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Author Topic: Steve Yohe's Wrestler of the Year Awards
Matt Farmer from WA
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One of wrestling's premiere historians Steve Yohe created a list of who in his opinion should have been the "wrestler of the year". Based on the Wrestling Observers concept. He originally posted this on otherarena.com then later it was printed in the September 24, 2001 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Since his list only went to 2000, I've added the following years to open the discussions.

I hope he doesn't mind but I decided to transfer it here, and open it up for debate. May make some interesting arguments.

1901- George Hackenschmidt
1902- George Hackenschmidt
1903- Tom Jenkins
1904- Frank Gotch
1905- George Hackenschmidt
1906- Frank Gotch
1907- Frank Gotch
1908- Frank Gotch
1909- Frank Gotch
1910- Frank Gotch
1911- Frank Gotch
1912- Frank Gotch
1913- Stansilaus Zybszko
1914- Joe Stecher
1915- Joe Stecher
1916- Joe Stecher
1917- Earl Caddock
1918- Earl Caddock
1919- Joe Stecher
1920- Joe Stecher
1921- Stansilaus Zybszko
1922- Ed Lewis
1923- Ed Lewis
1924- Ed Lewis
1925- Joe Stecher
1926- Joe Stecher
1927- Joe Stecher
1928- Joe Lewis
1929- Gus Sonnenberg
1930- Jim Londos
1931- Jim Londos
1932- Jim Londos
1933- Jim Londos
1934- Jim Londos
1935- Danno O'Mahoney
1936- Yvon Robert
1937- Bronko Naguski
1938- Steve Casey
1939- Bronko Naguski
1940- Ray Steele
1941- Yvon Robert
1942- Bill Longson
1943- Bill Longson
1944- Bill Longson
1945- Bill Longson
1946- Frank Sexton
1947- Bill Longson
1948- Frank Sexton
1949- Lou Thesz
1950- Lou Thesz
1951- Lou Thesz
1952- Lou Thesz
1953- Lou Thesz
1954- Lou Thesz
1955- Lou Thesz
1956- Antonino Rocca
1957- Edouard Carpentier
1958- Buddy Rogers
1959- Buddy Rogers
1960- Buddy Rogers
1961- Buddy Rogers
1962- Buddy Rogers
1963- Lou Thesz
1964- Bruno Sammartino
1965- Lou Thesz
1966- Bruno Sammartino
1967- Giant Baba
1968- Giant Baba
1969- Dory Funk Jr
1970- Dory Funk Jr
1971- Pedro Morales
1972- Pedro Morales
1973- Andre the Giant
1974- Jack Brisco
1975- Bruno Sammartino
1976- Bruno Sammartino
1977- Billy Graham
1978- Harley Race
1979- Harley Race
1980- Harley Race
1981- Ric Flair
1982- Ric Flair
1983- Ric Flair
1984- Ric Flair
1985- Ric Flair
1986- Ric Flair
1987- Riki Choshu
1988- Akira Maeda
1989- Ric Flair
1990- Ric Flair
1991- Jumbo Tsuruta
1992- Ric Flair
1993- Vader
1994- Toshiaki Kawada
1995- Mitsuharu Misawa
1996- Kenta Kobashi
1997- Mitusharu Misawa
1998- Steve Austin
1999- Mitsuharu Misawa
2000- Triple H
2001- Keiji Muto
2002- Kurt Angle
2003- Kenta Kobashi
2004- Kenta Kobashi
2005- Kenta Kobashi
2006- Mistico
2007- John Cena
2008- Chris Jericho

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Since I started this discussion I would like to give my opinions on a few of Steve's pic. Everyone is going to have a different view on what qualifies one for "Wrestler of the Year". I tend to lean more towards drawing power, than in ring work. I understand the winner should have both, but I'm of the opinion that drawing should outweigh in ring work. Take 2006 for instance, Mistico was a great choice, and was who I voted for. If you put him side by side with John Cena that year, well then Cena should have won. However Mistico, for the economics of Mexico was far and away number one. With Perro Aguayo Jr right behind him.

In the mid eighties I can't see how Ric Flair won so many years in row, while Hogan was exploding. Of course in the action Flair was better, but some of those years like 1987 Hogan should have been a shoe in just due to his incredible drawing powers that year.

With that said to me, the biggest change I would make would be 1966. Of course I wasn't alive then, so take it for what it's worth. Sure I agree that Bruno Sammartino was a big draw, and was finally picking up some steam as champion. But the newly crown NWA kingpin Gene Kiniski should have walked away with the honors. Gene was a marvelous draw that year, doing business in places like the Northwest that has never seen business like that before. He was also doing very well in St. Louis, Toronto, Atlanta, Florida and Texas. In fact Gene was drawing very good in nearly every territory he went too. Plus Gene was considered a very good worker too, so I'm sure his in ring action was great. My father who was a regular to the live matches here in Washington always told me Gene had some of the best matches he has ever seen.

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Steve Yohe
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My pick were the years before the WON began publishing or Dave had given awards.

I think Bob Backlund should have won a year or two, like with Hogan being over looked because of Observer bias.

Hope John Williams gets interested in this.

I would make some changes today. Mainly in 1937 to 1942.--Yohe

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StranglerLou from Fla
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Steve, What would those changes be? (1937 to 1942)
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JumboShrimp from CA
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I seem to recall Mr. Yohe made these choices based on who he thought Oserver readers would have voted as the winner had there been an Observer during those years...In the commentary on many picks he distinctly said whom his personal vote would go to.

[ 12-11-2009, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: JumboShrimp from CA ]

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Oh yea I'm sure it would. And as Dave pointed out in the Observer there would have been some years like 1948 or so that Gorgeous George may have won, or some years that both El Santo and Rikidozan should have been hands down winners.

For instance 1965 was a huge year in Mexico. Guys like El Santo, Ray Mendoza, Karloff Lagarde, Rene Guajardo were on fire.

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Maybe we here at WCMB could come up with a year by year listing? Have historians vote on it. Make a concensus Wrestler of the Year award?

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Tim Hornbaker
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This is a fun topic. Looking at that list, I'd say 1936, 1946, 1948, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959 might have close alternatives. Perhaps 1940 and 1941 also.

I'd also consider giving Verne Gagne "Wrestler of the Year" sometime during the early 1950s, as well as later in that decade. Maybe over Carpentier and Rogers in 1957 and 1958.

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Tim- I think the only way to really accomplish it would to go year by year. Most of the years I would concead with the list, but some I agree with may not with a larger group of people. Say 1948 for instance. That was the peak of Gorgeous George, and he was so big at the time I would find it hard not to give him a year or two. Santo, Baba, Inoki, Rikidozan would sure to have captured some wins too IMO.

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Matt Farmer from WA
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For 1966 I don't think Sammartino was a good pick. After all 66' wasn't a great year as a draw. I would pick Gene Kiniski, hands down. Won the NWA title in January, held it all year and drew very, very well. In some markets like Seattle and Vancouver he set records that stood for decades. Also drew well in St. Louis, Texas, Florida, ect. And he was considered a great worker too.

I think 60, 61, and 62 are all Rogers. He was just too huge of a draw, and the number one guy for the most part in the US.

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jdw
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Here's the old discussion thread from tOA back when Dave published it. Steve's notes on why he voted for folks, and other people coming in to discuss.

Steve's comment is correct: it's been close to 9 years and there are things he would change based on research he's done since. But one of the trickier aspects is the mindset that you list these by:

* who *you* would vote for

* who you think *WON* style voters would have picked

You'll see the destinction in several of my follow ups.

John

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jdw
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Eighties Board - Wrestler of the Year (Yohe, Idol, Old School John, Dan, jdw)

---------------------------------------------
Wrestlers of the Year
Posted by Steve Yohe
12.72.153.80
Eighties Messages
April 08, 2001
21:38:33 U.S. CST

This is a list of the wrestlers I think would have been voted Wrestler
of the Year if some American sheet such as THE OBSERVER had existed
since the beginning of the century. I thought this would be a good
exercise because it would tell us something about the longevity of
the stars of today compared with the other greats throughout the
twentieth century. John Williams and I are hoping this list will lead
to interesting discussion or even some of those heated arguments that
tOA is famous for. I've spent the last few years studying the early
part of the century and I feel comfortable I can defend my choices
in those years against anyone, though around 1970 I become just one
of the boys with an opinion. So in those years I welcome help and
expect to be corrected. The original list was just the names but
John has asked me to write something about each selection, so I'll
try.


1901. George Hackenschmidt

This was the year Hack won his World Graeco-Roman championship
Tournaments in Vienna (over Hali Adali) and Paris (Constant Le Boucher)
to become the world's first international superstar. Easy pick. Hack
would have won in 1900 also.


1902. George Hackenschmidt (2)

Hack increased his fame by performing in England and settling weight
lifting records. The dominant wrestler in America was Tom Jenkins but
he lost his American title late in the year to Dan McLeod.


1903. Tom Jenkins

Hack stayed in England most of the year. He was unable to compete
in the Paris World Championship tournament due to rheumatism. (It
was won by Jess Pedersen.) Frank Gotch had developed into a major
star but was defeated by Tom Jenkins in a major match for the
American title, so I think a American sheet would vote for Jenkins
over Hack.


1904. Frank Gotch

Gotch became one of America's biggest sports star by beating Jenkins
in a great match in January and remained undefeated the rest of the
year. Hack defeated Jenkins in London later in the year, also beat
the Turk Ahmed Madrali and traveled to Australia for a tour. None
of this seemed as dramatic as Gotch's year. Hack also had his first
knee surgery in Sept. I think Americans would have voted for Gotch
who was getting the super push.


1905. George Hackenschmidt (3)

Hack came to America and easily won the first true world title by
beating Jenkins in MSG. Gotch was beaten twice by Jenkins in NYC.
Hack seemed unbeatable.


1906. Frank Gotch (2)

Gotch re-won the American title from Jenkins (5-23-06), then
dropped and regained it from Fred Beell (12-17-06). The big push
had begun and he would be unbeatable for the rest of his career.
Hack's only major match was against Ahmed Madrali and he toured
England most of the year.


1907. Frank Gotch (3)

Hack had a injured knee and returned to Russia to rest out the
year. Physically Hack was finished. Gotch was undefeated. The new
superstar and major wrestler in Europe was Stanislaus Zbyszko.


1908. Frank Gotch (4)

Gotch defeats Hackenschmidt in NYC (4-3-08) to win World Championship
and reconfirm Americas superiority over Europe. In this year Gotch
would have won SPORTS ILLUSTRATED"S "Sportsman of the Year award.
Let alone the OBSERVER Wrestler of the Year.


1909. Frank Gotch (5)

Defeated Yussiff Mahmout, B. F. Roller, Tom Jenkins, and Jess
Westergaard.


1910. Frank Gotch (6)

Defeated Stanislaus Zbyszko in super bout (6-1-10) in Chicago.


1911. Frank Gotch (7)

Gotch won rematch with Hackenschmidt (9-4-11), which would be enough
to win him wrestler of the Year award but also killed wrestling in
many parts of the country such as Chicago.


1912. Frank Gotch (8)

Weak choice in a bad year but I have no other choice. Gotch was
semi-retired but was always willing to step on any contender before
their push challenged him. He did refuse to give rematch to Stanislaus
Zbyszko.


1913. Stanislaus Zbyszko

Stanislaus was dominate wrestler during year (although he didn't seem
to draw at the box-office, as nothing did) and Gotch refused to grant
him a rematch. Gotch only came out of retirement to defend title vs.
George Lurich (4-1-13). George Lurich had a big year also getting a
victory over Zbyszko in MSG (5-28-13), before losing a rematch at
Vienna, Austria (7-2-13).


1914. Joe Stecher (1)

This is a very hard pick. In 1914 wrestling was at one of it's lowest
points with Gotch in retirement. Without Gotch wrestling during the
whole year, I picked Stecher over Charles Cutler. Stecher's push was
just starting with wins over Marin Plestira and Pat Connolly. He was
being build up as unbeatable, taking everyone in straight falls and in
a few minutes. Charles Cutler was getting a good push around the
mid-west and had Gotch's old American title. In Feb of 1915, he would
claim the world title in Chicago, but I feel they were just setting
him up to be knocked over by Stecher. Maybe something was going on in
Europe with Alex Aberg or Lurich but we have no record of it. Zbyszko
had some good wins early in the year (and probably should have been
first choice to be world champ) but he didn't wrestle after June,
returning to Russia. So I pick Stecher.


1915. Joe Stecher (2)

Stecher dominates pro wrestling winning world title easily from
Charles Cutler (7-5-15) and defeats Ad Santel, Jess Westergaard,
Americus, and anyone else put in against him in short matches. The
only person to last any time was Strangler Lewis, who Stecher beat in
2 hours at Evansville (10-21-15). Promoters build to a supermatch
between Stecher and Gotch but Frank breaks his leg in training.


1916. Joe Stecher (3)

Stecher remains champion through out the year. Dominates Lewis in
famous 5 hour draw at Omaha on July 4. Does lose match to John Olin
on Dec. 12 at Springfield when he is injured and UTC after 2 hrs and
40 minutes, but continues to be accepted as champion by the public.


1917. Earl Caddock

Caddock wins World title from Stecher April 9 who is injured and
looking for a rest. In match Caddock becomes first man to ever win
a clean fall over Stecher. Ed Lewis defeats John Olin on May 2 to
claim Title. Wladek Zbyszko also claim title when wins tournament in
NYC over Lewis on Dec. 22. Caddock's big win gives him the year.


1918. Earl Caddock (2)

While serving in the US Army, Caddock wrestles out of Camp Dodge
and defenses title vs. Wladek Zbyszko and Ed Lewis. He defeats both
via decision, but they both continue to claim the "Olin Line" title.
Caddock is set to defend title in a return with Stecher but is stopped
by the Army who sends him to Europe and WWI. Stecher is undefeated
but Caddock dominates year.


1919. Joe Stecher (4)

After losing two matches to Lewis and Wladek Zbyszko early in year,
Stecher comes back to beat both in major tournament for the world
title shot against Caddock. Caddock is busy with WWI most of the year
and in poor health.


1920. Joe Stecher (5)

Stecher has a great year re-winning title from Caddock in classic
match (Jan. 29) and then defended it over Lewis (April 16), John
Pesek, Wladek Zbyszko, Jim Londos, Olin, Joe Malcewicz, Renato Gardini
and Tom Draak, before losing title to Ed Lewis on Dec. 13. I picked
Joe over Ed because of the wins over the total year. Some may be
thinking that perhaps there was some wrestler with great work rate
and popularity that might have gotten more votes over the guys
winning the Championships. If there were a Kobashi or Benoit during
this time it would have been Jim Londos. He was the first sex symbol
in sports and the biggest draw where ever he appeared but he only
weighted 190 lbs. and the promoters didn't feel it would be
believable for him to be able to defeat big wrestlers like Lewis,
Stecher, and the Zbyszko brothers.


1921. Stanislaus Zbyszko (2)

Five months after defeating Stecher, Lewis drops World Title to
Stan Zbyszko. Then seems to take a vacation. This was the period
supposedly control (although it seems to me that NYC promoter Jack
Curley remained the real power up to this year) by the trio of Toots
Mondt, Sandow, and Lewis. I've always wondered about this short
reign. Perhaps Lewis wanted to spend time with his new wife and baby
in S. F. On Oct. 4 Lewis wrestled his old friend Joe Stecher in SF
and lost a close decision. Anyway Stan Zbyszko, who hadn't really
lost since being tricked by Frank Gotch in 1910, defeated Lewis
for the title and defended it with wins vs. Lewis on two other
occasions. He also defeated Stecher (twice), Ad Santel, John Pesek,
Caddock, Clarence Ekland, and Renato Gardini. Londos lost to Lewis
and Caddock and then sat out the end of the year with eye problems.
The only trouble with this selection is that he was weak at the
box-office.


1922. Ed "Strangler" Lewis

Lewis regains title from Stan on March 3 and then dominates everyone
he meets.


1923. Ed "Strangler" Lewis (2)

Lewis continues to dominate, wrestling same contenders over and
over. Doesn't seem like much of a year.


