Profiles‎ > ‎

Northeast

The Northeastern United States is one of the most densely populated regions in the country it includes New England and the upper Mid-Atlantic. Major cities include: New York City and Buffalo in New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Boston in Massachusetts, Hartford in Connecticut, Providence in Rhode Island, Atlantic City in New Jersey. New England states Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont do not offer large cities and people often include Washington D.C., Maryland (which contains Baltimore) and Delaware as part of the Northeast. For our purposes, Ohio, which contains Columbus and Cleveland, will also be included under the umbrella of the “Northeastern United States.”

The story of professional wrestling in the Northeast logically starts in New York City, New York. After Chicago, this was the second city where the sport caught on in a big way. Jack Curley took the city to great hieghts in the 1920s. In nearby Boston, Massachusetts, Paul Bowser set up his own successful operation and eventually established the American Wrestling Association. In the 1930s, these men aligned along with Ray Fabiani and Toots Mondt, who ran Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., Tom Packs, Rudy Dusek and Ed White to form the "Trust." These men were enemies as frequently as they were allies, but this left some notable men out of the fold. One was Al Haft, who ran Columbus, Ohio and the other was Jack Pfefer, who is one of the most creative, yet unpopular promoters in pro-wrestling's history. The "Trust" system fell, but in the 1940s, the National Wrestling Association developed and power shifted to the Midwest. The "Steel Triangle" of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York and Cleveland, Ohio grew was key area into the 1960s often working with promoters further east and promoters further west. After Curley died, New York City and other key cities were unified by Capitol Sports under Mondt, Jess McMahon and later Vincent J. McMahon, which metamorphisized into the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Boston was taken over by Tony Santos and Jack Pfefer under the name Big Time Wrestling. The "Steel Triangle," was now struggling and Pedro Martinez unified it under the National Wrestling Federation banner. By the mid-70s, McMahon's WWWF was expanding out and taking over most of the Northeast. Martinez's attempt to go national, the International Wrestling Association, failed partially due to McMahon. 

Vincent K. McMahon did successfully make national expansion work as he steamrolled across the United States with his World Wrestling Federation and "Rock-N-Wrestling Connection" as their central idea. After this national expansion, smaller regional companies became cropping up in the region, such as the Savoldi's International Championship Wrestling group out of Boston. In the 1990s, the WWF's "New Generation" was struggling to transition. An innovative group out of Philadelphia, ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) used sex and violence to produce an edgy product that influenced the the WWF's "Attitude" campaign that took them to their greatest hieghts. They peaked and during their descent, they became World Wrestling Entertainment, the unrivaled top professional wrestling promotion in the world. In this new role, the WWE has begun to lend some of the spotlight to the past in the form of their Hall of Fame.



New York City has long been the largest city in the United States has understandably been home to some of the most major pro-wrestling promotions. The 1910s, Jack Curley established the city, after years of promoting in Chicago with World Champion Frank Gotch as his main attraction. He rolled into the Big Apple and introduced the world to his own stars Joe Stecher and Wladek Zbyszko, who battled Ed "Strangler" Lewis and Earl Caddock (who had the most powerful managers of the day). Curley brought wrestling, a countryside attraction, to the big city. The scene was booming, but egos and greed began to work their way into the equation. Curley amazingly kept things in check until an old nemesis moved to town. Tex Rickard, the man who had forced Curley out of boxing, moved into the New York wrestling scene and signed away his champions. Curley forced Rickard out, but still did not have his champions and Rickard used his political sway to keep Curley out of Madison Square Garden for the rest of his days.
The “Gold Dust Trio” of Lewis, manager Billy Sandow and Joseph “Toots” Mondt was formed and they developed a new style with fantastic finishes and battles between different ethnic stars. They toured successfully and Lewis was the biggest star of the day, but Curley rebuilt New York. Mondt would leave the “Gold Dust Trio” and went to work with Curley alongside up-and-coming promoters Jack Pfefer and Rudy Miller. Boston promoter Paul Bowser was working his way into the New York market, so Curley's group began running Boston. They had a strong base with "Strangler" Lewis and Dick Shikat as their steak and Jim Londos as their sizzle. New York City was flourishing and they looked like they would sack Boston, until a dispute between Londos and Mondt led to Londos being run off and “Strangler” Lewis being the only one with the star power to replace him. While popular and well-renowned, Lewis was past-his-prime and did not have the appeal of Londos. Londos returned to New York City backed by a group of promoters. A new battle over New York City was quickly resolved when a trust was formed and the “Big Six” were established in 1933. This group would dominate, bar a few squabbles, until the National Wrestling Alliance was formed in the late 1940s.
These squabbles began as Curley’s health began declining. Amongst Londos’s backers were Jack Pfefer (who had left Curley’s camp) and Charlie and Willie Johnson and the three of them were kept out of the “Big Six” trust. Pfefer, embittered by this exclusion, exposed the business. The damage of Mondt (who left for Los Angeles) and Pfefer (who left to promote in other places) had been done though and New York City was really struggling in 1934. Double-crosses led to Boston’s Paul Bowser leaving the “Big Six” and Pfefer coming back into the New York office before Curley’s death. Pro-wrestling in New York City needed a few years before it would recover from the activities of the 1930s.
After Curley's death, Toots Mondt became the real power broker. He formed alliances with Ray Fabiani (Philadelphia promoter), Jack Pfefer, the Johnson brothers (connected men in NYC), Rudy Dusek (Southern promoter), Jess McMahon (who promoted in New York City for Tex Rickard) and found a wrestler-turned-millionaire to back him. Mondt worked his way back into New York City's hallowed Madison Square Garden in 1948 and soon after had a new box office star in Antonio Rocca. Around this time, Vincent J. McMahon, Jess McMahon's son, was coming into the fold through Fabiani. McMahon learned how to promote from time with Fred Kohler in Chicago and through his alliance with Mondt. In 1953, McMahon and Mondt created “Capitol Wrestling” as an NWA affiliate in the region and New York City would from then on forward be McMahon's city.

