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Will E Worm

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Saying goodbye to Baron Mikel Scicluna

Sometimes you know when you are calling someone that it will likely be the last time you talk to them. That's the way it felt when I called Baron Mikel Scicluna in October 2009. The Baron, who died Saturday after a long battle with cancer, had a remarkable life story, and I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with him numerous times.

Having heard about the cancer he was facing, I called up.

He was pretty matter of fact about the uphill road ahead of him.

"What are you going to do?" he said.

The cancer was the "news hook" in journalism lingo for my feature about Scicluna's career: Baron Mikel Scicluna talks foes new and old

But I'm going to take away the positives of my time with him.

The Baron -- who always called me "Oliver," but I'm not sure if that was because he couldn't remember my first name or not -- was not exactly the best interview in the hundreds and hundreds that I have done. He was usually short with his answers, and wouldn't knock people. He wasn't that opinionated or a braggart. And he loved to put over how great Bruno Sammartino was.

I initially contacted him for my first book, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians. Scicluna was one of many "Imported Canadians" I wanted to include. Though he has always been associated with the small island of Malta -- and rightfully so, since that is where he is from, and where he returned year after year on vacation -- his early adult years were in Canada, Toronto in particular.

He was just one of the fascinating collection of Toronto wrestlers from the 1950s; where Hamilton's grapplers were carved by the steel of the city, Toronto's were a true melting pot.
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"Baron" Mikel Scicluna (July 29, 1929 – March 20, 2010)
 

Will E Worm

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David Sammartino recalls first 'Mania as 'no big deal'

WrestleMania has grown to be the biggest annual pay-per-view anywhere, but the inaugural event seemed just like another big card, albeit with much added pizazz, according to David Sammartino.

"It was no big deal -- I mean, we knew we had a big show, it was at Madison Square Garden and anytime you wrestled there it was a big show," Sammartino told SLAM! Wrestling from his home near Atlanta, Georgia. "But there was no pay-per-view then, it was closed circuit, it was just a big loaded card. The only difference was they had brought more of an entertainment aspect to it: they had Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali as a referee, for the intermission time they had Liberace with dancing girls. [Liberace was accompanied by The Rockettes.] But we didn't know there was going to be a WrestleMania 2 or if it was going to be this phenomenon."


He said he'd been on big cards before, but never with anything involving so many show business people.

Sammartino, accompanied by his father Bruno, fought Brutus Beefcake to a double disqualification in the fourth match of 1985's WrestleMania I. Father and son would team up thereafter to take on Beefcake and his manager Johnny Valiant.

About six months before his WrestleMania match, Sammartino joined WWF and felt upbeat about his career.
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Will E Worm

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A trip down AWA memory lane with Mick Karch

More favourably fortuitous timing, a bit of luck, and Mick Karch might have become a household name.

As it is, Karch became known as "The voice of Minnesota pro wrestling," and his new three-disc DVD set, Bodyslams & Pinfalls, is a fun ride through his 30 years in and around the business.

Before Karch proceeded with the shoot interview, he invited fans to submit questions for him to answer. He ended up getting deluged with about 400 replies.

"I had thought about doing this [DVD] for a long time. So many wrestling fans ask me about my TV show and the old AWA days," Karch told SLAM! Wrestling. "I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the memories and I hope fans of both the 'old' and 'new' schools of wrestling will get a kick out of the stories, matches and promos."

Karch is best known as the ring announcer and occasional colour man for Verne Gagne's AWA in its latter days, as well as host of the local and popular TV program Saturday Night at Ringside, a.k.a. SNR, for four years.

Like so many who've worked in the business, Karch started out as a wrestling fanatic. As a boy, he spent weekends hanging out with a friend at AWA headquarters, the Dyckman Hotel, watching for familiar faces and getting the odd autograph. Then one day in 1965, he got his first gig with the AWA, running publicity to the Minneapolis Tribune's sports department for Wally Karbo. He would continue with the "errand thing" for the next eight years. Eventually, he began covering the AWA himself.
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Will E Worm

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'The more popular I got, the more miserable I got,' wrestler says
Chris Klucsarits is the real name of Chris Kanyon, a pro wrestler who’s shined under the national spotlight since 1995. Kanyon has worked for the three major domestic federations: now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Total Nonstop Action (TNA).

He had a six-digit salary for years, a luxurious home in Atlanta and worldwide fans and fame. During the summer of 2001, he was the WWE’s United States Champion and, simultaneously, the WWE World Tag Team Champion (with Diamond Dallas Page). Kanyon was leading the good life, a rare champion with two titles at the same time.

But Klucsarits’ real life was hell. He was gay, closeted in an ultra-macho profession, an emotional wreck.

