As many know, I’m an avid wrestling fan. Have been since I saw Hogan and Orndorf in that big blue cage on Saturday Night. Still am and have gotten very involved in letting people know about it. Part of the fuel to that fire and love for “the business” has to stem from my surroundings.
Pittsburgh has always produced wrestling greats. Bruno Sammartino was maybe the biggest name to come out of the steel city. An Italian immigrant, he went to New York, with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (the precursor to today’s World Wrestling Entertainment) and became the longest reigning World Champion in the company’s history, running from 1963 to 1971, then a second reight from ’74 to ’77. Bruno even undercarded a match on the famous Ali vs Antonio Inacki at Shea Stadium in 1976.
Shane Douglas saw time in WWF (“Dean” Douglas), WCW (tagging with Ricky Steamboat for a time), and of course a stint as a manager and interviewer in TNA. But his biggest claim to fame is his part in the rise of ECW as a valid contender. Douglas won the NWA title in a three way dance, only to dump it on the ground and establish ECW as it’s own, independent, fed.
Kurt Angle, of course, is a town hero, winning the gold medal in amateur wrestling at the 1996 Olympics, and went on to an amazing career in WWE, then TNA. I’ve had the pleasure to be at Mellon Arena for his second title win in front of his home town over (just announced Hall of Fame inductee) Stone Cold Steve Austin.
But it’s not just the big guys that make this town so great. Pittsburgh is still showcasing tomorrow’s stars. As I’ve discussed in the past, this town is a hot bed for talent and great promotions. NWA East AKA Pro Wrestling Express, runs shows in the city. Far North Wrestling (FNW) runs out of the Butler region, and the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) that typically runs in Elizebeth, PA. All three show offer a look at the great talent coming up. Sterling James Keenan in FNW and other feds has been all over the world making his name. IWC showcases stars from Ring of Honor (including Delirious, Chris Hero, and more) and periodically will have appearances by TNA stars such as the Motorcity Machine Guns, Samoa Joe, and Eric Young. Many of which were regulars in the IWC’s storied history. CM Punk and Scotty goldman (AKA Colt Cabana) were regulars, and champions, as well.
This Saturday, one of the best examples of all of this comes together as IWC presents “A New Beginning Woooo!” on January 24. Last year, IWC put together a spectacular two day “100th show” spectacular, and the card for this one seems fit to top that. And of course, there’s the guest of honor, Ric Flair. Although I’m becoming more involved in all of this (full disclosure: I’ve been assisting with the IWC web site and ringside filming) I look forward to these shows and look through my lense as a fan with just as mush anticipation as my friends sitting ringside.
If you’re a mainstream wrestling fan, have a passing interest, or are just bored on a Saturday night, really, pick up any of those organizations and give it a chance. You might get just as hooked as I am.