Top 10 KSWA Highlights of 2014: #6—Move To The Teamster Temple
December 22, 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 6: Goodbye To KSWA Arena, Hello To New Home Of Pro Wrestling In Pittsburgh
On August 14, 2004 the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance held its first sanctioned event at what would soon become the KSWA Arena, the Home of Professional Wrestling in Pittsburgh. “Dr. Devastation” Lou Martin was the World Heavyweight Champion. At the first event, Biker Al won a Battle Royal, and as a result, the Tag Team Championship (with a partner of his choice). “Mr. Puniverse” Bob Atlas beat “The Enforcer” Shawn Blanchard for the Tri-State Championship, and Justin Sane defeated The Latin Assassin in the only Ray Mendez Memorial Cup tournament.
Over the next decade, the KSWA would hold 92 more events at the venue, located near the corner of 51st and Butler Street. The KSWA World Heavyweight title would be turned over 10 times—three by Blanchard—at the rustic arena. Then Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto stood in the center of the ring and named March 27, 2010 “KSWA Day in the City of Pittsburgh.” In addition to a litany of KSWA Megastars, a virtual “Who’s Who” of Pittsburgh celebrities and wrestling legends would find their way in the room full of KSWA Krazies. Demolition—Ax and Smash—won the KSWA Tag Team Championship on October 10, 2009. Dominic DeNucci made many stops, including a visit on the last day of KSWA action—on March 29, 2014. Larry Zbyszko, Shane Douglas, Bobby “Hurricane” Hunt, Donna Christiantello, James J. Dillon, Lanny Frattare, George “The Animal” Steele, Bushwacker Luke Williams, Frank Durso, “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, Bucky Palermo, Zach Gowen, Bill Cardille, John DeFazio, Chuck Martoni and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democrat Party Jim Burn all appeared in the KSWA Arena and helped make the KSWA the most prominent professional wrestling organization in the Commonwealth.
It’s also believed that “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino made his final appearance at a live, independent professional wrestling event anywhere when he was inducted into the KSWA Hall of Fame before another sold-out FanFest on December 8, 2012. About four months later he was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, not even the increasing popularity and cache’ of the KSWA, the customer could not continue to be the sole commercial anchor, heart and conscientious soul of a once-thriving lodge. For years, KSWA Krazies had been clamored for a bigger, more accommodating space, one where the organization could better and professionally service an ever-growing clientele. Its prominence outgrew its confines and still-dazzling wrestling atmosphere.
When the KSWA decided to look for a new location, the entire Pittsburgh community—specifically Lawrenceville—responded enthusiastically. It became clear that the neighborhood—recently named one of the 26 “Most Hipster Neighborhoods in the World” by businessinsider.com (wedged between Lapa, Rio de Janeiro and Little Five Points, Atlanta)—wanted the KSWA and what it means to the neighborhood—to remain in its portfolio.
The Teamster Temple, in the middle of Lawrenceville’s bustling business district, came into focus. The KSWA had held fundraisers in the Temple before. On October 17, 2009, a benefit was held for St. John Neumann School. The rental hall received outstanding reviews. Pittsburgh’s professional wrestling organization returned on August 14, 2010 as part of the “KSWA Krazy Tour.” On November 17, 2012 and then again on August 24, 2013 the KSWA was on the road again, and to the Temple for successful PA Connecting Communities fundraisers.
The newly-renovated hall has been called by some longtime observers to be the “nicest” venue to host an event in all of independent professional wrestling. Recent visitor “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan raved about the building, calling it one of the best sites in all-of-the independent wrestling landscape. With high ceilings, glorious woodwork, mezzanine sight lines and modern accoutrements, the Teamster Temple is a quantifiable “step up” in accommodations. In addition, the KSWA now has unprecedented control over refreshments, staffing and other amenities that make the organization unlike any other. Nine events have been scheduled in the Teamster Temple in 2015 alone, and the KSWA looks forward to many years of success to come.