1924. Ed "Strangler" Lewis (3)

Lewis again was champion the whole year but he had pretty much
run through all the contenders in his company, mainly Stan Zbyszko,
Toots Mondt, Dick Daviscourt, and Renato Gardini. So during the
year the Golddust Trio spent a lot of their energy building up
footballer Wayne Munn as a wrestling monster. It seemed to working
on minor level, but 1924 wasn't a great year for wrestling.


1925. Joe Stecher (6)

Lewis lost his championship to Wayne Munn on Jan. 8 in order to set
up a supermatch on May 30, but the plan falls apart when Stanislaus
Zbyszko shoots on the non-wrestler Munn and takes title on April 5.
May 30 turns out to be the day Joe Stecher regains control of his
World Title as he beats Zbyszko in straight falls in St. Louis.
Lewis does beat Munn in the rematch but is recognized only in
Illinois and Michigan. Stecher's group grows in power while Lewis
gains weight. Many of the wrestlers switch sides. Joe defeats
Daviscourt, Dan Koloff, Gardini, Londos, and Stan Zbyszko in at
least 3 rematches. Stecher defeats Gardni in the first wrestling
main event at LA's new Olympic Auditorium.


1926. Joe Stecher (7)

Stecher controls title the entire year and tours throughout the
country. Defends vs. John Pesek, Ivan Podulany, Londos, Zbyszko,
George Calza, Daviscourt, Nick Lutze, and Giovanni Raicevich. Ed
Lewis drops out of a title unification match set up by the Calif.
Athletic commission and forfeits $5,000 to Stecher (Oct. 9). Jim
Londos is biggest draw in the sport outside of the champions but
is unable to beat Stecher.


1927. Joe Stecher (8)

Stecher tours NY, the East Coast, and the South as champion. Lewis
still refuses to wrestle Stecher, but the match between the two is
probably being shopped around. Londos remains big box-office.


1928. Ed Lewis (4)

The Supermatch between Stecher and Lewis happens in St. Louis
(Feb. 20), with Lewis winning. Lewis weights 227 lbs for the match.
Three weeks later, he's gained 20 lbs. Stecher retires after the
match to his farm and grain business. Londos sets up shop in NYC,
who Athletic Commission refuses to recognize Lewis until he
wrestles Hans Steinke.


1929. Gus Sonnenberg

With Lewis aging and losing interest, the Sandow boys once again
give the title to a non-wrestling type football player. This time
though the player is Gus Sonnenberg, who is a solid worker with
star power and is credited with changing the style of the sport.
He introduces flying tackles and stand up moves off the ropes.
Sonnenberg wins title over Lewis on Jan. 4 and beats everyone he
meets including Lewis in rematches. Also beats the returning Stecher
twice. Londos is the big draw on East Coast but Dick Shikat, a
legitimate wrestler, is picked to be their first world champ by
beating the Greek star on Aug. 23.


1930. Jim Londos

Londos wins NY World Title from Dick Shikat (June 6) when his bosses
quit worrying about legitimate wrestlers and realize it's money that
counts. Londos establishes himself as the greatest draw in the
history of the sport. Also becomes the first wrestler to be recognized
by a national (well almost) organization the NBA. (No... boxing,
not basketball). Sonnenberg continues to draw but drops his title in
a big upset to Ed Don George in LA on Dec. 10. It might have had
something to do with the fact he didn't drive well when drunk.


1931. Jim Londos (2)

Londos has one of the greatest years in history filling up MSG and
Yankee Stadium etc. George lost his title to Lewis (April 13), who
lost it to Henri Deglane (May 4).


1932. Jim Londos (3)

Londos is driven out of NYC for being too hard to handle, with Old
Ed Lewis being brought in and made the new world champ in New York.
Fans hate Lewis and the bottom falls out of the territory without
Jimmy. Londos continues to pack in the crowds all over the country.
In Dec. he loses one fall in a 2/3 fall match to George Zaharias
in LA, (which Londos won). It may have been the first fall he had
lost since losing to Shikat in Aug. 1929.


1933. Jim Londos (4)

The Londos story continues as he dominates another year. He is
doublecrossed in match vs. Joe Savoldi on April 7, but story is
revealed and he continues to be recognized as World Champ. Tours
Europe for 6 weeks in Aug. and Sept. Ed Don George beats Henri
Deglane on Feb. 10 and does well as AWA Champion in Boston. Jim
Browning takes NY world title from Lewis (Feb. 20) and does well
in the ring but NYC market remains in a depression.


1934. Jim Londos (5)

Londos screws over a few people and jumps back to the NY promotion.
He wins a rematch vs. Savoldi in Chicago on Jan. 31 drawing 20,206.
He then wins the NY version of the world title from Jim Browning
on June 25 in title unification match at the MSG Bowl which draws
25,000. Londos wrestles to a 4 hr draw in a title unification match
with Ed Don George in Boston on July 18, drawing 30,000 fans. Londos
and George would wrestler another draw on August 1 in Buffalo. He
finally beats Lewis in Chicago on Sept. 20, drawing a record-breaking
35,265 fans. Then he draws a real 23,765 fans (which the newspapers
would report as 37,700) in LA on Oct. 10 to see him defeat Man
Mountain Dean. A huge year.


1935. Danno O'Mahoney

O'Mahoney, one of the creations of Boston promoter Paul Bowser,
become the last truly undisputed World Champion (if you don't count
Vincent Lopez's claim that year in Calif.) by beating Londos and
Ed Don George. He drew huge in Boston. He was the last man ever
to defeat Londos. Jimmy, who received one of the largest payoffs in
wrestling history to do the job, retired for the rest of the year.


1936. Yvon Robert

The undisputed world champion's reign lasted seven months. On
March 2 Dick Shikat shot on Danno O'Mahoney in MSG and relieved
of his title. Chaos followed. By the end of the year at least 10
men had laid claim to the "World" Title (Shikat, O'Mahoney, Ali Baba,
Daniel Boone Savage, David Levin, Everett Marshall, Yvon Robert,
Dean Detton, Vincent Lopez and Cliff Olsen.) and three major title
lines had been formed. I picked Yvon Robert over Everett Marshall
and Dean Detton.. Robert, who had one of the greatest wrestling
careers in history, defeated Danno O'Mahoney (still recognized by
the AWA and Paul Bowser) on July 13 and was a big star in Northeast
including Boston and Montreal. Marshall defeated Ali Baba June 26,
but even with wrestling talent and good looks he lacked color and was
a poor draw in the East. He wrestled most of the year in the weaker
Ohio area. Detton was recognized by RING MAGAZINE as the true champ
after his win over Levin on Sept. 28 and drew big through out the US
and in Calif. Lopez and Levin also drew large in LA. The Daniel Boone
Savage hillbilly was a major draw in Texas. I would say it was very
close but I'm going with Robert over Detton. Robert did defeat
Detton March 9 in Philadelphia, before Detton would be Levin.


1937. Bronko Nagurski

Nagurski was football's best player and a cross over star. He defeated
Dean Detton on June 29 and had the strongest claim to the title. Jim
Londos was back and was still a major draw, but also wrestled in
Europe and Africa. Tom Pack, promoter in St. Louis tried to develop
a new star in Lou Thesz and he was given the MWA world title after
a COR victory over Everett Marshall on Dec. 29. Paul Bowser was
pushing another Irishman Steve Casey and running Boston cards with
Robert, Marshall, Casey, and Thesz promising one World champion.


1938. Steve Casey

On Feb. 11 Casey defeated Lou Thesz for the AWA and MWA World title and
then defended them in Northeast (Boston) and St. Louis. Jim Londos
returned full time to the U.S. in 1938 and established his old drawing
power on the East Coast (NYC) and LA. On Nov. 18 he took his old
World Title from Bronko Nagurski to complete the comeback. I had a
hard time deciding between the two but went with Casey who beat Marshall
and Thesz. I've seen the Londos/Nagurski match on film and I feel
Jimmy was living off his reputation and power from being the top star
for 20 years.


1939. Bronko Nagurski (2)

Still a major crossover star, Nagurski was given Lou Thesz's NWA Title
on June 23 in Houston. Thesz was having a great year, establishing
himself as St. Louis' biggest star with a NWA Title win over Everett
Marshall (Feb. 23) and Steve Casey (March 10) in a rematch, but was
injured in the Nagurski match. Londos continued being Londos in Philly
and LA, but nothing memorable seemed to be going on. Londos spent the
last part of the year in Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia.


1940. Ray Steele

Originally I had this year a tie but John tells me that that's a cop
out, and I have to pick only one for each year. Maurice Tillet, The
French Angel, was a 5' 9'' 280 lbs. strongman-freak who was the Andre
the Giant of the early 40's. Working out of Boston he was famed as
the ugliest wrestler in the world. He had one of the most remarkable
records in the game's History. In 1940 he beat Robert, Longson, Rudy
Dusek, Gino Garibaldi, Sonnenberg, O'Mahoney, Golden Terror, Dean
Detton, and won the AWA World Title from Steve Casey on May 13. He
would hold the AWA title for 2 years. The success of the French Angel
may have represented 1940 better but I'm picking Ray Steele, who had
been one of wrestling's best workers and shooters for 22 years. In
1940 Steele stepped out of the shadow of Jim Londos to win the NWA
title from Nagurski on March 7 in St. Louis. He defended it the rest
of the year vs. Thesz, Bronko, Marshall, etc throughout the mid-West,
The South and the West Coast. My feeling are that Observer-type voters
would have voted for the worker over the freak. Some other contenders
would have been: Londos, Orville Brown (who was setting up shop in
the Mid-West by beating Dick Shikat for the MWA Title on June 27.),
Nagurski, Robert, and Lou Thesz.


1941. Yvon Robert (2)

Robert was Montreal World champ for most of the year, losing and
winning the belt from Lou Thesz. Sandor Szabo won the NWA Title
from Nagurski (June 5) by DQ and defended it throughout Calif. Jim
Londos was still a big attraction in Calif. and The French Angel
(AWA Champ) toured the country as a great gimmick performer. I like
Robert over the rest but it's not a clear choice.


1942. Bill Longson

Bill Longson won the NWA Title from Sandor Szabo Feb. 19 and seems
to have been the first true heel world champ. Those who saw him say
he was a great performer who's style resembled Bruiser Brody. In 1942
he began his dominance of the St Louis market defeating Szabo,
Everett Marshall, Ray Steele, Chief Little Wolf, O'Mahoney and Thesz.
Longson also won a Title unification match from Yvon Robert on Aug. 19
in Montreal. Ed Lewis had a minor comeback drawing 12,986 in a loss
to Longson in St Louis. The Strangler also won the MWA title from
Orville Brown during Nov. Robert had another good year regaining his
Montreal World Title from The French Angel (June 25) and then winning
the NWA title from Longson (Oct. 7). Fifty days later(Nov. 27) he
dropped the NWA title to Bobby Managoff , who is one of the most
underrated champions in history. Steve Casey regained his AWA Title
from The French Angel (May 14).I think Longson was special. He would
draw better in other years but it was the first year of WWII.


1943. Bill Longson (2)

Dominated year re-winning NWA title from Bobby Managoff (Feb. 19).
Probably averaged between 9,000 and 10,000 in St. Louis. Defeated
Robert at least twice. Nagurski returned to football and won NFL
world title.


1944. Bill Longson (3)

Retained NWA title all year and averaged around 10,000 in St. Louis.


1945. Bill Longson (4)

Longson still gets my pick, didn't seem to lose a thing. Frank Sexton
wins AWA title from Sandor Szabo, loses it and then regains it from
Steve Casey. Sexton ends Casey's control over Boston by beating him
all year to become the East Coast version of Lou Thesz. Buddy Rogers
begins gaining popularity working in Texas.


1946. Frank Sexton

In my original paper I had this year a draw between Longson and Sexton
but big John Williams made the no draw rule so I'm going with Sexton.
On Jan. 10 the two world champs met in a title unification match at
Toronto and the result was a draw. Sexton also had a unification match
with Babe Sharkey who had a piece of Jim Londos' claim in Baltimore
and parts of the East Coast since the Greek was striped in March
1944. Sexton won that match to hold two titles that had a stronger
in ring claim to a world title than Longson's NWA title. Buddy Rogers
became very popular in St. Louis drawing 17,621 in a match with Longson,
but Buddy was kept in his place by doing jobs to Longson and Thesz.
Primo Carnera, the first worked World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
(that we know about), turned wrestler in 1946 and toured as wrestling
biggest box office attraction. I think Sexton would have won this year
because he had more votes on the East Coast.


1947. Bill Longson (5)

Longson ends four years as NWA champ by losing to Billy Watson by
DQ. (Feb 21). Comes back later in the year to defeat Watson and regain
Title over Lou Thesz (Nov. 21). Thesz holds belt most of year and
is becoming the real power in St. Louis. Sexton defeats Minneapolis
NWA champ Sandor Szabo in LA and draws with Calif. World champ
Enrique Torres while defending his AWA title on both coasts and
St. Louis. Buddy Roger spends year doing jobs for Thesz and Primo
Carnera but is developing into wrestling's greatest performer. I would
like to make this year a draw between Longson and Thesz, but Williams
will get upset so I'm going to pick Longson.


1948. Frank Sexton (2)

Wrestling greatest year mainly due to TV and the development of major
stars such as Rogers, Gorgeous George, and Antonio Rocca. The National
Wrestling Alliance is formed and recognizes MWA ruler, Orville Brown,
as their first champion. Sam Muchnick uses Brown and Buddy Rogers
in his promotional war with the Thesz/Pack company in St. Louis.
Thesz takes control of the old Pack promotion and it's title when
he defeats Longson on July 20. Rocca shows up in Texas and is a big
hit. Of course many will want to pick Gorgeous George because it
was in 48 that he became the greatest crossover star in the history
of the game. I feel that George gets more credit than he deserves.
It's probably true that he sold out (10,000) the Olympic Auditorium
every time he appeared but on the cards he wasn't booked The Dusek
Brothers were doing 9,000. I see George as a creation of TV and an
agent who also controlled Bob Hope. You couldn't really work a program
with him and the LA promoters refused to put him over their World
Champ Enrique Torres. I think the non-casual fans of a sheet like
THE OBSERVER would resent him as another Freak Attraction like Wayne
Munn, Maurice Tillet, and Primo Carnera and not vote for him. In June
Buddy Rogers showed up in LA's secondary promotion at The Hollywood
Legion Stadium claiming a Jack Pfefer world title and catches fire.
Later that year he is used by Muchnick in St. Louis and does so well
it worry's Thesz. Frank Sexton continues to control the East Coast and
SF. On Oct. 20 he and Thesz wrestle to a draw in LA. In Nov. Sexton
defeats Minneapolis World champ Cliff Gustafson. Sexton also has wins
over Rogers. I wanted to have a four-way tie but in having to pick I
take Sexton over Thesz, George, and Brown.


1949. Lou Thesz

Thesz defends title all year beating George, Longson, Rocca etc. In
Nov. Orville Brown is injured in a car wreck before a big title
unification match between both NWA title and Thesz ends up with both.
He and Muchnick join forces in St. Louis after Sam gains ground using
Buddy Rogers. Decision is made by promoters that because of national
TV there should be just one World Champion and Thesz will be that
person. Rogers is over in LA, St. Louis, Ohio and anywhere he appears.
Rocca screws promoters in Texas and moves to NY and LA (for TV). For
this he has his head handed to him in a match with Thesz. The Gorgeous
George tour continues but bombs in NYC when he is used to reopen MSG
(Feb. 22). Frank Sexton and Orville Brown have a title unification
match in Cleveland March 15 that results in a 1 hr and 45 minutes
draw.


1950. Lou Thesz (2)

Thesz continues to book himself as unbeatable champ. Sexton works in
Europe and then returns to drop AWA title to Don Eagle(May 23). Three
days later Eagle is double crossed by a referee and title is given
to Gorgeous George. George then loses to Thesz at Chicago in front of
7,675 via COR (July 27) before dropping AWA title back to Don Eagle
(Aug. 31). The AWA Title remains intact but the NWA succeeded in
taking its credibility. Rogers and Thesz battle with Lou ending up on
top. Baron Michele Leone wins Calif. World title after win over Enrique
Torres (Nov. 22) with the idea of a super match with Thesz. Rocca drew
well in MSG and kept the arena open for wrestling.


1951. Lou Thesz (3)

The Rogers/Thesz feud draw well all year and I picked Thesz because he
got the wins as champ. The fans seemed to have been draw by Buddy.
Rocca's star grew bigger in NY, Calif. and the rest of the country.


