The early '90s were a bad time to be a pro-wrestling fan in Oregon.
State regulations had effectively bankrupted the regional scene. World Championship Wrestling never toured out west, and the athletic commission's costly new rules prompted the World Wrestling Federation to stay out of the state for the next decade. Sure, its weekly programming was still on television, but that meant suffering through evil wrestling clowns, voodoo priests and lots of feuding hillbillies.
To get the good stuff, you really had only one option. The Squared Circle's Greatest Matches aired on public access television in the Portland area on Saturday nights at 10 pm. True to its name, the show featured classic bouts hand-picked by the ideal curators—two teenagers with little regard for copyright law.
"The way we looked at it, we were a lifeline for real wrestling fans in Portland," says Tony Davis, who produced the show with his friend from Reynolds High School, Bryan Bennett.
A prodigious jabberjaw, Bennett talked Mount Hood Community College into giving him access to its TV studio at age 13. While he'd managed, through his friendship with local legend "Playboy" Buddy Rose, to secure an agreement with Vince McMahon to air old WWF matches, the show simply flew under other organizations' radar.
Pulling from their own VHS collections, Davis and Bennett assembled the analog equivalent of today's YouTube playlists, recapping classic feuds and compiling rare material, some of which still hasn't made it to the vast treasure trove of WWE Network. They also filmed short vignettes, often featuring Bennett cutting promos on the station brass, to play between matches. Although the production values rivaled Extreme Championship Wrestling in crudity, when Ivan Kafoury—the "black sheep" of the Kafoury family, according to Davis—briefly resurrected the Portland Wrestling promotion in the early 2000s, he brought on Davis and Bennett to help produce.
After Bennett died of a heart condition last year, Davis, who now referees for a small company in San Diego, finally got around to putting the The Squared Circle online as a form of tribute at dailymotion.com/TSCGM.
"I can't imagine there was anywhere else in the country that there was even one show in the country like this," he says.