THE WAY IT WAS
by Percival A. Friend

(The EPITOME of Wrestling Managers)

2004 Honoree
Cauliflower Alley Club
Las Vegas, Nevada

Mark BujanMark Bujan

Percival's Photo Of The Week

Tiger Conway, Bob Orton & Dr. Mike Lano
Tiger Conway Sr. and Bob Orton Sr., along with Dr. Mike Lano, at the 2004 CAC. Percival: "That room at the CAC get together will be very lonesome this coming year with both of these great stars not there."

Central States Anthology

The NWA Central States Area dates back to the 1920’s. Tom Packs was a promoter in St. Louis from 1922 to 1946. Midwest promoters included the late Orville Brown, followed by George Simpson. Gust Karras, from St. Joseph, Missouri, contributed in boosting professional wrestling on a national scale. Pinky George and Gust Karras were the promoters in Iowa, while George Simpson and Orville Brown promoted in Kansas City until Bob Geigel took over in 1958. Geigel promoted in Kansas City for almost 30 years.

After Geigel, Jim Crockett Jr. promoted for a few months in 1986 and 1987 until Geigel took back over until the Central States area closed down in 1988. The Central States area ran shows in Kansas and Missouri and extended to Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. The NWA Central States area became a member of the National Wrestling Alliance since it was organized in Waterloo, Iowa in 1945. The television program of the Central States area was "All-Star Wrestling." It was filmed during their weekly Thursday night card in Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.

Wrestlers that appeared in the Central States area in the 1970’s included: Bob Geigel (who was head booker and promoter in the late 1970’s and 1980’s), Harley Race, "Bulldog" Bob Brown, "The Freight Train" Rufus R. Jones, Black Angus Campbell, Roger "Nature Boy" Kirby, Mike George, Jesse Ventura, Danny Little Bear, The Viking, "Big O" Bob Orton, Steve Bolus, Pat O’Connor, Juan Sebastian, Billy Howard, The Destroyer (Stan Pulaski), Frankie Diamond, Omar Atlas, Bobby Whitlock, Mike George, Benji Rameriz, Sonny Myers and Ronnie Etchison.

Wrestlers that wrestled in the Central States area in the 1980’s included: Harley Race, "Bulldog" Bob Brown, "The Freight Train" Rufus R. Jones, Roger "Nature Boy" Kirby, "Crazy" Luke Graham (Sr.), T.G. Stone, Scott Ferris, The Grapplers (Grappler #1 and Grappler #2 a/k/a Len Denton and Tony Anthony, The Dirty White Boys), The Uptown Boys (Marty Jannetty and Tommy Rogers), Shawn Michaels (whom Marty teamed with in 1985), Ted and Jerry Oates, Art Crews, Buzz "Avalanche" Tyler, Ron Ritchie, Tom "Boogaloo" Shaft, Tom Ivy, Mike George, "Hercules" Ray Hernandez (Hercules in the WWF), Hercules Ayala (known in the Central States area as Crusher Ayala so not to confuse him with Hercules Hernandez, I suppose), Bruiser Brody, Jerry Anderson, Dave (D.J.) Peterson, Dusty Wolfe, Gypsy Joe, Mr. Pogo, Hacksaw Higgins, "Diamond" Timothy Flowers, Kamala, Tommy Sharp, Grizzly Evans, M.E.B. (The Man Eating Beast a/k/a Rick Link), Ken Timbs, Pork Chop Cash, The American Starship (Eagle ["Dangerous" Dan Spivey/Waylon Mercy] and Coyote [Scott Hall/Razor Ramon]), Barry Windham, Crusher Blackwell, Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, The Rock ‘N Roll Express, The Midnight Express, Wahoo McDaniel, Stan Hansen, Baron Von Raschke, and "Hacksaw" Butch Reed.

Managers included: "The Epitome of Wrestling Managers" Percival A. Friend, Sheik Abdullah The Great (The Master of Illusion), Honey, Richard Moody, Jimmy Hart, Slick, Downtown Bruno (Harvey Wippleman in the WWF), Mr. Russell Sapp, Esquire, and "Gorgeous" Gary Royal (Royal also wrestled).

