AWA #25 Page #2
AWA ring announcer Al DeRusha came up with the moniker "The Very Capable" Kenny Jay. Also beat John the Greek, Bobby Heenan and Sgt Jacques Goulet during his AWA tenure. Known for giving the fans the double thumbs up before his matches. Still works a few independent shows in Minnesota every year. Well liked by almost everyone who has ever met him. His nephew JB Trask carries on the family wrestling tradition. Probably the most beloved AWA preliminary wrestler of all time.
John the Greek- Frequent AWA prelim guy from the early 70s. Wore white boots and white trunks. A heel. First name might be George. Was active on the Wisconsin independent scene during the 70s.
Kenny KO Yates- Billed as an ex boxer. Legend has it he had a losing record and once injured a boxing opponent seriously. A heel. Gimmick was when he was hurt during a match he would forget where he was and come out in a boxer's stance throwing haymakers.
George Gadaski- Real name George Kosti. Born in 1930. Made his wrestling debut in 1956. Also set up the rings and refereed for the AWA. Was given the Scrap Iron nickname in a televised bout against Blackjack Lanza on April 11th, 1970. Formed a memorable tag team with fellow enhancement performer Kenny Jay. As mentioned before, the team of Gadaski and Jay hardly even won. However they did score startling upsets over the Texas Outlaws (Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch) and the East West Connection (Adrian Adonis and Jesse Ventura). Teamed with the Crusher several times against the Super Destroyer (Don Jardine) and Lord Alfred Hayes. Died on December 6th, 1982. Along with Kenny Jay, George Scrap Iron Gadaski will always hold a place in my heart.
Bob Brunell- Trained by Eduardo Carpentier. Son of former World Champion Yvon Robert and was often billed in other territories as Yvon Robert Jr.. Competed in the AWA during the early 70s. Once owned a piece of the Montreal Gran Prix promotion. Also worked in the Carolinas, Oklahoma and Florida during his 8 year career. Was more skilled than most AWA enhancement performers.
Bruce Kirk- AWA prelim guy from the late 60s and early 70s. Teamed with Ed Carpentier against the Vachon brothers in one of the bloodiest matches in AWA television history. Later known as Frank Monte, Jay York's partner in the Alaskans tag team. Also wrestled as Cowboy Kirk. Described as a bit short but with a good physique. Another skilled preliminary wrestler during his time in the AWA.
Buddy Smith- Real Name Dale Hayes. Quebec native who came to the AWA with Bob Brunell to gain experience. Better known as Buddy Roberts of the Hollywood Blondes and the Fabulous Freebirds. Also competed in Texas under the name Dale Valentine. Currently lives in the Chicago area and often signs autographs at independent shows. A cancer survivor. Very friendly man when you meet him in person.
Professor Steve Druk- Manager/prelim guy from the mid 60s to the early 70s. Used big words on interviews and tried to come off as a pseudo-intellectual. Managed Chris Markoff and the Kalmikoff brothers. Once battled the Crusher in a turkey neck main event match. Last seen working Minnesota indies during the early 70s.
Bob Sabre- Another preliminary wrestler from Chicago who worked in the AWA during the 60s and 70s. Once was billed as George Ringo, the wrestling Beatle. Trained many future AWA enhancement performers including Chuck Sell, Race Bannon, Sonny Rogers, Tony Leone, Mickey Shannon, Chuck Greenlee and Terry Scholl at his wrestling school in Chicago. Also did some refereeing in the AWA. Promoted independent cards in Wisconsin. Died on June 15th, 1989 at the age of 60.
Check Sell- Real name Vic Orlandino. Trained by Bob Sabre, Bobby Van and Tom Demarco. Made his AWA television debut against Ivan Putski. Originally wanted to be known as Greg Petersen in the AWA but was given the name Chuck Sell as a rib. As it turned out, Chuck Sell was the name of an AWA cameraman. Made 85 dollars for his first AWA TV match. Once beat Super Destroyer (Don Jardine) by disqualification. Also wrestled as Flying Vic Eagles for Bob Sabre's Wisconsin based independent promotion. Very nice guy who sometimes can be found posting on the Kayfabe Memories message board.
