VANCOUVER – There are some evenings that you just know are going to be special. It comes from an overwhelming sense of community, family, friendship and positive energy that is infectious. Friday night at Vancouver’s Cloverdale Arena where All Star Wrestling honoured Moondog Ed Moretti, Bob Steele, Don Leo Jonathan, Roy McClarty, and surprise honouree Vance Nevada, was such a night filled with joy and celebration.
While there was a pretty damn good wrestling show too, the evening was all about paying back to those who paved the way.
SLAM! Wrestling caught up with Nevada after the evening’s festivities had ended to see if he had any clue that All Star Wrestling was going to honour him.
“No,” Nevada confessed. “Over the years I’ve been responsible for a few ambushes like that. I said to my wife one day that is going to catch up to me and tonight was the night. I think fortunately there were three guys there to present and to speak before me because it gave me some time to get some words because I had none. A really surreal environment to be honoured alongside Don Leo Jonathan, Roy McClarty, Ed Moretti and Bob Steele … it’s something I’m never going to forget. You know I’ve now been out of wrestling entirely for two years. To be recognized like that and to know that my contributions meant something to people beyond myself is really, really overwhelming.”
For Moondog Ed Moretti the entire experience was very much a homecoming.
“That’s what it feels like to me; welcome back home,” Moretti told SLAM! Wrestling. “We missed you just like I missed them. That’s what if feels like to me. I’m honoured. I’m humbled. I feel like I should be getting dressed to wrestle, but this is even better because it’s these guys turn now. It’s the young guys turn and they’re holding our business together and I’m just glad to be here.”
Don Leo Jonathan echoed many of the positive sentiments expressed by others.
“I’m feeling real good; I’m so happy,” expressed Jonathan. “I hope they have a good turnout and they have a good show, television interviews, and radio. This was always a special town, Cloverdale, because this was the family arena. Saturday night all the kids used to come, if the kids had been good and the father wanted to take them out for the weekend, you could take the whole family out for a good night and spend less than twenty dollars. The place was full of kids. I talk to some of them now, you know they’re old enough to retire from their jobs, but they still remember this and coming here with their grandfathers, come in with their parents.”
Several other wrestlers from the past were in attendance for WrestleReunion V such as Nick Kiniski, Buddy Wayne, “Rocket” Pat Brady, Doug Cassin and others from the 1980s era of All Star Wrestling to both honor the legends as well as keep an eye on the up and comers.
The path was laid out by the stars of the past, said ASW veteran Disco Fury.
“It doesn’t matter what company you worked for, it’s giving back to the people that helped us to let us do what we do, what we do best,” said Fury. “Humbly speaking there would be no Disco Fury, no Michelle Starr, without the Don Leo Jonathan. I met Don Leo Jonathan three years ago, but seeing him again today it’s a humble reminder that we all get old, but damn he still looks good. He still looks great and it’s an honour to be with him today.”
Ring announcer Scotty Sweatervest felt that the honouring of Don Leo Jonathan was long overdue.
“I had the chance to sit with him and hear his stories and sit under the learning tree,” said Sweatervest. “He is just such a class act and a true gentleman. Moondog Moretti has always been a favourite of mine. I remember just when I was getting started he was on a show and he chased me with his chain and his leash out of the ring all the way to the back. Yet, after the show he was the nicest guy and came up to me and made sure I knew he wouldn’t hit me unless I got out of line. We’ve got very impressive honourees tonight and it’s just such a blessing to be part of this show with these gentlemen.”
Nevada was brought in as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and he was pleased to be able to pay tribute as well.
“I think for a long time, I know when I was breaking into wrestling, the culture in the locker room you were taught to respect the veterans, but there was very seldom any formal recognition for the guys that had paved the road for us,” said Nevada. “So to be on event where we’re going to have Don Leo Jonathan who started wrestling in the 1940s, Ed Moretti who started wrestling in the 1970s, Roy McClarty who was another guy who was a 30-year guy, and Bob Steele, we really have so many different eras of wrestling represented and I know the young guys here in All Star Wrestling are respectful and appreciative. It’s great for us to be able to convey that to our fans as well.”
