Ever since former WWF referee Dick Woehrle died, I’ve been thinking a lot about the refs we used to know by name during the early 1980s.
Part of that familiarity was because ring announcer Joe McHugh would always tells us their names during his opening monolgue every week on Saturday morning Championship Wrestling here in Boston. But even the refs themselves seem cookie-cutter in today’s WWE compared to the refs of yesteryear.
Aside from Woehrle, other guys (and one gal) I remember include:
- Gilberto Roman, a stocky little fella who kind of looked like a very short King Kong Mosca (I can’t even find a photo of Roman online, but in this YouTube clip from Madison Square Garden, you can see Roman adjusting the tag team rope about 20 seconds in)
- Dick Kroll, who was taller than most of the wrestlers and did a lot of Saturday morning matches, as well as at least the first WrestleMania
- Joey Marella, who was Gorilla Monsoon’s son in real life and officiated the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event at WrestleMania III (Marella died young in 1994 in a car wreck)
- Billy Caputo, who was a blond-haired ref who appeared on many Saturday morning matches
- Jack Lotz, who many of us remember as the ref in the ring when Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF World Title
- Danny Davis, who was perhaps the most famous wrestling ref during the 1980s thanks to his heel turn in 1987 (although for years, he was a straight-laced official who worked TV tapings and Boston Garden house shows)
- Dave Hebner, who came to the WWF in the mid-’80s and was eventually involved in an angle with twin brother and fellow ref Earl when Andre defeated Hogan for the WWF Title
- Rita Marie, who may have been the first official woman’s referee ever in wrestling (you can see her in this great clip when Terry Funk attacks ring attendant Mel Phillips)
There are probably other refs I’m missing. Let me know…