Earl Caddock
Jim Browning
Ed "Stangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
Danno O'Mahoney
John Pesek
Dick Shikat
Joe Stecher
Ray Steele
Sandor Szabo
Stanislaus Zbyszko
Wladek Zbyszko



Boston has long been a major pro-wrestling city. New York City promoter Jack Curley had promoted Ed “Strangler” Lewis and Wladek Zbyszko in 1917 in front of a record-setting audience. While Curley was focused on keeping his home city and his promotion, he gained a new opponent in the Northeast. Paul Bowser was a former middleweight champion and had taken to promoting in Ohio, after a scandal ruined his business there, he moved to Boston. Within a year, the local promoter had gone belly up and Bowser would gain control of the city for the next four decades with his "American Wrestling Association" (not to be confused with Verne Gagne's company). In the 1920s, the pro-wrestling scene was split, Jack Curley ran things, New York City was his home, but “Strangler” Lewis was the biggest star and on the outside. Throughout the decade, Curley and Bowser played a tug of war over control of the pro-wrestling business. Bowser created new stars such as Stanley Stasiak, Gus Sonnenburg, Joseph Malcewicz, Ed Don George, but it was a deal with the Lewis and his manager Billy Sandow is what really made them. This new found power was organized into a new sanctioning body, “American Wrestling Association” (largely a response to the “National Wrestling Association” of Tom Packs, Ray Fabiani, among others).

Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Joseph Malcewicz
Nat Pendleton
John Pesek
Gus Sonnenberg
Stanley Stasiak
Joe Stecher
Stanislaus Zbyszko



Columbus in central Ohio was a key industrial city that was ripe for professional wrestling in the early twentieth century. Albert Haft Jr. had been a middleweight wrestler in 1910s and took to promoting and had big ambitions. In the 1920s, Haft was bringing the best heavyweights in the sport to Columbus. Perhaps more significant in the long run was Haft's policy of heavily pushing light heavyweights, as a former lighter weight wrestler himself. Many of these men like Jack Reynolds, Hugh Nichols, Joe Turner and most importantly, Paul Bowser became key promoters throughout the United States. When the Trust was weakened these men took over professional wrestling in their respective markets and many aligned with the National Wrestling Alliance when it formed. During this time however, pro-wrestling was controlled by the Jack Curley led "Big Six" Trust and Haft continually tried to break into New York City (the goldmine for pro-wrestling promoters) and was always kept out by Jack Curley. He and Paul Bowser, who was now the Boston promoter, tried to force their way in at one point, but lacked the star power. They also had an interest in Chicago, but that never took either. When Curley’s top star, Jim Londos, left him in 1932, Haft was among those who backed Londos in an attempted takeover of the New York City scene. Curley cleverly made a deal with key promoters to undermine this new group that planned to use the “Greek Adonis” as a bludgeoning tool. Haft was one of those left out of the Trust that Curley formed to restore order. Haft continued as the politics in New York City did significant damage to the city. While this was going on, outside territories were growing and forming their own groups. It became fashionable to establish a governing body and a regional “World” champion and the “Midwest Wrestling Association” was Haft’s contribution.
Al Haft was the main man in Ohio and became a key figure in the shift that pro-wrestling witnessed in the 1940s that would shape the “Golden Age of Pro-Wrestling” with the growth of television. As the East Coast promoters aged, Haft became a real power broker and was a key member in the “National Wrestling Alliance,” which would put him on the inside after years of being on the outside. The power of pro-wrestling shifted from the East Coast to the Midwest and by the 1950s, Haft had one of the premier promotions in the nation. Around this time, Jack Pfefer moved into Toledo, Ohio to cash in on this hot market. While men like Charley Marotta, Cliff Maupin and Larry Atkins had coexisted with Haft, Pfefer was not that type. The two men had a colorful past as enemies and allies during the wrestling wars. However, Pfefer’s long-standing relationship with Buddy Rogers, propensity for novelty acts (women, “midgets” and tag team main events) as well as his connections around the pro-wrestling world made his Toledo promotion an instant threat to Haft. Not long after, Rogers had a falling out with Pfefer and jumped to Haft’s group, forcing Pfefer to move on as he frequently did. Haft continued into the 1960s and made his exit as Ohio’s economic hard times began.

Orville Brown
Jim Browning
Charlie Cutler
Rudy Dusek
Don Eagle
Gorgeous George
Eddie Gossett (Eddie Graham)
Soldier Frank Leavitt (Man Mountain Dean)
Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
Everett Marshall
John Pesek
Joe Stecher
Ray Steele
Ray Stevens
Stanislaus Zbyszko
Wladek Zbyszko



Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania has long been one of the major cities on the East Coast. However, it took an unlikely promoter to turn the city into a wrestling city. Aurelio Fabiani, an immigrant from Naples, grew up as an accomplished violinist and eventually became involved in management in musical productions. He happened to meet Jim Londos, who was a major pro-wrestling star at the time, and was convinced to pursue wrestling promotion. Ray Fabiani used his connections and creativity to turn Philadelphia into a successful city. While Fabiani was not the powerhouse of the day, he was aligned with pro-wrestling greatest magnate, Jack Curley and was the connection that brought Toots Mondt into the fold. Fabiani and Mondt expanded from Philadelphia to Baltimore, Hartford and Washington DC. Fabiani, Curley and Mondt battled Boston’s Paul Bowser by getting Bowser’s champion suspended in Pennsylvania and gaining a license to promote the Boston Garden. They might have ruined Bowser, but Jim Londos surprisingly left the fold. Fabiani, who owed much of his success to Londos and recognized his meal ticket, became a backer for him along with Tom Packs (promoter), Jack Pfefer (underling of Curley's), Ed White (Londos's manager) and the Johnson brothers (bigwigs in NYC). Fabiani and Packs established a significant governing body, the National Wrestling Association, which supported Jim Londos. Eventually a treaty was signed between all three sides (spare Pfefer and the Johnsons) and the “Trust” that controlled pro-wrestling for a while was formed. After the “Big Six” fell apart, Fabiani re-aligned himself with Pfefer and began running New York City, which Fabiani had always been shut out of because it was considered Curley’s city. When Curley died, Fabiani and Mondt made took aggressive actions to acquire New York City and specifically Madison Square Garden. They succeeded and Fabiani and Mondt continued to exchange talent and strengthen their respective cities and Fabiani even promoted in Los Angeles for a time. However, Fabiani increasingly focused on promoting operas, musicals and various sporting events. Eventually, Vincent J. McMahon, who Fabiani supported when McMahon was on the rise, would claim the city as part of his WWWF territory in the early 1970s.




