Remembering some of the old-school WWF jobbers

Between the classic pro wrestling video clips I’ve watched recently and some of the great comments from visitors of this blog, I’m reminded about the many, many WWF jobbers that I grew up with each Saturday morning on TV and also saw in person at the monthly shows at the old Boston Garden.

Here are some of the guys I remember well:

The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz – Rodz was one of those prelim wrestlers who was a step above the normal jobber, in that he occasionally won a watch and people still respected him even if he often lost. Rodz currently runs a wrestling school in Brooklyn, NY, that has turned out big-time names, such as the Dudleys and Taz.

Jose Estrada — Estrada appeared on many Boston Garden shows from 1980 through 1982, and then later spent time as one of Los Conquistadores under a mask with partner Jose Luis Rivera. I believe he continued to wrestle in Puerto Rico after his WWF days were over, and his son, Jose, Jr., was also a star on that island’s wrestling scene.

Jose Luis Rivera — Those of us who are really old school remember that Rivera was known as “Mac Rivera” in his early days. He had his biggest run with Estrada as Los Conquistadores. I don’t know much about what happened to Rivera since he stopped wrestling in the WWF.

Tiger Chung Lee — Lee originally came in as a mid-level star and actually challenged Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title, but he eventually settled into jobber status (although he always got his offense in). Dave Meltzer noted in the April 24, 2011, issue of the Wrestling Observer that Lee, under the name Tiger Toguchi, was considered one of the two top talents fromKorea while wrestling in Japan 1979. I’m not sure whether his skills dropped several degrees before he arrived in the WWF or whether Japan wasn’t the hotbed in ‘79 that it later became (I’m betting on the former excuse).

The “Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty – Doherty has already been the subject of several blogs here, as I’ve called him Boston’s favorite jabroni.

Baron Mikel Scicluna – Hailing from the Isle of Malta, Scicluna once held the WWWF Tag Team Titles with King Curtis Iaukea in the 1970s. However, by the ‘80s Scicluna became the guy who played the stepping stone to upcoming stars on the house shows. I saw Scicluna on the first WWF house show I ever attended live.

Pete Sanchez — Sanchez was always one of those guys who sandwiched the main events at the Boston Garden by either wrestling really early in the show or really late. He was a pretty bland wrestler in the ‘80s and I don’t know a lot about his earlier career.

Dominic DeNucci — By the 1980s, DeNucci was similar to Lee, in that the rising stars beat him on the way to fighting Bob Backlund or Pedro Morales. DeNucci held the Tag Team Title twice in the 1970s. After he retired, he helped train Mick Foley and Shane Douglas.

Swede Hanson — Hanson had a long career as a tag team wrestler in the 1960s and 1970s, often with Rip Hawk. By the time he got to the WWF in the 1980s, he was close to retirement.

Curt Hennig – Sure, Hennig became a huge star in the AWA and later in the WWF as Mr. Perfect, but in 1981, a skinny Hennig was a young buck who gave the heels all he had before losing. But you could tell he had the ability to make it big.

Eddie Gilbert – Gilbert was often on the losing end of matches to the star heels in the early ‘80s, although he did get a rub from Backlund when the Masked Superstar attacked Gilbert with the corkscrew neckbreaker on the floor and Backlund helped him out. Gilbert had been legitimately injured in a car wreck months earlier, which became part of the plotline leading to Superstar’s angle. Similar to Hennig, Gilbert became a huge star, this time outside of the WWF before dying way too young.

S.D. “Special Delivery” Jones – Jones is an interesting choice here, because you could argue he wasn’t really a jobber. He and Tony Atlas challenged for the Tag Team Titles against champs Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito (and there were always rumors that the team was going to win the straps before Atlas got in the doghouse for some reason). Jones was also in the first WrestleMania, which few jobbers can ever claim. Of course, he lost to King Kung Bundy in about 20 seconds on that big show. And I distinctly remember Jones getting promo time. One line I’ll never forget from him: “I’m so cool they can feel the breeze across their face.” All that said, his win-loss record seems to say jobber to me (but a very popular jobber).

Salvatore Bellomo — Bellomo was another fella who seemed on the verge of being a star but never hit it big. For example, he beat Mr. Saito in the Boston Garden in 1981, and Saito was an established star. But he also often lost to other people. And I must also tell you that Bellomo’s more recent photo with the Undertaker is one of the most clicked-on links from my blog to an outside site.

Other prelim wrestlers whom I recall include Israel Matia, the Hangman, A.J. Petruzzi, Ron Shaw, the Black Demon, and Charlie Fulton.

How about any others you remember?

