1958

JANUARY:

The Gulf Coast Heavyweight title was still held up as the New Year began. This was pending a rematch between former champion Mario Galento and challenger Yvon Roberre. Their last match had ended in a no-contest and the Alabama commission held up the title. A rematch was scheduled at Ft. Whiting in Mobile with the winner to be crowned as Gulf Coast champion. The match started off relatively tame in comparison to the wild match the two had engaged in previously. Roberre won the first fall when he caught Galento in a flying head-scissors. Galento came back to even up the score by winning the second fall with a Boston Crab. Things got a little rougher in the third and final fall when Galento started punching the popular Canadian around. Roberre had absorbed a terrible beating when he found a second wind. He reversed the tide and began knocking Galento around, cutting Mario’s forehead in the process. Just as he had Galento set up for a fall, he missed a flying tackle and wound up with his head caught between the top and middle ropes. This was the opening Galento needed and he began to pound on the helpless Roberre. Galento got so carried away that he punched referee Rocky McGuire when he stepped in to separate him from the lifeless form of Roberre, who was hanging in the ropes. McGuire regained his feet and untied Roberre, who crumpled to the floor. McGuire then raised Roberre’s hand indicating that he had disqualified Galento and awarded the match and the title to Roberre. Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe came to ringside and he and Galento lodged a protest, but it stood that Yvon Roberre was the new Gulf Coast champion.

Yvon Roberre celebrates his win over Mario Galento for the Gulf Coast Heavyweight title

Roberre tried to add another crown to his head as he teamed with Lester Welch to try and wrest the World’s Tag Team title from the waists of The Fabulous Fargos, Jackie & Don. Things looked good for the challengers as Welch & Roberre knocked Jackie Fargo around mercilessly until Welch finally pinned him to take the first fall. Jackie roared back in the second and kneed Welch in the groin several times and pinned him to even the score. Welch was severely weakened and had to be helped back to the dressing room for the rest period between falls. He wasn’t in much better shape when he limped back out to the ring to begin the third and final fall. Roberre started the fall and was battered around quite a bit while Welch tried to recover. When Yvon was finally able to make it to the corner and tag Welch in, Lester had recovered and he was raring to go! He tore into the ring and knocked both Fargos around and finally trapped Donnie Fargo in a corner. This brought valet Sonny Boy Fargo up out of his ringside seat where he had been sitting quietly up until this point. Sonny Boy climbed up onto the ring apron and began hitting Welch across the back with his walking stick. Welch had absorbed two or three licks when he turned around, grabbed Sonny Boy and dragged him into the ring. He took the cane away from the pesky valet and broke it across his head. Roberre and the remaining Fargos then got into the action and everyone began battering whoever they could get their hands on. Referee Bud Clardy gave up on trying to control the wild action and called for the bell. He declared the match a no-contest, but was ignored by the contestants who continued to swing away at one another. Monroe came to rushing into the ring to aid the Fargos, but was quickly whacked by the cane-wielding Welch. Sputnik was knocked to the canvas and was so wobbly when he got to his feet he laid a haymaker on Jackie Fargo by mistake. Rocky McGuire and George (Baby Blimp) Harris then entered the ring to try and calm things but they too were knocked to the canvas. By this time, Roberre had what was left of the cane and was using it to hit everyone in the stomach with it. Finally Clardy and McGuire managed to get everyone separated and back to the dressing rooms. Because of the double disqualification, the Fargos were still the World tag champs. But it didn’t end there.

Jackie Fargo made a challenge to Roberre to defend his Gulf Coast title against him. Roberre accepted and the match was set. Fargo made things rough on Roberre in the first fall and spent much of the time slugging the popular champion. Finally Jackie sent Roberre hurtling into the ropes and met him with a judo chop in the throat as he rebounded. This allowed Jackie to pin Roberre for the first fall. In the second fall, Fargo continued his rough tactics and at one point tied Roberre’s foot into the ropes and stomped him mercilessly. Referee Rocky McGuire managed to untie Roberre, but Fargo was just getting warmed up. He again sent the Canadian hurtling into the ropes, but this time grabbed him by the throat as he rebounded and choked him to the mat. Fargo then pulled Roberre to his feet by the hair and sent him once again into the ropes. This time as him came bouncing back, Roberre grabbed Fargo by the throat and choked him to the mat. Roberre repeated this action three more times and finally weakened Fargo to the point that he was pinned for the second fall. The third fall saw things get completely out of hand. The two men slugged each other around the ring, and Fargo wound up with a bloody head. He managed to tie Roberre in the ropes once again and began choking him. When McGuire stepped in to break this up, Fargo grabbed him and tore his shirt from his back. He then used the tattered shirt to further choke Roberre. McGuire again tried to intervene and Fargo choked him with the torn shirt and slugged him. Roberre managed to work himself free from the ropes and he and Fargo began slugging it out again. Once again McGuire stepped between the two and raised Roberre’s hand. He had disqualified Fargo and Roberre was the winner and still Gulf Coast champion.

Donnie Fargo complained to promoter Buddy Fuller that he wanted someone rough to face him and that no one in the area was tough enough for him. Fuller decided to contact Rube Wright and signed him to meet the younger Fargo. But by match time, Wright changed his mind and decided that since he and Fargo were both tough guys it was a shame to waste their talents on each other. He then issued a challenge to any of the “fair-haired” boys in the back to come on out and try either he or Fargo on for size. Lee Fields, who had been there merely as a spectator quickly answered the challenge. Having no love for either man he said he would face whichever one won a coin toss. Fargo won the toss and he and Fields faced off. The two battered each other with their fists until Lee managed to hem Fargo up in the ropes. He grabbed Donnie’s leg and tripped him to the mat. As Fargo lay on the mat, Lee draped his leg across the bottom rope and drove his own knee into that of Fargo’s. As Fargo screamed in pain, Lee repeated the maneuver. Fargo quickly submitted, but Fields wasn’t satisfied. He slammed Fargo’s knee four more times before leaving the ring in triumph. Fargo rolled around the ring in agony and was carried to the back on a stretcher. It was determined that a ligament had been torn in his knee. Fargo’s injury would come back to haunt Fields in a strange way.

A rematch had been signed between the Fargos and Lester Welch & Yvon Roberre for the World’s tag title, but due to Donnie’s injured knee he was replaced by Sonny Boy Fargo. This meant that the rematch would be a non-title affair. Welch & Roberre didn’t really mind as they just wanted to get another chance to beat up the Fargos, any Fargos. Jackie Fargo won the first fall for his team by pinning Roberre after hitting him in the throat with a series of judo chops. Welch came back to capture the second fall by pinning Jackie after a dropkick and several forearm smashes. The third and final fall saw all four men in the ring pounding away at each other. Roberre finally knocked Sonny Boy Fargo to the mat and jumped on him for the pin. The Fargos tried to continue the match after it was over, but after Welch and Roberre rammed their heads together they gave up and left for the dressing room.

Lester also teamed with popular Don Fields in Hattiesburg to challenge the Fargos for the World title. The Fargos won the third and deciding fall after a furious battle to retain their title.

The following week Welch challenged the Fargos again, but this time he had Lee Fields as his partner. Welch & Fields won the match, but unfortunately for them the title was not on the line. Don Fargo had been injured in a previous match with Lee Fields in Mobile and was replaced with Sonny Boy Fargo.

Welch had an ongoing feud with George (Baby Blimp) Harris as well. The two found themselves as the two remaining participants in a 5 man Russian Battle Royal in Hattiesburg that also featured Rowdy Red Roberts, Bobby Fields and Rocky Monroe. Welch won the match, but a fist fight between the two broke out after the match. Harris challenged Lester to a match and Welch quickly agreed. Harris came out on top in that match as Welch was disqualified by referee Rocky McGuire in the third fall for dropkicking Harris over the top rope. A rematch was quickly signed under “fight to the finish” rules. Welch prevailed over Harris in that one.

Many fans had been asking for former Southern Jr. Heavyweight champion Tex Riley to return to the area and negotiations were finalized to accomplish just that. But the Tex that returned wasn’t one that pleased the fans. Riley was matched with equally popular Tom Drake in his return. The fans were delighted with the clean scientific match that saw Riley take the first fall after pinning Drake with a backslide. Drake came back with a series of dropkicks to pin Riley and take the second fall. The third fall saw the advantage swing towards Drake and that is when Riley shocked the fans. He started using roughhouse tactics more befitting Mario Galento than himself. He battered Drake about before pinning him with another backslide to take the third fall and the match. The fans booed him as he returned to his dressing room. Riley would later say that he had been a “nice guy” for too long and it had cost him several times while trying to get back into the title picture. From now on he would do whatever it took to be successful. Riley also teamed with newcomer Phil Melby only to lose to Lester Welch & Don Fields. Riley also faced off with Bobby Fields in a singles encounter. Riley won the first fall with a rolling jack-knife, while Fields took the second after making Riley submit to a hammerlock. In the third fall, Riley was disqualified by referee Johnny Edenfield for using an illegal piledriver on Fields.

Lady wrestlers returned to the are as Penny Banner faced off with Dot Dotson In Hattiesburg. After a rough and tumble battle, Banner emerged victorious.

Others appearing in the area in January were Chief Little Eagle, Hercules McIntire and Charlie Carr.

 
FEBRUARY:

Jackie Fargo was anxious to avenge his brother Donnie’s injury at the hand of Lee Fields and issued a challenge to the popular grappler form Oklahoma. Fields won the first fall after propping Jackie up on the turnbuckles and applying a flying mare. As Fields headed back to the dressing room for the rest period, Fargo jumped him and rammed his head into the brick wall. Fields was still wobbly at the start of the second fall and was quickly pinned by Fargo. The third fall was a wild one, which saw the two men fighting outside the ring as much as they did inside it. Fields finally managed to get Jackie down on the mat and started jumping up and down on him with the use of the ropes. Lee got so carried away with this action that he was disqualified. Don Fargo hobbled out to try and help his brother, only to have Lee floor him and jump down on his injured knee.

Lee got further revenge when he teamed with Lester Welch to dethrone the Fargos from the World Tag Team crown in Hattiesburg.

Welch & Fields put their newly won crown on the line against the rugged team of Rube Wright & Rowdy Red Roberts. Wright & Roberts had teamed together off and on for several years and were a formidable team to face the new champions. Fields took the first fall for the champions when he pinned Wright after hitting him with a powerful dropkick. Wright & Roberts took turns kneeing Fields in the groin before Wright pinned him to win the second fall. In the third and final fall, Welch & Fields worked Roberts over by continually hip tossing him and quickly tagging each other in. Finally Welch caught Rowdy Red in the abdominal stretch as Fields held Wright at bay. Roberts was forced to concede and the World Tag Team title stayed in the hands of Lester Welch & Lee Fields. Roberts accused Wright of not coming to his aid and the two exchanged heated words that led to thrown punches after the match.

