Top 10 KSWA Highlights of 2014: #7—Cardille, DeFazio, Martoni Headline Hall & Abby
December 21, 2014
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
[As the calendar year comes to a close, now is a great time to look at the top moments and highlights of the wrestling year in Pittsburgh. With a historic 2015 right around the corner, let’s look back at a remarkable 2014!]
Number 7: Studio Wrestling Legends Inducted Into KSWA Hall of Fame
From 1959 until 1972, professional wrestling in Pittsburgh was “Studio Wrestling.” Considered one of the most-watched wrestling programs of its time anywhere, WIIC (later to become WPXI) television’s “Studio Wrestling” is a name that resonates with Pittsburghers to this very day. The show was anchored by “The Champ” Bruno Sammartino (KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2012) and Dominic DeNucci (2010). The show launched the careers of many legends, especially George “The Animal” Steele (2013) and “Luscious” Johnny Valiant (2013).
For Pittsburghers, the show might have even been more meaningful for the region’s athletes, who performed on the local stage. None were more highly regarded than “Jumpin” Johnny DeFazio. Steele has repeatedly noted that had Sammartino won the WWWF World Title, DeFazio would have been an excellent replacement. “Cannonball” Chuck Martoni was also an early staple of “Studio Wrestling.” Now Dr. Martoni, the highly-regarded grappler cut his career short for educational pursuits. And all of the “90 minutes of Unorganized Mayhem” was brought to fans at 6:00 p.m. every Saturday night by “Chilly” Bill Cardille.
A capacity crowd attended the 7th annual “Joe Abby Memorial Tournament” at the KSWA Arena in Lawrenceville on March 29. All three “Studio Wrestling” stars were in attendance for a very special induction into the KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2014. Dominic DeNucci also made an unannounced, special appearance to see his friends.
In the main event of the Joe Abby Memorial tournament, more highlights came when “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin faced Lord Zoltan (2012). As introductions were made, the new Mayor Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, suddenly appeared, walked in front of Martin, entered the ring, and danced with Lord Zoltan inside the squared circle. Martin was livid. Zoltan defeated Martin in the finals and became the Joe Abby champion. The day was ever so special for Zoltan because as a very young wrestling fan, he got his foot in the door by taking photographs of the Studio Wrestling stars in the early 70’s. Peduto had crafted a proclamation naming March 29, 2014 “Chilly” Bill Cardille Day in the city of Pittsburgh.
The event was finalized on April 22 when members of the KSWA appeared at Allegheny County Council to celebrate a day for all of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees, as both DeFazio and Martoni have been integral members of that governmental body since its inception in January, 2000.