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NewsboardDate (CET)Date (ET)
Wrestling History: What happened on February 10th?
2023/02/10 6:002023/02/10 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 9th?
2023/02/09 6:002023/02/09 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 8th?
2023/02/08 6:002023/02/08 0:00
Oldschool: Oldschool Updates #15: Don't Call It Fake!
2023/02/07 7:462023/02/07 1:46
Wrestling History: What happened on February 7th?
2023/02/07 6:002023/02/07 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 6th?
2023/02/06 6:002023/02/06 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 5th?
2023/02/05 6:002023/02/05 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 4th?
2023/02/04 6:002023/02/04 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 3rd?
2023/02/03 6:002023/02/03 0:00
Wrestling History: What happened on February 2nd?
2023/02/02 6:002023/02/02 0:00
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Oldschool: Oldschool Updates #15: Don't Call It Fake!
Welcome to yet another walk down memory lane. In this double-issue we cover the past two weeks of updates and additions to the oldschool section of the database.

History Nugget
Today he is a wrestling legend. One of only a handful of household names from way back in the day. As Gorgeous George, he was a flamboyant, eccentric villain who delighted in raising the ire of the crowd before he even stepped into the ring. While some argue that his character was simply a heel-version of Lord Patrick Lansdowne Finnegan, few can deny his impact on the business. His permed hair, ritual perfume-spraying, his infuriating better-than-you attitude towards the fans, and unmatched in-ring mannerisms made the gorgeous a national phenomenon and one of the most imitated performers ever to ever step inside the squared circle.

Back in the late ‘30s he was just plain old George Wagner, a speedy technician who rarely rose to main event status. He did, however, care greatly about his craft, and the way it was perceived by the public. Kayfabe was in full swing at the time, although the public were becoming increasingly aware that not everything was on the level. After several exposés in major newspapers, fans began to question much of the spectacular action they were witnessing. Were the wrestlers really in pain? Was the winner pre-determined? Were the many reports of injuries legitimate?

Spurred on by the growing uncertainty surrounding the wrestlers’ injuries, an indignant, if not outraged, Wagner wrote a newspaper article to refute the allegations of foul play and to give the fans a piece of his mind. Below is an abridged version of the article:

George Wagner Describes Dangers of Wrestling Game
By George Wagner (Coast Middleweight Champion)
The Eugene Guard, December 11, 1938

It’s your turn now!
Boo, boo-oo-oo—o-oo!
You’ve heard them at every wrestling match – and always will hear the Wisenheimers who think they know all about wrestling. Maybe you fans can laugh these derogatory remarks, but it’s my profession, an honorable and above-board profession of which I’m proud to be associated with. When I hear these catcalls from spectators it makes my blood boil. So I take this opportunity to put some of you fellows straight.

“It’s a good show,” some spectator will say. And he will be correct in one sense of the word. It is a good show, usually the best show money can buy. But certainly not a show as one would class a rehearsed performance. A wrestler works more often than the general run of fans imagine, and we become acquainted with our rival’s styles and often can go away with punches or drop-kicks or Sonnenbergs without taking as much punishment as a newcomer. But as for rehearsing beforehand, you will recall yourself that some of the best matches you have seen have been between two mat artists who have never met.

As for acting – cries of anguish, writhing, and grimaces; surely a wrestler has a right to grunt and groan under a hammerlock or Boston crab. Now I ask you, wouldn’t a wrestler be a fool to take this punishment just for the fun and none-too lucrative living it affords? As for fake, or staged production, I can cite hundreds of examples of serious injuries sustained by members of my profession. Let me tell you of a few:

Mike Romano was wrestling Jack Donovan a short time ago. Romano was slammed to the mat several times and after the last slam he failed to get up. They carried him to the dressing room where the doctor pronounced him dead. Romano hadn’t broken the force of that last slam correctly. All over the world wrestlers are being carried to dressing rooms while outside some of the fans yell “Fake!”. At this very moment doctors may be searching for towels to cover these faces that will grunt and groan no more. Wrestlers and promoters are pretty bitter over this attitude that has been assumed by the paying patrons. They can see the correlation between the public accusations of faked matches and the scores of tragedies that yearly sweep through the ranks.