The Fargos were still demanding a return title match with Welch & Fields but fell further out of contention after losing a match to Welch & Bobby Fields in Pensacola,

Welch & Lee Fields finally agreed to a return title match and all was set. Things looked good for the champions as they pummeled the Fargos about in the first fall, Fields pinning Donnie to take the lead. The Fargos reversed their fortunes in the second fall as they double-teamed Fields. Referee Bud Clardy had a hard time telling the blondes apart as they constantly switched without benefit of a tag. Finally Donnie applied an atomic drop to Fields and pinned him to take the second fall. The third fall saw the Fargos continue their rough ways, this time on Welch. Jackie finally picked Lester up and slammed him down groin-first across the top rope. After that it was a matter of easily pinning him and the Fabulous Fargos were once again the World’s Tag Team champions. The enraged fans felt that Jackie should have been disqualified for this action and hurled obscenities at Clardy and the Fargos. Jackie & Donnie weren’t through yet, though. They grabbed up Welch and continued to slam him to the mat. Donnie tossed Fields from the ring and slammed his head into the steel corner post. With Lee out of commission, both Fargos continued to stomp the prone Welch as referee Clardy pleaded with them to leave for the dressing room. Suddenly promoter Buddy Fuller climbed into the ring and kicked Jackie in the stomach with the pointed toe of his cowboy boot. He then turned and hit Donnie flush in the face with a dropkick. Fuller then pulled Welch from the ring and he and a wobbly Fields helped Lester back to the dressing room. The Fargos grabbed up the World championship belts and used them as clubs to fight their way back to the dressing room through the crowd of angry fans. Clardy also had to fight his way through the crowd in order to get back to the safety of the dressing room.

Welch & Fields had been scheduled to defend the title against the team of Mario Galento & Rube Wright in Hattiesburg, but dropped the crown the night prior to the match in Mobile. The now non-title match turned out to be a wild one with all four men slugging away at each other in the middle of the ring. The referee was knocked form the ring and Hattiesburg promoter Skip Wetjen entered the ring to try and restore order. Wetjen received a couple of punches on the jaw for his troubles so he stopped the bout and declared it a no contest.

Mario Galento began making demands for a chance to get the Gulf Coast title back. Galento desperately wanted at champion Yvon Roberre, who had ended his five-month reign as champion. Galento backed up this demand by destroying newcomer Jerry Aitken in his return. He defeated the youngster from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in two straight falls and bloodied him in the process. He then said that he would do the same to another Canadian, Roberre.

Galento took the first fall of the title match by continually whipping Roberre into the corners and then slamming him for the pin. Galento tried the same tactic in the second fall only to have Roberre hit him in the head with his knees as Galento rushed into the corner. Galento was knocked to the mat and Roberre fell on him for the pin to take the second fall. In the third and deciding fall, Roberre took the advantage and slammed Galento to the mat. He fell on him for the pin, but let up at the count of two. He then pounded Galento in the face several times and stood up and raised his hand. The referee explained to him that he had only reached the count of two while Roberre insisted that it had been a three-count. As the two men stood arguing, Galento regained his composure and jumped Roberre from behind. He spun the Canadian into the corners once again and slammed him to the mat. Galento then fell on Roberre and pinned him to take the fall, the match and the title. Mario Galento had regained the Gulf Coast title.

Galento’s buddy Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe returned as well. He and Galento teamed up to face Bobby Fields &  Eddie “Scotty” Williams. Williams used a series of flying head-scissors on Monroe to take the first fall. The second fall was wild with all four men fighting in the ring at the same time. At one point Galento and Williams were fighting out in the audience. Galento knocked Williams into the first row of spectators, but Scotty came back and crowned Galento with a ringside chair. Galento ran back into the ring and again all four men were going at it. While referee Rocky McGuire was trying to separate Monroe and Fields, Williams knocked Galento through the ropes. Mario’s feet got tangled in the ropes and he hung upside down outside against the ring apron. Williams took advantage of this situation and stood with both feet down on Galento’s head. Despite all of the damage done to them, Galento & Monroe managed to take the second fall as Monroe forced Williams to submit to a Boston Crab. The third fall saw more wild action with Galento & Monroe concentrating on double-teaming Fields. Finally a battered Fields managed to tag in Williams and collapsed in the corner. Williams was grabbed by Galento & Monroe who tied him headfirst into the ring ropes and proceeded to choke him. Referee McGuire tried to break this up only to find himself tied into the ropes by Monroe & Galento. With the referee out of the way, Galento & Monroe continued to beat on Fields & Williams. Just as a fan managed to untie McGuire, Galento & Monroe tossed Williams & Fields from the ring. They then grabbed the now free McGuire and pitched him out alongside Fields & Williams. Bobby and Scotty helped the referee to his feet and he promptly raised their hands in victory. Monroe & Galento were disqualified, giving the fall and the match to Williams & Fields.

Ray Stevens returned to the area after an absence of several years. Stevens was a former holder of the Southern Jr. Heavyweight crown and was attempting to climb the ladder back into contention. He impressed the Gulf Coast fans as he pinned popular Tom Drake in his first match. The fans gave the two a standing ovation as they shook hands after a clean scientific bout.

It was announced that Angelo Savoldi had defeated Mike Clancy on February 28th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to win the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship.

Others in the area in February were Tex Riley, Leo Wallick and Bob Boyer.

 

 

MARCH:

Mario Galento put his Gulf Coast championship on the line against the challenge of former champion Yvon Roberre in a rematch. Roberre started off well when he used a flying head-scissors to pin Galento to take the first fall. The two battered each other about in the second fall when a bloody Galento took the edge. He whipped Roberre into the corner several times and then tossed him from the ring. As Roberre struggled back into the ring, Galento grabbed him, slammed him to the mat and pinned him for the fall. Between falls, Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe came out to the ring to congratulate his buddy Galento. He and Mario then complained to referee Rocky McGuire that Roberre had been using his fists during the fall and pointed out Galento’s bloody eyebrow as proof. While Monroe continued to argue with McGuire, Galento ran over and began kicking the prone Roberre who was still lying on the mat. This brought Ray Stevens from the dressing room and he leaped into the ring and clobbered Galento. The dressing rooms then emptied as all of the others wrestlers on the card came out to remove Stevens from the ring. While this was taking place, Galento & Monroe picked Roberre up and tossed him to the concrete floor again. Finally, everyone helped Roberre back to his dressing room as Galento and Monroe retreated to theirs. At the start of the third fall, Galento came back out to the ring and waited for Roberre. But the Canadian had received such a beating that he was unable to answer the bell. Galento was awarded the third and final fall and the match.

Lester Welch was still upset over his & Lee Fields loss of the World Tag Team title to the Fabulous Fargos and wanted some retribution, whether the title was involved or not. He teamed with Don Fields to face the blondes in a match in Pensacola but lost to the champions. Two weeks later Welch & Buddy Fuller faced the Fargos in Pensacola with the same result, a loss for Welch & Fuller.

Next up for Galento was his archenemy and former tag team partner, Lee Fields. These two had been involved in a raging feud for several years, patching things up long enough to briefly hold the World’s Tag Team championship. Galento wound up deserting Fields and the championship, thus igniting the feud all over again. Galento used his tactic of spinning Fields into the corner and slamming him to gain the pin to take the first fall. Lee was ready in the second and he grabbed Galento, slammed his fists several times into the New Yorker’s face and pinned him in 30 seconds. Galento received more punishment in the third fall and was bleeding from his eyebrows. Just as it looked as Lee Fields would finally win the Gulf Coast title, Galento tripped him and rolled him over into a Boston Crab. Lee submitted and Mario took the fall and the match to retain his title. Feeling a little glib after his surprise victory over Fields, Galento kicked Lee as the latter was leaving the ring. Fields rushed back into the ring and proceeded to give him another thrashing before leaving the ring.

Lee Fields applies an abdominal stretch to Mario Galento

Lee Fields applies an abdominal stretch to Mario Galento

Fields & Galento also faced off with each other in a return tag team match in Hattiesburg. Fields and partner Lester Welch faced Galento and his partner Rube Wright. This time promoter Skip Wetjen assigned two referees to the bout. Welch & Fields found themselves disqualified for tossing both referees from the ring in the third and deciding fall. By virtue of this win, Galento & Wright received a shot at World Tag Team Champions, the Fabulous Fargos the following week in Hattiesburg. Due to the expected large crowd the match was held at the baseball stadium at Greater Hattiesburg Park. Once again, Don Fargo was unable to appear and was replaced with Sonny Boy Fargo, thus making the match a non-title one. Galento & Wright wound up with a victory and were promised a title match the following week. As further incentive Sonny Boy agreed to have if head shaved if his brothers failed to win the match and retain the title. Luckily for him, Jackie & Don defeated Galento & Wright and retained the title.

Galento found himself in an unusual situation when he faced off with his next challenger for the Gulf Coast crown. He faced Jackie Fargo, who was possibly the one person more hated by the fans than Galento. In fact, Galento was approached by cheering autograph seekers as he entered the ring. But instead of signing autographs, he took the autograph books and tossed them all over the ring and stomped on them. While this was going on, Fargo sneaked into the ring and attacked Galento. He punched the champion in the face several times, slammed him to the mat and pinned him to take the first fall in ten seconds. Fargo didn’t even bother to take off his warm-up sweater. Galento came back to take the second fall by whipping Fargo into the corner and falling on him for the pin. In the third and final fall, the two men spent the whole time punching each other until both were bloody. After several minutes of this, both men were on their knees wearily punching away at each other. At last Fargo just collapsed and Galento covered him for the pin. The fall and the match went to Galento to allow him to retain the Gulf Coast title.

Galento wasn’t so successful when he teamed with rough newcomer Pierre DeGlane. Galento & DeGlane faced off against Don Fields & Lester Welch in a wild match. Fields took the first fall when he pinned Galento after applying a monkey flip on him. Mario took revenge when he forced Fields to submit to his Hangman hold to win the second fall. In the third fall, all four men were in the ring at the same time when Fields caught Galento again with the monkey flip. But before he could pin the ruffian, DeGlane pulled him off. Four times Fields knocked Mario down with a hard right to the jaw and four times DeGlane broke up the pin attempt. On the fifth try, Fields was successful as Welch dropkicked DeGlane to keep him from interfering. The fall and the match went to Lester Welch & Don Fields.

Ray Stevens continued his winning ways. He took a wild battle from veteran bad man Rowdy Red Roberts. Stevens took the first fall with a dropkick to the chin and a pin. Roberts came back and forced Stevens to submit to a hammerlock to take the second. Roberts continued to work on Stevens’ arm in the third and deciding fall. He grabbed Ray by the arm, whipped him into the ropes and back-dropped him to the mat. When Roberts tried this a second time, Stevens rebounded with a flying dropkicked and then pinned the stunned Roberts to take the fall and the match.

Stevens also hooked up with Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe in a brutal bout. The two went at each other before the match began and neither bothered to remove their ring jackets. Monroe got the upper hand and tossed Stevens from the ring. When referee Rocky McGuire refused to count Stevens out since the bout hadn’t begun, Monroe tossed him out as well. The match was finally started officially and Stevens climbed back into the ring. Monroe didn’t let up and was finally disqualified for refusing to let up with his fists. The first fall went to Stevens. Monroe continued to pummel Stevens in the second fall, but Ray slowly began to fight back. He finally managed to knock Monroe to the mat and then straddled him and went to work with both fists. He blackened one of Monroe’s eyes and raised a whelp over the other. He finally battered Monroe to the point where it was an easy matter to pin him. Stevens won the second fall and the match and left to the cheers of the fans. Monroe lay prone in the ring until Mario Galento and Pierre DeGlane came out to get him. DeGlane heaved Monroe over his shoulder and carried him back to the dressing room.

Two newcomers arrived on the scene that were destined to become big names in the Gulf Coast area. Their names were Billy Wicks and Dick Dunn and they faced off with each other in a one-fall match. The two were evenly matched and had a good clean match which Wicks won when he pinned Dunn with a backslide.