Washington D.C. like most cities in the region was controlled at one time by members of the "Big Six," specifically Toots Mondt and Ray Fabiani. Mondt had recently left the famous "Gold Dust Trio" that had dominated pro-wrestling around the United States. Fabiani was a successful Philadelphia promoter and together, they began expanding Fabiani's region. Washington D.C. was one of their focal points. Joe Turner, a former middlewight wrestler, came in and ran the city under the "Trust." Turner was very successful in his market and even ran the local baseball stadium on a weekly basis over the summer, which is an amazing feat. In the 1940s and 1950s, Turner and his successor Gabe Menendez ran the city. Vincent J. McMahon spent time working for both men and soon took over promoting Turner's Arena (named for Joe Turner) before joining up with Mondt and forming “Capitol Wrestling” in 1953.

Berto Assirati
Paul Boesch
Dusek Riot Squad
French Angel
Michele Leone
Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
Earl McCready
Danno O'Mahoney
Dick Shikat
Gus Sonnenberg
Sandor Szabo
Buddy Rogers
Rube Wright
Wladek Zbyszko



American Wrestling Association (193?-195?)
The 1920s had been a tumultuous decade in professional wrestling and promoters were scrambling to secure established stars, produce new ones and expand their territory. The main points of interest were Jack Curley’s New York City, Paul Bowser’s Boston and the united Midwest promoters. Curley was the premier promoter, so he was fighting a two-front war. Then he lost his biggest star, Jim Londos, who aligned with the Midwestern promoters and they planned to storm the city. Bowser had been working to undermine Curley’s promotion as Curley was trying to do to him. This new threat from the west could do them both in, so they formed a “Trust” along with four other promoters. Bowser brokered great power as he was producing great stars and was cleverly manipulating them and his power base. In the early 1930s, Bowser formed the “American Wrestling Association,” a governing body that would dominate his corner of the Northeast for several decades. “Papa Paul” expanded into Upstate New York with Jack Herman and later Ed Don George running operations there until 1956.
Curley’s death, World War II and the passage of time created a less volatile atmosphere in the 1940s. A new generation of promoters and a variety of members from the old guard organized to create the “National Wrestling Alliance” and Bowser was amongst them. He had a unique friendship with the NWA over the years and even saw a growth in popularity in the 1950s with the advent of television. The purpose of the AWA as a legitimizing organization had passed with this new medium’s rise to prominence. Bowser was in his seventies and his partner, Eddie Quinn, was increasing his power and after a dispute of Quinn’s, they severed ties with the NWA in 1958. When Bowser died in 1961, Quinn and former Hollywood promoter Johnny Doyle inherited Boston, but quickly lost it. Within a few years, Midwestern star Verne Gagne used the name “American Wrestling Association” to start a promotion that became one of the premier organizations in the world.

Jim Browning
Edouard Carpentier
Steve "Crusher" Casey
Henri DeGlane
"Chief" Don Eagle
Verne Gagne
Ed Don George
Gorgeous George
Lee Henning
Don Leo Jonathan
Killer Kowalski
Ed "Strangler" Lewis
Jim Londos
"Wild" Bill Longson
Bronko Nagurski
Pat O'Connor
Danno O'Mahoney
Earl McCready
Yvon Robert
Buddy Rogers
Frank Sexton
Ray Steele
Sandor Szabo
Lou Thesz
"The French Angel" Maurice Tillet
Enrique Torres
"Whipper" Billy Watson
Bearcat Wright




Capitol Wrestling (1953-1963)
Toots Mondt and Vincent J. McMahon established the first NWA affiliate in New York City in 1953 when Capitol Wrestling was formed. Their promotion also included the Washington D.C. and Baltimore markets, which remained their three main cities for the next two decades. In 1956, McMahon secured a deal for a weekly television show that he steered. Mondt, who was leary of the new approach, managed the talent. Together, they developed early TV stars, including their golden boy, NWA World Champion Buddy Rogers. Mondt managed Rogers and he was a star of their region and they began to direct his attention more toward Capitol Wrestling than the other NWA affiliates. A falling out between the two entities led to a parting of ways and the formation of the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

Brute Bernard 
Bobo Brazil 
Ed Carpentier 
Don Curtis 

"Cowboy" Bob Ellis 
Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello and Roy Heffernan) 
Graham Brothers (Dr. Jerry & Eddie) 
Killer Kowalski 
Mark Lewin 
Skull Murphy 

Miguel Perez (Sr.) 
Antonino "Argentina" Rocca 
"Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers 
Bruno Sammartino 
Johnny Valentine 

