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John Tolos (1930 - 2009)


Real Name - John Tolos
Lifespan9/18/1930 - 5/28/2009
6’2” 240 lbs. - Hamilton, ONT

Athletic BackgroundWrestling

Teacher(s)Wee Willie Davis

Professional BackgroundSan Francisco(`53-`54), Los Angeles(`54), Stampede(`58), Houston(`58), Columbus(`60-`61), Toronto(`61-`62), WWWF(`63-`64), Detroit(`64), Florida(`64), Vancouver(`66-`69), Los Angeles(`69-`81), Houston(`75), Vancouver(`76), Hawaii(`77-`78), Amarillo(`79), WWF(`91), UWF[Abrams](`92-`94)


Peak Years`67-`72

Place in HistoryOne of the great tragedies of pro-wrestling's history is the thousands of hours of video tape that has been lost as the legacies of so many great characters has been lost as well.  John Tolos, the premier heel in the Los Angeles territory, is one of the greatest heels whose body of work is limited to some videos (mainly outside of California) and some audio tapes of his promos.  The quality of his interviews stands up to this day: his arrogant catchphrases, his maniacal ranting, his ability to build heat and keep himself over as a strong heel no matter the situation.  As strong as his promos were, John Tolos was never highly regarded for his in-ring ability.  John's younger brother Chris broke into the business first in Hamilton, Ontario, which produced more quality pro-wrestlers than perhaps any other city in the world.  The brothers worked all over the United States and Canada throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  Frequently called the "Canadian Wrecking Crew," they were masters of a nonstop hard-hitting style that got them over opposite some of the top tag teams of the era.  The Tolos Brothers kept it simple, focusing on conditioning and getting over as heels by running their mouths in the ring and microphone.  When they went their separate ways, Chris's career kind of stagnated, while John eventually landed in the Los Angeles territory.  He was past his physical prime, but undoubtedly at the peak of his talking ability.  He drew great heat against Mexican and African-American opponents with racial-charged insults.  Tolos supplemented his deranged personality by introducing weapons, gimmick matches and even a snake to his act with great effect.  Tolos, in his early forties, was put against Freddie Blassie, who was in his mid-fifties, and they built up an epic feud that culminated in 1971 at the Los Angeles Coliseum and setting a record gate.  The angle, where Tolos blinded Blassie with Monsel's powder, spawned many copycat angles for years to come and the heat that Tolos generated off the rivalry allowed him to travel out and draw against top babyfaces.  Both men were disappointed by their respective payoffs from the Coliseum show and Blassie left soon after, while promoter Mike LaBelle's habit of constantly changing around the top programs led to promotion declining soon afterward.  Tolos had a few brief babyface runs, but it was quite evident that a heel John Tolos opposite Victor Rivera and Mil Mascaras had the real drawing power.  The promotion changed a lot in the 1970s and the quality rapidly declined as they drew less and focused more on their Hispanic audience and importing less expensive talent from Mexico.  Tolos bounced around for several more years, working near the top in several different territories.  He eventually transitioned to managing, but unlike his greatest antagonist, he never quite got over in the role.  Even more tragic is that most modern fans are more likely to see his whistle-blowing Coach gimmick from his short WWF stint than anything else that he did throughout his legendary career.  Pro-wrestling has seen many great talkers, but John Tolos undoubtedly ranks up amongst the elite.