BORN: July 8, 1927 in Saskatoon
DIED: Dec. 4, 2001 in Venice, Florida
CATCH-PHRASES: “In the mean time, and in between time, that’s it for another edition of Stampede Wrestling”
“Malfunction at the junction”
In 1957, Stu Hart approached Ed Whalen to be the host of his new wrestling show, offering him more pay than Whalen was making as news and sports director at CICT TV in Calgary. Whalen got the okay from upper management and off-and-on for the next 27 years, he WAS Stampede Wrestling.
While many stars came and went through the promotion, it was Whalen that was the anchor.
Whalen explained “my role remained pretty constant,” and in the 27 years he worked with Stu he never had a contract — “something that doesn’t happen anymore.”
Through the years Whalen saw much change. “I remember seeing a revolution in wrestling. It was kind of straight ahead at first,” he remembered in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling in November 1997. “Gorgeous George introduced a whole new approach to wrestling. He knew how to play an audience like a violin.”
There are two great Ed Whalen memories for any Stampede fan — his attack on Abdullah the Butcher and his on-air, impromtu retirement. He remembered them both for SLAM! Wrestling.
“Abdullah the Butcher versus Billy Robinson in the Stampede Corral with its 6,000 seats. We had over 10,000 there. It had built up to this great match … I’m at ringside announcing and Abdullah grabs my microphone and started hitting Robinson with it. … Now you have to remember that that microphone is mine … I climbed into the ring, grabbed the mic and clobbered him (Abdullah) for 13 stitches. … All I could hear was my own voice saying ‘what are you doing?'”
On the next show, Abdullah punched Whalen on the side of the head, giving him a headache for a year and a half. Whalen wasn’t intimidated however. “I got my Irish up to fight back … fortunately, someone was holding me back, laughing. It was Stu. He said to me ‘If I let you go, you’re dead.’ … I deserved the punch.”
It was months later until Whalen saw Abdullah again. It was in the Calgary Airport (then much smaller than it is today), and Abdullah had just returned from a tour of Japan. Whalen was at the airport to pick up his wife. Abdullah brought Whalen a gift, and said “Whalen, when you get that look in your eye, I get nervous.”
Whalen’s on-air, impromtu retirement is an equally memorable experience.
“I had a real problem when Stampede Wrestling became too bloody … Bad News Allen was running around with a fork, and there was wall to wall blood.”
Whalen had had enough and, despite wrestlers like Archie Gouldie trying to talk him out of it, he retired on camera. Most thought it was another angle, but it wasn’t.
“I was gone two years,” Whalen explained. “Stampede went out of business, came back but didn’t last long … The WWF had taken most of the top talent.”
Whalen got into the broadcasting business in 1948. He was headed to medical school at the University of Saskatchewan when he heard about a part-time job in radio. He auditioned and got the job. Three months later, he joined the station full-time. His parents were disappointed. “It took them a long time to realize that I love what I’m doing.” March 15, 1998 marks his 50th year in the business.
He stayed in radio for seven years when television came along. “It was a natural” next step for Whalen. Eventually, he was lured to CHCT-TV in Calgary (better known now as Calgary 7) as news and sports director. He’s been there over 25 years now, and recently signed a new two-year deal.
In 1979, Whalen was feeling the pressure from middle management, and knew he didn’t want to become upper management, so he quit and set himself up as an independent contractor. They hired him back part-time the next day.
Whalen Media Services LTD does play-by-play for the Calgary Flames, a daily segment on sports for Calgary 7, a weekly column for the Calgary Sun. For a while, he also did daily radio news editorials, syndicated across the country. He’s won numerous awards for his broadcasting, and is constantly ranked the number one sportscaster in Calgary. Wrestling fans may also remember his two-year stint as host of Pro Wrestling Plus, a show that showed clips from territories around the world.
He’s also heavily involved in Calgary charities like the Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Special Olympics, the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, the Rotary Club and the Variety Club. Whalen does guest speaking and MCing across Alberta, and doesn’t charge for his time. “It’s part of my mandate as a public figure.”
But Whalen recognizes that it was wrestling that made him a world-wide celebrity. He loves telling stories of tribes in Africa watching Stampede wrestling or getting mobbed in Antigua. Or hockey players yelling out Whalen’s catch-phrases during practices. To this day he still gets calls about wrestling (including SLAM! Wrestling).
Whalen has been married to wife Nomi for over 30 years and has five children and seven grandchildren (so far). He doesn’t feel 70, and attributes that to the “joy of work and an incredible family. A wife who is second to none.” In August 1997, he got a pacemaker and feels more energetic again.
