Historical Summary of Wrestling in Dayton


As of the beginning of 1950, John Collins' Quality Athletic Club was the main promotion in Dayton with weekly cards generally held on tuesday nights. The promotion used wrestlers from Al Haft's Columbus booking office with Haft having an ownership stake in the company. From the fall through spring, weekly shows were held at Memorial Hall which seated 2,800 for wrestling. During the summer, weekly shows were held at Collins Acre an outdoor arena at Ludlow and Barayard (now Auto Club Drive).

Weekly shows from the Eagles Club were aired on Thursday nights on WHIO-TV Channel 13 (now Channel 7). The show was hosted by Don Wayne who would go on to become a Dayton televsion news legend. The cards also featured amateur boxing matches. Newspapers ads never gave names of the wrestlers or and indication as to who the promoter was. A couple of months after Haft's studio show debuted, these shows stopped airing and it appears that only a few more non-televised were run.

On February 4, 1950 the first ever regularly scheduled studio wrestling show premiered. While there had been prior one-off shows in other cities, this was the first to be aired on a weekly basis as a vehicle to promote local shows. The show aired live on Saturday nights from the WLW-D studios in Moraine and was usually 90 minutes airing sometime between 10pm and 1am. From its inception it also aired live in Cincinnati and Columbus. In May 1951, the show began airing live in Huntington, WV. A 60-minute edited version aired on at least 17 other stations around the nation. The show ran until October 29, 1955.

Based on the success of the WLW-D show, a similar show was begun at the WLW-T studio in Cincinnati and aired in Dayton and Columbus. The show was broadcast live on Monday nights and aired from July 3, 1950 through September 5, 1950. After a two week break, the show would begin again on Saturday afternoons. In January 1951, the Saturday afternoon show moved to the studio in suburban Dayton. That afternoon show moved to the WLW-C studio in Columbus in October 1951.

The first WLW TV Tournament began at the end of 1950 airing live from the WLW-D studios. Both a men's and women's tournament were held with the finals being held at a major arena each year. There were tournaments held each year from 1951 through 1954. The winners received a championship belt, but did not defend them throughout the year. Rather than a tradional wrestling title this was more like an annual championship like major sports leagues.

The Friday night live show from Cincinnati's Music Hall and Parkway Arena began airing on WHIO Channel 13 on March 3, 1950. At the end of September, the show moved to WLW-D with the result being that all locally produced wrestling televsion shows being on WLW stations. The show lasted until January 1951 when it was discontinued due to falling live arena attendance.

Jack Pfeffer's crew, based in Toledo, were featured on shows at Troy's Hobart Arena starting in september 1950. The local promoter was Pat Thurkettle who was the manager of the arena. The shows ran most Wednesday nights through the beginning of 1951. Later that year, cards featuring Haft's wrestlers began at Hobart.

The owner's of the land where Collins' Acre was located sold the property in 1952 so the weekly outdoor shows were moved to Sucher's Park. In addition to the Tuesdy night cards, there would occasionally be Saturday night cards at the park.

The fall of 1952, saw weekly Thursday night cards held at the Dayton Gym Club. These were promoted by the club's manager Howard Wagner and used wrestlers from Haft's troupe.

In the early 1950s, the Eagles would hold ocassional shows at their hall using wrestlers not aligned with Haft's booking office. In February 1955 they began promoting weekly Friday night cards featuring wrestlers from the Independent Wrestling Association. In October of 1955, Collins' shows would be held weekly at Eagles Hall due to Memorial Hall being renovated. Shortly after, the IWA cards came to an end. In October 1956 when Memorial Hall was open after the renovations, the management quadrupled the rent for wrestling so Collins moved his shows to the Fifth Street Recreation Building.