Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bill Melby

After a year hiatus, I am feeling the itch to do some research on various topics, so I have decided to continue work on the site. I will probably focus on doing obscure stuff for a bit since I just got a new PC and I have not been able to run DVDs properly yet. Please let me know what you think. I am starting with a bio on Bill Melby.

Bill started as a bodybuilder and became a pro wrestler later. He won the 1948 Mr. Pacific Coast competition and placed third in the 1949 Mr. America. By the start of the 50's, many bodybuilders were ushered into wrestling including Melby and Bob McCune. Melby is famous for teaming with Billy Darnell and winning tag titles including the Illinois/Wisconsin NWA tag belts a couple times. Melby worked all over the country including California, Oregon, Utah, Washington, New York, Colorado, and Illinois, among many other states.

Melby played a huge part in the three match main event in Roy Shire's big jump into the San Francisco Cow Palace, in 1960, which drew 16,553 people with several thousand turned away. The full main event listing featured Melby v. Mitsu Arakawa, Don Leo Johnathan v. Argentina Rocca, and Ray Stevens v. “Cowboy” Bob Ellis.

Melby is perhaps most well-known for the angle leading up to the 1960 match with Arakawa. Arakawa was born in Hawaii but he worked a Japanese gimmick, using the Stomach Claw as his finishing hold. His opponents would fall victim to the Claw and end up having to be stretchered out after repeated Claws. Finally, Melby had enough as he came out and told Arakawa to stop the misuse of the Claw or Melby would intercede. Arakawa failed to stop and Melby kept his word and made the save. Arakawa got the upper hand and put on the Claw only for Melby to no-sell the move. Melby's gimmick was that his abs were very strong, too strong for the Claw even. Melby made his comeback and Arakawa backed off and ran from the ring, setting up their match. Following the first Cow Palace success, Shire promoted his second Palace card involving a US Title match with Ray Stevens beating Melby.

Melby worked with several big names including Verne Gagne, Hans Schmidt, Ray Stevens, and Angelo Poffo, just to name a few. Some of his career highlights include teaming with Johnny Barend to win the NWA International Television Tag Team Title against Tom Rice and The Great Bolo on February 7, 1955 in Hollywood, CA. He and Angelo Poffo traded the NWA Midwest Title in 1957. Also, he won the Texas Heavyweight Title beating Crusher Duggan/Boris Malenko, in Houston on November 15, 1957. He then lost it to Johnny Valentine on January 21, 1958 in Dallas but he continued to defend it in Idaho and Utah until 1959. Shire and Melby feuded for a bit in 1958 over several matches, including a Texas Deathmatch. Other highlights include winning the Western States Title in 1959 and twice winning the Northwest Tri-State Tag Title in 1958 and 1959, with The Blue Avenger and Kit Fox respectively.
Melby (right) with bodybuilder Steve Reeves

By 1966, Melby had retired and started a career building apartment buildings.