Ohio Championship Wrestling

Big names on the indy circuit

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Veteran Luis Martinez was a fixture in the Ohio Championship Wrestling promotion in the early 1980s.

Ohio Championship Wrestling ran from the fall of 1982 into the spring of 1983.While short-lived, this Ohio independent promotion was a force in the Cleveland area. They began in the late summer of 1982 using TV from the WWA to get on in the Cleveland area on cable channels 24 and 27. They crowned legend Bobo Brazil as its first champion. Traitor Tim Hampton originally started the group with J.W. Hawk, Ed Bonzo and Zoltan the Great.

A big three-day weekend of live cards was held in November of 1982 in the Cleveland area. On Nov 6 in Maple Heights, Zoltan the Great won a battle royal to gain a title shot at Ohio Champion Bobo Brazil. Also on the first show were stars like Luis Martinez; J.W. Hawk; Larry Winters; J.R. Hogg; “The International Playboy” Bobby Colt; The Beast (Ken Ceinmetti from Pittsburgh); girls stars Candi Devine and Diane von Hoffman, as well as others.

The following night in Parma, Brazil successfully turned back Zoltan the Great. Also that night, Gentleman Jerry Valiant appeared and, after brutally beating Rocco Verna, J.R. Hogg came to Verona’s aid and whipped him into the ropes. snapping the ring post in half. Manager Beefy LaPorque (who wrestled as the Incredible Bulk) managed a group consisting of Zoltan the Great and Jim Jett (The Chiffon Ponies), J.W. “Snakeman” Hawk, and Ed Bonzo.

At a large TV taping on Nov 8, The New Kangaroos debuted (Chris Carter and Al Costello) as well as Muhammad Saed and Soldier Bob Bobby Golden. Smasher Stone (aka Jim Lancaster) appeared on the TV tapings as well.

When the promotion returned in January 1983, Bobo Brazil and Luis Martinez began teaming against Bobby Colt and Jerry Valiant. Promoter Henry “Fireball” Robinson brought in The Ring/Wrestling News editor Jim Melby as a special guest ref. Sensational Sherri Martel, just a newcomer at the time, battled Candi Devine on a series of shows. Brady Howard, a popular Cleveland area star, was brought in as well.

With every series of shows, the talent changed, and internal fighting and financial problems put an end to the promotion by March 1983.

From its ashes sprung West Virginia Championship Wrestling. The promotion recognized J.W. “Snakeman” Hawk as the West Virginia Heavyweight Champion. Bruno Sammartino’s nephew Mike Scuilli was the top contender and had several wild, bloody brawls with Hawk. Hawk was managed by Greg “Punk Rock” Mason, who also managed Zoltan the Great & Rusty ’Psycho” Jones, also known as the “The King of Pain.”

A major feud here was between The Beast and Fido the Moondog. They engaged in several wild matches. Bobo Brazil was recognized as the United States Champion. “Fireball” Craig Jackson a young newcomer who would be used as enhancement talent on WWF TV appeared, as well as Bill Berger, Billy Valentine, The Incredible Bulk and others. A feud between Mason and ref Mark Curtis erupted but the promotion folded in mid-1984 before they met in the ring. They ran shows in the Morgantown, Fairmont, and Grafton W. Va. areas.

— Gregory Mosorjak
August 2004
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