#117 – The Tale of the Coal Miner’s Glove

On the newest OSWP we fall into a nasty YouTube wormhole as we explore the history of the Coal Miner’s Glove match. We start by reviewing a match between Jimmy Snuka and Col. DeBeers, followed by a match between Curt Hennig and the Assassin in Portland and then take a look at a late 70s PBS documentary called “Savage” about Dutch Savage, the inventor of the Coal Miner’s Glove match. It’s a wild trip, so fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. We also go over all the details of the first LIVE OSWP on Sunday afternoon in New Orleans before WrestleMania 30. Please support the Old School Wrestling Podcast by visiting flairchop.com to purchase our book “The OSWP 500,” are collected volumes of the first 75 episodes, an OSWP t-shirt, or one of our beautiful posters.

This episode has been archived in the Season 4 digital box set available for $9.99 at the OSWP Merch Store!



  1. Dead Reckoning says:

    Not listened to the show yet but I just wanted to give a big Daniel Bryan-esque Yes! Yes! Yes! to a show about the Coal Miners Glove. Simultaneously the greatest and stupidest gimmick ever.

    Well done chaps

  2. slingshotsuplex says:

    I remember the DeBeers/Snuka angle. While I knew it was fake, it got me at least in the sense that I thought Snuka might have actually been hurt, even though the move that hurt him was part of an angle.

    Ed Wiskoski was at his best as Buddy Rose’s sidekick in Portland Wrestling in the late ’70s and early ’80s. There is plenty of footage of these runs on youtube. I’d describe them as a homelier version of Chris Adams & Gino Hernandez or a cheesier version of Ric Flair & Double A.

    Wiskoski was almost too smart and too subtle for his own good regarding these creative to the point of being visionary gimmicks like the Colonel or Mega Maharishi; it’s Goldust level performance art but just a bit too clever for the tale end of the kayfabe era.

  3. One coal miner’s glove match I remember was from 1984 in Mid-South Wrestling.
    “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan faced Barry Darsow (This was while Darsow was Krusher Kruschev) at the Superdome Extravaganza in April in what was called a “Roulette Coal Miner’s Glove Match.”
    I was unable to attend the event (being too young and too far away from New Orleans.)I was only privy to the lead-up and the aftermath on the MSW TV broadcast.
    As such, I have *no* idea what a “Roulette” coal miner’s glove match is, nor how it differs from other coal miner’s glove matches; and I have been unable to find any information on this so far, other than The name of the event, match, and participants.
    If you can find any further info, you are better at this than I am sirs!

    • McMannequin says:

      I’m not sure what the Roulette Coal Miner’s Glove match in Bill Watt’s MidSouth was about but ironically when Watts booked WCW the “Spin the Wheel/Make the Deal” match turned out to be a, you guessed it…Coal Miner’s Glove match. Coincidence or bizarre wheel and glove fetish? You decide.

      • Bill Ostrander, Jr. says:

        Yep. The result was that Jake Roberts thought he’d intimidate Sting using his snake on him. It turned out the snake attacked Roberts instead.

  4. Crapgame13 says:

    Quick 1-2-3

    3. Texas Tornado– until ECW ran this into the ground, two tag teams fighting all four at once was an attraction. I love tag team wrestling, I love this. It’s usually chaos and enjoyable as hell even in ECW

    2. Bunkhouse Stampede/Bunkhouse match. Muscle Shirts/cut off sweats, jeans tucked into cowboy boots, weight belts, inappropriate and unnecessary bandanas. Put it in a battle royale and it’s kitschy awesome violence. That said, a match where you’re trying to throw someone over a cage as a way to eliminate them is ridiculous.

    1. WarGames- I’m a stable mark. I’m a multi person match mark. I’m a two ring mark. The origins of the match are beyond perfect. The fact that people CLAMOR for this to be brought back as a way to settle things (as it was by many with the invasion, Nexus, the Shield/Authority) speaks to its greatness. Pure brutality. Two rings with ten men works to the team concepts and to the strategy (isolating a player, etc.), so I disagree with Black Cat’s assessment (a valid one I just have a difference of opinion). The one bad mark in the first few was having a manager involved as there’s an automatic weak link.

