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JerryvonKramer

WWF TV Shows 1970s to early 1990s (pre-Raw)

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You're right. Pretty sure Gorilla Monsoon had ownership in WWC but I don't know if he still had it when he died.

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1 hour ago, NintendoLogic said:

Didn't Monsoon have an ownership stake in the WWC? Vega and Perez both started their careers there, so that would explain that connection. Also, I've never really thought of Puerto Ricans as being heavily involved in organized crime.

There does seem to be this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinez_Familia_Sangeros Notably they worked the New York territory.

 

I don't associate Puerto Ricans in general with organized crime, but I do think "shady shit" whenever I think of Carlos Colon.

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Apologies if this was mentioned earlier but Superstars on USA did have first run matches in early 97.  Undertaker/Mero aired in early 97 on the show. Known for Taker tombstoning Sable being edited out of the broadcast. I swear there was an Austin/Barry Windham match around that time as well. That could have been late 96.

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On 9/8/2019 at 11:08 PM, SirEdger said:

You're right. Pretty sure Gorilla Monsoon had ownership in WWC but I don't know if he still had it when he died.

I’ve just read he had a 10% stake in WWC which he kept for many years. He acquired it in the mid-70s when he worked some headlines for Colon late in his career. Apparently this was one reason why Bruiser Brody was blackballed from WWF.

 

Moonsoon booked the undercard and this is perhaps one reason why there were so many Puerto Ricans: Victor Rivers, Jose Luis Rivera, Jose Estrada ... even Frank Williams was Puerto Rican!

 

Later on I will breakdown the Vince Sr backstage operation in more detail.

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Okay so some more detail about the various functions of the Vince Sr front office. I've consulted many accounts: the Backlund book, old observers, Bruno shoots, Cappetta's book, Superstar Graham shoots, Bill Watts book etc.

 

Vincent J McMahon

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By all accounts Vince Sr ran the show and he was -- contrary to what you might expect -- fairly hands on. He would have a detailed report about every card even if he wasn't at the arena. Who was late, who was out of line, any funny business, who performed well, who performed poorly, who got over, who didn't, etc. He would only be in the arena for Madison Square Garden shows.

 

Vince Sr still seemed to be booking in 1983 even after Vince Jr took over the reigns -- this is according to the Backlund book -- and if I was to guess this persisted until probably Backlund dropping the belt to Iron Sheik. There are several tell-tale signs in the booking and presentation after that point that have Vince Jr's hands all over them.

 

Apparently, Vince Sr would book the top 3 matches on every card -- you can tell this was the champion, semi-main and tag title. After the IC belt was introduced that became the semi-main. This also shows with angles as there'd only be at most three storylines running at any given time, and lots of the time only two. From what I can make out Vince Sr was very frugal and tight -- despite the fact that the boys typically saw working the North East as a big payday. This was simply because the gate was so much bigger. Senior's tightness can be seen in other ways:

 

  • he'd stonewall most attempts to ask for a pay rise, Cappetta tells a story about how he made $65 a night for his first four years and was given the brush off by Sr when he asked for more. He did get one eventually, but through Monsoon.
  • he booked MSG shows from a tiny room in The Edison Hotel with his close circle, Billy Graham talks about how it was filled with old guys and was a "surreal" scene.
  • the Allentown Agricultural Hall and Hamburg Fieldhouse were both decrepit, ancient venues with no facilities at all -- Backlund mentions that there were no locker rooms or showers, just a curtain and some chairs that all the workers had to hang out behind.
  • all workers on contract had to give Vince Sr a 25% "kick back" on their pay. So if a guy made $1000 for a show, they'd have to give Vince Sr $250 back. Quite how or why they operated like this I don't know, but Bill Watts tells a story about how he and Bruno would sometimes fail to report 5 shows in the month to pocket the difference. What seems bizarre to me is that Vince Sr would pay these guys and then expect them to give him money BACK? Why not just pay them $750 and be done with it?

