André the Giant
André René Roussimoff, best known as André the Giant, was a French professional wrestler and actor. He famously feuded with Hulk Hogan, culminating at WrestleMania III in 1987, his best-remembered film role was that of the giant in The Princess Bride. His size was a result of gigantism caused by excess growth hormone, which resulted in acromegaly, it led to his being called "The Eighth Wonder of the World". In the World Wrestling Federation, Roussimoff was a one-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time WWF Tag Team Champion. In 1993, he was the inaugural inductee into the newly created WWE Hall of Fame. André Roussimoff was born in Molien, in the canton of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, of Slavic heritage, the son of Boris and Mariann Roussimoff, his parents were immigrants to France. His nickname growing up was "Dédé"; as a child, he displayed symptoms of gigantism early, reaching a height of 191 cm and a weight of 94 kg by the age of 12. Roussimoff was a good student in mathematics, but he dropped out after the eighth grade since he did not think having a high school education was necessary for a farm labourer.
He spent years working on his father's farm, according to his brother, Jacques, he could perform the work of three men. He completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, next worked in a factory that manufactured engines for hay balers. None of these occupations, brought him any satisfaction. At the age of 18, Roussimoff moved to Paris and was taught professional wrestling by a local promoter who recognized the earning potential of Roussimoff's size, he worked as a mover during the day to pay living expenses. Roussimoff was billed as "Géant Ferré", a name based on the French folk hero Grand Ferré, began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas. Canadian promoter and wrestler Frank Valois met Roussimoff in 1966, becoming his business manager and adviser. Roussimoff began making a name for himself wrestling in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, he made his Japanese debut in 1970, billed as "Monster Roussimoff", wrestling for the International Wrestling Enterprise. Wrestling as both a singles and tag-team competitor, he was made the company's tag-team champion alongside Michael Nador.
During his time in Japan, doctors first informed Roussimoff. Roussimoff next moved to Montréal, where he became an immediate success selling out the Montreal Forum. However, promoters ran out of plausible opponents for him and, as the novelty of his size wore off, the gate receipts dwindled. Roussimoff was defeated by Adnan Al-Kaissie in Baghdad in 1971, wrestled numerous times in 1972 for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association as a special attraction until Valois appealed to Vince McMahon Sr. founder of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, for advice. McMahon suggested several changes, he felt Roussimoff should be portrayed as a large, immovable monster, to enhance the perception of his size, McMahon discouraged Roussimoff from performing maneuvers such as dropkicks. He began billing Roussimoff as "André the Giant" and set up a travel-intensive schedule, lending him to wrestling associations around the world, to keep him from becoming overexposed in any area. Promoters had to guarantee Roussimoff a certain amount of money as well as pay McMahon's WWWF booking fee.
On March 26, 1973, Roussimoff debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation as a fan favorite, defeating Buddy Wolfe in New York's Madison Square Garden. Roussimoff was one of professional wrestling's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early 1980s; as such, Gorilla Monsoon stated that Roussimoff had not been defeated in 15 years by pinfall or submission prior to WrestleMania III. He had sixty-minute time-limit draws with the two other major world champions of the day, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel. In 1976, Roussimoff fought professional boxer Chuck Wepner in an unscripted boxer-versus-wrestler fight; the wild fight was shown via telecast as part of the undercard of the Muhammad Ali versus Antonio Inoki fight and ended when he threw Wepner over the top rope and outside the ring and won via count out. In 1980, he feuded with Hulk Hogan, where unlike their more famous matches in the late 1980s, Hogan was the villain and Roussimoff was the hero, wrestling him at Shea Stadium's Showdown at Shea and in Pennsylvania, where after Roussimoff pinned Hogan to win the match, Hogan bodyslammed him much like their legendary WrestleMania III match in 1987.
The feud continued in Japan in 1982 and 1983 with their roles reversed and with Antonio Inoki involved. In 1982, Vince McMahon, Sr. sold the World Wide Wrestling Federation to Vince McMahon, Jr.. As McMahon began to expand his newly acquired promotion to the national level, he required his wrestlers to appear for him. McMahon signed Roussimoff to these terms in 1984, although he still allowed him to work in Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling. One of Roussimoff's feuds pitted him against the "Mongolian Giant" Killer Khan. According to the storyline, Khan had snapped Roussimoff's ankle during a match on May 2, 1981, in Rochester, New York, by leaping off the top rope and crashing down upon it with his knee-drop. In reality, he had broken his ankle getting out of bed the morning before the match; the injury and subsequent reh
The Fabulous Moolah
Mary Lillian Ellison was an American professional wrestler, better known by her ring name The Fabulous Moolah. She began her career working with promoter Billy Wolfe and his wife and trainer Mildred Burke, as well as working alongside professional wrestler "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, she won the NWA World Women's Championship in 1956 and was the most prominent holder of the title for 28 years. In the 1980s, she joined the World Wrestling Federation as part of the Rock'n' Wrestling Connection storyline, feuding with Cyndi Lauper and Wendi Richter, the latter of whom defeated her for the WWF Women's Championship In the 1990s, she returned to the WWF in a comedic role with longtime friend Mae Young. Ellison became the first woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, when she was inducted with the class of 1995 and became the oldest champion in the history of professional wrestling when she won the WWF Women's Championship at age 76, in 1999. In 2010, WWE recognized her as the 43rd best wrestler ever.