The Fabulous Fargos made a successful defense of their World Tag Team crown when they defeated the team of Don Fields & Tom Drake. Don Fargo took the first fall when he pinned Don Fields after an atomic drop. All four men were fighting in the second fall when Drake pinned Jackie and Fields pinned Donnie at the same time to take the fall. In the third fall, Donnie kept Fields occupied while Jackie pinned Drake to take the fall and the match to retain their titles.

The Fargos further cemented their claim to the title when they defeated former champions Lester Welch & Lee Fields in a wild match in Hattiesburg.

Don Fargo also teamed with George (Baby Blimp) Harris to face off against Lester Welch & Billy Wicks. Welch pinned Harris after a series of body slams to take the first fall. Wicks dropkicked Fargo and pinned him to take the second fall and the match. After the match Donnie blamed Harris for the loss and he and his brother Jackie Fargo beat the daylights out of the Baby Blimp as punishment.

Others appearing in the are in March were Eddie “Scotty” Williams and Bobby Fields.

 
APRIL:

The Fabulous Fargos made an appearance on TV were ranting about promoter Buddy Fuller who had gotten involved in one of their matches a few weeks earlier. Fuller came out to ringside and called announcer Jack Bitterman over. He warned the Fargos to calm down and go backstage or suffer the consequences. The Fargos refused and started pushing Fuller. Fuller responded by tearing into the champions and beating them both to a pulp. The Fargos responded by challenging Fuller to get a partner and promising to put their titles on the line in a match. Fuller agreed and asked Lester Welch to be his partner. The match was set for Ladd Memorial Stadium in Mobile for the first outdoor show of the season. 5,000 fans paid to see the two teams do battle. Lester Welch took the first fall for his team by flattening Don Fargo with dropkicks for the pin. All four men were battling it out in the second fall when referee Speedy Hatfield disqualified Welch & Fuller and gave the fall to the Fargos. The third fall saw more of the same as all four men pounded away at each other. Finally Hatfield had had enough and declared the match a draw. Lester and Buddy continued to pound the Fargos after the decision much to the delight of the fans, but the Fargos were still the World champs

Fuller also took Mario Galento as a partner for a match against the Fargos in Pensacola. Surprisingly the two managed to get along during the match but wound up with a draw against the champions.

Mario Galento put his Gulf Coast title on the line against the impressive Ray Stevens. Stevens earned his title shot by virtue of his wins over Tom Drake, Bobby Fields, Rowdy Red Roberts and particularly two wins over Galento’s buddy, Rocky Monroe. Stevens wasted no time in trying to win the championship. He whipped Galento relentlessly with lefts and rights to the head, opening up a cut on Galento’s head. Finally Galento collapsed and Stevens pinned him to take the first fall. Galento came back quickly in the second, whipping Stevens into the corner several times and pinning him to even the match. The third fall saw both men battering each other with closed fists. Galento managed to open a cut on Stevens’ head and now both men were bleeding badly. So badly, in fact, that referee Rocky McGuire stopped the match. This allowed Galento to hold onto the title but he hardly looked like a champion.

Galento also made a successful defense of his title against Tom Drake. Drake took the first fall by making Galento submit to his abdominal stretch. Galento came back to take the second by dropping Drake headfirst into the turnbuckle and pinning him. Drake had Galento bleeding in the third fall but once again fell victim of the headfirst drop into the turnbuckle and pin in the third fall.

In another strange twist in the saga of the World Tag Team title, Mario Galento teamed with Tom Drake in Hattiesburg to challenge the Fabulous Fargos for the title. Galento approached Drake about teaming because he knew how rough Drake could get in the ring. Drake was wary at first, but Galento promised his loyalty and said that if he didn’t hold up his end of the partnership that he would give Drake another shot at the Gulf Coast crown.

In the title match, Galento fell to Jackie Fargo in the first fall but Drake evened things up by pinning Jackie in the second. Confusion reigned at the end of the third fall. All four men were in the ring at the same time when Galento was pinned by Jackie just as Drake pinned Don Fargo. Drake and Don were the legal men in the ring but the referee counted Galento’s shoulders down and awarded the match to the Fargos. Promoter Skip Wetjen entered the ring and reversed the decision, declaring Galento & Drake the winners and new World Tag Team Champions. The enraged Fargos grabbed the belts and fled to the dressing room.

Galento & Drake proved to be fighting champions as they quickly defended their titles the following week in Hattiesburg against the team of Pierre DeGlane & the returning former Gulf Coast champion Eduardo Perez. DeGlane & Perez proved to be a rough team, but were unable to compete with Drake & Galento who won the match and retained their title.

Gulf Coast champion Mario Galento faced perhaps the biggest challenge of his career when he faced off against Antonino “Argentina” Rocca in a non-title match. Rocca, known as the Barefoot Boy of the Pampas, amazed fans nationwide with his dropkicks and flying tactics. It would be interesting to see if the rugged Galento could ground the high-flyer. Galento didn’t have much luck in the first fall as Rocca pinned him after a series of body slams. Rocca continued to confound Galento in the second fall until Galento managed to tie him into the ropes. Galento then climbed out of the ring and onto the apron. He proceeded to apply his Hangman hold while dangling off the ring apron. Referee Hercules McIntire tried in vain to break up the action before he finally gave up and disqualified Galento. Galento remained out on the ground level while McIntire untangled Rocca from the ropes. The Argentinean was seething and dared Galento to get back in the ring. Galento did and was quickly swarmed by Rocca’s flying feet. Another body slam and a swift kick in the seat of the pants sent Galento scurrying for the safety of his dressing room.

Galento faced Rocca again but this time in a tag team match that ended with a strange twist. Galento teamed with rugged Rube Wright to face Rocca and the man Galento had beaten for the Gulf Coast crown, Yvon Roberre. Roberre and Rocca battered Wright’s leg non-stop for fifteen minutes until they forced him to submit. Wright was unable to stand after the fall and had to be carried back to the dressing room. At the start of the second fall, Galento came out alone. He asked for the ring microphone and made a strange request. He called Lee Fields out to the ring and asked him to take Wright’s place as his partner. Fields climbed into the ring and took the microphone. He said he would do it on one condition. That was that win, lose or draw Galento would agree to give Fields a Gulf Coast championship match. Galento agreed and Fields took his place in Galento’s corner. The second fall saw Galento and Roberre in the ring for the entire fall. Galento finally took the fall when he sent Roberre spinning into the corner and then pinned him. Galento continued working over Roberre in the third fall and again whipped him into the corner. Galento then tagged Fields who easily pinned Roberre to take the fall and the match. Rocca never even entered the ring again after the first fall.

Rocca also squared off against fellow Argentinean and former stable mate, Eduardo Perez in Hattiesburg. The match was fast and furious but Rocca took two falls out of three to prove himself the better of the two South Americans.

Rocca continued his winning ways with yet another win over Perez in Crestview and a decisive victory over Rowdy Red Roberts in Pensacola.

Freddie Blassie made an appearance in the area to defend his Southern Heavyweight crown. He faced popular Eddie “Scotty” Williams. Blassie proved to be too tough for the Scotsman and pinned him after applying his dreaded swinging neck-breaker four times. Williams was unable to return for the second fall and the match was awarded to Blassie.

Eduardo Perez teamed with Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe to face off against Ray Stevens & Bobby Fields. Perez was impressive as he pinned Stevens after a series of knee-drops to the throat to take the first fall. But Stevens and Fields concentrated on Sputnik during the second fall and kept whipping him into the ropes until Monroe was so dizzy he fell victim to an easy pin to even the bout. Perez kept trying to revive his dizzy partner between falls, but Monroe was just as wobbly at the start of the third fall. Stevens & Fields continued with the same actions and again Monroe was pinned to lose the fall and the match.

Perez then teamed with the man he lost the Gulf Coast title to, Mario Galento, to face Stevens and Billy Wicks. Wicks & Stevens continually worked on Perez’ leg until Stevens forced him to submit to a step-over toehold to take the first fall. Galento then forced Stevens to submit to a Hangman hold to take the second fall. In the third fall, Galento pitched Stevens out of the ring and Ray came back brandishing a chair. Referee George (Baby Blimp) Harris tried to take the chair away from Stevens only to have Ray clout him with it. As Harris went down, Galento took the chair away from Stevens and slammed it into Ray’s head. Now Stevens was down and with Harris out of the way, Galento & Perez went to work on Wicks. Stevens regained his feet just long enough for Galento to crown him with the chair again. This time Stevens was out for good. Meanwhile, Harris had aroused and rolled over just in time to see Perez pinning Wicks. He counted three and the third fall and the match went to Galento & Perez.

Another newcomer making his way to the area was The Great Shiroma from Japan. He faced off against Lester Welch in his initial start. Welch started well and took the first fall with an abdominal stretch. Shiroma came back in the second when he pulled out a bag of salt from his tights. Shiroma had used the salt in a pre-match ceremony and instead of tossing it aside afterwards, he stuck it into his trunks. During the second fall he reached his hand into his trunks and stuck his finger into the salt. He then stuck that same finger into Lester’s yes and blinded the popular cowboy. Welch was then helpless to avoid a series of judo chops and he was pinned for the second fall. Welch managed to clear his vision during the rest period and started the third fall very quickly. He had the Japanese ace in trouble until he received another dose of the salt. He then fell prey to Shiroma’s backbreaker hold and conceded the fall and the match.

Mississippi promoter Skip Wetjen announced the beginning of a tournament to name the very first Mississippi State Heavyweight Champion. The winner of the tournament would not only win the title but also a brand new Cadillac, just as had been done the previous year with the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Championship. In the very first tournament match, Bobby Fields defeated Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe.

Lady wrestlers made their another appearance when Therese Theis pinned Jessica Rogers after Miss Rogers missed a dropkick and slammed into the mat.

Also in the area in April was Don Fields and Rube Wright.

 
MAY:

The Fabulous Fargos returned to Hattiesburg to attempt to regain the World Tag Team crown that they had lost to Mario Galento & Tom Drake. After each team had won a fall, Drake & Galento had a falling out during the third and deciding fall. Galento abandoned Drake and left him at the mercy of the Fargos who quickly double teamed him into submission to take the fall and the match to regain the World title.

The split between Galento & Drake led to a match between the two in Hattiesburg with Galento’s Gulf Coast title on the line. The match saw the two men batter each other bloody, but Galento emerged victorious to retain his title.

The tournament to name a Mississippi State champion continued. The Great Shiroma defeated Billy Wicks to advance, as did Eduardo Perez with a victory over Yvon Roberre.

Gulf Coast champion Mario Galento finally ran into an opponent he couldn’t push around. Mario faced off against Ginger the Bear! Of course it was a non-title match. Surprisingly Mario wasn’t nervous at all and was holding his own. Mario made a mistake of roughing up Ginger’s handler, who removed the bear’s muzzle and let her loose at Galento. Mario left the ring and refused to return. He was therefore disqualified.

Mario Galento struggles with Ginger the Bear

Galento also faced off with Ginger in Hattiesburg in a match as a part of the Mississippi title tournament. Once again Ginger’s handler was roughed up by Galento and removed the bear’s muzzle. Again Galento won on a disqualification and advanced in the tournament.

Ginger was also scheduled to appear a card in Pensacola, but was prohibited from wrestling at the last minute. So Pensacola promoter Frank Pericola arranged for the bear to be displayed in the ring drinking Coca-Cola. Just as they bear was being led to the ring Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and called a halt to the proceedings.