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58 comments

  1. Anonymous

    It strikes me that one could divide the aforementioned names into two groups: the “pseudo jobber,” such as DeNucci, Lee, Rodz, and Estrada, who actually mounted a fair amount of offense and, in the process, served as a stepping stone for opponents seeking main card status; on the other hand, there is the legitimate jobber, such as the Irish Terry Gibbs of the world, who served as little more than a human punching bag to get heat from the crowd (in the case of a villain) or showcase a face’s talents. In retrospect, the true jobbers tended to be faces who were served up as bait for heels while the more accomplished jobbers tended to be villains, who controlled a generous portion of the match in order to generate heat from the crowd. It’s interesting how the mat psychology worked, particularly in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

  2. Richard M

    Rudy Diamond, Ken Juggan, Steve King, Gypsy Rodriguez, Israel Mattea, Barry Hart, Babyface George, Frank Williams, Mike Bell, Nick DeCarlo.

  3. e davis

    what about lee wong, paul vachon,, leo burke?, the hangman was neil guay from quebec, poirrier, was baron gattoni ever a jobber? wolfman farkus? cowboy frankie laine, don kernodle (ex-Kangaroo) ricky sexton, johnny defazio, smasher sloan, sonny king, chuck o’connor, swede anderson, great yatsu, chief big heart, tony altimore, pete sanchez, kevin sullivan?

  4. Terry Keefe

    Also, from the early 1980s WWF, Laurent Soucie (got a push of sorts, that faded quickly) and Barry Hart (had the heart on the back of his jacket, I think this was also Barry Horowitz?) – a few times he was allowed to get offense in but mostly strictly took the punishment. Frankie Williams and Steve King, of course. There was a Masked Executioner who got a push for a bit, then went to Jobberville. Quickdraw Rick McGraw and Steve Travis, both who were pushed like young future babyface stars, who were still green.

  5. Jimbo Jones from Australia

    Dave Barbie, Sal Gee, Ron Dee, Joe Mirto, Paul Roma, Jim Powers, Jim Young, Aldo Marino, Mr X,Terry Gibbs, John Rizzo, Rick Hunter.

  6. Jerry REYES

    Professional wrestler Victor Rivera May 25th 1943 in Puerto Rico passed away passed away November 28th 2002 in North Carolina Barry Los Angeles California in the cemetery in the 9th of December 2002 in the cemetery of Inglewood California 4 Vince McMahon honor and put them in that in the Hall of Fame

    • Monty

      Stampede Wrestling had really great jobbers. Mr. Hito was fantastic. So was the Cuban Assasin. You showed up knowing they would lose but oddly cheered them in defeat. The Assasin had such a great wrestling character.

      Others from the time include Champagne Gerry Morrow, Makhan and Gamma Singh (who put the Bulldogs and Harts over in great battles). Chris Benoit jobbed a bit there at first. Such a great era.

  7. Pingback: Iron Mike Sharpe: Loud, lumbering — and memorable | Boston Garden Balcony
  8. Rodney

    How could you forget jobber Fred Marzino? Fred Marzino was from Stoneham, Mass. He jobbed in the WWWF from 1978 to 1982. Fred also wrestled in The Boston Garden in a couple jobber matches.

    • Rodney

      Also, Rudy Diamond. Rudy is from Boston, Mass. Rudy Diamond, along with Fred Marzino, they were two of the best jobbers at that time period. They were ‘true’ jobbers.

      • bostongardenbalcony

        I remember Rudy Diamond well. I seem to recall a Saturday morning TV match in which he wrestled Orndorff and came out wearing a shirt that said “Paula,” which made Orndorff crazy.

  9. Anonymous

    What about Mike Saxon. Ron shaw, Moondog spot.
    Also one of the greatest worst jobbers, Mario Mancini.

    • Rodney

      I remember Michael Saxon. I remember watching on tv when Hercules Hernandez beat the crap outta Saxon. I believe that match is on Youtube now.

  10. Mark

    Oh, yes, Kim Clover – funniest thing I ever saw happen to a jobber. He was in a 6-man teaming with The Hart Foundation against the Islanders and Haku. Clover lost the match without Hart or Niedhart getting in the ring, so Jimmy Hart had them beat the snot out of him for losing. hysterical!

    were the Moondogs jobbers?

  11. Anonymous

    In Toronto at that time:
    Bulldog Lee Henning…about 70 years old and 160 pounds. 4 moves in 8 minutes. A classic.

  12. worldchamp

    Don’t forget Dale Wolfe! And Mario Mancini.

    What made the jobber great was they looked like your or your friend’s dad. The guy working at the supermarket (because they usually were!). So when they got beat up, it put the heat on the ‘Superstar’ even more.

  13. Scott

    I remember STEVE KING getting whooped by Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Adrian Adonis, and, in what was scary to me @ 11 years old, bloodied by Blackjack Mulligan’s claw.