Sonny Rogers- Real name Dan Burnette. Trained by Bob Sabre and Kevin Clayton at the American Wrestling Club in Chicago. Was in the same training class as Tony Leone, Terry Scholl, Chuck Greenlee, Juan Sebastian, and Mickey Shannon. Used the name Gaylord Fontaine in his pro wrestling debut against Kevin Clayton during May of 1980 in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Had the blonde surfer/lifeguard persona when I first saw him. Given the name Sonny Rogers because of his likeness to Buddy Rogers. Made his AWA TV debut on August 10th, 1980 teaming with Steve Olsonoski in a losing effort against Adrian Adonis and Jesse Ventura. Received 85 dollars for his first AWA TV match. The pay for AWA television enhancement performers rose to 125 dollars when the promotion began taping two weeks worth of television at one time. His pay raised to 150 dollars per TV taping when the AWA had their deal with ESPN. Often traveled with Tony Leone, Chuck Greenlee and Terry School to the AWA TV tapings. Whichever wrestler drove received extra money from the AWA for transportation. Also worked for Jerry Jarrett in Memphis and for Angelo Poffo's ICW. Still works midwestern indies.
Tom Rocky Stone- AWA jobber from Milwaukee during the late 70s and 80s. Acted as an agent for the other Milwaukee prelim guys. Would get the call from the AWA office and then alert the Milwaukee crew of Frank Hill, Vito Martino, Armando Rodriguez, Cesar Pabon, Peter Lee and Bob Amel that they were needed to work AWA TV matches. Also refereed for the AWA. Had an entertaining mini-feud with Sgt Slaughter.
Buddy Lane- Real name Dave Kochen. Son of former AWA prelim guy Bill Kochen. Winnipeg Manitoba native. Received a few title shots against AWA light heavyweight champion Steve Regal. Quite good inside the ring. Probably deserved a bigger push than he got.
Peter Lee- AWA enhancement worker from the mid to late 70s. Billed as the master of savate.
Nacho Berrera- Fat Hispanic AWA jobber. Absolutely horrible in the ring. Gagne tried to bill him as a former Sumo wrestler.
Mickey Shannon- Another one of the Bob Sabre trainees. Billed as being from as Vegas when in fact he was from Chicago. Always clad in a green singlet. Spindly legged balding guy who had the Irish clover on his boots.
Jake the Milkman Millimen- Short fat guy with a beard. A cult hero in the mid 80s. Won the infamous team challenge series for Larry's Legends. Fantastic interaction with Colonel DeBeers. Still active in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin indies.
Alfred Puppy Dog Peloquin- Born November 1st, 1939 in St Boniface, Manitoba, Canada. Made his pro wrestling debut in 1971. Trained by Tony Condello. AWA fixture from the mid 70s to the early 80s. Shaved head, husky build, hairy chest. Peloquin was Manitoba's answer to Mad Dog Vachon. First AWA TV appearance was against Jos Leduc. Part of the Winnipeg crew which also included Scotty Campbell, Bobby Jones, Bill Kochen and Ivan Krankovic. His cousin's son, Corey Peloquin, currently is active on the Canadian Independent scene as Chi Chi Cruz or Bobby Bolton.
Bill Crouch- Chubby prelim guy from the early to mid 70s. Went on to have some success in Tennessee as Butch Malone.
Pancho Zapata- Wore a big sombrero and had a huge handlebar mustache.
Hank Meadows- Platinum blonde haired160 pound jobber. One of the worst wrestlers I've ever seen.
Jack Pesek- Son of the legendary wrestler Tigerman John Pesek. Former punter for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. Made his pro wrestling debut in 1948, Also refereed and promoted in Omaha, Nebraska. Died on July 2nd, 1990 at the age of 66.
There were many more wrestlers who either started out in the AWA as enhancement performers after going through the Verne Gagne training camp or had stints as jobbers in the AWA before becoming superstars. Among these wrestlers were Ric Flair, Dick Blood (Ricky Steamboat), Scott Irwin, Robert Remus (Sgt Slaughter), Khosrow Vaziri (The Iron Sheik), Big Bob Windham (Blackjack Mulligan), Jim Valen (Jimmy Valiant), Paul Perschmann (Buddy Rose), Gene Anderson and Bob Backlund.
It was a ton of fun doing this particular column on the preliminary wrestlers who once competed in the AWA. It's too bad I couldn't mention more of them. Special thanks to Sonny Rogers for answering several of my questions via email. Thanks also to Scott Teal, publisher of the Whatever Happened To... ? newsletter. The interviews with Chuck Sell, Kenny Jay and Bill Crouch in Scott's excellent publication made doing this column much easier. In addition I want to thank everyone else who posted memories on the AWA section of the Kayfabe Memories Board, all of you who answered my questions on the wrestling legends mailing list and those of you who helped me privately via email. All your efforts are greatly appreciated.
If you have questions, comments or corrections on this column, please write me privately here. You can always learn more about the AWA and correspond with me and many other AWA fans on the AWA section of the Kayfabe Memories Message Board. I am the poster known as clawmaster. Til next time.
The career of Nick Bockwinkel.
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