I remember in 1977 Waldo did a stint on Georgia Championship Wrestling. He feuded with Paul Jones, Tony Atlas, and Dusty Rhodes. On one program, he defeated an up-and-coming Skip Young (later Sweet Brown Sugar). Tony Atlas came into the ring to help Young. Waldo kicked Atlas and Atlas grabbed a towel and choked Von Erich with it. They had another confrontation when, after beating a jobber, Von Erich complained about the lack of competition in the U.S. He got into the ring and said “I WANT COMPETITION.” Atlas jumped into the ring and Von Erich bailed. On another installment, he was berating that American Pig, Dusty Rhodes. Dusty came into the studio with an American Flag on a pole and chased Waldo Von Erich through the TBS studio with it. They also had a Texas Bullrope Match in The Omni, where Dusty got on the microphone and shouted “Von Erich, I’m gonna whip your Nazi Ass!!!,” which got a huge pop from the crowd. I hope the wrestlers today learn to respect people like Waldo. They are the one who set the table for them today. Waldo, thank you for the memories, and say Hello to Michael. We will miss you.
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I was saddened to hear of Mr. Sieber’s passing, and extend my condolences to his loved ones and friends. Living near Utica, N.Y. as a teen in the early ’70s, he was a big part of the lives of my friends and myself, the main reason we watched wrestling on TV and at the Aud. Powers, Ladd, Firpo and the rest were good, but Waldo was a cut above. We rooted for him like crazy!
We had a TV (video) class my senior year and worked his name or variations of it (Eric Walters, the Utica army recruiter, for example) into every story. We even had a Hurricane Waldo on the weather! And we nicknamed one girl’s boyfriend Waldo due to a resemblance, and always asked her “Where’s Waldo?” long before it became popular.
My one regret is never having met him. But I do have lots of good memories, and every time I think of Waldo or hear “Classical Gas,” which was used as the TV wrestling theme, I’ll smile. You can’t leave a better legacy than that.
God bless and hold you, Mr. Sieber.
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I was very sad to hear the news about Uncle Waldo. I would have loved to be at the funeral today. Waldo was without a doubt one of the top influences on me while training in Cambridge. There was just something about him that when he spoke you listened. He was a great motivator in the gym and wouldn’t take any crap nor give any slack to the trainees. On the other hand he was approachable and always made time for the boys. I loved the inverted chair which he created, and used it often after a tough session in the gym. The yarns Waldo told were always good for a laugh and I recall being in tears on more than a few occasions in the office while he told stories of the shenanigans he would get into back in the day. Above all, Waldo was a very proud man and would always remind us young guys that he had the longest match in Madison Square Gardens history with Bruno Sammartino. I’m smiling as I write this remembering the good times while at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling.
I remember especially one time I had just received my new pair of knee pads and was just putting them on when Waldo walked through the locker room. I recall him looking at me and telling me how he never wore knee pads when he worked and only “pussies” wore knee pads. Not wanting to disappoint my mentor I took them off and wrestled without them. Two knee surgeries later and arthritis in both knees I think of that conversation almost daily when I try to get up out of a chair and walk. Rest in Peace Uncle Waldo… You were one of a kind, and thank you for everything.
Mike Van Etten (Mike Van Tastic)
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I just read in SLAM about Waldo’s passing. I trained at ICW in the summer of 1996 and had a brief career as Harley Richards (very brief). The school was a joke with very little training getting done. The few times I learned anything at all was working out with Waldo. He was still in great shape. I was 235 lbs and 5″10″ and he had no problem taking me down to the mat. It was great to just listen to his road stories, but even a bigger thrill to say I actually worked in the ring with him a few times. Always a gentleman, and always had time to help or just tell us crazy road stories. RIP Waldo.
Paul Lafferty, Niagara Falls, Ontario
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His in-laws lived across the road from us, outside of Elora, when I was a kid. His daughter, Barbara Jo and I played together during her visits to grandma’s house.
I remember watching Saturday wrestling, Waldo and Billy Red beating the crap out of each other, and the very next day see the two of them up at the cottage, best of friends. I may have just been a little kid, but that’s when I knew something was up between the TV world and real life.
I’m sadden to here of his passing, but I’m sure ‘Waldo’ and ‘Billy Red’ are together again in the squared circle.
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I was devastated to hear of the passing of a great wrestler and a kind human being. I thank you so very much Waldo for always having the time to talk to me at lengths and share your humor. I remember impersonating your German accent to a friend and you were walking behind me laughing so hard. I’ll never forget your many many matches I saw you wrestle both as Wally Sieber here in London, also in 1964 as El Tigre in Labatt Park in the summer that year as a face. Then I saw you as the great German heel Waldo Von Erich many times in London, Toronto, and Detroit. I’ll never forget the time here in London when I was up near the ring taking photos and you were stomping on Billy Red Lyons, when a little old lady — the late Ma Pickles as she was known at the wrestling matches — ran up to the ring and grabbed you by the leg and you said, “That’s it, Ma, you shine my one boot and I’ll kick him with the other one!” I bust a gut laughing and Ma Pickles said, “Oh, you dirty Bugger!” I too, like Greg, was honored to get my poster autographed at the 2008 Titans in Toronto and at 65 years old next month I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
In closing my very deepest sympathies to the Sieber family and may God keep your family strong and hold Wally close. I’ll really miss you Wally and I’m deeply saddened as I type this.
