DREAM COME TRUE By Harry White
Next, a surprise award winner was Larry Matysik. The surprise though was only to Larry, as the fans who voted all put Larry on their HOF ballot. Larry also fulfilled the dream of a young wrestling fan by later becoming Sam Muchnick’s right hand man, TV announcer, Kiel announcer, one of the bookers, a promotion owner and author. Larry proceeded to be the master of ceremonies by introducing the other inductees starting with promoter Sam Muchnick. St Louisan Lou Thesz’ plaque in the store reads, “the finest example of a true world champion“. Pat O’Connor was described as maybe the smoothest scientific wrestler ever. Larry mentioned some big names as attendance draws and that Wild Bill Longson belongs right with those big name draws. Bill’s grandson accepted the plaque for Wild Bill.
You can’t really have a match without a referee and few refs were better than Joe Schoenberger. Sam Muchnick liked to have people working for him who were active in the community and Joe was very active with promoting youth sports in St Louis. It was Joe who raised the arm of another StL HOFer Gene Kiniski when Gene beat Thesz for the title. Gene was big tough and intense which also described another StL HOFer Johnny Valentine. Both Gene and Johnny were St Louis main eveners for over 20 years and as a wrestler that is a dream fulfilled to headline one of the best pay off towns for decades. Rough and tough Fritz Von Eric who probably passed on the best genes for wrestling had many great main events as did his three sons. Not as rough but plenty tough is St Louis native St Louisan Penny Banner. In her youth, sports for females were limited so Penny lived her athletic dream by being a champion wrestler. Predictable and pro wrestling are usually mutually exclusive terms. Sam Muchnick’s style of promoting though could be as close to predictable as anything in wrestling. It is odd then that the most unpredictable of wresters Dick The Bruiser was a nearly 20 year main eventer for the most conservative of promoters and is now a member of the StL HOF.
Nick’s Pro Wrestling Shirt Shop has a trivia night among its many activities. A good trivia question might be “what if any pro wrestling Hall Of Fames is StL HOFer Harley Race NOT in? Harley just might be in more pro wrestling hall of fames than the record number of Missouri Title wins he owns. Later that evening radio station KMOX AM ran a few seconds about the event. It was Larry mentioning StL HOFer Ric Flair and the crowd’s noisy reaction to that name. As you can guess, it started with a W and followed by several Os.
Hall of Fame archives are located HERE