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Wrestling News! May 26...
New entry on the Maple Leaf Blog looks at the 1976 Ali-Inoki closed circuit at MLG, also a look at Wilf Jennings, and a couple of nostalgia items from Ed White aka Handsome Johnny Davis,
...New stuff coming up- a look at the wrestling year in Ontario 1957...an overview of attendances from the 1930's up...and more new stuff planned over the summer...
Classic Photo: The Gallaghers 1960
A classic photo from 1960 with the Gallagher Brothers tag team on the losing end of a battle with local heroes Whipper Watson and Ilio DiPaolo.
Action on the ramp was popular in every era dating right back to the ramp's inception in 1948 to serve as an 'escape hatch' for the bad guys. In addition to allowing the heels to escape the fans grasps (but not the projectiles!) the wrestlers quickly figured out that it could serve as a tool in the bouts.
This time Whipper and ilio use brother Mike as a battering ram heading for brother Doc who is tied up in the ropes.
Fritz Von Erich in Toronto
More with Fritz Von Erich. We look at his time in Toronto and his run as one of the top heels in the area. Fritz had a strong career in MLW at the top of the cards for several years in the 1950's.
He would earn top bouts both in singles and in tags. His team with Gene Kiniski may be one of the best teams ever to grace the squared circle. Frank Ayerst described the twosome as 'hovering somewhere between grumpy and miserable even on their most jovial days.'
From his first bout at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1955 to his last in 1965 Fritz would earn a place in the top tier of all-time Toronto wrestlers.
Classic Photo: Fritz vs Whipper 1960
In front of our feature on Fritz Von Erich we have this great photo of Fritz vs Whipper Watson in a wire fence bout.
Whip has his Canuck Commando sleeper hold on his long time rival and looks to have the win in hand.
Back before cage matches they had this wire fence bout to keep the wrestlers in, and others out. It didn't always work that way, as on this night.
Fritz was nearing his end of his 4 year run as one of Toronto's top villains and while he would come back for a brief time in 1965 he mostly stayed near his Texas home for the rest of his career.
The Canadian Open Tag Titles - Trophy
From 1952 to 1961 we had the Canadian Open Tag Team Titles. Tag Titles were a fairly new thing in the early 1950's and instead of belts, most promotions awarded a trophy to the champs.
In Toronto we had the Calvert Trophy. Calvert Distillery sponsored many sports and had a syndicated column in the papers. Another noteworthy Calvert Trophy had been awarded to hockey great Maurice Richard in 1951, ours was presented in August 1952.
The first holders of the titles were Whipper Watson and Pat Flanagan. They defeated Lord Layton and Hans Hermann in a tournament final to gain the honors.
Pages from the scrapbook: 1953 Whipper & Robert
Another feature from the Scrapbooks, This time the Canadian Dream Team !
Whipper Watson and Yvon Robert were the 1-2 punch in Canadian Wrestling during the 1940's and 1950's.
Whipper ruled Toronto while Robert ruled Montreal and over the years the two had quite a rivalry going.
After many tough battles here and in Quebec, the two would finally team up to create a dream team of the era. It wouldn't take long for the two to lift the Canadian Open Tag Titles from Dick Raines and Lou Plummer.
THANKS TO ROGER BAKER for contributions to the MLWP. Many of the Classic photos come from Roger's collections from his many years as a fan and then Professional Photog shooting Wrestling & Boxing bouts at MLG and around Ontario. We are fortunate to have his contributions to the articles as he shares his memories from the classic days of Ontario Pro Wrestling. Roger wrote many great stories for the Wrestling mags of the day that featured his photos and time spent with many of the biggest stars ever to appear at Maple Leaf Gardens. Thank you Roger!
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Mini Bio : Dino Bravo... We had the original Dino Bravo here in the early 1960's, using his real name -Dino Bravo. The second Bravo came out of Montreal and debuted here in 1973. At that time he was busy on the Ottawa - Montreal circuit and also appeared a bit in Northland Wrestling in Northern Ontario with some of the other Quebec regulars. Early appearances included teaming with long time partner Gino Brito and he would make a few appearances through 1975. His second run here started in Oct 1978 with the first card featuring the Mid Atlantic stars. Bravo had been a regular in the Carolinas and made his impact here quickly. That first card he beat Ken Patera and on the next he teamed with WWWF champ Bpb Backlund against the AWA champs of the time Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson. When Tunney introduced the Canadian Title in Dec 1978 Bravo beat Gene Kiniski to claim the title and would end up being one the most popular and talented wrestlers to ever appear here. He would team with Steamboat and battle with the likes of Greg Valentine, Nick Bockwinkel, and Ric Flair before being stripped of the title for no showing a card. It was said Tunney had made it impossible for Bravo to wrestle anywhere in Ontario but he showed up in Ottawa in 1980 when Verne Gagne tried running the city. He also appeared regularly on George Cannon's Superstars TV. He did return to Maple Leaf in 1982 for a short time which was it during the NWA days. He returned in 1985 with the WWF and even appeared here in 1987 teamed with former arch-rival Greg Valentine as the Dream Team...