Most territories eventually released a publication billed as either a photo album or something similar. These books were program/magazine sized and printed on a variety of materials. Some had color, some did not. Some had thicker, sturdier covers while others were all on standard paper. A few were produced by the promotion itself, while others had some help from other publishers. No matter the differences, they all served to advertise and promote the talent to the masses.
Since so many different albums were produced, it'd be an injustice to lump them all into one entry. As a continuing series, we'll take a look at photo albums from territories around the country featuring many of the all-time greats and even some forgotten names. For a few reasons, we'll start right here in the home city of this very blog, Pittsburgh, PA.
The photo albums put out by the Pittsburgh wrestling office, known as Spectator Sports, were titled "Tri-State Wrestling." To many, they're known as the "Studio Wrestling photo albums," as "Studio Wrestling" was the name of the much-missed Pittsburgh wrestling television program, most famously hosted by Bill Cardille. Growing up, I would constantly hear the WWF and other then-current wrestling promotions referred to as "Studio Wrestling" by adults. I later figured out that the name is simply what these folks grew up on, so it became a generic title for which to refer to any form of pro wrestling.
Exact release dates on these albums are fuzzy at best, but most agree that the edition shown here today is from around 1967 and would've been the third of the five released. As with all but one of the Tri-State albums, the WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino is featured in a classic pose on the cover. These Tri-State covers were usually very colorful, and this one is a mix of color and glorious black and white. Interestingly, Sammartino is referred to as the "Holder Of World-Wide Wrestling Federation Championship." It is often recalled that the title was usually just referred to as the "World Championship" on Studio Wrestling broadcasts.
photo of the late Chief White Owl autographing the cover of one. Whether or not this is the exact one or not will never be known, but the one in my collection does indeed have White Owl's signature right on the cover. I've since been able to add Sammartino's signature as well as other living Pittsburgh wrestling legends, but it's always interesting to see just who the original fan was able to meet up with all of those years ago.
The Tri-State albums are a mix of promotional style photos and action shots. In addition to men who competed in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania area like Sammartino, George Steele, Gorilla Monsoon, Bill Miller, Johnny DeFazio, and The Battman are wrestlers who had either passed through the area at one time or may never have really spent any time here at all such as Bobo Brazil, Arman Hussain, Toru Tanaka, and Luke Graham. It was a smart idea by the Pittsburgh promoters to make the promotion seem even larger and more important.
Speaking of the studio, it seems that the original owner of this album most likely attended a live television broadcast of Studio Wrestling. The thought behind this is the inclusion of the two gem autographs of the album, the first of which is promoter Rudy Miller. Miller is often credited with discovering Bruno Sammartino himself, and is in fact listed as such right here in the album. Although he was probably accessible for an autograph, it likely didn't occur to many fans to ask him for one. After all, he wasn't a wrestler. Also shown on the page are various officials, the ring announcer, and Dr. Louis R. Civitarese. Civitarese, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 92, was the doctor who attended to Sammartino when the legend broke his neck in the 1970's.
I have a soft spot for Pittsburgh for many reasons that I've covered over the years, but looking through the photo album of any wrestling territory is a thrill. They're yet another great relic of the wrestling business gone-by, but in some ways they're continuing today. In upcoming editions of "The Territory Photo Albums," we'll take a look at all aspects of such publications, and I hope that the stars pop out of these entries the way that they do in these albums of ten, twenty, and even fifty years ago.