Historical Summary of Wrestling in Columbus


Al Haft began promoting in and around Columbus during the 1920s. Aside from his weekly shows, Haft also provided talent for cards at fairs, festivals, and fund raising events. He would build Columbus into one of the strongest wrestling cities in the country and his wrestlers were used by local promoters throughout Ohio and some cities in neighboring states.

By 1925, his weekly shows were held mostly at the Chamber of Commerce Arena in the cooler months and outdoors at Olentangy Park during the summer. Occasional events were held at Memorial Hall, Fairmont Arena, Broadway Theater, and Southern Theater when the regular venues were unavailable.

Some of the summer shows moved to Haft's Outdoor Acre in 1927. Haft had built the arena at the corner of Park Street and Goodale Boulevard. Haft's Acre became the main summer venue in 1933.

In the fall of 1928, the primary indoor arena was switched to the Columbus Auditorium. The weekly shows at the Columbus Auditorium moved to Memorial Hall in 1944 when the auditorium closed.

Haft created the Midwest Wrestling Association in 1930 with an aim towards naming his own World Heavyweight Champion which was done in March 1931. Although he had his own world champion and was a founding member of the NWA, he would book other claimants to the World Title.

As Haft generally used lighter weight wrestlers, the MWA Light Heavyweight Title was the primary title in Columbus from 1931 through the early 1940s. This title was eventually phased out in favor of the MWA Junior Heavyweight Title which would be defended until 1958.

Thief mid-40s saw semi-regular shows held at the Elks Club. Based on the names on the few cards where line-ups are available, the talent for these shows was not provided by Haft.

Haft began promoting summer shows in Reynoldsburg in 1954.

The summer of 1949 saw Haft wrestler on outdoor shows at various shopping centers around the city. The owners used the wrestling shows to draw customers to their new shopping centers.

Wrestling came to Columbus television on July 5, 1949. Several of the shopping center cards over the next two months would air live on WLWC Channel 3. In October of the same year, top matches from Memorial Hall began airing live on WBNS Channel 10 for a period of time.

Wednesday October 5, 1949 saw two different shows begin airing live in Columbus. WTVN Channel 6 aired the Rainbo Arena shows from Chicago and WBNS Channel 10 aired from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Both of these shows aired throughout the country. Several weeks later, WTVN began airing the live Sunnyside Gardens shows from new York on Monday nights.

WLWC Channel 3 (later Channel 4) was the home of various wrestling shows using Al Haft's talent. The nation's first studio TV wrestling show from Dayton began airing live on Saturday nights in Columbus in February 1950. The show ran until October 1955. For several months in the summer of 1950, the short lived live studio show from Cincinnati aired on Monday nights. Around the same time, the Friday night house shows from Cincinnati also began airing. Those shows stopped in January 1951 due to dwindling attendance at the arena.

Columbus got its own live studio wrestling show (also airing on WLWC) starting in October 1951. The show aired live on Saturday afternoons until October 1955. WLWC Sports Director Joe Hill was the commentator. The show also aired in Dayton and Cincinnati.

Due to the strength of the TV shows in Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, the WLW-TV Title was created and defended in all of those cities. There was also a WLW-TV Women's Title.

During the 1950s more titles became regular features on Haft's shows. The primary singles titles were the Eastern States and Ohio Title. Also defended were the American and Ohio Tag Team Titles. Newspaper reports of the time often used the wrong name for these titles.

The weekly shows would occasional be run at Veterans Memorial Auditorium starting in 1955.

From 1966 through 1980, Ed Farhat (The Sheik) would become the primary promoter in Columbus.

Louie Tillet's Ohio Valley Wrestling had a short run in early 1977. The company taped a studio TV show at WCMH Channel 4.

September 1980 saw Columbus become the first northern city run by Georgia Championship Wrestling based on the success of their show on early cable superstation WTBS. The promotion would run regularly until 1985 when it was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions. The company and its successor company WCW would run occasionally in Columbus until it closed in 2001.

The World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) began running in Columbus in 1985 and still runs occasionally today. Their developmental promotion NXT also runs occasional shows in the city.

Other national promotions have also run occasional shows in Columbus. These included events by ECW, TNA, ROH, and even one by the UWF after it had been purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions.