The All World Wrestling League celebrates the history of
Big Time Wrestling
Through the memories and snapshots of people that were
there for the glory days of the Detroit Kayfabe era.
Special thanks go to Mark The Lark for sharing some of
his collection and memories with us.
KING KONG BRODY
Undoubtedly one of the most fearsome competitors in the entire history of professional wrestling. Rivaling THE Sheik and Abdullah The Butcher in their prime, Frank Goodish, better known as either King Kong Brody or Bruiser Brody was undoubtedly one of the scariest men walking the earth.
Standing 6’7” and weighing in at 300 pounds, wearing nothing but black trunks and fur boots, sporting a bush of hair on his head and face Bruiser was a legitimate tough guy. From all of the “old school” wrestlers I have spoke with and even some that just knew him on a personal level Brody was the real deal. A lot of times he would “break script” and the match would be an actual shoot. In the above picture that is him delivering a massive boot to the side of the head of one “King” Harley Race, another legitimate tough guy, but he’s another story all together.
Brody made his way into wrestling in 1973, he formed a tag team with Stan “The Lariat” Hansen in the Tri State promotion wrestling under his real name and then moved onto Florida in early of 1974.
He traveled the states making a major name for himself and feuding with the top stars of that era. In Texas he faced all of the Funks and the Von Erich’s.
In 1979 Brody invaded Japan and to this day remains a legend. Over in Japan he solidified his legend as a true madman. In the early 80’s he was the good guy for Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship, but when he went to Georgia for a fued against Blackjack Mulligan he was the ultimate bad guy. Nonetheless he never once changed his wrestling style.
In 1983, Brody would return to Japan and resume his team with longtime partner Stan Hansen. Together, they would became the greatest tag team in the history of All-Japan pro-wrestling, winning the All-Japan real world tag team title tournament in 1983, and the PWF tag team titles in 1984. In 1985 Brody would venture to Memphis and fued with Jerry Lawler and put on matches which the Mid_-South Coliseum has not seen since.
1985 saw Brody make a shocking switch from All-Japan (where he held the PWF tag team titles with Hansen) to its chief rival in Japan, New Japan pro-wrestling, where he faced Antonio Inoki for the IWGP title on several occasions. Back home, Brody returned to Texas and engaged in a very bloody feud with former Japan rival Terry Gordy, culminating in a barbed wire match in Texas Stadium, which saw Brody defeat Terry Gordy, but with neither man looking much like a winner.
This was a very busy time for Brody. Between 1985 and 1987, Brody worked for the following promotions (and many more) World Class, AWA, SCW, New-Japan, All-Japan, Georgia, Florida, Central States (Missouri), WWC (Puerto Rico) and Memphis.
In the mid-1980s, Brody was regarded as the uncrowned world champion. He would come within a hair of winning Ric Flair's NWA world Heavyweight title on over a half-dozen occasions, often in Saint Louis. In March of 1986, he also received a shot at Rick Rude's WCCW world title at Texas Stadium, as a result of a fan balloting, a testament to the respect that Brody had earned during his 15-year career. Brody was also voted as the number-one wrestler in the world in 20 crucial categories in 1986, edging out the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, & Dusty Rhodes. 1986 also saw Brody feud with Gary Hart, who managed a stable which included the likes of Killer Brooks and The One Man Gang.
Then came 1988. Brody was in Puerto Rico working for the WWC and Carlos Colon. The following FACTS have never been disputed by neither the authorities nor anyone involved.
"Dirty" Dutch Mantell
was on the card that night to wrestle, as was Tony Atlas. Now, Atlas, well-known
to fans of Mid-Atlantic wrestling back in the 1970s and '80s, was an alleged
eyewitness to the murder, as were several other U.S. wrestlers present in the
locker room at the time, according to Mantell. What unfolds next takes some
understanding, both of the cultural mindset and the law on that island. The
police involved had grown up watching both Gonzalez and Carlos Colon, the other
co-owner of WWC. They were in awe of these men and very respectful of them.
That is from an article by Jim Spears and as such it is also the complete story that I have both heard from those that knew him, and those that are in this business at that time. It’s a shame too, because I remember him as being extremely scary but also being very entertaining. As do a lot of other fans.
Know your history.
THE GRAND WIZZARD
But over here we call him
In the world of professional very few managers reach a height of popularity that can rival those that they manage. A couple of standouts are of course Bobby Heenan, Freddie Blassie, Lou Albano, “Precious” Paul Ellering and maybe Skandar Akbar.