The Great Malenko returned after a long absence and brought along a new manager named Ivan Rasputin. Malenko faced off with Ray Stevens in his return. Malenko totally manhandled Stevens and beat him in two straight falls. Stevens also wound up with a bloody head courtesy of the mad Russian. Malenko also took a victory over Don Fields. Fields took the first fall by pinning Malenko after using a monkey flip on him. Fields tried it again in the second fall, but Malenko held onto the ropes. Fields slammed into the mat and injured his neck. Malenko added a choke for good measure and then pinned him for the fall. Between falls, Malenko stomped on the prone Fields’ neck again and Fields was unable to answer the bell for the third and final fall. The fall and match were awarded to Malenko.

Malenko also defeated Scotty Williams in a match in Hattiesburg to advance in the Mississippi title tournament.

Rasputin didn’t fare as well when he ventured into the ring against Lee Fields. Fields won the first fall when he rolled the Russian up in his Oklahoma Roll. Rasputin came back in the second and made Lee submit to a painful toehold. A series of forearms and a dropkick ended Rasputin’s evening as Lee pinned him to take the fall and the match.

The Fabulous Fargos returned to face the team that had given them such a thrashing in a previous encounter, Lester Welch & Buddy Fuller. But they left their World Tag Team titles locked up securely at home and didn’t put them on the line. Good thing as Welch & Fuller made things rough on them. Donnie Fargo pinned Fuller to take the first fall after a knee-drop to the throat. The second fall was a slugfest and Fuller pinned Jackie after slamming him in the jaw with a hard right. The third fall continued much as the second had with all four men in the ring slugging away. Welch and Fuller managed to whip Jackie and Donnie into one another and Fuller pinned Donnie for the fall and the match.

Buddy Fuller announced that he was returning to the ring full time and turned the promotional reigns over to Rocky McGuire. Fuller was determined to make a run at the World Heavyweight title held by Dick Hutton. And to make sure that he would be in top shape he announced that he had taken on a new trainer and adviser, the legendary Ed (Strangler) Lewis.

Ed (Strangler) Lewis advises Buddy Fuller

“Buddy is the best prospect that I have seen since former champ Lou Thesz”, said Lewis in an interview with Dennis Smitherman, sports editor of The Mobile Press Register. “I guided Thesz to the title and I plan on doing the same with Fuller.” Evidently Lewis changed his mind. He made one appearance with Fuller in a match, which saw Buddy take two straight falls from Eduardo Perez. After that, no more Strangler.

The Great Shiroma continued his winning ways. He took on popular Eddie “Scotty” Williams in a wild battle. Williams took the first fall with a flying head-scissors and pin. Shiroma came back in the second with a series of judo chops and slams to pin Williams to take the fall. In the third fall, Williams fell victim to Shiroma’s back-breaker hold and the fall and the match went to the wily Japanese.

Shiroma next faced tough Billy Wicks in a real test. Shiroma took the first fall of this one, again using a series of judo chops to the throat. Wicks came back in the second to make Shiroma submit to a reverse leglock. Shiroma was in dire straits in the third and went to his trunks where he had hidden a bag of salt. He rubbed the salt into the eyes of Wicks and then judo chopped him in the throat. Shiroma then pinned Wicks to take the fall and the match.

Shiroma met Bobby Fields in a match in Robertsdale, Alabama and injured Bobby’s back. Fields asked for a rematch and one was set in Mobile. Fields was anxious for revenge and stunned Shiroma at the opening bell with a series of dropkicks. Fields then pinned the Japanese ace to take the fall in less than a minute. Referee Bud Clardy, prior to the match, searched Shiroma but failed to look into an elbow pad that Shiroma was wearing. Shiroma had his salt hidden in it and used it to rub against Bobby’s eyes in the second fall. Blinded, Fields easily fell prey to judo chops and choking before Shiroma pinned him after a knee-drop to the throat. The match was now tied at a fall apiece. Shiroma kept up his advantage in the third fall and opened a cut between Fields’ eyes. He continued to work on it with stiff judo chops. Just as it appeared that Fields was done, he drove his fist deep into Shiroma’s stomach. From there Bobby went wild. He battered Shiroma from pillar to post and weakened him enough to pin him for the third fall and the match. But Fields wasn’t through just yet. He continued to stomp the bloody Japanese and wouldn’t let him leave the ring. Rocky Monroe and George Harris both came out to the ring to try and help Shiroma and Fields flattened them both. Monroe & Harris finally managed to pull Shiroma from the ring and they all stumbled back to the dressing room, as a bloody Fields jumped up and down in triumph.

Fields & Shiroma also met in a Mississippi title tournament match. This one saw Fields defeat the wily Japanese to eliminate him from the tournament.

Other Mississippi tournament matches saw Mario Galento eliminate Don Fields, the Great Malenko defeat Billy Wicks, who was given another chance after his disputed loss to Shiroma. Bobby Fields scored another victory as well when he defeated George (Baby Blimp) Harris.

A newcomer to the area also entered the Mississippi title tournament as Rocky Colombo scored a victory over veteran Charlie Carr. Tom Drake defeated the returning Chris Belkas.

In yet another Mississippi tournament match, Buddy Fuller squared off with the Great Malenko. Each man had won a fall in this match when Malenko’s manager, Ivan Rasputin, tripped Fuller in the third fall. Fuller left the ring and chased Rasputin to the dressing room followed by Malenko. Both men were counted out and the match declared a no contest.

 
JUNE:

Another tournament was announced that would take place over several weeks with the winner to be rewarded with $10,000 in silver dollars. In the opening round, the Great Malenko eliminated Don Fields and Lester Welch knocked Corsica Joe from contention.

The Great Shiroma was anxious to avenge his bloody beating at the hands of Bobby Fields and laid down a challenge. He dared Fields to meet him in a Japanese Judo Jacket match. In this type of match each man would wear a judo jacket and sash, allowing each man to throw his opponent easier. Fields agreed although he would be at a very large disadvantage. Surprisingly, Fields held his own and was matching Shiroma at his own game until Shiroma pulled Bobby’s jacket down until his arms were trapped at his side. This allowed Shiroma to get in some judo chops to the throat. He then pinned Fields to take the first fall. Shiroma continued to apply this trick in the second fall until Fields got fed up and threw the jacket off. Shiroma immediately slid out of the ring and complained to referee Bud Clardy and reminded him of the rules of the match. Clardy made Fields don the jacket and started the match back up. It wasn’t long before Fields threw the jacket off again and went after Shiroma with his fists. Again, Shiroma slid from the ring and called for Clardy to enforce the rules. As Fields was picking up the jacket to put it back on, Shiroma jumped into the ring and kicked him in the stomach. This left Fields open for several more judo chops and a pin. Shiroma took the second fall and the match.

Next Fields demanded that the two face off again, but this time he wanted to name the type of match. He challenged Shiroma to meet him in a Texas Death Match with no time limit. Shiroma, now fully convinced he could beat the popular young Fields, quickly agreed. It was also determined that this match would count in the $10,000 tournament. Fields won the first fall by knocking Shiroma senseless with a hard right to the jaw. Shiroma came back and took the next two falls by using his judo chops to the throat. Fields evened things up again in the fourth fall by again using lefts and rights to subdue the wily Shiroma. Fields also took the fifth fall when he applied four pile drivers to Shiroma and left him lying on the mat. Shiroma was unable to answer the bell at the beginning of the sixth fall and Fields was declared the winner of the bout. Fields not only won the battle, but won the war as well. Shiroma was eliminated from the tournament left the territory after this match.

It was announced that Dory Funk had defeated Angelo Savoldi on June 5th in Amarillo, Texas to win the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Funk would hold the title for 13 months but never appeared in the Gulf Coast.

Gulf Coast Champion Mario Galento put his title on the line in a match with former champion Yvon Roberre at Clark Field in Lafayette, Louisiana. Roberre made the best of his opportunity and regained the title.

A rematch between Roberre and Galento was signed for the following week in Lafayette, and Galento took the title back.

The Mississippi State title tournament continued with Buddy Fuller eliminating Eduardo Perez. Mario Galento and the Great Malenko battled to a draw, therefore both men were allowed to remain in the tournament. Tom Drake defeated newcomer Danny Walker.

In another $10,000 tournament match, Billy Wicks eliminated John Smith.

Buddy Fuller took advantage of his return to being a full-time wrestler by challenging the man who constantly tormented him verbally while he was a promoter. That man was Gulf Coast champion Mario Galento. Galento was just as anxious to get his hands on Fuller, who he claimed had hidden behind his promoter’s role. The two tore into each other at the opening bell and was evenly matched until Fuller knocked Mario to the mat and pinned him to take the first fall. Galento came back in the second with his patented whips into the turnbuckles to pin Fuller and even up the bout. The third fall saw Fuller open up a bloody cut on Galento’s head which he kept pounding on. Finally referee Charley Keene decided that Galento was too bloody to continue and stopped the match, rewarding the fall and match to Fuller.

Mario Galento strangles Buddy Fuller along the ropes as referee Johnny Edenfield tries to break it up

Fuller was now demanding that Galento put his Gulf Coast title on the line. Mario at first refused, but his thirst for revenge finally got the better of him and he agreed. As a precaution, the Alabama commission warned both men about their tactics prior to the match. They also assigned Sonny Boy Fargo as a special referee. Since Fargo had no love for either man it was felt that he would be an impartial judge and could handle the rough stuff. Fuller took the first fall after hitting Galento with a series of forearm smashes and a dropkick and pinning him. Things got a little out of hand in the second and Fuller took exception to a few calls by Fargo. He finally let go and punched Sonny Boy and was promptly disqualified, giving the second fall to Galento. Fuller was enraged and continued to pound both Fargo and Galento. Finally a state commission representative came to ringside and called for the bell. He stopped the match and awarded it to Galento. As Fuller stood arguing with the representative, Galento hit him from behind with the championship belt and fled for the dressing room.

Mario Galento is battered and bruised after his match with Buddy Fuller

The tournament for $10,000 continued with Yvon Roberre eliminating Rowdy Red Roberts and Lester Welch and Rocky Colombo both being counted out when they crashed into each other with flying tackles. Billy Wicks took a surprising win to eliminate Eduardo Perez and Corsica Joe was allowed back into the tournament with a win over Dick Dunn.

The Mississippi title tournament continued as well. The Great Malenko defeated Tom Drake, Mario Galento defeated Rocky Colombo and Bobby Fields eliminated Rowdy Red Roberts. The following week, Fields took a decision over Corsica Joe, Malenko and Lester Welch battled to a no contest when Malenko’s manager, Ivan Rasputin, interfered. Mario Galento and Buddy Fuller also battled to a bloody no contest. In the semi-finals, Bobby Fields eliminated Mario Galento while the Great Malenko ended Buddy Fuller’s chances.

Others appearing in the area in June were lady wrestlers China Mira and Nell Stewart.

 
JULY:

On July 3rd in Hattiesburg the Great Malenko and Bobby Fields faced off in the final match to name the first Mississippi State Heavyweight Champion and win the new Cadillac. The match was a wild and wooly one with each man winning a fall. In the third and deciding fall, both men were battered and bloody and the match was declared a no contest. A rematch was scheduled for the following week in Hattiesburg, this time promoter Skip Wetjen would serve as the special referee.

On the same card in Hattiesburg, Buddy Fuller finally got the better of Mario Galento when he beat him for the Gulf Coast title.

