Historical Summary of Wrestling in Cincinnati


For most of the 1920s, there was very little wrestling in Cincinnati.

In 1928 Al Haft's Qualtity Athletic Club began promoting weekly shows. Herman Hamer was billed as the matchmaker for the promotion. It was later revealed that Jack Reynolds was a silent partner. The started running shows in the summer, across the river in Dayton, KY. The first shows in Ohio started that fall at Music Hall. The following summer saw most of the shows held outdoors at Redland Field, home of the Cincinnati Reds.

Although not acknowledged publicly until the following year, the fall of September 1930 saw Haft and Reynolds have a falling out with Haft no longer being involved in the Quality Ahletic Club. This was likely sometime in September as there was a four week period with no scheduled cards. In September 1931, Sidney Nathan's Queensbury Athletic Club with Tim Nolan as matchmaker ran it's first card. Nolan was Haft's matchmaker in Columbus, but all involved denied Haft's involvement.

February of 1931 saw the first card promoted by the American Legion's new Galbraith Athletic Club. Millard Rauh was the macthmaker for this promotion and the Quality Athletic Club. It was said that both clubs would promote two cards each month at Music Hall. However, April saw the last mention of Quality promoting a card until Al Haft returned with the promotion in 1933. In November 1931, Galbraith was reorganized and became the Shermco Athletic Club.

The early and mid 1930s saw several promoters running cards at smaller venues in the Cincinnati area. Among them were Eddie Gerhardt's Zubelda Sporting Club with matchmaker Frank Rappold running shows at several locations, Harry Barth's Cino Athletic Club at the Northside Baseball Field, the Apollo Athletic Club at Spencer Hall, Jack Duncan's Hercules Athletic Club at several locations, Cricket Helson at various locations, and several others who ran only a single show or two.

The outdoor Parkway Arena opened in 1932 and became the home of the Shermco summer shows. The following year, the Parkway Athletic Club promoted summer shows at the arnea. The PAC also promoted boxing card at the arena as well as Musc Hall.

In the fall of 1932, the Empress Theater began having weekly two match cards booked by theater manager Blackie Lintz on Monday nights. These cards ran from the fall of 1932 through the spring of 1933.

The last Shermco card was held in December 1932. Haft's Quality Athletic Club returned in February of 1933 at Music Hall. At the same time Paul Bowser, Jack Curley, and Billy Sandow provided wrestlers to promoter Eddie Gerhardt. However, this only lasted a few cards.

The summer cards for the Quality Athletic Club were held at Redland Field in 1933. The promotion ran at the same location in 1934 (now named Crosley Field) and then returned to the Parkway Arena in the summer of 1935.

Early 1934 saw the first mention of Ross Leader as matchmaker for the Quality Athletic Club.

The Junior Middleweight Title was introduced in 1934. Lineage for the title in Cincinnati and Lexington is different than that in most of the other Haft cities. In the other cities, George Gable is sometimes mentioned as a claimant to the title with the controversy being said to revolve around weigh-ins early in the afternoon versus at ringside before the match.

The Hercules Athletic Club promoted by Jack Duncan ran shows from the beginning of the year into the early summer. His first cards were in Janaury at the Friars Club. In the summer the shows moved to Music Hall with a single event held at Corsley Field.

The summer cards in 1938 and 1939 did not move outside to the Parkway Arena but continued to be held at Music Hall. They returned to Parkway in 1940.

For all of 1943 and into 1944, Cincinnati had its own title lineage of the MWA Junior Heavyweight Title.

The first airing of wrestling on television in Cincinnati was a live card from Parkway Arean on September 26, 1947. The weekly Friday night cared aired on W8XCT Channel 1 (later to become WLW-T Channel 4 then Channel 5).

In 1948, the Friday night house shows began airing live on WCPO Channel 9 with Red Thornburgh as commentator. The television show started thirty minutes after the live card so it's likely the first match did not air. In March of 1950, the shows began airing live in Dayton and Columbus. At the end of September 1950, the show moved to WLW-T Channel 4. There were two changes to the format of the show as part of the move. Jim Fair became the commentator and the television broadcast started at the same time as the first match resulting in the main event no longer airing. The result of the station change was that all locally produced wrestling televsion shows aired on WLW stations. The show was cancelled in Janaury 1951 due to live attendance declining.

The Dayton studio show from the WLW-D studio aired live on Saturday nights in Cincinnati on WLW-T Channel 4. The show aired from February 1950 through October 1955.

In May 1950, the VFW began promoting Tuesday night shows at Music Hall and airing on WCPO Channel 7. Jim Fair was the commentator. The cards and TV show only last until July.