 

It also seems that Vince Sr was very conservative in his vision of what wrestling should be. He seemed to want to give the fans as little as possible in order to get "more" out of "less". Whatever we may make of the shows today or his formula, it seemed to work in terms of sell outs and making money.

 

Phil Zacko

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It seems Zacko had two chief jobs. First, he was the man on the ground at the Philadelphia Spectrum. He also promoted shows as Landover (Cap Centre) and Baltimore. Second, he was the payout guy for the whole promotion. It seems that Vince Sr would go to Philly every third week of the month and sit in Zacko's office. Graham describes it as having a single uncovered light bulb and that Zacko had an almanac. Similar scenes are described by Backlund, Cappetta and Watts. In those monthly meetings, the workers would go in and list all the dates they'd work which Zacko would check against attendance figures in his almanac, and then pay them out accordingly. What I don't understand is how the workers on contract would pay their 25% kick back in that meeting -- since if the Watts story is right, then he and Bruno must have been paid the $1000 already in order to give them the kick back. Confusing and any additional info or insight would be appreciated.

 

Even thought Vince Sr was seen as a fair payoff guy, Zacko was widely perceived to be someone who'd short on the pay -- probably by under reporting the attendance number. This may well explain the famous bust up between Wahoo McDaniel and Zacko which led to McDaniel being blackballed from WWF. How can Vince Sr be a "fair" payoff guy while Zacko was perceived to be skimming from the top while being Vince Sr's pay off guy? I think this can be explained as follows: RELATIVE to all the other territories Vince Sr was paying more (because of the bigger gates), but nonetheless the were still shorting the boys and skimming off the top. Let's say the payoff for one Philly show was $1000 and they got paid only $750, that's still probably double the pay day they'd get in the South, and more than what they got get from Verne in AWA or in Mid-South under McGuirk or Watts.

 

Cappetta describes Zacko as surly, bad-tempered, foul-mouthed, rude and all around a bit of a dick, which seems to be borne out by most accounts -- he seldom comes across well. Most of them make him sound like a stereotypical short fat promoter who chomped on a big cigar -- shades of The Penguin from Batman.

 

Gorilla Monsoon

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Monsoon seems like he had three main jobs. First, he was Vince Sr's assistant booker -- Vince Sr booked the top 3 matches, Moonsoon booked the undercard. Second, it appears he was responsible for bringing in the undercard talent. As I noted above he owned a 10% stake in WWC in Puerto Rico, and this may well account for why there were so many Puerto Ricans on the WWF undercard in the 70s and early 80s. 

 

Monsoon's third job was being the man on the ground in Allentown and Hamburg TV tapings. Given there was no locker room and just a curtain, the "Gorilla position" is much easier to visualise. According to Meltzer, he's take off his glasses to let the workers know to go to a finish. He'd also be sending the reports on what happened on the ground back to Vince Sr.

 

Willie Gilzenberg

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Before he died in 1978, old-timey boxing promoter Willie Gilzenberg was responsible for promoting New Jersey similar to Zacko in Philly as well as Scranton, PA. He would have been responsible for any shows at the Meadowlands. I suspect he was one of the "old guys" that Billy Graham describes in the Edison Hotel room. From what I can make out, Gilzenberg was more of a guy with connections who could make contact and fix things with local venues or State Athletic Commissions, getting stories into newspapers, that sort of thing -- an actual promoter in other words. I do not know who took over his duties in New Jersey after he died.

 

He also played the WWF's on-air figurehead President -- a precursor to Jack Tunney --  but was very seldom actually seen on TV. 

 

Abe Ford

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This was the promoter for Boston (Gardens), who effectively worked as an agent on the ground for Vince Sr.