CLICK HERE for a full Capitol Wrestling alumni list



Cleveland in Northeast Ohio was a key city in the industrialized Great Lakes Region in the twentieth century. While Columbus and Toledo were more significant pro-wrestling cities for decades, Cleveland had a solid tradition. Charley Marotta was a well-connected promoter, who brought in all the big names from the East Coast during the 1920s. However, he was not central to the wrestling wars like Al Haft and Jack Pfefer were. Haft’s Columbus promotion was a powerhouse and key player when the NWA formed in late 1940s. In the 1960s, Cleveland came to forefront. While not an innovative promotion, Cleveland had an amazing array of stars come through and spend time there in the first part of the decade. In the second half, it was Pedro Martinez that took Cleveland and made it someplace special.
Martinez had tried to buy into New York City several times and even punched out Toots Mondt once over the incidents. He had been promoting out of Rochester, New York for years and successfully expanded into Buffalo, New York and Cleveland, Ohio and was the NWA affiliate in that region. As times grew tough for the region, times grew tough for Martinez and he pulled out of the NWA, claiming their percentage of his gates was too much. One of his key stars, Johnny Powers, was buying into the office as Martinez was getting older. They became partners and formed the NWF in 1970 and Powers controlled Cleveland, where they ran their biggest shows. Despite the company's expansion, the "Rust Belt" region of the United States was really hurting in the early 1970s. After a few business problems, the company closed in 1974. Powers continued to run in Cleveland under the NWF banner until he became involved with the national IWA promotion. Eddie Farhat (The Shiek) had been dealing with NWF and took over some of their towns in the late 1970s after they closed. After his NWA affiliate closed, the NWA’s Atlanta office moved in for a time. Eventually, the cities of Ohio were gobbled up by the national expansion of the WWF.

Dick Afflis (Dick the Bruiser)
Buddy Austin
Professor Mitsu Arakawa
Johnny Barend
Dick Beyer
Bobo Brazil
Gino Brito
Bulldog Brower
Haystacks Calhoun
Edouard Carpentier
Moose Cholak
Dick the Bruiser
Dory Dixon
Don Eagle
The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan)
Gorgeous George
Dr. Jerry Graham
Gypsy Joe
Hard Boiled Haggerty
Swede Hanson
Lee Henning
Dick Hutton
Sandor Kovacs
Sato Keomuka (Kinji Shibuya)
Killer Kowalski
Karl Krauser (Karl Gotch)
Blackjack Lanza
Reggie Lisowski (The Crusher)
Billy "Red" Lyons
Bill Miller
Gorilla Monsoon
Pedro Morales
Pat O'Connor
Johnny Powers
Antonio Pugliese (Tony Parisi)
Dewey Robertson
Antonino Rocca
Buddy Rogers
Bruno Sammartino
Hans Schmidt
Frank Sexton
The Sheik
Ray Shire (Ray Stevens)
Wilbur Snyder
The Stomper
Lou Thesz
"Sailor" Art Thomas
John Tolos
Fritz Von Erich
Waldo Von Erich
Bearcat Wright



Buffalo in Upstate New York had been part of Paul Bowser’s AWA promotion for decades under Jack Herman and Ed Don George. The AWA joined the NWA when they rose and promoted the Upstate New York region and into Ohio. In 1956, George sold the city to Rochester promoter Pedro Martinez and ran a brief promotion in Cuba. The following year, Buffalo's economic decline began. Regardless, Martinez made the city a key component in his area and stayed an NWA affiliate. In the late 1960s, the "Rust Belt" was struggling as domestic industry was drying up and people were leaving for the suburbs. Martinez met these shifts by pulling out of the NWA (which demanded percentage of gates when champions appeared), expanding his territory and focusing elsewhere. In 1968, Bobby Bruns tried his hand in the area and used his connections to spark interest briefly. By 1972, Martinez had formed the National Wrestling Federation and was back in town and remained the force there until they closed.

Dick "The Bruiser" Afflis
Shohei Baba
Johnny Barend
Dick Beyer
Bobo Brazil
Gino Brito
Dick “Bulldog” Brower
Edouard Carpentier
Moose Cholak
Bull Curry
"Chief" Don Eagle
"Cowboy" Bob Ellis
Fabulous Kangaroos
Verne Gagne
Ron Garvin
Terry Garvin
Gorgeous George
Karl Gotch
Ray Gunkel
Gypsy Joe
Hard Boiled Haggerty
Larry Hamilton
Lee Henning
Dick Hutton
Don Leo Jonathan
Duke Keomuka
Gene Kiniski
Sandor Kovacs
Killer Kowalski
Ernie Ladd
Mark Lewin
Luther Lindsey
Reggie Lisowski (The Crusher)
"Wild" Bill Longson
Billy "Red" Lyons
Prince Maivia
Danny McShain
Mighty Ursus (Jesse Ortega)
"Big" Bill Miller
Pat O’Connor
Johnny Powers
"Argentina" Antonino Rocca
Buddy Rogers
Johnny Rougeau
Bruno Sammartino
Hans Schmidt
Frank Sexton
The Sheik
Ray Shire (Ray Stevens)
Sweet Daddy Siki
Wilbur Snyder
Lou Thesz
Sailor Art Thomas
John Tolos
Tarzan Tyler
Nikoli Volkoff
Fritz Von Erich
Waldo Von Sieber (Waldo Von Erich)
"Whipper" Billy Watson
Johnny Walker (Mr. Wrestling II)



Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania was established by Elwood Rigby in the 1930s, but was made by Toots Mondt in the 1950s. He secured a television show and a market with Ace Freeman and Rudy Miller as his go-to-guys. After he and McMahon started the WWWF in New York, he sold Pittsburgh to the WWWF's top star and Pittsburgh native, Bruno Sammartino in 1966. Sammartino and Miller ran Pittsburgh as well as West Virginia and the so-called Italian Connection developed with the top stars being Italian wrestlers who cycled in and out of the spots under Bruno. The formula remained in place after Sammartino sold the town to Geeto Mongol in 1970. Pittsburgh, the "Steel City," began to decline in the early 1970s and it became a tougher town to focus on. In 1973, Pedro Martinez, who promoted the NWF in Buffalo and Cleveland bought the city. He changed the formula, but he could never make Pittsburgh work for him. Bruno took it over again for a time and worked with Indianapolis promoter Dick the Bruiser. Eventually, the Pittsburgh office expanded when Martinez closed his NWF company. However, the town was eventually lost to the WWWF when its TV came in and they took over Pittsburgh in 1975. 

