Spiros Arion (Greek: Σπύρος Αρίον) born Spyridon Manousakis (Greek: Σπυρίδων Μανουσάκης) (born 1940) is a Greek retired professional wrestler who had extensive and successful careers in both Australia and the United States. Known as The Golden Greek and The Iron Greek, he debuted in 1961 and retired in 1979.
|Birth name||Spyridon Manousakis|
|Born||1940 (age 78–79)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Spiros Arion|
|Billed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Billed weight||285 lb (129 kg)|
|Trained by||Andre Bollet|
Spiros Arion was born Spyridon Manousakis in September 1940 in the Egyptian capital, Cairo to Greek parents, Stavros and Konstantina. He spent his early childhood in Egypt but when Spiros became a teenager, he and his family migrated to Athens, Greece. It was in the Greek capital that young Spiros learnt and excelled in the Greco-Roman form of wrestling, Naturally charismatic and physically powerful, he trained to become an early grappler and made an early mark on European mats, often billed as the "son" of his mentor, the veteran Greek wrestler Andreas Lambrakis.
Arion was trained by a French wrestler named Andre Bollet. He made his professional wrestling debut in 1961 in Paris. For over four years, he wrestled around Europe before settling in Australia.
In July 1964, he arrived on the Australian wrestling scene under the name "The Golden Greek" and quickly became a favorite among Greek wrestling fans. He joined World Championship Wrestling and wrestled there until its end in 1978. He also wrestled in IWA Australia. In 1965, he went on to win the IWA World Heavyweight Title and IWA Tag Team Championship.
Arion finished 1965 as IWA world champion. He dropped the belt to the legendary Killer Kowalski. He feuded with Kowalski over the IWA Title. He became a popular wrestler in Australia and Greece and was a fan favorite. In 1966, he defended the IWA Title successfully against the 400 pounder King Kong Czaja. He was a part of many storylines in IWA and WCW. In 1974, he was awarded the IWA Austra-Asian Heavyweight Championship, and he defended the title against the likes of Bobby Shane.
World Wide Wrestling Federation (1966–1975)Edit
In 1966, he headed to America and debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Arion quickly became a major star, defeating top opponents, including Dr. Bill Miller, Cowboy Rocky Fitzpatrick (Bob Orton Sr.), Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valentine, Crazy Luke Graham, Bull Ortega, The Sheik, Kentucky Butcher (John Quinn), George Steele, etc. His finishing move was often "the hotseat", later renamed "the Greek backbreaker". In his second match in the U.S., he teamed with Tony Parisi to defeat Baron Mikel Scicluna and Smasher Sloan on Washington, DC television for the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship. Parisi and Arion won the titles, and were never defeated for the belts. In June 1967, Parisi gave his half to Arnold Skaaland marking his second US Tag Team Title Reign. On 10 July 1967, they lost the titles to the Sicilians (Lou Albano and Tony Altomare). He became a protégé of WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino and they both beat up the Sicilians, winning in 2 straight falls, on 24 July to become the final U.S. Tag Team Champions.
Sammartino and Arion teamed up to main event at Madison Square Garden, twice against Gorilla Monsoon & Professor Toru Tanaka. Monsoon & Tanaka won the first match on disqualification; Arion & Sammartino won a decisive victory in a "Texas Death Match" rematch, 2 falls to 1.
Arion returned to the WWWF in 1974 and was instantly a fan favorite. His popularity increased when he teamed with Chief Jay Strongbow. The fans thought that this duo would take the WWWF tag team belts from Captain Lou Albano's Valiant Brothers, but they were mistaken.
Before Arion and Strongbow took on the Valiant Brothers, there were signs that this tag team would not last. While Arion was in a singles match with Killer Kowalski, the latter had the upper hand. Strongbow came to Arion's assistance, but the Greek was enraged because Strongbow's outside interference cost him the match via disqualification. Even though it was a disqualification, Arion complained that it was his first loss of any kind in the U.S.
In their match against the Valiant Brothers, Arion suddenly turned on his partner. He quickly went from fan favorite to heel when the fans learned that Freddie Blassie now took him under his management. Various story lines intensified the fans' hatred for the Iron Greek. The worst was when Arion ripped Strongbow's Indian headdress to shreds.
Arion signed for a match against Bruno Sammartino's protégé, Larry Zbyszko at Madison Square Garden. On a TV interview, the announcer wanted to know why Arion signed for the match—it was deemed a mismatch. Arion laughed, and said that "Larry is my friend". Arion demolished Zbyszko in the Garden, and Bruno Sammartino ran in at the end, after the pin, to prevent further harm by Arion.
Arion then feuded with Strongbow, pinning him in numerous arenas; and went on to a 3 bout series at Madison Square Garden against his former partner, WWWF champ Sammartino, whom he blamed for losing the tag team titles at the expense of his singles title.
In early 1976, Arion left the WWWF, and returned in late 1977. In 1978 he partnered with Freddie Blassie's newest turncoat, the once popular Victor Rivera. Following a TV match in Hamburg, PA, he was stabbed in the chest by a male fan as he and Blassie were leaving the ring.
In 1979 Arion, billed as "The Iron Greek", arrived in Joint Promotions claiming a version of the Mountevans Rules World Heavyweight championship. He made televised defences of his championship against such opponents as Colin Joynson, Lee Bronson and Romany Riley before losing the title to Wayne Bridges. Following the defeat, Arion left British Wrestling, but his title would continue to be contested for over a decade afterwards in both Joint Promotions and All Star Wrestling, where it would be held by Bridges, Mighty John Quinn, Tony StClair, Steve Veidor and Kendo Nagasaki before being abandoned when final champion Bridges retired in 1990.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation
- Joint Promotions (United Kingdom)
- Mountevans Rules World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- "Sprios Arion". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- York, Barry. "'Good and Evil' in the Wrestling Ring". The National Centre for History Education. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "Wrestling History". Pro-Wrestling Illustrated. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- "Arnold Skaaland". WWE Hall of Fame Superstar. World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- "Captain Lou Albano". WWE Hall of Fame Superstar. World Wrestling Entertainment. Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- Green, Erwin Michael. "Bruno Sammartino: The Living Legend". Bagpiper Publications. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- "World Heavyweight Title (Great Britain)".
- "IWA World Heavyweight Title (Australia)". Wrestling Titles. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 29 February 2008.
- "IWA World Tag Team Title (Australia)". Wrestling Titles. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 29 February 2008.
- "Austra-Asian Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 29 February 2008.
- "Austra-Asian Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 29 February 2008.
- "United States Tag Team Title (Capitol/WWWF". Wrestling Titles. Archived from the original on 29 March 2008. Retrieved 29 February 2008.