Jump to content

The Idiot's Guide to Europe


Recommended Posts

Influenced by Comradebot’s excellent insight (http://www.greydogsoftware.com/forum/showthread.php?t=126373&highlight=tutorial+europe) and because the Cornellverse site lacked any description, I decided to embark on a quest to discover the history of wrestling in C-Verse Europe. Using the 1975, 1977, and 1997 C-Verse mods, as well as the canonical TEW 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010, I have compiled a (hopefully accurate) history of European wrestling. Enjoy!

 

The 1950s and 1960s

Small, independent promotions dominated the European professional wrestling scene. Despite this handicap, many hugely influential wrestlers passed through the continent in these decades. Perhaps the most well-known was Italian-born Antonio Moretti. Moretti debuted in 1945 at age 22 and quickly became a legend of the business in this era. The “Italian Stallion” had many legendary opponents, including Olympic Bronze medalist William Riley, the bloodthirsty Sultan, Jean-Jacques Leblanc, aka “The Fighting Frenchman,” and the famed Greek practitioner of catch wrestling Petros Galaktopoulos, later the head trainer of the Dog Pound wrestling school.

 

But it was Galaktopoulos’ countryman, “The Greek God” Ares Aegalues, standing 6’8” tall and weighing 375 pounds, who would prove to be Moretti’s most fierce competition. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Aegaleus and Moretti began a continent-wide tour, battling one another for supremacy. The feud, and the wrestlers, quickly outgrew the small wrestling scene in Europe and took their battles across the ocean, emerging as two dominant figures in the American wrestling scene. There were very few other notable European wrestlers in this era. Lukas “The Fighting German” Herman organized and promoted some of Germany’s first wrestling events in the 1960s. But even he moved to the United States to open his own promotion, although it failed and he was forced to work for CCW.

 

The 1970s

In 1974, Jan Steussen, a German expatriate and veteran of the American territories, returned to his homeland to establish a viable German-based wrestling company. He purchased a controlling interest in West Berlin Wrestling, attracting a cult following by using a simple formula; pitting babyfaces (primarily German pop culture representations) against stereotypes from other European nations. Michael Kronenberg became the first champion of WBW, although the next year he suffered multiple knee injuries forcing him into retirement. Steussen and Kronenberg scoured the continent, assembling the best wrestlers from across Europe.

 

Commandant Markus Maier became the top heel, using a Third Reich-sympathizer gimmick, goose-stepping to the ring and even occasionally firing off a Hitler-esque salute. Although he began wrestling in 1968, he really hit his stride in 1975 with the debut of his bodyguard/tag team partner The Aryan Barbarian. This duo became the dominant force in West Berlin Wrestling for much of the 1970s and WBW found it difficult to build credible challengers. William Riley made occasional appearances in WBW producing, in 1974, perhaps the greatest match in European wrestling history, a 30-minute mat classic. Maier also battled Sabra Man, a former soldier of the Israeli army and veteran of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Wearing a Star of David mask, Sabra Man was a natural opponent for the Commandant and crowds in Germany, in particular, often got violent when these two met inside the squared circle. In addition to Sabra Man, Riley, and The Brotherhood (as The Aryan Barbarian and the Commandant referred to themselves), there were many other notable European grapplers in this decade. The Mad Hungarian served as a special attraction and was often pitted against Spiros the Mighty in brutal brawls. Spiros also feuded with The Sultan and Killer Denucci, a sadistic heel playing the role of a high society psychopath, cutting his opponents open and then using a handkerchief to wipe the blood off his well-manicured hands.

 

Europe witnessed several different tag team combinations in this decade, led by Nicht Meir (Erik ‘Kaiser’ Grung and Wolfgang Lorenz). The duo dressed in punk rock attire and befriended the famous German underground band Das Hasselhoffs, becoming influential in both wrestling and pop culture. The Borg Brothers also served as a popular duo in WBW, as Dieter “Big” Borg and his brother Magnus were multi-time champs in the promotion. But the most internationally-relevant were the teams of The Full Monty (Darrin Dreamweaver and Gavin Skarborough) and the New Zealand Game Hunters (Vandermar and Croup) whose series of matches on the European indy scene drew the attention of American promoters and Pro Wrestling Hits magazine, leading the four men to leave Europe for America (there is a theme here, isn’t there?).

