Having been privileged to be backstage at the D.K (Doc) Seaman Hockey Resource Centre in Toronto’s west end, I’ve seen where the employees and volunteers of the Hockey Hall of Fame pore over old photos, trying to figure out who’s who. There’s an art to it, and, while it’s way easier in the Internet era, it’s still not a straightforward process by any means.

On rare occasions, they have thrown me over a photo that is wrestling-related, maybe trying to confirm who the bulging beast is towering over a hockey player. It’s a treat to be able to help.

The same thing happens, on a much more amateur basis, in the wrestling world.

On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I befriended Kerby Strom, who is in the continual-process of picking up collections. At Kerby’s place in northwest Portland, Mike Rodgers and I pored through photo after photo, marveling at all that we found.

But Kerby wasn’t done.

Out of the blue recently, he sent me a photo and wanted some help identifying who was in the photo.

It was from Buddy Rose‘s collection, and was obviously in Japan.

No question it was “Dynamite Kid” Tommy Billington there, who’d end up working with Rose in the Portland territory.

But who were the other two?


Here’s how the process of elimination works in my mind.

1. Photo is in Japan, so likely a Japanese tour

2. Head to WrestlingData.com — I recently had a lovely chat with three of the gentleman in Europe who run it, and came away impressed with their attention to detail, and how historians I respected, like the recently-passed Don Luce, trusted them with his results

3. Dynamite Kid was younger than Rose

4. At WrestlingData.com, I could view by promotion, and All Japan alphabetically was first

5. Rose’s first tour of Japan in 1975, when he was still Paul Perschmann, and that was before Dynamite was wrestling, so it could be eliminated

6. Over to New Japan, where Rose toured numerous times — and had a cool New Japan Pro Wrestling suitcase to prove it (now owned by Kerby)

The Buddy Rose New Japan Pro Wrestling suitcase owned by Kerby Strom.

The Buddy Rose New Japan Pro Wrestling suitcase owned by Kerby Strom. Photo by Greg Oliver


7. WrestlingData.com notes he toured with NJPW in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

8. The idea is that I look for people that I do not recognize, so I look at the first card from the 1982 tour that he was on. Hmm, Big Red John? Nope, Jerry Reese was a hillbilly-type and also worked as Voodoo Malumba. The rest were names I knew or Japanese or Mexicans workers, and I can make an educated guess that the two men between Dynamite and Rose were imports.

9. I look at a couple more cards from the 1982 tour Rose was on and conclude that is not the year.

10. On to 1983. Hmm. Who’s this on NJPW Big Fight Series 2 – Day 1? “Caswell Martin”?

11. Bingo! A Google search of Caswell Martin brings up a number of photos to confirm that the man in the white top is Caswell Martin. The top-notch folks at WrestlingHeritage.co.uk have lots on Martin. Like I do, they have questions about whatever happened to him.

12. On to the shorter of the two men. I’m feeling good that the photo was taken on this 1983 tour. It’s before Dynamite got all super-jacked on steroids in WWF for sure, and Playboy is in good shape from his Blowaway Diet.

13. Is it Bobby Gaetano? Yes! Apparently he was from Guadeloupe, and, in our usual ignorance, we often forget that professional wrestling really is a worldwide entity. Neat. … But again, not much on whatever happened to Gaetano.

14. I send all the info to Kerby and then he sends me another photo, which totally confirms it.

The second photo has the same four men backstage with someone who probably became the biggest star out of the five of them — Ed Leslie, who later wrestled as Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.

Dynamite Kid Caswell Martin Bobby Gaetano Buddy Rose Ed Leslie Beefcake

Left to right: Ed Leslie, Buddy Rose, Caswell Martin, Dynamite Kid and Bobby Gaetano.

Here are the results from the show in Tokyo on April 1, 1983, courtesy WrestlingData.com:

  1. Masanobu Kurisu defeated Kazuo Yamazaki
  2. Yoshiaki Fujiwara defeated Black Cat (Victor Mar)
  3. Animal Hamaguchi and Isamu Teranishi vs. Osamu Kido and Kengo Kimura ended without a winner as a time limit draw
  4. Kuniaki Kobayashi defeated Caswell Martin
  5. Masa Saito defeated Ryuma Go
  6.  Rusher Kimura defeated Buddy Rose
  7.  Dynamite Kid and Bobby Gaetano defeated Tiger Mask and Kantaro Hoshino
  8.  IWGP Asian District Preliminary Match
  9. Killer Khan defeated Riki Choshu by disqualification
  10. Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Ed Leslie and Paul Orndorff

Now, if I could just find a way to make a living doing this kind of sleuth-work, I’d be all in. But maybe I’ll just stick to writing for now, and dive in with both feet on occasion for the thrill of the chase.

For more on Kerby Strom’s really great goodies from the Portland Wrestling territory, follow him on Instagram @classicportlandwrestling and Twitter @PdxSportsArena. He’s got some neat merchandise available too.