Wrestling In Southern California From The 60's To The Present.

William B.Contributor IOctober 28, 2009

Since the 1960's, I have followed professional wrestling, when it was a regional telecast, from Los Angeles and San Diego.

In those days, San Diego wrestling fans would see former wrestler Hardy Kruskamp, a heel, to do what Jim Ross, Michael Cole, and Jerry Lawler is doing: call the action.

The shows on TV would be televised from the local TV studios.  Even the Olympic Auditorium showed televised wrestling matches on Wednesday evenings in the mid-1970's (with Jeff Walton as the host), just to promote the sport for the Friday night matches.

The Friday night matches were among the biggest headliners in all of Southern California.  I would drive 120 miles sometimes to watch wrestlers in action at the Olympic Auditorium, a grand ole place that had a capacity of 10,500.  We often heard Jimmy Lennon as the ring announcer.  Lennon himself put on an indelible mark in Southern California.

Among the wrestlers in those days were Fred Blassie and John Tolos, who were the biggest headliners in Southern California.  Blassie wrote about that in his book, "Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks".

Personally, I only got to see both men battle it out just once in San Diego.  In the month of August 1973, a cage match was scheduled at a little wrestling arena, called the "San Diego Coliseum". 

The San Diego Coliseum was located on 14th and E Streets in downtown San Diego, not far from where Petco Park (home of the Padres) now stands.  The capacity was just over 3,000 people.  The little arena was located next door to Jerome's, a furniture store, which would later assume the place when time ran out on local wrestling as we knew it then.  The bouts between Blassie and Tolos would fill the place.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The cage match was true to form as every so often, Blassie beat Tolos, thanks to a mistake by another heel, Yamamoto, who accidentally threw salt into Tolos's eyes, which was really intended for Blassie.

Following the battles between Blassie and Tolos, when they have moved on to other things, Roddy Piper and Chavo Guerrero, Sr. took up matters in the Southern California area in the mid-1970's.  But wrestling in Southern California, under the auspices of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), was in the decline.  The San Diego Coliseum drew half of the capacity crowd than Blassie and Tolos were used to.

In the early 1980's, as Blassie said in his book, Vince McMahon, Jr. bought out the NWA, and so put the WWF in Southern California.  Among the superstars be brought to Southern California was then-WWF champion Bob Backlund, Playboy Buddy Rose, Don Muraco, Gary Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, and others.  The matches were held at the San Diego Sports Arena, an obviously bigger place, with capacity over 12,500 seats.

Now Roddy Piper was a heel in the NWA days, and was a heel early in his career at the WWF.  I will tell you this:  for what Piper did, he became one of my favorite wrestlers.  He left an indelible mark in Southern California, and I think that the wrestling fans do appreciated his contributions to the sport.  Thank you, Roddy, for the wonderful memories.

As far as wrestling was concerned in the 1980's, Vince McMahon, Jr., was just getting started.  We all know now that he continues to build a successful business, bringing RAW and Smackdown once in a while to cities where the local venues are sold out.  And not to mention the PPV shows as well.  TV is what makes the shows go.  McMahon is the best promoter ever.

Presently, I enjoy watching John Cena, but do not really appreciate Randy Orton. 

Through the wrestling magazines over the years, starting in 1976 with Inside Wrestling and The Wrestler, I've followed Bob Orton Sr. and Jr., and then comes Randy Orton.  All of the Ortons are and were heels.

What galls me the most right now is The Legacy.  Most people might associate The Legacy, with Ted DiBiase, Jr., and Cody Rhodes as two men who still need some growing up to do.  Perhaps they should break their chain with Orton and just be themselves.

The Legacy may as well move to ECW only, unless they want to start feuding with Randy Orton.


slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!