At 5’7” and a hefty 130lbs there was Ernie Roth a.k.a. Abdullah Farouk, the mouth-piece for THE Sheik. The deal with him was that THE Sheik’s wealthy family sent him over here to America to watch over their son. His size shielded his brainpower, as he may have been small in stature he was a genius in leading his man to victory after victory. He would wear a turban and take great pride in his ability to verbally pounce all of the U.S. fans and any opponent. His sneaky ways combined with cowardice not seen since Barney Fife made him very very unpopular across the nation.
By distracting the ref, or tripping an opponent, actions that today are common but in his day were rare, in the 60’s he set a standard for the “heel” manager. This ‘Arabian” duo reached unheard of success during their partnership which when you hear stories today is remarkable that it only lasted five years.
Using a flashy wardrobe, often loud polyester clothing that glittered in every color in the rainbow and sometimes were rainbow colored, turban and sunglasses, coupled with his quick wit and large vocabulary he could be the mouth for wrestlers who either didn’t talk, like THE Sheik, or those who could talk but jabbered when they did, like Stan “The Man” Stasiak, he became the epitome of a manager of most of the baddest guys in every federation.
As the 70’s came in, THE Sheik and Farouk parted ways and Farouk dropped out of sight for a bit while THE Sheik went on to terrorize fans for more than a decade.
When Farouk made his reappearance in the WWWF in 1973 he led Stan Stasiak to a victory over Pedro Morales, within five years of that appearance he teamed with the legendary “Superstar” Billy Graham and they ended Bruno Sammartino’s 11 year run as WWWF champion. Not too bad huh?
In addition to those two heavyweight champions he managed the WWWF’s first ever Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Ken Patera, Don Muraco, Ernie “The Big Cat” Ladd, Ox Baker , Sgt Slaughter and many more.
On October 12, 1983 Ernie Roth a.k.a. Abdullah Farouk a.k.a. The Grand Wizard died of a heart attack. Almost 15 years after his death you can still find this dastardly villain of the squared circle appear in the guise of Paul E. Dangerously, James Vandenberg and even Jim Cornette.
Know Your History.
Before Goldberg, before Brian Pillman, before Monty Brown and his pounce there was Ernie Ladd.
An Ex-football player, for the K.C. Chiefs and Baltimore Colts, Ladd was already famous in his own right. After retiring from football Ernie, who stands 6’9 and weighed 320 lbs in his prime, was an imposing force wherever he went. Known for his treacherous ways in the ring, and his desire to win at all costs, which often included cheating at every opportunity given; Ladd was perceived by fans as probably one of the most dangerous men in wrestling.
Ladd was unique because he was a two-sport star. During the football season, mostly the winter, Ladd played football, and then when football was over, during the summer, he would travel and wrestle. Nicknamed “The Big Cat” or “The Cat” Ladd traveled the Professional Wrestling circuit competing in the AWA, WWWF, WWA, NWF and almost every promotion under the NWA umbrella.
On June 9, 1972 Ladd won his first heavyweight championship when he defeated Waldo Von Erich for the NWF heavyweight belt. He soon lost that belt to the legendary Abdullah the Butcher. Ladd then moved on to the NWA’s Los Angeles promotion holding that heavyweight title for over 6 months. Then in 1973 Ladd came to Detroit and teamed with the much hated Baron Von Rashcke and on February 24th of that year they defeated the tag team champions, the powerhouse duo of The Bruiser and The Crusher. Von Rashcke and Ladd were dominate as tag partners and were finally defeated by the super tag tandem of Bruno Sammartino and Dick the Bruiser 5 months later.
Ladd continued his ways of winning and eventually feuded with Jay Strongbow, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Andre The Giant, Dick The Bruiser, and Paul Orndorff among many others.
In 1980 Ladd teamed with Bruiser Brody to form a tag team that is regarded as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous of all time. It was also in 1980 that Ladd won the WWA heavyweight title making him one of the most dominate athletes in the sport.
That’s Ernie Ladd, The Cat.
Know your history.
father and son that each gave The Sheik some major battles .Wild Bull had been a
cop in Hartford, CT but got kicked off the force for excessive brutality. Bull
was the prototype for the antihero face/heels of today. He'd brawl with anyone
they matched him against. It didn't matter if his opponent was a face or a heel.
