The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker:
By the early ‘50s, Thursday and Saturday night pro wrestling were two of the top shows on DuMont and a certified national phenomenon. The stars of DuMont—guys like despicable pretty boy Gorgeous George, northeasterner Antonino “Argentina” Rocca, Canadian big man Don Leo Jonathan, Italian superstar Bruno Sammartino, reviled showboat Freddie Blassie, African American trailblazers Bobo Brazil and Sweet Daddy Siki, and fighting ballerino Ricky Starr—were among the biggest sports stars in the nation. Kohler signed many of his wrestlers to exclusive contracts—a first in the sport—because his local guys were becoming more famous than many of the NWA’s entrenched headliners and Kohler wanted to keep a leash on them. He sent them to wrestle in other NWA regions and took a cut of everything they earned. Pro wrestling was more popular than ever, but the new fans wanted to see the TV stars. For the longtime fans, who had for years been taught to accept the primacy of their local product, this new national phenomenon must have been a rude awakening.