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Frank Talent dies

Dearly Devoted Dexter

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Anyone who's watched any indy show held in Philly will know who Frank Talent was - the grey haired commission guy. Sadly, Frank has passed away aged 74.


From PWInsider :


Frank Talent, a well known member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission going back decades who was a regular fixture at professional wrestling events, passed away today at the age of 74. We haven't heard a cause of death but Talent had been ill off and on in recent years.


Talent was quite a character and I mean that in the nicest sense of the word. The best way to describe him is that he was like that goofy but caring grandfatherly figure that everyone meets at some point in their life.


Since at least the 1980s, but likely longer, Talent attended the majority of professional wrestling events promoted in Philadelphia acting as a Commission Representative. He would be seen sitting ringside and would often get into the act, giving static to heels as Talent "got" what the business was supposed to be.


A few times during the 80s, Talent even ended up ring announcing WWF matches at the Spectrum. He was pretty awful at it and one had to wonder if he did it just because he knew he could get away with it, but that was Talent. I can distinctly remember him once introducing Roddy Piper and hugging him in the Spectrum while Piper had this look on his face wondering who the hell this was.


During the post-ECW independent explosion in the early part of this decade, Talent became a more well known personality in front of the fans, often making announcements pointing out celebrities who were attending the shows and issuing "official edicts" when shows were delayed, etc.


Talent was one of those eccentric characters you took for granted as always being around. He was seemingly everywhere at every show and if he wasn't, you took a mental note that it seemed strange he wasn't lurking at ringside.


I noted earlier that Talent "got" what the business was supposed to be and that was an important asset for shows he was covering. Often, Talent would give pre-show instructions to the different locker rooms at events, reminding them of what was expected by the State, but for the most part, as long as the performers weren't being too reckless, he would let things go. The lone exception would be that he wouldn't allow any spitting out of the ring towards the audience. But beyond that, within reason, he would allow things to go and allow the promotions to do their thing.


One thing that always amused me was that Talent seemingly had an endless list of friends that he would visit whenever there were shows. Whenever I was set up doing coverage for live shows on one of the stages or balconies of the ECW Arena, which have been converted into "VIP" areas in recent years, Talent would show up visiting different families he personally knew that were in those areas, bringing talent for visits and autographs. If Talent asked for a favor, the wrestlers were quick to do it, since he commanded respect in his position (although some would laugh about his goofier characteristics) and was pretty much well liked by the workers.


With Talent's passing, a question mark has to be raised as to how the Commission will oversee pro wrestling in PA going forward. Talent "got" what the business was supposed to be and enjoyed being around the wrestlers, so it allowed for a very cordial, loose atmosphere for promoters and those working those shows. Should someone who isn't as keen on the business end up overseeing things - or should someone looking to enforce the letter of the law (which technically states the matches are true competitions and self-mutilation to cause bleeding is illegal), there may be some interesting times ahead for the groups that still run the greater Pennsylvania area. Those questions will have to be answered another day

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I recently listened to the WrestleCast interview with Jeremy Borash and he mentioned they managed to do a surprise no-rope barbed wire match at the first Hardcore Homecoming show by paying off the athletic commission.


Frank was sat ringside at that show, so I guess he could have been the one who received the bribe that night.

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