Sonny Myers, Ronnie Etchison, Frank Diamond and Bobby Whitlock were among the referees there. Bill Kersten, Kevin Wall and the late Rick Stewart were among the commentators.

The Central States area recognized the Central States Heavyweight Title, the Central States Tag Team Title, the Central States TV Title, and the Missouri State Title. In the 1960’s, they recognized a US Heavyweight Title, and, in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, they had a North American Tag Team Title and a World Tag Team Championship.

The Central States Title was originally called the NWA Heart of America Heavyweight title in the early 1950’s. It became the Central States title in the early 1950’s. Some of the people that held the Central States Title include: Sonny Myers, "Wild" Red Berry, "Iron" Mike DiBiase, "Cowboy" Bob Ellis, The Spoiler, Ted Oates, Jerry Oates, "Easy" Ed Wiskoski (later known as Colonel DeBeers), (Sgt.) Bob Slaughter, "Bruiser" Bob Sweetan (Mr. Piledriver), "Colonel" Buck Robley ("Nobody calls me yellow"), Ron Starr, The Assassin, Bruiser Brody, Dewey Robertson (later known as The Missing Link), Super Destroyer, Dick Murdoch, Ted DiBiase, Tully Blanchard, Hacksaw Higgins, "Crazy" Luke Graham, Sr., Mr. Pogo, Porkchop Cash and Akio Sato. "Bulldog" Bob Brown held the Central States Title at least 16 times.

Among the tag teams that held the Central States Tag Team Titles are: Bryan St. John and Randy Alls ("Ravishing" Randy Rose), Bruiser Brody and Ernie Ladd, "Bulldog" Bob Brown and Dick Murdoch, Pat and Mike Kelly, Buzz Tyler and J.J. Dillon, Ricky Romero and Eddie Gilbert, Dewey Robertson and Hercules Hernandez, Yasu Fuji and Kim Duk (later Tiger Chung Lee), Mike George and Mark Romero (a/k/a Mark Youngblood), The Sheiks (Sheik Abdullah The Great and Roger "Nature Boy" Kirby), The Grapplers, The Uptown Boys, Mr. Pogo and Gypsy Joe, The Batten Twins (Brad and Bart Batten), The Midnight Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels), The Thunderfoots, The MOD Squad (Basher and Spike), Porkchop Cash and "Gentleman" Ken Timbs, The Warlord and Karl Kovac, The Montana Cowboys (Mike Stone and Rick Patterson), Bob Brown and The Cuban Assassin and Rick Patterson and Stevie Ray.

Among the wrestlers that held the Central States Television Title are: "Bruiser" Bob Sweetan, Black Angus Campbell, Terry Taylor, "Hangman" Bobby Jaggers, Rufus R. Jones, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Bobby Fulton, "Colonel" Buck Robley, Art Crews, Gypsy Joe, Marty Jannetty, Gary Royal, Akio Sato, Mike George, Vinnie Valentino, "Hustler" Rip Rogers, Mike George and Masa Chono.

I hope that you enjoyed this who's who of the Central States. Hope that it brought back a few good memories to you like it did to me.

Percival A. Friend, Retired
The Epitome of Wrestling Managers

2003 BWC Hall of Fame Inductee
2004 CAC Hall of Fame Inductee
2006 LWA Hall of Fame Inductee

The Boogie Woogie Man and Luis Martinez
The Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant and his teacher, Luis "Arriba" Martinez, during a recent Thanksgiving visit. Percival: "The two had not seen each other in many years, and each was very happy during the time they spent together. Luis has been in a nursing facility in Chicago for the past few years and enjoys hearing from you fans. Photo courtesy of The Valiants (Angel and Boogie), and, if you haven't gotten your copy of his book, "WOOOOO ... Mercy Daddy," I urge you to order yours at www.jimmyvaliant.com.

(MIDI Musical Selection: "Rockabye")

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