Why I run Titans in Toronto
GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Breathe deep, Greg. Less than a month to go. The sixth Titans in Toronto event is almost here, and I'm at once excited, worried, stressed, impatient, and wistful.
There are times that I wonder why I am doing this. Again.
But then I start flipping through some of the old photos and see so much joy and happiness on the faces of the many men and women who made professional wrestling what it is, in southern Ontario and abroad.
So many faces that are no longer with us came to our dinners, like Baron Mikel Scicluna (whose wife, Gloria, was originally from Toronto), "The Missing Link" Dewey Robertson, Waldo von Erich, Duncan McTavish, Milt Avruskin, Mae Young, Fabulous Moolah, and even fans, like Shuhei Aoki.
Titans in Toronto first started in 2004, a small dinner at a hotel with old-time wrestling fans and old wrestlers. It was a success, and the other organizers (Jian and Page Magen, and Andy Stefanides) and I decided to keep going, and every second year we've run another. Some were more ambitious, tied into a live wrestling show, and the last one in 2012, was actually a breakfast, linked into the WrestleReunion event in town.
All of them have made money for the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York. It's a cause I really believe in, and a visit to the PWHF is a journey that every fan of professional wrestling should make in their lifetime.
As the one who sends out all the invites, contacts the wrestlers, gets the tickets printed and sent out, and organizes a lot of the show itself, it's easy to get a little panicked.
The reward, or payoff in wrestling terms, comes on Saturday, September 27th, at the actual dinner at The Factory, but there is something to be said about the anticipation too. Just today, I learned that Danny Marsh, who wrestled locally as Danny Littlewolf and was later a WWF referee, is coming into town from New Brunswick from the event. Never met him, but have interviewed him and we are Facebook friends.
He's not the only one travelling a good distance.
Beverly Shade got a plane ticket for Christmas from her husband, Billy Blue River, to come up from Mississippi. Marshall Caplan is flying in from British Columbia, though in his case, the dinner happened to coincide with a trip already planned; he's really pumped to pull out the old tights and see if he can still be "Flying" Bobby Marshall.
Rob Fuego, Tiger Jeet Singh, Farmer Pete and Tiger Ali Singh at Titans in Toronto in 2010.
There will be a couple of car loads from Montreal, Ottawa, and Detroit. Dominic Denucci and Lord Zoltan (Ken Jugan) are driving the five hours from Pittsburgh, with a stop at Ilio DiPaolo
's restaurant outside Buffalo a guarantee. Speaking of Buffalo, The Sensational, Intelligent Destroyer
(Dick Beyer) is coming up again with his even more sensational and intelligent wife, Wilma, but then The Destroyer has always been there for the PWHF.
Getting newbies out to the event ("The Silent Warrior" Louis Long, Dino Bravo, "Silent" Brian Mackney) is a chance to share more about OUR Hall of Fame, the one that isn't a reward for company loyalty and based on a whim and DVD sales.
A lot of the magic this year will be centred on Sweet Daddy Siki. Though he's originally from Texas, he really is a Toronto institution at this point, known around town for his music career, hosting karaoke shows, and, well, for being simply irresistible. Siki is bringing his whole family out to the event, and we'll have a special presentation for him, a neat video, and who knows what else. Boxing legend George Chuvalo is coming to the dinner to celebrate Siki, as is ex-boxer turned radio personality Spider Jones.
This is the first time that Siki is able to come out for the whole night, as he is usually still working or, until her recent passing, taking care of his wife Anne.
I could use this space to do a hard-sell for tickets (just $65!), to tell fans how this is a rare opportunity to see so many legends in one space. That goes double for the Ontario indy workers and promoters, who could be tapping minds with thousands of hours of experience as pro wrestlers.
But I won't.
It's your loss if you aren't there. We'll have plenty of fun on our own.
I'll be there, the stressed-out guy at the door, making sure everything is going smoothly.
I'm the one who leaves exhausted, but on Cloud Nine, having provided an wonderful reunion for so many old friends who are now my friends.
Get your tickets for Titans In Toronto VI!
Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame website
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Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow him on Twitter @gregmep.