother” of Johnny Valentine (see the main event). Hard to
believe Greg is still occasionally working indies today. He must have
either started very young in the business or has preserved himself very
well! As a precursor to this match, on a previous card (April 16th)
Greg and Johnny Valentine were the sole survivors of a 10-man (!)
Wrestle Royal, each splitting the $5,000 purse and going home with
$2,500. In the spirit of family, they split the purse rather than
wrestle each other.
Attraction: Terry Funk vs. Baron Von Heisinger (one fall, 20 minute time
limit). Ample mention was made in the May 8, 1971 edition of
“Wrestling” – the official St. Louis program – of how Terry was
biding his time while his older brother, Dory Jr., was the NWA Champion.
The program included a picture of a VERY young Terry Funk, complete with
cowboy hat, smiling away. At this time, I assume he was working as a
face in St. Louis. Quite a difference from seeing him in ECW with Joey
Styles screaming about the “57 year old hardcore legend”. Von
Heisinger was mentioned as an “ambitious 270-pounder who would wink at
the rulebook to get a win”.
4. “Big Bill” Miller and Hans Schmidt vs. “Sweet Daddy” Siki and Jack Brisco (two out of three falls, 30 minute time limit) Sounds like a great match for the upper midcard. By this time, Big Bill was a well-established veteran and one of my first St. Louis favorites. He did not go by the “Doctor” moniker that he used in other areas. (ala Von Raschke not being a “Baron” in St. Louis) Jack Brisco was again being exposed to the tough and knowledgeable St. Louis audience as he continued on his path to the NWA title. Sam Muchnick took a similar path a decade later with the Von Erichs – building them on the midcard and in tag matches before booking them for NWA and Missouri title shots.More...