 
Lou Albano
Mitsu Arakawa
Spiros Arion
"Killer" Buddy Austin
Shohei Baba
Johnny Barend
Bepo Mongol (Nikolai Volkoff)
"Wild" Red Berry
Crusher Blackwell
Fred Blassie
Bobo Brazil
Gino Brito
Killer Brooks
Dick "Bulldog" Brower
Haystacks Calhoun
Primo Carnera
Eduard Carpentier
Louie Cerdan (Gino Brito)
Moose Cholak
Rip Collins
The Crusher
Wild Bull Curry
Dominic DeNucci
The Destroyer
Marshall Jim Dillon (J.J. Dillon)
Dory Dixon
Bill Eadie (Masked Superstar)
Don Eagle
"Cowboy" Bob Ellis
Eric the Red
Ronnie Etchison
The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan)
Donnie Fargo
Johnny Fargo (Greg Valentine)
Mr. Fuji
"Superstar" Billy Graham
"Crazy" Luke Graham
The Grand Wizard
Great Togo
Gypsy Joe
Stan Hansen
Swede Hanson
Al Hays
Bobby Heenan
Curtis Iaukea
The Kentuckians (Luke Brown & Jake Smith)
Duke Keomuka
Ivan Koloff
Killer Kowalski
Blackjack Lanza
Jos LeDuc
Crusher Lisowski
Ken Lucas
Billy "Red" Lyons
Dr. Bill Miller
Bepo Mongol
Bolo Mongol (Bill Eadie)
Geeto Mongol
Gorilla Monsoon
Blackjack Mulligan
Skull Murphy
Chuck O’Connor (Big John Studd)
Pat O’Connor
"El Toro" Jesse Ortega
Tony Parisi
Orwell Parris (Ivan Koloff)
Johnny Powers
Tony Pugliese (Tony Parisi)
Jacques Rougeau Sr.
Johnny Rougeau
Raymond Rougeau
Stan Stasiak
George "The Animal" Steele
Waldo Von Erich
Bruno Sammartino
Baron Scicluna
Sweet Daddy Siki
Ruffy Silverstein
Stan Stasiak
Dick Steinborn
Baron Von Raschke
Victor Rivera
Dewey Robertson
Antonino Rocca
Buddy Rogers
Bull Ramos
"Sailor" Art Thomas
Enrique Torres
Tarzan Tyler
Johnny Valentine
Nicholas Volkoff (Nikolai Volkoff)
Karl Von Hess
"Cowboy" Bill Watts
Bearcat Wright
Larry Zbyszko



Big Time Wrestling (1961-1975)
After the death of legendary Boston promoter, it seemed like the promotion's successor would be Eddie Quinn. However, the aging Jack Pfefer moved in with Tony Santos and secured the Boston Garden. This essentially won the city, quickly and decisively. "Big Time Wrestling" promoted in Boston for over a decade, using established talent, often from Southern promotions. A new generation of New York and Boston promoters began battling over the market in the 1960s and `70s like Jack Curley and Paul Bowser had in the 1920s and `30s. Oddly enough, Pfefer and Toots Mondt had been players back then too. While they had been on the same side and opposing sides at different times, they found themselves doing battle again with younger partners. While both men bowed out and let Santos and Vincent J. McMahon duke it out, they had a lasting impact on both men’s products. Bruno Sammartino played into everything as he was the champion that Santos could never outshine and when he left in the early 1970s, he was linchpin that could have taken the WWWF down. Instead, McMahon aligned with the NWA and used that power to force Santos out of Boston in 1975. From that point forward, McMahon’s WWWF was the main product in Boston.  


Ted Blassie (Don Carson)
Gene Dundee (Flash Monroe)
"Wildman" Fargo
Buddy Fuller
Ronnie Garvin
Pat Patterson
Les Thatcher
Bearcat Wright




WWWF - World Wide Wrestling Federation (1963-1983)
The WWWF was born in the 1963 when Vincent J. McMahon and Toots Mondt paired up and took over the largest city in the United States - New York City. With that large population and significant cities nearby, the WWWF had the potential to be a powerhouse promotion. After a controversial NWA World Championship defense by Lou Thesz in Toronto, long-time New York City superstar Buddy Rogers was named the first WWWF World Champion and just like that they split from the National Wrestling Alliance. After a heart attack, Rogers was in no position to be their champion, so he dropped the title to up-and-comer Bruno Sammartino in under a minute. The unbelievable nature of the match made Bruno an overnight sensation and their champion for the next seven and half years! Sammartino traveled the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, defending the new WWWF World title and giving it clout and building the WWWF into one of the strongest regional promotions not affiliated with the NWA. In the early 1970s, the WWWF saw some great threats to their success. Sammartino wanted out of his non-stop schedule and Boston promoter Tony Santos was a growing threat. McMahon returned to the NWA in hopes of securing his area and pushing his way into new markets. First, he took over Boston. Second, he took Philadelphia. Next, he pushed into the Steel Belt cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo. These cities were great additions to their current strongholds of New York City, Baltimore and Washington D.C. By the end of 1975, the WWWF had done all this expansion, Sammartino was back on top and the company was utilizing their NWA connections without compromising their own prestige. The WWWF in the last half of the 1970s had settled into its power position in the Northeast. In addition to big shows in the aforementioned large cities, they had numerous regular towns in the Northeast like Allentown, PA; Uniondale, NY, New Haven, CT; East Rutherford, NJ; Hamburg, PA; Poughkeepsie, NY; Largo, MD and others where they drew successfully from densely-populated areas and taped television shows and built up their big shows in the big cities. By September of 1979, Vincent K. McMahon (sometimes called "Vince McMahon Jr.") began taking over the business from his father, Vincent J. McMahon. Vince had been promoting spot shows, doing TV announcing and now he was inheriting one of the major regions of the pro-wrestling world. One of his first major changes was dropping "Wide" from the WWWF. The formulaic nature of the WWF had many upsides and several drawbacks. There had not been a star quite like Bruno Sammartino, though they had tried with Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund. The latter was not as the champion they needed, so they began using stronger supportive characters and as the 1980s rolled in they had a large variety of stars, but did not have that one superstar that could transcend being just a "world champion." The WWWF of 1963 with its knowledgable and innovative promoters produced a shining star that took them to a new level of success, twenty years later, this cycle would be repeated and the consequences would be far greater.  

