Thursday, August 8, 2013


     If I could make it there I can make it anywhere” might’ve been song lyrics written about New York, but in the 1960’s world of professional wrestling, the same thing could probably have been said about any territory with a strong television presence.  Los Angeles certainly had that and Lonnie Mayne had certainly made a good impression there.  But as would be his habit, he would soon get the itch to move on.

   In October of 1966 Lonnie had a match against the original Paul Diamond at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, Oregon, and apparently he hadn’t gotten enough of either Diamond or Oregon because he returned on November 4, to defeat Diamond, this time in Portland.  For the rest of the month Lonnie occupied himself with wrestling Diamond, participating in an 8 man battle royal, tagging up with a visiting Pat Patterson, and giving Diamond the occasional breather by taking on a different opponent.

   And it was in December that business would really begin to pick up.  “Tough” Tony Borne had recently beaten Shag Thomas for the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight title and as if didn’t already have enough on his plate defending that belt, he would have his hands full with a new responsibility.

   “Lonnie came to the area and Ken Mayne, his father, phoned me and said ‘Kind of look after him’.  Little did I know what a job this would be”, Borne recalled years later.  “I did know that Lonnie possessed much talent.  Also he had strength that was second to none.  Everything he did was different and this included his lifestyle.  To Lonnie every day was like Christmas and mornings when he awoke his eyes would sparkle like a little boy arising on Christmas morning.  He was a guy with a big heart and couldn’t say no to anybody.  At times I would get so angry with him I wouldn’t speak to him for days, but he would always win a person back with his unselfish ways.”

   “Tony Borne was really the strength behind Lonnie’s start in his whole career,” reflects Lonnie’s younger brother, Shawn Mayne.  “Tony just really brought him along.  Lonnie had been around the business all his life, so he had that natural feel for it.” 

   Pacific Northwest promoter Don Owen wasn’t terribly impressed with Lonnie his first few weeks in the territory but Tony Borne went to bat for Lonnie, suggesting that the two become a tag team and in no time at all the pair began the first of what would be 11 Pacific Northwest tag team title reigns for them as partners, unseating Pepper Martin and Shag Thomas on December 14, 1966.  It would also be the beginning of a very heated feud between Mayne and Pepper Martin, the professional wrestler and sometimes ringside commentator.

   “When he came to the Northwest, the wrestling fans in the Northwest had never seen anything like Lonnie Mayne.  He would do crazy stuff, and he just got over,” Martin would later say.  “He just got over like a million dollars.  I mad a lot of money with him in the Northwest.” 

   The feud, consisting of both tag team matches as well as singles matches, was intense, with many of the matches ending in disqualification, enough times that sometimes they’d have matches with a “no disqualification” stipulation.  On June 26, 1967, Lonnie Mayne would defeat Pepper Martin in a Texas Death match in Portland, and their feud was pretty much at an end…for now.

   Other feuds would commence, including those with Paul Jones, Johnny Kostas, and Stan Stasiak, Luther Lindsay, Dean Ho, and after a falling out between the pair, Tony Borne as well.  Tony Borne proved to be right when he had told Don Owen early on that Lonnie “has got more color than any man you’ve ever had here.”  Lonnie had established himself as both a top heel and a big draw, enough so that he was tabbed to square off against Gene Kiniski on November 28, 1967 in Portland, for Kiniski’s NWA World Heavyweight tile.  Kiniski would win the first fall and in the second, Lonnie Mayne would prove that he was more than just a brawler, as he pinned Kiniski after a leap off the top rope.

   Don Muraco witnessed Lonnie’s high flying on numerous occasions, including his first night working in Portland: “”Lonnie Mayne was standing on the top turnbuckle and somebody drop kicked him from the back and he went right from the top turnbuckle right onto the cement.  This is 1970.  You talk about “Cactus Jack” Mick Foley…Lonnie was taking insane bumps!”  Muraco would also add: “I could have seen him taking a bump off a cage, given the opportunity and the venue.  He was like that.” 

