Paul Stratoti fondly remembers his favorite masked and face painted wrestlers, including The Legion of Doom and Demolition.

All photos by Paul Stratoti

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Luis Martinez spins Bolo Mongol - photo by Paul Stratoti

Luis Martinez spins Bolo Mongol - photo by Paul Stratoti

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Randy Orton has proclaimed on more than one occasion that Rey Mysterio merely hides behind his mask and is therefore a coward. This reporter has already seen Rey without his mask so it doesn’t faze me one bit. Rey is an outstanding high flying and calculative risk taker within a unique league of masked wrestlers. It is up to Rey whether he ever wrestles unmasked again and we at Pro Wrestling Digest respect his stance on this matter as well as his individuality.

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Mayor Mystery with Jimmy Hart

Mayor Mystery with Jimmy Hart

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Mayor Mystery will tell you that most masked wrestlers that he knows hail from Parts Unknown; that location of which he is the mayor. There is a mystique about most if not all masked wrestlers that nearly hypnotizes some fans. It is well known that some of them wear their masks while doing routine day to day activities far apart from the wrestling business.

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During his rookie years Cauliflower Alley Club President Emeritus Red Bastein wore a mask to protect his identity while he wrestled the West Coast carnival circuit, because he was in the United States Navy and as a result was wrestling against Navy regulations.

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Former Mr. Universe Tony Marino was the WWE Batman of the late 60s. Billed as the Battman in Pittsburgh, he was considered by most in that area as the #2 baby face, next to then World Champion Bruno Sammartino. He was unmasked in 1968.

On July 11, 1971, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Sheik (uncle to ECW original Sabu) unmasked the Masked Assassin and revealed him to be Guy Mitchell. Guy then began teaming up with Ben Justice as the Stomper for the Sheik’s promotion, where they would go on to capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Still later, Guy would work for Vince McMahon Sr. as Gentleman Jerry Valiant.

April 7, 1974, saw the Sheik unmask Dewey Robertson as one of the masked Crusaders.

On May 25, 1980, Blackjack Mulligan unmasked Masked Superstar II as Big John Studd.

Then on October 6, 1983, at Cleveland Convention Center in what was billed as a Mask vs Mask match, Mr. Wrestling II defeated the impostor Mr. Wrestling Jesse Barr by count out. Mr. Wrestling II pulled the impostor’s mask off, and Barr quickly covered his face with his ring jacket and left the ring!

On October 21, 1983, another classic moment came when during a World Class Championship Wrestling event Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin was defeated by the Masked Avenger. Moments later in celebratory euphoria, the Masked Avenger revealed himself to be “Gentleman” Chris Adams, leading to the famous statement by announcer Bill Mercer, “A thrust kick… HEY, that looks like… here it is; 1, 2, 3… a super kick! And the Masked Avenger has beaten Jimmy Garvin. He’s taking off his mask…. HE IS CHRIS ADAMS!”

On February 19, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center a masked “Wildfire” Tommy Rich, who was wrestling as Mr. R, battled the Spoiler. The Spoiler pulled off Mr. R’s mask while the ref was unconscious after an in ring collision. Tommy rolled out of the ring while Johnny Rich ran out to bring him another mask. The Spoiler then attacked Johnny Rich, allowing Mr. R to defeat the Spoiler with a “Package Press,” much to the chagrin of the Spoiler.

Unbeknownst to many, the Spoiler was once matched against Frtiz Von Erich in a match where if Spoiler would lose he would be forced to unmask. As fate had it he lost and was then unmasked revealing the identity of “Butcher” Don Jardine. Within weeks of this, after wrestling several matches without a mask, Jardine announced that he would be putting his mask back on during his matches. The promoters agreed under the condition that he arrive and leave event centers with his mask off. Spoiler agreed.

Here was a classic memory: The last time that I ever saw both Ghito Mongol and Billy Coleman was on February 26, 1984, at Painesville Harvey High School. I remember how people used to be afraid when the Mongols ruled the rings, yet Ghito was a gentleman back stage to me during which time he spoke of disrespect towards Johnny Powers. During this event Ghito Mongol bloodied, defeated and unmasked the Black Dragon as ‘Bad’ Billy Coleman! Shortly thereafter, I asked Bad Billy if he’d be willing to pose with the bloodied face and mask in his hand and he merely said “Why not.” Unfortunately, that shot has turned up missing.

On April 15, 1984, Jimmy Valiant unmasked the Assassin as Ray Hernandez. I was there at Cleveland Convention Center when Valiant unmasked him and the match was exciting. One of the wrestling magazines did a feature on this; however, I believe that whoever took those shots was not in Cleveland at the time which lead me to believe that at least 2 Hernandez unmaskings may have taken place. Shortly thereafter, Ray entered the WWE as  Bobby Heenan’s protégé Hercules.