1952. Lou Thesz (4)

Thesz defeats Baron Michele Leone in title unification match in LA and
draws 25,256 and $103,256. All time records.


1953. Lou Thesz (5)

Thesz beat all the contenders - Rogers, Verne Gagne, Pat O'Connor,
Rikidozan, and Rocca - during the year. Thesz and Leo Nomellini drew
16,487 and $52,000 to the Cow Palace on June 16. On Jan. 5 Thesz
defeated Antonio Rocca at MSG. Rocca then beat Buddy Rogers for the
AWA title in Cleveland on March. On March 24, Thesz and Rocca again
met in MSG in a draw and no one even mentioned that both were title
holders. Rogers took the AWA title back from Rocca on April 9. Thesz
and the NWA title did not seem to draw well in MSG and Rocca did.
This hurt Lou's rep in the future.


1954. Lou Thesz (6)

More of the same.


1955. Lou Thesz (7)

More of the same.


1956. Antonino Rocca

Thesz took parts of the year off; dropping the title to Billy Watson
via COR (March 15) and taking it back (Nov. 9). Watson was a safe
person to hold the belt but he was a regional star and only drew in
the US because he had the title. Rocca had become a crossover star
and toured all over making money. Rogers, with Killer Kowalski, were
the top heels. Rogers, you would think, would get tons of votes every
year. If Ric Flair had a cult following I'd hate to think what Buddy
would have had. Edward Carpentier was a great performer who was
getting built up in Montreal, beat Kowalski and had three draws with
Rocca.. Verne Gagne and Wilbur Snyder drew 20,000 fans to a match
in Milwaukee on Aug. 4. I'm taking Rocca (Hogan of 56) over Buddy
(Flair of 56).


1957. Edward Carpentier

Carpentier had developed into a sensational performer and star in
Montreal, and a decision was reached by at least some of the members
of the NWA to have him replace Thesz as champ. So he defeated Lou on
June 14 in Chicago to win the NWA Title when Thesz couldn't continue
due to an injured back. After that, fights took place between various
promoters and the whole thing was forgotten by history. Carpentier
was undefeated the rest of the year, becoming a big star everywhere.
He wrestled many draws with Rocca (Boston, Chicago and MSG), had a
great feud with Killer Kowalski and beat Rogers, The Bruiser Fred
Blassie and Fritz Von Erich. Rikidozan had taken over in Japan and
Thesz had a famous tour. Lou then returned to the US and gave the
title to Dick Hutton (Nov. 14), who no one but Thesz wanted as
champion. I picked Carpentier. I don't think anyone in America knew
about Rikidozan and Japan at the time and you would have to say he
was regional. Stars like Rogers, Rocca, Thesz, Carpentier, Bruiser,
O'Connor, Kowalski, Gagne etc could draw anywhere and did. Could
Rikidozan?


1958. Buddy Rogers

Rogers had been #2 for so long that I have to believe, that with
Thesz gone and Hutton a weak champion, he would have won. This would
have been a year where workrate would play a big part in the victory
because Buddy was still doing jobs for Thesz. We know Lou hated
Rogers. I wonder how Buddy felt about Lou, considering how he was held
back. Carpentier lost his title to Kowalski (May 3), Gagne (Aug. 9),
and did a job for NWA champ Hutton (Dec. 26). Gagne was probably a
strong contender also.


1959. Buddy Rogers (2)

I had this a three way tie between Rogers, Rocca, and O' Connor, on
my original paper but was forced by John to pick one. This didn't
seem like a good year outside of NYC where Rocca was filling MSG. The
year sees the power in the NWA moving East. I think Rogers was the main
man and he was only being held back by the people in St. Louis. Pat
O'Connor won the NWA Title from Dick Hutton on Jan. 9. He was a very
good worker and had experience drawing in every territory. Verne Gagne
was powerful in the mid-west and probably had visions of a new AWA
in his head. Rogers worked Columbus and Montreal working programs
with Kowalski and Carpentier. Dr. X (Bill Miller) was having a good
run in the Omaha area. Carpentier moved to Calif. and claimed the
new WWA world title. Fred Blassie ruled parts of the South. Rikidozan
was also a consideration but in picking one, I take Rogers.


1960. Buddy Rogers (3)

More of the same. Another major contender would be Ray Stevens who
was becoming a legend in SF.


1961. Buddy Rogers (4)

Rogers won NWA World Title from Pat O' Connor on June 30 in front of
38,000 fans. Other contenders are Fred Blassie who defeated Ed
Carpentier for the WWA Title in LA (June 12) and had wins over Thesz,
Ricky Star, George, Hutton, Carnera, and Rocca. The only major
babyface Blassie seemed to miss was Gagne. Ray Stevens continued
in SF.


1962. Buddy Rogers (5)

Rikidozan had two matches vs. Blassie in LA and beat Thesz and Kowalski
in Tokyo, but had title all year and he was king even as he was reaching
the end of the road. Ray Stevens was having a great year but broke his
ankle in July in the middle of a great series with Pepper Gomez. The
Destroyer won WWA Title from Blassie and became one of wrestling best
draws and workers. The Williams guy once again forces me to make a
decision and I took Rogers.


1963. Lou Thesz (8)

The NWA brings back Lou Thesz and the old killjoy takes the NWA title
back from Rogers (Jan. 24) and beats other title claimants like Kowalski,
Bruno Sammartino ,Tarzan Tyler, and Karl Gotch. Bruno Sammartino gets
pushed as the new East Coast king with a WWWF Title win over Buddy
Rogers (May 17), the surprise is that it works as the Italian plays his
part well. He is helped by programs with Kowalski and Gorilla Monsoon.
Stevens and Blassie return to their areas in Calif. and regain their
box office prowess. Rikidozan continues as a wrestling god in Japan but
is knifed in Dec. and dies. The Destroyer sells out The Olympic
Auditorium with matches vs. Shohei Baba and Blassie and is a sensation
in Japan being the last man to defeat the great Rikidozan. Verne Gagne
unifies the AWA and Omaha world titles with victory over Fritz Von
Erich. Rogers retires. The longevity of Thesz career is amazing. He had
out lasted Everett Marshall, Steve Casey, Frank Sexton, Bronko
Nagurski, Bill Longson, Gorgeous George, and now his greatest rival
Buddy Rogers. Now 25 years after his first title reign, he was ask to
return by the NWA. No other career ever had such big compliment.


1964. Bruno Sammartino

Thesz toured all year as NWA champ but Sammartino became the true power
with 11 MSG cards with attendance around 15,000 or better. This also
was a draw on my first draft but the Williams rule forces me to side
with Sammartino.


1965. Lou Thesz (9)

Looking at this year it's very close between Thesz and Sammartino
again. Sammartino still drew more but Thesz was the legitimate champion
and had better traditional wrestling matches. I would rather watch
Thesz wrestle Pat O' Connor than Bruno wrestle Bill Watts. I'm picking
Thesz one more time.


1966. Bruno Sammartino (2)

Gene Kiniski defeated Thesz on Jan. 7 for the NWA belt. Kiniski was a
great wrestler and a good champion but his selection made Sammartino
look more like the legitimate champion sense the two had worked a
long program with Bruno winning. Baba took control of JWA when
Toyonobori (successor to Rikidozan) self destructed due to gambling
debts. Bobo Brazil, #2 face in the East to Sammartino, was drawing
big in LA. Sammartino sticks out.


1967. Shohei Baba

JWA with Shohei Baba as it's leader crushes rival Japanese promotion
IWE (with Antonio Inoki and Toyonobori). Baba defends International
Title twice vs. Bruno Sammartino and twice vs. Gene Kiniski. All
four matches are draws. Baba also has memorable matches with Buddy
Austin, Fritz Von Erich and The Destroyer. Kiniski has big match
with Fritz Von Erich and Thesz and averages around 11,000 in St Louis.
Nothing much going on in WWWF. Bruno only draws 6,612 in MSG on
Oct. 23. and doesn't sell out all year. On July 15 Sammartino loses
match to Ray Stevens in S. F. via COR and gets bad reviews from all the
smart fans of the day. Giant Baba wins.


1968. Shohei Baba (2)

JWA had great wrestling all year with Baba defending International
Title with wins over The Crusher, Ray Stevens, Curtis Iaukea, Pat
Patterson, The Bruiser, Kowalski, and Brazil. Baba wrestles
Sammartino twice: a DCOR on Aug. 2 and then defeats the WWWF champ
on Aug. 7 via COR in a Int. Title defense. Baba also wrestled NWA
champion Kiniski twice: a draw on Dec. 1 and a win via DQ in a Int.
Title defense on Dec. 6. Seems the Americans would have sold JWA
Frank Gotch's grave if the price was right. Nothing special happened
in the WWWF with Bruno forced to meet people like The Kentucky Butcher
George Steele, and Rocky Fitzpatrick. Bruno's big feud was with The
Sheik the last 3 months of the years. The 3 MSQ shows drew 10,443,
11,122, and 10,943. Bruno had no MSG sell out in 68. The series did
help The Sheik become one of the biggest box office stars in
wrestling. Bruno did not pin The Sheik.


1969. Dory Funk Jr.

Dory Funk Jr. won NWA title from Kiniski on Feb. 11. Funk and the
other wrestlers trained on his father's ranch changed the style of
pro wrestling in the 70's introducing many of the suplex moves common
today. Dory did well in his first year as champ wrestling draws with
Baba and Antonio Inoki in Japanese title defenses. Baba continued on
top in JWA, but nothing special happened for him during year. Inoki
won JWA world tournament. Other contenders: Brazil, Jack Brisco,
Blassie, Mil Mascaras, and The Sheik. Sammartino still couldn't sell
out MSG. On May 14 he drew 7,670 for a tag match and on June 30 drew
5,527 vs. George Steele.


1970. Dory Funk Jr. (2)

Sammartino did sell out MSG a least twice (vs. Crusher Verdu) and maybe
two other times also. But I think smart fans would vote for Funk
because of his work and the brother who could get heal heat.
Other contenders: Baba, Inoki, Blassie, John Tolos, The Sheik, Jack
Brisco, Pat Patterson, and Mil Mascaras. Verne Gagne is supposed to
have drawn 30,000 to a AWA title defense against Baron Von Raschke
in Chicago. Andre the Giant works first match in Japan and then is
moved to Montreal.


1971. Pedro Morales

Sammartino drops WWWF Title to Ivan Koloff clean (class way to go out),
who hands it to Pedro Morales on Feb. 8. Morales draws better in MSG
than Bruno ever did. Sellouts become common. Funk continues as NWA
champion and has feud with Jack Brisco. Fred Blassie and John Tolos
draw 25,847 and $142,158.50 to The LA Coliseum. Some historians think
it's the largest unworked figure in to that point in history. Mil
Mascaras is also a huge draw in LA Antonio Inoki popularity in JWA
becomes a problem. He becomes more of a rival than a tag partner to
Giant Baba. When he plans a coup, Inoki is expelled from company. Andre
the Giant works IWE Tournament in Japan and gets win over Karl Gotch
and losses finial to Strong Kobayashi via COR.


1972. Pedro Morales (2)

More of the same. Morales and Sammartino draw 22,508 and $140.923 to
Shea Stadium on Sept. 30. Inoki's NJW has first card on March 6 and
has series of matches with Karl Gotch. Baba breaks away from JWA on
Aug. 18 and forms AJ on Oct. 21. Andre and Don Leo Jonathan draw 20,000
fans to a match in Montreal.


1973. Andre The Giant

Andre The Giant signs with the WWWF and begins tours to just about
every territory, breaking attendance records beating two to three
major stars each night. The Giant, who was a good athlete and worker
for his size, becomes bigger that the world title. Shohei Baba wins
PWF world by beating 8 major stars, one of which is Bruno Sammartino
who he pins. Harley Race defeats Dory Funk for NWA title (May 24)when
Jr. is allegedly threaten with a shoot. Race drops it to Jack Brisco
on July 20. Brisco is a great wrestler and worker. In Dec, the WWWF
title is switched from Morales to Stan Stasiak to old reliable
Bruno Sammartino.


1974. Jack Brisco

Sammartino and Andre are huge draws during year but Jack Brisco was
one of the best working NWA champions. I think the smart fans would
give him their votes. Jack lost the title to Shohei Baba Dec. 2,
lost a rematch Dec. 5, then re-won the belt Dec. 9. The Japanese
show no class by not filming Baba losing match. Inoki rivals Baba;
beating Kintaro Oki and Strong Kobayashi


1975. Bruno Sammartino (3)

I was going to make this a 3 way tie but Mr. Go-by-the-Rules, The
Mil Mascaras of Smart Fans - John D. Williams - says no. Andre,
Brisco, Baba, Inoki continued strong. On Dec. 10, Terry Funk takes
NWA Title from Brisco. I saw this as a come down for the NWA. Terry
is known as a great worker but he wasn't the classic wrestler that
Thesz, Funk Jr or Brisco were. He was also very beatable in my eyes.
I liked him but not as NWA champion. Nick Bockwinkle defeated old
Verne Gagne for the AWA world title on Nov. 8. It was really nice
of Verne to give some young guy a chance since he had held on to
his belt through much inactivity sense Aug. 31, 1968. I think the
idea was he wanted to beat Thesz's record. I refuse to count it up
to tell you whether he did or did not. Bockwinkle was a good heal
champion and had good matches vs. Billy Robinson during the year.
Jumbo Tsuruta was the work horse of AJ. Sammartino was doing very
well in NYC. Not only selling out MSG but also the Felt Forum. I
think he also would have a big block of votes on the East Coast. I'm
giving it to Bruno. No, I'm not Italian.


1976. Bruno Sammartino (4)

This was the year of Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali and Sammartino's
broken neck. If Inoki had been able to pull it of, he would have won...
but he didn't. Sammartino injured his neck in a match with young Stan
Hansen and sucked it up to return to draw 40,000 for a rematch on
the undercard of the close circuit showing of Ali/Inoki. Nowhere in
the US did the Ali match draw beans, so I feel the Shea Stadium can
be credited to Bruno. He also drew big in match with Billy Graham,
Ernie Ladd and Bruiser Brody. Terry Funk, Andre, Dusty Rhodes, Jumbo
Tsuruta Mil Mascaras, and Terry Funk would have some votes. Mid-Atlantic
was having great matches with stars like Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel.


1977. Billy Graham

Superstar Billy Graham took the WWWF Title from Sammartino and did so
well that the company kept the belt on him for the rest of the year.
He had fun interviews and a great body but was a weak worker. Graham
and Dusty Rhodes drew 30,000 to MSG and the Felt Forum on Oct. 24.
Sammartino was still a moneymaker. Harley Race won the NWA Title from
Terry Funk and would prove himself a great champion. Nick Bockwinkle
was a good champion with AWA. Tatsumi Fujinami, one of wrestling's
greatest workers, was a hit in Japan and WWWF. Inoki rebuilt himself.


1978. Harley Race

The Williams rule stops me from making this a tie. I took Race over
Bob Backlund. Race was an ideal champ while Bob was drawing crowds
near 30,000 in MSG. I took Race. Billy Robinson had a great year with
AJ.


1979. Harley Race (2)

Race did title switches with Rhodes and Baba, while Backlund switched
with Inoki although the dummies in the US WWWF didn't know it. (Some
still don't.) Inoki had a strong year, appearing in MSG but not
really getting over in America. The WWWF Title no longer was considered
a "World" Title and Race appeared in MSG. I'll let others worry about
1979. I'm worn out.


The following are actual awards given by THE OBSERVER

1980. Harley Race (3)
1981. Ric Flair
1982. Ric Flair (2)
1983. Ric Flair (3)
1984. Ric Flair (4)
1985. Ric Flair (5)
1986. Ric Flair (6)
1987. Riki Choshu
1988. Akira Maeda
1989. Ric Flair (7)
1990. Ric Flair (8)
1991. Jumbo Tsuruta
1992. Ric Flair (9)
1993. Vader
1994. Toshiaki Kawada
1995. Mitsuharu Misawa
1996. Kenta Kobashi
1997. Mitsuharu Misawa (2)
1998. Steve Austin
1999. Mitsuharu Misawa (3)
2000. HHH

So now that that's over, let's add them up:

Wrestlers of the Year Winners
- In (parenthesis) are years won.
- In [brackets] are other years a wrestler came very close to winning.

