ESPN Wrestling Classics
Another random recap of "Wrestling Classics", available in the wee
hours of the morning at 5am MST on ESPN Classic. This particular episode
was shown on 02-02-02 (it's worth a deuce!). So let's get up, and get our
This week features some old school NWA action from Chicago's Marigold
Arena. I haven't seen too much stuff from this era, so don't get grumpy
if I fail to do justice to certain wrestlers. I don't know much about these
and the backstory, but the nice blokes over at KayfabeMemories.com are
there to help you out. My guess on the timeframe is around 1962 or so. The
ring announcer welcomes us to tonight's festivities, then introduces the
ring attendants, referee and any other notables at ringside. The entire
fourth row is
filled with sailors on shore leave.
Match 1- Moose Cholak vs. Fred Atkins
Yup, Moose Cholak of "Weird World of Wrestling" fame.
How the heek Moose got from the locker room to the ring, while wearing that
enormous headpiece, is a feat in itself. I could understand a set of antlers,
a moose hide...but this headpiece is about the size of Abdullah the Butcher.
Just to hammer home the point that his name is "Moose", he's announced as
hailing from "Moosehead, Maine". Fred Atkins, on the other hand is announced
from Syndey, Australia. Sadly, no boomerang or ANZAC hat for Fred. Before the
lock up, Moose bellows and poses for everyone. "Mooooooo!. Think of the vocal
stylings of Iron Mike Sharpe, and you'd be in the neighborhood. Collar and
elbow tie-up, then Moose pounds on Atkins. Atkins drops down and gets a few
shots to the Moose breadbasket. Moose then signals for the greco-roman
knucklelock challenge, which lasts a bit. Atkins runs the knucklelock around,
but Moose breaks, punches, then attempts a bearhug. Both guys grapple into
the corner, then
Moose hops out and bellows to the crowd, again. After listening to Moose's
ivory tones, it's a wonder they didn't name him Bovine Cholak, or Cattle
Cholak. Atkins and Moose stalk around, and Moose misses a leg takedown.
Commercial break, and when we come back both guys are locking up, again.
Atkins is mosse-rushed into the corner, but is able to fight off Moose and
work the armlock. They brawl and lock up a few more times and Atkins hits a
headstomp. Another lock-up sequence and this time, Moose connects with his
leg takedown. Atkins smacks the Moose eyes, then bounces off the ropes. Moose
hits him with a hard shoulderblock, then lands a body press/splash to get the
3 count pin. Mooooo! Announced time was 6:34
Ringside Interiew: Crusher Lisowski
Crusher sounds like a cross between Popeye and Bad News Brown, which
immediately endears him to me. Play by play man George Bernard (SP?) asks
Crusher if, perhaps, his rulebreaking tactics have cost him a title shot at
the upcoming Comiskey park show. Crusher objects, saying that he follows the
Golden Crusher Rule: "Do it to 'dem, before 'dey do unto you". Furthermore,
Crusher doesn't need no bum for a manager. He's also after that bum, Buddy
At Comiskey, there will be nothing but a blonde head sticking out of
for the players to tee off on. Crusher then mentions that if he wasn't a
he'd be "gettin' in fights in alleys and bars with bums". For job security,
then refuses to elaborate on his conditioning program for all the bums out
Match 2- Angelo Poffo vs. Jose Betancourt
Okay, I know a little bit about these guys...this is Macho Man's dad, all
out in some spiffy Killer Bee-ish trunks. Angelo is from Downer's Grove,
Betancourt is annonced from Puerto Rico. Poffo starts off by sneaking behind
working the hammerlock. He works Jose to the mat where they twist around with
amatuer moves. Back up, Poffo kicks Jose's arm and sends him to the corner.
Poffo tries the hammerlock again, but Jose snapsmares him over. Poffo then
takes Jose to the mat to apply a headlock. Jose counters with a head
scissors, but Poffo wiggles out. Jose with a quick underhook roll-up for two.
Jose then works on Poffo's leg with a nifty hold. The announcer mentions that
Jose was the Rookie of the Year in 1960, according to "Wrestling Life". More
matwork, with both guys working on the other's stomach. Almost a 69-type
position. Seems offensive, but nothing you wouldn't see at your average high
school wrestling meet. Announcer also mentions that Poffo set a Navy record
of 6,333 sit-ups. Which is only 6,313 more than
I do each week. More armbars and punching until Poffo whips Jose to the
corner, three times. Poffo grabs Jose and hits a neckbreaker (or, for us
we'd recognize it as the "Rude Awakening") for the pin.
