Monday, July 20, 2009

Baron Von Krupp

Making his debut as a professional wrestler in 1957, the first half of George Momberg's lengthy career, as Dutch Momberg, was not particularly memorable. In 1972 he finally hit upon the gimmick that would make him a star, the character of the 'evil German', Killer Karl Krupp.

The German heel gimmick had been around a good twenty years by this time, first popularized by Hans Schmidt and carried further by later stars such as Fritz von Erich. A late entry into the field, Killer Karl Krupp was among the most wildly over-the-top of them all: with eyes bulging, head shaved and a short black beard framing a leering grin, Krupp was the very image of a wildly cartoonish yet frightening wrestling villain. He accessorized for the part with monocle, riding crop, heavy black boots and black ring cape, and delivered ranting promos in an affected German accent rife with mangled pronunciations ( wrestling has after all, never been accused of subtlety ). Utilizing other familiar staples of the German heel gimmick, Krupp goose-stepped to the ring, threw stiff-arm salutes, and used an Iron Claw as his finishing move. What was unknown to the public at the time was that the Dutch born Momberg hated the Nazis who had occupied his homeland, and he did the over-the-top gimmick as a way of mocking them, Hogan's Heroes-style. Despite these theatrics, Krupp was a convincing brawler in the ring. Remembered for often completely demolishing his opponents, he relished in inflicting pain on them with little regard for whether or not he was disqualified in the process of doing so.
During the 70's, Krupp had much success in the U.S, including defeating Leo Burke for the ESA's IW North American Heavyweight Championship, as well as sucessful runs in Texas, Detroit and Protland. But it was really Japan where he had many of his early successes. He co-held the NWA International Tag Team Championship twice between February and April 1973 (once with Johnny Valentine and once with fellow 'evil German', Fritz von Erich ). He also reached the final rounds of the 1974 and 1975 New Japan Pro Wrestling World League Tournaments, both of which he lost to Antonio Inoki.

In 1980, Krupp came to Memphis where he eventually joined Jimmy Hart's First Family of Wrestling stable and tangle with Jerry Lawler. He returned before long to Atlantic Canada, however, where he had a memorable run in Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling, holding the European Title and feuding with The Great Mulumba and Hercules Cortez. In the mid-'80s, near the end of his career he toured New Zealand ( as mentioned in yesterdays post ), the high point being winning the British Commonwealth title from Steve Rickard.

In Scott Teal's Whatever Happened To... #41 newsletter, Ed 'Moondog' Moretti explained that Krupp had difficulty separating his wrestling character from real life. "Killer Karl Krupp... what a nice guy. I love him to death, but I think he actually believed he was Killer Karl Krupp. He had a partner in the Maritimes named Hans Hermann, who wrestled in Calgary as Butch Moffitt, the Jackal. We were at home and Krupp was telling him ... this is in a German accent now ... 'You cannot go outside. You cannot be seen at the beach with your family. You are a German wrestler and need to live this gimmick twenty-four hours a day if you want to get over."

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