Former wrestler Andrew Rockne promoted Reno in 1953 at Moana Park. He was
importing talent from Joe Malcewicz's San Francisco booking office.
It was generally accepted that the Las Vegas area belonged to the Los Angeles
office of the National Wrestling Alliance during the early part of the 1950s. In 1955,
after Johnny Doyle had broken free from the Southern California combine and
become an independent booking agent and promoter, he reentered the business
with eyes on Vegas. There, he obtained a 52-week contract with KLRJ-TV, and
opened up his arena ventures on August 11, 1955 with an agreement from Fred
Kohler in Chicago to obtain talent. Additionall, he gained television in Los Angeles
on KTTV, which conflicted heavily with NWA members Cal Eaton and Hugh Nichols. It
was crucial, above everything else, that Doyle get top-flight workers from Chicago.
According to Doyle's letter to Stanley Disney of the Department of Justice dated
September 6, 1955: "For the main event of the opening performance on August
11th, Mr. Kohler booked Argentine Rocca. Seven days before the opening
performance, Mr. J.T. "Toots" Mondt, Argentine Rocca's manager, in direct violation
of his contract, refused to let Rocca perform at Las Vegas. His only explanation was
that he had been under tremendous pressure from the members of the NWA, and
had no choice except to break the contract."
Doyle stated that both Louie Miller and Eaton boasted that Rocca had been stopped
from appearing in Vegas by the California Wrestling Office. Next, Verne Gagne was
booked for Doyle in Vegas on September 15, 1955, and also cancelled at the last
minute, word coming through Kohler's "booker" Jim Barnett. Doyle told him that "Jim
Barnett is one of the two men who informed me of the action that was taken at the
NWA meeting on September 3, 4, and 5, 1955." That reference was to the fact that at
the St. Louis convention, a deal was worked out amongst Allliance members in which
Kohler agreed to back away from his Vegas plans in exchange for concessions
elsewhere. Basically, Los Angeles members would stop running opposition to
Kohler's enterprises in Colorado and New Mexico.
Doyle's future business partner, Barnett, informed him that the NWA had entered into
a conspiracy to prevent workers from appearing for him in Vegas, and - with no
where else to go - Doyle was presenting the information to the Justice Department.
The loss of Kohler's workers violated both his TV contracts in Los Angeles and in
Vegas, as he explained to Disney in his September 1955 letter. Doyle also heard
from Kohler, prompting him to write a second letter to Disney, this one the following
day (9/7/55). At the convention, Kohler reportedly agreed to stop booking into Vegas
as of October 1, but would agree to meet other commitments there until then.
But by helping Doyle for the period he did, Kohler suffered dearly. What that means
is that he lost the booking rights to Pat O'Connor and Antonino Rocca, which
disappeared into the night at a huge financial cost.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
February 11, 2011
|Nevada Wrestling Territory