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  Dec 6, 2001



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Saying thanks to Ed Whalen
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling

Ed Whalen

Ed Whalen Photo Gallery
I only ever met Ed Whalen once, but he's probably as responsible for me writing this column today as anybody.

As a high schooler growing up in Kitchener, Ontario, I published a small newsletter about pro wrestling called The Canadian Wrestling Report, detailing the scene both in this country and abroad. In fact, many of my old subscribers have found this very site, for which I am thankful.

When I started in 1985, it was because of Hulk Hogan and the burgeoning WWF. That's about all we got on the tube, except for some filler AWA matches that the newly-launched TSN, Canada's national sports station, played on occasion. (Anyone else remember hockey tough guy John Ferguson refereeing Rick Martel vs Boris Zukhov in a cage from Winnipeg?)

But then TSN started airing Stampede Wrestling, hosted by Ed Whalen, and our wrestling universe expanded exponentially. As did our supply of catchphrases.

To compliment Gorilla Monsoon's often hilarious assessments of human anatomy, we now had "malfunctions at the junction" and "ring-a-ding-dong dandys".

Unlike his counterparts on the AWA or WWF broadcasts, Whalen wasn't scared to speak his mind to the heels who bullied him. He was the little guy standing up to the tough guys.

Then with Fred May, Whalen started a 30-minute TV show on TSN called Pro Wrestling Plus. It was essentially a highlight show, running clips from the various promotions that gave them permission to use their video -- Stampede, Continental, Florida. It was the tail-end of the territories, a last gasp for those of us new to the spectacle of wrestling to see what else was out there.

It was through Pro Wrestling Plus that I got to know Ed. Each week, they posted an address for fans to write in. Then each month, I would diligently send off the latest edition of The Canadian Wrestling Report to Whalen.

Some would call this good P.R., others would call it a waste of postage. Sometimes the 'shots-in-the-dark' paid off, like with longtime supporters Norm Da Costa of The Toronto Star and Bonnie Malleck of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

With Whalen, the free newsletters paid off even bigger.

He plugged my newsletter on the air a number of times -- what a thrill it was to hear my name on TV, and Ed complimenting the product and encouraging me to keep going. (A young Mr. Molinaro first learned about The Canadian Wrestling Report through Pro Wrestling Plus.)

We never talked on the phone, I never got a letter back. It was always me writing to him, with him occasionally responding on air.

The Canadian Wrestling Report wrapped up in August 1990, just before I left to attend Ryerson University in Toronto to study journalism. It outlasted both Pro Wrestling Plus and Stampede Wrestling, which shut down in 1989.

Fast forward to November 1997, and I'm on my way to Calgary to conduct a question and answer session with Bret 'Hitman' Hart, who had just left the WWF after the infamous 'screw-job' finish. (See 'My day in Calgary)

I called up the Calgary Sun to get in touch with Ed Whalen, who had a column there, and they passed me on to a TV station. Eventually, I got Ed on the phone. He remembered me!

We made arrangements to meet at Calgary 7-TV. When we met, we went and sat at a table and talked about old times, his career, his life and more. It was great. One of my favourite interviews ever.

Besides the biography I wrote on him for our Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, I came away with the satisfaction that I had gotten a chance to say thank you in person for all of the help and encouragement he had given me over the years.

Rest in peace, Ed.

Remembering Ed Whalen
Calgary icon's curtain call
Our thoughts are with Ed Whalen
The final column from Ed Whalen
Whalen dies after heart attack
Whalen off life support
Ed Whalen fighting for his life
Whalen always known for helping less fortunate
Tributes pouring in for one-of-a-kind man
More on Ed Whalen

Ed Whalen Photo Gallery

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