As far as wrestling in Southern California goes, over the last 15 plus years I don’t think there has been anyone who can work up a crowd and make them hate him as much as Adam Pearce was able to. I had seen the locker room have to empty on more than one occasion because Pearce had gotten the crowd so rabid people actually tried to attack him. Pearce was great at getting a ton of heat and bringing the crowd to the edge of rioting. Though going back through Southern California history, Pearce has nothing on Buddy O’Brien.
Buddy O’Brien was born as Arland C. Miller in upstate New York in 1909. Born into a large family, he was very athletic he picked up boxing at an early age. He did not find much success as a boxer however, so he became a wrestler and moved to California. He looked Irish, so he took the name Buddy O’Brien.
By 1936 he was one of the top heels on the west coast, and a master at using foreign objects in the ring, which was much rarer in those days. In a match against Nick Lutze, O’Brien threw powder in his eyes, threw a stool at his face, and then after the match ended choked Lutze with a towel. That villainous display caused “six or eight” fans to jump into the ring to attack O’Brien.
In Ventura a judge fined him $100 for inciting a riot when he tossed flour into Kaimon Kudo’s eyes after police had demanded O’Brien vacate the premises. In what was one of his most notorious moments, and possibly one of the crazier moments in Southern California wrestling history, he was working as a second for Brother Jonathan in September 1936 in Ventura when he slipped him some sandpaper. Jonathan used this to blind his opponent, Sandor Szabo then applied a body press on him. As pandemonium ensued, police were forced to use a tear gas gun to subdue the wrestlers in the ring.
The California State Athletic Commission actually suspended O’Brien at least four times between 1937 and 1940 and the police had to regularly prevent O’Brien from continuing his mischief after matches had ended in fear of any incidents. In September 1937 in Santa Monica police had to keep guard as more than 2,600 fans waited around the arena for more than an hour after O’Brien had handcuffed LaVerne Baxter to the ropes earlier in the night, and beat him with a piece of the ringside bench.
O’Brien didn’t only cause chaos in the ring. He was once charged with disturbing the peace, and had also been involved in an incident with the actor Frank Marlowe that involved a stolen coat. Unfortunately for him, his chaotic behavior eventually caught up with him. In October 1941, in order to impress a female friend he walked into a store and stole a fur coat to give to her. The police were called to the scene and they beat him to death.
SCWA is having to make a lot of changes to their December 3rd card due to budget reasons. Douglas James, Heather Monroe, Ryan Taylor, Jorel Nelson are all off the show. Yesterday they added B-Boy versus Pretty Peter Avalon however.
As most are probably aware PCW’s press release on the site, they have added Michael Elgin to their January 20, 2017 show. He is a really good addition to that lineup and I’m glad to see him getting back into the ring and back in Southern California. He suffered a fractured orbital bone in New Japan back in October and had to have surgery.
Thunder Rosa will be challenging Mayu Iwatami for the Stardom High Speed Championship later today in Fukuoka, Japan. On the same show Taya Valkyrie will challenge Io Shirai for the World of Stardom Championship and Holidead will be teaming with the great Kris Wolf to take on Hiroyo Matsumoto and Thea Trinidad.
In my last column I talked about SoCal Legends. I would also add The Ballard Brothers, Rocky Romero, and Ricky Reyes to that list. It puzzles me to why we don’t see Ricky Reyes booked on more shows locally. He and Rocky Romero were the original practitioners of strong style in the area and he is still really good.