Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
Jack Lanza Headlines in
- John Edwards
My source information for this
month’s article is mostly from old back copies of the wonderful
kayfabe newsletter/program “Wrestling” which was sold at every
Kiel/Arena card and also available through the mail via subscription.
“Wrestling” was the official voice of the St. Louis Wrestling Club
and was beautifully simple and kayfabe in nature. Unlike today’s dirt
sheets, web sites, and newsletters, that admit story lines, angles, and
who is refusing to job to who, “Wrestling” presented the matches as
official news. Upcoming lineups were announced and “quotes” from
wrestlers were inserted. Local TV results were announced, along with
ticket prices and information. “Wrestling” was essentially a program
for the upcoming card and much more. Thanks to friends of Kayfabe
Memories and fans of St. Louis old school, such as Rich Tito, I have a
number of back issues of “Wrestling” from the 70s and early 80s that
I frequently reference for these monthly articles. In addition to the
old back issue information, I use my memories of the St. Louis scene,
20+ years ago.
Black Jack Lanza Headlines in St.
Louis! – 1970 & 1971
Black Jack Lanza was a huge name
throughout the major federations in the 1970s and 1980s. He headlined
throughout the NWA, AWA, and WWWF. He had many a match in St. Louis
(accompanied by Bobby Heenan) during this time. The focus of this
months’ article is on a number of matches Lanza had during a 1970-71
run at the Kiel, Arena, and “Championship Wrestling” (the forerunner
of Wrestling At The Chase).
February 6, 1970 – Lanza
takes two out of three falls (remember those matches?) from an
up-and-coming contender named Jack Brisco. Interesting that a few years
later, Jack would be one of the best NWA Champions ever, yet in 1970 was
“doing the honors” at the Kiel. On an unrelated aside, Jack wrestled
a lot in St. Louis during the years prior to his NWA title. It seems
like Sam liked to take the potential future NWA contenders and have them
work St. Louis to see how the crowd reacted to them. He did the same
with a young Ric Flair, the Von Erichs, the Funks, and so forth.
February 20, 1970 – Two
weeks later, Lanza teamed with Bob Geigel to take on the team of Dick
the Bruiser and Ernie “The Cat” Ladd in the finale of the card. All
I can say is Wow! I would have loved to have seen this one. Interesting
on many levels – especially with the rare appearances of the “Big
Cat” and Bob Geigel, and Bruiser’s known aversion to “doing the
job”. Sorry, no result on this one.
April 2, 1971 – Lanza has a
title shot against strap holder Dory Funk, Jr. at the Arena, inside a
steel cage! (well, OK, a seven foot high chain link fence). This was
important for several reasons. One, as a rule, Sam Muchnick did not like
“gimmick matches”. Two, Lanza was well-regarded enough for a NWA
Title shot. Three, this match marked the return of Bobby Heenan to
ringside after a December 1970 “indefinite suspension” from Sam
Muchnick. Dory Funk, Jr. won the match and retained the title.
Also noteworthy on this card: The Central States Title (KC regional belt) was defended in St. Louis for the first time, as Harley Race (hailing from “Hollywood, California”) defeated Ronnie Etchison. Also on this card, Dory Funk, Sr. defeated Don Fargo in the third match.More...