Fuller proved to be a fighting champion as he quickly put the title on the line against the challenge of the Great Malenko. Things looked bad for the champion as he not only had to battle Malenko, but had troubles with Malenko’s manager Ivan Rasputin and referee George “Baby Blimp” Harris as well. Fuller quickly fell prey to Malenko’s rough tactics and was pinned to lose the first fall. When Fuller returned to the ring for the second fall, he wasn’t alone. He recruited Billy Wicks to serve as his second to combat Rasputin’s interference. This did the trick as Fuller was able to hit Malenko with a series of forearm smashes and forced him to submit to a Boston Crab. Fuller made good use of the Boston Crab in the third and final fall and again forced Malenko to submit to take the match and retain his title. Malenko & Rasputin tried to jump Fuller & Wicks after the decision, but quickly gave up on that after being slugged several times.

Fuller also defeated Corsica Joe in straight falls in a non-title match.

In the rematch to name a Mississippi State champion, Bobby Fields and the Great Malenko face each other again. Fields took the first fall and Malenko the second. In the third fall, Malenko knocked Fields from the ring and refused to allow him to re-enter. Special referee Skip Wetjen was trying to force Malenko back to allow Fields back in the ring which Malenko objected to. As the two were arguing, Fields managed to make it back into the ring. He surprised Malenko and upended him for the pin. Bobby Fields was named the first Mississippi State Heavyweight Champion and won a new 1958 Cadillac in the process.

Bobby Fields with his new Mississippi State Heavyweight Championship belt and 1958 Cadillac

A family feud began brewing when John Smith confronted Herb & Lester Welch during a live television program. Smith and his brother Al had last been in the area in 1956 and had quite a battle with the Fields family. John had arrived alone a few weeks before but was bragging that he and Al were still the dominant brother team in the world of professional wrestling. The Welch brothers took exception to this and the result was a free-for-all. The Welch boys challenged John to send for his brother to settle the question once and for all, but John claimed his brother was not available. Instead John brought in newcomer Miquel Torres to be his partner to face Herb & Lester. The Welch boys worked on Torres in the first fall and Lester pinned him after a series of slams and a dropkick. Things didn’t get any better for Torres in the second fall, but this time it was his partner Smith who was doing the damage. Twice Smith missed throwing punches at a Welch brother and hit Torres flush on the jaw. Torres squared of with Smith after the second time, but Smith begged off. Torres got his revenge by letting Smith take a beating at the hands of Lester & Herb. Each time Smith got near Torres for a tag, the burly Mexican refused him. Torres finally left the ring for good, leaving his partner at the hands of the Welch brothers who quickly pinned him. Smith and Torres had to be separated later in the dressing room.

John quickly got a hold of his brother Al and a return match was set with the Welch brothers finally facing off with the Smith Brothers. The Smiths battered Herb mercilessly during the first fall, finally beating him into submission to take the fall. They continued to stomp him after the fall until Lester was able to drag him from the ring and back to the dressing room. The Welches took a play from the Smith playbook in the second fall. They trapped John and continually worked over his left arm until he submitted. They continued to stomp his arm after the fall and this time it was John Smith who was dragged from the ring and to the dressing room. In the third and final fall, Al Smith had Herb Welch in a bad way when Lester came in to his brother’s aid. John Smith cut Lester off and soon both Welch boys were at the mercy of the Smiths. Al & John had their adversaries in a headlock and were planning on ramming their heads together. Herb & Lester escaped at the last moment and slammed the Smiths into one another. Herb then fell on John for the pin to win the fall and the match. This upset the Smiths to no end and they jumped the Welches after the match. Referee Bud Clardy tried to break it up only to be knocked aside by Al Smith. Herb & Lester began to fight back and the Smiths took off for the safety of their dressing room. As they fled the Welches followed them. Lester stuck his foot in the dressing room door to prevent the Smiths’ escape, but the Smiths slammed it shut on him. Lester wound up with a broken foot and was rushed to Mobile Infirmary for medical treatment.

Herb Welch wasn’t through with John & Al Smith and he quickly contacted his second eldest brother Jack Welch to replace Lester. The Smiths concentrated on Herb Welch in the first fall and worked him over until he collapsed was pinned by John Smith for the fall. The Welches used the same tactic in the second fall and kept Al Smith in their corner and battered him until Herb was able to pin him to even things. In the third fall, the Smiths tied both Jack & Herb into the ropes and gave them a going over. John Smith was able to pin Jack Welch before Herb could work himself free. The fall and the match went to John & Al Smith.

The Smith Brothers took on the team of Tom Drake & Billy Wicks in a match in Hattiesburg. Drake & Wicks looked strong as they handily won the first fall, but the Smiths came back to take the final two falls to win the match.

The following week John Smith teamed with a masked newcomer called The Black Scorpion to defeat Drake & Bobby Fields. The Scorpion used a sharp object to render both Drake & Fields bloody during the match.

The Great Malenko was still smarting from his loss to Bobby Fields for the Mississippi State title so he challenged him to a 15 round boxing match. Fields accepted the challenge and the match was set. Fields proved to be the better boxer as well as he took the decision over the Russian.

Fields also granted Malenko a title match, but refused to wrestle as long as Ivan Rasputin was at ringside in Malenko’s corner. Rasputin was escorted back to the dressing room and his presence was missed by Malenko. Fields defeated him in two falls to win the match and retain the title.

The $10,000 tournament continued with Bobby Fields eliminating Corsica Joe, Billy Wicks defeating Rocky Colombo and Tom Drake defeating the Great Malenko by disqualification.

Another tournament bout saw Mario Galento face off against Yvon Roberre. These two arch rivals went at each other hammer and tongs until Roberre slowly gained the advantage. He had Galento reeling and then whipped him into the turnbuckle. Roberre then rebounded himself off the ropes hoping to ram his head into Galento’s stomach. Mario moved at the last moment and Roberre crashed his head into the corner ringpost. He collapsed back into the ring and Galento fell on him for the pin and the match. Roberre was upset by this turn of events and went after Galento after the match. Galento caught him with a fist and then slammed him to the mat with a piledriver. Roberre was unconscious and remained so while Galento walked back to the dressing room among the boos of the crowd. Roberre was carted back to the dressing room by stretcher and later went to the hospital for examination.

Yvon Roberre punishes Mario Galento with a leglock

Roberre demanded another match against Galento and was granted it. Again another wild melee ensued, but Roberre managed to force Galento to submit to a Boston Crab to take the first fall. Things looked good for the popular Canadian in the second fall until Galento tossed him from the ring. Roberre landed on his head and was not the same after that. Galento hauled him back into the ring and slammed him headfirst into the turnbuckle and pinned him to take the second fall. Galento continued to work on Yvon’s injured head during the third and final fall. Again he slammed him headfirst into the turnbuckle. Galento added a knee-drop to the throat and pinned Roberre to take the final fall and the match.

Billy Wicks kept his tournament hopes alive when he defeated the returning Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe in a one fall match. Wicks also eliminated Bobby Fields in a scientific battle that was appreciated by the fans.
Wicks squared off against Mario Galento in another tournament match. It was a rugged encounter and Wicks wound up with a bloody head. At one point Galento tossed Wicks from the ring. Wicks made the mistake of reaching in and pulling Galento out to continue the battle. As the referee started counting the two men out they continued to fight among the spectators. Just as the referee reached the count of eighteen, Galento dashed into the ring. Wicks was counted out and eliminated from the tournament.

Galento then faced off with Tom Drake in another tournament bout. Galento used his patented headfirst turnbuckle drop to eliminate Drake. That left Mario Galento and Herb Welch as the sole survivors in the $10,000 tournament.

Also making an appearance in the area in July were Billy Scharbert, Don Fields and Eddie Davie.

 
AUGUST:

The final match-up for the $10,000 in silver dollars between Mario Galento and Herb Welch was set. Galento was a little too confident because he agreed to team with the Great Malenko the same night to face off against the Smith Brothers before his match with Welch.

The Smiths, by virtue of their victory over Jack & Herb Welch, were screaming for a shot at the World Tag Team title.

The tag match came about after the Smiths went on TV and bragged that they were the two toughest men in the area and both Galento and Malenko took exception to the statement. They both felt that they were plenty tough by themselves and that as a team they would show the Smiths a thing or two. So the match was signed. All four men spent quite a bit of time battering each other until Galento forced Al Smith to submit to a double toehold to take the first fall. John Smith came back in the second fall and rammed Malenko’s head into the corner turnbuckle a dozen times before pinning him to even the score. In the third, the Smiths double-teamed Malenko and sent him flying out of the ring. As Malenko lay out on the ground, Galento was battered mercilessly by the Smiths and was soon bleeding profusely. John & Al finally beat him into submission and took the third fall and the match. Galento wobbled back to the dressing room with the help of Malenko and only had 10 minutes to rest before his match with Herb Welch for the $10,000.

Galento came out to the ring first and was obviously in bad shape. Welch came running out of the dressing room full of energy and the two men went at it. Welch went right to work on Galento’s bloody eye and soon the match was over. Herb Welch had won the 10,000 silver dollars.

Lester Welch came back from his injury and was aching to get at the Smiths, who had caused the injury. He teamed with Gulf Coast champion Buddy Fuller to face of with the bearded duo. Fuller put his team in front by pinning John Smith after a series of knee lifts. Smith came back to even the score by ramming Fuller’s head into the turnbuckle several times and pinning him to take the second fall. Welch & Fuller held the upper hand throughout much of the third and decisive fall. At one point all four men were in the ring at the same time when Welch became tangled in the ropes. Fuller then fell prey to the Smiths’ double-teaming and wound up being pinned. The Smiths won the third fall and the match.

Buddy Fuller wasn’t satisfied with this turn of events and wanted the toughest partner he could find to face the Smiths once again. He contacted Mario Galento and asked for his help. Galento agreed simply because it was a chance to get back at the Smiths. He made it plain that he still didn’t like Fuller but he would help him fight the Smith Brothers.

Fuller started quickly for his team and soon pinned Al Smith to take the first fall. That was as far as it got with wrestling. The second fall started with all four men going at it and continued that way until the ring filled up with wrestlers, referees and the police. As soon as things calmed down the match was declared a no contest and that was that.

All four men demanded a rematch and it was quickly signed. Fuller & Galento concentrated on John Smith in the first fall and battered him around the ring. They even took turns biting his fingers for good measure. Finally Galento forced John to submit to his Hangman hold and won the first fall. The Smiths chose Mario to be their victim in the second fall. They took turns draping his leg across the bottom rope and crashing down on it. After enduring several minutes of this, Galento gave up and the second fall went to the Smith brothers. John & Al continued this plan of attack throughout the third fall. Fuller did his best to help his partner but wound up being tossed out of the ring by John Smith. By the time Fuller made it back into the ring, Galento had once again been forced to concede the fall and the match.

In Hattiesburg, the Smith Brothers teamed with the Black Scorpion in a six man tag match against Bobby Fields, Tom Drake & Billy Wicks. Fields & Drake had been bloodied by the Scorpion & John Smith in a previous match and were anxious for revenge. They gained a measure of it as the popular threesome defeated the Smiths & the Scorpion in a best two out of three fall match.

The Black Scorpion also proved to be a successful singles wrestler. He scored three straight victories over newcomer Lou Palacio, Yvon Roberre and Bobby Fields. In all three victories it appeared that he loaded something into his mask and used a headbutt to subdue his opponents.

