wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Tales from The Territories Episode 7 Report: “Portland: Where Wrestling Got Weird”

November 16, 2022 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Tales From The Territories Image Source: VICE TV

-We are off to The Pacific Northwest this time. Let’s get to it!

-Roundtable: Mike Masters, The Grappler (Len Denton), Princess Victoria, Bushwhacker Luke

-The Northwest Territory was simply known as Portland and has roots back to the 1920s. It was also one of the first to have a weekly TV show that was simply known as Portland Wrestling.

-Mike Masters talks about how to get booked you would send in an 8X10 and if they liked you, they would bring you in. We get some cool footage of The Bushwhackers in Portland and yeah, totally different act than what I grew up with in WWF.

-Grappler was booked for his first Portland show and it was in a bowling alley. He couldn’t believe this was supposed to be the big time, but quickly learned Portland was a great time. He talks about the Portland Sports Arena and how it was an old school arena with a crow’s nest. He talks about an angle he did with Billy Jack, where he was making fun of his blind dad. Billy started fighting him and he decided to climb down the nest which was a mistake as there was no security.

-Luke puts over Don Owen and how the building always looked full because the bleachers were on wheels and if they didn’t sell enough tickets, he would take that section out. Which meant they always had a sell-out. Don had a brother named Elton, who was also a promoter.

-Elton Owen: Luke tells us Elton was an ex-boxer. He wore a toupee and would be drunk every night while smoking a cigar. Apparently, he would leave the cigar to go up to his office and Adrian Adonis would put the cigar up his ass and put it back. Owen thought someone had shit in the arena not knowing it was the cigar he put in his mouth. Another story as he was leaving the arena and always kept a gun and accidentally shot himself in the balls due to being so drunk. The doctor thought he tried to off himself which led to Elton trying to explain he wouldn’t have shot himself in the balls if that was the case.

-They talk about Buddy Rose, who was started in the business by Verne Gagne. He went to Portland and became one of the top heels.

-Playboy Buddy Rose: Masters gets to tell this story. They are traveling between shows and a car is honking at them. Masters and his crew played it off as the boys pulling a prank. They all stop at a store and a kid asks Buddy for his autograph, but Buddy shoots him down since he is a heel. The kid then yelled that Buddy was hitting on his girlfriend, so Buddy popped him one. Luke and Grappler are shocked Buddy would do that as Luke notes Buddy was a pussy. He has a Buddy story as he had a lead foot, but anytime he would get pulled over he would gig and tell the cop he was trying to get to a hospital after having a barbed wire match. The cop would escort him there and when he left, Buddy was back on the road.

-They discuss the heated rivalry between Matt Borne and Buddy Rose. They note Matt was the original and best Doink The Clown.

-The Borne Rivalry: Matt was the All American babyface and Rose was the hated heel. Rose dated Matt’s sister and in short order they were married. The narrator talks about storyline weddings in pro-wrestling, but this was no storyline. They were really married, and it blurred the lines between reality and kayfabe.


-They show the men on a Portland news show and Rose notes they are related, but don’t like each other. Masters always wondered if the wedding was a work because it happened so fast (a few months after dating). There was a rumor that Buddy was cheating on his wife with Tammy (not that Tammy). Matt found out and went to Buddy’s house to confront him. He breaks down the door and they get into a fight. Borne ends up with scratches all over his face and Buddy had a few marks. Matt was arrested and sat in jail for a few days. He then heads to the arena and wants to kill Buddy but gets held back by his father. Buddy calls Matt’s sister a whore and asshole because he knew there were people between them. They compare him to a bully that hits someone and runs away.

-Masters is getting dropped off by Buddy at the hotel they all used that they called The Bomber. Rose wants Masters to come back to his house to make sure Borne doesn’t show up. He offers Masters $50 and he accepts. Buddy pulls out a gun and waits in the car so Masters can check out the house. That made Masters realize it was a shoot and not a work.


-Princess Victoria started out as a fan and became a fan favorite when she entered the business.

-Hitting The Bricks: They had a show in Salem and there was an 8 Man Battle Royal. Someone had the idea to let Victoria take part in the Battle Royal. Rose cuts a heel promo on her and slaps her in the face, so she kicks him in the balls. They all laugh about the $10,000 prize that went to the winner of the Battle Royal as they never saw it. Luke: “$10,000 when the house only drew $2000.” Ha! The show in Salem in sold out as it was Victoria’s home. Her family was there and she was booked to last a good while in the match. She gets tossed out by two men (one of which was Rose) and hits a brick wall, slides down and splits her head open. The fans, which included her family, rushed the ring as she didn’t wise them up to the business. Her brother rushed the ring and had to be taken away by security. She credits Buddy for making her as a babyface because of the heat he got on her that night. Everyone was shocked she didn’t smarten her family up, but they accepted her as one of the boys. She talks about how much that meant to her.