   Ron Bass, who worked with Lonnie in Texas, Portland, and Los Angeles echoed those sentiments.  “He was one of the first ones of the high flyers.  Period. He’d be soused to the gills, but you’d never know it in the ring.  He was a top flyer, man.”

   However in the match with Kiniski, Lonnie’s aggressive manner got the better of him and he continued to beat on the defending champion who was still prone on the mat after having been pinned.  Lonnie was disqualified and would lose the match before the third fall even got started, but there would be more opportunities, both for title shots and mayhem.


Time For A Change


   Along with reigns as the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion and another tour of Japan near the end of 1968, Lonnie and Tony Borne would patch things up and reunite as a tag team to battle with Kurt and Karl Von Steiger over the tag titles.  That reunion would eventually break up again and Lonnie would change his ways, becoming a “good guy” and forming an alliance with Dutch Savage against the new villainous duo of the Skull and Bull Ramos. 

   The late great Dutch Savage said on his website regarding Lonnie Mayne: “Lonnie was one of the better workers to ever come out of the Northwest.  He was my partner for a couple of years after I turned face.  We made an awful lot of money working against one another before he left for Hawaii.”

   “Lonnie Mayne made Bull Ramos in Portland, Oregon” Ramos would later say.  Contrary to what people believe, Bull Ramos didn’t actually break Lonnie’s arm in a match but rather it was a way of explaining Lonnie’s absence while shuttling back and forth between the Northwest and Hawaii.  In addition, it was a great way to “put over” Bull Ramos as a heel, as Lonnie never hesitated to do what was good for the business and to help those he worked with. 

   Working in Hawaii, Lonnie continued to distinguish himself as an impact player in pro wrestling, wrestling to time limit draws with the likes of Sam Steamboat, Mil Mascaras, promoter Ed Francis, and winning the NWA Hawaiian Heavyweight title from Bearcat Wright.  Unfortunately for Superstar Billy Graham, who was also working in Honolulu at the time, Lonnie didn’t take it easy on inanimate objects either.  Always curious as well as mischievous, Lonnie wondered what it’d be like to body slam a friend off of the first floor balcony of the hotel they were staying at.  Not wanting to injure his friend on the concrete, he figured the roof of Graham’s car would make a much better landing spot.  He was right, as his friend walked away without injury, but the roof of Graham’s car was caved in.  There was never a dull moment in the life of Lonnie Mayne. 


Enter The “Moondog”


   1973 rolled in, and so did Lonnie Mayne, or rather “Moondog” Mayne, into New York and Vince McMahon Sr.’s World Wide Wrestling Federation.  While Lonnie had nice exposure in Los Angeles and Portland, and had wrestled in the historic Olympic Auditorium, New York’s Madison Square Garden was still considered to be the “Mecca” of pro wrestling venues.  The Lonnie Mayne who hit the East Coast wrestling rings was indeed a Wildman and every night he lived up to the reputation he quickly established for himself there.  After defeating a succession of preliminary wrestlers he beat ring veteran Chief Jay Strongbow on January 13th in the Boston Garden, a site where the wrestling fans were almost as rabid in the stands as he was in the ring.  And then 2 days later, after being in the area only two weeks, he was in the main event in Madison Square Garden.  As always, his path to the main event was the same as his path in life: In the fast lane.

   On January 15th “Moondog” Mayne attempted to take the WWWF World Heavyweight title from Pedro Morales, and while he was unsuccessful in the attempt, it wouldn’t be his last opportunity.  Mayne would take enlist “Captain” Lou Albano as his manager and continue to challenge the champion up and down the East coast, including a title shot he earned after winning a battle royal in the Boston Garden in front of 15,600 screaming fans.  

