It’s no secret that The Wrestling Guys owed a debt of gratitude to NJ pro wrestling promoter Dennis Coraluzzo for many reasons. First, he forged a relationship with them that was mutually beneficial. He was a constant source of guests for the show from 1997 until his death on July 29, 2001. Dennis himself was a frequent guest who always spoke his mind, and often presented himself as somewhere between a circus carny, and a guest from the Jerry Springer Show.
Most important, he taught Phil Varlese & John House of The Wrestling Guys much about the pro wrestling business, knowledge that has helped them tremendously in their other endeavors in the wrestling business to this day. Funny enough, he also showed them what NOT to do! After John House left the show to take advantage of his opportunity with CZW, Phil & Dennis got closer, particularly after Dennis was kicked out of the National Wrestling Alliance. It was a lonely time for him, many of his “friends” abandoned him after the accusations & innuendo about his involvement in unethical & illegal business practices. Phil Varlese of The Wrestling Guys has said that Dennis had become quite more open and honest with him during that time.
Not everyone shared the same opinion of Dennis. Here’s a quote from respected wrestling writer and webmaster Bob Magee, from his “As I See It” column, 2 days after Dennis passed away:
This past Sunday, former NWA promoter Dennis Coraluzzo passed away at age 48 from a brain hemorrhage. He had attended wrestling related events this past weekend, and had complained at Sunday’s event of not feeling well.
After the hemorrhage, Coraluzzo slipped into a coma. The family made the decision to disconnect life support after it was determined that brain death had occurred. The death was said by family members not to be related to his recent cardiac bypass surgery.
There’s no question that I’ve been critical in this column and on PWBTS of many things that Dennis Coraluzzo has done in the past. I stand by all that I said about those situations. I don’t believe in posthumous canonization.
That having been said, I do want to send my condolences to the Coraluzzo family on his passing.
It also needs to be mentioned that Coraluzzo was one of only two promoters (along with Ian Rotten) who remembered Eddie Gilbert after his death in any meaningful way.
Coraluzzo promoted the Eddie Gilbert Memorial Weekends held in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area from 1996-1999. These events were truly enjoyable for old-school wrestling fans like me, and served to remember a legend like Eddie Gilbert whose own former promotion couldn’t be bothered to do it to any significant degree.
The 1998 Gilbert Memorial Banquet featured a surprise honoring of Brian Hildebrand by co-conspirators Coraluzzo and Jim Cornette.
As I’ve recounted in previous AS I SEE IT columns, Brian had called me days before the Banquet, wondering why Cornette and Coraluzzo were calling him numerous times to make sure he was coming.
Brian said to me “Bob, what in hell is up here?” I replied, not wanting to ruin the surprise, but knowing he’d smell me fudging a mile away… “Well, if you actually got Dennis to return a phone call…if you got Corny calling that many times in a week…I’d bring a suit… and be prepared to say something”.
The tribute that Jim Cornette did for him at that Gilbert Banquet was pure Cornette, totally irreverent as usual, but also with great feeling.
Whatever else is said about Dennis Coraluzzo, the fact that he did the Gilbert events for four years; and that he provided Brian Hildebrand (who was always a bigtime mark for Eddie) an opportunity to be honored at an event dedicated to his hero, should be considered…especially in view of Vince McMahon’s glaring inability to do so for others who deserved it.
For those who wish to do so, you may pay respects to Coraluzzo this Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the McGuiness Funeral Home, located at 34 Hunter Street in Woodbury, NJ. For directions and info, you may call them at (800) 993-0888. Flowers may be sent to the McGuiness Funeral Home address for the service.
Those who wish to send cards to the family may do so through this address: Coralluzzo Family c/o 14 Margaux Court, Woodbury, NJ 08096-5734.
Church services will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wenonah, NJ on Saturday morning, starting at 9:00 am. The church is located at 11 Monroe Avenue in Wenonah.
This interview was done several years before his passing. NWA New Jersey was riding high. While successful shows today by most promotions standards draw 4-500 people, Dennis and NWA New Jersey were pulling in 1500-2000 at the time, in certain venues. They were an important part of the life blood of the National Wrestling Alliance at that time. He knew that, and had no problem telling people he was the straw that stirred the drink called New Jersey Wrestling. In this interview, a rival promoter had accused Dennis & his son of placing flyers for their upcoming NWA NJ show on the windshields of cars attending THEIR show, and Dennis responded by just being Dennis…..
In the studio with The Wrestling Guys that day was “Pryme Time” Amy Lee, one of the more prolific women wrestlers over the past 2 decades, who had a love/hate (but mostly love) relationship with Dennis.
Both John & Phil are planning to do an updated roundtable with some friends (and rivals) of Dennis on a future podcast, but for the time being, enjoy this interview with one of the great characters from the pro wrestling world, Dennis Coraluzzo.