About Us  |   Contact

Larry Matysik enters hospice care

Larry Matysik, 72, who promoted, booked, and announced wrestling and wrote a number of books including "Wrestling at the Chase," is now in hospice care.

Herb Simmons, his close friend, said that Matysik is suffering from pneumonia and his condition is deteriorating quickly.

Matysik was the right-hand man for Sam Muchnick, the longtime president of the National Wrestling Alliance, and the St. Louis Wrestling Club during the 70s and early 80s when St. Louis was considered by many as the key city for pro wrestling in North America. Matysik started out writing for wrestling magazines in the 60s and eventually landed a job with Muchnick, and became the television announcer for "Wrestling at the Chase," which routinely drew an average of 200,000 viewers per week on KPLR-TV, Ch. 11, making it among the highest rated pro wrestling shows in the country. He also on occasion would fill in and do the AWA television show.

Matysik was considered in the 70s along with Lance Russell and Gordon Solie as one of the top three pro wrestling announcers in the country. But he also worked behind-the-scenes at all facets of the business. He was co-booker with Pat O'Connor and was responsible for a major upswing in the business in the late 70s with the introduction of people like Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Ted DiBiase, and the Von Erich Brothers, to go along with longtime area legends like Harley Race and Dick the Bruiser.

The climax of the Muchnick era was the final show on January 1, 1982, at the Arena, which drew 19,819 fans and sold out well in advance. Matysik put together a show that brought out major political leaders as well as Muchnick's first lead announcer, Joe Garagiola, who had become a major name on NBC television with baseball, game shows, and as a regular sub for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

St. Louis deteriorated quickly with Muchnick gone, as Matysik had major issues with how the new head of the business, Bob Geigel, would do things. He quit once, but Muchnick put them back together. In 1983, Matysik put together a storyline to lead to a Flair vs. Brody match, a two-of-three falls match that went to a 60-minute draw and set the city's all-time gate record. But when Geigel shorted both Flair and Brody on what had been the usual St. Louis percentage for a world title match, although still giving them what would have been the largest payoff at the time anyone would get in the U.S. at the time, he quit once again.

Matysik was close friends with Brody and they started up an opposition promotion and did well at the box office, but there were issues behind the scenes that led to problems with the financiers. Later in 1983, when KPLR made the decision to get rid of Geigel's group due to declining ratings and the weak quality of the television, both Matysik and Vince McMahon pitched for the Chase time slot. A meeting was held where the owner of the station, Ted Kopplar, suggested both work together as partners, which was agreed to, but quickly Jim Barnett told Matysik that they could not be partners after all, and Matysik worked for McMahon through 1991 before he was let go.

Matysik was also talked with in 1988 by Jim Herd to come in and work for WCW shortly before the Turner Broadcasting purchase came through. Herd, who had worked for KLPR, produced Wrestling at the Chase and thus was friends with Muchnick and Matysik. But that fell through as Barnett talked Herd out of that decision and Matysik also refused to move from St. Louis to Atlanta, where WCW was to be based.

Matysik remained associated with local wrestling, and until recently, would announce and book matches with partner Simmons and their Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling promotion.

Matysik wrote a series of books including "Drawing Heat the Hard Way" about the realities of pro wrestling, "The Greatest Wrestlers of All-Time," "Wrestling at the Chase," and "Brody," with Barbara Goodish about the life of Bruiser Brody. He also published a 1959-83 record book of St. Louis matches which included comments on booking which is one of the greatest guides to understanding that style of wrestling booking and politics and how Muchnick ran area wrestling.

He was working on a book that would compare and contrast the wrestling and working for McMahon and Muchnick before his health deteriorated.

Matysik had suffered at least three strokes in recent years, although at the time they were diagnosed differently. Simmons noted that at times he would slur his speech, but to the end, his memory was impeccable.

Matysik is a member of the Tragos/Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Greater St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame.

On a personal note, I first started subscribing to the St. Louis programs at the age of 12 and have been close friends with Matysik since college. As far as getting an education in pro wrestling, there has been nobody more valuable in my life. He knew wrestling from a very different manner than almost anyone because of how Muchnick worked with all the different promoters, and learned under Muchnick, one of the greatest promoters of all-time. 

He had an innate understanding of wrestling and so often when people would see an angle that looked big, he was almost always on target as to whether it would truly draw or not, as well as what wrestlers were and weren't going to be breakout stars.