Due to the success of the studio show in Dayton, one was started in Cincinnati. The weekly show from the WLW-T studio in Cincinnati started on Monday nights in July 1950 and aired live in Dayton and Columbus. The show lasted for two months in that slot. After a few week break, it started again, this time on Saturday afternoons. In January 1951 the show moved to the WLW-D studio in suburban Dayton. October 1951 saw the show move to its final location at the WLW-C studio in Columbus. The show ran weekly until being cancelled in October 1955.

In November 1953, Morris Zaidins' Seymour Athetic Club began promotion monthly cards at the Cincinnati Gardens. This must have been done with Haft's blessing as the cards featured his wrestlers and were held on Friday nights instead of Leader's cards at the smaller Music Hall. Only two cards were potmoted by the club.

Promoter Ross leader died of a heart attack in March 1956. A couple of weeks later, Al Haft was issued a promoter's license by the commission and is now the publicly recognized promoter rather than just a silent partner of the local promoter.

In late 1956, the Friday night house show was once again broadcast live on WCPO Channel 9. It was a one hour show that began anywhere between 9pm and 10pm. This only lasted through the end of the year.

October of 1957 saw the winter hosue shows move to the new armory in Avondale. This only lasted until early December. Haft wouldn't promote a show in Cincinnati until the following June when the outdoor season at Parkway Arena began. The end of the season was the last house show until January of 1959 when they were held at Emery Auditorium.

In December 1958, the Jim Barnett & Johnny Doyle promotion based in Indianapolis (with Balk Estes as matchmaker) began a live weekly studio show on Saturday nights on WCPO Channel 9 used to promote house shows at the Cincinnati Gardens that started the following month. Colin Male was the original ringside announcer, but was soon replaced by Ken Linn. Early in 1959, the studio show from Indianapolis also began airing. It would become the promotion's only local TV when the live studio show from Cincinnati ended in August. The group also tried moving into Dayton and Columbus in 1959, but after a show or two, did not return.

By mid-1959, both promotions were running regular house shows with Haft running weekly and Barnett/Doyle every two or three weeks. During that summer, both would run the same week, but by fall they would avoid promoting cards against each other the same week. Haft also moved back to Music Hall Arena at the beginning of the 1959/1960 indoor season.

Wrestlers from Haft's booking office began appearing on Barnett's cards in late 1960. However, Barnett's wrestlers did not appear on Haft's cards. Haft's final show in Cincinnati was held in March 1962 at Music Hall. This is likely due to having lost the studio show in Dayton that was also seen in Cincinnati.

In June 1964, newpaper reports state that Les Ruffin was replacing Balk Estes as matchmaker. This is also the final mention of Jim Barnett as promoter. Presumably this is when Ed Farhat (The Sheik) bought the promotion.

Wrestling returned to Parkway Arena in 1965 when Farhat ran cards there for the summer. These were the final wrestling events at the outdoor arena. At the end of 1966, Haft sold the property and it was redeveloped into an office complex.

In the fall of 1966 the cards moved from Cincinnati Gardens to Music Hall Arena. While no explanation was given, looking at the few attendances publicly announced over the last several years it was likely due to no longer drawing large enough crowds to justify running the much larger arena.

The final show at Music Hall Arena was in March of 1969. The venue would undergo a renovation converting it to offices, storage space, and a truck dock. Wrestling moved back to Cincinnati Gardens.

The summer of 1969 saw the new Wrestling Show Classics promotion run by Mark Lewin and Bobby Davis debuting in Cincinnati. In June, their TV show replaced Farhat's Big Time Wrestling on WKRC Channel 12. At the same time, BTW moved to WXIX Channel 19. The first WSC house show was held the next month at Cincinncati Gardens. The final known WSC show in Cincinnati was in December of 1969 and the show was off the air by the following February.

The first wrestling show at the newly opened Riverfront Coliseum was held in November 1975. After that, there were only sporadic shows by Farhat over the next couple of years with a series from mid-1978 through early 1979 being the only regularly scheduled events.

Shortly before the official closure of Farhat's Big Time Wrestling in the fall of 1980, Jerry Jarrett's Memphis-based promotion ran a couple of shows at the Cincinnati Gardens.

Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling ran monthly cards at Cincinnati Gardens from January 1981 through mid-1982. At that point, Georgia Championship Wrestling took over running the monthly shows. And when Crockett purchased the TBS time slot from the WWF in spring of 1985, the combined Mid-Atlantic / Georgia promotion began running cards as World Championship Wrestling.

WWF had it's first Cincinnati show at Riverfront Coliseum in October 1983. The coliseum (under several different names) would be their home arena in Cincinnati except for a few shows in the 1980s and the latter half of the 1990s when they ran the Gardens.