R: Eddie Rose

A Rose By Any Other Name

Eddie Rose

Shakespeare wrote that calling a rose by a different name would not change the way it smelled. We think a similar sentiment can be applied to one of Heritage’s greatest friends, Eddie Rose. 

Eddie is a man of many names, and each one serves as a further illustration of the huge contribution he had made to professional wrestling through the years. Many wrestling enthusiasts first came across Eddie as Eddie Caldwell, a regular contributor to The Wrestler magazine, or columnist of the Manchester Evening Chronicle, Eddie Jones in the Manchester Evening News and various identities in Ringsport magazine. In the wrestling ring he was Eddie Rose, or Wat Tyler, a masked Baron, or one half of Les Diables Rouges. Yes, it’s certainly been a long and varied career in many guises, and we still enjoy Eddie’s memories in the pages of Wrestling Heritage.

Eddie’s interest in wrestling began one summer’s evening in 1960, a night when Ernie Riley was wrestling Eric Taylor. Eddie was a student at the time, training as a teacher, and worked in the bar at Belle Vue during the holidays. Without any interest in the sport at the time a friend suggested they went to the wrestling after finishing work, “The atmosphere and the wrestling hit me like a thunderclap and I was hooked.” 

Little did Eddie imagine that one day he would be sharing the ring with Eric Taylor, a man he grew to admire and respect. That was some years in the future, though, first of all there was the  small job of learning to wrestle. Six years training at the Manchester YMCA under the guidance of Bert Jacob brought new levels of fitness, stamina and self-confidence,  “I have a certificate issued by the British Amateur Wrestling Association in 1966 that states I am a recognised teacher of Catch-as-Catch-Can wrestling. That style of wrestling conformed to the standards current at the time but which have been modified in line with the Olympic style of amateur wrestling.”

Preparation for the transition to the professional ring came courtesy of Grant Foderingham at his gymnasium in Openshaw, Manchester. It was here that Eddie was to make life-long friendships with other professional aspirants that included Ian Wilson, Mark Wayne, Roy Fortuna, Brendan Moriarty,  Pete Lindberg and the late Alec Burton.

Eddie Caldwell teacher and journalist debuted as Eddie Rose professional wrestler in 1966, on a Grant Foderingham show. For the first few years he worked for the independent promoters alongside other promising opposition wrestlers that included, in addition to the above, Johnny Saint, Al Marquette, Paul Mitchell and Harry Duval. Matches were limited to within driving distance of his Manchester home and to fit in with his daytime commitments as a teacher at St Francis RC Secondary School. During school holidays Eddie would take the opportunity to travel further afield, and on the pages of Heritage has shared his enjoyment of working in Scotland for Spartan Promotions and the West Country for Eric Taylor. He worked for the major independent promoters of the time, including Don Robinson, Cape Promotions, Jack Cassidy, Brian Dixon and Orig Williams. So active was the wrestling scene in the 1960s and 1970s Eddie could work three nights a week within a ten mile radius of his home.

A chance meeting with Jack Atherton led to Eddie, and a number of the other Foderingham gym wrestlers being invited to the weekend training sessions at the Wryton Stadium, where his wrestling education was advanced by Jack and Ken Cadman, “Jack's philosophy was that in the professional ring you had to be prepared for any eventuality, for any opponent, so he taught us the ‘catch’ wrestling style of the Wigan School. He taught us a variety of moves and holds, to be aggressive wrestlers”.  Modest Eddie admits that despite his Catch credentials he only “skimmed the surface,” and looks up to the Wigan lads, “Jack Dempsey, Mel Riss, Jimmy Hart, Billy Joyce, Ernie Riley, Jimmy Niblet, Alan and Roy Wood, Jack Fallon, and  John Naylor. We used to call them ‘Wigan Crowbars’ as in ‘Try bending a crowbar!’

Training at the Wryton Stadium led to work for Joint Promotions. Another new identity, one half of Les Diables Rouges, a Jack Atherton creation, and work for Atherton, Billy Best and Wryton Promotions. Original members of the Les Diables Rouges were Eddie and Pete Lindberg, with Ian Wilson joining them to accommodate the large number of bookings they were receiving. Les Diables Rouges were never unmasked, defeated only by disqualification, wrestling other top teams The Royals, The Hells Angels, The Borgs, The Barons, The Cadmans amongst many more.  This wasn’t Eddie’s first stint under a mask, which he has told us he did not like wearing, he had previously worked as one half of the Masked Barons, usually alongside Pete Lindberg.

Three or four years later Les Diables Rouges seemed to conveniently forget about their fictional Parisienne background and training by Quasimodo as they metamorphosed into the Anglicised Red Devils, which had the advantage of allowing them to speak.  Eddie insisted,
“The Red Devils has nothing to do with any football team in the Manchester area!!  NOTHING. The original sporting Red Devils were the Salford Rugby League team of the thirties who were invincible for a time.”

So now we have yet another name for our wrestling school teacher. There were probably a few others also, including a period as a Black Diamond with Abe Ginsberg,
“I was lucky enough to partner Abe for about a year in the early 1980s. He was great to work with and always used to shout ‘Diamond!’ whenever we met outside of wrestling.” 

Eddie continued wrestling, back with the independents, until 1984 when the bumps seriously began to take their toll and he was forced into retirement with chronic back problems. Eddie trained as a Massage and Manipulative therapist with practices in Bolton and Bury. He was appointed Principal of the Northern Institute of Massage, a post he held for ten years before retiring from full-time work in 2005. 

Add to that busy life authorship of two books of wrestling memories, “Send in the Clowns” and “Worn Out Bodies.” Fortunately for Wrestling Heritage readers Eddie has also contributed at length to the pages of our website. His love of the wrestling business remains undiminished and shines through every word he writes. He also tells us he’s still got all his wrestling gear just in case he’s called up for a comeback, “But I can only get into the mask.”

Page added 07/03/2021

Reviewed 19/03/2022