Monday, February 11, 2019

Pedro Morales: One The Greatest Champions in WWE History

Pedro Morales is one of the greatest champions in the history of the WWE and I'm going to tell you why.  I didn't always think so when I was a kid whenever Pedro was on TV I remember him losing or getting wins over jobbers who I called bums.  I would hear the commentators state that he was a former champion, but I just didn't see it.  Now looking back and seeing his old matches I see it and you should too.

Born in 1942 be debuted at the age of 17 in 1959 in New York after training with Barba Roja.  Although primarily known by me for being in the now WWE he has stints all over the United States and in Japan.

He held titles in NWA Hawaii, Championship Wrestling from Florida, NWA San Francisco, Puerto Rico's WWC and was a two time WWA World Heavyweight Champion.  He also wrestled for the American Wrestling Association, Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as other promotions.

On January 24, 1963 the Capitol Wrestling Corporation officially became the WWWF holding their first ever television taping in Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 29th.  Morales made his WWE debut at that taping teaming with Dory Dixon and defeated Johnny Barend & The Magnificent Maurice.   He stayed with the WWE for two years then moved onto the WWA. 

On February 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden Morales defeated Ivan Koloff for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship ending the Russian Bears three week reign as champion. He would go onto hold the championship for 1,027 days dropping it to Stan "The Man" Stasiak in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1973.

As champion he headlined Madison Square Garden 30 times defending his title against the likes of Larry Hennig, BlackJack Mulligan, Freddie Blassie, Ray Stevens, and George "The Animal" Steele just to name a few.  On September 30, 1972 Morales defended the Championship against Bruno Sammartino in front of more than 22,000 fans at Shea Stadium wrestling to a 75 minute time limit draw.

Morales left the WWE in 1975 returning in 1980.  On August 9, 1980 he and then WWE Champion Bob Backlund defeated the Wild Samoans in two straight falls to win the World Tag Team Championships.  They were stripped of the titles the next day because of Backlund being the WWE Champion.

On December 8, 1980 he defeated Ken Patera at Madison Square Garden to capture the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship becoming the first ever Triple Crown Champion.  He would hold the championship for 194 daus dropping it to Don Muraco in Philadelphia on June 20, 1981, but would regain it from Muraco on November 23rd at MSG.

His second reign would last over a year until January 22, 1983 when Muraco defeated him again at the Garden ending Morales 425 day run. 

To summarize:

Morales is the first ever Triple Crown Champion

He is one of only two people to ever hold the World and Intercontinental Championships for over a year on single reign, the other is "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

His 1,027 days as World Champion is the fifth longest single reign behind Bruno's two reigns, Bob Backlund, & Hulk Hogan.  The title has traded hands 134 times to 49 different title holders.

As Intercontinental Champion he held the title twice for a combined 619 days, the longest reigning champion of all time.  His second reign at 425 days is the second longest single reign behind the Honky Tonk Man.

Some will argue that I'm wrong, for instance Chris Jericho has held every championship in the promotion.  WWE Champion, World Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, Hardcore Champion, European Champion, Intercontinental Champion, United States Champion, WWE Tag Team Champion, and World Tag Team Champion.

In total Jericho had 26 championship reigns whereas Morales only had four.  However, Morales' four reigns lasted for 1,647 days and Jericho's twenty six lasted 1,059 days.  I firmly believe that this proves that Pedro Morales, without question, is one of the greatest champions in the history of the WWE. 

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Signed Trading Cards: Jim Steele

James Rocha began wrestling in the 1990's debuting in WCW in 1993 as "Jungle" Jim Steele in World Championship Wrestling.  I remember seeing him on WCW Saturday Night but his biggest match of that WCW run was at the SuperBrawl IV pay-per-view where he defeated The Equalizer.

Leaving WCW in 1994 he traveled to All Japan Pro Wrestling teaming with Danny Spivey in the 1994 Real World Tag League they finished with two points.  In 1995 he had a dark match in WWE, and was defeated by 911 in ECW.

Steele being chokeslammed by 911
In All Japan he wrestled under the mask as The Lacrosse until 1998.  From late 1995 through 1997 he wrestled occasionally as Jim Steele in World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico holding their version of the World Television Championship for 28 days.

In late 1997 he removed the mask becoming Wolf Hawkfield, based on the Virtua Fighter character, teaming with Johnny Smith for the 1997 Real World Tag League finishing in 5th place with ten points.  On January 9, 1998 in Kagoshima, Japan teaming with Johnny Smith they defeated Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori for the All Asia Tag Team Championships.  They held the championships for 270 days losing the titles to Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida on October 6, 1998 in Niigata.

As Hawkfield he made two appearances in November 1998 in ECW defeated Tommy Rogers.  His last appearance in All Japan as Hawkfield was October 28, 2000.  Less than a month later as Jim Steele he teamed with Mike Barton in the 2000 Real World Tag League finishing with ten points. 

November 3, 2001 Steele defeated Invader 1 to win the WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship holding the title until November 24th losing it back to Invader 1.

With Mike Barton after winning Stan Hansen Cup
The following year Steele and Barton traveled to New Japan to compete in the G1 Tag League losing in the finals to Kojima & Tenzan.  On July 7, 2002 he and Barton won the Stan Hansen Cup.  They remained with  All Japan until November 2002 when he and Barton returned to New Japan where he would stay until early 2004.  In December 2003 he and Barton had a couple tag matches in the WWE.

Steele returned to All Japan for a short run at the end of 2004 as Love Machine Steele.  This would he his last run in Japan.  In 2005 he had a few matches in WWC and his final match came on April 26, 2008 losing to Orlando Colon in the WWC Universal Title Tournament in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. 

Left to Right: The Lacrosse, Wolf Hawkfield, & Jim Steele all released by BBM Magazine in 1996, 2000, & 2004 respectively.

I mailed these cards to Mr. Rocha after reaching out to him on Facebook.  I'm very appreciative that he signed all three cards for me as the name of each person he portrayed on the cards.  I sent him an extra The Lacrosse & Wolf Hawkfield that I had and I am actively looking for a Jim Steele 2004 BBM to send him as well if anyone has one. 

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!