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The Masked Superstar and The Spoiler

The Masked Superstar and The Spoiler

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On June 29, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center the Spoiler and Ted DiBiase defeated Brad Armstrong and the Masked Superstar*.

* -  Photo above: Brad Armstrong poises his left foot as the Masked Superstar drives the Spoiler’s face into it.

When WWE debuted in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 24, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center the Ugandan Giant Kamala was accompanied to the ring by Friday, at that time played by a masked Brooklyn Brawler Steve Lombardi.  Kamala defeated Sal Bellomo, and later that night André the Giant defeated the Spoiler!

September 5, 1984, at the Front Row Theater Special Referee – Friday,  Sgt. Slaughter defeated the Iron Sheik when WWE referee Bucky Palermo snuck in to count the pin after Friday refused! To many fans, this gives wrestling with a mask a bad image.

On December 7, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center Ole Anderson, Jimmy Valiant and Tommy Rich defeated the masked New York Assassins and their manager Jimmy Hart. Hart was ordered to be the 3rd man in this match despite his not being a full fledged wrestler.

On January 30, 1985, at Cleveland Convention Center Bret Hart defeated the Spoiler. Later that night Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart defeated Mr. Wrestling II. It was a bad night for masked wrestlers in Cleveland. The Spoiler made a last minute challenge to Mr. Wrestling II and vowed to take his mask off wherever and whenever they could get a match.

On February 5, 1985, at Akron Civic Theater the Spoiler got his wish; however, Mr. Wrestling II defeated him.

The following night February 6, 1995, at Lorain Palace Civic Center saw Mr. Wrestling II defeat the Spoiler for a second night in a row!

March 7, 1985, at Cleveland Heights High School Devil Blue, who was actually Tony Marino wearing a blue mask, defeated Tom Brody.

On March 28, 1985, at Cleveland Convention Center the Italian Stallion and Ron Garvin defeated Devil Blue and Ron Starr. It may be interesting to note that Devil Blue was calling himself the “Italian Stallion” in the mid 70s as shown here just after Marino turned heel.

On May 15, 1986, at Richfield Coliseum the Hart Foundation (with manager Jimmy Hart) defeated the Killer Bees when Bret pinned Brian Blair.

On August 15, 1989, at Cleveland Convention Center and on Superstation WTBS the Skyscrapers defeated and unmasked both Ding Dongs!

Who will forget that history making Unification Cage Match in 2001 when the Dudley Boys (aka Team 3D) defeated the Hardy Boys and thus unified the WCW and WWE Tag Team Titles? This took place just before WWE took over WCW during the “Invasion” at Gund Arena (aka the Q).

On June 10, 2006, as the 41st Annual Cauliflower Alley Club Awards Ceremony was underway, Mil Máscaras and the Destroyer took CAC Vice President Karl Lauer down with a double body slam. During this time Mil, who is also known as the Man of 1,000 Masks, was celebrating his 30th year as IWA Heavyweight Champion. He has also starred in many full length films such as “Deseo de Sangre”, “KNZ Berlin” and “Los Canallas.”

Then of course who could forget Chest Flexor’s unmasking by WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter during International Wrestling Cartel’s Night of Legends V this past March 28th.

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Yes, today there is a new breed of masked wrestler, too many to speak of here, on the indy circuits. Suicide, Delirious, Super Hentai, Unknown I and Unknown II, Virus, Shark Boy and many others all have unique packages and most seem to have adopted the high flying and calculated risk taking style never before seen in such abundance.

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Samschunkymonkey:  “Mr. Wrestling was a masked wrestler in the 60’s and 70s. Whenever Dusty Rhodes would lose a “Loser Leave Town Match” he would put on the mask and become the Midnight Rider”… Another great masked wrestler was Sweet Ebony Diamond in the late 70s NWA (Mid-Atlantic area). He was none other than Rocky Johnson, daddy of the “Rock”.

A message to Black Diamond:
Would like to see you compete in Pro Wrestling Revolution’s April 19, 2010, evening event since you are already in Vegas.

As we conclude this article we’d like to do a feature on a man who needs no introduction and who himself at times wore several masks during his extensive career.

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The Demolition Ax Saga

Recently during a Cleveland All Pro Wrestling event Lou Marconi and I were talking about his career when the subject of Demolition Ax came up.

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Lou:  “I did wrestle Demolition Ax once in Youngstown, Ohio. It was a great learning experience for me.”

Strat: He is supposed to be coming out with a book soon… Did he scare you?

