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The Leo Burke Chronicles: 1985-1989

by on June 28, 2011

by Dave Musgrave

Leo Burke started the year in Montreal and on January 14, he teamed with Armand Rougeau, going to a draw with Sailor White and Richard Charland. He might have been working as the booker in the territory as well. Leo appears to have been working as a heel by April of 1985 as he had matches against Jos Leduc on April 8 and April 15 and against Raymond Rougeau on April 22 and April 29. On April 22 he also teamed with King Tonga and Richard Charland against Jos Leduc, Tony Parisi and Dino Bravo. On May 27, 1985 King Tonga and Richard Charland defeated Leo Burke and Jos Leduc in a tournament final in Quebec City, Quebec for the vacant International Tag Team Titles. On May 29 Leo and Mad Dog Lefebvre lost to Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in 26:00 in Verdun, Quebec. He teamed with a young Rick Steiner to defeat Gino Brito Jr and Reggie Rapone on June 3. Leo went to a draw with Gino Brito Jr on June 24 and lost to Armand Rougeau on July 15. He also wrestled Tom Zenk on July 10.

Leo was apparently managed by Eddie Creatchman during his heel run in Montreal, who also seems to have gone by the name of Floyd Creatchman. This partnership was referenced by Chris Jericho in his 2007 book “A Lion`s Tale.” While wrestling in WCW in 1998, Jericho feuded with Dean Malenko who was known as “The man of 1,000 holds.” Jericho started referring to himself as “The man of 1,004” holds in interviews. Jericho wrote in his book he had taken this line from Floyd Creatchman who was managing and would refer to him as Leo as “The Man of 1,000 holds.” During an interview Creatchman said that Leo was “The Man of 1,002 holds” and when the interiviewer said “I thought he was the man of 1,000 holds” Creatchman said “He learned two more.”

Leo then made his return to the Maritimes, once again wrestling for Emile Dupre in Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling as the Maritime-based International Wrestling had folded. E.T. Stanton was working the territory as The Super Destroyer and became International Heavyweight Champion. On July 25 he wrestled Leo in Halifax for the title. Leo had matches against both Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Starr throughout the summer. He also teamed with The Cuban Assassin who had started working as a babyface.

In October of 1985 Leo returned to Calgary to work for Stu Hart’s newly restarted Stampede Wrestling, which had previously closed in 1984 when the promotion was sold to Vince McMahon. Throughout October and November Leo had several matches against both Ron Starr and Cuban Assassin and also teamed with Strong Machine, Hubert Gallant and Mr. Hito in matches against Ron Starr and Honky Tonk Wayne (Wayne Ferris, later known as The Honky Tonk Man). Leo continued to face Starr and Wayne through December with partners such as Dan Kroffat (Phil Lafon of All Japan Pro Wrestling fame), Hubert Gallant, Rick Patterson and Bad News Allen. Other opponents included Kerry Brown and Mike Shaw.

In January 1986 Leo began to team with Ron Ritchie. On February 2, 1986 they faced Wayne Ferris and Ron Starr for the International Tag Team Titles but Wayne and Starr ran off with the belts after the match and the titles were held up. Ferris and Starr defeated Burke and Ritchie in a rematch on February 21. The two teams worked against each other several times a week throughout January and February of 1986.

Leo started working for Jim Crockett Jr.’s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the Carolinas as a heel in March of 1986. In March he wrestled singles matches against Denny Brown, Italian Stallion and Pez Whatley. In April he worked singles matches against Don Kernodle and Ron Garvin. In May he worked against Denny Brown, Rocky Kernodle, Manny Fernandez, and Hector Guerrero. Leo’s television matches during this time included a March 8, 1986 match against George South, a March 22, 1986 match against Don Graves, an April 19, 1986 match teaming with Thunderfoot and Black Bart against Wahoo McDaniel, Manny Fernandes and Hector Guerrero, an April 1986 match vs Ron Rossi and a May 24, 1986 match teaming with Vernon Deaton and Thunderfoot against Jimmy Valiant, Hector Guerrero and Manny Fenandes.

On the May 31, 1986 episode of World Championship Wrestling there was an angle in which Tully Blanchard showed footage from a May 23, 1986 show in Norfolk, Virginia. In the footage, Blanchard backed out of a taped fist match with Ron Garvin claiming an arm injury and wearing his right arm in a sling. Blanchard and his manager J.J. Dillon presented Leo Burke as a Canadian Golden Gloves Champion for a taped fist match against Garvin, who was billed as having “Hands Of Stone.” During the match referee Tommy Young was knocked down by an elbow from Garvin leading to Dillon and Blanchard interfering. Dillon missed Garvin with his shoe and hit Leo. The referee recovered and counted Burke out but as he reached a count of ten Blanchard and Dillon attacked Garvin, with Blanchard throwing his sling off and revealing a taped fist. Blanchard then nailed Garvin with several punches followed by a piledriver to Garvin on a steel chair, celebrating afterward with Burke. Throughout the footage Blanchard and Dillon were mocking Garvin and putting over Burke as a Canadian Golden Gloves Champion.

Leo returned to the Maritimes in June of 1986. He was billed as International Champion but lost the title to “Madman” Frenchy Martin in July. Burke and Martin feuded throughout the summer including having a lumberjack match in July and a chain match in September. Leo also started teaming with The Cuban Assassin throughout the summer and they faced tag team champions The Spoiler (Karl Moffat) and Nikita Kalmikoff on June 12 in Halifax. On August 30 Burke and the Cuban won the tag titles from Spoiler and Kalmikoff. Leo also had singles matches against both Spoiler and Kalmikoff on television prior to the title change.

