Thursday, November 30, 2017

Remembering Legends of the Steel City...

At around the exact time that this entry is published, NXT returns to the Steel City. It is yet another wrestling event in a city that has long valued the sport of kings and its many stars. While names like Bruno Sammartino and Kurt Angle are closely associated with Pittsburgh, many other grapplers have called the city their home, as well, paving the way for a show like NXT to be appreciated by modern day local fans.

Many wrestling historians will tell you that if one Pittsburgh wrestler could have made it on a national level it was "Jumpin'" Johnny DeFazio. The popular star was a hit with both male and female fans of the era for being both exciting in the ring and having a great look. His ties to the community continue today being active in local politics. Those same ties kept DeFazio from being known nationally in the '60s and '70s wrestling world.

Dominic DeNucci is a name known to many for training the likes of Mick Foley and Shane Douglas among others, but some of his greatest in-ring fame came in the Steel City. Billed as the cousin of Bruno Sammartino, DeNucci came to Pittsburgh after solid runs elsewhere. Another popular star with fans of all types, the well-traveled DeNucci was still donning the tights until around five years ago!

But not all of these Pittsburgh journeymen were popular. Baron Mikel Scicluna was despised for his rule breaking and being a constant thorn in the side of DeFazio, Hurricane Hunt, Frank Holtz, and other Pittsburgh favorites. Scicluna's antics, as well as the omnipresent foreign object tucked into his tights, made their way onto a national level when the Baron became a staple on WWWF shows in venues such as Madison Square Garden. Scicluna is even one of the earliest members of the WWE Hall of Fame.

And speaking of heels, no one did it better than a star who was fortunate enough to call my friend, Donna Christanello. I've often said that the long time associate and friend of The Fabulous Moolah actually did Moolah's shtick far better than Moolah herself. Despite being a trainer and resident of Moolah's school, Donna called Pittsburgh home and was proud to do so. Her family still resides here and keeps the memory of the women's wrestling pioneer alive, as we also strive to do on this blog.

While stars of today such as Cien Almas and Ember Moon tear the ring up tonight in Pittsburgh, the names who came before them should not be forgotten. For without those stars, the fans who grew up watching them may not have passed on the passion of wrestling to the fanatics of today...

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