The Mississippi State title fell into a strange situation. Champion Bobby Fields put the title on the line against Mario Galento in Laurel. The match wound up a bloody no contest and a rematch was quickly signed. Promoter Skip Wetjen warned both men that there would be severe consequences if the rematch got out of hand. The second match proved to be more out of control than the first and yet another no contest was the result. Wetjen then decided to strip Fields of the title due to actions unbecoming a champion. It was also decided that Galento would sit out the title scene for a period as well. Therefore to name a new champion, Wetjen matched the man Fields eliminated to win the title, the Great Malenko, against the Gulf Coast champion, Buddy Fuller. This match was also a wild one, but Malenko emerged with the victory to become the new Mississippi State champion.

Malenko was anxious to prove himself the top man in the state of Mississippi so he demanded a match with Mario Galento with the title at stake. Each man had scored a fall when Malenko rammed Galento’s head into the steel ringpost in the third fall. Galento was cut severely and the match was halted and an ambulance summonsed. Galento refused treatment and insisted the match continue. After several more minutes of action, a weakened Galento was knocked form the ring by Malenko and was unable to return. Malenko was declared the winner by a count out and retained his title.

A rematch between Malenko and Galento was signed, but unfortunately for Galento he fell short again. Galento blamed his loss on the interference of Malenko’s manager Ivan Rasputin but his protest fell on deaf ears as Malenko was still the Mississippi State champion.

A newcomer arrived in the area named Pancho Villa. And just like his Mexican bandit namesake he caused all kinds of trouble. His first match saw him opposing popular Herb Welch. Herb took the first fall by flattening Villa with a flying tackle, but Pancho came back with an atomic drop to win the next two falls and the match. Along the way, Villa had used a bandage on his knee to rub against Welch’s eyes to gain an advantage.

Villa made a quick enemy of Rocky Colombo when the two met in a televised bout. Villa defeated Colombo and bloodied him in the process. Colombo demanded another match and was granted it. Colombo jumped Villa at the start of the match and slammed him in the head several times with his fists. After a series of flying tackles, Colombo pinned Villa to take the first fall in less than a minute. Villa put his knee brace to good use in the second fall and soon had Colombo bleeding again. Blinded by his own blood, Rocky was an easy target for Villa and was soon pinned for the second fall. During the rest period in the dressing room, Villa was ordered to remove the knee brace that he was using for a weapon. When he came back out for the third fall, he had removed it from his knee, but now had a brace just like it on his elbow. Colombo had the advantage and was on the verge of victory when Villa slid the brace from his elbow and covered his fist with it. He hit Colombo with the covered fist and Rocky went down like a lead weight. Villa then pinned him to take the third fall and the match.

A special card was held for the servicemen of Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida and was staged at Foster Stadium on the base. The card featured the following matches:

  • Rocky Colombo defeated Corsica Joe
  • Nell Stewart beat Jessica Rogers in a ladies match
  • Tom Drake took two out of three falls to take the measure of the Great Malenko

Johnny Edenfield, reportedly a veteran of some 7800 main events, was the official for the matches.

Also making an appearance in the area in August was Corsica Joe, Billy Scharbert and lady wrestlers Nell Stewart and Mae Godner.

 
SEPTEMBER:

Buddy Fuller & Mario Galento were so anxious to get another crack at the Smith brothers that they made a challenge putting their hair on the line against the world famous beards of John & Al Smith. The Smiths agreed and the match was set for an outdoor show at Ladd Stadium in Mobile. Buddy Fuller further stated that if he and Galento failed to defeat the Smiths that he would give up the Gulf Coast title and quit wrestling for good. With that much on the line and the promise of a big payday brought on by an outdoor show, the Smiths were ready to go. But by the day of the match, a thunderstorm had rolled in off the Gulf and the show had to be moved indoors to the Ft. Whiting Armory. The Smith brothers balked at putting their beards on the line in front of a smaller crowd and refused to go through with the match. So promoter Rocky McGuire was in a pickle and made another match to serve as the featured event. Buddy Fuller was given the night off and a five-man battle royal was set up instead. The participants were the Smith brothers, Galento, Lester Welch and Ivan Rasputin. Galento rushed John Smith at the bell and eliminated him quickly. Welch and Rasputin were the next two out and Al Smith and Galento squared off. Galento was banging Smith around when John came back out and belted the referee. Galento sensed trouble and grabbed a chair from ringside. The Smiths were able to take it away from him and brought the chair down across Galento’s head just as the referee came to his senses. Al Smith was disqualified and Galento was declared the winner of the match.

The following Saturday on television, a state commissioner called the Smiths out and read them the riot act. He stated that they had signed a contract to face Galento & Fuller in a “hair vs beards” match and that the match was going to take place, rain or shine. He further stated that if the Smiths refused they would be suspended by the NWA. They were in a corner and agreed to the match. The match was a wild one and referee Sonny Boy Fargo just decided to let them all fight it out without his interference. All four were in the ring at the same time when Galento managed to make Al Smith submit to his Hangman hold to win the first fall. The Smiths ganged up on Fuller in the second fall and beat him senseless. John Smith then pinned Fuller to take the second fall. In the third fall Fuller & Galento slammed the Smiths into one another and Galento pinned Al. The third fall and the match went to Fuller & Galento and the Smiths were shorn of their beards.

Fuller & Galento also defeated John Smith & Rowdy Red Roberts in a tag team match in Pensacola.

Galento also recruited Fuller into his war with Mississippi State Champion, the Great Malenko. Galento had lost his last title match with the Russian due to interference by Malenko’s manager Ivan Rasputin. Galento & Fuller challenged Malenko & Rasputin to a tag match in Hattiesburg. Although they were bloodied and battered during the match, Galento & Fuller came out the winners.

The tag team loss was no the only hardship to befall the Great Malenko. He lost the Mississippi State title to popular Tom Drake in Laurel.

Buddy Fuller made a successful defense of his Gulf Coast crown against George (Baby Blimp) Harris in Hattiesburg.

The following week Harris attempted to wrest the Mississippi title from new champion Tom Drake, but proved to be no match for the popular champion.

The Black Scorpion was soon joined by a second Black Scorpion. They became known as Black Scorpion #1 and Black Scorpion #2.

Former Gulf Coast champion Yvon Roberre was the next to challenge Pancho Villa. Roberre hit the Mexican with a series of flying tackles to win the first fall, but when he tried it in the second Villa managed to get his knee with the brace on it up where Roberre’s head crashed into it. Villa then pinned Roberre to take the second fall. Roberre was still wobbly at the start of the third fall and was an east target for Villa’s rugged tactics. Pancho whipped the Canadian into the ropes and kneed him in the stomach with the knee brace. He then slammed Roberre’s head into the turnbuckle; body slammed him and pinned him to take the fall and the match.

Villa made a very dangerous enemy in Mario Galento as well. The two were matched up in a bout after Galento eliminated himself from a battle royal. It was a five-man match up with the first one eliminated to take on the rugged Villa in the final match. Galento stepped out of the ring and was counted out because he wanted a shot at Villa who had been running roughshod over the area since his arrival. Lou Palacio was eliminated next, followed by the Great Malenko and The Black Scorpion #2. Lester Welch won the battle royal when he eliminated Al Smith.

Galento started off well in his match with Villa and won the first fall after dropping Villa headfirst into the top turnbuckle and pinning him. In the second fall, Villa kneed Galento with his loaded knee brace but that only made Galento mad. He started punching Villa wildly and then tossed from the ring. Villa then pulled Galento from the ring and drove his head to the hard floor with an illegal piledriver. Villa was disqualified and Galento had to be carried to the dressing room.

As soon as Galento regained his senses he demanded a rematch against Villa and it was granted. The two ruffians were going at it hot and heavy when Villa used his heavy knee brace to knee Galento in the groin. Galento was an easy pin after that and Villa took the first fall. Galento came out of the dressing room for the second fall and was armed with an equalizer to Villa’s kneepad. He had taken a clothespin and had hidden it in his trunks. It wasn’t long before he had it out and used it to bloody the head of the Mexican. Galento then proceeded to toss Villa from the ring. Three times Villa got back into the ring only to find himself sailing out once again. After the third, Villa grabbed Galento by the legs and dragged him out of the ring. Villa then rammed Galento’s head into the ringpost. Mario managed to shake that off and dragged Villa up to the ring apron. Galento then slammed Villa’s head into the ringpost. As Galento climbed back into the ring, Villa collapsed onto the ring apron and was counted out. The second fall went to Mario Galento. Both men used their perspective weapons on each other in the third fall with Mario slowly gaining the advantage. Villa, in desperation, tossed Galento out of the ring and followed him out. He stomped Galento up and down and then re-entered the ring. Galento was trying to follow him in, but Villa kept preventing him from entering the ring. Referee Bud Clardy pushed Villa back and was warning him when Villa punched him in the face. Not satisfied with this, Villa picked up Clardy and again punched him in the face. Clardy managed to get out of the ring and raised Galento’s hand in victory. He had disqualified Villa and given the fall and the match to Galento.

Popular Billy Wicks became the new Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Buddy Fuller in a match on September 19th in Lafayette, Louisiana. Fuller lost the title to Wicks when he was disqualified for striking the referee. Fuller claimed it was an accident and he hit the referee by mistake as he yanked his arm away from Wicks. But the Louisiana state commission stated that it was cause enough for an immediate disqualification and loss of the belt. And although he had won the bout and the title, Wicks agreed that it was an accident and promised Fuller an immediate rematch. The night before the rematch, Fuller hurt his hand and was forced to cancel. Wicks faced Yvon Roberre instead and successfully defended the title.

Wicks faced off against the Black Scorpion #1 in a non-title match. The Scorpion battered the new champ around in the first fall and forced him to submit to a Boston Crab to win the fall. The masked man continued battering Wicks in the second fall until Billy had had enough. He started knocking the Black Scorpion from pillar to post and sent referee Bud Clardy flying when he tried to calm thing down. After the third time, Clardy stopped the match and awarded it to the Black Scorpion #1. But since it was a non-title match, Wicks was still the Gulf Coast champion.

Billy Wicks backdrops The Black Scorpion #1

Others appearing in the area in September were Tom Drake, El Diablo, Tito Romero, Charles Whatley and Ken Cooper.
OCTOBER:

Gulf Coast champion Billy Wicks put his title on the line against Rowdy Red Roberts. It was a blazing battle that saw Wicks use a series of dropkicks to pin Roberts to take the first fall. Red came back and had Wicks reeling in the second fall. Just as it looked as though Roberts had the advantage, Wicks surprised him by grabbing his legs and tripping him to the mat. Wicks then rolled Roberts over into a Boston Crab and forced him to concede the fall and the match.

Wicks also put the belt on the line against former champion Yvon Roberre once again. It was a fast paced and clean match with both men giving their best. Wicks stunned Roberre with a series of flying tackles to pin him for the first fall. Wicks tried for the same thing in the second fall, but as he rebounded off the ropes, Roberre caught him in an airplane spin. Roberre spun Wicks around several times, slammed him to the mat and pinned him to take the second fall. In the third and deciding fall the advantage swung back and forth several times before Roberre again applied the airplane spin on Wicks. But this time as he dropped Wicks to the mat, the champion held onto Roberre’s head and arm and rolled him to the mat and pinned him. The fall and the match went to Wicks and he remained the Gulf Coast champion.

