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Author Topic: The Greatest card in Olympic Auditorium History by Dan Westbrook
Steve Yohe
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Today I went out to eat with my good friend & neighbor Dan Westbrook, who lives on the other side of the Rio Hondo River from wonderful Montebello. Dan Westbrook is the famous photographer who worked at the Olympic Aud and worked for the Japanese magazines. He is now working on a major book on the Olympic & Los Angeles wrestling. We talked alot & a lot of wrestling subjects went back & forth. Late in the night, he told me that the greatest wrestling card in Olympic history took place on Sept. 5, 1969. It looked like this:


51) SEPT. 5, 1969�OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM (10,974�6,500 TURNED AWAY)
(NWA WORLD TITLE)
1) DORY FUNK JR. OVER BUDDY AUSTIN 2/3 VIA UTC (CUTS)
2) MIL MASCARAS DREW BLACK GORDMAN
(U.S. TITLE)
3) PAT PATTERSON DREW BULL RAMOS
4) ERNIE LADD & BOBO BRAZIL OVER CURTIS IAUKEA & THE CONVICT
5) THE MEDICS & FRANCISCO FLORES
OVER
CHRIS MARKOFF & MAGNIFICENT MAURICE & MIKE RIKER
(WOMEN�S WORLD TITLE)
6) FABULOUS MOOLAH OVER DONNA CHRISTANTELLO
*-NO SHOWS-THE SHEIK & PEDRO MORALES

This was the card that was going up against a AWA promotion that was going to be held in the new LA Forum. The Forum was going to be the big arena in town & had tons of money to throw around. Mike LeBell was so worried about Gagne's AWA that he joined the NWA, dropped the old WWA WC. booked LA stars Mil Mascaras, Bobo Brazil and brought in former LA boxoffice stars, Buddy Austin, Ernie Ladd, & NWA WC Dory Funk. He also added a Moolah match which no one would care about. The Mil/Gordman match was one of the great feuds in LA history & always 4 stars & probably the big draw of the night. Buddy Austin was brought back for the card & he might be the most under rated draw & worker in Los Angeles history. Westbrook also told me that the Sheik/Morales match wasn't a no showed, but did take place, which went against the report in the newspaper. Dan claims that photos of the gladiator stretcher death match between Sheik & Pedro was on the cover of the Japenese Gong Magazine later that month. I questioned the hell out of Dan about this & he is sure about the info. So add that match. Dan also says that Lebell was also giving away tickets to Disney Land, Knox Berry farm & Unversal Studio to the lucky fans that night & was billing the show as the greatest in Olympic history going back to 1925. It drew a 10,974 sellout with 6,500 turned away. I guess they counted everyone walking back to the parking lot. I don't know, I was in Viet Nam swating bugs. The next night this happened:

52) SEPT. 6, 1969�L. A. FORUM�AWA PROMOTION
(AWA WORLD TITLE)
1) VERNE GAGNE OVER DICK THE BRUISER 2/3 VIA DQ
2) LOU THESZ OVER PRETTY BOY HENNING
3) VACHON BROTHERS OVER BILL WATTS & WILBER SNYDER
4) HARD BOILED HAGGERTY OVER LEX BYRD
5) SANDY STARR & LITA MOREY OVER JANE O�BRIAN & ASTRO NETIE
6) LUIS MARTINEZ VS GEORGE GADASKI
*-NO SHOW-COWBOY BOB ELLIS

One week later, LaBell followed with this card:

54) SEPT. 12, 1969�OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM
(AJW INT. TITLE)
1) SHOHEI BABA DREW THE SHEIK
(AMERICAS TITLE)
2) MIL MASCARAS OVER BUDDY FULLER 2/3
3) LOS MEDICOS OVER RIP HAWK & SWEDE HANSON
(NWA JHC)
4) DANNY HODGE OVER ROCKY MONTERO
5) RAY GORDON OVER JOHNNY WALKER
6) DALE LEWIS OVER FRANCISCO FLORES
7) KINJI SHIBUYA & MR. SAITO OVER BLACK GORDMAN & BULL RAMOS
8) BEN JUSTICE OVER MAGNIFICENT MAURICE
This is a card boosted by the NWA connection. Fuller, Rip Hawk, Hanson, Ray Gordon, & Justice were southern wrestler who the Mexican fans in LA knew nothing about. Then they topped it with Danny Hodge, a great wrestler who no body knew in LA.