 

Angelo Salvoldi

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Savoldi had a small minority stake in the promotion, and worked as an "on the ground" agent, similar to Zacko or Gilzenberg,  but for some of the smaller shows on the loop -- according to Brian Solomon mainly in Massachusetts. So perhaps venues like North Attleboro, MA - Witschi's Sports Arena and Springfield, MA - Civic Center.

 

Tommy Dee

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Promotor and Vince Sr's agent on the ground for Brooklyn and Staten Island shows.

 

Rudy Miller

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Pennsylvania is a big state and Zacko could not promote all of the towns himself, Miller was another old-time promoter dating back to the days of Toots Mondt and Ray Fabiani. He promoted shows in Pittsburgh, and I think may also have ran the shows at the Zembo Mosque in Harrisburg. I suspect this was another of the "old guys" mentioned by Graham in the Edison hotel.

 

Arnold Skaaland
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Skaaland had two jobs. First, he was the handler for the champion ensuring they got to venues on time and making arrangements for them and so on -- including acting as their on-air manager. Second, he was the agent on the ground for shows in White Plains, NY.

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Indeed, it is. For everything we say about Vince McMahon and the way he acts, looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree, in hindsight.

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Getting back to the tv topic, it should also be noted that sometimes Prime Time and All American would replay the Superstars/Challenge matches with new commentary (usually by Hayes/Mooney), so as to both give the impression that they were new matches as well as to avoid having to discuss any angles that may have happened on Superstars/Challenge prior to that match.

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Decided to read this thread (nice to see you around Parv) and came across the mafia tangent... :blink:  :lol:

Adding a bit to that tangent:

On 9/8/2019 at 4:57 PM, JerryvonKramer said:

Now why were the only two Puerto Rican wrestlers on the 1999 roster the only ones in attendance? Why were the Savoldi family there?

Specifically the question as to why would Miguel Perez Jr. and Savio Vega be there at the funeral, it's likely due to the personal relationships involved. Two scenarios come to mind (neither necessarily having to do with mafia ties) and it could be a combination of both:

  • Miguel Perez Sr. was Antonino Rocca's tag partner and a mainstay in New York for several years. He also was a key player of CSP/WWC for the first ten years of it's existence, so it's likely that Perez Sr. and Monsoon knew each other well. So it's possible Perez Jr. may have also gotten to know Monsoon because of this or he may have gone on behalf of his father. Savio likely accompanied his friend/travel buddy, or...
  • They both went because they were close with Victor Quiñones, who was apparently Monsoon's godson.
On 9/8/2019 at 6:52 PM, JerryvonKramer said:

There does seem to be this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinez_Familia_Sangeros Notably they worked the New York territory.

 

I don't associate Puerto Ricans in general with organized crime, but I do think "shady shit" whenever I think of Carlos Colon

To be honest, I think "shady shit" pretty much applies to most wrestling promoters (I know what you're alluding to specifically with Colon, but don't want to derail the discussion going there).

17 hours ago, JerryvonKramer said:

I’ve just read he had a 10% stake in WWC which he kept for many years. He acquired it in the mid-70s when he worked some headlines for Colon late in his career. Apparently this was one reason why Bruiser Brody was blackballed from WWF.

 

Moonsoon booked the undercard and this is perhaps one reason why there were so many Puerto Ricans: Victor Rivers, Jose Luis Rivera, Jose Estrada ... even Frank Williams was Puerto Rican!

Monsoon did not have his stake when he died, although I don't know exactly when he sold or transferred it. My guess is probably by the late 80s and likely was the stake Victor Quiñones would say he had in CSP.  By 1995 or 1996 Jovica and Colon would declare bankruptcy for CSP and reincorporate as WWC which would have negated any CSP ownership stakes from other parties. Never had heard the % of the stake before, wondering if you remember where you read this (just to know the reference source).

I've always heard (and could be mistaken) that Brody got blackballed because he ran afoul of Monsoon, either because of a fight they had and/or taking liberties with his guys (one of which was Jose Gonzalez who was not listed in your rundown of Puerto Ricans with a lengthy stint in the territory). Considering Monsoon's position in the territory, not the person to piss off.