Andre the Giant 
Captian Lou Albano [Manager]
Bob Backlund 
"Classy" Freddie Blassie
[Manager]
"Superstar" Billy Graham
Grand Wizard
Killer Kowalski
"High Chief" Peter Maivia

Mil Mascaras
Pedro Morales
"Polish Power" Ivan Putski
Bruno Sammartino 
Chief Jay Strongbow

Valiant Brothers (
"Handsome" Jimmy & "Luscious" Johnny)
Bill Watts


CLICK HERE for a full WWWF alumni list



NWF - National Wrestling Federation (1970-1974)
Pedro Martinez had long been a promoter in Rochester, New York. He had tried to break into New York City, but never could. By the late 1960s, his territory included Albany, New York; Akron, Ohio and Utica, New York, which were all regular stops, however, Buffalo, New York and Cleveland, Ohio were his crown jewels. He had left the NWA and opened a new company. Looking at the region, it comprised of several significant industrial cities with the ideal populous for a pro-wrestling promotion. In the 1960s, worldwide trade started the downward spiral of industry in the region known as the "Rust Belt." Martinez was able to succeed to a degree, but began to increasingly rely on outside talent and expansion. The NWF was co-promoted by local standout and top star, Johnny Powers, but they recruited some of the best stars of the day. They traded off talent with Pittsburgh, Detroit, Montreal and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Martinez even bought Pittsburgh in 1971, but could not incorporate it well and sold it off. The recession in the 1970s led to houses dropping. That, in addition to several lesser factors, forced the NWF to close the following year. Johnny Powers continued to promote under the NWF banner in Cleveland for a time. Much of the talent, Powers included, eventually joined Martinez’s new project, the national IWA, which lasted only briefly in opposition to the NWA. The NWF legacy, through its title, was carried on by New Japan until 1981 when it was abandoned and the promotion became largely lost in the past.

Abdullah the Butcher
Mitsu Arakawa
"Killer" Buddy Austin
Ox Baker
Bolo Mongol (Bill Eadie)
Bobo Brazil
Gino Brito
Killer Brooks
Bulldog Brower
Leo Burke
Moose Cholak
Bull Curry
King Curtis
Dominic DeNucci
Dick the Bruiser
Bill Eadie
The Fabulous Kangaroos
Donnie Fargo
Johnny Fargo (Greg Valentine)
Mr. Fuji
"Crazy" Luke Graham
Gypsy Joe
Larry Hennig
Antonio Inoki
Kabuki
Killer Kowalski
Killer Karl Kox
Killer Karl Krupp
Ernie Ladd
"Cowboy" Frankie Laine
Blackjack Lanza
Jos LeDuc
Billy "Red" Lyons
Boris Malenko
Luis Martinez
Wahoo McDaniel
Bill Miller
Sputnik Monroe
Pedro Morales
Jim Morrison (James Dillon)
Blackjack Mulligan
Babyface Nelson (Greg Valentine)
Jess Ortega
The Outlaws (
Dick Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes)
Tony Parisi
Lanny Poffo
Johnny Powers
Victor Rivera
Jacques Rougeau
Raymond Rougeau
Seiji Sakaguchi
Bruno Sammartino
Hans Schmidt
Baron Mikel Scicluna
The Shiek
Sweet Daddy Siki
George Steele
John L. Sullivan (Johnny Valiant)
Johnny Valentine
Jimmy Valiant
Professor Toru Tanaka
Lou Thesz
Johnny Vallen (Jimmy Valiant)
Waldo Von Erich
Baron Von Raschke
Bearcat Wright
Larry Zbyszko



IWA - International Wrestling Association (1975-1976)
Promoter Pedro Martinez and TV Sports impresario Eddie Einhorn partnered up to form the first national pro-wrestling promotion in 1975. Hoping to capitalize on a weakened NWA and the “separate” WWWF, the IWA began signing talent to contracts. At first they ran in Georgia and the Carolinas and faced hard opposition by Jim Crockett, who kept them out of the best arenas. In New York City, they met the same problems and Einhorn pulled out after losing an estimated $500,000. Johnny Powers and core of the talent continued to try to run in the South, but folded up in 1976. The IWA is often cited as an example of the monopoly that existed in pro-wrestling at that time. It was not until 1983 that someone was able to achieve that goal.  


Ox Baker
Bolo Mongol (Bill Eadie)
Dino Bravo
Gino Brito
Bulldog Brower
Carlos Colon
"Cowboy" Bob Ellis
Rip Hawk
The Islanders (Afa & Sika)
Ivan Koloff
Ernie Ladd
Jerry Lawler
Mil Mascaras
Terry Mecca (Terry Gordy)
Thunderbolt Patterson
Johnny Powers
Nelson Royal
Lou Thesz
"Pistol" Pez Whatley



WWF - World Wrestling Federation (1983-2002)
It is perhaps impossible to succinctly summarize the accomplishments and impact of Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. I would recommend
Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation by Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham, but there is a slew that has been written in books, newsletters and on the internet about this amazing shift in the pro-wrestling world. To oversimplify it all, Vince McMahon bought “Capital Sports” from his dying father and merged it with his “Titan Sports” and took his company national by buying acquiring local markets and local talent, McMahon largely took over the United States. It is important to also say, that McMahon transitioned to an even showier product than his father and began calling his wrestlers “supertars” and his product “sports entertainment.” McMahon innovated many things, utilized many preexisting things and essential recreated pro-wrestling in the United States and has influenced every corner of the global with his product. Due to the diversity of talent and products, I am going to use these three categories: "Rock-n-Wrestling" (`83-`93), "New Generation" (`93-`96) and "WWF Attitude" (`97-`01).