So the great Dan Westbrook (not joking about that) thought his LA greatest card (7-5-69). My pick was Stecher/Lewis in 1929.--Steve Yohe

[ 07-27-2013, 02:32 PM: Message edited by: Steve Yohe ]

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Steve Yohe
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Back to the Sheik/Morales match & why it didn't get reported in the newspaper. Maybe the match wasn't a sure bet to take place when Jeff Walton called in the results at 6:00 in the afternoon.--Yohe
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diamondmd
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Totally off subject here, but Steve do you remember a team called the Black Angels in LA circa late 60s / early 70s? They were managed by Magnificent Maurice.

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Crimson Mask from FL
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Buddy Fuller makes no sense. I wonder if that wasn't really Austin too. I don't see any other Tinnosea guys. Hawk & Hanson were probably JCP at that point. Ben Justice AFAIK was only Detroit, not Southern. He would have come in with Farhat.

So long from the Sunshine State!

--------------------
Why does 'networking' feel so identical to 'kissing ass'?

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diamondmd
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Fuller was the co-owner of the Georgia promotion (along with Ray Gunkel) at this point. Probably was him. The NWA had a habit of sending people in from all areas to help support an NWA office during a war. He was only wrestling periodically at this point so it makes sense that he could go himself and not have to send a top talent from his own roster.

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Mark Tomol
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask from FL:
Ben Justice AFAIK was only Detroit, not Southern. He would have come in with Farhat.

So long from the Sunshine State!

Justice did 2 Bakersfield shots, one Olympic TV taping, and one Olympic Friday night card in 9/69. Looks like a working vacation for him.
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Mark Tomol
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quote:
Originally posted by diamondmd:
Totally off subject here, but Steve do you remember a team called the Black Angels in LA circa late 60s / early 70s? They were managed by Magnificent Maurice.

I think the Black Angels were Francisco Flores and Ramon Rivera (no idea who Ramon is)
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cooke
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Please tell me again how many people attended the Stecher/Lewis contest in 1929? Thank you. Seosamh Cuaig
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Steve Yohe
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*) MAY 1, 1929-OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM (10,398)($28,640)
1) ED �STRANGLER� LEWIS OVER JOE STECHER 2/3 FALLS
2) NICK LUTZE OVER JACK O�MALLEY
3) BILLY BETH OVER JOHN HUNNELL

From the Lewis Bio:

Lou Daro booked the first ever Lewis/Stecher match in Los Angeles for May 1, 1929 at The Olympic Auditorium. Stecher had challenged Sonnenberg to a title match but was told to beat Lewis first. The Strangler was willing, but he wanted Joe Stecher's famous $10,000 belt to be on the line. After the title change, Lewis had his own belt in St Louis and the Stecher belt wasn't passed on to the new champion. So the major angle and stipulation for the match, was that the winner would get the Stecher belt. It was also billed as a "winner takes all" match. (257)

Stecher was the aggressor in the match. He got rough with the Strangler on numerous occasions but Lewis hung on and was able to out rough and out last him. Stecher got the scissors on and squeezed Lewis' "rather protuberant paunch" for over a minute before turning him over for the pin in 20 minutes and 51 seconds. The finish for the second fall had Lewis on the matt locked once again in the scissors, but this time through shear strength, Ed stood up with Joe still locked around him. Lewis then slammed Stecher to the canvas and pinned him. It was kind of like a 1929 style "power bomb". Time was 16:02. Stecher was still hurting and dazed at the start of the third fall and Lewis pined him using a headlock in 4 minutes and 13 seconds. The crowd was 10,395 and the gate, at high prices, was $28,540. A Lewis quote following the match was: "I ruined him at St Louis when I took the title away from him. He knows I can beat him now." So Lewis showed Joe who was boss. (258)

As for the Stecher belt, the reports say nothing about it. So the stipulation seemed to have been forgot or never really followed through on. All we know is that Tony Stecher had the belt when he promoted in Minneapolis in the 30's and 40's and all of his champions were photographed wearing it. I would bet Stecher got his cut of the gate too.