Nevada, who had the opportunity to work with Moondog Ed Moretti in Portland, Oregon, in 2004, described him as someone who had time to share a kind word or an anecdote that would help with improve matches in the ring and also dealing with the tough business of wrestling.
“That was great,” remarked Nevada. “Roy McClarty is a Winnipeg guy and I’m a Manitoba guy, and he was always a guy I wanted to meet and I heard lots about him and unfortunately he passed before I had the opportunity to do so. To be here tonight and have this role involved with the show to honour Roy McClarty is fantastic. Three out of four of his children are here tonight and I don’t know how many grandchildren and whatever else. It’s fantastic to be able to, especially for the grandchildren who never saw their grandfather wrestle and they kind of have to live vicariously through what they can find online or on YouTube, for them to know he was a big deal. I think that’s fantastic.”
Two members of the McClarty family, Kelly McClarty and Pat McClarty, talked to SLAM! Wrestling about their father’s presentation.
“I’m excited, I’m very happy about it,” stated Kelly McClarty. “I’m just glad they’re doing this. Kevin Jefferies did this for him. I’m happy they decided to honour him. He’s greatly missed. He was such a good guy inside and out of the wrestling. Me, being the youngest, I was too young when he retired, but I’ve seen so much on video, I watch it on YouTube, I Google all the pictures. I’m a huge fan of wrestling. He would have liked it, he would have been thankful. He loved it, best time of his life, the traveling around.”
“I had never seen him honoured before,” said Pat McClarty. “I grew up in this building here. It’s unbelievable and I’m glad it happened and Don Leo Jonathan it’s the same. I call him Uncle Leo. That’s how close he and my dad were; different type of wrestling back then. Absolutely great memories … I put up this ring when I was 11 years old. That’s what dad used to do. It was nice that this happened.”
Bob Steele admitted he was experiencing a few butterflies before the ceremony.
“It’s been so long and I would just love to be able to jump back into that ring again,” said Steele. “This little town has a lot of history and I’ve been a part of it and I feel very honoured to be here tonight. It’s honour to be here with McClarty, Don Leo Jonathan, Ed Moretti, and all the workers here tonight, the men and women. I’m looked forward to every one of them because they’re all good. They all have to start somewhere, some better than others of course we know that of course, but the harder they work, the more energy they put in they get better.”
Of course, having such wrestling legends in Cloverdale had many in attendance telling numerous cherished stories including Don Leo Jonathan himself.
“I had one little guy here who was at the match one week and I signed a bunch of autographs and then the next week I didn’t see him,” recalled Jonathan with a chuckle. “The next week I didn’t see him, so I said, ‘Where you’d been?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I never sold enough autographs to buy a ticket; this week I didn’t have any autographs to sell so I sat down and made a few.'”
Retired women’s wrestler Raven Lake remembered a story involving her grandmother attending one of Don Leo Jonathan’s matches, which gave a sense of how much fans were riveted by the in-ring action during that era.
“My grandma on my dad’s side went to a show; Don Leo Jonathan is in there, and he’s wrestling and got his thing going,” Lake started. “They’re in there and he’s going, and my grandma is getting mad and she’s got a chocolate Creamsicle Popsicle in her hand. The guy sitting in front of her had a bald head; she’s getting so mad she’s smacking the guy on the head with his ice cream.”
Moondog Ed Moretti described the evening as bringing to mind six million memories, particularly in the Cloverdale Arena, where he got his start.
“The first time I was ever in this building was October 21, 1978, and I wrestled Eric Froelich and he stretched me from one side of the ring to the other, but I learned a lot,” reminisced Moretti. “I was green and I was just getting in the business, but I came here to Canada and I cut my teeth here for All Star Wrestling and now I’m full circle tapped in here again and it’s really cool. The good thing about All Star Wrestling is it stayed true to its roots. All Star Wrestling with Don Leo Jonathan and Gene Kiniski all the way up to Al Tomko and our era all that stuff we stayed right here. We’ve been here every weekend, every two weeks, and I’ve seen it progressed in the way that its new guys and they’re more talented than we ever were, but we did our best and we tried hard and I think we gave 100% and I think they’re giving 100% too.”