9-Time Winners
* Lou Thesz (1949-50-51-52-53-54-55, 63, 65) [1947-48, 56-57, 64]
* Ric Flair (1981-82-83-84-85-86, 89-90, 92)

8-Time Winners
* Frank Gotch (1904, 06-07-08-09-10-11-12)
* Joe Stecher (1914-15-16, 19-20, 25-26-27)

5-Time Winners
* Jim Londos (1930-31-32-33-34) [1928-29, 38-39-40-41]
* Bill Longson (1942-43-44-45, 47) [1946]
* Buddy Rogers (1958-59-60-61-62) [1949-50-51, 53-54-55-56-57]

4-Time Winners
* Ed Lewis (1922-23-24, 28) [1920]
* Bruno Sammartino (1964-65, 75-76) [1965, 67-68-69-70, 74]

3-Time Winners
* George Hackenschmidt (1901-02, 05) [1904, 06]
* Harley Race (1978-79-80)
* Mitsuharu Misawa (1995, 97, 99)

2-Time Winners
* Stanislaus Zbyszko (1913, 21)
* Earl Caddock (1917-18)
* Yvon Robert (1936, 41)
* Bronko Nagurski (1937, 39)
* Frank Sexton (1946, 48) [1947]
* Shohei Baba (1967-68) [1969]
* Dory Funk Jr. (1969-70)
* Pedro Morales (1971-72)

1-Time Winners
* Tom Jenkins (1903)
* Gus Sonnenberg (1929)
* Danno O'Mahoney (1935)
* Steve Casey (1938)
* Ray Steele (1940)
* Antonio Rocca (1956) [1957-58-59]
* Edward Carpentier (1957)
* Andre The Giant (1973) [1974-75-76-77-78-79]
* Jack Brisco (1974) [1975]
* Billy Graham (1977)
* Riki Choshu (1987)
* Akira Maeda (1988)
* Jumbo Tsuruta (1991)
* Vader (1993)
* Toshiaki Kawada (1994)
* Steve Austin (1998)
* HHH (2000)

Wrestlers left off that will upset some people: Rikidozan, Gorgeous
George, The Sheik, Mil Mascaras, Pat O'Connor, Ray Stevens, Billy Watson,
Gene Kiniski, Fred Blassie, The Destroyer (Dr. X), Dick Shikat, El Santo,
Verne Gagne.

John and I are hoping this with start interesting discussions about
history. I know John will be ripping at things. Please just comment on
sections of this like individual wrestlers or years. I don't want to
read my own stuff over and over. I'm also hoping to learn from all of
you.

Thanks,

Steve Yohe

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jdw
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[Yohe List] Metoo...
Posted by BostonIdol
209.179.253.173
Eighties Messages
April 09, 2001
00:16:26 U.S. CST

Responding to Wrestlers of the Year

: This is a list of the wrestlers I think would have been
: voted Wrestler of the Year if some American sheet
: such as THE OBSERVER had existed since the
: beginning of the century.

Great concept. It looks like you tried to consider
drawing ability and quality of work. Did you work
out a rough ratio, or judge each year by feel?

For completeness, we should also take a look at
the wrestlers that Meltzer or his readers selected
as Wrestler of the Year.

: 1980. Harley Race (3)
: 1981. Ric Flair
: 1982. Ric Flair (2)
: 1983. Ric Flair (3)

Race carried the NWA title for about five months
during 1983. I haven't seen enough of Race or
Flair from 1983 to argue against Flair here.

: 1984. Ric Flair (4)
: 1985. Ric Flair (5)

After watching the Choshu invasion, I find it hard
to believe that Choshu wasn't the wrestler of 1985.
His group included several great or good workers,
but Choshu was the focus of the war and his solid
work did not detract from his tremendous charisma.

: 1986. Ric Flair (6)

At what point did the drawing ability of Flair and the
NWA become a bad joke outside of the southeast?
When making his choices, Yohe looked at the quality
of matches and drawing ability. Was Hogan ever
enough of a draw to offset his formulaic matches?
I believe Hogan versus Orndorff set a record here.

: 1987. Riki Choshu
: 1988. Akira Maeda

Was Maeda's monster drawing year in 1988 or 1989?

: 1989. Ric Flair (7)
: 1990. Ric Flair (8)

Jumbo would actually give Flair a run for this
honor in both 1989 and 1990. I'll give Flair
1989 based on it being probably his greatest
year with pinnacle feuds against Steamboat and
Funk, but for the same reason I'd be tempted to
give Jumbo 1990 for his matches with Misawa.

Jumbo's elevation of Misawa into main event
singles status rivals Flair's elevation of Luger
and Sting, neither of which took place in 1990.

: 1991. Jumbo Tsuruta

Lifetime achievement award? A consolation prize
for missing out on Wrestler of the Year in 1989,
1990... and the "Yohe years?" [Wink]

: 1992. Ric Flair (9)

His last hurrah... or at least it should have been.

: 1993. Vader

Hmm... Kobashi was having one of the hottest
runs of any worker in history around this time.
Hard for me not to give him the award, drawing
ability or main event status notwithstanding.

Vader was a great bumping big man, but many of
his matches from this period had a cookie cutter
feel to them. He seemed to have the same match
with Davey Boy and Simmons that he had with Sting.

: 1994. Toshiaki Kawada

Ah, the height of Williams' influence. [Wink]

Kawada had a great year, but I would at least
consider the possibility of Takada in 1994.

: 1995. Mitsuharu Misawa

Hmmm... I'm trying to remember all the great
Misawa matches from 1995...

: 1996. Kenta Kobashi

Hmmm... I'm trying to remember all the great
Kobashi matches from 1996...

Again drawing ability rears its head as some guys
named Hashimoto and Takada were doing Dome
show business in 1995 and 1996.

: 1997. Mitsuharu Misawa (2)

Uhhh... Okay, but he was slipping badly in terms
of having "Misawa by numbers" matches and relying
on Foley-esque risk taking to pop the crowd.

: 1998. Steve Austin
: 1999. Mitsuharu Misawa (3)

Must have been a down year for contenders
as Misawa was seriously fading here...

: 2000. HHH

*big laugh*

Pro wrestling's answer to George Seifort in 1989.

Frank

(Looking at the "Yohe Years" in another post.)

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[Yohe List] The seventies...
Posted by BostonIdol
209.179.253.173
Eighties Messages
April 09, 2001
01:20:38 U.S. CST

Responding to Wrestlers of the Year

Having taken issue with the Meltzer years elsewhere,
I turn my attention on the Yohe years from 1970-1979.

: 1970. Dory Funk Jr. (2)

The more I watch Dory, the more impressed I am by
Billy Robinson. I don't know what Robinson did in
1970, so I can't argue his case, but Dory from 1970
looks awfully dull on videotape.

: 1971. Pedro Morales
: 1972. Pedro Morales (2)

Did Pedro Morales have any quality matches during
this period, or does he mainly win for drawing?

I could be wrong, but I seem to recall a comment,
perhaps by Jeff Amdur, about Morales not being a
good draw in Baltimore. Was Morales drawing power
limited to New York, or was Baltimore the exception?

: 1973. Andre The Giant

If you went strictly by drawing, would Andre retire
this award for the next decade or so? I understand
that he was also a decent worker at this point. I'm
just curious as to whether his drawing power waned.

: 1974. Jack Brisco

: I think the smart fans would give him their votes.

Ahhh... so these are "smart WO fan in general" picks
as opposed to "Steve Yohe in particular" picks? [Wink]

Are you also attempting to account for the Meltzer
influence? If so, I suspect Dory Funk walks away
with both of Pedro's trophies the way Flair walked
away with the honors during Hogan's monster run. [Smile]

: 1975. Bruno Sammartino (3)

Brisco... channeling WO fans of course.

My pick would be Billy Robinson. He's got to win
one of these sooner or later, and I still haven't
gotten over the spot where he snaps, grabs Inoki,
and belly-to-belly suplexes Inoki over the top rope
to the floor. Total H.G. Wells moment there.

My vote would also be a make-good of sorts since
Billy Robinson carried Verne Gagne to a good match
at Comiskey Park in September, 1974, where Verne
was basically Dusty Rhodes without the charisma.

: 1976. Bruno Sammartino (4)

You also need to consider the Williams influence.
Of course no one knew who the hell John Williams
was in 1976, other than his parents, but if there had
been an El Hijo Del Meltzer in 1976, I think he
would have been pimping Jumbo heavily to Meltzer.

Seriously though, this may have been Jumbo's
greatest year ever. He had the Japanese MOTY
with Rusher Kimura in March, worked a great NWA
title bout with Terry Funk in June, worked a
seventy minute draw with Billy Robinson in July,
and topped all that off by beating recent NWA
champ Jack Brisco for the UN title in August.
Jumbo also had to carry the load in International
tag title matches for most of the year.

: 1977. Billy Graham

Jumbo had another Japanese MOTY, this time with
Mil Mascaras, a series of remembered matches with
Billy Robinson, and an NWA title match with Race,
but I tend to be less impressed with any and all
of these than I was with Jumbo in 1976. That said,
I could see WO voters getting confused and giving
Jumbo the make good here like they did in 1991.

Not that I'm arguing with Graham. I haven't seen
enough from this era to refute him, though the
handful of matches I have seen suggest that Graham
had far more charisma than ability. Well, perhaps
he was the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin of his era.

: 1978. Harley Race

: The Williams rule stops me from making this a tie.
: I took Race over Bob Backlund.

Good call. [Wink]

: Race was an ideal champ while Bob was drawing
: crowds near 30,000 in MSG. I took Race.

I tend to think Backlund was like Steve Young here,
a great talent beginning to emerge in a program
that was already really successful.

: Billy Robinson had a great year with AJ.

Really? I knew of Robinson's battles with Jumbo
in 1977, but I hadn't heard about anything in 1978.
As a developing Robinson mark, I'd like to know
what I should be looking for in 1978.

: 1979. Harley Race (2)

: Race did title switches with Rhodes and Baba,
: while Backlund switched with Inoki although
: the dummies in the US WWWF didn't know it.

Bigger load to carry, Rhodes or Inoki? Both
would bump, but Inoki would bump more. Then
again, Inoki would try moves that he couldn't
execute and mess everything up, too.

: (Some still don't.) Inoki had a strong year,
: appearing in MSG but not really getting over
: in America.

We're dumb but we aren't that dumb. If he's all
that on the mat, how come he's always getting
schooled by the heels? [Wink]

: The WWWF Title no longer was considered a "World"
: Title and Race appeared in MSG. I'll let others
: worry about 1979. I'm worn out.

My guess would be Race in 1979. I know I'm a Race
mark so I'm likely to favor him more than others,
but if I was ever going to give Backlund the nod
over Race, it would probably be in 1980 or 1981.

Frank

(Yes, I realize Race didn't win the award in 1981.)

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re: Wrestlers of the Year
Posted by Old School John
208.51.234.253
Eighties Messages
April 09, 2001
14:37:42 U.S. CST

Responding to Wrestlers of the Year

Steve Yohe wrote:

: This is a list of the wrestlers I think would have been voted
: Wrestler of the Year if some :American sheet such as THE
: OBSERVER had existed since the beginning of the :century.
: I thought this would be a good exercise because it would tell us
: something :about the longevity of the stars of today compared
: with the other greats throughout the :twentieth century. John
: Williams and I are hoping this list will lead to interesting
: discussion or even some of those heated arguments that tOA is
: famous for. I've spent the :last few years studying the early part
: of the century and I feel comfortable I can defend :my choices
: in those years against anyone,


Fair enough... The gauntlet has been laid down... ;-)

The only disturbing element is the caveat that these are the choices
that you postulate would have been made through a vehicle like WON. The
only problem that I see with this is that in the last two decades we've
seen occasions of the readership playing "Follow the Meltz" and lavish
praise on some fairly questionable choices. I'd much rather argue
individual and well-researched choices than trying to extrapolate the
logic of a fictitious readership. That being said, let's have a look:


:1901. George Hackenschmidt
:1902. George Hackenschmidt (2)
:1903. Tom Jenkins
:1904. Frank Gotch
:1905. George Hackenschmidt (3)
:1906. Frank Gotch (2)
:1907. Frank Gotch (3)
:
: Hack had a injured knee and returned to Russia to rest out the
: year. Physically Hack was :finished. Gotch was undefeated. The
: new superstar and major wrestler in Europe was :Stanislaus
: Zbyszko.


Okay, here's where we may disagree slightly. I'll posit that in a fervor
of nationalism, the early 1900's version of Anthony Gancarski counsels
the readership to "lurk and learn" and pimps Zbysko into the top spot.

:1908. Frank Gotch (4)
:
: Gotch defeats Hackenschmidt in NYC (4-3-08) to win World
: Championship and :reconfirm Americas superiority over
: Europe. In this year Gotch would have won :SPORTS
: ILLUSTRATED"S "Sportsman of the Year award. Let alone
: the OBSERVER :Wrestler of the Year.

Damn straight.

:1909. Frank Gotch (5)
:
: Defeated Yussiff Mahmout, B. F. Roller, Tom Jenkins, and Jess
: Westergaard.

:1910. Frank Gotch (6)
:
:Defeated Stanislaus Zbyszko in super bout (6-1-10) in Chicago.

Here's where the Indo-elitists may have their day and the 1900's versions
of certain people on this board whose initials are jdw, fj, and jp will
rail about the virtues of The Great Gama, setting up the great US vs.
Asia debate. The fictitious readership wishing to a avoid a jdw
chronology with detailed coverage of all 4,200 Gama matches to date
caves in and bestows the award on the man who would later beat Zbysko
in thirty seconds. Both Gotch and Gama beat Zbysko this year, but Gama
beat EVERYBODY that year (except Gotch). I'd give the nod to Gama based
on being a huge draw throughout Europe to the point that he received
tremendous press coverage in the States as well.

: 1911. Frank Gotch (7)
:
: Gotch won rematch with Hackenschmidt (9-4-11), which would
: be enough to win him :wrestler of the Year award but also
: killed wrestling in many parts of the country such as Chicago.

I don't like this for the very reasons that you give, but I don't see
any other viable choice. Gama's tour of Europe was over and he was
going into the "I don't wrestle unless you beat my brother mode".

: 1912. Frank Gotch (8)
: Weak choice in a bad year but I have no other choice. Gotch
: was semi-retired but was always willing to step on any
: contender before their push challenged him. He did refuse to
: give rematch to Stanislaus Zbyszko.

Bad year, but what was Roller doing? Touring with Hack? I'm really
grasping at straws here as I hate to see the semi-retired Gotch get the
nod, but I'm really not finding anything to suggest that anyone else
should get it. From 1913 to the mid-twenties I can't really find a
thing to quibble about. I'll be interested in what you have to say
about Gama...

Back with another decade or so later...


Cheers,

OSJ

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re: Wrestlers of the Year
Posted by Steve Yohe
205.188.198.186
Eighties Messages
April 11, 2001
23:16:57 U.S. CST

Responding to re: Wrestlers of the Year

: : 1910. Frank Gotch (6)
: : Defeated Stanislaus Zbyszko in super bout (6-1-10)
: : in Chicago.
:
: Here's where the Indo-elitists may have their day and
: the 1900's versions of certain people on this board
: whose initials are jdw, fj, and jp will rail about the virtues
: of The Great Gama, setting up the great US vs. Asia debate.
: The fictitious readership wishing to a avoid a jdw chronology
: with detailed coverage of all 4,200 Gama matches to date caves
: in and bestows the award on the man who would later beat
: Zbysko in thirty seconds. Both Gotch and Gama beat Zbysko
: this year, but Gama beat EVERYBODY that year (except
: Gotch). I'd give the nod to Gama based on being a huge draw
: throughout Europe to the point that he received tremendous
: press coverage in the States as well.