I like Ed Whalen, he covers hockey better than any guy in the CBC right now. But his true calling is and always will be the commentator for Stampede Wrestling.
He was part of the reason that Stampede Wrestling was so good.You knew right from the get-go who was the ‘Heel’ and who was the hero, but he played up to the baddies because he knew we hated to hear them 🙂 I’ll never forget the chickens that would appear when the Late great Tiger Tomaso would be interveiwed.
I remember Ed, I used to bug him to let me do the wrestling broadcast while he was on holiday. I was an usher and security person for Stu Hart. I don’t suppose he’d remember me, as that was back in the 60s. I miss seeing live shows, they don’t come to the Island very often, and we don’t get too much in the way of publicity about when the matches are going on. Henry Viney was another regular, he did the ring announcments. Some of the wrestlers that those two gentlemen had to cope with was at times hilarious. I do remember the time Ed took his mike back from ATB and opened his head up. I must honestly say there are times when I wish that I hadn’t moved my family out of Calgary. Ed must have had his Pacer Implant about the same time I did.
Anyone who considers himself a fan of Canadian wrestling and doesn’t have some thought or story about Ed Whalen cannot be called a wrestling fan. I have read Greg’s story about Ed and listed all Ed’s signature phrases and just can’t add anything to the story. Ed Whalen we miss your commentary of wrestling. In the start of TSN I remember a Wrestling hi-lite show hosted by Ed Whalen and the other great voice of wrestling ….Gordon Solie. I wish this show could be revived hiliting the great talent in the indy and lesser federations so we the fans could enjoyed wrestling outside of the CONCEITED TWO POWERS (WWF & WCW).
Mr. Ed you were a terrific commentator of stampede wrestling. when I first started watching @ 5 years old.
The wrestling industry has changed so much it’s not even worth it to watch.
I grew up in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta(a 2 1/2hr drive from Calgary) and cannot remember the first time i watched Stampede Wrestling or listened to “Wailin’ Ed”. What I do remember is the most entertaining, believable, COOLEST, wrestling announcer ever. When a heel did something ‘bad’, Ed made you understand that this was THE MOST EVIL, DESPICABLE, HORRIBLE thing that one human could do to another. Jason the Terrible, Archie “the Stomper” Gouldie, “Strangler” Steve DiSalvo, The Karachi Connection, Lethal” Larry Cameron, the Dynamite Kid, et al, were never more evil than when Ed was calling the shots.
I don’t think I will ever be more entertained by wrestling. Even the high-flying, blood-spilling, breast-flashing, “adult-oriented”, “sports-entertainment” 90”s version pales besides the excitement Mr. Whalen brought to the game. His enthusiasm and emotion(and humor) color my view of wrestling to this day.
Other than the late Gordon Solie, there was probably no equal to Ed Whalen. It is too bad that “wrestling” is not like it was in the day’s of the Dynamite Kid, Foley etc. That was entertainment.
Memories are too many and diverse….I’m his age and boy does he make us all feel good at the end of the day.
I, like many others, have too many memories of Ed to list. My grandfather George Ollenberger had front row seats in Edmonton for years and years; the first time I attended Stampede Wrestling I was five DAYS old. But my fondest memory of Ed was being pick boy for the free ticket draw to next week’s show. The ‘Body Slam’ programs that were sold at the events had a little perforated number stub in the bottom right-hand corner that everyone would detach and put in a bucket; Hub Cigar store in Edmonton would give out 10 pairs of free tickets to next week’s show every week. On numerous occasions, right before the main event, Ed would sit me up on the ring apron and let me pick the numbers out for the draw. Those were the days…
I just want to tell you that Ed Whalen was one of the greatest sports announcers there was until he retired, and he came to SAIT in April at our conference and talked about his life experiences.
I grew up in Calgary and loved Stampede Wrestling. I became a studio floor-manager at CHCT-TV at 955 Rideau Road in 1970 and had the honour of counting time for Ed during the newscasts. He could sit in front of a camera and mike and talk about sports for hours and never be wrong or repeat himself.
Ed, you make a big impression on me and you made a difference to Calgary. We will always remember you.
Ookpic (He’ll know) ps an accompanying Canoe story incorrectly says Ed worked at CICT-TV but in fact it was CHCT-TV.
I remember Ed from Stampede wrestling. He had a wonderful sense of humor and his interviews he had with JR Foley was one of a kind. He kept the crowd always going. You will be sorely missed. As Ed used to say, “In the mean time and in between time. That’s it. Another edition of Stampde wrestling.” Bye, Ed.