Ringside interview: The Sicillians
We're not told their individual names, but from what I gather, one
of them is named "Tony". (Perhaps one of them was a very young Lou Albano? - CRZ) They have a Sicilian mobster gimmick going, complete
with the suits and fedoras. They're here to take out the Fabulous Kangaroos
and take the titles back to where they belong- Sicily.
Match 3- "Seaman" Art Thomas vs. Mighty Atlas
I guess this is before Thomas got promoted to the rank of "Sailor".
Both guys are signing autographs in the ring as they are introduced.
We're told that Thomas has been tagging successfully with Big Daddy Siki.
Ummm? Atlas is mentioned as wrestling's strongest man...no doubt inspiring a
young Dino Bravo to later fame and fortune. Atlas rather ordinary, but Thomas
towers over him at 6' 4". Collar to elbow tie-up starts and Thomas hiptosses
Atlas across the ring. Another lockup, and this time Atlas bails to the apron
and argues with fans. Atlas comes back in and works the headlock. Thomas
shoves him off, but Atlas cinches the headlock, again. Atlas grabs some of
Thomas's hair for a better grip. Thomas shoves him off, this time sending
Atlas out of the ring, to the floor. Merriment resumes with a knucklelock,
which Atlas twists into an armbar.
Thomas powers out, throws Atlas to the ropes and locks in a full nelson.
Atlas is miffed at someone stealing HIS finisher, so he wiggles free and
applies the full nelson to Thomas. Atlas has the hold locked in, but Thomas's
foot pushes off the turnbuckle, allowing him to fall back and pin Atlas's
for the 3 count. Announced time was 4:48
Wrestler's Sound-off: Angelo Poffo
Semi-famous interview that was used in one of the many wrestling TV
circa 1999 or so. Bernard introduces Poffo as Bronko Lubich.
Match 4- Crusher Lisowski vs. Karl Engstram
I'm pretty sure this Crusher is NOT the one who fought Buggs Bunny, but don't
quote me on that.
Crusher works the headlock, but Engstram counters with 3 hiptosses.
Crusher works on Engstram's neck and forces him to the mat. Engstram gets two
sends Crusher to the ropes for a forearm shot and gets a two count. Mat
until Engstram kicks Crusher in da' noggin. Crusher goes back to the
Engstram to the ropes, then chokes him with the ropes. Snapmares Engstram
stomps the eyes and the tummy, then kicks him in the head-bone. More mat work
for the next few minutes.Engstram hits two shoulderblocks after sending
Crusher to the ropes. Crusher pounds away, but Engstram works him into the
corner for the football battering ram move.
Crusher tosses Engstram through the ropes to the floor. Engstram barely
avoids the countout and is welcomed back with a series of kicks from the
Crusher is then disqualified for kicking below the belt. That ref...whatta
Ringside interview: "Seaman" Art Thomas
Thomas is in a jovial mood and agrees with everything he is asked. When
wrestling a heel,
Thomas offers the following advice: "Be alert, watch ya'sef and keep ya mind
so ya don't get in a trap". Simple, but I plan on making this my motto
for the next week. Seriously. Drop by office, this week, if you doubt me
Ringside interview: Angelo Poffo
Poffo mentions that he's been chasing the World Champion, Nature Boy Buddy
all over the country. Becoming the champ is Poffo's "ulterior, superior and
kind of motive". Interviewer George Bernard suggests Poffo may want to put up
bond money to secure a title match. Now that's an angle I've haven't heard
a long time. Poffo's time is then interrupted by Karl Engstram. Engstram
is about as intimidating as Papa Smurf. He wants to know why Poffo
prefers the roughouse style of wrestling over the more scientific style.
Poffo slaps him, then walks off. Engstram finishes out the interview time
with all the intensity of Bob Ross.
Why'd you tape this??
The Crusher is now my favorite old timey rassler. I've rarely seen any
footage from this
era, and this wasn't as bad as I had thought. I'm usually prejudiced
towards ANYTHING in black and white. Even old b/w football and baseball clips
off. But this hour was fairly entertaining. I'm just bummed that the
Fabulous Kangaroos didn't make an appearance. Interesting to look back and
how much the ringwork has changed, and how much of it is still the same. They
throw in a lot of actual WRESTLING.... which I haven't seen since 1983, when
my big brother
won his ninth grade wrestling meet and, subsequently, bought me a milkshake.
(Not sure how that ties in). This show's worth catching, but not sure if
you'd want to tape it...ya bum. Feedback, corrections and suggestions are
Mail the Author
Comment about this article in Wienerville