Although Puerto Ricans being a fixture in New York probably goes back all the way to Miguel Perez Sr. and the huge migration of Puerto Ricans to New York in the 50s making it a desirable demographic to appeal to. After all, wasn't West Side Story basically Italians vs. Puerto Ricans. ;)

 

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When I was researching the big post earlier, I came across a key piece of info that could disprove the mafia connection stuff which is that Joe Salvoldi -- Angelo's son -- worked as a US spy during WW2. Here's a key point:

 

 

During his third major mission, Savoldi worked undercover in Naples, where he infiltrated the local Mafia and helped break up one of the largest black market operations in all of Italy. While undercover, Savoldi again assumed the identity of Giuseppe De Leo, but he worked in civilian clothing, posing as a rogue operator. Savoldi spoke Italian in several dialects as well as French, Spanish, and some German, and his dangerous work behind enemy lines was highly regarded according to several, now declassified, documents.

 

I don't expect the Mob would forgive that easily and I don't expect Vince Sr and co would really have the Salvodis hanging round if there was heat between them and the Mafia.

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3 hours ago, Herodes said:

Interesting thread except for the weird Infowars-esque mafia conspiracy theory tangents.

Suggesting people mostly of Italian descent involved in an already shady business in New York in the 60's and 70's could potentially be involved in the mob .....

.....and fuckin' Alex Jones aren't even in the same ballpark. Nice try though.

It was an interesting theory, that he presented potential evidence for, then went on to further research and disprove himself. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Why don't you stick with what you think you are good at Herodes, and go troll the Modern WWE folder.

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Except the Joe Savoldi who worked as a spy during WWII and the Joe Savoldi who was Angelo's son are two different people. In fact, Angelo's real name was Mario Fornini. He was given the name Angelo Savoldi by promoter Jack Pfefer so he could be billed as the older Joe's brother, the same way Ricky Steamboat was billed as a relative of Sam Steamboat.

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2 hours ago, Blehschmidt said:

 

Suggesting people mostly of Italian descent involved in an already shady business in New York in the 60's and 70's could potentially be involved in the mob .....

.....and fuckin' Alex Jones aren't even in the same ballpark. Nice try though.

It was an interesting theory, that he presented potential evidence for, then went on to further research and disprove himself. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Why don't you stick with what you think you are good at Herodes, and go troll the Modern WWE folder.

I mean, hell, Dino Bravo was literally the godson of Montreal mob's godfather Vic Cotroni (and I believe he worked in New York as well around that timelime as Dominic DeNucci's tag team partner) so it's not a stretch to assume that there might be mob ties to Italian wrestlers and the NY mafia around that time.

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I’ve just read that Lou Albano mentioned in a shoot from 2001 that when he was working the Sicilians gimmick in the 60s the real mob got upset and asked him to tone it down.

 

 

They were definitely *around*.

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8 hours ago, Blehschmidt said:

 

Suggesting people mostly of Italian descent involved in an already shady business in New York in the 60's and 70's could potentially be involved in the mob .....

.....and fuckin' Alex Jones aren't even in the same ballpark. Nice try though.

It was an interesting theory, that he presented potential evidence for, then went on to further research and disprove himself. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Why don't you stick with what you think you are good at Herodes, and go troll the Modern WWE folder.

Well aren’t you quite the charmer! I’ll have you know I’m quite adept at trolling the AEW folder as well old chap although I did promise our esteemed leader that I would be a good boy. Besides the only mob I recognize in wrestling is the Memphis Mafia consisting of the Gilberts, Dirty White Boy and Joey “Maggs” Magliano.

Back to the topic at hand, for the last few years I have been watching the wonderful Prime Time Wrestling on the network starting in early 1986 and watching every episode and now at the very end of 1987. It may be the best WWF tv show ever, the key is to watch everything and never skip so you endure the mundane and get rewarded with tons of hidden gems and some true classics.