  14. Mark

    What a joy it has been to read these posts and now add my additions to this truly awesome list…

    Reno Riggins and Red Tyler!!!

  15. johnny premier

    This is awesome, however theres a whole batch of job guys that were stars in their territories before vkm got them. Al perez, buck zumhofe, jake milliman, paul diamond…who am i forgetting?

    • bostongardenbalcony

      I remember Al Perez was in the WWF for a short time but never went far, which was a shame. Paul Diamond became Kato as part of the Orient Express, which was a good tag team, and also became Max Moon for a bit (that’s such a great story, because originally the gimmick was for Konnan, who left in a dispute, and DIamond tried the Max Moon suit on and it fit — so he got the part). I remember Zumhofe and Jake “the Milkman” Milliman well from the AWA.

  16. Scott Simpson

    In the first couple of years of the WWF expansion, a lot of the WWF TV jobbers were former high-card wrestlers from Maple Leaf Wrestling. Since the tapings were in Brantford, Ontario, a lot of the Southern Ontario guys were on the show. Sharpe, Johnny K-9, Cowboy Frankie Lane, Terry Morgan, Neil Carr, Brian Mackney, Nelson Veilleux, Steve Gatorwolf. Former wrestlers became referees – John Bonello, Terry Yorkston. A rich WWF jobber history.

  17. Kg

    I always remembered Rivera from the old days. He was always the first match at the providence civic center, and he would always win. I must have seen this 4 or 5 times in the early 80s. One guy u didn’t mention was Iron Mike Sharp. What a jobber he was.

  18. Anonymous

    I can recall going to The Providence Civic for a show, back when. “Doctor D” David Schultz was supposed to wrestle some upper-tier talent. Unfortunately, said upper-tier talent never showed up. As such, Doctor D unexpectedly fought… Swede Hanson! To make matters even more bizarre, Swede Hanson WON! He crushed Doctor D and then humiliated him on the mic. This was after Schultz’s “20/20” debacle, and he was obviously out of favor with the company. It was really great to see Swede get a big win. Strange evening, all around, as I recall.

  19. Evan J Rodgers

    Sylvano Sousa was breifly a champion in Canada-I have to search long and hard to find the exact info.He was strong and had a rugged,handsome look.
    Bill Berger was a big star in The Three Rivers Wrestling Association, in West
    Virginia.He was once in a chain match against Lord Zoltan in 1977.Not much
    information about Berger or Three Rivers Wrestling Association is avalable now.I once bought an obscure Wrestling Revue magazine in the early 80’s-
    even then,the ratings were outdated and they had articles written years before,I had never seen such a weird magazine, but it was a treasure,juxtaposing time and space in the wrestling world.There was an article there called”Three Rivers Report” that mentioned Bill Berger as a successful fan favorite.It blew my young mind because I had only seen Berger
    on WWF television as a TOTAL JOBBER WHO MOUNTED ALMOST ZERO offense.I saw him get killed by Hulk Hogan back when Hogan was a villian, around 1980.Anyway,thanks to Wrestling Revue I became a big fan of Bill Berger, no matter that he lost alot on TV. It has been reorted that he died of
    a heart attack in 2002- but little else is known.If anyone has any further anything about Bill Berger please let it be known,post or something.So much
    great talent of yesteryear has been forgotten and WE are the ones to revisit and revive wrestling history.Thank you all!As you can see, I’m a bit of a maniac! LOVE, Evan J Rodgers

    • Jim

      Bill Berger was my brother. Actual name Bill Eichenberger. He died of complications from a stroke in 2001 at age 54, if I remember right. I don’t remember a lot from his wrestling years, because I was 12 years younger than him. I remember some of his wrestler friends, Luis Martinez, Cowboy Bob Brothers, the Valiant brothers, Dominic Denucci, Otto Von Marks, Gorilla Monsoon.

  20. Scott Carlson

    Jeff Rhodes all thru the 70s the tall lanky blonde wrestler went up against all the main bad guys….and took tremendous beatings week after week..Finally winning his first match on tv vs The Patriot…”What do you know, Jeff Rhodes finally wins one” was Vinces call…..
    Honerable mention to Manuel Soto and El Olympico….

    • J.Cee

      Remember when Manual Soto teamed with Pete Sanchez and gave the bad guys a run for their money, at least on the TV tapings. And I’ll always remember ‘the master of the flying dropkick’ El Olympico. Remember reading in the wrestling magazines of the day when he had to wear a mask with the just the face area exposed when he wrestled in Madison Square Garden because of an archaic rule that prohibited masked wrestlers from appearing at the particular venue. They finally relaxed the rule when Mil Mascaras came along.

      • bostongardenbalcony

        That was one strange rule at MSG about no masks. Sometimes I think people back in the day forgot this wasn’t real. I think MSG also enforced an 11 o’clock curfew during cards, so that if wrestlers were in the ring at 11 p.m., the bell rang to end the match.