My Gama knowledge is limited but from my info the Sept. 10, 1910 match
with Zbysko was a draw with Stan spending most of the 2 1/2 hours
laying face down on the matt with Gama unable to do anything with him.
From what I can understand Indian style wrestling resembled Sumo more
the American pro wrestling. They wrestled in mud & the man taken down
lost. They may have had to pin one shoulder, IM not sure. In the match
Zbyszko lost(Jan. 28, 1928), Gama just bearhuged Stan, lifted him up
as Zbyszko slid around in the mud, and droped him down for the win. For
that Stan made a huge sum of money ($60,000) during the depression.
I believe wrestling has always been a work & Gama was the protege of
the Maharaja of Patiala, who was one of the richest men on earth. Any
pro wrestler in the world would have been glad to job to Gama...for a
sum like $60,000. Lewis says he did one too. I don't know maybe Gama
was the greatest wrestler, but from my limited info, I don't think
so.--Steve Yohe

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re: Wrestlers of the Year
Posted by jdw
63.73.69.132
Eighties Messages
April 13, 2001
14:11:03 U.S. CST

Responding to re: Wrestlers of the Year

: I look forward to reading this list. I printed it
: out so I can read it during my commute.
:
: A question in the mean time is, what were your
: sources?

Yohe's sources often tend to fall into the following categories:

* His own research in the newspapers and magazines of the day.

* information shared by a fairly small circle of historians, in
which most every shares their information with one another.

* a number of career record books that have been published over
the past decade or so. They run the lines from the Thesz one (not
Hooker), to the Rodgers one, to the Flair one, to the more recent
Szabo one and Steve's own Destroyer and Blassie ones.

* WAWLI, which is similar to the shared circle up above.
J Michael printed up his own stuff, but also printed up most
everything anyone else sent him. A good deal of stuff from
Steve was in it.

* His own memory of stuff in the 60s to the presnt.

* Conversations with people, and on occassion workers... though
he takes that stuff with a grain of salt.

* A handful of books like Hooker, Fall Guys, etc.... all of which
he takes with a massive grain of salt as Hooker and Fall Guys
have proven to be factually challenged on many levels.

I'm probably forgetting something.

One of the problems with wrestling history is that there are very
few source material in book form. The other is that history itself
have been treated like **** by people in the business, and is
treated in strange ways by those trying to report it. As was once
written in legendary "Letter Never Sent":

"Wrestling history is a joke. Even people trying to
capture the history of wrestling treat it with a
disrespect that is almost fitting of a worked,
twisted, back stabbing embarassment of a business.
People bring their own agenda to it, manipulating
history to support themselves, or their livelihood or
their point of view."

[Wink]


John

---------------------------------------------
[Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1901-29
Posted by jdw
12.72.151.109
Eighties Messages
May 06, 2001
03:23:57 U.S. CST

Responding to Wrestlers of the Year

Well, I've taken my time in getting off my ass to respond to this.

: This is a list of the wrestlers I think would
: have been voted Wrestler of the Year if
: some American sheet such as THE OBSERVER
: had existed since the beginning of the century.
: I thought this would be a good exercise because
: it would tell us something about the longevity
: of the stars of today compared with the other
: greats throughout the twentieth century.

There's a variety of different "types" of Wrestlers of the Year that
we've seen even in the WON era of 1982-2000.

You get guys who have solid enough careers, but really only that one or
two years that stand out as being a WOTY candidate. An example of this
would be Vader, with a number of years where he's a good valuable
wrestler, but really only 1993 and 1994 standing out as being a
reasonable candidate. He did bag one in 1993, and then since most of
his success in 1994 was with UWFi while WCW turned to having runs with
Flair and Hogan, Leon fell off in the voting. Kawada would be another
like this, with only 1994 standing out as a year where he would be a
candidate, and he bagged it there.

On the opposite end, you have guys who are, or should be, candidates
for long stretches, but only take home one. Jumbo Tsuruta in 1991 and
Riki Choshu in 1987 stand out as this type of candidate. Idol joked
about Jumbo's being akin to one of those "life time achivement" votes
like when Newman and Pacino finally won Best Actor Oscars. Much like
Newman and Pacino, Jumbo and Choshu won for years that were something
below their very best, and Choshu's was a goof vote.

Somewhere in between, you have the Tom Hanks type, being a candidate all
the time and taking home a bag of them, even at times when they don't
really deserve them. Flair is the obvious example of this, though
Misawa would be another example.

And of course you have the opposite of the Hanks type, the wrestlers
who are often candidates but never take home the prize. Maybe this is
the Susan Lucci spot. [Smile] But guys like Hogan, Hashimoto, Michaels,
and Takada come to mind.

Going back in history offers the chance to come across wrestlers
who had similar careers of long dominance, flashes of brilliance,
or being the bride's maid.


: John Williams and I are hoping this list will
: lead to interesting discussion or even some
: of those heated arguments that tOA is famous
: for.

Heated arguments on tOA? Nah...


: I've spent the last few years studying the
: early part of the century and I feel comfortable
: I can defend my choices in those years against
: anyone, though around 1970 I become just
: one of the boys with an opinion. So in those
: years I welcome help and expect to be corrected.
: The original list was just the names but John has
: asked me to write something about each selection,
: so I'll try.

Cool.


: 1901. George Hackenschmidt
:
: This was the year Hack won his World
: Graeco-Roman championship Tournaments
: in Vienna (over Hali Adali) and Paris
: (Constant Le Boucher) to become the world's
: first international superstar. Easy pick. Hack
: would have won in 1900 also.
:
: 1902. George Hackenschmidt (2)
:
: Hack increased his fame by performing in
: England and settling weight lifting records.
: The dominant wrestler in America was
: Tom Jenkins but he lost his American title
: late in the year to Dan McLeod.

I would agree on both of these. The popularity, or "buzz", for
pro-wrestling in the US wasn't there quite yet. Jenkins and McLeod
didn't have the buzz, so "tape traders" watching Hack would have
dominated the voting. [Smile]


: 1903. Tom Jenkins
:
: Hack stayed in England most of the year. He
: was unable to compete in the Paris World
: Championship tournament due to rheumatism.
: (It was won by Jess Pedersen.) Frank Gotch
: had developed into a major star but was defeated
: by Tom Jenkins in a major match for the American
: title, so I think a American sheet would vote for
: Jenkins over Hack.

Jenkins would win. Regaining the belt from McLeod and turning back
Gotch would likely carry the day.


: 1904. Frank Gotch
:
: Gotch became one of America's biggest sports star
: by beating Jenkins in a great match in January and
: remained undefeated the rest of the year. Hack defeated
: Jenkins in London later in the year, also beat the Turk
: Ahmed Madrali and traveled to Australia for a tour.
: None of this seemed as dramatic as Gotch's year. Hack
: also had his first knee surgery in Sept. I think Americans
: would have voted for Gotch who was getting the super
: push.

The tape traders would be pulling for Hack based on his more
dominating performance over Jenkins, but the rube vote would back Gotch
in a landslide.


: 1905. George Hackenschmidt (3)
:
: Hack came to America and easily won the first true
: world title by beating Jenkins in MSG. Gotch was
: beaten twice by Jenkins in NYC. Hack seemed
: unbeatable.

The #2 candidate would be Jenkins, and he might pull heavy support for
his "comeback".

The booking of Gotch, Jenkins and Hack here was just perfect stuff to
fleece the rubes.

In 1904 Gotch beats Jenkins via a foul when Jenkins hauls off and
punches him. While Gotch was "stronger" in the match, they left just
enough "doubt" on whether Gotch could actually take a pair of falls
from him that they could run a re-match. Where would the doubt be
strongest? You got it, Jenkins' home town of Cleveland. If there's any
place in the country where you might be able to find some folks willing
to put down some money on Jenkins, both the ticket buying and gambling
type of money, it would be Cleveland. Want better booking? How about
let Jenkins take the first fall in the re-match, and see if you can
shake anymore gambling money out of the woodworks to back Jenkins
between falls. Naturally Jenkins "blows-up" and Gotch comes back to
outclass him in taking the last two falls.

They rematch again in quick order, this time in MSG. All the press and
buzz is on Gotch as the golden boy of pro wrestling. If one had to
hazzard a guess, where do you think the gambling action is this time?
Oh wait, Jenkins "upsets" Gotch and takes back the title. Hmm...

Beyond speculating on fleecing the rubes in a new town, the biggest
town of all in fact, there was beauty here in putting the American
Wrestling Title back on Jenkins setting him up to face Hack in the
match to create a widely recognized World Champion in the US. Jenkins
could put over Hack for the monster that he is, and Gotch would then
be able to challenge a now super over Hack for the World Title. And
that is exactly what happened, as Hack crushed Jenkins to win the title,
and Gotch promptly challenged him. Of course Hack left the country and
that title match wouldn't happen for another three years.

But the booking gets even better. Without a Gotch vs. Hack match, New
York gets the third Jenkins vs. Gotch match of 1905 on 5/19/05. Just
a guess, but this likely would have taken the WON Match of the Year
for 1905 even over the Hack vs. Jenkins match, as the two hour and
fifteen minute plus match (1:27:57, 36:27 and 11:10 for the three falls)
was written up as a super classico. And in yet another surprise,
Jenkins retained the belt while Gotch did the equivalent of a stretcher
job after the match. Wait a minute... that means there would be
another rematch down the road between the two. [Smile]

Jenkins had a great storyline for the year. I probably would have voted
for him, but I tend to think Hack would have won it.


: 1906. Frank Gotch (2)
:
: Gotch re-won the American title from Jenkins
: (5-23-06), then dropped and regained it from
: Fred Beell (12-17-06). The big push had begun
: and he would be unbeatable for the rest of his career.
: Hack's only major match was against Ahmed Madrali
: and he toured England most of the year.

Gotch would be a lock in 1906. I suspect people would have enjoyed the
quick title-turn-around series with Beell very much, and probably would
have popped for Gotch getting the belt back from Jenkins and putting an
end to the older wrestlers days on top.


: 1907. Frank Gotch (3)
:
: Hack had a injured knee and returned to Russia to
: rest out the year. Physically Hack was finished.
: Gotch was undefeated. The new superstar and major
: wrestler in Europe was Stanislaus Zbyszko.
:
: 1908. Frank Gotch (4)
:
: Gotch defeats Hackenschmidt in NYC (4-3-08) to
: win World Championship and reconfirm Americas
: superiority over Europe. In this year Gotch would have
: won SPORTS ILLUSTRATED"S "Sportsman of the
: Year award. Let alone the OBSERVER Wrestler of the
: Year.
:
: 1909. Frank Gotch (5)
:
: Defeated Yussiff Mahmout, B. F. Roller, Tom Jenkins,
: and Jess Westergaard.
:
: 1910. Frank Gotch (6)
:
: Defeated Stanislaus Zbyszko in super bout (6-1-10)
: in Chicago.
:
: 1911. Frank Gotch (7)
:
: Gotch won rematch with Hackenschmidt (9-4-11),
: which would be enough to win him wrestler of the
: Year award but also killed wrestling in many parts
: of the country such as Chicago.

These are all Gotch years. Stanislaus did some heavy lifting to set
up the title job in 1910, but Gotch also "put him over" in the
non-title gimmick match the year before by failing to take the
required falls. Reading the major papers, wrestling was Gotch and
no one else drew anywhere near the same level of buzz.


: 1912. Frank Gotch (8)
:
: Weak choice in a bad year but I have no other choice.
: Gotch was semi-retired but was always willing to step
: on any contender before their push challenged him. He
: did refuse to give rematch to Stanislaus Zbyszko.

I probably would have abstained from voting in 1912. Gotch still
was the only wrestler anyone cared about, but he was basically sitting
on his ass by this point. Gotch at this point really needed to create
his own opponent by putting someone over, at the very least for "the
good of the sport" if not to draw a boatload of money. But Gotch seemed
to be loaded to the point that he'd just as soon keep the ego-**** of
being the "Undefeated World Champ" going rather than cash in on a
series of big money fights.

No on else in this era of 1912-1914 jumps out.


: 1913. Stanislaus Zbyszko
:
: Stanislaus was dominate wrestler during year
: (although he didn't seem to draw at the box-office,
: as nothing did) and Gotch refused to grant him a
: rematch. Gotch only came out of retirement to
: defend title vs. George Lurich (4-1-13). George
: Lurich had a big year also getting a victory over
: Zbyszko in MSG (5-28-13), before losing a
: rematch at Vienna, Austria (7-2-13).

I couldn't vote for Stan due to his job to Lurich, which one will note
was _after_ Lurich already finished his push to a title match against
Gotch. If Stan was truly a WOTY candidate he would have taken the MSG
match in a push to a title match with Gotch, even if it was known that
Gotch would refuse to give it. I seem to recall Stan used a "injury"
excuse to lose to Lurich, which is another negative to me.

"Abstain" is a cop out, but wrestling was dead here.


: 1914. Joe Stecher (1)
:
: This is a very hard pick. In 1914 wrestling was at
: one of it's lowest points with Gotch in retirement.
: Without Gotch wrestling during the whole year, I
: picked Stecher over Charles Cutler. Stecher's push
: was just starting with wins over Marin Plestira
: and Pat Connolly. He was being build up as
: unbeatable, taking everyone in straight falls and
: in a few minutes. Charles Cutler was getting a good
: push around the mid-west and had Gotch's old
: American title. In Feb of 1915, he would claim the
: world title in Chicago, but I feel they were just
: setting him up to be knocked over by Stecher.
: Maybe something was going on in Europe with
: Alex Aberg or Lurich but we have no record of
: it. Zbyszko had some good wins early in the year
: (and probably should have been first choice to
: be world champ) but he didn't wrestle after
: June, returning to Russia. So I pick Stecher.

To me Stecher's push really started getting big the the first half
of the following year leading into his match with Cutler. I couldn't
bring myself to vote for him here, especially without bigger wins in
1914. I couldn't vote for Cutler either, so this would be a third
straight year were the field was so weak I couldn't vote for anyone.


: 1915. Joe Stecher (2)
:
: Stecher dominates pro wrestling winning world
: title easily from Charles Cutler (7-5-15) and
: defeats Ad Santel, Jess Westergaard, Americus,
: and anyone else put in against him in short matches.
: The only person to last any time was Strangler
: Lewis, who Stecher beat in 2 hours at Evansville
: (10-21-15). Promoters build to a supermatch
: between Stecher and Gotch but Frank breaks his
: leg in training.

There were a pair of "International Tournament" in New York in 1915,
with Aberg, Zbyszko, Lewis and The Masked Marvel being the draws.
But Stecher's run to the World Title and defenses thereafter would
make him a lock.


: 1916. Joe Stecher (3)
:
: Stecher remains champion through out the year.
: Dominates Lewis in famous 5 hour draw at Omaha on
: July 4. Does lose match to John Olin on Dec. 12 at
: Springfield when he is injured and UTC after 2 hrs and
: 40 minutes, but continues to be accepted as champion by
: the public.

Stecher would take it again. The Lewis Marching And Chowder Society
hadn't yet taken over the press corp.


: 1917. Earl Caddock
:
: Caddock wins World title from Stecher April 9 who
: is injured and looking for a rest. In match Caddock
: becomes first man to ever win a clean fall over Stecher.
: Ed Lewis defeats John Olin on May 2 to claim Title.
: Wladek Zbyszko also claim title when wins tournament
: in NYC over Lewis on Dec. 22. Caddock's big win gives
: him the year.

Caddock is a bit of a one-note candidate here, and his title win
wasn't without controversy. But Lewis, Waldek and Stecher didn't do
enough to take the WOTY award away from him.


: 1918. Earl Caddock (2)
:
: While serving in the US Army, Caddock wrestles out
: of Camp Dodge and defenses title vs. Wladek Zbyszko
: and Ed Lewis. He defeats both via decision, but they
: both continue to claim the "Olin Line" title. Caddock is
: set to defend title in a return with Stecher but is stopped
: by the Army who sends him to Europe and WWI. Stecher
: is undefeated but Caddock dominates year.

I've never been a fan of Caddock's 1918 year. His decision wins over
Lewis and Waldek just aren't impressive for a World Champion of the
era (i.e. Gotch and Stecher beating everyone except when they jobbed
the title). But the other cadidates don't step up. Stecher had too
many draws with Lewis and Waldek, while those two failed to beat
Caddock. The three are more active than Caddock, but just don't
have the exclamation marks of a WOTY. In the end, Caddock again
with probably the weakest years ever by someone I'd vote for
back-to-back.


: 1919. Joe Stecher (4)
:
: After losing two matches to Lewis and Wladek
: Zbyszko early in year, Stecher comes back to beat
: both in major tournament for the world title shot
: against Caddock. Caddock is busy with WWI most of
: the year and in poor health.

This was Stecher's year, with brilliant booking throughout leading
into his title challenge the following January against Caddock. The year
end wins over Lewis and Waldek seal the deal.


