Veterans of the mat wars in the Vancouver, B.C.-based All-Star Wrestling promotion will be gathering in Bellingham, Washington this Friday for an informal reunion, to shoot the bull and tell lies like old times.
Sonny Myers and Verne Siebert, both regulars on the Al Tomko-run circuit in the mid-’80s, are the organizers of the event.
It’s been 17 years since Myers got into wrestling. His goal with the reunion? “To see some of the old faces that basically I grew up in the business with. To get together and shoot the bull and talk about old times.”
The Vancouver area has had wrestling for decades: Cliff Parker ran in the 1940s, Rod Fenton in the 1950s, Sandor Kovacs and Gene Kiniski teamed in the 1960s and 1970s for the best-known incarnation of All-Star Wrestling, and Tomko promoted the area from 1977 to its folding in the late 1980s.
Siebert hopes to get a cross-section of people out. “Basically, we’re not turning away anyone,” he said. “Someone may have just had a couple of matches there, they were just an announcer, or just a manager, or they worked prior to the ’70s, into the ’80s, into the ’90s.”
The reunion is at Meridia Sports Bar & Grill (in front of the Holiday Inn), located 4160 Guide-Meridian, Bellingham, Washington. The location, which is just a short drive across the border, was chosen so that wrestlers in both Canada and the U.S. could easily attend. The event starts at 6 p.m., and fans are welcome to come but cautioned that it is an event for the wrestlers. Be polite and be prepared for the wrestlers to tell stories that go on and on.
Siebert has enlisted Moose Morowski to try to line up some of the older names for the reunion. “There’s not that many. Most of them that wrestled here were from other parts. They brought in six or seven or eight guys … then there were the couple of odd guys that did TV,” said Morowski.
Some of the names that are expected are Myers, Siebert, Morowski, Michelle Starr, Neil Drummond and Vance Nevada. On the invited but unconfirmed list are Velvet McIntyre, Wojo the B.C. Hulk (Adam Yawrenko), Tim Flowers, John Quinn, Don Leo Jonathon, Kiniski, Dean Ho. Other Pacific Northwest names like Ed Moretti, Buddy Rose, Dean Silverstone and Dutch Savage have been bounced around as well.
Myers had originally hoped to make it a full weekend event at a hotel, with a fan fest on the Saturday. He ran into resistance from the hotel, which had preconceived notions of how wrestlers act. “One day was going to be for the guys and the families, to sit around and shoot the s**t and talk about old times, have a few beers and laugh. The hotel just thought that we were going to tear the place apart,” Myers said. “I’ll be 45 in July. Other guys are in their 50s, 60s and probably some in their 70s. How do you think we’re going to turn around and tear the place apart?”
Trying to recognize old faces is part of the fun of reunions. Myers cautions his old drinking buddies that he’s “matured through the years”, but that he still has the bleached blond hair.
The biggest question mark for the reunion is Al Tomko. When he pulled out of the NWA alliance, the All-Star Wrestling promotion had to start relying on smaller, lesser-known talent; the days of importing talent like Buddy Rose, Roddy Piper, the Sheepherders and Rick Martel from Portland were over and they were replaced with the likes of Ole Olsen, Mr. Pro, Bruiser Costa, Rockin’ Rob Royce, E.T. Stanton, Randy Rich, Easy Rider, The Frog and Rick Davis.
Since his bitter departure from the wrestling scene, Tomko has wanted little to do with wrestling, though his son The Frog (Terry) has worked the occasion show for the B.C.-based ECCW promotion. “You never know. It was his promotion, so he might show up,” said Myers. Tomko only lives a short drive from Bellingham in northern Washington.