Good Old Collingwood Forever

The Story of Collingwood's 1953 Premiership

Posts Tagged ‘World Championship Wrestling

Wrestling With The Weed

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In 1953 Murray Weideman was the youngest member of Collingwood’s premiership team at just 17 years of age. Even though he spent the match on the bench, it would be just 5 years later when he would be acting captain in another great Magpie premiership, where his intimidation of Melbourne great Ron Barrasi was an important factor in Collingwood’s 1958 success, but it is another much stranger issue that I’d like to focus on here. How good was Murray Weideman the professional wrestler?

In August 1962 Murray Weideman shocked both Collingwood and the football world by deciding to combine his football with a career in professional wrestling. Collingwood were out of finals contention at this time, although the Magpies came very close to stripping Weideman of the club captaincy. Seeing how wrestling was portrayed as  a very violent sport, and the fact that in 1962 most people thought that everything that happened in the ring was real, the Magpies were concerned that Weideman would badly injure himself in this new pursuit, as he’d already suffered a should injury in a match in July against Hawthorn. It was not until Weideman broke kafabe, and told them that the only likelihood of him being hurt while wrestling would be if he did not fall the way in which he was taught, that Collingwood allowed him to get in the ring. (However even though pro-wrestling is ‘not real’, wrestlers do still get hurt!) Weideman also told them that he could make ten times the amount of money for one nights wrestling than he could playing a match for the Pies.

The ‘Weed’s’ career in the squared circle only seemed to last two months, and usually featured Weideman partnering Salvatore Savoldi in tag team action against the heelish George Bollas (best known for wrestling under a mask as the Zebra Kid) and Paul ‘the Butcher’ Vachon. Whenever Bollas was wrestling singles matches under his mask, Pierre La Chapelle would partner Vachon.  Weideman also did a wrestling work-out on Channel 9’s the Tony Charlton Show against ex-wrestler ‘Dirty’ Dick Raines. Raines, one of the most hated heels ever to get in the ring, often acted as a referee in the Weideman/Savoli vs Bollas/Vachon (La Chappelle) matches, so it was no surprise that they  often ended in chaos with the bad guys coming out on top despite their dirty tactics. Weideman also featured in a Battle Royal match. Some of the matches were also televised on Channel 7.

The ‘Weed’ claims he had offers to wrestle in America but decided to stay at home to concentrate on his footy but was he really this good? In the early 60s wrestling in Australia was in decline and there is no doubt that Weideman was used by the Americans simply as a drawcard to get punters to come to the Melbourne Stadium to watch them grapple. He was probably the most polarizing figure in Melbourne at that time, being adored by Magpie fans but loathed by everyone else and could have worked as either a villainous heel or a face. Collingwood fans loved him as a tough guy enforcer on the football field, but opposition supporters loathed him for it. In 1959 an angry fan fired a warning shop at Weideman while he was in an Alphington milkbar. (For those curious enough, the bullet hole is still visible in the window of what is now the Apte restaurant at 338-340 Heidelberg Road in Alphington!) It seems that Weideman worked only as a face and that most people who attended the wrestling matches were Collingwood supporters. There were even reports in the newspaper of fans singing ‘Good Old Collingwood Forever‘ when Weideman made his way to the ring one night!

But was he good enough to wrestle in America? Probably not. From the video attached he seems to be extremely green have only the most basic skill level, which is unsurprising since he probably only had a few grappling lessons before getting in the ring. All of the wrestlers that Weideman got into the ring with had many years of experience and would have wanted to make the ‘Weed’ look good, and in wrestling you are really only as good as your opponent allows you to be. I am sure they would have all wanted him to look like a million dollars in front of his adoring Magpie fans.

What is surprising is that it was less than two years after Weideman got into the ring that wrestling started booming in Australia, but Weideman was not a part of this boom. World Championship Wrestling started in 1964 and brought in great some American and international wrestlers to mix it with the best Aussies, and at the end of 1963 Weideman had retired from football, so he would have been free to pursue a full-time career as a grappler, yet to my knowledge he was not approached to be a part of WCW.

I guess like wrestler (or footballer) worth his salt, the ‘Weed’ over-exaggerated when he talked about his wrestling career and how good he was in the ring. Anyone who has ever listened to Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair or Bret Hart when interviewed about their career knows that most wrestlers use a lot of braggadocio when talking about their greatness in the ring and I suspect that this was also the case with Weideman.