Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hawaii's 50th State Big Time Wrestling

Lord James Blears and Handsome Johnny Barend -

What is it? Is it something about being from Hawaii? I don't get it.

I searched both the Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC) and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF) websites to check their lists of inductees, and I couldn't believe that they failed to remember two Wrestlers who left their marks on the Sport of Wrestling like no other two back in the golden era of wrestling of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. One is Lord James "Tally-Ho" Blears and the other is "Handsome" Johnny Barend.

Gene Kiniski who is an inductee in both CAC and the PWHF was one half of a Champion Tag Team back in the 1950s. The other half of that Tag Team was Lord James Blears. 

While still wrestling, Lord James Blears became the "creator" of the "Wrestler Interview" used in Hawaii's 50th State Big Time Wrestling which became the prototype for Wrestler Interviews industry wide while being copied throught the Mainland. Lord Blears was the man behind the success of Hawaii's 50th State Big Time Wrestling. Now retired, to my knowledge Lord James Blears still lives in Hawaii. 

The other is "Handsome" Johnny Barend, who is one of the All-Time Greatest Tag Team wrestlers who won Championship Titles with 9 different partners, and was actually Married at the HIC Arena in the ring in 1969. Handsome Johnny Barend created a character that was cemented in the memories of anyone from Hawaii back in those days. His outrageous interviews with his "Mister Francis!" growls were legendary.

His off-beat character was best described by fellow wrestler the legendary King Curtis Iaukea when he said in a 2005 interview, "With his knee-high wrestling boots, dark glasses, top hat and cigar, Barend adopted the TV 'Batman' theme and later 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' to enhance his gimmick of a being a mysterious wacko telling fractured fairy tales about his opponents. I think Johnny's bubble shifted to one side somewhere along the way and never came back straight." 

Handsome Johnny Barend is now around 75 and living in his native New York. And since this morning when I first found out that Curtis "Da Bull" Iaukea had passed away, I remember growing up in Hawaii and going to the Civic and then the HIC Arena for wrestling with my grandfather.

It was a great time. It was a time when both good guys and bad guys were clearly defined, and some were crazier than others.

Now I wish someone would look at the contributions of both of Lord Blears and Johnny Barend before they are no longer with us.

They need to be recognized.

Tom Correa


1 comment:

  1. September 20, 2011: Handsome Johnny Barend passed away on Tuesday at his home in Avon, NY at the age of 82.

    Source: Online World of Wrestling.


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