Monday, November 27, 2017

Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame could it get any worse? It did

This time of year the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF) would present its lists for the 2018 inductees. This list has become trivial and inconsequential, since the PWHF has moved to Wichita Falls, TX, and now has become nothing but a shell of its former self.  As being involved in professional wrestling, these are my personal views on resent events which is occurring with the PWHF.

Let us reexamine what occurred over the last several years with this so-called PWHF.  As many of my readers know, this was created in New York State (with taxpayer funds from the state) and was housed in Amsterdam, NY. To ensure its security there was established a building fund, which many people donated to. They donated to this fund because they were told by, then president of the PWHF, Tony Vellano, it would be used to maintain the building and expand the hall located in Amsterdam.

Wrestlers, and fans alike, all donated items and memorabilia to the PWHF, thinking they could return to Amsterdam and see their items on display.  Other organizations, not normally affiliated with wrestling such as the “Spindle City Historical Society” also donated items (on loan to the hall, and the PWHF never called them to retrieve their items).  Read more about this situation on this previous post.

This all came crashing down, when Tony Vellano made a clandestine deal to ship the PWHF to Texas, without informing anyone about it.  This deal was done behind locked back rooms, and people even associated with the hall (such as me and other volunteers), were left shocked about the new. Within two weeks of this notification, so that there could be no outrage over the news, or some legal action to prevent it, Tony Vellano had everything packed and shipped to Wichita Falls Texas.

The PWHF has morphed completely since its move to Texas.  When in NY, the hall accepted donations if you wish to view the hall, in Texas they now charged a fee.  When in NY, the website tried to be free as possible of advertisements, to concentrate on what the hall should be, a promotion for the advancement of professional wrestling.  If you now go to the PWHF site, it looks like a billboard sign, full of advertisements.  There are some more examples if you wished to read them on a previous post.

It seems, the PWHF financial obsessions has gone so far, it now has attracted lawsuits, and the attention of law enforcement. 

It is alleged that the PWHF received items, such as air time on a local station, and food for its Hall of Fame banquet, without paying for these services.  Read the entire article here.

According to this article, there may have been mismanaged, if not illegal handling, of the finances of the PWHF. The following is an excerpt from the complaint filled with local police agencies (from the  article on the story):

On August 30, 2017 at approximately 8:00 am. a review of the monthly bank statements for the (PWHF) Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was conducted by current and previous board members. Financial concerns had arisen by board members who had inadvertently found on August 24th that the account was significantly overdrawn. A review of (PWHF) bank statements revealed a pattern of a significant amount of expenses that appeared questionable as many had no previous board approval nor that the board had any direct knowledge thereof. Some of these expenses were immediately validated during the review on August 30th as having absolutely no correlation with the daily operational aspects of the (PWHF) nor its mission as outlined or specifically defined in its bylaws.


 As per this article, the PWHF has not only mismanaged finances, there may also include acts of embezzlement.  Also, according to that article, all members from Wichita Falls that belonged to the PWHF board of directors have resigned their positions.

If these allegations true, I personally am not surprised by it, because (as I mentioned above) it appears the PWHF main purpose is not to promote professional wrestling, but to promote those involved in it, including financially.

Another disturbing fact, which I had found is their blatant promotion of a local wrestling organization.

Wichita Falls Wrestling Academy, appears to prominently promote that their ring is located above the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. If you look at this advertisements for tryouts; you will notice, the PWHF is more prominent than the wrestling group putting on the tryouts.

One of the factors I found interesting in one of the articles, was the former president of the PWHF, Tony Vellano, the man who basically single handedly, organized, and conspired the hall’s move from NY to Texas, response to the situation in this local article.

His response to the recent situation with the hall is particularly interesting: “I like to call the Hall of Fame my little flower” and also “I thought that moving it to Texas, where they love professional wrestling, would be a great idea and it would grow. I guess I was wrong."

Tony Vellano knew what would happen the PWHF. Anyone knows what happens to a flower if you pull it out from its roots, it will die.  Tony Vellano moved it from New York, where he built his business, where his children went to school, and also where he was employed as part of the Athletic Commission, and a member of the board directors for the Boxing Hall of Fame (be careful, he might have plans of moving that out of NY State too).  This action shows what kind of loyalty he has to his home state, the state that gave him so many opportunities. If a person does not show loyalty in one aspect, how can you trust him to show it in others.  What every happens to the PWHF, from members being arrested, to it ultimately failing and closing, Tony Vellano is ultimately responsible for these actions.

W.A. Rusho is a professional wrestler, author, and historian. You can reach him via his website, or email.

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Next time:  The Krampus


  1. What a sad state of affairs. People are generally giving and will do so for a good cause. How betrayed they must have felt on learning the funds were being spent for personal use.

  2. Interesting, but sad. I have a feeling that in this case being right about the state of the organization doesn't give you much comfort. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Interesting post, William. How unfortunate that there are so many corrupt people in the world who are solely motivated by fame and fortune.

  4. It's sad that corruption is so common in sport, isn't it. Want more of it, compete with Russia:-)

  5. What a frustrating situation, particularly ignoring the contributor, donar and public opinions. When you break trust like that its very hard to get it back. What would be even more aggravating is if that mistrust leaks onto the profession. What a shame.

  6. Sounds like a mark with o first-hand knowledge of the PWHF has his panties in a twist. The Hall is in good hands and has expanded greatly since the move to Texas (which also happens to be a much more centralized location for the rest of America).

    A self-proclaimed wrestler no one has ever heard of should keep his mouth shut and learn about the business from his elders, rather than pretending he's on the same level as those who are actually in the Hall of Fame. Clearly, this mark has an axe to grind.

  7. Some strong words coming from someone who does not even have the intestinal fortitude to even put their name on what they write.
    I never claimed to be anything more than an independent wrestler, I guess you think no one can complain about the PWHF, even fans.
    You perceive to me to be someone who thinks anything they do not agree with is fake news, but, here are the facts:
    The PWHF was set up in New York State, helped by tax payers money, and welcomed by the city of Amsterdam, NY. It was moved out with back door dealings that no one there knew about until 2 weeks before it was packed up and moved. As I stated earlier, people who had items on loan were never called, they found out about it by reading the paper.
    To quote the “Texomas Homepage”
    "On August 30, 2017 at approximately 8:00 am. a review of the monthly bank statements for the (PWHF) Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was conducted by current and previous board members. Financial concerns had arisen by board members who had inadvertently found on August 24th that the account was significantly overdrawn."
    You stated: “The Hall is in great hands and has expanded greatly since the move to Texas”. You also called me a mark.
    Well, lets look at someone else’s quote about the PWHF. Also, I am disappointed about how he handled moving the hall of fame to Texas, but let’s read a quote from Tony Vellano, who helped found the hall and was its previous president (This is from The Daily Gazette):
    "I am devastated, and I am heart-broken," Vellano said last week. "I haven't had any contact with them in quite a while now — maybe a few emails that I sent — but I've been watching for the past 18 months, and I didn't like the way they were handling things.”

    So, I guess it is not just me that is disappointed in the current state of the “Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame”, am I?

    So maybe, look at the facts before you spout something about me. Also, if you are going to say something, take credit for it. Not putting you name on something you write, could be perceived by some as being cowardly.