Historical Summary of Wrestling in Toledo

From 1906 through the spring of 1913, weekly shows (except in the summer) were held at the Empire Theater. A note in 1912 indicates that Harry Winter was the Empire promoter. He may have been the promoter before and after that year.

During this time period, ocassional shows were also held at other theaters in the downtown area. One event in 1909 was promoted by Jim McLaughlin who was said to have been a long time wrestling promoter. It's unknown if he was a relative of 18th century star Col. James H. McLaughlin. A show later that year was promoted by the Bayview Athletic Club. From time to time, shows were also held outside during the summer.

There were only a handful of shows held in the Toledo area in the later half of the 1910s and none from 1920 to 1927. A single ad in March 1922 stated there was wrestling at the Empire Theater every Tuesday night. No ads listing matches or results appear in the newspaper. During this time period, occasional results from other Ohio cities or major world title matches were published so if there had been cards in the area they likely would have been mentioned.

In February 1928, Add Thatcher began promoting weekly Tuesday night shows at his Terminal Athletic Club gym on Cherry Street where he also promoted boxing cards. In Novemebr of that year when returning from the summer break, the shows moved to Thursdays. Johnny Hurley would soon become the the matchmaker and later became the head promoter in the early 1930s when Thatcher became the mayor of Toledo.

Due to sellout crowds, the shows were moved to the larger Armory in the spring of 1929. For much of the summer into September of that year, the shows were held at an outdoor arena near the Terminal Athletic Club.

Once again, one match cards were promoted by Harry Winter on Wednesdays at the Empire Theater on St. Clair Street after the burlesque show. The first record of these shows since 1913 is May 1929. In 1931, the shows expanded to two matches. They were not held during the summer and lasted until November 1932.

July of 1930 saw the Armory cards move to Fridays. The armory cards moved back to Thursdays in October.

June 1931 saw W.R. Dreher's Century Athletic Club promote weekly heavyweight shows at an outdoor arena at Superior and Orange streets. Only two shows were held with a third being cancelled.

Herley's shows moved to the Coliseum Theater on Ashland Avenue in March 1933. By year end, Carl Singleton was promoting weekly shows on Wednesdays at the Armory.

Joe Hackenscmidt started running shows on Wednesdays at the Armory in January 1934. One article noted that Hackenschmidt held the contract to run shows at the Armory and was suing Singleton for breach of contract. So it seems likely the two were partners that had a falling out. As a result, Singleton began running shows at Civic Auditorium (often referred to as Convention Hall) a few on Fridays and then moving to Tuesdays. Singleton's promotion only lasted until mid-April when he lost his liscence due to not paying the rent or placing the depositt for the Auditorium. Hackenschmidt only last another month before he quit running shows.

After his death in a car accident in late February 1934, Herley's wife continured to run the promotion until selling a few years later to Cliff Maupin.

November of 1934 saw yet another promoter running shows in Toledo. Arch Sackel ran a handful of heavyweight shows at the Civic Auditorium with the final being in January 1935.

The 1930s and 40s also saw weekly Monday night shows in Perrysburg, a suburb of Toledo. The shows were held at the Pastime Club which would later be renamed the Commodore Club. During the early and mid-30s, these shows also often had boxing matches on the undercard. They were not gimmick matches between wrestlers and there are no indications that they were anything but legitimate contests.

April of 1936 saw the first show promoted by the Quality Athletic Club and matchmaker Bill Thornton. The promotion ran at the Civic Auditoirum mostly on Monday nights. The promotion lasted only about two months.

From November 1936 through 1944, there were also weekly wrestling shows held at the Capitol Theater. They were generally two-match cards held after various stage shows (including burlesque & comedy revues). These shows were run from early fall to late spring each year. Over the years, several promoters and matchmakers were listed as running these shows including Maupin.

The same period also saw weekly Monday night shows in Perrysburg, a suburb of Toledo. The shows were held at the Pastime Club which would later be renamed the Commodore Club.

In March 1939, Lou Jennings' Ohio Sports Club began promoting shows in opposition to Maupin. These Monday night heavyweight shows would last less than two months.

Note that during the 30s and 40s, three fall matches often had a ten minute rest period between falls. The break was counted as part of the match time so a one hour draw could only be forty minutes of actually wrestling. However, the rest period wasn't always ten minutes. Because the break isn't consistent, the rest period isn't counted in the times listed unless a match went to a draw. In the event of a draw, the time listed for the third fall is the time limit.