 

The 1980s

Oh, a horrible time in European wrestling. WBW closed and the wrestling scene was so bad, in fact, that no one documented its existence. All we have are rumors and conjecture…

 

The 1990s

After the dark ages of the 1980s, European wrestling resembled the mess it was before Jan Steussen stepped in. Similarly, in 1995, Len Schultz, an Austrian self-made cheese-industry millionaire, created European World Class Wrestling (EWCW) as a pet project. He imported international talent like Yosuke Narita and Ricky Dale Johnson to face local talents, but after that first push, very few big names have wanted to join, or even tour, EWCW. The first champion of EWCW was Faustino Flash, a veteran of the European indy scene. Faust and Narita traded the title back and forth until April of 1996 when “Dirty” Harry Sanchez claimed the belt. Sanchez, a Spanish wrestler traveling around Europe with a ridiculous cowboy character, was too flaky for the title and soon it rested around the waist of a hugely talented Norwegian named Stig Svensson, better known as Captain Hero. Hero faced many of Europe’s ‘biggest’ names in the late 1990s, including Doctor Insane (who played the role of a mad scientist), Bigger Dan Ewe, and Vasjan Sirotic, one of the toughest men in pro wrestling.

 

Other ‘stars’ of EWCW included Poppa Punisher, one of Schultz’ first signings, and Thunderbolt Newman, a monster heel who joined EWCW in late 1996. The European indy scene had some talent as well. Men like Baron von Rambis, a major heel in the 1970s in the SWF, made occasional appearance, along with Fadzaev the Crippler, a European veteran whose mannerisms include foaming at the mouth to demonstrate his madness. Mika Auvinen, a Finnish talent, traveled throughout Europe with a single goal – to bed a woman from each country. Unfortunately for Auvinen, this task became increasingly difficult as new nations formed from the former USSR, forcing him to redouble his efforts. Likewise, Trandafir Andrei Ionut had his own area of specialty. He was a bona fide superstar in Eastern Europe, where he was a former soccer great. He was considered one of the world’s toughest footballers until being forced from the sport in 1994 for violence. And finally, Herschel the Hammer was an international superstar, but not due to his actual wrestling ability. Instead, Herschel was one of the world’s finest practitioners of play-by-mail wrestling games. He held the World Championship of pbm wrestling on numerous occasions, gaining repute for his strong roleplay elements and creativity.

 

Europe housed few good tag teams in the 1990s, although the English team of Monkey Business was perhaps the best-known, as Shane Hannigans and Tom Foolery were at least good for a laugh. Ares Aegulus and Antonio Moretti traveled through Europe occasionally; passing down their wisdom to young up and comers, but there were very few with enough talent that it mattered. The single biggest event of the decade involved Louis Figo Manico, a hugely talented individual who organized small independent shows and was quickly considered one of Europe’s most talented wrestlers. In 1998, he formed Ultimate Combat Ring, inaugurating a new era of European wrestling.

 

The 2000s

A sudden resurgence of interest in European wrestling made the once-moribund Euro scene into a much larger part of the wrestling world. Louis Figo Manico’s Ultimate Combat Ring was based in western Europe and became the first European promotion to show any signs of being able to last. Their roster was quite diverse, with a strategy to promote many ‘family-friendly’ styles. Manico, “the Pain from Spain,” was their first champion, gaining the title in May 1998 and lasting until March 1999. His successor was the Scheming Behemoth, a 460 pound monster who wore a black suit of armor to the ring. Louis would win the title 3 more times, the last stretching from February 2004 to November of that year, feuding with Behemoth, Doctor Insane, and Byron over the belt. His final title loss occurred at the hands of Sergei Kalashnov, the self-proclaimed “Fresh Prince of Belarus.” Kalashnov was the hottest commodity in European wrestling in late 2004 and early 2005 at the height of UCR. A minor footnote from this era was the emergence of Mister Blister, better known as Marat Khoklov. The monstrous Khoklov was a rookie brawler, with little more than a menacing look before Japan saw his potential and he soon became an international superstar.

 

The tag team scene at this point was very strong. Double Dutch (Ruud van Anger and Frank de Pain), The Force (Toby Juan Kenobi and Jed High with The Princess), the United Nations (Herman the German and Kirk the Turk) were the most exciting teams in the mid-2000s, eclipsing former division mainstays (and multi-time champions) The Executioners (Scheming Behemoth and the Big Bad) and Otto Hammerschmidt/Wolfgang Klause. The prominent gang of UCR was the Kosher Nostra, consisting of head booker Herschel the Hammer, Bully Benrubi (aka Jason Jade) and Poppa Punisher (aka Abraham Slam). During this time, UCR was popular enough to gain a TV deal, holding UCR: International Wrestling Superstars on Wednesdays at 7 pm on Continental Sports X1.

