LAS VEGAS – At the annual Cauliflower Alley Club’s Baloney Blowout on Tuesday night, George Schire, who received an award for his work as a historian, addressed his sickness.
“I was addicted at a very early age,” confessed Schire, the 2013 James C. Melby Award winner, at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
The fascinating world of the AWA in the Midwest drew him in.
“I am a historian because of guys like Dick Beyer and Nick Bockwinkel,” said Schire. The part that really hooked him, in part because of his friendship with the late Jim Melby in Minneapolis, is the need to learn more.
“You guys made this business really wacky, confusing and wild,” he laughed, adding that promoters across the country made things even worse. “Oh my God, these promoters could screw up title histories!”
Schire shared a story of Nick Bockwinkel coming to his home in Minneapolis, and checking out his wrestling collection. The always erudite Bockwinkel could not pronounce Schire anything else but “sick” for his incredible devotion to professional wrestling.
The same could be said for the 400 or so people in attendance at the informal Baloney Blowout, a feast that pays tribute to the old wrestling tradition of getting a loaf of bread, some lunch meat and spread, and eating that while driving to the next town.
The Cauliflower Alley Club reunion brings people in from across North America, and sprinkles in a few from around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Belgium.
The Blowout was hosted by Arda Ocal, former co-host of Aftermath on The Score in Canada. He took his roving microphone around to introduce numerous wrestling personalities in the crowd, including Nigel McGuinness, Don Manoukian, Les Thatcher, Leo Burke, and Teddy and Ross Hart.
Manoukian stole the show on the mic, cracking that the festivities had better keep moving or they would kill the town.
There were four awards presented at the Blowout.
- Octogenarian David Cantu was given the Golden Ear Award, for a wrestler who used many personalities or led many lives. The CAC’s vice president Karl Lauer said that it was a “long overdue to be honoured.” Cantu joked that he could “be real mean in the ring, but I come back in tears every time I have to say something.”
- The Jason Sanderson Humanitarian Award was presented to Ken Jugan, who wrestles as Lord Zoltan. Jugan has raised over $100,000 for a school for the deaf in Pittsburgh over the years, where two of his sons attend. The cards he promoted shone a positive light on pro wrestling. As well, he has raised money for cancer and other causes. In preparation for the Blowout and for the Banquet on Wednesday night, Jugan lined up a signer in American sign language for the handful of deaf wrestlers and fans in attendance. Jugan said that his goal was always to “treat everyone the same.”
- Schire was presented the Melby Award by The Destroyer Dick Beyer and Shelley Melby Bonin, daughter of the late James C. Melby.
- The CAC’s Future Legend Award was presented to Albertan Bobby Sharp, who is 24, but has been wrestling since he was 14 years old.Wednesday night is the Cauliflower Alley Club’s banquet, and honourees include Ivan Koloff, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Molly Holly, Sandy Partlow, Matt Riviera, and the late Percy Pringle / Paul Bearer.