"Rock-n-Wrestling Connection" (1983-1995)
The WWF had always been a big money territory and in 1983, Vincent K. McMahon began building the strongest roster by actively raiding talent from regional promotions. He signed Hulk Hogan away from the AWA and made him the WWF’s main star for the next decade and arguably the biggest pro-wrestler of all-time. In 1983, there were many regional companies and when the 1990s started, there were realistically only two major promotions - the WWF and the WCW backed by Turner Broadcasting. The WWF hit hard times in the early 1990s with a steroid trial and sex scandals as well as the decline of the talent that McMahon had raided.

Andre the Giant 
British Bulldogs (
Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith)
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair 
Bret "Hitman" Hart  
Jimmy Hart [Manager]
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
"Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig
Hulk Hogan
Junkyard Dog 
Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)
Magnificent Muraco
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Sgt. Slaughter 
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
Ultimate Warrior
The Undertaker
Yokozuna

CLICK HERE for a full WWF alumni list



ICW - International Championship Wrestling (1985-1995)
When the WWF began its national expansion, many of the larger established companies either ignored them or preparing to face them. As crazy as it sounds, a promotion started up right under the McMahon's noses and ran with a degree of success for about a decade. The promotion was started by Angelo Savoldi, a former NWA junior heavyweight champion, and his sons Mario, Tom and Joe. At first they focused on New England, specifically Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. As time rolled on they moved into New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and renamed themselves "IWCCW" (International World Class Championship Wrestling). They were affiliated with WWC in Puerto Rico early on and would go on to create partnerships with Championship Wrestling from Florida and the American Wrestling Alliance. The promotion largely became a home for "free agents" and up-and-comers as many smaller regional promotions were at the time. It stayed alive for quite some time before fading away into a variety of local independent companies, many which still run today.
Abdullah the Butcher
Hercules Ayala
Ox Baker
Carlos Colon
Dory Funk Jr.
"Superstar" Billy Graham
Honky Tonk Man
Austin Idol
Invader #2
King Tonga
Mark Lewin
Shawn Michaels
Mr. Pogo
Ivan Putski
"Playboy" Buddy Rose
"Ravishing" Rick Rude
"Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble
The Sheepherders
Kevin Sullivan
The Tazmaniac
Lou Thesz [Announcer]
The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika)



WWF - World Wrestling Federation (1983-2002)
"New Generation" (1995-1998)
The territorial system had crumbled and the pro-wrestling talent pool had declined sharply. WCW began signing away stars the WWF had established and the challenging more than they ever had before. The WWF combated this by pushing their “New Generation” of stars. This new crop was perhaps more talented in the ring, but lacked the personalities and drawing power the WWF needed. The cartoon characters of the 1980s did not have the appeal they once did and pro-wrestling around the world was becoming edgier. This period of the WWF is also remembered for the political influence of “the Kliq” as well as the near death of the WWF due to financial woes. WCW was gaining momentum with their flagship show “Monday Nitro” in direct opposition to WWF’s “Monday Night RAW” and after signing away key talent, shooting an invasion angle and recruiting the best junior heavyweights from around the world, they were able to take over the top spot in the pro-wrestling world. The WWF's answer was to create an edgier product that the Turner Broadcasting backed WCW could not emulate.  

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin 
"Beast from the East" Bam Bam Bigelow 
Jim Cornette [Manager]
Diesel
Goldust
Bret "Hitman" Hart
 
Owen Hart 
Jerry "the King" Lawler 
Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) 
Mankind 
"Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels 
Razor Ramon
Jake "The Snake" Roberts 
"British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith 
Sycho Sid

Triple H 
The Undertaker 
Vader
  
Yokozuna 

CLICK HERE for a full WWWF alumni list



ECW - Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993-2001)
After Vince McMahon went national in the 1980s, pro-wrestling has never been the same. ECW is perhaps one of the most unique and romanticized promotions that has developed. In the Philadephia area, Tri-State Wrestling later known as Eastern Championship Wrestling, had become a popular independent in the early 90s. Eddie Gilbert and Tod Gordon began using violence that the WWF and WCW would not allow and they developed a reputation in that tough town. Paul Heyman, a friend of Gilbert's, came in and slowly took over and took it to a new level as Extreme Championship Wrestling. Influenced by its contemporary Atsushi Onita's violent FMW as well as classic Southern promotions like the CWA in Tennessee, Mid-South and Continental Wrestling, ECW was an exciting alternative to the cartoonish WWF and unstable WCW. They developed a strong roster of greats from the past, able up-and-comers and colorful characters. Between 1995 and 1998, ECW developed a cult-like following that began influencing the "Big Two." They began running pay-per-views and secured a national TV show, but ECW was slowly destroyed by financial turmoil. In early 2001, they eventually were forced to close and their assets were later bought by the WWF. After a failed lackluster angle, the ECW talent was spread out over the wrestling world until 2005. Renewed interest in the company led to documentaries, reunion shows and even a new ECW brand the following year. 

 
"Superstar" Steve Austin [76%]
Abdullah the Butcher
Arn Anderson
"Beast from the East" Bam Bam Bigelow [71%]
Tully Blanchard
King Kong Bundy
Cactus Jack [67%]
Chris Candido
Paul E. Dangerously [Manager]
"The Franchise" Shane Douglas [55%]
Tommy Dreamer [46%]
Bobby Eaton
Eddie Gilbert
Terry Gordy
Eddy Guerrero
Dory Funk Jr.
Terry Funk [84%]
Scott Hall
Gran Hamada
Stan Hansen
Hayabusa
Paul Heyman [Promoter/Personality]
Jerry Lawler
Dean Malenko [70%]
Don Muraco
Dick Murdoch
One Man Gang
Brian Pillman [75%]
Dusty Rhodes
Tommy Rich
Road Warrior Hawk
Tommy Rogers
"Ravishing" Rick Rude [68%]
The Sandman [51%]
Tito Santana
The Shiek
Sid
Johnny Smith
Tracy Smothers
Al Snow [58%]
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
Rick Steiner
Lance Storm [58%]
Kevin Sullivan
Taz [53%]
"Dr. Death" Steve Williams