   His character, charisma, and ring psychology captured the imaginations of East Coast fans as well as the wrestling magazines, in which articles appeared describing their shocked responses to his baying like a wild dog in the middle of the ring, his brutal assaults on his opponents and his eating glass during interviews.  Even though his time in the WWWF would be brief, his impact on the East Coast scene was memorable.  Nearly 40 years later while being inducted into the 2012 WWE Hall of fame, “Iron” Mike Tyson cited Moondog Mayne as one of his favorite and most memorable wrestlers from his childhood.  In between title shots Mayne also battled Tony Garea, Gorilla Monsoon, and even the “Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino, and occasionally paired up with another ring legend, “Classy” Freddie Blassie.

   However on June 29, 1973, Lonnie’s time in the WWWF would come to an end in Madison Square Garden. Ever the professional, Lonnie did what was good for the business, putting over Haystacks Calhoun and getting pinned cleanly in the middle of the ring in a little over 6 minutes. 

   His time there was memorable not only for the fans but also memorable for him as well.     Shawn Mayne remembers: “He had come home for a visit and he told my Dad, ‘You know this guy, Vince Jr., he’s really something.  He’s going to go places.  He doesn’t think like the other promoters’ meaning that he really thought out of the box.”  It was one creative mind and innovative mind showing appreciation for another.

   However on June 29, 1973, Lonnie’s time in the WWWF would come to an end in Madison Square Garden. Ever the professional, Lonnie did what was good for the business, putting over Haystacks Calhoun and getting pinned cleanly in the middle of the ring in a little over 6 minutes.


Going Back To Cali

   In the fall, Lonnie would begin an extended run in San Francisco working for promoter Roy Shire, and this time, the Northern California fans would get the “Moondog Mayne” treatment.  Wrestling announcer and commentator Joe Sousa remembers first seeing Lonnie Mayne on Portland television in 1972 while he was living in Medford, Oregon.  “I was nine years old and he was wrestling as a ‘good guy’ when I first saw him and I thought ‘This guy is awesome!’”

   However Lonnie soon went to New York and then San Francisco, where Joe could resume following Lonnie’s exploits.  “Living in Medford, not only could I watch Portland wrestling on television, but on cable we could also see wrestling from San Francisco.  Referee turned Wrestler Ed Moretti would later give me heat for that because I had the best of both worlds” Joe recalls with a laugh.  “The ‘Moondog’ character was quite different from the Lonnie Mayne I saw in Oregon.”

   It would also be a reunion of sorts for Moondog Mayne and Pepper Martin, although not nearly as pleasant.  Martin had retired from the ring after an injury sustained in a match with Lonnie several years earlier in Oregon, and had turned to acting part time and doing ringside commentary during Roy Shire’s “Big Time Wrestling” television shows, with the occasional wrestling match thrown in for good measure.  His commentating style was one that sometimes led to verbal confrontations between him and some of the heel wrestlers.  On one occasion he made the critical mistake of calling Lonnie “crazy”.

   Long time San Francisco wrestling fan Fred Lazarus remembered that incident vividly: “Mayne busted open Pepper Martin and commentator Hank Renner went nuts, yelling over and over again, ‘My friend! My friend!  What have you done to him?!’  Then at the Cow Palace when Pepper got his chance at Moondog, you know the outcome…Moondog busted him open again big time and Pat came to the rescue and that started their feud!”

   The match that Fred Lazarus spoke of between Lonnie and Pepper took place at the Cow Palace was on October 13, 1973, and the “Pat” that he referred to was Pat Patterson, former “bad guy” but current “good guy,” as well as the current United States Heavyweight Champion.  He had just successfully defended his title against Dutch Savage that night and now he had his sights set on Lonnie Mayne.  And that suited the Moondog just fine.  – RR



I’d like to thank Shawn K. Mayne, Joe Sousa, and Fred Lazarus for sharing their fond memories of Lonnie Mayne. - RR




“Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels” By Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson

“Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Team” By Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson

Don Muraco Shoot interview – RF Video

Regional Territories: Pacific Northwest” by Mike Rodgers –

“’Apache Bull Ramos Still Battling” By Greg Oliver- Slam! Wrestling, October 13, 2014

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