A glance at the Memphis territory in the 1950's
Stars of the 1950s who worked for Gulas include Tex Riley, Lester Welch, Roy Welch, Herb Welch, Rowdy Red Roberts, Don McIntyre, Farmer Jones, Al Spider Galento, Freddie Blassie, Wild Red Berry, Art Nelson, Mike Paidousis, Wild Bill Longson, Brother Frank Jares, Al and John Smith, Irish Mike Clancy, Tor Yamato, Corsica Joe and Corsica Jean, Chris Tolos, Joe Scarpa (later to gain greater fame as Chief Jay Strongbow), Dick Beyer (later to gain greater fame as Dr. X and The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer), Johnny Walker (later to gain fame as Mr. Wrestling II), Ray Stevens, Don and Luke Fields, Lee Fields, Kinji Shibuya, Don Kent, Billy Wicks and others too countless to mention.
Major attractions such as Argentina Rocca, Gorgeous George, Ginger the Wrestling Bear, Hillbilly Calhoun (later known as Haystack Calhoun), Verne Gagne, Dick Hutton and Lou Thesz all made appearances in the territory.
Female stars such as Mildred Burke, Lillian Ellison (later known as Slave Girl Moolah and then later known as The Fabulous Moolah), Mae Young, Cora Combs (who became the most frequent female grappler for the territory, continuing to work in the area into the 1990s), Penny Banner and June Byers also were frequent visitors to Tennessee in the 1950s.
Some significant things came out of the decade that would benefit the territory and the business for many years. First, a Chattanooga-area youth named Eddie Gossett, worked the territory for awhile. Gossett would change his ring name a few times before settling on Eddie Graham. He would become a major star in the Northeastern United States as part of the Golden Grahams team with Dr. Jerry Graham. Later, he would move to Florida and eventually ran the territory there with Cowboy C.P. Luttrell. He was considered one of the most powerful men in pro wrestling in the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. Graham even served a term as president of the National Wrestling Alliance. He passed away in 1985 but many still consider him a genius when it comes to pro wrestling matchmaking and booking.
Professional wrestling has long been home to individuals who were nothing short of colorful. One of the sport’s most flamboyant talents made a name for himself in the territory in the 1950s. His nicknames included "the Sweet Man" and "the Diamond Ring and Cadillac Man". He was Sputnik Monroe. Not only did Monroe sport a colorful personality but also a colorful appearance. It was hard not to notice Monroe’s cocky swagger and the menacing look on his face but more often than not what many fans recall was his hair. Monroe had black hair with a blonde streak right down the middle. Especially popular at being unpopular Monroe long held the attendance record for pro wrestling in Memphis for his 1959 feud with Billy Wicks. Monroe would frequent the area off and on until the early 1980s. His success spawned a series of "relatives", some who would appear for Gulas, all with catchy names such as Rocket Monroe, Jet Monroe, Flash Monroe and Mars Monroe. None though ever could match the success or flamboyance of "the Sweet Man" Sputnik Monroe.
The 1950s also brought about the debut of Len Rossi. Len was a superb junior heavyweight originally from New York. Fans took an instant liking to Len and Tennessee quickly became his home. He worked for Gulas until a car accident in 1972 cut his career short. After that he often appeared as a TV commentator for Gulas in Nashville.
Saul Weingeroff also debuted for Gulas in the 1950s. Many longtime fans consider Weingeroff to be the best ringside manager they have ever seen. Saul had a knack of annoying the fans to the point they wanted to clobber him with their own hands. Saul debuted as a wrestler for Gulas but received greater fame as a manager for Gulas managing such heel teams as Kurt and Karl Von Brauner, The Spoilers and Tojo Yamamoto and Johnny Long, among others. Weingeroff’s most successful run in the territory was probably with the German team of Kurt and Karl Von Brauner. The two bald-headed grapplers worked the territory for many years. Their rough tactics and anti-American rhetoric coupled with Weingeroff’s constant complaining and interference with his trusty cane made them arguably the most disliked trio to ever appear for Gulas. Weingeroff is well remembered for his many verbal battles with TV announcers, most especially Chattanooga’s Harry Thornton. Weingeroff and the Von Brauners would work for Gulas into the 1970s and also enjoyed success in other territories.
Don and Al Greene, the original Heavenly Bodies, became one of the longest running tag team combinations anywhere when they began working for Gulas. Together they were a rough heel team who teamed off and on for Gulas until the 1970s holding at one time or another all three of the area’s major tag championships (World, Southern and Mid-America tag titles), along the way. In the early 70s they added Englishman Sir Steven Clements and his ever-present umbrella as their manager. Later, they were briefly managed by Rock Riddle. Since the territory was so full of good tag teams the Greenes ended up facing most all of them as they passed through from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. Over time Don turned into a fan favorite while Al formed a team with Phil Hickerson and later became a ringside manager for Gulas. By the way, Don and Al weren’t really brothers although the resemblance is striking. Don is really Don Greene while Al is Al Denney.
Jackie, Don and Sonny Fargo all made their debuts for Gulas in the 1950s. In various combinations, the Fabulous Fargos held the area’s major tag titles also. Don became the traveler of the three and appeared all over the world, often under different ring names. Sonny stuck closer to home and eventually became a referee for Jim Crockett’s Mid-Atlantic promotion in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He would return in the 1970s as Jackie and Don’s "crazy" brother Roughhouse Fargo, nicknamed "Nuthouse". Jackie also mainly stuck to Tennessee, although he did have a stint for Jack Pfeffer and held Pfeffer’s version of the world title. Jackie eventually settled into working for Gulas and became Nick’s biggest attraction until both he and Nick retired (both for the first time) in 1980. Jackie’s "Fargo strut", whether originated by him or someone else, remains a crowd pleaser to fans even today. In 1963, a fourth Fargo brother appeared, Joey. He worked the territory for awhile before reverting to a more familiar ring name, Louie Tillet. Initially reviled by the fans, the Fargos eventually became the territory’s lead babyfaces whenever they appeared together. It should also be noted that the Fargos are also not brothers in real life.
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