  21. george

    Jeff craney was the jobber’s jobber. I’ll always remember him as th 1st victim of Blackjack Mulligan’s clawhold, wher the big red “X” got placed over the T.V. Screen

    • bostongardenbalcony

      McGraw is an interesting choice, because he did mostly lose on TV, but he was involved in angles at times, too. I remember Killer Khan knee dropping McGraw’s neck multiple times during a match, which I think to led to an injury angle.

  22. J. Cee

    …and don’t forget Silvano Sousa, a prelim supposedly from Providence. Unique about this wrestler was that dispite his status, whenever he did live in-house shows at the Providence Civic Center, or at the Bank Street Armory in Fall River, he was cheered like a good guy from a small contingent of Portuguese fans who attended the show. Not a good technical wrestler whatsoever, he just ate up 10 to 15 minutes of what was usually the 1st match of the card, much to the chagrin of the same contingent who cheered him for his ethnicity.
    -Don’t forget that Johnny Rodz had a successful run in LA around “75/’76 as Java Ruuk, and even won the annual Battle Royal at the Olympic Auditorium–an auspicious feat for a relatively unknown wrestler beyond the WWWF of that era.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      There aren’t many names I forget from the ’80s when writing this blog, but I haven’t thought of Sylvano Sousa in years. I do vaguely remember him. I checked it out, and he wrestled three times at the old Boston Garden. It’s kind of sad the WWE doesn’t hit cities like Fall River any more (probably because it doesn’t have a modern arena), but then the tour will get to every mid-size city in upstate New York at least once a year. What does Elmira, NY, have that Fall River doesn’t?

      As for Rodz, I had no idea that he was known as Java Ruuk early in his career. Seriously, Rodz is more famous than a lot of WWE main roster talent. I mean, who among us who grew up watching Championship Wrestling will ever forget that guy?

  23. Evan J Rodgers

    While it is true that the WWF relegated the great Swede Hanson to a
    pseudo-jobber status in his last WWF run (about 1982-1985), not much
    is mentioned about his main event status run in the WWF in late 1979!
    He wrestled and almost beat Bob for the title at M.S.G. on Oct.22,1979!
    He also wrestled for the WWF tag team title with Victor Rivera against Putski and Santana.Swede Hanson defeated Ivan Putski, Cheif Jay Straongbow and Ted Dibiase in singles matches in 1979. He also had
    competitive matches against Andre the Giant,Bruno Sammartino and
    Larry Zbysko,although he did lose these matches. Thats why I dont
    understand why he was relegated to “jobber” status when he returned
    in 82. Nonetheless, he was respected during this final run and
    he was still verry strong. Another thing that is unfair is how the magazines ignored him towards the end.Swede Hanson deserved better treatment after all he gave to wrestling and humanity in general!!!!!

  24. Evan J Rodgers

    Swede Hanson was not a jobber. He started wrestling in 1957 and
    retired in 1986. During that last WWF run in the 80’s he lost alot of
    matches but won a fair share,too. He was respected by the fans and
    wrestlers alike.He was occasionally made “special guest refferee.”
    Being the consumate pro, he didnt mind putting over younger stars,
    although even as he was older, he was brutally strong and realistically
    intimadating. He had a main event run in WWF in 1979 and wrestled
    Bob Backlund for the Championship in M.S.Garden. He also beat Ivan
    Putski in 79. From the late 50’s till the early 70’s he was a huge star and
    won countless tag team titles with Rip Hawk and others. He had a successful amateur boxing career in Golden Gloves, winning 29 matches and losing 3. Swede Hanson was a legend,right to the end.
    To call him a jobber does not do him justice or serve history correctly.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      Looking at it from a full career perspective, I agree that it indeed was incorrect to call Hanson a jobber. In the ’80s when I started first watching the WWF, yes, he was a jobber, but as you note, he wrestled for decades and was a star. Either way, the fans bought that Hanson was tough, and even the way Vince McMahon would talk about Hanson during matches implied he was someone to take seriously as an opponent. The same argument might apply to Hennig, whom no one would call a career jobber, although he was a curtain-jerker in 1981.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      Man, I don’t know how I forgot Sharpe on this list, but you’re right, he was a classic jobber. Sharpe actually challenged Backlund for the title at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1983, which I vaguely remember seeing at the time on the USA Network when it used to show house show cards.

      • modew's manager

        SD Jones was a mid-level star on the West Coast.
        Charlie Fulton
        Ken Jugan
        Israel Matia
        Bob Bradley
        Jose Estrada
        Joe Turco, the “Continental Nobleman”

        And, no list is complete without …

        Frankie Williams.

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