Flying Fred was a star both as a singles and tag team partner. His big move
was the drop kick and he'd throw a series of them and the Cobo crowd would count
in unison. More than once I witness 20 consecutive drop kicks from Fred. He
held the World Tag Titles more than once. Fred use to team a lot with Bobo
Brazil but his most spectacular partner was 600 lb Haystacks Calhoun. Always,
during some point of the match, Fred would climb onto "Stack's"
shoulders and dive of his partner onto one their opponents. 1-2-3 and it was a
1947...I think Bobo was 24 at the time. He was getting a big push and training from an old wrestler turned promoter named Jumping Joe Salvoldi. Joe was promoting on the West side of Michigan and Houston Harris morphed into the South American giant Bu Bu Brasil and soon into Bobo Brazil. The rest is history. Bobo is so highly thought of in Benton Harbor that they named the community center after him. lark
Lucille Dupree booting up. She was a French Canadian fireball with jet black hair and "drawn on" eyebrows. Her biggest opponent at Cobo in the 1970s was Tanya West- a ruff tuff, biker chick sort. Lucille teamed in the 1st inter-gender tag match with herself and Lou "Man of 1001 Holds" Klein against Tanya West and Jesse 'The Bull" Ortega way back in 1971. The men had to tag in when a man was in the ring and the gals were allowed to only wrestle each other only the gals, so it was a bit less "intergendery" than we are use to in the "anything goes" days. (The faces won) Lucille often wore a white tuxedo jacket with tales jacket and matching top hat into the ring. I'm still looking for a picture of it. lark
This is a snapshot I took outside of the Olympia when in Sept 1974 The Sheik and the Bruiser met for the 1st time since 1963. Interesting to note the other acts coming to the venue- Sheik and Dick are right up there with Superstars like Elvis and Marvin Gaye . It was a wild night and those 2 really rocked the packed arena. There was a full scale riot after the ref, who'd gotten bloodied up trying to retain order, called it a double dq. My wife and I sat in the front row and debris and bodies were flying all over. I remember, Terry Sullivan, the ring announcer getting knocked out with a full can of Stroh's, thrown by an unruly fan. lark
From the Sudan (by way of Windsor, Ontario) Abdullah the Butcher is seen here taking on another Big TIme Wrestling heel-Killer Tim Brooks. Both were despised by the fans and Detroit pioneered the "heel versus heel" (Cheer who you hate the least) bouts years before they became widespread in the business. Sheik-Abby matches were always a welcome addition to any card. Brooks was the Uncle of a Famous Wrestler named Farmer Jones, who often came to the ring with a pig. Jones was a founding father of the "Hillbilly wrestler" gimmick. lark
Dave McKigney was the Bearman and also billed as the Wildman. He had a trained bear that'd they bring around once a year or so and some heel (my favorite opponent for the bear was Bobby Heenan) would try to pin him. Nobody beat the bear. NOBODY! Dave wrestled with a partner, Willie Farkas, The Wolfman and they were quite a dynamic team. Not many holds, but a lot of action and always plentyy of blood. In the Summers, McKigney promoted wrestling shows throughout Ontario and as you can see from the poster, he brought in the Big Time Stars like Igor and The Sheik. Dave had a daughter, Raquel DuBois, who worked her way through college by doing wrestling dates and saving her money all summer. She was and still is a beautiful gal, but hasn't wrestled in years. Dave's life was marred by tragedy as his bear killed his girlfriend in the mid 1980s. In 1988 Dave was killed along with Adrian Adonis and one of the Kelly Twins as they swerved to avoid hitting a Moose while driving back from a wrestling show they'd worked on. Like so many stars of yesterday and today, The Bearman lived, breathed and ultimately died pursuing his passion-Big Time Wrestling. lark
1963 was the year and Alex Karras was suspended from the NFL for gambling on games. In an attempt to make some loot while he sat out his suspension Karras agreed to take on Detroit's second string "wildman", Dick the Bruiser. I think we all know who the 1st string was-The Sheik as he proved 10 years later when he beat Bruiser silly in a series of 4 matches. A few nights before the showdown, Bruiser showed up at the Lindell AC, a club that Karras was part owner of at the time. Well, Karras made the mistake of thinking Dick was just there for a little good natured publicity, but Bruiser was on a mission and it wasn't going to be pretty. This picture shows Dick the morning after the bar clearing brawl at his arraignment. Seems like somebody called the Detroit Police to put an end to the donnybrook, and the "Coppers" got a lesson in just how "fake" wrestling is. I don't have the press clipping anymore, but I believe 10 police showed up and Bruiser redefined the meaning of "totally out of control" as he did some serious damage to a few of Detroit's finest before they took him away in handcuffs.
Oh, and Karras got his butt kicked in the ring by Bruiser, as we knew he would, just a few days later. The interest in this showdown was so big that the promoters had to have the card at Tiger Stadium. lark
Sorry about the glare......This is noteworthy. When the movie came out on Home Video this was a full page full color ad in Billboard Magazine. There were actually 2 in the series, but I've misplaced the other. Billboard is the number 1 entertainment industry magazine in the world. The folks at New World Pictures knew of The Sheik's box office potential and were not afraid to spend some loot to advertise.