I remember watching Detroit's 'Big Time Wrestling' TV program many years ago. My dad and I used to watch it and get frustrated when the 'bad guys' were winning. Our favorite wrestler was Leapin' Larry Chene, who seemed to always be set against the bigger bruisers like Haystacks Calhoun or Crybaby MacArthur.

Professional wrestling had been around Detroit since the 1920s, when the matches were held at the Detroit Olympia. After WWII, the Harry Light Wrestling Office was established in order to bring professional wrestling to Detroit's Arena Gardens.

Harry Light and his partners were the main force behind Detroit's pro wrestling, which finally bled over into television and the name “Big Time Wrestling” was born in 1945. A number of years later, it came to TV via WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 and it became one of the most popular local – and state – programs for many years.

The damage inflicted on each other was NOT your typical Three Stooges slaps, bonks, and pokes: the slaps were punches, the bonks were chairs upside the head, and the pokes were eye gouges. Blood squirted out in black & white (and later color) and fans kept eating it all up.

98.7 WFGR logo
Get our free mobile app

Fast-forward thru a few owners, when Ed “The Sheik” Farhat acquired the rights to promote wrestling in Cobo Arena. He booked himself as the top wrestler and even won the Detroit version of the United States Heavyweight Championship.

In the 1960s, 'Big Time Wrestling' was airing up to three episodes per week to satisfy Michigan's hunger for more. Along with the afore-mentioned wrestlers, other fan favorites were Bobo Brazil, the Mysterious Doctor X, Percival Pringle,  Dick the Bruiser, midget tag-team bouts, Killer Kowalski, and The Mighty Igor.

In 1971, Dick the Bruiser had his own promotion company, All Star Championship Wrestling in Indiana. After some of Detroit's wrestlers split to join the Bruiser's company, that wasn't to last. Bruiser's All Star Championship Wrestling shut down in 1974,  and Dick came back to work for Big Time Wrestling, facing down The Sheik in many bouts.

As the early 70s saw a little growth, by the mid-70s the fans were getting tired of the same old bouts, bookings, and matches. Audiences faded and the matches kept getting booked in ever-smaller venues. By 1980, 'Big Time Wrestling' was out of business..

Big Time Wrestling, Detroit


Tam's Fun Time: Jackson

Channel 3 Clubhouse, Kalamazoo