Pittsburgh – 1961

Nineteen sixty-one was the year Pittsbugrh wrestling morphed into the form that we would know throughout the 1960s. In the early part of the year, the Pennyslvania Wrestling Inc. promotion was running small shows at places like the Northside Islam Grotto, where wrestling returned after an absence of five years. By the end of the year, wrestling had become a major attraction at the new Civic Arena. The star throughout the year was undoubtedly the slim and muscular Reggie "Crusher" Lisowski in his first big singles run. Lisowski had been a tag team force in the area for several years with "brother" Stan. Crusher's blue-collar style, combined with the always important ethnic appeal in Pittsburgh, sent him to the top of the charts and earned him the TV championship recognition (though that was not a fomral belt). He feuded with Ace Freeman in the early part of the year, then became the major attraction at three shows at Forbes Field during the summer, each of which drew huge gates and crowds of more than 10,000 people. On two of the shows, Crusher wrestler fan favorite Johnny Valentine, who was billed as "The People's Choice." Crusher became a fan favorite on Aug. 4 against Buddy Rogers, when the fans flocked to his side in a main event. "A crowd of 14,415 made a hero out of the Crusher, who was despised exclusively in 45 previous local showings," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. That started a year-long feud that culminated in July 1962, again at Forbes Field, with a Rogers win. Crusher did not change his style on the way to becoming a fan favorite, any more than he would during a similar turn in the American Wrestling Association a few years later.

Rogers also exhibited strong drawing power, headlining against Johnny Valentine in the first show at the Civic Arena in October. Valentine roughed up Bobby Davis, Rogers' manager, on television the previous Saturday, calling him "Loud Mouth" and battering him into a stretcher job. (Davis was said to require X-rays at Sunnyside Hospital.) An angry Valentine refused to break his backbreaker holds against Rogers and earned a disqualification at the Civic Arena show. Rogers and Valentine also feuded in Madison Square Garden during that time.

Feb. 27, 1961
Northside Islam Grotto
1) Crusher Lisowski vs Zivko Kovacic
2) Ace Freeman vs Don Fargo
3) Jack Vansky vs Doug Adkins
4) Billy Fox vs Gypsy Joe

March 13, 1961
Northside Islam Grotto (att. 2,600)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Primo Carnera, 2/3 falls, including one DQ fall
2) Ace Freeman b. Don Fargo
3) Billy Fox drew Doug Atkins
4) Steve Novak b. Swede Hanson
5) Zivko Kovacic b. Herb Larson

March 27, 1961
Northside Islam Grotto (att. 2,400)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Ace Freeman, unable to continue
            Fall one) Freeman p. Crusher
            Fall two) Freeman missed dive through ropes, was counted out and unable to continue
2) Jack Davis drew Suni War Cloud
3) Black Panther & Tiny Tim b. Anthony Dany & Farmer Pete

April 15, 1961
Northside Islam Grotto (att. 1,200)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Jack Davis, 2 straight falls
2) Ace Freeman b. Don Fargo, bodyslam, 13:34
3) Carlos Milano b. Ali Pasha, 14:55
4) Zivko Kovacic b. Danny Ferrazza, 20:36
5) Pancho Lopez b. Jackie Wade

April 28, 1961
Northside Islam Grotto (att. 1,200)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Carlos Milano, 2/3 falls
2) Jimmy Dykes & Don Fargo drew Zivko Kovacic & Billy Fox
3) Doug Atkins b. Ali Pasha
4) Ace Freeman b. Mighty Atlas, 2 straight falls

May 5, 1961
McKeesport Palisades (att. 1,000)
1) Zivko Kovacic b. Crusher Lisowski, 2/3 falls, Lisowski DQ’ed in 2 straight falls
2) Carlos Milano b. Ali Pasha
3) Don Fargo & Jimmy Dykes b. Billy Fox & Ace Freeman

May 11, 1961
Westview Park Danceland
1) Don Fargo & Jimmy Dykes vs Ace Freeman & Zivko Kovacic
2) Carlos Milano vs The Sheik
3) Ali Pasha vs Bily Fox
4) Midgets

June 9, 1961
Forbes Field (att. 10,286, gate $36,500)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Johnny Valentine, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Crusher b. Valentine, leap off ropes, 18:37
            Fall two) Valentine b. Crusher, backbreaker, 8:36
            Fall three) Crusher b. Valentine, tripped ref Izzy Moidel, who knocked Valentine down for pin, 0:29
2) Carlos Milano b. Jack Terry, dropkick, 3:52
3) Ace Freeman b. Moose Cholak, 6:51
4) Pat O’Connor b. Zivko Kovacic, reverse cradle, 3:52
5) Buddy Rogers b. Haystack Calhoun, COR after dropkick, 11:19
6) Bruno Sammartino, Billy Darnell & Sweet Daddy Siki b. Don Fargo, Skull Murphy & Mighty Atlas, 2/3 falls
7) Red Taylor & Tiny Tim b. Sky Low Low & Pancho Lopez, 2/3 falls
8) Jimmy Dykes b. Johnny Gilbert, 8:24
9) Billy Fox b. Gypsy Joe, 11:14