A few months ago the fans in an arena yelled “Fake!” The referee didn’t like it, but there was nothing for him to do but take up the count over the inert form of Joe Shimkus. Everything looked queer at the moment. Joe Shimkus had been wrestling with his opponent for several minutes. He had taken several hard falls in the earlier part of the match and no one had cried “fake” at the grimaces that had accompanied Joe’s jolts. The fans had paid to see action, and they had seen it. But when Joe was slammed the last time, it didn’t look right. One minute he had been on his feet and the next he was lying flat on the canvas, without being touched by his opponent. After Joe was counted out it looked as though there would be a riot. To placate the crowd the commissioners talked of holding up Joe’s share of the purse. Joe was carried into the dressing room but he didn’t open his eyes. The fans were still telling each other that the whole thing was a phoney, but poor Joe couldn’t hear them. He had taken one blow too many inside of the ring and when the papers hit the street they carried a story of Joe’s death.

Alf Johnson, brother of Gus Johnson, who is familiar to local fans, was wrestling Scotty Dawkins on a beneficial match at the Metropolitan theatre at Houston, Texas for the flood sufferers in the Mississippi area. The patrons thought they were witnessing an exhibition, but these boys were in there to win as they were both trying to get main events at the Auditorium. Scotty had a terrific toe hold on Alf, but he would not give up. Scotty applied more pressure, but still Alf had hopes of breaking the hold. He then applied a little more pressure and the result was a broken ankle for Alf. The fans booed and shouted “Fake” as Johnson crawled from the mat. This broken ankle cost him a year and three months of wrestling. Alf Johnson suffered for flood sufferers. He lost an estimated $5000 as a result of that match and in addition had to have his ankle reset three times. (Editor’s note: Johnson was out for a little less than 11 months.)

I could write for weeks and weeks and never run out of incidents which are happening every night in various cities of this and other countries. A few years ago Joe Stecher was wrestling with Jim Browning in Chicago. Stecher was trying to match tackles with Browning, but missed at a critical moment, landing on his head outside the ring. Mercifully, Stecher never knew what happened and has been a mental case ever since. […]

Some wrestling fans complain that when a wrestler is thrown to the mat, he lands mostly on his feet. They content that he is breaking the force of the blow. We wrestlers have different ideas. Of course we try to break the force of a fall or a slam. If we didn’t, we’d last about four slams and then the undertaker would have a job. It only takes a few jolts on the end of your spine to put you away for keeps. That’s what happened to Mike Romano. I have had my arms broken five different times, four broken ribs, a broken collar bone, both ankles fractured, and goodness only knows how many sprains. […]

When a person asks me what my business is I always answer very proudly “wrestling.” That’s my business and a fellow always wants to do the best he can in whatever business he happens to be engaged in. My business is wrestling and the best you can do in wrestling is to be the champion of the world – that is my goal. You cannot gain recognition as championship contender by losing matches. I would like anyone to show me a grappler who would not like to be the champion of the world.

Since I have been in Eugene I have heard of several injuries among well known grapplers. Rob Roy, whom you all know, received a broken collar bone in Portland, as a results of a match with Bulldog Jackson. Two of Rob Roy’s vertebrae were put out of place at the same time Jackson drove him to the mat with his famous hammerlock.

I witnessed a match in Salem last summer between Gordon Schafer and Al Szasz. When Al clamped on his Hungarian leg clutch he tore all the ligaments in Schafer’s knee and the boy hasn’t wrestled since. Think of the time and money he has lost. Hobo Chambers, who showed here a few years ago, developed an infection from a mat burn. He was in a Sacramento hospital for weeks hovering between life and death. The doctors told him he would die if they didn’t remove one of his legs, but he would not consent to the operation. Through his fighting courage he finally pulled through, but he has been a cripple ever since.

Clayton Fischer, who also wrestled here, was thrown from a ring in California and received a broken back. He now walks with the aid of two canes – a cripple for life. Ernie Piluso, a very popular boy here, received a kidney injury and was laid up for six months recently. Mickey McGuire got his two front teeth knocked out a couple of years ago by one of Bulldog Jackson’s right hooks. Now I leave it up to you Mr. Wrestling Fan, does it look to you like these boys are just playing with each other and faking their matches?

