By BRIAN WESTCOTT – For SlamWrestling.net
WATERLOO, IOWA — I attended my very first George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction weekend in Waterloo, Iowa. It was an incredible experience and I will definitely make this an annual event.
Wednesday, July 14 was a day of travel for me as I flew from Boise, Idaho, to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois to finally, despite tornado warnings, Waterloo, Iowa.
Joe Malenko was on the same flight to Waterloo as myself. He noticed the book I was reading which happened to be the latest by Dan Murphy.
I had dinner with fellow CAC members Dennis Harrington and Gloria Lovell. It was so fun reuniting with them and catching up on our lives.
Thursday, July 15 was the first day of checking out the town and eating some great food for lunch and dinner.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, which includes the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame, is very impressive. Great historical layouts and memorabilia from amateur wrestling as well as professional wrestling. Lots of hard work and dedication went into this.
The evening social event kicked off the festivities with a nice speech from Dan Gable who focused on the theme of the weekend: family. “When you’ve got your family supporting your profession, you’ve got it made.”
Seeing Joyce Paustian receive the Impact Person of the Year Award was a nice touch. Joyce said, “This was a complete surprise.” Joyce has been one of the few who has attended every single Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Gerald Brisco stated, “We are all family.” Even Mark Henry said, “You’re our family.” Filsinger Games made a special presentation to end the event.
The Thursday night pro wrestling trivia contest was a lot of fun and my team won! I won a $25 gift certificate to the Dan Gable Museum. They have wonderful merchandise.
Here are the match results for Impact Pro Wrestling George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Classic on Friday, July 16, 2021 (afternoon session) at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa:
1. Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: Jah-C defeats Gable Galileo
2. Golden Boy Bryce Jordyn defeats Mr. Marvelous
3. Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: Brooke Valentine defeats Briar Hale by pinfall with the spear
4. Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: The 1 Called Manders defeats Justin Decent by pinfall
5. Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: Miranda Gordy defeats Heather Monroe by pinfall
6. James Jeffries defeats Victor Payne by pinfall with Sliced Bread
7. Max Chill defeats Jaxon King by pinfall
8. Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: Jeremy Wyatt defeats G.P.A. by pinfall with the piledriver.
9. Impact Pro Wrestling Women’s Champion Sage Hale defeats Briar Hale by pinfall
10. Jimmy Wylde defeats Ethan Everhart by pinfall
11. Justin Decent defeats Zeke Dynamics by pinfall with Death Valley Driver
12. Main Event: Round One of the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament: Drama King Matt Morris (formerly known as Aiden English) defeats A.J. Smooth by pinfall
I decided to skip the Brisco and Big Ace podcast so I could check out the town some more, check out the museum, and get some rest before the show on Friday night.
Here are the match results for Impact Pro Wrestling George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Classic on Friday, July 16, 2021 (evening session) at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa:
1. Hall of Fame Classic Tournament Semi-Finals: Jah-C defeats The 1 Called Manders by pinfall in 11:50
2. Hall of Fame Classic Tournament Semi-Finals: Jeremy Wyatt defeats Drama King Matt Morris (formerly known as Aiden English) by pinfall
3. Lou Thesz Memorial Battle Royal: Death Dealer wins last eliminating A.J. Smooth.
4. A.J. Smooth wins the Impact Pro Wrestling Extreme Championship in a Ladder match defeating Malice, Damien Saint, Jaxon King, Cole Cannon, Jimmy Wylde, Gable Galileo, Zeke Dynamics.
5. James Jeffries, T.S.Aggressor, & “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. defeat Max Chill, Brandon “The Shank” Eubanks, & Adam Love
6. Impact Pro Wrestling Women’s Champion Sage Hale defeats Briar Hale & Heather Monroe by pinfall in a Triple Threat match.
7. Impact Pro Wrestling Tag Team Champions Ethan Everhart & Justin Decent defeat Colt Cabana & Wes Brisco and Matty Star & Sparrow in a Three Way match.
8. Jeremy Wyatt defeats Jah-C by submission with the ankle lock to win the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament
9. Miranda Gordy defeats Brooke Valentine by pinfall to win the Hall of Fame Classic Tournament
10. Main Event: Golden Boy Bryce Jordyn defeats The Big Picture by pinfall to win the Impact Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship!
I had fun meeting Colt Cabana, Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda, Thunderbolt Patterson, reuniting with Miranda Gordy and Miles Plonk on Friday night.
Saturday, July 17 had a wonderful surprise. A tour of the basement of the Dan Gable Museum. Wow! Lots of room for storage and future expansion! I decided to get some lunch, get a picture of the Hotel President where the National Wrestling Alliance was formed, and get prepared for the Autograph session. It was a real honor meeting Mark Henry, Ken Shamrock, Wes Brisco, Red Velvet. Sonny Onno was a huge surprise as I remember him during his days with WCW. Chris Owens’ Andre the Giant collection was very impressive.
There was a Lifetime Members reception at the hotel bar. I stated to the group how impressed I was with the induction weekend and plan to make it an annual event.
I was already dressed to style and profile for the main event. The banquet and awards ceremony was very good and emotionally touching. I was so thrilled to meet Mark James and sit next to him. His speech was very inspiring and humble. Mark stated, “If it mattered, it has to be preserved. The past, we cannot allow it to be lost. If you’re putting out information and releasing it into the world. That’s a reason to do it.”
Jonard Solie talked about how his father, Gordon Solie, got started as a professional wrestling play-by-play announcer. Ken Shamrock shared his life story as he talked about the huge challenges he had growing up as a child. “How did I get to this place to where I’m going to be placed on this wall?” “The only way I can fail is if I let it happen.”
The most emotional and touching box office draw of the night without a doubt was the speech made by Rocky Kernodle as he honored his late brother Don Kernodle with a lot of help from Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter said, “I was blessed when Don Kernodle came into my life.”
Mark Henry put the icing on the cake as he stated, “You don’t get to be a champion without the common denominator of hard work.”
Overall, I had a lot of fun. I will definitely come back.
TOP PHOTO: Mike Rotunda, Brian Westcott and Barry Windham in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday, July 16, 2021.
- July 18, 2021: Mat Memories: Tears and cheers at Tragos/Thesz induction weekend
- SlamWrestling.net’s George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame story archive
- Tragos/Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame website
2021 TRAGOS/THESZ HALL OF FAME PHOTO GALLERY