 

By early 2007, UCR had undergone a bit of a shakeup. For one, they kept altering the product, finally settling on an old-school style traditional promotion that seemed to please the fans. But although Louis Figo Manico still owned the promotion, top star Captain Hero took the book from former headbooker Herschel the Hammer (released in a pay dispute in 2006), inaugurating a new era of UCR. Hero and Manico restocked the roster, adding Ali Bloxsome, a druid character complete with spooky entrance and outfit, Beast Bantom, the “Master of the Powerbomb” and a young worker with boundless potential, and a women’s division headed by Anna Ki, Geena the Warrior Princess, Miss Information, and Speedy Marie. The UCR World Combat Title moved around as well, going from Sergei Kalashnov to the UK Dragon and to Captain Hero and finally to Byron, who played a pretentious heel gimmick to a tee. This was also an era of stables as the Rogues Gallery (Dark Falcon, Doctor Insane, Mr. Evilness, Scheming Behemoth, and the Evil Henchmen) battled The Super Crew (Captain Hero, Super Falcon, White Knight, Wonder Boy) with the main pairings of Super Falcon versus Dark Falcon, Captain Hero versus Doctor Insane, and the Rescue Rangers (Wonder Boy and Super Falcon) against the Dark Side (Doctor Insane and Mr. Evilness). Meanwhile, UCR: International Wrestling Superstars continued its run on Continental Sports X1.

 

The changes that began in 2007 made headlines by 2008. Louis Figo Manico closed the doors of UCR in May 2007, deciding to walk away from wrestling. Two of Manico’s lieutenants, Ali Bloxsome and Byron, decided to form their own competing companies. Byron’s European Wrestling All-Stars centered in Berlin, focusing on entertainment and a popularity-based product while Bloxsome’s Ultimate European Wrestling went to the Mediterranean, pushing a return to traditional wrestling. Byron, operating as owner and booker (and the final UCR World Combat champion), starred in EWA along with Bam Bam Johansson (½ of UCR’s final tag champs with Puffy the Sand Iron Player). Notable tag teams included Double Dutch, The Fashionistas (Roberto Milano and Gianfranco Morelli), The Force, and Devastation United (Puffy the Sand Iron Player and Poppa Punisher). Unlike Byron, Bloxsome chose to turn the book over to a different wrestler, in this case the ultra-talented Joey Beauchamp, a former UCR European Title holder. His roster was much more wrestling-based, including Bloxsome, Beauchamp, Stig Svensson (the former Captain Hero), Sergei Kalashnov (the most in-demand wrestler from UCR’s breakup), and Michael Moodie (aka Razor Valentine, a talented technician). Some of the notable free agents included Herschel the Hammer, Scheming Behemoth (who was unpopular with both Bloxsome and Byron), Louis Figo Manico, and Holocaust, an American indy wrestler with a great look but horrible attitude.

 

As 2010 approached, the EWA and UEW were joined by a new kid on the block, Victory Wrestling Association. In 2009, Swiss multimillionaire Albert Thorp founded VWA as a “melting pot” of wrestling concepts…without tag teams or alliances. He hired Randy Haute as his head booker and established a roster made up of mostly unknowns. His stars are Griffin (often referred to as the Swedish Steve Flash for his ringwork), Landon Mallory (a talented South African), and Sebastian Koller (a tailor-made babyface and reigning VWA European). Byron’s EWA changed little, adding Bam Bam Johansson’s ‘little’ brother Stig “Hercules” Johansson to form the seemingly invincible Johansson Brothers team. Another tag team had a major facelift as the long-standing team of The Force dropped the Star Wars gimmick and became X Force, Christopher Lister (formerly Toby Juan Kanobi), Jase Cole (formerly Jed High), and their manager Simona Cox (formerly the Princess). Similarly, the UEW looked remarkably similar to its 2008 iteration, relying on Joey Beauchamp, Michael Moodie, Sergei Kalashnov, Ali Bloxsome, and Stig Svensson. Only time will tell what the future of European wrestling will be. Can young prospects like the Johanssons, Sebastian Koller, and Landon Mallory lead a reinvention of European wrestling or will it again slip into oblivion?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...