Wicks & Roberre teamed up a week prior to their championship match to take on the Black Scorpions. Wicks pinned Scorpion #2 to take the first fall after Roberre twisted the masked man’s mask where he couldn’t see or breathe. Scorpion #2 and his partner tried to twist the mask back into place, but it was too tight. Finally Scorpion #2 was forced to unmask himself and it turned out to be Joe McCarthy. McCarthy and the Scorpion #1 came back to take the second fall when the remaining masked man pinned Roberre after a knee to the stomach. McCarthy & the Scorpion got a little carried away in the third and deciding fall when they tossed Wicks & Roberre from the ring. McCarthy kept kicking at them and wouldn’t let them return to the ring. Referee Bud Clardy tried to push McCarthy back only to get shoved down himself by the Scorpion. Clardy called for the bell, disqualifying McCarthy & the Scorpion #1 and giving the match to Roberre & Wicks.

Wicks also defeated Charlie Carr and Rube Wright in non-title bouts.

Mississippi State champion Tom Drake continued to have his troubles with George Harris. The Baby Blimp was demanding another shot at the tile and agreed to put his hair on the line to get it. Drake once again defeated Harris and he was shorn of his dark curly locks. Embarrassed by the loss of his hair, Harris took to wearing a mask. Drake promised him another title match, but on the condition that Harris would put the mask on the line against the title. Harris agreed and the match was set. Once again Drake proved to be the better man and defeated Harris. Harris was forced to unmask and show his bald head to the delight of the audience in attendance.

Popular Lee Fields returned to the area after an absence of five months. Lee had left quite suddenly at the beginning of May and many fans wondered what was going on. They further wondered when Lee returned and demanded a match with his sometime tag team partner Buddy Fuller. Skip Wetjen was assigned to referee the match. Fields and Fuller tore into each other right away with no interest in putting on a wrestling show. They slugged, kicked and choked each other as all of the other wrestlers gathered outside the dressing rooms to watch. Lee picked Buddy up to slam him only to have Fuller lock himself around Fields’ head and shoulder and kick the ropes. Lee toppled over and Wetjen counted him out. Fuller was given the first fall. Things continued at the same pace as the two men fought outside the ring as much as they did inside. At one point Fields was out on the floor and Fuller dived through the ropes and hit him flush in the chest with his shoulder. Both men crumpled to the floor and rolled around punching each other. Billy Wicks came out and he and Wetjen separated the two long enough for Fuller to climb back into the ring. Fuller raised his arms in victory and then collapsed to the mat in a heap. Meanwhile several spectators helped carry Lee back to the dressing room, as others helped Fuller from the ring.

Fields also got involved in a family feud with Pancho Villa. It started when Lee teamed with Millie Stafford to face off in a mixed tag team match with Villa and Shirley Leonard. Fields & Stafford gained a small victory before the match started by having referee Bud Clardy make Villa remove some heavy tape he had wrapped around his right fist. Villa protested vehemently, but was forced to do so. It was the girls for the most part in the first fall and Stafford pinned Leonard to take the fall. At the beginning of the second fall, Villa once again had tape wrapped around his fist. Rather than argue with him this time, Fields went back to his dressing room and came out with his fist heavily taped. Clardy let it stand and the two went at each other. Just as it seemed Lee would completely subdue the wild Mexican he tagged Leonard and stopped Fields’ momentum. By the time the men were tagged back in, Villa was recovered and he tore into Fields with wild abandon. He beat Lee down and managed to pin him. What referee Clardy didn’t see was that Villa had a handful of Lee’s tights as he pinned him. In the third fall, the ladies were back at it when Millie tossed Shirley from the ring. Villa took exception to this and charged into the ring to jump on Stafford. Fields cut him off and knocked him from post to post before pinning him and winning the fall and the match. After the match was over Villa’s wife, Annie (Mama Villa) Laverne, was waiting inside the dressing room door and jumped on Stafford, punching her several times. This led to Millie asking Fields to be her partner against Mr. & Mrs. Villa. Fields agreed and another wild melee was set.

Lee and Pancho started the match and were soon kicking and slugging wildly at each other. It continued that way until the ladies were tagged in. The agile Stafford was doing well until Mama Villa slammed her headfirst into the turnbuckle several times. Mama followed this up with a vicious body slam and pinned Millie to take the first fall. Mama Villa had Stafford in trouble again in the second fall when she whipped her into the turnbuckles. But when she tried it a second time, Millie reversed it and sent Mrs. Villa into the turnbuckle headfirst. Mama’s head slammed into the turnbuckle and she fell back onto the mat. Millie then bounced off the ropes with a somersault across her prone foe and pinned her to take the second fall. During the third fall the men were fighting inside the ring as the women were battling it out on the floor. Soon both Fields and Pancho Villa were bleeding. Referee Bud Clardy got caught in the middle of them and was knocked down. Skip Wetjen, Rocky McGuire and Rube Wright came out to the ring and managed to get everyone pulled apart. The match was declared a draw and everyone was sent back to the dressing room.

Pancho & Mama Villa also squared off against Billy Wicks & Shirley Leonard in a mixed match in Hattiesburg. The Villas won the match but Wicks requested a rematch with Millie Stafford as his partner. That match ended in a no contest and another matched was signed. This time Pancho & Mama Villa would be joined by Mario Galento against the team of Wicks, Stafford & Lee Fields. Wicks, Stafford & Fields came out victorious in this one.

A newcomer named Jerry Miller made his debut in the area. He faced off with the Black Scorpion and it was a wild one. Miller fell prey to the Scorpion’s knee to the groin and was pinned inn the first fall. Miller came back in the second and used a series of rolling headlocks off the ropes to pin the masked man and even the score. Miller had the Scorpion going in the third when he tried the rolling headlocks again. On the third go around, the Scorpion held onto the ropes and flipped Miller to the mat. He then pinned Miller with his feet illegally using the ropes for extra leverage, which was unseen by the referee.

Also making appearances in October were the Great Malenko, John Smith, Lester Welch, Charlie Whatley, Bobby Fields, Ken Cooper, Billy Raines and Joe Powell.
NOVEMBER:

Tom Drake put his Mississippi State title on the line against equally popular Lee Fields in Laurel. It was a hard fought, but clean battle. When the dust settled Lee Fields took two out of three falls to become the new Mississippi State champion.

Lee Fields and Pancho Villa wanted to square off in singles competition and a match between the two of them was set. Villa made good use of his knee brace in the first fall and jammed it into Lee’s head as he attempted a flying tackle. This left Fields wide open for a pin and Villa took the first fall. Fields was steaming at the start of the second fall and when Villa tried to use the brace again, Lee let loose with both fists and then kicked Villa from the ring. A dazed Villa managed to get back into the ring, but he didn’t stay there for long. Lee punched him a few more times and tossed him from the ring again. This time Villa didn’t make it back in and was counted out and Fields was awarded the second fall. Between falls, as Villa lay out on the floor, Fields argued with referee Bud Clardy. Clardy had threatened Villa with disqualification if he used his knee brace during the match, but had clearly failed to live up to this. Lee was so hot at Clardy that he floored him three times (man, this guy can’t win can he?). Clardy got to his feet and climbed out of the ring. He went over to where Villa was lying on the floor and declared him the winner of the match. Fields didn’t care. He stood in the ring and dared either man to get back in with him as the fans cheered. Neither man did. For his actions, Fields was fined $100 and threatened with a suspension if he continued with this type of conduct.

Another match was signed between Fields and Pancho Villa. This time a new referee named Lee Wagner was assigned to officiate the match. Fields took the first fall after a tremendous battle when he forced Villa to surrender to a punishing hammerlock. Villa came back and really punished Fields in the second fall. After stomping Lee senseless, Villa slammed him to the mat. He could have pinned Fields easily but pulled him up from the canvas at the count of two only to pick him up and slam him again. Villa did this four times before finally pinning Fields to take the second fall. The fans were up in arms at Wagner who was very lax in his warning toward Villa while all of this was taking place. During the third fall, Fields reversed things and had Villa at his mercy. Four times he slammed Villa to the mat only to pull him back up at the count of two. But this time Wagner was all over Fields. Lee reminded Wagner how he had let Villa get away with it but Wagner would have none of it. He got right up in Fields’ face until Lee floored him. Fields then tore into Villa again and sent him flying from the ring. He picked Wagner up again and slammed his fist into the referee’s head three times, opening a huge gash over his eye. Lee then kicked the bloody official in the ribs and sent him flying from the ring. Lee then left the ring as his thousands of fans cheered wildly. The cheers would soon turn to violent boos when it was announced that Villa had been awarded the match and Lee Fields had thereby been suspended.

The one and only Gorgeous George made his way to the area and issued a challenge to Billy Wicks for a Gulf Coast championship match in Hattiesburg. George was quite a sight as the “Human Orchid” made his way to the ring. For all of his strange mannerisms, when it came time to wrestle, George could wrestle. However after a furious battle, Wicks pinned the Toast of the Coast and retained the title. Another title match between the two was signed in Mobile. This time George made good on the challenge. He had Wicks down with a step-over toehold and before anyone knew it had the champ pinned to take the first fall. What referee Bud Clardy failed to see was that George had a hold of the middle rope to gain extra leverage. Wicks came back to take the second fall with a toehold and bridge into a pinning combination. Wicks looked well on his way to retaining his title when George surprised him with a trip. George then applied the step-over toehold and once again held the ropes for extra leverage. And once again Clardy failed to notice it and tolled the three count. Gorgeous George was the new Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion.

A rematch was quickly signed and once again Gorgeous George and Billy Wicks would meet for the Gulf Coast championship. George was up to his tricks in the first fall when he feigned having a “heart attack” in the ring. When Wicks went over to check on him, George jumped up, slammed him and pinned him to win the first fall. Wicks came back with his toehold/bridge pinning combination to win the second fall. George was well on his way to victory in the third as he had Wicks reeling with a series of dropkicks. But he misjudged the distance on his final dropkick and Wicks caught him by the ankles in midair. Wicks then slammed George to the mat, rolled him over on his stomach and applied a Boston Crab. George submitted and Wicks was once again the Gulf Coast champion.

Fuller’s hand was now healed and he was ready to try and regain the Gulf Coast title from Billy Wicks. The two men engaged in a long battle before either of them took a fall. That happened when Fuller was whipping Wicks into the ropes and back-flipping him as he rebounded. Fuller tried it once too often and Wicks caught him with a sunset flip and pinned him for the first fall. Things were a little rougher in the second fall as Fuller roughed up Wicks, just barely keeping within the confines of the rulebook. At one point Fuller caught Wicks and was attempting a bodyslam when Wicks shifted his weight. Fuller stumbled against the ropes and Wicks was sent flying over the ropes and to the arena floor. Referee Speedy Hatfield counted Wicks out and awarded the second fall to Fuller. But Alabama athletic commissioner Henry Brown came into the ring and reversed Hatfield’s decision. It was his opinion that Fuller had thrown Wicks over the top rope and thereby was disqualified, giving the fall, the match and the title to Billy Wicks.

