Nick Busick to Enter Pittsburgh’s KSWA Hall of Fame
By Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
Nick Busick, who parlayed the basic look of a bully—flush with dashing derby, smoky cigar and bushy mustache—into a memorable career, will be inducted to Pittsburgh’s Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 28.
As part of the 8th annual Joe Abby Memorial Night, the KSWA has hosted a unique, Pittsburgh-specific ceremony for area wrestlers who have made a significant impact in and out of the squared circle. Busick is the latest professional who either were born or lived in the Western Pennsylvania area, or have considered Pittsburgh to be a launching pad for their careers.
The Steubenville, Ohio native immediately became engrossed with the sport because of “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino and Dominic DeNucci. They were the anchors of Pittsburgh’s famed “Studio Wrestling” territory that dominated the tri-state area from 1959-1974. “I was six years old and I fell in love with it,” Busick commented. “Bruno was my hero, no question.”
It was Sammartino’s legend as a powerlifter that engrossed Busick more than wrestling in his teenage years. In 1959, Sammartino was widely recognized as one of the world’s strongest men, having hoisted a 565 pound bench press. In 1971, Busick maxed out at 605 when he took a hard charge at Jim Williams’ 635 pound record.
Busick became a police officer, but he was still a fan of professional wrestling. He convinced Pittsburgh promoter Mike to give him a shot. With one week’s worth of training, Nick Busick debuted in Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena on May 12, 1978 and lost to Billy Red Lyons.
Busick would wrestle on a semi-regular basis, but kept his day job. In 1984 he moved to Atlanta and joined its police force there. He continued to moonlight as a wrestler.
Atlanta is where promoter Jerry Blackwell first spotlighted Busick. Long-time Georgia Championship Wrestling announcer Joe Pedicino was the one who told Busick he looked like a stereotypical rust-belt tough guy. “The Bully” was born.
Busick counts wrestlers like Dick Slater, Abdullah the Butcher and Bruiser Brody as friends who welcomed him into the brotherhood.
In 1991, Busick joined the World Wrestling Federation and was managed by Harvey Wimpleman. A self-described “mid carder,” Busick bullied anyone who would stand in his way, including ring announcer Mike McGuirk. In a still-unforgettable segment, Wimpleman blew cigar smoke into McGuirk’s face prior to an “open challenge.” The call was answered by Sid Justice, who unceremoniously dispatched of Busick in quick fashion.
After Busick’s short WWF run, he returned to Weirton, West Virginia. Throughout the 1990’s he worked in a high-risk security. For years, Busick has championed a line of nutritional supplements and protein bars. He has also promoted MMA cards that originated in his home town.
In 2005 Busick had a Chronic Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) episode that nearly ended his life. About five years ago he had an operation that corrected a periodic irregular and rapid heart rate. He has since completely recovered and continues to train hard as a 60-year-old powerlifter and brand new grandfather.
Busick first visited the KSWA last December for the organization’s annual FanFest. The event featured “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, the Honky Tonk Man, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. However, Busick was most happy to visit his old friend, DeNucci.
Now Busick joins a Pittsburgh-centric Hall of Fame field that started in 2008 with Studio Wrestling stalwarts Frank Durso and namesake Joe Abby. The KSWA Hall of Fame ceremony is probably the industry’s most comprehensive independent pro wrestling Hall of Fame in existence today.
The Masked Superstar and Demolition Ax’s Bill Eadie was the sole honoree in 2009.
Famed female wrestler Donna Christiantello and Dominic DeNucci were both on hand for their inductions in 2010.
In 2011, Studio Wrestling’s Ron Romano and Bobby “Hurricane” Hunt were honored.
In 2012, legendary independent wrestler Lord Zoltan and the first “non-wrestler” ever inducted—photographer Howard Kernats—were added. (The 2012 class also featured Bruno Sammartino’s induction in a separate ceremony. Sammartino’s appearance was the last ever at an independent wrestling event. Months later he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and Bruno’s independent shots would cease.)
In 2013, George “The Animal” Steele, KSWA Original Tommy Faime, referee Bucky Palermo and “Luscious” Johnny Valiant would be added to the growing hall.
In 2014, Studio Wrestling announcer “Chilly” Bill Cardille—a Pittsburgh broadcasting institution—as well as Studio Wrestlers-turned-politicians Chuck Martoni and “Jumpin” Johnny DeFazio were on hand for their inductions.
“I am so honored to be included,” said Busick in a recent telephone interview.
This year’s Joe Abby Memorial Night includes an appearance by James J. Dillon, who will second former 5-time World Champion “The Enforcer” Shawn Blanchard to the ring for his match against KSWA World Champion Shane Starr.
The Joe Abby Memorial Night is on Saturday, March 28, at the Teamster Temple, 4701 Butler Street in the Lawrenceville neighborhood within the city of Pittsburgh. Bell time is 7:30. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for kids. Card is subject to change.
— Trapper Tom