Lou: “He didn’t scare me at all. I’ve already wrestled guys like Ron Simmons and Steve Austin. The match went well and he seemed happy to me. He did like my psychology and how I went about my matches. Everybody asked me afterwards ‘Was he stiff?’ and I replied ‘Not at all.’”

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Strat: I can remember a mid 90s northeast Ohio match where he wrestled against the Iron Sheik. It was awesome. If you remember, Masked Superstar was supposed to win the WWF title but the Iron Sheik won it instead.

Lou: “I wasn’t aware of the WWF title situation but I can tell you that both of them were no nonsense type of wrestlers. Please tell me the back story about them two.”

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Strat:  The way I remember it was that the Masked Superstar was set to win the WWF Title, or at least was being booked for matches in places like Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden against then champion Bob Backlund when his manager the Grand Wizard passed away in his sleep.  Also during this time while competing in the American Wrestling Association, Hulk Hogan was being groomed to jump to the WWF under the condition that he lay down in the ring during his final AWA title match and allow his opponent to pin him and secure the championship win. He did just that and as a result he was awarded the replacement grudge and the WWF title win.

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Born William Eadie on December 27, 1947, Demolition Ax was a teacher at Cambridge High School in Cambridge, Ohio, during his early years in professional wrestling.

His exceptional wrestling career dates back to the early 70s when the Sheik debuted him as the masked Medic in the NWA and when Beppo and Ghito ruled the international wrestling scene as the Mongols. When Beppo left the team to become Nikolai Volkoff in Vince McMahon Sr’s World Wide Wrestling Federation, Mr. Eadie replaced Beppo and as Bolo Mongol changed the face of the world renowned tag team.  They wrestled as an unstoppable force and eventually recaptured the IWA International Tag Team Championship by brutalizing their opponents past submission, and defeated all the top tag teams put up against them. He continued to do appearances in Detroit and hooked up with Ghito who trained him in his Pittsburgh promotion. On June 24, 1973, Bolo and Ghito faced “Wild” Bull Curry and George Allen at Akron, Ohio’s National Guard Armory.  That win served as the stepping stone for the Mongols to recapture the International Tag Team Championship as led by manager Tony Angelo.

On August 2, 1973, at Cleveland Arena, Bobo Brazil and Dominic DeNucci defeated the Mongols.

September 8, 1973, at Cleveland Arena saw the Mighty Igor and Tex McKenzie wrestle the Mongols to a time limit draw.

Meanwhile, he joined Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and wrestled there as the Masked Superstar while claiming to be an Olympic Wrestling champion. While there he challenged opponents to break his “Cobra Clutch” and offered a $10,000 reward to the first person who could do it.

On June 15, 1974, at Akron Armory, Wild Bull Curry and Masked Crusader Dewey Robertson defeated the Mongols by disqualification. The Mongols would try singles competition to further hone their skills for a short while, a move that proved beneficial to them.

On July 13, 1974, at Akron Armory, Bolo defeated rookie heel Bad News Beach in preliminary action. Later that night the Sicilian Beast defeated Ghito by disqualification.

October 26, 1974, at Akron Armory saw the Mongols defeat the Love Brothers who were disqualified for their manager Beautiful Bruce Swayze’s constant interference. Bolo’s brute strength was the deciding factor there.

March 29, 1975, at Akron Armory saw the Mongols battle Angelo and Leapin’ Lanny Poffo for tag team supremacy.  Each team had something to prove. The Mongols were maintaining their new and impressive win/loss record by brutalizing all competition into submission internationally from the McMahon dynasty to the Midwest’s NWF/NWA territories to Canada and beyond. The Poffos were maintaining their mark on the sport by going after the NWA Tag Team Championship, and they were supported in their efforts by NWA Detroit promoter the Sheik and NWF co-promoter Johnny Powers who was booking them in the Buffalo – Cleveland areas. However on this night nobody had a clear cut victory, as both teams got disqualified as the rules meant nothing to them in this desperate struggle for superiority.

May 9, 1975, at Richfield Coliseum saw Cowboy Bob Ellis and the ‘Big Cat’ Ernie Ladd defeat the Mongols! Soon the Mongols would leave the area partly in disgust at not winning the NWA World Tag Titles that the Poffos ultimately won.

In 1977 our Superstar went on record as being the first wrestler to stage one hour Cage Matches as well as being the first wrestler to actually body slam André the Giant.

By 1984 the Mongols were a legendary tag team of the past. According to Wikipedia, Masked Superstar didn’t win the WWF title because he would not agree to take his mask off after winning the WWF title, and Bob Backlund did not agree to drop the belt to him. Therefore, on January 9, 1984, at the Akron Breakaway he returned to Northeast Ohio in singles WWF action and as the Masked Superstar defeated Salvatore Bellomo with an easy win.

