Toots Mondt -- (born January 18, 1894, as Joseph Raymond Mondt, in Wayne County, Iowa) was a legendary wrestling promoter, whose territory included Madison Square Garden for 30 years. Although most fans today name Vince McMahon as the single most influential person on the evolution of the business, Toots Mondt would have a valid claim since he created the entire concept of "storyline wrestling." Prior to Toots, wrestling matches would last for hours with very little movement throughout the contest. But Toots popularized a style called "Slam Bang Western-Style Wrestling," in which striking, kicking, punching, and other quick hits increased the action as well as the excitement of matches, so wrestling moves were favored over wrestling holds in the new style. Additionally, Mondt created the concept of a "program" (also known as a wrestling angle) whereby wrestlers were recognized by the audience as "good guys" (faces) and "bad guys" (heels).
Mondt worked with World Heavyweight champion Ed "Strangler" Lewis and manager Billy Sandow as the Gold Dust Trio, and their influence, along with Mondt's fresh, new ideas of packaging a tour attraction with an established troupe of competitors appearing together in each city, enabled them to establish a central booking office for the entire industry. After the Gold Dust Trio broke imploded through infighting, Mondt proved to be the mastermind behind the partnership and he formed the National Wrestling Assocation (the original NWA) with Dick Shikat as his NWA World champion, who lost the belt to Jim Landos, and in turn, Landos/Lewis matches became the quintessential grudge matches of the 1930s.
Not to be treated lightly, Toots Mondt allegedly put his title on men who he knew he could take in a fight, and rumors persist that he took his champions to task more than once during his time as a wrestling kingpin. However, when Vincent J. McMahon lured his latest top draw (Antonio Rocca) away, the balance of power shifted in McMahon's favor. Of course, knowing the power Mondt wielded within the industry, McMahon wisely opted against a turf war over the territory and he partnered with Mondt since Mondt had been a wrestler and many wrestlers preferred working for one of their own instead of a second-generation promoter.
The McMahon/Mondt partnership broke away from the NWA to form the WWWF in 1963, and they controlled the entire northeast territory. Mondt died on June 11, 1976, after failing health rendered him inactive for the better part of seven years, although Vince Sr. kept Mondt on his payroll until his dying day in appreciation for his longtime business partner and confidant.