Adam Shinder/Recorder staff
Bill Eadie speaks after being inducted into the Profesional Wrestling Hall of Fame Saturday in Johnstown. In the background is Ray “Doink the Clown” Apollo.
By ADAM SHINDER
JOHNSTOWN -- The legends of professional wrestling made their annual pilgrimage to the area Saturday, as Amsterdam's Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame held its 13th induction ceremony at the Johnstown Holiday Inn.
Inducted into the PWHF's Class of 2014 were Stu Hart and Leroy McGuirk from the Pioneer Era, Bruiser Brody and "Mr. Wrestling II" Johnny Walker from the Television Era, Bill Eadie and Don Muraco from the Modern Era, Don and Jackie Fargo in the tag team division, Lord Alfred Hayes in the international division, Gary Hart in the colleague division and Sherri Martel in the women's division.
Three of the four living inductees -- Eadie, Walker and Don Fargo -- were on hand to receive their PWHF rings and plaques Saturday night. The fourth, Muraco, recently underwent hip surgery and was unable to attend.
For the three inductees who were able to attend the event, the honor was overwhelming.
"You never get into this wrestling business with the idea that you're going to be standing here," Eadie said.
Eadie gained notoriety in the 1970s and 80s in the southeast as The Masked Superstar, but had perhaps his greatest notoriety nationally as Ax, one half of the tag team Demolition in the World Wrestling Federation in the late 80s and early 90s.
"Millions of people around the world watch wrestling," Eadie said. "I was fortunate enough to go all over the world. I went to places where people paid thousands of dollars, and I got paid to go because of this business. Millions of people wanted to do what very few of us got to do."
Walker, the masked Mr. Wrestling II, was one of the most popular wrestlers in the southern U.S. in the 1970s and 80s.
"I've had a lot of very wonderful times in professional wrestling and a number of very fun times with wrestlers throughout the years," Walker said.
Legendary manager J.J. Dillon, himself a 2013 PWHF inductee, recalled a story about wrestling Walker in Florida and being hit with Mr. Wrestling II's trademark high knee finishing maneuver.
"It was like being tasered or struck by lightning," Dillon said. "I'm not sure which one."
Don Fargo was inducted alongside the late Jackie Fargo, who died in June 2013, as the Fabulous Fargos tag team that dominated the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1950s.
"Buddy Rogers told me one time, 'Remember, if you want to put shingles on a roof, you need a ladder to get up there,'" Fargo said. "I got a lot of ladders that put me up here."
Stu Hart, who ran the Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling promotion, was the patriarch of Canada's legendary Hart wrestling family that includes fellow PWHF inductee Bret "Hitman" Hart.
Two of his sons, Smith and Ross Hart, were on hand to receive the honor on their father's behalf.
"Stu's creed was, 'The show must go on,'" Smith Hart said.
Also inducted posthumously were Brody, one of wrestling's most notorious brawlers; Gary Hart, one of the most influential wrestling managers of all time; Martel, a legendary performer as both a female wrestler and manager; Hayes, who gained fame as a wrestler in the United Kingdom and eventually became a WWF commentator; and McGuirk, a former NCAA champion turned professional wrestling star who later became an influential promoter.
Every one of the former wrestlers on hand passed on their gratitude for the presence of the hall of fame, a sentiment echoed by the night's master of ceremonies, former wrestler B. Brian Blair.
"It's such a thrill," Blair said. "You can get lost in there."
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