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In the late-1980s, the WWF began bringing its B shows to Colorado Springs. My dad, well aware of my rabid obsession with professional wrestling, always found a way to score us front row tickets.
Our first show together was on January 18, 1987 at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium. The second match on the card featured former WWWF Champion Pedro Morales taking on Jack Krueger, the mustachioed job guy who was seen taking a beating on WWF TV on a weekly basis. Nearing age 47, Pedro’s glory days were clearly behind him. His last reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion had ended four years earlier, but must’ve seemed like a lifetime ago.
My dad was a native of East Pittsburgh, and was getting married and starting a family just as Bruno Sammartino’s career was taking off. As my interest in wrestling blossomed, he would often tell me stories of watching Bruno in his heyday. I never got the sense that my dad anything more than a casual wrestling fan, but in Pittsburgh, Bruno was everyone’s hero.
As Pedro made his out to the ring on that night in 1987, my dad clapped and leaned over and said to me, “I remember watching him on TV with Bruno.” Morales came out to little fanfare. He took of his jacket to a smattering of polite applause; with his orange trunks and short boots, Morales looked out of place on a card that featured colorful cartoon characters like the Honky Tonk Man, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, and King Kong Bundy.
Throughout the match, Pedro stomped his feet and clapped his hands to get the crowd going. As he did, I looked over to see my dad smiling and clapping his own hands, a couple times yelling out, “Hey, Pedro!” My dad was never a guy who showed much emotion, so it caught me off guard to see him clapping and cheering for Pedro. In fact, in the dozen or so WWF house shows he took me to over the next few years, I never saw him get into the show quite like he did with Pedro that night.
After a few minutes of action, Pedro whipped Krueger into the ropes and caught him with a fist to the gut, which caused Krueger to flip over onto his back. Pedro covered him for the three count; the bell rang and the local announcer declared Pedro the winner.
Pedro hopped out of the ring in front of us, walked over to my dad, and shook his hand. He patted my dad on the shoulder and said, “Thank you.” I loved seeing that smile on my dad’s face, and Pedro’s simple “thank you” was touching.
Like the vast majority of people who will read this, I never saw Pedro Morales in his prime. He was a guy who occasionally teamed with Tito Santana on Saturday mornings on WWF Superstars of Wrestling, and competed in the big WWF-NFL battle royal at WrestleMania 2. But I’ve been to dozens of live wrestling events since that January night more than 30 years ago, and very few memories have stuck with me like the smile on my dad’s face and the handshake the two of them shared.
Thank you for the memory, Pedro.
Michael Moore has been a regular contributor to the Pro Wrestling Torch since January 2011. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.