Pittsburgh/Buffalo/Cleveland #11 Page #2
1968 opened with 2 straight matches and 2 straight wins over Hans Mortier. Bruno and Battman won some spot show tag matches from Tony Altimore & Toru Tanaka. Tanaka returned to the Civic Arena in March and was stopped by Bruno. In April after having no lucky with Tony Altimore as his partner, Tanaka gained a victory over Bruno & Battman by teaming with Hans Mortier. The heel duo was managed by Wild Red Berry. A return match in May saw Bruno & Battman win. Also in May, Battman & Bruno began a feud with The Sicilians (Albano & Altimore) Bruno would stop George Steele again, then return and team with Eduard Carpentier to beat The Sicilians in a TV Match. On a spot show in Indiana, PA Bruno would team with Johnny DeFazio to beat The Sicilians and in New Castle his “cousin Antonio Pugliese would team with Bruno against the Sicilians. In the fall, a rather unexciting run by Bull Ramos, saw 2 matches with Bruno winning both, the first by DQ. The year would close out with 2 very tough matches against Vigil the Kentucky Butcher.
On spot shows in Johnstown, Fairmont, WV and East Liverpool, OH, Bruno and Battman feuded with Ramos & Kentucky Butcher, with both teams gaining wins.
In 1969 Kowalski and Baron Scicluna would get 1 shots and lose. Waldo von Erich got a few shots in February and after Bruno was DQ’ed in the first match, he was successful in the rematch. Tanaka also failed in 2 shots. George Steele got a few more shots and was injured against Bruno in the second match, causing Killer Kowalski to interfere. In September of 1969, Ivan Koloff began his title dreams with matches against Bruno. In the first match Koloff scored a count out win, Bruno won the rematch after Koloff was declared too bloody to continue. Bruno won the next 2 matches but never got the clean blow off to the feud that characterized Bruno’s run. Bruno continued to work tags in places like Johnstown, Altoona and McKeesport, teaming with Domenic DeNucci or the unmasked Battman. In fact in December, Bruno & Battman beat Tanaka & Mitsu Arakawa to win the International tag titles. This was days after Marino (Battman) and Victor Rivera already beat Arakawa & Tanaka in MSG for the belts.
Bruno started 1970 by beating Koloff by DQ, Then a feud with Killer Kowalski that saw 2 matches in Pittsburgh and several in spot towns, that included a near lose in Johnstown. Waldo von Erich and Professor X (George Steele’s bother under a hood) got 1 shot matches before George Steele, who was always at Professor X’s side, and interfering in his matches, restarted that feud. The first match was a classic 60 minute draw. The rematch on July 24, 1970, was the first cage match in Pittsburgh history and another win for Bruno. Bruno’s last WWWF Title defense in Pittsburgh was August 18, 1970 against Crusher Verdu, who he easily beat. Bruno worked that summer in a tag feud with Battman against Jos Leduc & Baron Scicluna.
On January 15, 1971,
Bruno & DeNucci defeated Baron Scicluna & George Steele at the
Civic Arena, via DQ. In that match, Bruno blames an injury to his back by
Steele as the reason he would drop the World Tile on Jan 18, 1971 to Ivan
Koloff in New York.
NEXT MONTH:I will share an interview I conducted with NWF TV commentator and ring announcer Ron Martinez, the son of promoter Pedro Martinez.
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