Back in NWA Georgia

On April 25, 1984, at Canton Civic Center a Non-title Match took place where Masked Superstar defeated the Spoiler.

The following night on April 26, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center, Jake “the Snake” Roberts was scheduled to wrestle ‘Fantastic’ Tommy Rodgers but Roberts used the DDT on Rodgers before the match, causing him a massive neck injury and forfeiture of the match. Seeing this from the backstage area, Superstar protested Jake’s actions and insisted that he replace Tommy as his opponent. The NWA commission OK’ed that request. Masked Superstar substituted for Tommy Rodgers and then defeated Jake Roberts with power moves and brutal aggression.

May 11, 1984, at Perry High School, the Masked Superstar defeated Mighty Igor who was counted out!

June 29, 1984, at Cleveland Convention Center saw the Spoiler and Ted DiBiase defeat Brad Armstrong and Masked Superstar.

In February, 1985, at Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, Ax had a hard fought match against the Iron Sheik, where both men gave their all in displays of brutal savagery, sheer power, and brute strength.  Although it was the Iron Sheik who brought out the foreign object in an effort to injure his opponent, it was Ax who was disqualified for using it after he had taken it away from the former WWF champion. This would be the last recorded Ohio match of the Masked Superstar before he embarked on his WWF contract, reportedly obtained by Captain Lou Albano from a “coordinator” named Wakamatsu-san on the island of Fuyou-tu. Thus the masked Super Machine was born in an effort to destroy André the Giant and his undefeated record.

1986 – 1990

He wrestled as Super Machine as part of a team to rival the forces of Bobby Heenan for awhile before heading off to Florida to wrestle as Masked Superstar, where he defeated Lex Luger for the NWA Southern title.

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In January, 1987, he returned to Titan Sports where the new WWE mission was to destroy the legacy of the Road Warriors, who were universally recognized as the top tag team of all time and who refused up to this point to jump promotions. Hence Demolition was formed, still considered by most to be Road Warriors clones, with the veteran Mr. Eadie as Ax leading Smash (Barry Darsow, aka Krusher Kruschev).  Smash had worked NWA/WCW matches against the Road Warriors before, and initially began his career training with them under the Cauliflower Alley Club’s own Eddie Sharkey, who actually never would get into the ring with them to wrestle against. He would only train them.

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By February 4, 1989 Demolition had captured the WWE Tag Team Title and at Richfield Coliseum they put the championship on the line against the Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian) who were disqualified!

On June 25, 1989 at Richfield Coliseum Demolition defeated Big Bossman and Akeem via DQ!

September 29, 1989, at Richfield Coliseum Demolition defeated “Brainbusters” Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard by DQ!

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During this time once while in Japan, his heart stopped beating due to an allergic reaction to shellfish, and this seems to have led to the search for other Demolition members. This was a mutual decision to phase out the Ax character and for Eadie to take a backstage position with the company.

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September 22, 1990, at Richfield Coliseum the Ultimate Warrior and LOD defeated Demolition Ax, Smash, and Krush. Ax’s final WWE appearance was at Survivor Series 1990, and marked the last time that he and Barry “Smash” Darsow would speak for the next 17 years.

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He next starred as Jake Bullet in the movie “No Holds Barred” opposite Hulk Hogan.

Then on May 7, 1993, at the Cleveland Agora Theater, Demolition Ax defeated 3-D in Cleveland All Pro Wrestling action.

1994 – 1999

Ax would go on to face the Iron Sheik for Mira Productions. Also around this time he would team up with Jake Roberts to face Hercules. His new tag team partner’s name was Blast. They teamed up in Charleston during American Classic Wrestling cards against Stan Lane.

During New Japan Pro Wrestling cards Ax teamed with 6’10” Hux as Demolition and took on top stars.

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Over the last couple of years he has reformed Demolition sometimes with Smash and sometimes with a new partner named Nitro. June 2, 2007, at the Carolina Wrestling Classic at LP Frans Stadium he defeated Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Heritage championship, and during IWC’s 2008 Night of Legends IV at Franklin High School, Demolition managed by Temptress Kimberly faced the Powers of Pain.

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Hawk and Koloff

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Abyss and Monty Brown

Abyss and Monty Brown

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Abyss racks AJ Styles

Abyss racks AJ Styles

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– Story & Photos by Paul Stratoti

One Response to “Remembering Masked Wrestlers – Photos”

jim""tex" evans

January 26th, 2010 - 10:06 am

great article.this site has helped me a little on my hobby of finding out who the masked wrestlers real names are. thank you

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