A burly Russian newcomer named Serge Petroff arrived on the scene. His first match was scheduled to be a non-title match against Billy Wicks. When he arrived at the arena it was discovered that he didn’t have the proper license as approved by the Alabama athletic commission, so he just stood in the ring and showed off his muscles. Petroff claimed that the commission was protecting Wicks and were afraid he would hurt their champion. Wicks slugged Petroff and chased him into a corner. As Wicks was punching Petroff in the corner, the Russian’s manager grabbed Wicks by the hair and pulled him off. Petroff then grabbed his manager’s cane and cracked Wicks across the head with it. He then used his hard-soled street shoes to stomp Wicks until he wound up with a bloody head. The police escorted Petroff and his manager out of the building as Wicks was carried back to the dressing room. Wicks was unable to return to the ring to face Rube Wright who was replacing Petroff in the match.

Petroff evidently got his papers in order because the next week he squared off with Jerry Miller. Petroff warmed up before the match by lifting his manager over his head several times. He then rushed Miller and totally annihilated him. He stomped and kicked Miller while he was crumpled into the corner. He then lifted him up and slammed his head into the turnbuckle. Miller fell to the mat but Petroff refused to pin him. He slammed him a few more times and then finally pinned him. It was all over in a little over one minute. Petroff then volunteered to carry Miller back to the dressing room for the rest period between falls. He heaved Miller’s lifeless form over his shoulder and carried him toward the dressing room. But before he got there, Petroff slammed Miller to the concrete floor and stomped him. Needless to say, Miller was unable to answer the bell for the second fall and the match was awarded to Petroff.

Petroff faced a little tougher foe next as he squared off with the Oklahoma cowboy, Lester Welch. Welch used his speed to his advantage over his bigger and stronger foe. A series of dropkicks and bodyslams led Lester to victory in the first fall. Petroff came back and softened Welch up with kicks and blows to the back and forced Lester to submit to a massive bear hug to win the second fall. Things were even in the third fall until Petroff caught Welch in a stranglehold and refused to break. This action led to Petroff getting disqualified and losing the third fall and the match. Welch took exception to this and the two slugged it out after the match before they could be separated and sent to their dressing rooms. Petroff left the area after this match.

Mario Galento returned after a brief absence and was right back to his evil ways. He faced newcomer Vincent Martinelli in his first match back. Martinelli was thrilling the fans with his speed and agility until Mario decided to slow him down with his rough tactics. Galento carried it a bit too far and was disqualified to lose the bout.

Galento also quickly issued a challenge to Gulf Coast champion Billy Wicks which Wicks accepted. The two were signed for a title bout in Hattiesburg. Wicks took the first fall but the second fall turned into a full blown melee. The police had to enter the ring to restore order and Galento was disqualified giving the match to Wicks in two straight falls.

John & Al Smith returned and faced Lester Welch & the returning Dick Dunn in a rugged battle. John Smith won the first fall for his team when he slammed Dunn and pinned him after a knee drop to the throat. Welch came back to even the score by pinning Al Smith. Al had missed a knee drop attempt on Dunn and was rolling around on the mat nursing his sore knee when Dunn tagged in Welch. Welch came in and slammed the ailing Smith and pinned him for the fall. In the third fall the Smiths worked Dunn over until he was bloody. Dick finally managed to tag in Welch who came in like a house afire. He grabbed John Smith and slammed him so hard that the ring flooring collapsed in the center. Both Smith and Welch continued fighting in the collapsed center of the ring as Al Smith continued beating on Dunn on the edge of the ring. John Smith got the better of Welch and left him laying in the hole that had once been the ring and joined his brother in beating on Dunn. Referee Bud Clardy tried to intervene and was knocked to the ground himself. Clardy disqualified the Smiths, but they left the ring satisfied as all other participants in the match were left lying in a heap.

The Smiths also faced off against the team of Dunn & Billy Wicks. In this one the falls were even when the Smiths began knocking Wicks around. John Smith rammed the Gulf Coast champion’s head into the corner ringpost and knocked him for a loop. Wick’s was so out of it that he started punching everyone in sight, including his own partner. He floored Dunn and this allowed the Al Smith to pin Dick to win the third and deciding fall and the match.

Lee Fields served out his two-week suspension and was raring to get his hands on Pancho Villa. A match was set and as was the case with their past bouts the two tore into each other at the opening bell. Lee took the first fall by tying Villa up in his Oklahoma Roll for the pin. Villa came back with a knee to the groin to win the second fall. The third fall saw both men bleeding as they pull out all stops and tossed the rules out the window. Fields slowly gained the advantage and Villa quit the ring and fled back to the dressing room. The referee counted him out and awarded the match to Fields.

Also in the territory in November was Joe McCarthy.

 

DECEMBER:

Lee Fields and Pancho Villa continued their battles in December. Villa was so upset that Lee had gotten the upper hand in their last fisticuffs that he challenged Fields to a 10 round boxing match. Since Fields had proven his prowess with the gloves a couple of years earlier by beating Mario Galento in a boxing match, he was ready to go. Villa proved that he was just as good with his dukes and was giving Lee quite a pounding. After the fourth round Mama Villa, who was seconding her husband, held a water bucket up so Pancho could soak his gloves in it. This made the leather gloves hard and heavy and Pancho put them to good use. During the fifth and sixth rounds, Pancho knocked Fields down no less than 12 times. Fields kept getting up and managed to avoid getting knocked out to survive to the end of the sixth round. Between rounds someone brought a water bucket to Lee to soak his gloves in to even up the odds. But instead Lee dumped the bucket, water and all, onto Pancho Villa’s head. Just as the bell rang for the seventh round, Lee laid a haymaker on the bucket-contained head of Villa and knocked him out.

Fields also had a match with perhaps his most hated enemy, Mario Galento. These two men had a long and twisted history and any match between them promised to be a wild one and this one was no different. The rules were thrown out from the onset as the two men tore into each other punching, biting and kicking. After about twenty minutes Galento was bleeding from above his eye but had lost none of his steam. Finally the two men tumbled from the ring and were fighting among the front row patrons. Unable to get either man back in the ring, referee Bud Clardy ended the match and called for a double disqualification. Since the winner of this match had been promised a shot at Billy Wicks and the Gulf Coast title, a coin toss was held to see who would get the match. Galento won and would face Wicks for the title he once held.

A rematch was set up between Al & John Smith and the team of Gulf Coast champ Billy Wicks & Dick Dunn. Wicks was furious how the Smiths had treated him in their last match and how they had caused Wicks to slug his own partner causing him to be pinned. As an extra incentive, the winning team was promised a shot at the World Tag Team title now held by the Corsican Brothers, Jean & Joe.

Dunn & Wicks kept Al Smith tied up in their corner for much of the first fall and gave him a good pasting. Finally Wicks dropped his knee into Al’s face several times and pinned him while Dunn dropkicked John to keep him at bay. Wicks & Dunn took the first fall. Things looked good for Wicks & Dunn in the second as Dunn went for a monkey flip to finish off John Smith. But Smith held onto the ropes and Dunn went crashing to the mat. John snatched a dazed Dunn from the mat and he and his brother double-teamed him until John dropped a knee to his throat and pinned him for the second fall. Wicks was the one who absorbed the beating in the third fall as the Smiths double-teamed him into unconsciousness. John then pinned him for the fall and the match. The Smiths would meet the Corsicans for the World Tag Team Championship.

To add to their claim at being the top contenders, the Smith Brothers also defeated former World Tag Team champions Lee Fields & Lester Welch in a brutal match in Hattiesburg.

The much-maligned Corsicans had the fans on their side as they came out to the ring. The fans hated the Smith Brothers and anyone who might be able to give them a beating were instant heroes in their eyes. Corsica Jean was the target of the Smith roughhouse tactics in the first fall. At one point Jean was whipped by Al into the Smiths’ corner. John was waiting with his knee and hit Jean in the groin. Al then applied a backbreaker and pinned Jean to take the first fall. The Corsicans more than made up for it in the second fall. They gave Al Smith a real shellacking, all the while switching without a tag while referee Speedy Hatfield had his back turned. Corsica Joe then applied a reverse chinlock on Al and forced him to submit, giving the Corsicans the second fall. The third and final fall was a free-for-all until both Corsicans hit John Smith with a haymaker at the same time. John was laid low and pinned. The Corsicans had retained their World’s title.

The Corsicans faced another stiff challenge when they agreed to put the titles on the line against the team of Buddy Fuller & Lee Fields. Fuller & Fields had teamed together periodically and had always given a good account of themselves. In order to keep the Corsicans honest in this match, the Alabama athletic commission appointed a committee of fans to watch over them. It was decided that the committee would keep tabs on each time the Corsicans switched places in the ring without the benefit of a legal tag. Furthermore, the Corsicans would be fined $5 for each infraction noted and the money would be donated to the Salvation Army’s Christmas fund.

Both teams gave and absorbed a large amount of punishment before Fuller forced Corsica Joe to submit to a Boston Crab to take the first fall. That would be the only fall taken in the match. The remaining time saw both teams coming extremely close to taking the measure of their opponents only to see the opportunity slip away at the last minute. At the end of sixty minutes, referee George “Baby Blimp” Harris called for the bell and declared the match a draw. And since there had only been one fall won, the Corsicans were allowed to retain the championship. Fuller & Fields were enraged and jumped the Corsicans. All four men battled it out again until Fields & Fuller floored the Corsicans. Lee & Buddy then grabbed up the championship belts and marched back to the dressing room as the fans cheered wildly. It was also announced that the Corsicans had unwillingly donated $40 to the Salvation Army by way of their illegal switches.

Billy Wicks put the Gulf Coast Heavyweight crown on the line against two-time former champion Mario Galento. Galento was determined to regain the belt that he had once held and Wicks was just as determined that he would hold onto it. Wicks had a good advantage in the first fall until Galento started whipping him into the corner turnbuckles. Four times Galento sent the champion crashing into the corners. After the fourth time, Wicks crumpled to the mat and was pinned by Galento to lose the first fall. In the second fall Wicks decided to beat Galento with his own trick. He whipped Galento into the corners four times and pinned him to take the fall. Galento was incensed and came out for the third fall determined to destroy the popular young champion. He beat Wicks mercilessly until Billy upended Galento by grabbing him by the ankles and tripping him up. Wicks quickly rolled Galento onto his stomach and applied a Boston Crab. Galento struggled but finally submitted the fall and the match to Wicks. Billy was still the Gulf Coast champion.

Wicks faced another tough challenge on Christmas night. Lee Fields was awarded a title match and was anxious to gain the title. He had been the man Eduardo Perez had beaten in the final match of a tournament to name the first Gulf Coast champion the year before. Lee had gotten several shots at the title since from the various title-holders but had always come up short for one reason or another. He was focused and wanted to prove that he could win the belt. Wicks was just as determined to prove that he was a worthy champion. He had held the title for four months, only losing it for one week to Gorgeous George and quickly regaining it. The fans were anxious as well to see these two tremendously popular men prove which was the better man.

Wicks was on his way to the ring for the title match when out of nowhere appeared Rocky (Sputnik) Monroe. He jumped on Wicks and punched him several times. He then slammed Wicks to the concrete floor and was kicking him when Lee Fields rushed to Wicks’ aid. He chased Monroe from the arena and then helped Wicks to his feet. Wicks was obviously hurt but insisted on going through with the match. Fields offered to postpone the match, but Wicks wanted to wrestle. Wicks held his own for a time, but his back began bothering him something terrible. He was severely weakened and Fields defeated him in two straight falls. Lee Fields was now and finally the Gulf Coast Heavyweight champion.

Fields wasn’t as lucky a few days later as he dropped his Mississippi State title to Joe McCarthy in Laurel.

Others appearing in the area during the month of December were Vincent Martinelli, Lee Wagner and Lester Welch.