July 18, 2013
SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Bruiser Bedlam
REAL NAME: Ion William Croitoru
Johnny K-9 has moved on, and wishes the fans would too.
"They all remember me as K-9, getting killed," said the former jobber, turned Bruiser Bedlam. "I don't want that image no more. I win now. I kick ass. I've paid my dues."
Bedlam is heavyweight champion of the Cambridge, Ontario-based ICW, having beaten Greg Valentine in the summer for the title. He faces Valentine again on Sunday at a show at Appleby's Bar & Grill in Scarborough.
In fact, the Hamiltonian Bedlam (real name Ion William 'John' Croituro) has done much more in his career than just be Johnny K-9.
He trained with fellow Hamiltonians Nick DeCarlo and Vic Rossitini for six months in the early eighties, before getting booked in Calgary's Stampede Wrestling.
Bruce Hart, who was booking at the time, named him Orhan Turgedan, The Terrible Turk. He kept the name for a time after leaving Calgary, but always had something else in mind.
"I was just starting to get into wrestling, and I always wanted Johnny K-9. Bruce Hart was booking back then in Calgary, and wanted to go with The Terrible Turk, so I kept K-9 in the background. But I got the name during a big fight. We all got thrown in the paddywagon and I saw a police car with the word K-9 on it. I said, 'That's my name, Johnny K-9'."
But it was in the WWF as Johnny K-9, when the organization filmed their TV matches in upper-New York State (mainly Poughkeepsie) and southern Ontario (mainly Brantford), that his persona became well-known.
Fans will remember him for his loud mouth and for his ring introductions -- he would always drop to his knees, cross his arms above his head and bellow.
His favourite memory was "the money."
"I made good money," Bedlam explained, then re-thought his answer. "I met some good guys."
After more than four years working for the WWF -- including a TV match against Hulk Hogan, he left on good terms for a tour of Japan with New Japan.
The Orient was a whole new experience for him.
"They f------ break my nose over there, crack your ribs. They're tough over there."
On subsequent tours, he also worked for FMW and WAR.
In the late eighties, he tried promoting in Hamilton with Mike Kelly and Bob Clark. The Canadian International Championship Wrestling circuit may not have lasted long, but it was fun. [ Click here for a video clip of the opening to the Canadian International Championship Wrestling TV show, featuring K-9 versus Ricky Johnson. (558K)]
The name Johnny K-9 / John Croitoru is also well-known with the Hamilton-Wentworth police force. Croituro spent seven months in prison in 1991 for assault, and his name continues to pop up to this day in relation to the Hamilton chapter of Satan's Choice bike gang. He also has a conviction for trafficking cocaine, and served 10 months of his sentence.
"I know a few guys, that's why [his name is often mentioned]," said Croituro. "I never was a biker. That's alleged bulls---."
In 1994, things changed for the better for Bedlam.
"[Jim] Cornette saw me on a show in Toledo, Ohio working for MTW. And he booked me down in Smoky Mountain. That was the best year of my life in this business."
It was Cornette who came up with the Bruiser Bedlam monicker and made him his TV champ.
"Smoky Mountain, I loved it. Plus I was the champ there. I beat Savage, Cactus Jack, Jake The Snake," he said.
It was the fans that made the area special.
"They believed it .... Like, it's ten years behind in the Smokies. Kentucky, Tennesse, they're laid back. You'd go to little towns and these arenas would be jammed. They couldn't wait for wrestling. You were like a big-time celebrity coming in there."
After 18 months, he left the territory and returned to Hamilton. About a year later, Cornette threw in the towel on the promotion.
"It went under because Cornette went to find big bucks with New York, eh. He didn't care anymore. He had a good thing there, though."
Bedlam is a little down on the current state of wrestling. The fans know too much and their attitudes have changed.
"Before you would have the believers who would say, 'Holy man! That's gotta hurt.' It does hurt, but, not like they used to think," he explained. "They would think, 'that guy's gotta be dead.' They would believe that ... Now they go, that's all fake. They planned that."
His current group, ICW, stresses older-style wrestling, and Bruiser Bedlam believes that the plans of promoters Ike Shaw and Waldo von Erich to take it to the next level.
"It's Canadian. It should be Canadian," he stressed. "ICW is starting to book pretty solid now. It's looking good in the new year."
Besides the show this weekend, Bedlam, a legit strongman who once benched 625 pounds, will be on the ICW show at the Hamilton Convention Centre on December 19, 1998 and again at Appleby's the next day. Names booked for those two cards include Dan Severn, The Bushwackers, The Headshrinkers, King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, and Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese.
GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling, November 1998
I have great memories of growing up seeing K-9 on WWF TV & working Windsor & Detroit area indy shows. Don't forget that he now wrestles as Bruiser Bedlam. He has raised hell all over Canadian & Michigan independents since 1994. Also was big time in Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
I always enjoyed the charismatic Johnny K-9 as a jobber in the 'fed' and I've had the pleasure of watching him wrestle a couple of times in LaSalle, Ontario as Bruiser Bedlam. It's great to see him still active in the business and the last time I saw him, he was wearing ICW gold.
'Dangerous' Danny Steele
I can remember when I saw him for the first time working for the mid-west promotions called the MTV where I got to see him wrestle against some of the best in the business today like Cactus Jack, Marty Jannetty, and last but not least the one and only Al Snow one of the best workers, trainer/wrestler in the business today! So if you got to see those matches then you'll know what I'm talking about but if not then you missed out on a-lot! I also recall seeing him in the Insane Championship Wrestling promotion also in the mid-west promotions of Detroit, Michigan he wrestled against the ones wilder then Cactus Jack like Ian Rotten, Nu-Jack from Extreme Championship Wrestling and from Insane Wrestling Alliance in Kentucky Ian's promotion and those were also wild and bloody thumb-tackingly goodies if you like blood and wrestling then look for those matches with them on it on video cuz I said so son cuz Bruiser kicks much mucho ass !!!!!!! Hope to see Bruiser back in the Windsor-Canada promotions other known as Border-City Championship Wrestling run by Scott d'Amore, Jeffery Scotts! Well that's about wraps it up thank's for the memories and keep up the good work in the business!
I remember watching K9 at WWF TV taping regularly in Brantford, Ont. in the mid 80's against the British Bulldogs, Ricky Steamboat, Tito Santana, etc. at the Civic Centre. Also, later reading of his strength exploits at Bad Boy's Gym in Hamilton here featured in Canadian bodybuilding magazines. He was touted as Canada's Strongest Man at the time.
My memories here in Southeast Michigan are those of chanting "Mr Clean, Mr Clean" over and over again. During these chants he would confront us in the stands and on occasion Al Snow would leave the ring come into the bleachers and chant along with us. That is my Bruiser Bedlam memory
My memories of Bruiser Bedlam are when he was in Smokey Mountain wrestling. Bruiser and Jim Cornette were great. His feuds with Macho Man (Randy Savage) were the best matches I've ever seen to this day. He's beaten Cactus Jack, Al Snow, Jake the Snake Roberts and Road Warrior Hawk. He was the MAN! In my opinion, Bruiser Bedlam shoud be in the WWF or WCW. He is what a Wrestler should look like. Big, strong, with attitude. I hear that he wrestles now in ICW, and is the champ. I hear his fueds with Greg Valentine are great. I wish I could see Bruiser again in action. So keep up the good work Bruiser, you're THE MAN!!
I remember the day I seen you riding your harley Davidson !.....And the police pulled you over in Hamilton for your beany helmet !.....That was the funniest thing I have ever seen..... A huge 300 pound monster with a little Beany on his head!........ John cursed and swore up and down but still the police officer would not give back his helmet....So I had to drive all the way back home and pick up my spare helmet and drive back to the scene and loan John my helmet so he could get his Harley back home.
I just saw Bruiser Bedlam in Simcoe he was in a match with Chainz WWF . He made a run in and beat Chainz down . The people went crazy. He was by far the best on the card. I also saw Bruiser in Cayuga he was tagged with Jim Neidhart against Greg Valentine and the new Razor Ramone. When he came out the people popped. Bruiser pinned Valentine and the people went nuts. About 4000 people booed him. This guy is wild. I can't beleave the WWF and WCW don't use him this guy is huge and moves fast. I think its only a matter of time before he goes to the top 2 .
your number 1 fan jay tourco .
p.s Bruiser rules.....
Johnny K9 I remember playing cards with Johnny for slaps on the hand and he used to come off the chair to hit guys on the hand after he won. He was a good roomate and a good guy to spend a month with in Sudbury and the east then Guelph. I'll always remember the guy in the corner singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Hope you get this Johnny.
Your roommate Kevin Booth.
A friend and former neighbour Johnny has taken some time off to get back in the best shape of his life. He's in at about 280 and more muscle thtan ever before. John plans to be back in the ring in the summer of 2001.