Records could not be located for Leo from the fall of 1986. On February 1, 1987 Leo defeated Yvon Laverdure in Montreal. Big Stephen Petitpas was working in Montreal as Sheik Ali, one of the area’s top heels and he was managed by Eddie Creatchman. There is apparently video footage of Leo wrestling “Sheik Al-Arab” who would presumably be Petitpas. In 1987 the International Wrestling territory in Montreal closed down.

Some time in 1987, the NWA started airing programming on TQS, the French-language version of the Canadian sports channel TSN. Leo provided color commentary alongside commentator Francois Beaule along with a female announcer, with Leo playing the part of a heel. Leo would yell and tantrum in French and Frawould say “Calme-toi, Leo, calme-toi” and Leo would cross his arms and pout.

Leo returned to the Maritimes in July of 1987. He teamed with Big Stephen Petitpas that summer as well as The Cuban Assassin with whom Leo had ended the 1986 season as the tag team champions. The 1987 season seems to have begun with The Rock N Roll Rebel Express of Dino Ventura and Kid Dynamite being billed as champion. Ventura and Dynamite lost the titles to Bulldog Bob Brown and Rick Valentine (Kerry Brown) on June 26 who then worked several matches with Leo and the Assassin throughout the summer. These two teams had a Tornado Tag Match on August 27 in Halifax. Ron Starr was the International Champion that summer and had a number of matches with Leo. The title was held up at some point and Starr and Burke wrestled for the vacant title on September 10 in Halifax. The two had a Cole Miner’s Glove Match on September 24 in Halifax.

In January of 1988 Leo started wrestling in Calgary Stampede wrestling again and was featured prominently on television. He had televised matches with Goldie Rogers and Shinya Hashimoto who used the name Hashif Khan while working in Calgary. Leo also had matches with Steve Disalvo, Kerry Brown and Biff Wellington. In interviews, Leo would talk about being an eight-time North American Champion, which was noted to be a record, and was talked about as a top contender for the title held by Owen Hart at the time. Leo wrestled top contender Makhan Singh (Mike Shaw) on February 12 in Calgary and lost by disqualification. On February 19 Burke and Singh had a re-match in Calgary that was won by Singh, setting him up for a title shot against Hart. Singh did defeat Hart for the title on May 6.

Leo toured All Japan Pro Wrestling in July of 1988. On July 2 Leo teamed with Terry Gordy and lost Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu in a televised match. On July 26 Leo teamed with Stan Hansen and defeated Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa) and Isao Takagi in a televised match. Stephen Petitpas was also on this tour working as A. Sheik. On July 2 Petitpas teamed with Mitch Snow against Great Kabuki and Hiroshi Wajima. On July 26 Petitpas teamed with Terry Gordy against Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu. All of these matches aired on television in Japan.

Leo then returned to the Maritimes where the International Champion was Rip Rogers. Although Rogers had worked the territory as Hercules Sinard in 1978, this was his first tour of the promotion under the name he used for most of his career. Rogers said in an interview with Slam Wrestling that the tour came about after Leo told promoter Emile Dupre that he wanted to work with Rogers every night that summer. Leo had been on tour with Rogers in both Stampede and All Japan during 1988. Rip Rogers was named International Champion on July 14. Rogers and Burke had matches throughout the territory including in North Sydney and Halifax. On August 18 Leo defeated Rogers for the International title. Leo also started the season as tag team champion with The Cuban Assassin but in July they lost the titles to Bulldog Bob Brown and future New Japan Pro Wrestling star Masa “Tokyo” Chono who was working an excursion in the territory. In September of 1988 Leo and Big Stephen Petitpas defeated Brown and Chono for the tag team titles.

Leo returned to Stampede in October of 1988. He had televised matches with Gama Singh, Volkan Singh (Gary Albright) and North American Champion Makhan Singh. Leo also wrestled televised matches against Goldie Rogers, Johnny Smith, Rip Rogers and Steve Blackman and The Cuban Assassin. He teamed with Biff Wellington and Randy Thatcher in matches against tag team champions Gerry Morrow and Cuban Assassin. Leo also had matches in which he lost to some of the young wrestlers in the territory such as Larry Cameron and Chris Benoit through November and December. This was Leo’s last tour of Stampede which closed down in 1989.

Leo had another tour of All Japan in January of 1989. He was in the annual battle royal that took place in early January and was won by Davey Boy Smith. On January 22 Leo and Mike Miller lost to Baba and Kimura. On February 12 Leo and Dan Spivey lost to Genichiro Tenryu and Toshiaki Kawada. All of these matches aired on television in Japan.

Leo returned to the Maritimes for the summer of 1989 at which time Ron Starr was billed as the International Champion. Leo defeated Starr for the title on July 1 in a no-disqualification match but Starr regained the tile on July 20. Starr later lost the title to Dynamite Kid who had his only tour of the territory that year. Televised matches that summer included Leo Burke and Big Stephen Pettipas vs. Ron Starr and Pat Brady, Leo Burke vs Pat Brady, and Leo Burke vs. The Mongolian (who later gained more exposure as The Mongolian Mauler). Leo’s brother The Beast had a match against Harley Race that summer that finished with a big brawl that involved Leo and several other members of the roster.

In the fall of 1989 Leo started working for Carlos Colon’s World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico. Leo worked as a heel and had a number of matches against Miguel Perez Jr, On December 17 Leo defeated Colon for the Universal Heavyweight Title, the top championship in the company. During his time in this company Leo worked a boxing gimmick as he usually had boxing gloves with him. Leo was often associated with Chicky Starr.

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(To check out more of Dave’s work plus the sources for this work, check out Wrestling Culture!)

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