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Author Topic: Ernie Roth
Old WWWF Fan
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Was listening to a Wrestling Observer broadcast this morning and Dave and Bryan were answering a question about whether Ernie Roth belonged in the Hall of Fame, and Dave remarked that he was borderline, or less than borderline.

How do you feel about that? I grew up with WWWF, and I thought the Grand Wizard was just phenomenal in getting people over. I believe he also worked with the Sheik as Abdullah Farouk, so he wasn't limited to just WWWF. My opinion is that he's Hall of Fame material, what's yours?

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Xontar
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I agree with Meltzer. I thought Roth was over-rated as a manager both with Sheik and in WWWF. His only reason for consideration, in my opinion, is the fact that he did work with so many top stars. I truly didn't think he added much to any of them, and I saw him with The Sheik first hand when I grew up watching Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit. His colorful costumes were interesting, but his promos were mediocre.
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King Francis
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Thought he was fantastic with the Sheik , I didnt watch the WWWF until shortly before he passed, but he was excellent there....

never saw him before Detroit, but understand he was a TV announcer/manager somewhere

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When I said that was the most ignorant thing I ever heard, I didn't realize you were still talking.

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Travlr
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When we were doing the "WCMB 100 Favourite" polls 5-10 years ago or so, Ernie always ended up in our Top Ten (#7 twice, #6, #5 and #4). He was pure bombast, and the differences between TGW and Adullah Farouk were minor. He also managed as J. Wellington Radcliffe and Mr. Kleen, but I have no info about how he managed under those personas, and both were only used for short periods (he was Farouk and The Wizard for over a decade each by comparison).

While dated today, his promos put butts into seats and helped raise some of his charges up a few notches because of them, so they were, at the very least, effective. And he certainly helped raise the heat level.

HoF worthy? I'd put him as borderline as well, but more of the "gatekeeper" level ("You must be at least this tall to ride this ride"). He's not in Heenan or Cornette or Gary Hart's range, but I'd certainly put him in over Fuji, Ellering, Al Hayes or Jimmy Hart.

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a fan since '68....

"Reputation is what others think about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. The friction tends to arise when the two are not the same.... Guard your honor; let your reputation fall where it may."

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OSJ from NM by way of WA
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Dave has it right, it's a case of a lot of fond childhood memories and so on that make the idea of Ernie Roth greater than the man actually was.

Roth has several advantages that add to the (false) luster surrounding his career. First, he had the rather unfortunate advantage of dying when he was still fresh in the minds of the fans. No one had to see an old, debilitated Ernie stumble through promos and generally be an embarrassment as happened with some others.

He also gets a lot of well-deserved props for being a gay man who made it in a pretty homophobic business. Of course, this was suspected but not widely known by fans during his career. It was a different time and I don't fault him for remaining closeted, but I can't say that his sexual preferences make him a HOFr either.

Gatekeeper is about right.

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White Fang from WA
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It's not fair to compare him to Heenan, Cornette or Gary Hart because he was a totally different character in a completely different role. He did practically nothing physical at matches beyond getting on the apron and distracting or handing over an object. As far as I'm concerned his promos added a level of intensity above the other three because you knew he wasn't going to get bounced around like a pinball after the match. Everything he had was being put out right there in the promos and he didn't make lame jokes, and then once the night arrived the focus turned over to his wrestler and the match. His smug grin and calm, arrogant proclamations went a long way.

Personally I didn't like any managers in the WWF. Most were watered down versions of their old selves, except Heenan was mostly intent on putting himself over with wisecracks and Jimmy Hart was just silly. Elsewhere, Gary Hart towered over many of the wrestlers and no sold when he was slugged so he just never really clicked much with me.

Grand Wizard I wasn't crazy about at all but I thought Abdullah Farouk was great. As far as the HOF I can see him not being a member, but my feeling is that he deserves it as much as Heenan and Jimmy Hart.

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davephlegmball
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There was a youtube interview (including pics from various stages of his career) where Ernie/Abdullah was speaking about the Sheik in Canada, IIRC. It was just so awesome. Wish it was still up somewhere.

He definitely belongs in any/every Wresting HOF.

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Cincinnati Kid
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Ernie was also with the Al Haft Promotion in 1959 & 1960 where he managed Magnificent Maurice and Handsome Johnny Barend. I noticed his interview skills there and as I recall, he took a few bumps in matches. He later changed his name from "Mr. Kleen" to "Armstrong K". Around 1967/68, he did some announcing for TV matches in the Farhat Promotion and was a face-like announcer, being critical of The Sheik of whom he would soon become the manager. I have heard remarks of how Ernie kindly helped some in their attempts to become a manager in the wrestling business.

Judging managers from the WWWF, WWF, WWE, can be a little difficult when comparing them to those from other promotions. In the McMahon promotion, it seems many were just used to talk on TV about an upcoming match and then bring their wrestler to the ring in the arena before returning to the lockerroom. In the other promotions more of them took bumps and even had matches of their own.

