Early Days of Studio Wrestling
Studio Wrestling debuted in 1959 on Channel 11 Wiic Tv In Pittsburgh and was originally hosted by Mark Schaffer.
Schaffer was a newsman with a terrific voice but probably had no real interest in wrestling.
Bill Cardille took over the announcing duties sometime in 1960 and continued till the end of the run.
In the early days of Studio Wrestling it was almost all squash matches with big name stars of the NWA appearing beating prelim or local talent.
Bruno Sammartino made his debut on Studio Wrestling in 1959 and became an instant fan favorite.
Bruno made regular appearances on Studio Wrestling taking on generally prelim talent from out of town and then would do an interview with Bill Cardille.
The American Heating Company was the main sponsor of the show and former Pirate Pye Traynor would do the spots live.
From 1960-1963 Bruno Sammartino would generally headline the cards at the Civic Arena.
The local promotion would bring in decent competition for Bruno in the likes of Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, The Crusher, Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon, T.N.T. Napolitan, Masked Destroyer, Killer Buddy Austin, Hans Mortier, and others.
Crusher Lisouski was the most popular opponent of Bruno Sammartino in the pre-Wwwf days.
Of all of Bruno's early challengers Gorilla Monsoon had to be the toughest, these two had some real physical battles that went on for close to an hour on some occasions.
The Civic Arena cards in the early 60's were generally filled out with babyface wrestlers such as Haystacks Calhoun, Bobo Brazil, Edouard Carpentier, Argentina Apollo & others.
Local wrestler Jumping Johnny Defazio made a name for himself defeating many of the lower and mid card challengers. Defazio's early rivals were Chet Walik & T.N.T. Napolitan.
Ace Freeman another local wrestler who was getting up in years still competed on a regular basis in the early 60's and worked mainly as a mid card guy.
Besides the matches involving Bruno Sammartino some highlights from the early to mid 60's include the Civic Arena match with the Masked Destroyer, Duke Hoffman & Ron Romano taking on Cheif White Owl, Ace Freeman & Johnny DeFazio. The good guys won that match by pinning all 3 villans.
On Studio Wrestling Chief White Owl was wrestling prelim wrestler Frank Pickens, the Chief fell wrong and broke his leg (legit)...Cowboy Bill Watts came to the ring in just a towel and finished off Pickens then assisted the stage hands in getting the Chief onto a stretcher. After the Chief recovered there was a big grudge match at the Civic Arena, I was told some years later that Pickens felt real bad about this and didn't want to do the grudge match but I guess the money was too good to pass up.
A number of wrestlers left the area when Pittsburgh became part of the Wwwf in 1963. T.N.T. Napolitean was one of them, he had a match against Bruno in Mc Keesport Pa. lost the match and was never heard from again.
Killer Buddy Austin never returned to the area after Bruno became champ and Chet Walik was killed in 1964.