The beauty is the randomness of the match selection, the variety and depth of the roster, all the combinations of commentary teams, all the key angles and updates, mix of syndicated TV and house show footage, interviews and event center updates and above all else Gorilla and Bobby, not just the chemistry but show-long gags and storylines usually involving Bobby expecting/making/receiving phone calls and unseen characters like Bobby’s long suffering secretary/lover Miss Betty.

The show evolves form just random matches and becomes a much more slick show around the time in fall of 1986 when WWF upgraded their tv show production and format. By late 86 and into 87 it’s a much slicker show.

One of the main things is how much the success of the WWF is reliant on the midcard and tag teams and it has its own hierarchy within that group. Hogan is always referenced, never is seen wrestling and rarely heard from and treated as a mythical figure. Matches with the likes of Savage are very sparse. So it’s left to the likes of the Hart Foundation, Bulldogs, Tito, Harley, Orton, Valentine etc as the “headliners” in the prime time universe and a mid card and lower card beneath them, even the jobbers hey competitive matches. And almost everyone is over and involved in angles and gets interview time. Complete opposite from today with overexposed geeks as main eventers, worthless lower card met with apathy and no midcard.

The lesson being to always have a strong, deep midcard to carry the TV product, have them exist in their own universe for the most part and create layers within the midcard and keep the main event special.

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I dont see Bruno being involved with the Mafia, knowing his personality (or at least, what's we've heard in shoot interviews). At worst, he may have had friends who happened to be in the mob, but Bruno himself was likely innocent.

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I agree with JRH, but isn't there a story of some shady-looking guys coming up to Bruno offering to "take care" of Zbyszko for him? And Bruno having to beg for the dogs to be called off and assure them that he'd handle Larry in the ring himself?

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19 hours ago, Herodes said:

Hogan is always referenced, never is seen wrestling and rarely heard from and treated as a mythical figure.

This is an extremely underrated and under appreciated aspect of the presentation of that era.

 

Hogan wasn’t Triple H cutting a 20-minute promo every week. Him being there was pretty much “Elvis has entered the building” territory.

 

The sense of depth on that roster is pretty incredible when you think of it. As kids I think think we didn’t truly appreciate how much Gorilla’s “main event anywhere in the country” line was true.

 

I go back and forth on the strengths and weaknesses of this. On the plus side the TV was magical and the PPVs some huge shows. 

 

But consider now that Vince Sr was selling out MSG, Philly, Boston, Baltimore every month mostly with 2-match cards with 20-minute Baron Scicluna matches underneath and Vince Jr seemed to struggle to do this with a massive budget, loaded cards, pop stars and all the rest of it.

 

I sometimes wonder if Vince made a lot of extra work for himself. Hogan wasn’t good drawing return bouts in the arena.

 

If you study gates many of the other headliners didn’t draw whether Tito vs Greg, Savage vs Ted, or Warrior vs Rude. They even had to bring Bruno back in 86.

 

So part of me says the depth of roster — great from fan point of view — didn’t draw. I haven’t got figures in front of me but I bet there were Boston shows headlined by Backlund vs Bobby Dumcum and nothing at all underneath that drew better than peak Hogan era shows.

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Re: Bruno, I doubt he personally was involved with the mob, but there's no doubt mob guys would be fans of his. Kind of like the Yakuza guys who were big New Japan fans back in the day (and probably still are but they were more visible back then). The (W)WWF was big on the ethnic hero babyfaces, and Bruno was the Italian hero. 

I wouldn't be surprised if someone came to Bruno to offer to "take care" of Larry for him. 

 

Edited to add: wasn't it heavily rumored if not outright stated that Victor Quinones was not just Gorilla's godson but his actual son? I seem to recall it being confirmed or at least no longer denied after Gorilla died then it came up again when Victor died. 

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