Richmond 9-5171 by Jeff Walton

August 9, 2019

If you recognise the title, you’ll get a lot from this book. If not, it’s still an interesting read, but in neither case is it worth paying silly money for.

The title is of course the phone number of the box office at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, a number which was not only repeated on air throughout the show but also appeared prominently in the building itself.

Walton worked for the LA territory both as manager Tux Newman and behind the scenes with the LeBell family which promoted the area. The book is a mixture of autobiography and a history of the territory, particularly its main venue.

Rather than a straight chronology it covers a different topic in each chapter such as the female wrestlers, Andre the Giant  and backstage humour. As you’d expect, the highlight covers the Fred Blassie-John Tolos feud that was arguably the high point of the territory, leading to a blowoff at the outdoors LA Coliseum.

While there’s a little on the final years of the territory, it’s not overly analytical and there’s not much about how cable expansion hit the territorial model, nor indeed the more outlandish gimmicks the promotion tried in its dying days.

There are some good insights though, in particular to the involvement of Sam Sheppard (who had served 12 years in jail for murdering his wife before a high-profile acquittal) who turned briefly to wrestling and introduced the mandible claw finisher later used by Mick Foley.

Overall it’s entertaining enough, but lacks enough depth or breadth to be a must-have.

Buy on Amazon

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One Comment

  • Jason Presley August 9, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Scott Walton still has copies for sale if you contact him through Facebook. He had a website until recently, I’m not sure what happened to it. He was selling copies at the CAC this year for $20, so don’t get suckered into the 2nd hand prices on Amazon.

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