Klucsarits recently revealed his homosexuality and, in his first interview, talks with Chicago-based writer Ross Forman about his closeted past, his suicide attempt and a promising future as an only openly gay male athlete. (Professional wrestling is more sports-entertainment, but the athleticism needed to excel in pro wrestling certainly is real.)
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First I have heard about this. :eek:
 

Will E Worm

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Chris Kanyon dead at age 40

Former WCW and WWE wrestler Chris Kanyon dead at age 40

Chris Kanyon (a/k/a Christopher Klucsaritis) was found dead of an apparent suicide on Friday night. Although details are still sketchy, it is believed that he was in New York at the time of his death. A longtime friend reports that a pill bottle and several notes were found close to the body.

Kanyon also worked as the Mortis character in WCW and also had a run with WWE starting with the Invasion angle. He made headlines after his WWE run concluded by going public with his homosexuality. He appeared on the Howard Stern radio show several times as a result of his admission. Although he retired from wresting at one point, he had returned to the ring again recently and worked a couple of matches this year.

Powell's POV: Kanyon has battled severe depression issues over the years. He told one friend as recently as Monday that he was having problems and was contemplating suicide. The friend is said to have contacted one of Kanyon's family members to express his concern despite the fact that he and several of Kanyon's friends have heard similar statements over the years. One friend said this morning that he's expected this type of news for years, yet it was still surprising and clearly painful for this person. My deepest sympathies go out to Kanyon's friends and family.
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Will E Worm

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Tommy Dreamer extremely busy with post-WWE ventures

Ask Tommy Dreamer what he loves, and he’ll say his family and wrestling. Lucky for him, his schedule has been full of both since leaving WWE earlier this year. In Ontario this weekend for a three-day run with Maximum Pro Wrestling, Dreamer was happy to share his thoughts on both of his loves with SLAM! Wrestling.

“Things have been going really, really well,” he said in an exclusive phone interview earlier this week. “With all the shows I’ve been doing, my love for professional wrestling has continued."

Dreamer has been taking so many independent bookings lately, he compared his current travel schedule to his WWE days. Which is not to say he’s complaining -- in fact, the opposite is true.

“It’s great,” he said plainly. “I love doing these shows. I get to see a lot of guys and girls that I haven’t seen in a long time. As well, I’ve been able to see a lot of talent that I’ve never seen wrestle before. A lot of them have stood out to me.”

More importantly, though, working on independents lets Dreamer give back to the business. As a name wrestler, Dreamer’s appearance on an indy show helps draw fans to shows and expose them to younger wrestlers who are looking to make their own name in the business.
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Will E Worm

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Doink the Clown 'Reborne Again'

As if the character of Doink the Clown -- a villainous heel -- wasn't disturbing enough, the original Doink, Matt Borne, is back on the indy circuit with a darker version of his character.

"I do it, but I do a twist off of it, Reborne Again. I've changed it up," Borne recently told SLAM! Wrestling.

Movie fans will see the parallel with the new Doink and Heath Ledger's Joker in Christopher Nolan's Batman flick, The Dark Knight.

"[I'm] dressed all in black with a purple trenchcoat," warned Borne, who has dubbed the new look "Reborne Again."

In short, Doink the Clown has matured into a psychopath. "That's the direction I'm going with it," he said.
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Will E Worm

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Jorge González (January 31, 1966 – September 22, 2010)

GIANT GONZALEZ, the tallest professional wrestler in the history of the business, has died aged 44.

The 7ft 7ins star, real name Jorge Gonzalez, passed away in his hometown of San Martin, Argentina, due to complications from diabetes.

The former WWE performer was wheelchair bound, due to the effects of his long battle with the illness, and this year had to cancel convention appearances in the States due to his poor health.

Gonzalez first moved from Argentina to the US in the late 1980s to play basketball.

But when his dreams of an NBA career went up in smoke, he discovered wrestling and signed for Ted Turner's WCW playing the role of gentle giant El Gigante.

He enjoyed a two-year run as a babyface - feuding with the Four Horseman at points - before leaving the promotion and joining WWE, then called WWF.

Debuting as Giant Gonzalez at the 1993 Royal Rumble, he eliminated The Undertaker from the Rumble match in possibly the highest profile moment of his career.

That move led to a rivalry that lasted the length of Gonzalez's WWF stay. He parted ways with the company shortly after losing a 'Rest in Peace' match to Taker at SummerSlam 1993.

Gonzalez continued wrestling in Japan before retiring in 1995 due to sciatic nerve pain. He returned to Argentina in 1998 to settle in his hometown, where he had been living ever since.

Gonzalez is the fourth wrestler to pass away at a young age during a horrendous two months for the business - following Lance Cade, Luna Vachon and Bastion Booger.

Giant González has died aged 44
 
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