Tony Biella, Gino Caruso, Ryan Roxbury, Rob Fury, Little Tony Moose, and Frank Pesce Wrestle at Our Lady of Guadalupe

Bensonhurst Bulldog’s retirement match becomes six-man tag-team rumble

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What started out as a battle of two Bensonhurst kings of the ring — morphed into a dramatic, no-holds-barred battle royale of Kings County wrestling greats.

In one corner was undefeated heavyweight-belt holder Tony “Bulldog” Biella ready for a final bout to put his grappling skills to the ultimate test.

In the other was his mentor, Gino “Mister Italy” Caruso — famed wrestling trainer and founder of East Coast Professional Wrestling — ready to take his protege to school one last time in a headline bout at Our Lady of Guadalupe on Oct. 26.

“This was my moment, win lose or draw, and that was going to be it for me,” Biella said. “If I was going to have a last match, I wanted it to be with the guy who taught me. You always wonder if he taught you everything.”

The confrontation was supposed to be Biella’s retirement bout, so that the 30-year-old champ could hang up his tights and pursue a career as a New York City police officer under his real name, Anthony Passaro.

The bristling brawlers matched their Brooklyn-bred brawn before an audience of hundreds of applauding kids at the 72nd Street school. The gladiators grappled in a gripping struggle for Bensonhurst bragging rights and East Coast Professional Wrestling heavyweight supremacy. Biella got the man he had known since age 10 in a reverse headlock — only to get the same treatment moments later from the 50-year-old trainer.

“It was a really technical match — almost more like what you’d see in an amateur fight than professional wrestling,” said Biella.

The fight seemed on the verge of a stalemate, with neither bruiser getting a decisive edge when, suddenly, a trio of other wrestlers — Rob Fury, Little Tony Moose, and Frank Pesce, all former members of Caruso’s company — raided the ring and attacked the two contenders. The unexpected entrance rendered the Biella–Caruso bout an automatic no contest, and the two teamed up to deal with the new opponents — with some help from newly-minted Wrestling Hall of Famer Ryan Roxbury.

Roxbury kept Pesce and Fury at bay with a folding chair while — in a show of raw rage and unbridled Halloween spirit —Biella took a pumpkin on display below the ring and busted it over Tony Moose’s head as the crowd went wild.

“The kids loved it,” Biella said.

Like all of Biella’s Brooklyn brawls, Saturday’s fight was a volunteer fund-raiser for Catholic youth sports programs. Biella, who played on Our Lady of Guadalupe’s baseball and basketball teams growing up, also meets with kids regularly and reminds them to work hard in school, stay drug-free, and not try to imitate his wrestling moves at home.

“All these events we do, it’s all about the kids,” said Biella.

When the dust and the pumpkin pulp settled, the Biella–Caruso–Roxbury triumvirate was triumphant. But in return for ruining what was supposed to be his final round in the squared circle, the Bulldog challenged Tony Moose to a one-on-one match in April — inside a steel cage this time, in order to prevent another surprise attack.

In the meantime, Bensonhurst’s battling Bulldog will be walking the beat in Manhattan — as Officer Passaro.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
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