American Wrestling Federation (1995-1996)

Chris Adams
Tony Atlas
Adnan El-Kaissie
Mr. Fuji
Jimmy Garvin
Michael Hayes
Hercules Hernandez
Honky Tonk Man
Oliver Humperdink
One Man Gang
Bob Orton Jr.
Tommy Rich
The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)
Tito Santana
Sgt. Slaughter
Greg Valentine
Koko B. Ware
Tom Zenk



WWF - World Wrestling Federation (1983-2002)
"WWF Attitude" (1998-2002)
In the late 1990s, WWF was the #2 pro-wrestling company for the first time and they began going in a radically new direction to attract casual fans. "WWF Attitute" took the product to a new level with colorful language, risqué content, controversial storylines and the central story of Vince McMahon himself as the heel boss against their charismatic anti-hero stars. The WWF went to war with WCW and produced some tremendous television and pay-per-views. Even more significant, they became a publicly traded company, which generated new revenue. They also expanded their media direction, which has been successful as well. WCW eventually lost their momentum, tried to create a wild product, but instead fell hard. This allowed Vince McMahon to buy them out in 2001, ending the "Monday Night Wars" and changing American pro-wrestling for the foreseeable future. That same year, ECW, whose innovative product had great influenced "WWF Attitude" also folded and eventually McMahon bought their assets. Since that time, McMahon has essential been pro-wrestling in the United States. 


Kurt Angle

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin 

Chris Benoit

Big Show

Booker T
Mick Foley 

"Y2J" Chris Jericho  
 
Paul Heyman [Announcer/Manager]

"The Next Big Thing" Brock Lesnar

New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg)
The Rock 

Triple H
The Undertaker

Rob Van Dam


CLICK HERE for a full WWF alumni list



WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment (2002-2011)
In 2002, “World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.” headed by Vincent K. McMahon and Linda McMahon changed the banner name of their company by changing “Federation” to “Entertainment”. After several legal problems with the “World Wildlife Fund,” which predated them, they were forced to make the change. Though their promotional practices did not change with the name change, since that time, the WWE has certainly employed some creative strategies. They began aggressively buying up territorial libraries for historical programming, DVDs and video packages. They also continued to put out biographies of current and past stars with varying degrees of success. The WWE also split itself into two brands (“Raw” and “Smackdown”) to produce the illusion of competition and later an “ECW” brand in 2006.  As the second decade of the new millennium began, the WWE made some sweeping changes to alter and clean up their image.  From the adoption of a Wellness Policy and attempts at developing a social network (WWE Fan Nation, later WWE Universe) to moving to a "PG" rating for their TV shows and  branching into other entertainment avenues, the WWE juggernaut underwent a definitive comprehensive and family-friendly facelift.  The most notable of these was perhaps changing their name to simply "WWE" in another paradoxical attempt to continue removing "wrestling" from their product image.


"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Chris Benoit
Jim Cornette [Developmental Territory]
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
Mick Foley
Eddy Guerrero
Paul Heyman [Manager/Personality]
"Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels
The Rock

The Undertaker

CLICK HERE for a full WWE alumni list



WWE - Hall of Fame (1993-)
The WWF Hall of Fame originally started as a strange joke by Vince McMahon in the mid-1990s. WCW had their version, which was politicized, but had a legitimate goal to recognize stars of the past. WWF's version seemed to make a mockery of Hall of Fames by inducted an unlikely variety of "stars." After the collapse of pro-wrestling in the United States, it became the WWF's responsiblity to hold up traditions. They began running this over Wrestlemania weekend and it has turned into an appendage of their slanted view of pro-wrestling's past. They have seemingly run themes that have worked well, but it has largely slanted toward their own superstars of the national expansion period.  

Abdullah the Butcher
Andre "The Giant"
"Bullet" Bob Armstrong 
Tony Atlas
"Classy" Freddie Blassie
Bobo Brazil
"Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
The Fabulous Moolah
Verne Gagne
Gorgeous George 
"Superstar" Billy Graham

Grand Wizard
Eddy Guerrero
Bret "Hitman" Hart
Jimmy Hart
Stu Hart 
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Hulk Hogan
Antonio Inoki
Iron Shiek
Junkyard Dog
Killer Kowalski
Ernie Ladd
Blackjack Lanza
Shawn Michaels 
Gorilla Monsoon

Pedro Morales
Blackjack Mulligan
Don "The Magnificent" Muraco
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff
Bob Orton, Jr.
Pat Patterson
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Ivan Putski
"The King" Harley Race
"The Common Man" Dusty Rhodes
Wendi Richter 
Antonino Rocca

Buddy Rogers
Tito Santana
Baron Mikel Scicluna
Sensational Sherri
Sgt. Slaughter
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
George "The Animal" Steele
Chief Jay Strongbow
Big John Studd
Sunny 
Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon 
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

Jimmy Valiant
Johnny Valiant
Jesse Ventura
Nikolai Volkoff





WWE (2011-) 
In 2011, “World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.” changed the banner name of their company to "WWE, Inc." in a further push in distancing themselves from wrestling. The company has dramatically altered their product and while they regularly offer "old-school professional wrestling" up in the form of books, videos and features on their WWE 24/7 channel, they've modified their lexicon and have attempted to project an image that they are not simply a pro-wrestling company.  They have changed radically in the quarter century that Vince McMahon has been at the helm and many are curious to see how they will change when his daughter, son-in-law and others take over for him.


"Stone Cold" Steve Austin 
Big Show 
Kane 
Steve Keirn [FCW President]
John Laurainitis [Talent Relations]
Jerry "The King" Lawler[Announcer] 
Rey Mysterio
The Rock
Sin Cara
Jim Ross [Ambassador]

Comments