The current young wrestlers and talent in All Star Wrestling were equally excited having such legendary luminary in their midst.
“I think everyone being honoured deserves it,” Matt XStatic said. “I think they paved the way for us greatly. They paved the way for me, Adam Ryder, and a lot of the guys that came tonight. Honestly to honour them tonight is the greatest thing ever. That’s personally my opinion.”
Adam Ryder, who knew in advance about the surprise honouring of Vance Nevada, articulated his own feelings on the evening.
“It’s amazing,” Ryder conveyed to SLAM! Wrestling. “I especially love Don Leo Jonathan. We’ve actually spent some time with Don Leo. I’ve learned so much about history. He’s probably one of the more inspiring guys. I was one of the few guys in on the surprise. I didn’t help plan it, but I knew about it. Vance has been a mentor of mine for years and I appreciate it.”
Even the bombastic All American Azeem The Dream communicated his deep-felt reverence for those being honoured.
“I’m very respectful of everyone here who is being honoured tonight,” Azeem The Dream said. “Don Leo Jonathan, Bob Steele, Ed Moretti, these are guys I grew up watching here, wrestle in this very building, Cloverdale. Cloverdale to me is the mecca of pro wrestling here. All the greats have wrestled here and it’s a real privilege and honour for me to perform in front of them.”
On reflection what WrestleReunion V provided to Moondog Ed Moretti was the opportunity to reconnect with his wresting family.
“It’s been fantastic and everyone looks so good,” observed Moretti. “I’m so happy to see them. I saw Tim Flowers today for a few minutes. He looked good and it was good to see him. It’s nice to see my old friends and they’re all my family so it’s like coming home. I’ve kept in touch with a lot of people. I’ve kept in touch with Kevin Jefferies. A lot of guys will write each other on the internet or give each other a phone call, and it’s not enough, but we do still keep in touch and we all love each other. It’s a good thing. I miss the business, but I know I’m past my day.”
To Don Leo Jonathan, though, what is important is continuing to give back to the business.
“I’m just interested in all these young wrestlers,” revealed Jonathan. “I’m just going to have a look and see. I like to watch the young talent and see how much they have and then I can see something maybe they need and maybe I can help them out.”
All Star Wresting’s WrestleReunion V Match Results:
Before WrestleReunion V began Vance Nevada gave his thoughts to SLAM! Wrestling on the matches on the card.
“You know there’s a lot and I’m hoping I can get out from behind the curtain and watch them,” commented Nevada. “Adam Ryder versus Matt XStatic is going to be off the charts. I’ve known both of those guys since they started their careers and to see how they’ve both developed as performers has been fantastic. I think I’ve probably given soundbites for both of those guys. Nick Price and Collin Cutler is going to be a fantastic match. Bambi Hall and Violet Affect, they both have very aggressive schedules across Canada and you can see why. For me to identify one match in particular that I’m going to be keying in it would hard for me to do that, but you know right up to the main event, Moondog Manson and <a href=”Gangrel”>Gangrel Dog Collar Chain Match, that’s going to be a rough, rugged match.”
In the opening bout of the night, Cougar Collin Cutler and Nick Price had a battle which was to some degree a contrast in styles between the more agile and high flying attack of Cutler versus the power and hard hitting approach of Price. Eventually, Cutler was able to get the 1-2-3 after hitting a frog splash from the top rope.
The second match of the night featured Bambi Hall versus newcomer Violet Affect who was booed more loudly than anyone else on the card. Affect seemed to take the boos in stride, in fact she even egged the crowd on even more, and dominated the first half of the match utilizing the Octopus submission hold made famous by AJ Lee as the Black Widow. Towards the second half of the match Hall was able to make a comeback which led to her getting the pinfall on Affect after hitting a version of the Backbreaker Rack Drop.
Before his match against Hightower, SLAM! Wrestling had the chance to speak with Azeem The Dream about being Michelle Starr’s very last opponent despite his feeling disrespected.