: 1920. Joe Stecher (5)
:
: Stecher has a great year re-winning title from Caddock
: in classic match (Jan. 29) and then defended it over
: Lewis (April 16), John Pesek, Wladek Zbyszko, Jim
: Londos, Olin, Joe Malcewicz, Renato Gardini and
: Tom Draak, before losing title to Ed Lewis on Dec. 13.
: I picked Joe over Ed because of the wins over the
: total year.

I'm afraid that the rube vote may have gone to Lewis, especially since
the strong image leading into the voting period would be Lewis
beating Stecher. This would be similar to Kyoko Inoue winning the
Wrestler of the Year in 1996 when she beat Toyota in December, and
people chose to forget that Toyota had dominated the title for the
twelve months prior to that, eleven of which happened to be in 1996.
Lewis had the major organ grinding of the media, and had the great
"story" of chasing the title since 1915 before finally winning it. This
very likely could have swayed the vote over to him.

Like Yohe, I would have voted for Stecher. He has the total year,
from big win over Caddock to putting over Lewis as pay-back for the
job not only in 1920 but also the one in late 1919 leading to the
Caddock match.


: Some may be thinking that perhaps there was some
: wrestler with great work rate and popularity that
: might have gotten more votes over the guys winning
: the Championships. If there were a Kobashi or Benoit
: during this time it would have been Jim Londos. He
: was the first sex symbol in sports and the biggest draw
: where ever he appeared but he only weighted 190 lbs.
: and the promoters didn't feel it would be believable for
: him to be able to defeat big wrestlers like Lewis,
: Stecher, and the Zbyszko brothers.

I think "hardcores" getting into Londos would have happened later.
In the late teens and early twenties, Stecher and Caddock would likely
have been the favorites of hardcores.


: 1921. Stanislaus Zbyszko (2)
:
: Five months after defeating Stecher, Lewis drops
: World Title to Stan Zbyszko. Then seems to take a
: vacation. This was the period supposedly control
: (although it seems to me that NYC promoter Jack Curley
: remained the real power up to this year) by the trio of
: Toots Mondt, Sandow, and Lewis. I've always wondered
: about this short reign. Perhaps Lewis wanted to spend
: time with his new wife and baby in S. F. On Oct. 4
: Lewis wrestled his old friend Joe Stecher in SF and lost
: a close decision. Anyway Stan Zbyszko, who hadn't
: really lost since being tricked by Frank Gotch in 1910,
: defeated Lewis for the title and defended it with wins vs.
: Lewis on two other occasions. He also defeated Stecher
: (twice), Ad Santel, John Pesek, Caddock, Clarence
: Ekland, and Renato Gardini. Londos lost to Lewis and
: Caddock and then sat out the end of the year with eye
: problems. The only trouble with this selection is that he
: was weak at the box-office.

This is a pretty crappy year as Stan didn't set off the box office.
But I think Stan would get one of those "lifetime achivement" votes here,
as much for payback for not getting a fair shake in the early teens
than for anything he did here. He did get the massive push in 1921
by beating all the top wrestlers, which would give a vote for him
credibility.


: 1922. Ed "Strangler" Lewis
:
: Lewis regains title from Stan on March 3 and then
: dominates everyone he meets.
:
: 1923. Ed "Strangler" Lewis (2)
:
: Lewis continues to dominate, wrestling same
: contenders over and over. Doesn't seem like much
: of a year.

I tend to agree that these would be Lewis years. It's possible that
one of these is where Londos would slip in, but Jimmy would need a
series of big wins to offset the fact that someone else is the World
Champ and Jimmy couldn't "beat" him in the ring.


: 1924. Ed "Strangler" Lewis (3)
:
: Lewis again was champion the whole year but he had
: pretty much run through all the contenders in his
: company, mainly Stan Zbyszko, Toots Mondt, Dick
: Daviscourt, and Renato Gardini. So during the year the
: Golddust Trio spent a lot of their energy building up
: footballer Wayne Munn as a wrestling monster. It
: seemed to working on minor level, but 1924 wasn't a
: great year for wrestling.

Munn push in 1924 toward the World Title match of 1/25 would win him
the PWI award, but the WON voters would have hated him. In fact, it
probably would have driven them to support Lewis even stronger as a
"real wrestler" as opposed to the manufactured one in Munn.


: 1925. Joe Stecher (6)
:
: Lewis lost his championship to Wayne Munn on Jan. 8
: in order to set up a supermatch on May 30, but the plan
: falls apart when Stanislaus Zbyszko shoots on the
: non-wrestler Munn and takes title on April 5.
: May 30 turns out to be the day Joe Stecher regains
: control of his World Title as he beats Zbyszko in
: straight falls in St. Louis. Lewis does beat Munn in
: the rematch but is recognized only in Illinois and
: Michigan. Stecher's group grows in power while
: Lewis gains weight. Many of the wrestlers switch
: sides. Joe defeats Daviscourt, Dan Koloff, Gardini,
: Londos, and Stan Zbyszko in at least 3 rematches.
: Stecher defeats Gardni in the first wrestling main
: event at LA's new Olympic Auditorium.

I suspect that Stecher would have won in the biggest landslide ever
in a "competitive" year. By competitive, I mean that you have a new
world champion early in the year in Munn, another new champ in Stan,
Lewis avenging the Munn loss in May, and of course Stecher lifting
the belt from Stan. If the year had been "booked" to go like that,
then Stecher would still have won, but Stan and Lewis would have their
backers for their achivements. But among hardcores, Stan and Stecher
would have been seen as saving the day for "real wrestling" by foiling
the plans of the "sports entertainment" based Gold Dust Trio and Munn.
Munn would have taken home many of the "worst" awards, while the Trio
would have been high up in the Most Hated award. Since Stan was just
a bridge over to Stecher, Joe would have gotten the massive WOTY vote
as the savior.


: 1926. Joe Stecher (7)
:
: Stecher controls title the entire year and tours
: throughout the country. Defends vs. John Pesek,
: Ivan Podulany, Londos, Zbyszko, George Calza,
: Daviscourt, Nick Lutze, and Giovanni Raicevich.
: Ed Lewis drops out of a title unification match set
: up by the Calif. Athletic commission and forfeits
: $5,000 to Stecher (Oct. 9). Jim Londos is biggest
: draw in the sport outside of the champions but is
: unable to beat Stecher.
:
: 1927. Joe Stecher (8)
:
: Stecher tours NY, the East Coast, and the South
: as champion. Lewis still refuses to wrestle Stecher,
: but the match between the two is probably being
: shopped around. Londos remains big box-office.

The Fall Guys likes to write up Stecher as running from Lewis in
these years and being a nothing much champion. The reality is the
Joe was active, and did business. With some luck over the next ten
to twenty years, history will be righted.


: 1928. Ed Lewis (4)
:
: The Supermatch between Stecher and Lewis happens
: in St. Louis (Feb. 20), with Lewis winning. Lewis
: weights 227 lbs for the match. Three weeks later,
: he's gained 20 lbs. Stecher retires after the match to
: his farm and grain business. Londos sets up shop in
: NYC, who's Athletic Commission refuses to
: recognize Lewis until he wrestles Hans Steinke.

Lewis would win based on taking the Super Match. The hardcores
would likely have been pulling for Stecher in that match, however. [Wink]


: 1929. Gus Sonnenberg
:
: With Lewis aging and losing interest, the Sandow
: boys once again give the title to a non-wrestling
: type football player. This time though the player is
: Gus Sonnenberg, who is a solid worker with star
: power and is credited with changing the style of the
: sport. He introduces flying tackles and stand up
: moves off the ropes. Sonnenberg wins title over
: Lewis on Jan. 4 and beats everyone he meets
: including Lewis in rematches. Also beats the
: returning Stecher twice. Londos is the big draw on
: East Coast but Dick Shikat, a legitimate wrestler,
: is picked to be their first world champ by beating
: the Greek star on Aug. 23.

Sonnenberg had the "wins" of a WOTY, and did do box office. But it
also was during his reign where things started to crumble again. There
may have been a bit of a backlash among "hardcores" against the
Shikat-Londos group for daring to create a world champion which would
have given Sonnenberg the award. But all hell broke loose here.

I'll hit the 30-40s in another post on Sunday... which is the point
where we disagree a bit more. [Wink]


John

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re: [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1901-29
Posted by Steve Yohe
205.188.192.36
Eighties Messages
May 08, 2001
13:13:33 U.S. CST

Responding to [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1901-29

I looked this whole post over & its seems we agree on most things from
1901 to 1929. IM happy with that considering what a know-it-all
nit-picker you are. The stuff on gambling & booking is great stuff
& Ive tried to put the theory in print myself, but you always do a
better job. Points I'd make:

1) There were no tapetraders in 1902.

2) Abstaining (1912,1913,1914) is a big time cop out. There is
alway a winner in WON, just like there is never a tie. You wouldn't
let me cop out so you doing it not to look bad is a crime to the our
code of conduct. I may never forgive you. That is, if I remember.
You know how my mind works.

3) Londos was a big star in 1920. When he first apears in Canton in
1917, the newspaper was saying he was in the top 5 in the world. On
Jan. 1, 1918 he wrestled a 2 hr. draw with Ed Lewis & that really put
him in a top position. Lewis, of course, never mentioned this match
when he claimed he beat Jimmy 14 times in a row.

4) Lewis in the press wasn't fooling anyone with his BS in 1920.
Stecher was more respected in the press. After Lewis won people
started believeing all his **** & he was a man of his time. He fited
in well. Over at the Lou Thesz site on Wrestlingclassic, I've printed
some of the press clippings of 1918. Lewis gets riped. I have a lot
more. I think Stecher would have won easy in 1920. He won the
tournament, unifying all the title claims, and beat Lewis clean in
mid year. Smarts would have never liked Lewis. He was all headlocks
& bulk. Smarts hate big guys.

That's all I really want to comment on (1901 to 1929). I'll go over
the other post later. I should congratulate you on being so smart...
you did agree with Yohe most of time. (No kiding, I learn the basics
of this historical stuff from John in our first 4 hr telephone
conversation... 32 years ago!)---Steve Yohe

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re: [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1901-29
Posted by jdw
63.73.69.132
Eighties Messages
May 08, 2001
13:54:24 U.S. CST

Responding to re: [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1901-29

: I looked this whole post over & its seems we agree
: on most things from 1901 to 1929. IM happy with that
: considering what a know-it-all nit-picker you are.

"I'm shocked... SHOCKED! that people think I'm a nitpicker."
-Casa-tOA-blanca


: The stuff on gambling & booking is great stuff & Ive
: tried to put the theory in print myself, but you
: always do a better job.

I think you did a good job in that post over on Wrestling Classics
last year. I need to drag that over here.


: Points I'd make:
:
: 1) There were no tapetraders in 1902.

I know. There also wasn't a WON. I used "tapetraders" as a joke.


: 2) Abstaining (1912,1913,1914) is a big time cop
: out. There is alway a winner in WON, just like there
: is never a tie. You wouldn't let me cop out so you
: doing it not to look bad is a crime to the our code
: of conduct. I may never forgive you. That is, if I
: remember. You know how my mind works.

*big laugh* [Smile]

I agree it's a cop out. I'm sure that if we lived in the era, we could
have figured out who to vote for. And I suspect that in another ten
years with more rearch becoming available we'll be able to pick someone.
I guess what I was saying by "abstain" was to plead ignorance - I just
don't know about those three years to pick _anyone_. And heck, I've
gone through the NY Times, LA Times and CHI Tribune day-by-day for
those years. Gotch is still thought of as The Man, but he just isn't
doing anything. No one else is doing anything important in the major
cities. It's just a big giant mess, and all Gotch's fault for not
establishing someone else as Champ when he decided to bail out of
working regularly. Because of that, I just don't want to vote for
Gotch in 1912. And Stan and Stech in 1913 and 1914 just never lept
out at me as "strong" when going through the papers of those years.

You know me, Yohe. If I have an opinion I'm always willing to share
it, and then argue it to the death. [Smile] Even on those occassions when
I'm wrong... which never happens. [Razz]

But I just don't have a firm opinion in those years. It's not like
having three candidates to pick from. It's having no strong candidates
to pick from, and trying to figure out if anyone is deserving of the honor.


: 3) Londos was a big star in 1920. When he first
: apears in Canton in 1917, the newspaper was saying
: he was in the top 5 in the world. On Jan. 1, 1918 he
: wrestled a 2 hr. draw with Ed Lewis & that really
: put him in a top position. Lewis, of course, never
: mentioned this match when he claimed he beat Jimmy
: 14 times in a row.

I know of all this. But neither of us thinks Jimmy deserved the award
before 1930. Jimmy was a big star, but Joe and Ed were thought of on
a slightly different level as The Champ.

Of course you see that I'm the big Londos backer later. Though we
disagree a bit on 1932-33 (mostly on how the *voters* would have picked,
not on how each of us would have voted), I tend to be the one in the
late thirties things Jimmy would still be bagging an award or two.


: 4) Lewis in the press wasn't fooling anyone with his
: BS in 1920. Stecher was more respected in the press.
: After Lewis won people started believeing all his
: **** & he was a man of his time. He fited in well.

*nod* I agree. The thing is that 1920 would have been _close_. The
year ends and Lewis has the title. Lewis getting the belt is something
that had been built to for more than six years. I think it would have
swayed some of the voters. It's a bit like Kobashi in 1996, as people
had been waiting for Kobashi to get the Triple Crown for most of the
decade. He gets it, doesn't do much with it, doesn't win the Tag League,
yet still gets the WON WOTY award. Hashimoto, Takada, Hogan and even
*Taue* were more deserving of him. But the voters marked out and
gave him the award.

I *don't think* Lewis would have won the award in 1920 over Joe. But
I think it would have been very close, almost as close as Kawada and
Sabu in 1994.


: Over at the Lou Thesz site on Wrestlingclassic, I've
: printed some of the press clippings of 1918. Lewis
: gets riped. I have a lot more. I think Stecher would
: have won easy in 1920. He won the tournament,
: unifying all the title claims,

The tourny was 1919, and I think it would have led to Joe winning
in a landslide in 1919.


: and beat Lewis clean in mid year.

Again, I think it's part of the "Lewis Quest For The Title" storyline,
and Lewis backers would have popped for the loss and then eventual win.


: Smarts would have never liked Lewis. He was all
: headlocks & bulk. Smarts hate big guys.

Oh... I think a bunch of smarts would have liked him as a "real
wrestler" and all that ****. I think they would have liked Joe more,
but plenty of people have bought the Lewis ******** over the years.
Just look at Lou. [Smile]


: That's all I really want to comment on (1901 to
: 1929). I'll go over the other post later. I should
: congratulate you on being so smart... you did agree
: with Yohe most of time.

I think we've talked about a lot of this stuff over the years. Didn't
that mom at the WWF card yell at us, "If you want to see Joe Stecher
wrestle, why don't you go to a Joe Stecher match!"

Oh wait... that was about Japanese wrestling, not Joe Stecher. [Razz]


: (No kiding, I learn the basics of this historical
: stuff from John in our first 4 hr telephone
: conversation... 32 years ago!)

It does seem like 32 years ago. [Smile]

I think you took my little basics and have run a marathon beyond
them, Steve.

Best,


John

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[Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1930-49
Posted by jdw
12.72.153.229
Eighties Messages
May 07, 2001
00:22:10 U.S. CST

Responding to Wrestlers of the Year

Continuing...

: 1930. Jim Londos
:
: Londos wins NY World Title from Dick Shikat (June 6)
: when his bosses quit worrying about legitimate wrestlers
: and realize it's money that counts. Londos establishes
: himself as the greatest draw in the history of the sport.
: Also becomes the first wrestler to be recognized by
: a national (well almost) organization the NBA.
: (No... boxing, not basketball). Sonnenberg continues to
: draw but drops his title in a big upset to Ed Don George
: in LA on Dec. 10. It might have had something to do with
: the fact he didn't drive well when drunk.

*big laugh*

Londos was a massive draw and would have gotten that huge East Coast
Vote. [Smile] Sonnenberg, while drawing, starts getting shakey as a champ
and leaves the last impresion of getting beat by George. Londos, but
perhaps not in a landslide.


: 1931. Jim Londos (2)
:
: Londos has one of the greatest years in history filling
: up MSG and Yankee Stadium etc. George lost his title
: to Lewis (April 13), who lost it to Henri Deglane
: (May 4).

