Wrestling at The Aud: from The Hulk to Gorgeous George

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Hulk Hogan is going to be in Buffalo this weekend, and had some nice things to say about Buffalo Wrestling and the fans here. Steve Cichon has more from the Hulk and wrestling’s glory days in Buffalo.

Hulk Hogan is making an appearance at the Nickel City Con at the Convention Center this weekend, and he spoke with Mark Ciemcioch at The Buffalo News about his times in Buffalo.

He has great memories of wrestling in Buffalo, and like so many of us, Hulk Hogan has great memories of Memorial Auditorium.

Hogan traveled to Buffalo many times during his career, even having knee surgery here. He particularly enjoyed working the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium before it closed in 1996.

“I had some great matches in there,” Hogan said. “I’d hit people with a punch in the middle of that ring, and it sounded like a cannon would go off. The whole crowd would go along with it, (chanting) ‘Boom, boom!’ It’s a great wrestling crowd, a great city and a (I have) lot of fond memories of Buffalo.”

Hulk Hogan on ‘Hulkamaniacs,’ Buffalo and his biggest comeback yet

Wrestling, of course, goes way back in Buffalo– to big Friday Night sell out crowds through the 30s, 40s, and 50s, first at the old Broadway Auditorium (now “The Broadway Barns” and the home of Buffalo’s snowplows), and then Memorial Auditorium when it opened in 1940.

“This was a shirt and tie crowd,” said the late Buffalo News Sports Editor Larry Felser, who remembered when Wrestling at the Aud was one of the biggest events in Buffalo.

“Not that many people had TV sets back then,” remembered Felser in 2001. “People were crowding into Sears and appliance stores to try to see this thing on TV, because the place was sold out.”

And with all those big crowds, there was no wrestler who could draw them in like Gorgeous George.

“When Gorgeous George would wrestle, they’d pack the Auditorium for this guy,” said Felser.

“The Human Orchid,” as George was known, was the first modern wrestler, said retired Channel 7 sports director Rick Azar, saying he “changed the face of professional wrestling forever.”

As someone who called himself “Hollywood’s perfumed and marcelled wrestling orchid,” it’s clear that George knew how to make sure he set himself apart.

“He had an atomizer, and he’d walk around the ring with perfume, supposedly fumigating his opponent’s corners,” said Felser, who also remembered his flair for marketing outside the ring.

“His valet drove him around in an open convertible around Lafayette Square, and he’s got a wad of one dollar bills, and he was throwing money to people. It was a show stopper. He landed on page one. TV was just in its infancy then, but they were all over it. It was like World War III. That’s how big a story it was.”

Gorgeous George is credited with ushering in the Bad Boy era of sports– and even inspired Muhammad Ali, who told a British interviewer, “he was telling people, ‘I am the prettiest wrestler, I am great. Look at my beautiful blond hair.’ I said, this is a good idea, and right away, I started saying, ‘I am the greatest!'”

See some photos of Gorgeous George and read more about his career:
Buffalo in the ’50s: ‘Gorgeous George’ arrives in Buffalo, perfumes his room
Buffalo in the ’50s: Gorgeous George brings showmanship to the Aud

Irv, Rick & Tom and the sights and sounds of Eyewitness News

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – When Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar, and Tom Jolls teamed up in 1965, The Irv, Rick, and Tom Pageit’s probably fair to say that more people would have been watching Channel 4’s test pattern than the news on Channel 7. But by the time Rick Azar retired in 1989, the three had not only become the longest running anchor team in history, but also gained an iconic status unparalleled for any other triumvirate in television news history.

For me personally, Irv, Rick, and Tom have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My dad and I watched the news together every day. My mom tells anyone who’ll listen that “IRV TINE-TINE” was among my first words, and I would run around the house singing my own version of the Eyewitness News Theme (ba-ba-BA, BA-BA, Badabadaba, ba-ba-ba-BA-BA, BADABADABA!).

When they went into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2000, I snuck behind the stage to get a photo with the greatest triumvirate in the history of Buffalo. They had no idea who I was. Ten years later, I wrote a book about them.
When they went into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2000, I snuck behind the stage to get a photo with the greatest triumvirate in the history of Buffalo. They had no idea who I was. Ten years later, I wrote a book about them.

stevegrandmaCommander Tom and his pals Davey and Goliath kept me quiet and entertained, and left me having a great desire to have a red jacket with yellow epaulets. And then there was the time my Grandmother nearly passed out when we all met Rick Azar AND Mike Randall at the Broadway Market one Easter… “He’s so handsome, He’s so handsome,” Grandma repeated over and over.

Eyewitness News Audio

Click this cover to buy a copy of Steve's book on Irv, Rick, and Tom!
Click this cover to buy a copy of Steve’s book on Irv, Rick, and Tom!






Some of the people, places, and stories of Channel 7 through the years…

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

Buffalo in the ’70s: The Azar– The Oldsmobile named after Rick Azar

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1975 Buffalo, very few people were more hip than the Eyewitness News anchor team of Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar and Tom Jolls.

Promotion of their top rated newscasts on WKBW-TV Channel 7 was everywhere: buses, billboards, television promos, print ads — and a driveway near you?

Buffalo in the 50’s: Before there was Irv..

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

From the Buffalo Evening News, Nov 29, 1958– the day before Channel 7 signed on the air for the first time.

Irv Weinstein was a newscaster at KB Radio at this point– Channel 7’s first news anchor was Roger Lund.

Stan Barron was on the sports desk, and Rick Azar– who was also the announcer who signed on the station– was Channel 7’s first weather man.

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