July 7, 1961
Forbes Field (att. 12,510, gate $40,418)
1) Crusher Lisowski b. Johnny Valentine, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Valentine b. Crusher, backbreaker, 27:05
            Fall two) Wrestlers rammed heads together and Valentine was ruled unable to continue the fall at 5:35
            Fall three) With Valentine still on mat, Crusher kicked and pinned him,0:21
2) Buddy Rogers b. Antonino Rocca, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Rogers b. Rocca, piledriver, 6:37
            Fall two) Rocca b. Rogers, flying head scissors, 3:40
3) Argentina Apollo & Carlos Milano b. Don Fargo & Jimmy Dykes
4) Ace Freeman b. Johnny Kace, 9:41
5) Bruno Sammartino b. Skull Murphy, 7:29
6) Sweet Daddy Siki, Sailor Art Thomas & Dick Steinborn b. Tony Altimore, Lou Albano & Angelo Savoldi, 2 straight falls
7) Primo Carnera drew Great Scott, 20:00
8) Zivko Kovacic b. Miguel Torres, 4:32
9) Fred Atkins drew Billy Fox, 15:00

August 4, 1961
Forbes Field (att. 14,415, gate $45,842)
1) Buddy Rogers b. Crusher Lisowski, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Rogers b. Crusher, sleeper, 11:47
            Fall two) Crusher b. Rogers, 3:09
            Fall three) Crusher DQ’ed, 8:14
2) Johnny Valentine b. Skull Murphy, bodyslam, 8:42
3) Bruno Sammartino, Sweet Daddy Siki & Sailor Art Thomas b. Moose Cholak, Great Scott & Angelo Savoldi, 2/3 falls
4) Antonino Rocca & Argentina Apollo b. The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan), 2/3 falls
5) Ace Freeman b. Mighty Atlas, 14:13
6) Karl Von Hess b. Billy Fox, bodyslam, 13:26
7) Zivko Kovacic b. John Heath, 10:49
8) Carlos Milano b. Miguel Torres, dropkicks, 8:49
9) Eddie Faietta b. Fred Atkins, 9:51

Sept. 8, 1961
Forbes Field (att. 11,430, gate $37,891)
1) Buddy Rogers b. Crusher Lisowski, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Crusher b. Rogers, head scissors, 6:20
            Fall two) Rogers p. Crusher, 3:15
            Fall three) Crusher counted out on mat after double collision, 4:47
2) Antonino Rocca, Bruno Sammartino & Argentina Apollo b. Skull Murphy, Moose Cholak & Fred Atkins, 2 straight falls
3) Ace Freeman b. Yoshino Sato, judo match, sleeper, 17:12
4) The Fabulous Kangaroos b. Sweet Daddy Siki & Sailor Art Thomas, 2/3 falls
5) Haystacks Calhoun b. Great Togo, 7:06
6) Shohei Baba b. Yukio Suzuki, sumo match, 5:31
7) Johnny Valentine b. Miguel Torres, 9:01
8) Zivko Kovacic b. Angelo Savoldi, 8:48
9) Eddie Faietta b. Jack Terry, 7:55

Oct. 17, 1961
Civic Arena (att. 8,442, gate $31,220. First show at new arena)
1) Buddy Rogers b. Johnny Valentine, 2/3 falls
            Fall one) Rogers b. Valentine, elbow smash, 3:06
            Fall two) Valentine b. Rogers, backbreaker, 8:57
            Fall three) Valentine would not break the hold and was DQ’ed
2) Crusher Lisowski b. Haystacks Calhoun, COR, 7:48
3) The Fabulous Kangaroos b. Antonino Rocca & Argentina Apollo, 2/3 falls, DQ in third
4) Ace Freeman & Zivko Kovacic b. Ronnie & Ronnie Fargo, 2 straight falls, first by DQ
5) Sailor Art Thomas b. Fred Atkins, bearhug, 3:42
6) Bruno Sammartino b. Tommy O’Toole, 6:37
7) Alexander Kostopoulos b. Skull Murphy, 2:59
8) Eddie Faietta b. Angelo Savoldi, reverse full nelson, 8:47
9) Mike Paidousis b. Jack Terry, 8:07
10) Mickey Sharp drew Billy Fox, 15:00

Nov. 7, 1961

Civic Arena (att. 8,564, gate $22,095)
1) Crusher Lisowski drew Buddy Rogers, 2/3 falls, 45:00
            Fall one) Rogers b. Crusher, figure four leglock, 24:30
            Fall two) Crusher b. Rogers, claw hold, 8:15
            Fall three) time expired
2) The Fabulous Kangaroos b. Zivko Kovacic & Ace Freeman
3) Bearcat Wright & Sweet Daddy Siki b. Donnie & Ronnie Fargo
4) Bruno Sammartino b. Nicholas (Nicolai) Volkoff, bearhug, 7:51
5) Alexander Kostopoulos b. Gypsy Joe, bodyslam, 2:24
6) Brown Panther & Tiny Tim b. Pee Wee Jones & Sky Low Low, 2 straight falls
7) Haystacks Calhoun & Carlos Milano b. Wild Red Berry & Mickey Sharp
8) Argentina Apollo b. Johnny Kace, crab hold, 10:47

Dec. 4, 1961
Civic Arena (att. 7,100, gate $20,123)
1) Crusher Lisowski & The Fabulous Kangaroos b. Johnny Valentine, Antonino Rocca & Acre Freeman, 2/3 falls. Heffernan pinned Freeman just as Crusher was submitting to Rocca; ref ruled pinfall came first
2) Bearcat Wright b. Skull Murphy, 11:37
3) Pancho Lopez & Farmer Pete b. Fuzzy Cupid & Pee Wee James, 2/3 falls
4) Haystacks Calhoun b. Tony Altimore & Lou Albano, handicap match
5) Alexander Kostopoulos b. Angelo Savoldi, boston crab, 5:47
6) Carlos Milano b. Mickey Sharp, 10:03
7) Zivko Kovacic b. Ken Lucas, 8:47
8) The Bonecracker b. Gypsy Joe, full nelson, 0:44