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the bear
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Albano is in (presumably for managing rather than wrestling)

In that case I don't see why Roth shouldn'tbe

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OSJ from NM by way of WA
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quote:
Originally posted by the bear:
Albano is in (presumably for managing rather than wrestling)

In that case I don't see why Roth shouldn'tbe

Good question, and here's the answer: First off, let's dispense with the myth of the Three Wise Men as WWWF managers, sure, it sounds catchy, and if you were a kid in the territory you might even believe it was true. It's revisionist history at best, total ******** at worst. Lou Albano, whatever his faults as a wrestler (and they are legion), was the lead heel of the company as a manager. Everyone else was supporting cast.

I'm not a huge advocate of Lou as a HOFr, but I can understand the thinking and don't find him to be an embarrassing choice.

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"What you say sounds reasonable enough," said the man, "but I refuse to be bribed. I am here to whip people, and whip them I shall!")
-Franz Kafka - The Trial

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the bear
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quote:
Originally posted by OSJ from NM by way of WA:
quote:
Originally posted by the bear:
Albano is in (presumably for managing rather than wrestling)

In that case I don't see why Roth shouldn'tbe

Good question, and here's the answer: First off, let's dispense with the myth of the Three Wise Men as WWWF managers, sure, it sounds catchy, and if you were a kid in the territory you might even believe it was true. It's revisionist history at best, total ******** at worst. Lou Albano, whatever his faults as a wrestler (and they are legion), was the lead heel of the company as a manager. Everyone else was supporting cast.

I'm not a huge advocate of Lou as a HOFr, but I can understand the thinking and don't find him to be an embarrassing choice.

I wasn't suggesting that Lou was an embarrassing choice there, just that for em there was not a huge difference between the two based on the admittedly limtied stuff I've seen of both

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OSJ from NM by way of WA
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quote:
Originally posted by the bear:
quote:
Originally posted by OSJ from NM by way of WA:
quote:
Originally posted by the bear:
Albano is in (presumably for managing rather than wrestling)

In that case I don't see why Roth shouldn'tbe

Good question, and here's the answer: First off, let's dispense with the myth of the Three Wise Men as WWWF managers, sure, it sounds catchy, and if you were a kid in the territory you might even believe it was true. It's revisionist history at best, total ******** at worst. Lou Albano, whatever his faults as a wrestler (and they are legion), was the lead heel of the company as a manager. Everyone else was supporting cast.

I'm not a huge advocate of Lou as a HOFr, but I can understand the thinking and don't find him to be an embarrassing choice.

I wasn't suggesting that Lou was an embarrassing choice there, just that for em there was not a huge difference between the two based on the admittedly limtied stuff I've seen of both
Didn't mean to imply that you did! Now Lou in any sort of a HOF as a wrestler would be embarassing... There's not a great difference in quality of work between the two, I'm just giving Lou some extra credit for his positioning on the card.

Let's put it this way, you could imagine the WWWF of that time without almost anyone. Buddy Rogers? Replaced. Bruno? Replacable. Pedro? Dropped down the card. The Grand Wizard? Died.

Now try and imagine the WWWF without Lou Albano in the same timeframe, just can't be done, he was that important to the product.

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"What you say sounds reasonable enough," said the man, "but I refuse to be bribed. I am here to whip people, and whip them I shall!")
-Franz Kafka - The Trial

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dthcm
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quote:
Originally posted by OSJ from NM by way of WA:
quote:
Originally posted by the bear:
Albano is in (presumably for managing rather than wrestling)

In that case I don't see why Roth shouldn'tbe

Good question, and here's the answer: First off, let's dispense with the myth of the Three Wise Men as WWWF managers, sure, it sounds catchy, and if you were a kid in the territory you might even believe it was true. It's revisionist history at best, total ******** at worst. Lou Albano, whatever his faults as a wrestler (and they are legion), was the lead heel of the company as a manager. Everyone else was supporting cast.

I'm not a huge advocate of Lou as a HOFr, but I can understand the thinking and don't find him to be an embarrassing choice.

Not sure I agree with this. Capt. Lou was the loudest, rudest, and most obnoxious of the trio.
That was his character and he was very good at it.
That shouldn't diminish what Classy Freddy and The Grand Wizard did. TGW was often paired with guys who were good talkers. In his men's interviews, he'd set the tone. Like this with Bugsy McGraw.

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merc
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quote:
Originally posted by OSJ from NM by way of WA:
.

Let's put it this way, you could imagine the WWWF of that time without almost anyone. Buddy Rogers? Replaced. Bruno? Replacable. Pedro? Dropped down the card. The Grand Wizard? Died.

Now try and imagine the WWWF without Lou Albano in the same timeframe, just can't be done, he was that important to the product. [/QB]

I kind of think you are blinded by Albano Love. Of that list you laid out Bruno was the guy that was toughest to replace, the lengthy title run, call back for a second then late runs with Savage.

Lou was easily replaceable, just as Blassie or the Wiz were. Albano managed tag champions and did it in a psycho way, there was nothing special about him. His act often made little sense with the team he was matched up with. To call him top heel when he managed down the card doesn't really make sense.