New and updated shows
Owensboro, Kentucky – 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974
This started as a Monday night stop on the Gulas-Welch loop and was a clear C-show behind the Memphis and Birmingham events that took place on the same night. In later years it became a stop on Phil Golden's outlaw loop. Which leads to...

Newly added promotion: Madisonville 1973 and 1974, Sikeston 1973, Paducah 1973 and 1974
Phil Golden's All-Star Wrestling now had its own section. This outlaw group was based in Paducah, Kentucky and ran opposition to Gulas-Welch in Western Kentucky and some other towns just over the state borders in Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee. Many of the names might be unfamiliar outside of their local area, but this territory saw the debut of Randy Savage as the masked Graduate, later unmasked as Jim Pride and an early alias of Randy Savage. His brother, Leaping Lanny, and father, Angelo Poffo, also wrestled here. Another famous name to debut for Golden was Pez Whatley, and the "biggest" future national star to appear for this outlaw was the future Uncle Elmer, Stan "Giant" Frazier.
Other notable stars: Mack York, Buddy Hack, Paul Christy, Dale Mann, and Don Bass

Many more years for Paducah, Kentucky – 1975, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984
Some years after the closure of Golden’s ASW, the Poffos annexed Paducah for their ICW circuit. While the family was kept strong in the area, other performers were allowed to shine as well.
Notable stars: George Weingeroff, Bob Orton Jr., Rip Rogers, Ronnie Garvin, and Crusher Broomfield who would later gain fame as One Man Gang and Akeem.

Post-war Great Britain - Belle Vue, Manchester 1948, 1953, and 1954, Liverpool 1959, Fleetwood 1946, 1947, and 1949
It feels somewhat wrong to bundle these results from Great Britain, as there were certainly major differences in promotional practices between the various venues above. That said, many of the major British stars of the era appears across the promotions, and would remain on top for decades.
Notable stars: George Gordienko, Geoff Portz, Bert Assirati, Jack Pye, and Alf Robinson

1950s Spain results - Barcelona 1951, 1952, and 1958 and Madrid 1957
Some 100 shows from the Iberian Peninsula during the 1950s.
Notable stars: Felix Lamban, Rafvela, Adolf Kaiser, José Tarrès, and Victorio Ochoa

1939 Survey – Yazoo City, Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, St. Joseph, and Caruthersville
The deep dive into 1939 continues with events from the mid-American states of Kansas and Missouri, as well as lonely Mississippi locale. Though there were technically several different circuits in the region, almost all of the heavyweight stars were handled through the St. Louis offices of Tom Packs.
Notable stars: Count Von Bromberg, Orville Brown, Steve Brody, Hans Schnabel, and Lou Thesz

Roanoke, Virginia – 1938
A regular Tuesday stop in Jim Crockett’s wide-spanning territory, Roanoke featured some of the biggest – and heaviest – stars in the area. Though it wasn’t considered one of the top cities on the circuit, major stars like Jim Londos and Dick Shikat nevertheless made occasional appearances in front of about 2,000 avid fans.
Notable stars: Jim Henry, Father Lumpkin, Jim Clinstock, Eli Fischer, and Roland Kirchmeyer

Shawnee, Oklahoma – 1934
Shawnee was a weekly stop during the second half of 1934 for Sam Avey’s stable of wrestlers.
Notable stars: Ken Hollis, Paul Orth, Speedy LaRance, George Sauer, and Toots Estes

Birmingham, Alabama – 1917
Another update from the world’s premiere wrestling researcher, Don Luce. Though the amount of cards might be relatively low, Birmingham was a major pro mat city during the Great War.
Notable stars: Charles Cutler, John Freberg, Wladek Zbyszko, and Ed Lewis

Profile updates
These profiles were significantly improved: Ernie Webb, George Cazana, AJ Cazana, and Walt Hafer
Several new aliases were added in the past 14 days: the original Ivan Michailoff, the late, great Lanny Poffo, and Cliff McManus

Archie Gouldie – better known as the Mongolian Stomper – now has more than 3,000 matches in the database while Uncle Elmer and Jack Carter both passed the 1,000 match mark.
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