-Princess actually got a run in the WWF but she wasn’t the only one to make it to New York from Portland.


-There was no green horn that came through Portland that went on to massive success like Roddy Piper.

-Piper of Portland: Great video of Piper cutting a promo as blood is pouring down his head. Luke talks about a cage match he and Butch had with Rick Martel and Piper. That had to be a war! Piper and Martel decided to enter by climbing over the cage and Piper’s kilt got caught and he fell on his ass. Luke and Butch couldn’t stop laughing at him.

-Next it is a road story and Roddy is smoking weed when they get pulled over. The cop takes Roddy to the judge’s house at 2 AM and he tells them to pay a fine. They scrounge together to get the money and pay, but Roddy and Butch make sure to piss all over the windows of the courthouse as they leave.

-Victoria says Piper was one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back. They all note that Piper was one of the greatest of all time and was amazing on the mic.

-Don told Masters that he was going to use The Full Nelson as it helped Snuka and Ventura. The twist with him is that he can’t break the hold because his fingers swell due to the amount of pressure he is applying. He is getting over with the gimmick and they went to Eugene which Elton ran, but he didn’t like a ton of heat. He was away that week, so Don took the book and wanted The Full Nelson put on Borne. They have the match and Masters gets the hold on and nobody can get him to break it. The crowd starts charging the ring, but they had rodeo riders as security and they start knocking people out all over the place. A fan hooks Stan Stasiak’s ankle which pissed him off, but the fan took off before Stan could figure out who did it. Masters felt safe in the ring with Stan and the rodeo riders. They sold out Eugene, but Elton was pissed as he was worried they were trying to get him sued.


-The Commission: The Grappler came to Portland around 1987 and was given the job as a booker as well. He was on the job for 3 months and someone named Les politicked to have a wrestling commission and he was put in charge. He gave Don a list of rules he had to follow and told Don he had to pay them 6%. Don had been doing this for decades and thought the guy was full of shit. Grappler told him he needed to make sure he listened or it would be a nightmare. One of the rules was that any blood meant a match had to stop. Portland Wrestling fans were raised on bloody cage matches and bloody coal miner’s gloves matches. John Nord was tagging with The Grappler against Brian Adams. Nord had the idea to tie up Adams and beat him with a gallon of milk. Grappler thinks Nord is crazy but he responds, “have you ever been hit with a gallon of milk?” I have no idea why, but I laughed so hard from that I had to pause the show. They go to a store and buy a cart full of groceries including 10 gallons of milk. The gallon exploded on Adams head and it went all over the fans. Owens chewed them out because he was going to have to pay to have the mat cleaned. Nord and Grappler were given the nickname, “The Breakfast Club.”

-Matt Borne had a match and had no time for the commission and promised the bloodiest match of all time. He then told those in charge it was just a way to sell tickets and he wasn’t really going to bleed. Sure enough though he cuts himself deep on a match for TV and is pouring blood out of his head. He tried to convince people it was hard way, but nobody believed it and they were shut down for a week. They had the commission breathing down their neck and then Vince McMahon was expanding and looking to take their timeslot. Grappler knew the writing was on the wall.


-Next week it’s World Class Championship Wrestling!

-Masters gave his notice and he was going to New York with David Sammartino as a tag team. Victoria was told the only way she could get booked was to go with Moolah. Piper tried to stop her, but she wanted to wrestle and left for New York. Luke laughs that he was hardcore before hardcore became cool and went to WWF and became a cartoon. He was asked by fans how he could do that and it was easy: MONEY! Darn right! He notes in NWA you were a wrestler, but in WWF you became a celebrity. I never had an issue with guys who killed themselves and then took the pay off for an easier job in the WWF.

-Death of The Territory: The President of Channel 12 retired and the new President was going to turn to WWF who had a better product that was already edited. Plus, Vince was paying $3500 a week while Don wasn’t paying anything. It was an easy decision for those in charge of the TV station. Don told Grappler that he was out as he was too old to fight a battle. After 40 years they shut down with their last telecast on KPTV Channel 12.

-They talk about the tape library, and it seems they used the same masters and taped over each week. Don didn’t save anything, and Princess tells them it’s not gone as Buddy taped every show from the time he started in Portland until the time he left. They all agree that Portland would not have lasted as long as it did without Buddy.

-Dedicated to Michael Jones (Mike Masters) 1954-2022. That sucks as he died before the show aired. It seems he passed away from throat cancer in August. Rest in Peace sir!

-This was fun as I didn’t know much about Portland other than a few big names that came from there and that they had a weekly TV show that ran forever. The stories were great, and this is one I wish had run a bit longer. I enjoyed the footage that was shown as that is a library that isn’t available with WWE as far as I know. I assume if Rose has most of the footage WWE would have made an offer though I just checked and it seems Don Owen’s estate, which is managed by his son owns, the rights. This was one of my favorite episodes of the series up there with Memphis and Florida. Thanks for reading!