Ernie Ladd and Johnny “Red Shoes” Dugan [February 7th, 1978]
In the 1970s, to be a professional wrestling referee, you had to be a bit more assertive than the refs of today. The heels of yesteryear would go above and beyond to ensure their victories, especially since the territories were all fighting for supremacy and doing their best to portray a real fight atmosphere. One referee who was far from afraid to get involved was the late Johnny “Red Shoes” Dugan. An energetic ref, Dugan was the decision maker and 3-count man of the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s in Los Angeles at the Olympic Auditorium. Dugan’s assertiveness sometimes landed him in harm’s way, such as one instance where he was hit with a fireball by The Sheik!
Dugan was a referee who loved his job, and would often spend time in the locker rooms helping wrestlers brainstorm or reminding them of their offensive maneuvers to be used during matches.
Dick “Whoa Nellie” Lane
even cites Dugan as being the man who named the snapmare. Dave Meltzer cites Dugan as being the most famous referee in the world, and he was namedropped in The ountain Goats’ anthem, The Legend Of Chavo Guerrero. At WrestleMania 2, Dugan served as the referee of the match between Ricky Steamboat and Hercules. In 2001, Dugan passed away at the age of 89.