Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Last Match - Legends of the Ring

For this edition of The Last Match we feature 6 of the all time greats in professional wrestling.  I have never meet and of these legends nor have ever seen them live in the ring. 

Pat Paterson & Manager The Grand Wizard
Pat Patterson

Considered to have one of the greatest minds in wrestling Patterson's career both in the ring and behind the scenes spanned more than 50 years.  Famously known for being the first WWE Intercontinental Champion and later as one of Mr. McMahon's stooges Patterson is well respected by all.  Patterson has two final matches, the first in 1987 as a regular competitor and the second in 2000 as he and Gerald Brisco briefly returned to the ring feuding for the Hardcore Championship. 

August 31, 1987 Montreal Forum lost to Brutus Beefcake, Mr. T was special referee
Second final Match
King of the Ring, June 25, 2000 lost Hardcore Championship to Crash Holly 
Patterson was defending the belt against Jerry Brisco in a hardcore evening gown match.

“Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers

The original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers in ring career spanned more than 40 years he is a former NWA World Champion and the first ever WWE (WWWF) World Champion.  Rogers was the first bleach blonde arrogant heal and was the basis for many other that followed including Ric Flair.  It is little known that he was also the basis for Butch Reed's Natural character in the WWE.

On July 9, 1978 Rogers lost a battle of the Nature Boy match to Ric Flair.  He had agreed to wrestle Buddy Landel in early 1992 however the match never took place.  Rogers died on June 26, 1992. 

September 17, 1983 Baltimore WWF House Show
Teamed with Jimmy Snuka to defeat IC Champion Don Muraco & Lou Albano

Arnold Skaaland

The Golden Boy had an illustrious 30 plus year career both in the ring and out has a manger and later agent in the WWE.  Skaaland is known for managing both Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund during their Championship title runs and is best known for by my generation for throwing in the towel allowing Iron Sheik to defeat Backlund for the championship.  Skaaland died March 13, 2007.

January 1, 1984 Hartford, CT WWF House Show
Teamed with Jimmy Snuka to defeat IC Champion Don Muraco & Lou Albano

Pat O’Connor

From New Zealand O'Connor is a former AWA & NWA World Champion. O'Connor set many records for attendance and ticket sales in the Chicago against the likes of Yukon Eric, Bruno Sammartino, and his NWA World Championship loss on June 30, 1961 to "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.  O'Connor died August 16, 1990.  At Starrcade that year WCW held the "Pat O'Connor International Tag Team Tournament" which you can read a blog I wrote about it here.

February 4, 1982 defeated Takashi Ishikawa AJPW New Year Giant Series 1982 Tokyo

Lou Thesz

A legitimate hooker Thesz is considered by many as the greatest professional wrestler of all time.  Thesz career spanned an unbelievable 58 years from 1932 to 1990.  He held the NWA World Championship three times for a total of 3,749 days.  Thesz contribution to wrestling is immeasurable.  He passed away April 28, 2002 from complications to an aortic valve replacement.     

December 26, 1990 Hamamatsu, Japan NJPW King of Kings
Defeated by Masahiro Chono at age 74

Bruno Sammartino

The "Living Legend" debuted in 1959 in Pittsburgh his adopted home town.  Four short years later he would submit Buddy Rogers in less than a minute for the WWWF Championship, his two combined reigns lasting 4,040 days.  Although Sammartino has success around the world he primarily competed in the north east for the majority of his career where is sold out Madison Square Garden a record 187 times.  

Moments after defeating Rogers for the WWWF Championship

WWF house show Baltimore, MD August 29, 1987
Champion Hulk Hogan & Bruno Sammartino defeated King Kong Bundy & the One Man Gang when Hogan pinned Bundy

Legends Battle Royal

In 1987 WWF hosted a battle royal that featured some of the greatest wrestlers of all time.  For many of these wrestlers is would be there last match in wrestling and for other their only match in a WWF ring.  For the purposes of my column "The Last Match" I only count traditional wrestling or tag team matches.  

The competitors:
Lou Thesz, Pat O'Connor, Nick Bockwinkel, Bobo Brazil, Gino Brito, Edouard Carpentier, Al Costello, The Crusher, Dominic DeNucci, Tony Garea, Rene Goulet, Gene Kiniski, Killer Kowalski, Pedro Morales, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Arnold Skaaland, Chief Jay Strongbow, & Art Thomas. 

WWF House Show East Rutherford, NJ The Meadowlands November 16, 1987
Lou Thesz won last elimination Pat O'Connor at 11:11

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Later Readers!

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