*) SEPT. 4, 1929-OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM (10,000)($40,000)
1) ED "STRANGLER" LEWIS OVER JOE STECHER 2/3 FALLS
2) JACK O'MALLEY OVER NICK VELCOFF
3) DR. P. A. MULLIKAN OVER AD HERMAN

From the Lewis Bio:

In September Lou Daro staged what was called an elimination tournament with the winner to meet Sonnenberg. I don't understand what happened in the tournament or how it was run, but the final had Lewis meeting Joe Stecher again at The Olympic Auditorium on September 4, 1929.

The match drew a near sellout of between 9,000 and 10,000. Lewis won the first fall in 23:34. Stecher used the scissors to win the second in 9:53. In the third fall, Stecher had Lewis locked into an ankle lock for few minutes. Lewis looked in bad shape but he finally escaped by kicking Stecher in the head. Joe fell back but got up dazed. Lewis jumped on him and got the pin in 19:11. The match was described as "workman like" with little emotion and Lewis did most of the work. (265)

So Lewis won the right to meet Sonnenberg for the title on September 18, but his ankle was so damaged from Stecher's ankle lock that he had to refuse to take the match. Stecher replaced Lewis in the title match.

[ 07-27-2013, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: Steve Yohe ]

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Thunderbolt Pilot
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My apologies in advance if raising this topic to the top breaches protocol. Just was given permission to share this image and hoping it is on topic:

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Ken Viewer
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Significant memorabilia is always hard to resist. Thanks for sharing. Any idea of who signed the ticket?

Here's a link to the thread where you can see another ticket to the same match. But one ticket is not another.

Ken


http://wrestlingclassics.com/.ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=10;t=002884#000000

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Crimson Mask from FL
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Doesn't breach protocol to bump an old thread with a relevant post, but it's somewhat OT for this thread, as everything else on the thread is about LA.

--------------------
Why does 'networking' feel so identical to 'kissing ass'?

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BERT from NJ
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Yohe:
Westbrook told me that the Sheik/Morales match wasn't a no show, but did take place, which went against the report in the newspaper. Dan claims that photos of the gladiator stretcher death match between Sheik & Pedro was on the cover of the Japenese Gong Magazine later that month. I questioned the hell out of Dan about this & he is sure about the info. So add that match.--Steve Yohe

Did the photos of that match ever surface? Or the result?

--------------------
"Kneel before Zod"
General Zod

"You're a little out of order yourself-You insulted him a little bit, you insulted him A LITTLE BIT"
Jimmy the Gent Conway

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

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Steve Yohe
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That ticket is for sell on ebay for $400. It's been up for months. That's one of the major matches in wrestling history. It ended the Stecher/Lewis feud of 1921 to 1928. One of the biggest match of all time. I've offered him $50 a few times & got turned down, so it's out of my league. I'm not really a collector of stuff...I'm a collector of information.

I haven't thought much about the Sheik/Morales match. But these death matches were big deals in LA & big money makers over the years, I can't remember one ever being cancelled. In fact, I can't remember many major matches being cancelled or not happening unless it was set up that way. Our record seemed about as good as St Louis.

And this was taking place when results were being called into the newspapers at 6:00, by Jef Walton, before the matches even started. A Morales loss wasn't a big deal in LA during this period, so it would rule out the WWWF office interfering.---Yohe

[ 08-04-2013, 03:49 PM: Message edited by: Steve Yohe ]

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BERT from NJ
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Was Pedro even affiliated with WWWF in 1969? Seemed to be more west coast based or in Hawaii at this point, no?

--------------------
"Kneel before Zod"
General Zod

"You're a little out of order yourself-You insulted him a little bit, you insulted him A LITTLE BIT"
Jimmy the Gent Conway

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

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Steve Yohe
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Well they made him WWWF Champ in 1971. He didn't return to a MSG card until Jan. 1971. So I don't think that little theory would work.--Yohe
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