    I slightly disagree on the Hell in a Cell. Mostly because in order for it to be “memorable” for the most part, people have gone OUTSIDE the cage. I love those matches, but it seems like a “workaround” because of the danger involved in the insane bumps by your Foleys. The whole point was the danger inside. Other HITC’s were decent cage matches but it was such a chore to get the cage involved (see also WCW’s “thundercage” which made cage matches lame) and with the no blood policy, it’s hard to get me amped for a brutal match that won’t be that dangerous or brutal. The Punk/Ryback one was brutal in a different way.

  5. First of all, I just want to thank you guys for giving me what I have always wanted. Colonel DeBeers! You filled a need you didn’t know I had with the Akeem episode, but this time you went right for my heart.

    I was twirling the mustache I don’t have while listening to this fascinating discussion about the fine Colonel refusing to wrestle this savage that killed a woman (if only they had actually brought this up).

    I feel that Colonel DeBeers just happened in the wrong era of wrestling, or else he would have been huge. I was saying for months that he should have been brought back as Leo Kruger’s father. Then they changed Kruger to some heartthrob. Oh well.

    DeBeers’ finisher was actually what we know today as Antonio Cesaro’s Neutralizer. He picks him up like a piledriver, then falls forward smashing the guy gut and face first on the mat. Cesaro added the cradle variation. Not sure if DeBeers actually piledrove Snuka or Neutralized him, but I did see him Neutralize Big Scott Hall on an episode of Classic AWA. It was the best.

    Colonel DeBeers was the best you guys. THE BEST.

    Was The Assassin that faced Curt Hennig the fat one that is Nick Patrick’s father, or the jakked one that was Hercules? Or the mysterious third one that I’ve never heard of?

    Anyways, thanks for another great episode, and thanks for dedicating it to me (at least that’s how I’ll remember it)!

    • McMannequin says:

      It was mentioned that this Assasin was David Sierra, who wrestled as the unmasked Cuban Assasin in the late 80’s Crockett/WCW. I seem to remember him jobbing to fellow jobroni Ranger Ross every other week.

      • He also used to team with Ricky Santana as a jobber tag team that you thought may actually win once. Don’t think they ever did, but they seemed more legit than other jobbers.

        Same with Black Bart. I think in my heyday he was jobbing out on Saturday Night. I only recently came to find that he was a pretty big deal in the Texas area. Good for him I guess. He could have been great with Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck in the Studd Stable.

      • Crapgame13 says:

        Watched Halloween Havoc 89. Ten minutes with Tommy Rich.


  6. teddyhartsamazincat says:

    Allow me to add another small tidbit about Col deBeers: he wrestled Jake Milkman Milliman in the twilight days of the AWA. The stip: Turkey on a pole match!

    Quick 1-2-3:
    3) Ladder Match
    2) Yapapi Strap Match (’cause my favorite wrestling lingo word is Yapapi, Yapapi, brother!)
    1) War Games (what makes it so great is that calling attention to “the match beyond” does not make the concept easier or harder to understand)

  7. Robert says:

    Still pretty mad at you guys for saying “Hell in a Cell” is better than War Games.

  8. SpecialGuestReferee says:

    Dre once again eluding to Les Thatcher. Someone please provide insight into Dre’s attempt at becoming a wrestler.

  9. Nostalgia Queen says:

    So glad you guys did not mention the Sting vs Jake “the Snake” Roberts match as part of the history of the Coal Miner’s Glove. That match should be forgotten.