“The All-American Azeem The Dream, you moron,” exclaimed Azeem The Dream.
“Garbage man takeout … what do you have to do to get some respect in this country? Holy smokes! Go on earn your pay cheque. On a professional level and personally it was a honour to have the man’s last match and like I said I grew up watching Michelle Starr and I always wanted him to be proud of me, of what I’ve done in wrestling; and that match did seal the deal for me and I was honoured to have his last match. On a political level the man is a piece of garbage he always will be. He turned his back on the good old USA and the Canadian government won’t take care of him. Obama would have, but not Christy Clark, Queen Christy Clark, and I just want to say thank you for the free water we appreciate it.”
The All-American would go on to predict his victory which proved extremely prophetic. Even though Hightower was able to hit a few power moves in the early going such as a choke slam, Azeem The Dream would ultimately win with a Superkick after Hightower lost his momentum when he was distracted. After the match Azeem punished Hightower some more.
In the fourth contest of the night it was originally supposed to be the ASW Tag Team Champions TKO Cody Smith and Travis Sionys defending their belts against The Great Kasaki and Mr. India. However, Travis Sionys came to the ring with one of his arms in a sling and Smith made arrangements to have Flexx Payne as his replacement partner for the match. This led to senior ASW referee Kevin Jefferies to come to the ring and tell Smith that if he wanted Payne to be his partner for the bout that the ASW Tag Titles would still be on-the-line. Smith protested, but the match went ahead regardless. In the early going whenever Payne was in the ring both The Great Kasaki and Mr. India had difficulty, but towards the later stages of the match they managed to hit some double team maneuvers to pick up the victory and become the new ASW Tag Team Champions.
Raven Lake stated that the fifth battle of the night, which would be a Two Out of Three Falls Match between the ASW Cruiserweight Champion Adam Ryder and Matt XStatic, was one she was looking forward to; and considering the chemistry the two opponents demonstrated in the ring you could see why. Prior to the bout, when SLAM! Wrestling spoke with Matt XStatic he had nothing, but respect for his opponent and he predicted that the match would be extremely intense. It certainly was and featured several death-defying maneuvers. After several attempts XStatic managed to get the first fall through a roll up, but Ryder countered back by forcing XStatic to submit to a Boston Crab for the second fall. It then came down to the final fall, and after a great deal of back and forth between the two opponents, Ryder picked up the final victory after hitting a running double knee to the chest. In the end, it was a magnificent match and one that Ryder was very proud of.
“Well I loved the match tonight; it was a super athletic match,” reflected Ryder. “It was great actually and I came out looking like a million bucks. I can’t have any detractors for that. The thing is that Matt is a hell of a study. He’s got all the tools he’s just got to put them all together properly. He’s fantastic to work with. It was a pleasure to work with him.”
The sixth bout of the night featured Breaker Iton versus Randy Taylor for the ASW Legends Title in an old school style bout that featured some submission holds and brawling. As the match seesawed between the two opponents, Iton managed to hit a spinning leg drop to get the victory.
The final match of the night was the ASW Champion Moondog Manson against Gangrel The Vampire Warrior for the ASW Trans Canada Championship in a Dog Collar Chain Match and was one that ASW honouree Moondog Ed Moretti had some interest in.
“I did not see the lineup so I’m looking forward to them all, mainly though I want to see how Manson is doing because he’s the new Moodog in town,” explained Moretti. “That’s going to be exciting so I’m going to be keeping a special eye on that.”
Gangrel made his way to the ring first with his goblet of blood which he spewed in the air to the delight of the crowd. Then Manson entered the ring where things got extremely interesting due to his unwillingness to put the dog collar around his neck despite the fact that Gangrel had no issue with doing so. This led to Manson getting some of the early advantage which at one point included Gangrel being hung by the chain once he had been thrown outside. Gangrel was the first to shed blood, but as the match wore on he managed to bust Manson open and take back the advantage. However, the referee assigned to the match was knocked out which led Bob Steele to charge to the ring and take command of the match where he eventually counted 1-2-3 and the proclamation of Gangrel as the new ASW Trans Canada Champion.