This one would be a landslide for Londos. This is a bit like Austin
in 1998 opposite all the WCW stuff falling apart. Even those who
wouldn't vote for Londos in 1930 would almost be forced to vote for
him in 1931. There really wasn't any other cadidate, and his
accomplishments were large.


: 1932. Jim Londos (3)
:
: Londos is driven out of NYC for being too hard to
: handle, with Old Ed Lewis being brought in and made
: the new world champ in New York. Fans hate Lewis and
: the bottom falls out of the territory without Jimmy.
: Londos continues to pack in the crowds all over the
: country. In Dec. he loses one fall in a 2/3 fall match to
: George Zaharias in LA, (which Londos won). It may
: have been the first fall he had lost since losing to Shikat
: in Aug. 1929.

It's possible that the New York Vote would have turned on Londos, since
the New York press did a excellent job of making Londos look like a
wimp running from Lewis. In addition, you have the old Lewis Marks
who'd vote for Strangler making the comeback to glory in New York.
In addition, you might get some of the old-time hardcores who fondly
remembered the Stecher-Lewis era throwing their support behind the
"real wrestler" rather than the sports entertainer Jimmy. Combine all
of those a year after Lewis got "screwed" out of the title in the
DeGlane match, and this would be a bit like Bret Hart going down to
WCW in 1998 after Montreal and getting a World Title run in the place
of Hogan and Goldberg.

I think it would be close, but this would be like Flair winning the
WON WOTY in 1990 and 1992 - awards he didn't deserve in the slightest,
but people voted with their hearts rather than their brains. I think
Lewis would have bagged it.

I would have voted for Londos.


: 1933. Jim Londos (4)
:
: The Londos story continues as he dominates
: another year. He is doublecrossed in match vs.
: Joe Savoldi on April 7, but story is revealed and
: he continues to be recognized as World Champ.
: Tours Europe for 6 weeks in Aug. and Sept.
: Ed Don George beats Henri Deglane on Feb. 10
: and does well as AWA Champion in Boston.
: Jim Browning takes NY world title from Lewis
: (Feb. 20) and does well in the ring but NYC
: market remains in a depression.

There probably would have been a block of voters who enjoyed Londos
getting double crossed, and popped for Savoldi going to New York to
job his "claim" to Lewis and Browning. I think this would have been
fairly close. Many voters would have ignored the box office of New York
and focused on the fact that they were having "big matches", again
similar to the Flair effect where people ignored the fact that NWA/WCW
was doing horrible business with him from 1988 on forward, and the WWF
was doing terrible business in 1992. In addition, George was doing
business up in Boston. And finally, the last impression of the year
would be Browning and George facing each other on 12/18/33 in a title
unification draw.

While Londos was a performer and perhaps the Flair of work at this
time, he also was getting the Hogan rep as well, which we've seen turns
off the hardcores in WON voting. In the WON people looked for any
reason *not* to vote for Hogan, even when he was doing record business
and changing the business in the US. They found it within themselves
to vote for Maeda when he "changed" the business to a far lesser degree
in 1988, but Hogan just pissed them off. I think especially by 1933
this would have been impacting Londos in the vote. Browning gets the
New York Vote, the Anti-Londos Vote, since he beat Lewis he gets some
of the old Stecher-Lewis Vote, and then his match with George gets some
of the undecided as well as some of the Boston Vote who might otherwise
vote for George. I think it would have been enough, and the backlash
against Londos would be well underway.

I'm not sure who I would have voted for. When I looked at this era ages
ago, this seemed like a year where Londos massive dominance at the
box office cooled just a bit. I probably would have voted for Browning,
with the unification match with George being the thing pushing me over
the edge. I'm a bit of a mark for unifiaction matches. [Smile]


: 1934. Jim Londos (5)
:
: Londos screws over a few people and jumps back to
: the NY promotion. He wins a rematch vs. Savoldi
: in Chicago on Jan. 31 drawing 20,206. He then wins
: the NY version of the world title from Jim Browning
: on June 25 in title unification match at the MSG Bowl
: which draws 25,000. Londos wrestles to a 4 hr draw
: in a title unification match with Ed Don George in
: Boston on July 18, drawing 30,000 fans. Londos
: and George would wrestler another draw on August 1
: in Buffalo. He finally beats Lewis in Chicago on
: Sept. 20, drawing a record-breaking 35,265 fans.
: Then he draws a real 23,765 fans (which the
: newspapers would report as 37,700) in LA on
: Oct. 10 to see him defeat Man Mountain Dean.
: A huge year.

Londos, of course. This would be a year where even Londos Haters would
have to vote for him. The year was just too huge.


: 1935. Danno O'Mahoney
:
: O'Mahoney, one of the creations of Boston promoter
: Paul Bowser, become the last truly undisputed
: World Champion (if you don't count Vincent
: Lopez's claim that year in Calif.) by beating Londos
: and Ed Don George. He drew huge in Boston. He
: was the last man ever to defeat Londos. Jimmy,
: who received one of the largest payoffs in
: wrestling history to do the job, retired for the rest
: of the year.

I think half the old-school Stecher-Lewis hardcores would have hated
O'Mahoney for not being a "real wrestler". But the other half would
have loved finally having a undisputed champ again for the first time
since Lewis beat Stecher. For the rest of the voting blocks, there
really isn't another candidate. O'Mahoney would have won in a landslide.


: 1936. Yvon Robert
:
: The undisputed world champion's reign lasted
: seven months. On March 2 Dick Shikat shot on
: Danno O'Mahoney in MSG and relieved of his
: title. Chaos followed. By the end of the year at
: least 10 men had laid claim to the "World" Title
: (Shikat, O'Mahoney, Ali Baba, Daniel Boone
: Savage, David Levin, Everett Marshall, Yvon
: Robert, Dean Detton, Vincent Lopez and Cliff
: Olsen.) and three major title lines had been
: formed. I picked Yvon Robert over Everett
: Marshall and Dean Detton.. Robert, who had
: one of the greatest wrestling careers in history,
: defeated Danno O'Mahoney (still recognized by
: the AWA and Paul Bowser) on July 13 and was a
: big star in Northeast including Boston and
: Montreal. Marshall defeated Ali Baba June 26,
: but even with wrestling talent and good looks he
: lacked color and was a poor draw in the East.
: He wrestled most of the year in the weaker Ohio
: area. Detton was recognized by RING
: MAGAZINE as the true champ after his win
: over Levin on Sept. 28 and drew big through out
: the US and in Calif. Lopez and Levin also drew
: large in LA. The Daniel Boone Savage hillbilly
: was a major draw in Texas. I would say it was
: very close but I'm going with Robert over
: Detton. Robert did defeat Detton March 9
: in Philadelphia, before Detton would beat
: Levin.

I would think Detton would win it. Robert's "claim" came from beating
a "champion" who had been completely discredited. The claim also came
after the Levin and Marshall Lines were created, and really came across
as a regional claim. Detton got a fairly big national push, and was
pimped hard by the media with a "wrestler" lable. Roberts would have
finished behind both Detton and Marshall.

I'm not sure who I would have voted for. It was a horrendus year for
pro wrestling. I guess I would have voted for Detton.


: 1937. Bronko Nagurski
:
: Nagurski was football's best player and a
: cross over star. He defeated Dean Detton on
: June 29 and had the strongest claim to the title.
: Jim Londos was back and was still a major draw,
: but also wrestled in Europe and Africa. Tom Pack,
: promoter in St. Louis tried to develop a new star in
: Lou Thesz and he was given the MWA world title
: after a COR victory over Everett Marshall on Dec. 29.
: Paul Bowser was pushing another Irishman Steve
: Casey and running Boston cards with Robert, Marshall,
: Casey, and Thesz promising one World champion.

I agree that Bronko would have won this one.

Marshall did run around with his title for nearly the whole year, but
the last impression of him jobbing to rising star Thesz would probably
have taken the wind out of his sails. Londos was running around with
his International version of the world title, foreshadowing Lou Thesz
in a way that I doubt Lou would appreciate.

But Bronko was a phenom here.


: 1938. Steve Casey
:
: On Feb. 11 Casey defeated Lou Thesz for the AWA
: and MWA World title and then defended them in
: Northeast (Boston) and St. Louis. Jim Londos returned
: full time to the U.S. in 1938 and established his old
: drawing power on the East Coast (NYC) and LA.
: On Nov. 18 he took his old World Title from Bronko
: Nagurski to complete the comeback. I had a hard time
: deciding between the two but went with Casey who beat
: Marshall and Thesz. I've seen the Londos/Nagurski
: match on film and I feel Jimmy was living off his
: reputation and power from being the top star for
: 20 years.

Despite working a bit in St. Louis, Casey always struck me as
regional. Boston isn't New York when it comes to getting national
media pushes. No regional wrestler has ever won the WON WOTY award.
The whole strange stuff with Marshall in September did help. I'd have
to see some compelling evidence that not only did Casey regulary
work outside of the Boston territory in 1938 in places other than
St. Louis, but also that he was a draw.

Bronko and Londos appear to have been the national draws in 1938.
Bronko did spend most of the year as champion of the Levin Line. I
would be interested in seeing more data on what his drawing power
was with the title. He did dropped it to Londos, and it would be
seven months before he took the NWA title from Thesz. We can debate
whether Londos was a top worker anymore, but he did have enough
drawing power that a group of promoters chose to take the belt off
of the other top draw in wrestling and put it on Londos. I think
Londos would have won the PWI WOTY award.

For the WON, I don't know who would win. It would be very close.
The following year would be close as well between the two, as Londos
ran around with the Levin Line world title while Bronko would have
the NWA title. Bronko would win in 1937. I have Londos winning only
in 1930-31 and 1934 prior to this, compared to Steve having him take
1930-34 straight. I'll split the baby and say that Londos would
have won 1938, while Bronko comes back to win in 1939.

I'm not sure which of the two I would vote for. Again, I'd like to
see more detail on their drawing power.


: 1939. Bronko Nagurski (2)
:
: Still a major crossover star, Nagurski was given
: Lou Thesz's NWA Title on June 23 in Houston. Thesz
: was having a great year, establishing himself as
: St. Louis' biggest star with a NWA Title win over
: Everett Marshall (Feb. 23) and Steve Casey (March 10)
: in a rematch, but was injured in the Nagurski match.
: Londos continued being Londos in Philly and LA, but
: nothing memorable seemed to be going on. Londos spent
: the last part of the year in Hawaii, New Zealand and
: Australia.

I think Bronko narrowly over Londos.


: 1940. Ray Steele
:
: Originally I had this year a tie but John tells me that
: that's a cop out, and I have to pick only one for each year.

Well, that is the way the WON WOTY award goes, right?


: Maurice Tillet, The French Angel, was a 5' 9'' 280 lbs.
: strongman-freak who was the Andre the Giant of the
: early 40's. Working out of Boston he was famed as the
: ugliest wrestler in the world. He had one of the most
: remarkable records in the game's History. In 1940 he
: beat Robert, Longson, Rudy Dusek, Gino Garibaldi,
: Sonnenberg, O'Mahoney, Golden Terror, Dean Detton,
: and won the AWA World Title from Steve Casey on
: May 13. He would hold the AWA title for 2 years. The
: success of the French Angel may have represented 1940
: better but I'm picking Ray Steele, who had been one of
: wrestling's best workers and shooters for 22 years. In
: 1940 Steele stepped out of the shadow of Jim Londos to
: win the NWA title from Nagurski on March 7 in St.
: Louis. He defended it the rest of the year vs. Thesz,
: Bronko, Marshall, etc throughout the mid-West, The
: South and the West Coast. My feeling are that
: Observer-type voters would have voted for the worker
: over the freak. Some other contenders would have been:
: Londos, Orville Brown (who was setting up shop in the
: Mid-West by beating Dick Shikat for the MWA Title on
: June 27.), Nagurski, Robert, and Lou Thesz.

I agree that WON voters would have picked Steele over a gimmick
performer. No gimmick performer has ever taken the WON WOTY award,
unless one counts Maeda. Vader won it in a year when people thought
he was one of the best workers in the world.


: 1941. Yvon Robert (2)
:
: Robert was Montreal World champ for most of the
: year, losing and winning the belt from Lou Thesz.
: Sandor Szabo won the NWA Title from Nagurski
: (June 5) by DQ and defended it throughout Calif. Jim
: Londos was still a big attraction in Calif. and The
: French Angel (AWA Champ) toured the country as a
: great gimmick performer. I like Robert over the rest
: but it's not a clear choice.

I still don't see Robert winning the award. It's a bit like Jerry
Lawler winning the WON WOTY award, which he never came close to
winning. Sure, Robert was a vastly bigger star than Lawler, but he
was still a regional superstar.

One would be tempted to tab Szabo, but there is the slight problem
that he jobbed on 2/5/41 and 2/12/41 to Londos in Levin Line world
title matches in LA. He then jobbed to Londos again in Philly on
3/7/41. It's pretty clear that Londos still was a bigger star. Szabo's
match with Bronko where he won the world title drew less than 4,000
fans, though their rematch in St. Louis popped over 9,000. (all from
the Szabo Record Book) We don't have a full record of his matches
as champion, for example only 8 matches from October and November
are in the book, and obviously he would have worked more often. From
the results it's not a bad run, but it also isn't a blockbuster run
either.

Londos would probably still have his marks among the voters, but by
this point probably wouldn't have enough to win the award. Tillett
has the gimmick thing working against him.

A very weak crop. I can't offer up a clear candidate, so I have to
agree with Steve on this and say I'd vote for Robert. I'm not sold
he would have won the award, but no alternative stands out.


: 1942. Bill Longson
:
: Bill Longson won the NWA Title from Sandor Szabo
: Feb. 19 and seems to have been the first true heel world
: champ. Those who saw him say he was a great performer
: who's style resembled Bruiser Brody. In 1942 he began
: his dominance of the St Louis market defeating Szabo,
: Everett Marshall, Ray Steele, Chief Little Wolf,
: O'Mahoney and Thesz. Longson also won a Title
: unification match from Yvon Robert on Aug. 19 in
: Montreal. Ed Lewis had a minor comeback drawing
: 12,986 in a loss to Longson in St Louis. The Strangler
: also won the MWA title from Orville Brown during
: Nov. Robert had another good year regaining his
: Montreal World Title from The French Angel (June 25)
: and then winning the NWA title from Longson (Oct. 7).
: Fifty days later(Nov. 27) he dropped the NWA title to
: Bobby Managoff , who is one of the most underrated
: champions in history. Steve Casey regained his AWA
: Title from The French Angel (May 14). I think Longson
: was special. He would draw better in other years but it
: was the first year of WWII.

I tend to agree that Longson would have won it. Old-time readers of
the WON would have hated his "heel champion" gimmick and longed for
the old days where a champion was a "wrestler". Those people probably
would have voted for Thesz and later Gagne until the day they died. [Smile]
Newer readers of the WON would have loved Longson.


: 1943. Bill Longson (2)
:
: Dominated year re-winning NWA title from Bobby
: Managoff (Feb. 19). Probably averaged between 9,000
: and 10,000 in St. Louis. Defeated Robert at least twice.
: Nagurski returned to football and won NFL world title.
:
: 1944. Bill Longson (3)
:
: Retained NWA title all year and averaged around 10,000
: in St. Louis.

Agreed on these.


: 1945. Bill Longson (4)
:
: Longson still gets my pick, didn't seem to lose a thing.
: Frank Sexton wins AWA title from Sandor Szabo, loses
: it and then regains it from Steve Casey. Sexton ends
: Casey's control over Boston by beating him all year to
: become the East Coast version of Lou Thesz. Buddy
: Rogers begins gaining popularity working in Texas.

I tend to agree on this as well.


: 1946. Frank Sexton
:
: In my original paper I had this year a draw between
: Longson and Sexton but big John Williams made the no
: draw rule so I'm going with Sexton. On Jan. 10 the two
: world champs met in a title unification match at Toronto
: and the result was a draw. Sexton also had a unification
: match with Babe Sharkey who had a piece of Jim
: Londos' claim in Baltimore and parts of the East Coast
: since the Greek was striped in March 1944. Sexton won
: that match to hold two titles that had a stronger in ring
: claim to a world title than Longson's NWA title. Buddy
: Rogers became very popular in St. Louis drawing 17,621
: in a match with Longson, but Buddy was kept in his place
: by doing jobs to Longson and Thesz. Primo Carnera, the
: first worked World Heavyweight Boxing Champion (that
: we know about), turned wrestler in 1946 and toured as
: wrestling biggest box office attraction. I think Sexton
: would have won this year because he had more votes on
: the East Coast.