Spring 1948 saw Maupin's weekly Auditorium shows moved to the Toledo Sports Arena due to it's larger capacity although there would be occasional shows at the Auditorium when the Sports Arena had another event. In looking at the names appearing on Maupin's shows, it appears that he began using wrestlers from Jack Pfeffer's booking office in early 1949. Pfeffer's involvement in Toledo ended in April 1951. However, looking at the wrestlers on the cards in the summer of 1952, it appears that Pfeffer was back for a several month run.

After six months of no wrestling at the Auditorium, Esther Johnson filled the void by promoting weekly Tuesday night shows starting in late 1948. The shows only lasted through June 1949.

A newspaper ad mentions a live Wednesday night wrestling show airing on Channel 13 in the fall of 1949. No mention of where the show originated, but is mostly likely ABC's "Wrestling from the Rainbo" in Chicago. In the late 50s, Channel 13 was showing wrestling at 11:30 on Saturday nights. The lineups look like the shows are being broadcast from Chicago.

In March 1959, Maupin's weekly shows were moved to Wednesday nights.

In January 1960, Maupin sold the promotion to Akron-based promoter Walter Moore. The first half of that year saw the shows being held at the Civic Auditorium before returning to the Sports Arena.

From October 1963 through March 1964, the shows were moved to Monday nights.

There are no records of shows in Toledo from April 1964 until June 1965 when Ed Farhat's Big Time Wrestling began shows Thursdays at the Sports Arena with Martino Angelo as the local promoter. No mention of promoter Walter Moore is made in the ads.

In late 1974, a new TV show replaced Farhat's "Big Time Wrestling" show on Channel 24. The show was introduced as "Universal Sports presents International Wrestling" and aired at noon on Sundays. The new company was owned by The Sheik's former booker Jack Cain and booked by Tony Marino. The fans were not and happy about the switch and Channel 24 began airing both shows. The promotion ran Toledo in a former grocery store that they renamed the Great Eastern Arena. It would last less than a year, closing in June 1975.

In December 1974, BTW moved it's Toledo shows to Monday nights. The shows were moved to Sundays in May 1975. September of that year they returned to the traditional Thursday nights. Sunday once again became the regular night in July 1976.

From 1976 through the early 80s, Man Mountain Cannon's Superstars of Wrestling promotion ran periodically at the Waite High School Gym with the occasional shot at the Sports Arena. The company never had TV in Toledo, but Channel 9 in Windsor had a strong enough signal to reach into the city.

Farhat's promotion fell on hard times in the late 70s, with fewer and fewer shows being held in Toledo. The shows returned to Mondays at the beginning of 1978, but moved to Thursdays at the end of the summer. The promotion finally closed in 1980.

During the early 1980s, Farhat's two revival promotions, National Championship Wrestling and Big Time Wrestling/Big Time Country aired in Toledo, but neither lasted very long. NCW aired briefly during 1981 on channel 11 in Toledo late on Saturday nights. They taped a few shows and also mixed in episodes from Southwest Championship Wrestling and the WWF.

Like many other Ohio cities, Georgia Championship Wrestling ran shows in Toledo based on the popularity of it's TBS show. Toledo wasn't a regular stop, but had several shows from 1982 to 1984.

In 1986, World Wrestling Association telecasts first appeared on Toledo TV on Channel 36. They started by airing old Indianapolis tapings for the first year or so. These tapes were replaced by shows taped in the Detroit area and billed as "Bruiser Bedlam." In 1988, the tapings moved to Toledo at Hotel Sofitel and drew good crowds. The tapings then moved to the Lucas County Recreation Center. However, the new location drew poorly and the show was cancelled when ratings dropped. The promotion would get a time slot on Channel 24 with a show titled "WWA Superstars" airing old matches with new studio intros. Promoter Jerry Jaffe eventually closed the company and became the local NWA promoter with the NWA show replacing the WWA show.

During the mid-80s and early 90s, Toledo was a semi-regular stop for the WWF. In the early 1990s, when the promotion cut back on the number of shows it promoted, Toledo would become a much less frequent stop on their tours.

Several other national promotions would run a few shows in Toledo including WCW, ECW, and TNA.