AWA #27 Page #2
Bockwinkel and Snyder defended the straps against such teams as Arakawa and Shibuya, Ray Stevens and the Sheik, Dan Manoukian and Ciclon Negro, Don Jardine and the Spoiler (Clyde Steeves) and Art and Stan Nielson.
Wilbur and Nick eventually lost the belts to Art and Stan Nielsen on March 16th, 1963 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. After he and Snyder lost the belts to the Nielsens, Nick once again started wrestling in Hawaii and teamed many times with his old friend Lord James Blears. Bockwinkel also feuded briefly with Dick the Bruiser while in Hawaii before getting a call from promoter Don Owen to work in the Pacific Northwest.
Nick was pushed hard right from the start in the Pacific Northwest territory winning a battle royal on October 12th, 1963 in Portland Oregon and gaining victories over Don Duffy, Soldat Gorky and The Great Dane in singles competition. On October 30th, 1963 in Salem, Oregon, Nick Bockwinkel defeated Tough Tony Borne to capture the Pacific Northwest heavyweight title. Bockwinkel was a fighting champion facing and defeating such stars as Herb Freeman, Dick Dunn, Art "Boom Boom" Mahalik and Bill Savage. Nick's most persistent challenger though was Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon. Nick and Mad Dog had several battles over the Pacific Northwest strap. Vachon gained the edge in their feud by upending Bockwinkel on December 21st, 1963 in Portland Oregon to become the Pacific Northwest heavyweight champion. Bockwinkel didn't let the loss to Mad Dog Vachon get him down as Nick bounced back by defeating the legendary Destroyer (Dick Beyer) on back to back cards in Portland during late January of 1964. These victories over the Destroyer were the highest profile wins of Nick's career. Bockwinkel was also granted a title shot against NWA champion Lou Thesz on February 20th, 1964 in Bedford, Oregon.
Nick was also quite active in tag team competition teaming often with Nick Kozak. After winning a series of matches against The Mongol and Haru Sasaki, Bockwinkel and Kozak were granted several title shots against the Pacific Northwest tag team champions Art Mahalik and The Destroyer. On March 17th, 1964 in Salem, Oregon, Nick Bockwinkel and Nick Kozak defeated Art Mahalik and The Destroyer to win the Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles. Mahalik and The Destroyer quickly recaptured the tag straps from Bockwinkel and Kozak on April 8th, 1964 in Salem, Oregon. Art Mahalik was injured shortly thereafter and Don Manoukian took Art's place as the Destroyer's partner. Bockwinkel and Kozak were not to be outdone and beat the Destroyer and Dan Manoukian on April 22nd, 1964 to win the Pacific Northwest tag team titles for the second time.
Not only was Nick Bockwinkel teaming with Nick Kozak in a feud against The Destroyer and Dan Manoukian over the Pacific Northwest tag team titles but Nick was also battling the Destroyer in a series of bouts for the masked man's Pacific Northwest heavyweight title. This made for an interesting dynamic. Bockwinkel was co-holder of the tag straps and wanted the singles title. The Destroyer was the territory's heavyweight champion and wanted the tag team title. Nick emerged the winner in this feud by defeating the Destroyer on May 22nd, 1964 in Portland, Oregon to attain the Pacific Northwest heavyweight championship for the second time. It was this feud with The Destroyer that cemented Nick Bockwinkel's status as a main eventer in the wrestling world. The Destroyer was one of the most hated heels in all of wrestling and to beat him in a feud spoke volumes on how big a star Nick Bockwinkel had become.
Bockwinkel's partner Nick Kozak suffered an injury so Buddy Moreno took Kozak's place as Bockwinkel's tag team partner. After a few successful tag title defenses, Bockwinkel and Moreno lost the straps to Pat Patterson and Tony Borne on June 17th, 1964 in Salem, Oregon. Nick lost the Pacific Northwest heavyweight title six days later to Pampero Firpo in Eugene, Oregon. Nick Bockwinkel's incredible run in the Pacific Northwest territory had come to an end and it was time for Nick to move onto another promotion.
Special thanks to George Schire, Jim Melby, Royal Duncan, Gary Will and the Great Hisa. Without the hours of work done by these men, columns like this one would not be possible.
If you have questions, comments or corrections on this column, please write me privately here.
Continuing the career of Nick Bockwinkel
Back to AWA Main