Just two birthdays today, no deaths. That’s always a good thing.
Walter “Killer” Kowalski was born Edward Władysław Spulnik on October 13, 1926, 92 years ago today. Due to a series of unfortunate (or fortunate, if you’re looking at it from a heat standpoint) incidents, Kowalski’s reputation as a ruthless villain who gleefully maimed his opponents was solidified. On October 15, 1952, in a match vs. Yukon Eric, Kowalski ripped off a part of Eric’s ear while doing a knee drop. Actually, Eric’s ears were already badly cauliflowered due to the years of abuse they’d taken and the injury was a total accident. When Kowalski showed up at the hospital and saw how silly Eric looked with all the bandages, he and Eric both began laughing, but the paper the next day reported that Kowalski showed up to the hospital to laugh at his victim, further cementing his image as a heel. In 1958, boxing great Jack Dempsey was a special guest referee for Kowalski’s match vs. Pat O’Connor. Kowalski accidentally kicked Dempsey in the diaphragm, and Dempsey had to be hospitalized. In 1967, Australian talk show host Don Lane irritated Kowalski during an interview, and Kowalski attacked him with his infamous claw hold.
Kowalski became the main antagonist of Bruno Sammartino in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in the 1960s and 1970s. He also held the WWWF Tag Team Championships along with Gorilla Monsoon. After his WWF retirement in 1977, Kowalski started a wrestling school in Massachusetts that trained many of the sport’s top stars. Due to his health, the school closed in 2003. Here’s a partial list of the wrestlers trained by Kowalski:
Big John Studd
Kowalski was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996. He passed away on August 30, 2008. Happy birthday Killer.
Mike Droese, better know to wrestling fans as Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, turns 48 today. Fun fact: in one of the first instances of hardcore wrestling in the WWF, Jerry Lawler hit Droese in the head with his own trash can, then was legitimately forced to apologize by Vince McMahon for “demonstrating such a brutal amount of violence”. This was 1994. Droese was one of the last wrestlers from the character-driven late 80’s/early 90’s WWF that bridged the gap to the Attitude Era. After coming to terms with WWF on his release in mid-1996, he toiled around the independent circuit for a few years, and made it back to WWF for one night at WrestleMania X-Seven, reprising his gimmick in the “gimmick battle royal”. Unfortunately the last newsworthy thing we’ve heard about Droese was in 2013, when he was indicted for three counts of delivery of a controlled substance for selling oxycodone and buprenorphine to an undercover informant. Here’s to better days for The Dumpster, and a happy birthday.