Rest In Peace Waldo
Terry Dart From London Ontario A Fan Since 1957
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He was actually a really good wrestler. Irony of all ironies for me is that he is remembered as the great heel. Well, when he came to Dallas, his “brother”, Fritz, had turned babyface. So Wally would come into town for short spells and work babyface. In all my years of watching as a kid, then later in the biz, I have still yet to see Wally work heel. He did a really good, solid babyface in Dallas, though. The crowd loved him, but Jack kept him underneath the top, since Jack reserved that spot for himself. Wally didn’t come down often, but when he did the crowds popped for him. I liked that he went to chiropractic conventions. Since I am a chiropractor, I know those conventions inside and out and Wally was probably a pretty good hand for the boys in the chiropractic biz too. RIP to one of the all time greats.
Jeff Cunningham, DC, Kyle, TX
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The wrestling world has lost a phenomenal warrior, I had the pleasure of knowing Wally Sieber going back over 50 years, Each time our paths would pass, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to be in his company again. Allow me to share two meetings that we had, over the years.
On one occasion around 1969, Wally and the Fabulous Kangaroos were featured on a wrestling show in Detroit’s Cobo Hall, I was covering the event for a prominent wrestling magazine. After the matches, Wally, Al Costello, and his partner Roy St. Clair, and myself went for dinner to a Lebanese restaurant. Not having any idea as to what to order for myself, Wally offered to order a meal for me, I’m glad that he did, I enjoyed my dinner very much.
The last time I saw Wally, was sometime in 1986, he came into my fish and seafood store, with his best friend, who was looking to buy a variety of shell fish, Wally probably expected to spend five or ten minutes at the store, but because we recognized one another, the visit was much longer, we talked about wrestling, and what he was involved in at the time.
Wally Sieber was a wrestling legend, who was a fearless competitor in the squared circle for many years, he will be remembered, for decades to come, his untimely passing, will leave a large void in the wrestling world.
He was tough as nails, but out of the ring, a gentleman, and a very nice guy.
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When I was 14 years old and had just started to attend pro wrestling, I had not been smartened up yet, and thought it was ever so real. And guys like Waldo Von Erich made it easy to believe.
Always in tip top shape, he was a fierce competitor. And when he walked that aisle in Madison Square Garden to face Bruno Sammartino, riding crop in hand, did I ever worry about my hero from Italy.
Waldo was a perennial main-eventer in the WWWF. He’d beat one of the stepping stones like Chief Jay Strongbow and ultimately face Bruno. He was regarded as a very, very serious challenger. I also saw him wrestle Bruno on the B Circuit at Nassau Coliseum.
He also teamed with Spiros Arion, who shocked the world when he turned on his long-time friend Bruno back when turning heel really meant something. They were part of Fred Blassie’s army. Blassie specialized in foreign greats. Arion actually went three straight months with Bruno in 1975 such was the heat he generated. Waldo went two.
Waldo did the Nazi gimmick which was hot post- World War II, and less popular today. I always think of him as one of Bruno’s all-time great opponents and one of the best heels ever. It saddens me that his name isn’t heard quite as much today and his passing brought back so many memories from my own youth. RIP to a great wrestler and performer.
Evan Ginzburg, www.legendsradio.net
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When I first became a fan many years ago, Waldo was Bruno’s # 1 challenger and arch enemy. He was managed by Wild Red Berry and a major attraction on the WWWF Saturday night TV shows on channel 5 in NYC. He played his role to the hilt and was a truly gifted performer both in the ring and on the mike. There are many guys in the game today who could stand to learn a lot from such a total professional. My sympathy to his family for their loss.
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I’m stunned sitting here! I found this out when someone made a comment on my Youtube clip of “Von Erich vs Bruno” 1975, I’m wondering about the problem with his legs that he mentioned in your interview with him. Then,I suppose any bad fall at his age could be a problem. Was he at Billy Red’s funeral in Kitchener the previous week? Really a shame! I’ll never meet him now! But at least I got to ask him some questions! I hope tonight’s Raw has been informed to put up a caption! Hope to hear more details! CNN should reserve at least 1/2 a day to cover Walter’s death over Jacko’s!!
- July 13, 2009: A final goodbye to Waldo von Erich
- July 7, 2009: Waldo von Erich: The consummate heel
- July 6, 2009: Waldo von Erich dies suddenly
- March 18, 2009: Waldo von Erich Q&A: Part 2
- March 11, 2009: Waldo von Erich Q&A: Part 1