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The History of Pro-Wrestling in Hawaii (1965 - 1968)
Heading into 1965, Hawaii wrestling fans were introduced to RIPPER COLLINS who arrived on April 2, 1965 and started feuding with the likes of LUTHER LINDSAY & NEFF MAIAVA.
Heading into the summer of 1965, ED FRANCIS started promoting monthly wrestling cards at the Honolulu International Center On July 14, 1965 Hawaii fans were treated to the World Tag Team Champions RAY STEVENS & PAT PATTERSON, one of the top tag teams in the world, who would wrestle on monthly cards through the year.
ON November 3, 1965, KILLER KOWALSKI ends CURTIS IAUKEA's United States championship run by defeating him at the Civic Auditorium. After losing his title, IAUKEA will go on tour and will not return to Hawaii until 1967.
On December 22, 1965 at the Honolulu international center, FRANCIS presents a Texas BATTLE ROYAL with 20 top wrestlers from around the country. After 33 minutes of wild action BEARCAT WRIGHT was the last man in the ring.
Also starting in the fall of 1965, WRESTLING FROM THE CIVIC TV program moves to friday nights at 10:30pm, where it will air for the next seven years. Going into 1966, fans were treated to one of the biggest years of Professional wrestling. Starting in January 1966, HANDSOME JOHNNY BAREND returns and captures the United States title from NICK KOZAK. BAREND also teams with RIPPER COLLINS and they become the Hawaiian Tag team champions for most of the year. Wrestling becomes such a big attraction in 1966, that FRANCIS is forced to put ads in the Honolulu newspaper informing fans that "All Tickets are SOLD out" for upcoming cards.
Sold Out!
In April 1966, BAREND & COLLINS bring in PAMPERO FIRPO(The MISSING LINK) on their side. THE MISSING LINK switches sides to a good guy and teams with NEFF MAIAVA. During a United States Championship match on June 29 at the Honolulu International Center. THE MISSING LINK is injured by BAREND and will spend 33 days in the hospital and will be out of wrestling till October of that year. When THE MISSING LINK returns he has a series of bloody grudge matches with both BAREND & COLLINS.
Also newcomer JIM HADY makes his appearance in Hawaii. HADY will finish out his wrestling career in Hawaii till his death of a heart attack in January 1969.
At the end of the year, BAREND & COLLINS break up and have a bloody grudge match at the Honolulu International Center on Christmas Day before a capacity crowd. Through the next five years FRANCIS will present annual Christmas Day cards at the Honolulu International Center.
1967: Going into the year 1967, after being unable to come to terms with a long time tv contract with channel 4, ED FRANCIS switches his tv wrestling shows over to KGMB channel 9, where they will remain for years to come. 50TH STATE BIG TIME WRESTLING which airs on channel 9 on Saturdays becomes one of channel 9's highest rated shows.
Newspaper ad, 1967
Wrestling moves to KGMB Channel 9.
Meanwhile on the wrestling scene on March 1st CURTIS IAUKEA returns to the Hawaiian Islands and recaptures the United States heavyweight title from JOHNNY BAREND.
Also going into May 1967, JOHNNY BAREND becomes a fan favorite by teaming with JIM HADY and capturing the Hawaiian tag team titles from RIPPER COLLINS & CURTIS IAUKEA on July 5, 1967. BAREND & HADY will hold the title till September 29, 1967 when they lose their titles to IAUKEA & DUTCH SCHULTZ. What was remembered about the match was that JOHNNY BAREND was married in the ring, with the wedding ceremony taking place before the championship match. BAREND & HADY would retained their titles back on November 29th.
Fans packed the Civic
From 1962 through 1972, fans packed the Civic Auditorium as seen in this photo of a cage match taken in May of 1967.
On the Christmas card at the Honolulu International Center in 1967 BAREND would win back the United States title from IAUKEA before other sellout crowd. When BAREND's partner JIM HADY went to shake BAREND's hand, he was attacked by BAREND and the following Saturday on 50th State Wrestling on KGMB, BAREND stated was no longer his partner and went back to teaming with his old partner RIPPER COLLINS. Mean while IAUKEA goes on tour again leaving the Hawaiian Islands.
1968: Going into 1968, ED FRANCIS orders BAREND & HADY to choose partners and the winners will be crowned tag team champions in the ring. HADY flies in THE MISSING LINK to be his tag partner. They will battle BAREND & COLLINS with the winners being crowned in the ring. After a bloody match held at the Honolulu International Center, HADY & THE MISSING LINK are declared the winners.
Also in March 1968, saw the arrival of PETER MAIVIA in Hawaii who becomes a top headliner in Hawaii through 1968. MAIVIA teams with his cousin NEFF MAIAVA.
CURTIS IAUKEA also returns to Hawaii and fans are surprised to see him team with HANDSOME JOHNNY BAREND. IAUKEA and BAREND team with RIPPER COLLINS to form the RIOT SQUAD, an unstoppable 6 man tag team. The RIOT SQUAD battle PETER MAIVIA, NEFF MAIAVA and THE MISSING LINK in a 6 man tag team elimination match on MAY 15th at the Honolulu INternational Center.
Meanwhile JIM HADY and JOHNNY BAREND battle each other for the United States title with HADY winning the title from BAREND in a 2 hr time limit match on April 24, 1968. HADY would hold on to the title till the end of the year.
IN the fall of that year the Untied States title would be changed to the NORTH AMERICAN title. HADY would lose the title to PROFESSOR TANAKA on Christmas day.
In the summer of 1968 JOHNNY BAREND teams with MAGNIFICENT MAURICE, the two held the World tag team titles on the east coast in the early 60's. They capture the Hawaiian tag title in July 1968 and hold the titles till October of 1968.
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