  10. The Small Package says:

    The way you guys describe the Coal Miner Glove matches in this episode sound so exciting. I never knew they could be good matches. Unfortunetly, my first, and only, exposure to this type of match was when I attended Halloween Havoc ’92 for the infamous “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Match”.
    Of course, by this time WCW was in trouble. Flair and the Horsemen, The Road Warriors, and Lex Luger had all left for the WWF. WCW needed something big and at the time I thought bringing in Jake Roberts was it. I was really intrigued by what he could do without all the WWF cartoon antics holding him back. This match had so many possibilities. Of all the cool choices on the wheel (first blood, cage, I quit, barbed wire) they pick coal miners glove.
    To this day I can still remember when they spun the wheel. The crowd was all fired up to see how Sting and The Snake would be destroying each other for the next twenty plus minutes, what maniacal choice would the wheel stop on. When it stopped on coal miners glove you could literally hear the air go out of the arena. I had no idea what this match even was. I turned to my buddy, who was a few years older than me, and asked him. He replied, “It sucks, and it’s on pole”. In this case he was absolutely correct.

    • Do you think that it was a shoot spin of the wheel? Like they didn’t think ahead to gimmick the wheel and just decided to do whatever match it landed on? And if that’s the case, why put the glove match on the board at all?

      • Crapgame13 says:

        Meltzer, Nov. 9. 1992

        DM: The wheel was rigged. The reason it wasn’t a bloodbath is because those kind of matches aren’t allowed anymore. For better or for worse, that’s how wrestling is today because of fear of spreading diseases and because of the broadcast standards of the PPV industry. The Coal Miners glove was probably chosen because it hadn’t been done before by WCW, and it was one of the few gimmicks that going in management probably felt fans wouldn’t have felt ripped off by not having juice.

        • The Small Package says:

          I too always heard that the wheel was rigged to stop on the glove, though I didn’t know it at the time obviously.
          Great find Crapgame13. Interesting that the company that promoted a perpetually bloody Ric Flair and the Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard bloodblaths would adopt a no blood policy. Is it coincidence that interest in the product dwindled at this time as well.
          Also, I think it’s extremely noteworthy that Meltzer says those matches aren’t allowed anymore because of changing standards but 5 years later the image of a bloody Austin passing out at WM13 would symbolize the rebirth of WWF in the Attitude era. Maybe it’s time for another rebirth and the death of PG wrestling.

          • Crapgame13 says:

            I don’t think PG is the issue, but it’s part of it. You can do A LOT under PG. Look at Super Hero movies.

            The fact is “wrestling” at its best is treated seriously with some levity sprinkled in. Titles mean things, feuds mean things, feuds have genuine anger and emotion, etc.

            Sports entertainment avoids these things.

  11. Karl B says:

    I grew up in Seattle where they rebroadcasted the previous week’s Portland Wrestling on Saturday afternoon. My most memorable Coal Miner’s glove match must have been in 1980 with Dutch Savage vs. Playboy Buddy Rose. The highlight to the match was when Rose got to the glove first and the look on his face as a left handed Rose tried to put on the right handed glove. What a seller and classic bump taker Rose was. Needless to say that Savage made the comeback. Side note, the ref. for Portland wrestling was Sandy Barr (father to Art Bar) he would use the arena as a flea market on the off days. Also Don Owen was known as a very fair promoter. According to Roddy Piper Owen pulled a rib on the wrestlers when he handed out the annual Christmas turkeys to the wrestlers. To the midget wrestlers he handed out Cornish Game Hens. Great territory to grow up in.

  12. SMW's biggest Fan says:

    In ICW (Poffo’s fed), they had yellow paint matches where the loser would be painted yellow by the winner. They also had the mop match where the loser had to wear a mop on their head (I seem to remember Pistol Pez having to wear the mop).

  13. IanEvs79 says:

    Isn’t the Royal Rumble in essance a gimmick match? It must surely be the best and most well know, but don’t call me Shirley 😉

    The most brutal gimmick I’ve seen, was the dog collar match between Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine. It was quite bloody and also caused Roddy to lose part of his ear and cause balance problems in his later wrestling career.