Top 10 Moments Of 2016: #10 HOF Historic Additions; City, County, State, Federal Governments & "Golden Quill" Recognize Wrestling In PGH
December 13, 2016
By Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest
The year 2016 featured another monumental campaign for the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA). Pittsburgh’s professional wrestling organization hosted 19 events during the year, including appearances in several new markets, like New Kensington, as well as Sewickly, PA in successive weeks.
During one of those stops outside of Lawrenceville, the KSWA was featured—in all places—on ABC News and Good Morning America specifically (that comes much later in this list). KSWA’s 200th event was held and celebrated on March 26th, the annual Joe Abby Memorial and Hall of Fame Induction Night.
The Joe Abby Night was highlighted by a night of unique, hard-hitting and entertaining matches. It also took a break to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of five men who helped draw some of the complexities of the tapestry that is professional wrestling. Not everyone who has entered a ring somewhere gets into Pittsburgh’s professional wrestling organization. [Editor's note: The nod is a one-of-a-kind, seriously-respected distinction and extended solely because of importance and influence to professional wrestling in and around Pittsburgh.] Since its inception in 2008, only 22 men and one woman had earned the right to have their names hang on banners during the Joe Abby Memorial. [Each year, the KSWA Championship Committee painstakingly nominates, eliminates or positions only the most deserving inductees. Nearly 5,000 fans have witnessed KSWA Hall of Fame inductions since 2008, which is in a stratosphere all to itself in independent wrestling. J.J. Dillon called his 2015 induction just as important as his WWE induction, because Pittsburgh is where he started wrestling.]
In 2016, Baron Mikel Scicluna was inducted posthumously by famed sports broadcaster Lanny Frattare. Through research, it was discovered that Scicluna had defeated Bruno Sammartino by disqualification (a true rarity), 50 years ago, the very week of the Baron’s inclusion. He was represented by his son, Mike, Mike’s wife, Beth, and other members of the Scicluna family. Second generation personality Eugene Palermo (who served as a Studio Wrestling valet and independent manager for many years), is the son of famous referee and Class of 2013 member Bucky Palermo. T-Rantula, who has wrestled everyone all over the world for more than 26 years, and Frattare himself (for his guest ring announcing duties at FanFest) made up the class. Then, at FanFest, Nick Busick, Class of 2015, inducted wrestling journalist Bill Apter as the first member of the 2017 class, and 24th inductee overall.
In a surprise, Apter received his own “Bill Apter Day” in the city of Pittsburgh from Mayor Bill Peduto. Previously, Apter had received a letter from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for his long career and influence as advocate for the mentally and physically challenged in the work force. [Apter called his evening among the most "magnificent" of his entire career.]
Governor Wolf had already been familiar with Pennsylvania’s premier wrestling organization. Earlier in the year, Wolf had presented a letter of congratulations and success for the KSWA, which is now in its 16th year of service and action in Pittsburgh. U.S. Senator Pat Toomey had also recognized the KSWA for its longevity and important to the Pittsburgh athletic landscape.
Capping of the year of recognition, Allegheny County Council Tom Baker presented the KSWA with recognition for its participation in FanFest and Toy Drive 2016. Since 2005, KSWA and the Krazies have donated untold amounts of toys to children in need throughout its home base of Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh in particular.
It was also a year of waiting in the Pittsburgh journalist awards season. L. David Colabine, a videographer with KDKA TV Channel 2 and sportscaster Rich Walsh submitted their 2015 “Hometown Wrestling” piece to the regional “Golden Quill” board. While the three-minute piece did not win the famed Golden Quill for excellence in the Western Pennsylvania Press Corp, it was nominated.
In a follow-up, Colabine met Nick Busick during the 2015 feature story. Busick was then diagnosed with and beat esophageal cancer. Colabine documented Busick’s recovery and showed him at the KSWA’s return to Spirit Lounge (the former KSWA Arena), and filed another award-worthy story. In 2017, expect Colabine’s story on Busick to be a nominee for a Golden Quill.
Several feature stories on T-Rantula, Frattare, KSWA deaf referee Adam Jugan and others were published in local Pittsburgh papers during 2016. At FanFest, a reporter from the Washington Post interviewed Shane Douglas and Busick, and took pictures. At press time, no story had yet been filed, but it’s believed that one is to come.
As the organization returns "home" in the new year, the KSWA’s unparalleled and trailblazing legacy of good will and respect will continue into its record-extending 17th year as the city of Pittsburgh's lone outlet for professional wrestling.