The trio had rolls, Wiz managed the title contenders, Albano the tag title contenders and Blassie the foreigners. For the most part that held true until the Wiz died.. They all had serious mic skills and could sell a wrestler. For that time period it worked.

[ 07-06-2017, 07:24 PM: Message edited by: merc ]

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dthcm
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The Captain did get them on MTV. Would there be other opportunities for mainstream coverage? More than likely but Lou got it for them. Were Lou, Freddy and TGW replaceable? Maybe but that doesn't mean it would be better.
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Stephen Gennarelli
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Until I read this thread, I was under the misconception that TGW was in the Observer Hall of Fame.
As a fan since 1976, I think its a grave error that Ernie's not in this fine Hall of Fame.
The guy was a major player in 2 of the biggest promotions of the 70's.
He did such a great job with that character. He enhanced his talents. The way he struggled to take off Superstar Graham's t shirt, he made the Superstar even bigger and larger than life had Billy just been standing there on his own.
The character could have been a complete joke and a goof but Ernie pulled it off and he became a hated and respected manager.
He should be in the Hall of Fame soon as this is a terrible omission in my eyes.

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BERT from NJ
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I loved Wiz, my personal favorite of the 3 WWWF Managers of the 70s. But I don't necessarily believe everybody I like should be a Hall of Famer. WWE Hall of Fame no question. WON HoF, eh?

OSJ is right about Albano. Of the 3 managers, Blassie was clearly slotted as #3. Wiz was enteratining, did not get physically involved, and had grudging respect as being kayfabe intelligent.

Albano was universally loathed by fans, announcers, and babyfaces. He was babyface announcer Vince's muse. Lou was involved directly in the Patterson and Snuka babyface turns, and periphrally in the Arion heel turn. Getting him in the ring to take a beating was always a draw. Wiz and Blassie not so much. Watching his character "devolve" over the course of the decade notched up his hatred even more. He was the perennial manager of the heel tag team champions - who had to headline the tour the singles champ didn't work. They got over instantly by being paired with HIM. And make no mistake about it, all his charges from Koloff to Patera to Steele were his underlings, they were there to do Lou's bidding, no matter how big a star they were. Other than the year Billy Graham was champion, Lou Albano was the lead heel in the WWWF from the 70s to the expansion. When it was time, yes Lou was replaced. His replacement? Roddy Piper who took his spot as lead heel in the territory.

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White Fang from WA
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quote:
Originally posted by BERT from NJ:

OSJ is right about Albano. Of the 3 managers, Blassie was clearly slotted as #3. Wiz was enteratining, did not get physically involved, and had grudging respect as being kayfabe intelligent.


As fascinated as I always was with Blassie during his peak wrestling years he didn't move my needle at all as a manager. It seems a sacrilege to rank him below others who didn't do what he did during his career, but he rarely had any meaningful impact on the programs. Just growling and shaking his cane he totally lacked the sense of menace and tension that TGW and Albano (not as Albano the clown) could summon. I think Albano and TGW could really connect with the fans when they wanted to. Blassie not really.

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Old WWWF Fan
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Gennarelli:
Until I read this thread, I was under the misconception that TGW was in the Observer Hall of Fame.
As a fan since 1976, I think its a grave error that Ernie's not in this fine Hall of Fame.
The guy was a major player in 2 of the biggest promotions of the 70's.
He did such a great job with that character. He enhanced his talents. The way he struggled to take off Superstar Graham's t shirt, he made the Superstar even bigger and larger than life had Billy just been standing there on his own.
The character could have been a complete joke and a goof but Ernie pulled it off and he became a hated and respected manager.
He should be in the Hall of Fame soon as this is a terrible omission in my eyes.

I agree with this. When I first saw him in his getup I thought he looked like a clown. Then he started talking and I bought it hook, line, and sinker.
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Greg Ganja
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Without the benefit of real time, I'm pretty sure the Wizard was my favorite WWWF manager. I loved his cadence. There was something odd about his persona and gear of course. He balanced out the triad in contrast to Albano and Blassie and fit in the campy environment.

In a cookie cutter world today, we have to remember everyone's work and presentation was different in those days (Putski cloning Igor aside). The Grand Wizard was a key part of a very successful formula in two major territories and really should be in most hall of fames for his body of work.

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[ 07-08-2017, 07:05 AM: Message edited by: Greg Ganja ]

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I don't like the divorce font!
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Your old lady's old lady has got skinnier legs!!!
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And BABY DOLL...shame on you mama...cause I know you better than anyone!


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Stephen Gennarelli
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...and those pants he's wearing in the pic above with Muraco seated...Remember Crazy Luke Graham had tights that looked like that.
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Skullbutt
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Ernie Roth was the godfather of Muraco's child. Says something positive about the kind of man he was.
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White Fang from WA
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Plus he had the best weed.

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Claymation Quartermain
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For sure should be in The Hall of Fame.

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