I'd go with Sexton as well. The East Coast thing, along with his
willingness to tour for unification matches.


: 1947. Bill Longson (5)
:
: Longson ends four years as NWA champ by losing to
: Billy Watson by DQ.(Feb 21). Comes back later in the
: year to defeat Watson and regain Title over Lou Thesz
: (Nov. 21). Thesz holds belt most of year and is becoming
: the real power in St. Louis. Sexton defeats Minneapolis
: NWA champ Sandor Szabo in LA and draws with Calif.
: World champ Enrique Torres while defending his AWA
: title on both coasts and St. Louis. Buddy Roger spends
: year doing jobs for Thesz and Primo Carnera but is
: developing into wrestling's greatest performer. I would
: like to make this year a draw between Longson and
: Thesz, but Williams will get upset so I'm going to pick
: Longson.

As Steve says, this is a tough choice between Longson and Thesz, with
Sexton on the wings touring around the country with his version of the
world title. I tend to think Thesz would have won it. At the time,
Longson already would have had three or four of them in the bag. At the
time no one ould have guessed that nearly two decades later Thesz would
still be a world champion. Thesz would have gotten the old-school vote,
and the vote of people tired of voting for Longson. I probably would
have voted for Thesz at the time, though in hindsight I might go for
Longson.


: 1948. Frank Sexton (2)
:
: Wrestling greatest year mainly due to TV and the
: development of major stars such as Rogers, Gorgeous
: George, and Antonio Rocca. The National Wrestling
: Alliance is formed and recognizes MWA ruler, Orville
: Brown, as their first champion. Sam Muchnick uses
: Brown and Buddy Rogers in his promotional war with
: the Thesz/Pack company in St. Louis. Thesz takes control
: of the old Pack promotion and it's title when he defeats
: Longson on July 20. Rocca shows up in Texas and is a
: big hit. Of course many will want to pick Gorgeous
: George because it was in 48 that he became the greatest
: crossover star in the history of the game. I feel that
: George gets more credit than he deserves. It's probably
: true that he sold out (10,000) the Olympic Auditorium
: every time he appeared but on the cards he wasn't
: booked The Dusek Brothers were doing 9,000. I see
: George as a creation of TV and an agent who also
: controlled Bob Hope. You couldn't really work a
: program with him and the LA promoters refused to put
: him over their World Champ Enrique Torres. I think the
: non-casual fans of a sheet like THE OBSERVER would
: resent him as another Freak Attraction like Wayne Munn,
: Maurice Tillet, and Primo Carnera and not vote for him.
: In June Buddy Rogers showed up in LA's secondary
: promotion at The Hollywood Legion Stadium claiming a
: Jack Pfefer world title and catches fire. Later that year he
: is used by Muchnick in St. Louis and does so well it
: worry's Thesz. Frank Sexton continues to control the East
: Coast and SF. On Oct. 20 he and Thesz wrestle to a draw
: in LA. In Nov. Sexton defeats Minneapolis World champ
: Cliff Gustafson. Sexton also has wins over Rogers. I
: wanted to have a four-way tie but in having to pick I take
: Sexton over Thesz, George, and Brown.

I agree with all of this. I doubt WON readers would vote for a
gimmick performer like George when there are other strong candidates
out there. I don't think Brown would have been a strong candidate, as
the National Wrestling Alliance would have just been starting out at
the time. Rogers being used by Muchnick in the war with Thesz, and
doing well, makes me drop down Thesz just a bit here.

I'd go with Sexton. I again find the willingness to tour the country
with his title and put it on the line in unification matches to be
impressive. That he didn't job the title in any of those matches is
even more impressive.


: 1949. Lou Thesz
:
: Thesz defends title all year beating George, Longson,
: Rocca etc. In Nov. Orville Brown is injured in a car
: wreck before a big title unification match between
: both NWA title and Thesz ends up with both. He and
: Muchnick join forces in St. Louis after Sam gains ground
: using Buddy Rogers. Decision is made by promoters that
: because of national TV there should be just one World
: Champion and Thesz will be that person. Rogers is over
: in LA, St. Louis, Ohio and anywhere he appears. Rocca
: screws promoters in Texas and moves to NY and LA
: (for TV). For this he has his head handed to him in a
: match with Thesz. The Gorgeous George tour continues
: but bombs in NYC when he is used to reopen MSG
: (Feb. 22). Frank Sexton and Orville Brown have a title
: unification match in Cleveland March 15 that results in
: a 1 hr and 45 minutes draw.

This would have been Brown's award had he not gotten injured, as he
would have won the unification match with Thesz. Thesz gets the
belt instead, and would likely get the award.

I might have been tempted to vote for Rogers for his drawing and
working ability. At the time as 1949 closed, it possible that a
jaded wrestling fan who watched the promotional and world title wars
from 1925 on would have found it suspect that the National Wrestling
Alliance would be able to unify the country's promoters enough to make
the NWA Title into something akin to the world title of Stecher and
Lewis. Being such a jaded wrestling fan [Wink] , I probably would have
been swayed more by Rogers' tangible accomplishments than the
possible pipe dream that Thesz represented.

Of course come the 50s, things would change...


John

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re: [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1930-49
Posted by Steve Yohe
205.188.192.59
Eighties Messages
May 08, 2001
15:39:13 U.S. CST

Responding to [Yohe List] Wrestlers of the Year - 1930-49

We agree most of the time on these years also, so I'll just comment on
where we don't.

: : 1932. Jim Londos (3)
: :
: : Londos is driven out of NYC for being too hard to
: : handle, with Old Ed Lewis being brought in and made
: : the new world champ in New York. Fans hate Lewis and
: : the bottom falls out of the territory without Jimmy.
: : Londos continues to pack in the crowds all over the
: : country. In Dec. he loses one fall in a 2/3 fall match to
: : George Zaharias in LA, (which Londos won). It may
: : have been the first fall he had lost since losing to Shikat
: : in Aug. 1929.

: It's possible that the New York Vote would have turned on
: Londos, since the New York press did a excellent job of making
: Londos look like a wimp running from Lewis. In addition, you
: have the old Lewis Marks who'd vote for Strangler making the
: comeback to glory in New York. In addition, you might get
: some of the old-time hardcores who fondly remembered the
: Stecher-Lewis era throwing their support behind the "real
: wrestler" rather than the sports entertainer Jimmy. Combine
: all of those a year after Lewis got "screwed" out of the title
: in the DeGlane match, and this would be a bit like Bret Hart
: going down to WCW in 1998 after Montreal and getting a
: World Title run in the place of Hogan and Goldberg.
:
: I think it would be close, but this would be like Flair winning
: the WON WOTY in 1990 and 1992 - awards he didn't deserve
: in the slightest, but people voted with their hearts rather than
: their brains. I think Lewis would have bagged it.
:
: I would have voted for Londos.

Once again, I think smarts would have disliked Lewis. A big guy &
rest holds. Fans liked the Sonnenberg style. Just like they pushed
for a lucha style in 1994. Londos was great looking, fun & in vogue.
Lewis was fat & sweaty, even after training for six weeks before
comming to NY. He had been driven from NYC in 1921. (11-28-21-MSG
Zbyszko/Lewis drew 2,000.... 2-6-22-MSG-Zbyszko/Caddock drew 12,000)
It's true he did a gate of 25,000 (6-9-32) against Shikat but I
think everyone thought Shikat was going to defeat the old star. The
night (10-10-32) he won the NY World title vs the famous hooker Jack
Sherry they drew 5,000 in MSG, who hated the show. When he met Ray
Steele, a star Londos filled Yankee Statium with, Lewis did 7,000.
That turned into a shoot & a DQ mess. Lewis bombed in 32.


: : 1933. Jim Londos (4)
: :
: : The Londos story continues as he dominates
: : another year. He is doublecrossed in match vs.
: : Joe Savoldi on April 7, but story is revealed and
: : he continues to be recognized as World Champ.
: : Tours Europe for 6 weeks in Aug. and Sept.
: : Ed Don George beats Henri Deglane on Feb. 10
: : and does well as AWA Champion in Boston.
: : Jim Browning takes NY world title from Lewis
: : (Feb. 20) and does well in the ring but NYC
: : market remains in a depression.
.
: I'm not sure who I would have voted for. When I looked at this
: era ages ago, this seemed like a year where Londos massive
: dominance at the box office cooled just a bit. I probably would
: have voted for Browning, with the unification match with
: George being the thing pushing me over the edge. I'm a bit of a
: mark for unifiaction matches. [Smile]

The Browning/George match (12-18-33) drew 8,000.

Londos return to NYC vs Abe Coleman against the Curly group 1-11-33
& soul out a 6,000 building turning away 1,000. Jan. 20 did a 10,000
sell out in Chicago vs Stecher (a draw) turning away 1,000. On Feb. 8
in LA he drew 10,400 vs Steele & turned away 3,000. On March 3 in Chicago
he drew 16,800 vs Stecher. On April 4 he did 9,000 vs Steele in LA. In
Aug he toured Europe as champ & you know that made tons. On Nov. 22 in
chicago he drew 12,314 vs Jim Mc Millen. Browning was a improvement
over Lewis but everyone knew who was the man. NY knew brought him back
the next year for a ton of money & look who he was booked over for the
title. Browning.


: : 1936. Yvon Robert
: :
: : The undisputed world champion's reign lasted
: : seven months. On March 2 Dick Shikat shot on
: : Danno O'Mahoney in MSG and relieved of his
: : title. Chaos followed. By the end of the year at
: : least 10 men had laid claim to the "World" Title
: : (Shikat, O'Mahoney, Ali Baba, Daniel Boone
: : Savage, David Levin, Everett Marshall, Yvon
: : Robert, Dean Detton, Vincent Lopez and Cliff
: : Olsen.) and three major title lines had been
: : formed. I picked Yvon Robert over Everett
: : Marshall and Dean Detton.. Robert, who had
: : one of the greatest wrestling careers in history,
: : defeated Danno O'Mahoney (still recognized by
: : the AWA and Paul Bowser) on July 13 and was a
: : big star in Northeast including Boston and
: : Montreal. Marshall defeated Ali Baba June 26,
: : but even with wrestling talent and good looks he
: : lacked color and was a poor draw in the East.
: : He wrestled most of the year in the weaker Ohio
: : area. Detton was recognized by RING
: : MAGAZINE as the true champ after his win
: : over Levin on Sept. 28 and drew big through out
: : the US and in Calif. Lopez and Levin also drew
: : large in LA. The Daniel Boone Savage hillbilly
: : was a major draw in Texas. I would say it was
: : very close but I'm going with Robert over
: : Detton. Robert did defeat Detton March 9
: : in Philadelphia, before Detton would beat
: : Levin.
:
: I would think Detton would win it. Robert's "claim" came from
: beating a "champion" who had been completely discredited.
: The claim also came after the Levin and Marshall Lines were
: created, and really came across as a regional claim. Detton got a
: fairly big national push, and was pimped hard by the media
: with a "wrestler" lable. Roberts would have finished behind
: both Detton and Marshall.
:
: I'm not sure who I would have voted for. It was a horrendus
: year for pro wrestling. I guess I would have voted for Detton.

Robert beat O'Mahoney in a unoffical match in some kind of a angle
before Shikat screwed him & I think Robert was going to get the title
from him at some point. Robert had Boston & Toronto, two of the biggest
wrestling territorys. Boston drew better (if you believe what you read)
in 1935 than any city in history. That's my thinking. Minus was him
breaking a leg late in the year vs Olsen. Maybe your right about Detton,
I thought a lot about it, but went with Robert. Detton is more well
known because he was put over in FALL GUYS. Compair the two's career
post titles & tell me who the bigger star was.


: : : 1938. Steve Casey
: :
: : On Feb. 11 Casey defeated Lou Thesz for the AWA
: : and MWA World title and then defended them in
: : Northeast (Boston) and St. Louis. Jim Londos returned
: : full time to the U.S. in 1938 and established his old
: : drawing power on the East Coast (NYC) and LA.
: : On Nov. 18 he took his old World Title from Bronko
: : Nagurski to complete the comeback. I had a hard time
: : deciding between the two but went with Casey who beat
: : Marshall and Thesz. I've seen the Londos/Nagurski
: : match on film and I feel Jimmy was living off his
: : reputation and power from being the top star for
: : 20 years.
:
: Despite working a bit in St. Louis, Casey always struck me as
: regional. Boston isn't New York when it comes to getting
: national media pushes. No regional wrestler has ever won the
: WON WOTY award. The whole strange stuff with Marshall in
: September did help. I'd have to see some compelling evidence
: that not only did Casey regulary work outside of the Boston
: territory in 1938 in places other than St. Louis, but also that he
: was a draw.
:
: Bronko and Londos appear to have been the national draws in
: 1938. Bronko did spend most of the year as champion of the
: Levin Line. I would be interested in seeing more data on what
: his drawing power was with the title. He did dropped it to
: Londos, and it would be seven months before he took the NWA
: title from Thesz. We can debate whether Londos was a top
: worker anymore, but he did have enough drawing power that a
: group of promoters chose to take the belt off of the other top
: draw in wrestling and put it on Londos. I think Londos would
: have won the PWI WOTY award.
:
: For the WON, I don't know who would win. It would be very
: close. The following year would be close as well between the
: two, as Londos ran around with the Levin Line world title while
: Bronko would have the NWA title. Bronko would win in 1937.
: I have Londos winning only in 1930-31 and 1934 prior to this,
: compared to Steve having him take 1930-34 straight. I'll split
: the baby and say that Londos would have won 1938, while
: Bronko comes back to win in 1939.
:
: I'm not sure which of the two I would vote for. Again, I'd like to
: see more detail on their drawing power.

Boston was the Northern part of the East Coast, Toronto, big parts of
Canada, Buffalo & Philly. Casey also was champ in St. Louis & later SF.
This regional thing doesn't really hold up. Sammartino is regional. All
the Japanese? I think we should stay away from it. Once again you may
be right, but I didn't think it was believeable picking Londos. Casey
controled his area for a long time & the win over Thesz is major history,
so I wanted to take him. You may be right but I made my pick & I think
I'll stick with it. Life is hard.

Not much else to say. IM glad you stuck with me on my picks on Longson
& Sexton. My picking of Sexton in 48 will be riped by a lot of people
who will want Gorgeous George winning for a number of years. I thing I
may get taken apart in the 70's, so IM not looking forward to that. I
should have just made Andre the winner 74 to 79 & defended that.---Yohe

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jdw
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Sorry if that's a lot of stuff to read through. But it does capture a lot of what Steve was thinking about when he put together the list, which wasn't entirely there in the WON Issue.

I thought I went past 1949, but perhaps not.

John

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Great to see this John...I've got something to read now! I completely respect Steve's views here. I brought it up just to see some friendly debate on this subject. Heck I think Hogan should have went over on a few of the years Flair did. But of course that is my opinion.

--------------------
email me at: inferno4l@hotmail.com
follow me on twitter at: @mattfarmer93

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Ken Viewer
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quote:
Originally posted by jdw:
Sorry if that's a lot of stuff to read through. But it does capture a lot of what Steve was thinking about when he put together the list, which wasn't entirely there in the WON Issue.

I thought I went past 1949, but perhaps not.

John

John,

If you're truly sorry, you'll keep posting more of these analyses, give-and-take and brilliant discussions. Great reads, though I seriously wish you'd boldface the poster you're quoting in each of your reprints.

Thanks for the hard work and the huge contribution to the Lou Thesz Forum's understanding of what the very top historians thought in 2001.

Gotta wonder if the recently provided evidence of the newsreels being a huge, huge source of information for the fans would change anything for any of those quoted above.

I could conceivably argue that anytime Boston promoter Paul Bowser wanted national attention for his AWA champions, he made it happen via his relationships with the newsreels' companies. But I won't until a lot more of the newsreels stuff is linked to here.

I'm happy to see Frank Sexton getting recognition he long-deserved, from you historians out there.

Great big load of hard work, contributions, and thanks again.

Ken

[ 02-06-2010, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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