Mary Lillian Ellison was born in 1923 in Kershaw County, South Carolina, grew up in Tookiedoo, 12 miles from Columbia. The youngest of five children, Ellison was the only daughter of a part Cherokee father and an Irish mother, her parents owned a farm, a grocery store, a service station. When her mother died of cancer, eight-year-old Ellison went to live with her paternal grandmother and worked on her cousin's cotton farm to make money. At age 10, Ellison was still distraught over her mother's death. Ellison liked the matches, but it was not until she saw Women's Champion Mildred Burke wrestle that "they began to mean much more" to her. Ellison returned to the Columbia home of her father and brothers, she at age 14 married 21-year-old Walter Carroll. They soon became parents to a daughter. A few months after the birth of her daughter, she divorced Carroll. Still only 15, she set out on a wrestling career of her own. Ellison began her wrestling career with Mildred Burke's husband Billy Wolfe, the dominant women's promoter of the time.
She competed with many other female wrestlers, stepping into the ring with the likes of Mae Young, Cecilia Blevins and Mildred Burke. Wolfe was notorious for advising his wrestlers to enter into sexual relationships with either himself or competing promoters to ensure additional bookings, a practice with which Ellison refused to go along. She, soon began a romance with wrestler Johnny Long. Long introduced Ellison to Jack Pfefer who gave her the moniker "Slave Girl Moolah". By the early 1950s, Moolah was a valet for "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, accompanying him to the ring while providing eye candy for the male audiences and assisting Rogers against his opponents. Ellison broke up the partnership, she served as the valet for the Elephant Boy. Olivas was Mexican, but had dark skin, which caused controversy when Ellison, a white woman, would kiss him on the cheek during their ring entrance routine. At one show in Oklahoma City, a man, who thought that Olivas was a black man, attempted to stab Ellison with a knife for kissing him.
Moolah left Pfeffer's promotion and began wrestling under Boston promoters Tony Santos and Paul Bowser. In 1955, she began working for Sr.'s Capitol Wrestling Corporation. On September 18, 1956, Moolah defeated Judy Grable in a 13-woman battle royal to win the vacant World Women's Championship, which shares a lineage with the NWA World Women's Championship, she was not recognized by everyone as the NWA Champion because Billy Wolfe, with whom she had conflict earlier in her career, still controlled the promotion. After the match, Vince McMahon, Sr. dubbed Ellison with a new ring name – The Fabulous Moolah. Subsequently, June Byers came out of retirement to challenge Moolah to a match for the title. During the match, Moolah acted as pinned Byers to retain the championship. Moolah's first World Championship reign lasted over ten years. Moolah defended the belt against the top female wrestlers in the world, such as Judy Grable and Donna Christanello, while purporting to befriend some of the biggest celebrities of the day.
Moolah claimed in her book, First Goddess of the Squared Circle, that she formed friendships with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. After June Byers retired in 1964, Moolah was subsequently recognized as official NWA Champion, thus making her the undisputed Women's World Champion. Moolah dropped the belt on September 17, 1967 to Bette Boucher, although she regained the title just weeks later, she traded the belt with Yukiko Tomoe during a tour of Japan in 1968. On July 1, 1972, Moolah became the first woman allowed to wrestle at Madison Square Garden, which had banned women's wrestling. In fact, Moolah helped overturn the ban on women's wrestling in the entire state of New York, which the New York State Athletic Commission lifted in June 1972. During her quest to overturn the ban, she flipped football player Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier onto his back on The Mike Douglas Show. Moolah continued an uninterrupted eight-year reign before losing to Sue Green at Madison Square Garden in 1976. Moolah regained her title a short time later.
She bought the legal rights to the championship in the late 1970s, after losing the championship for two days to Evelyn Stevens in 1978, began another long reign, defending her title for another six years. In the 1970s, Moolah held the NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship twice with Toni Rose. In 1983, Vince McMahon, Jr. began expanding the World Wrestling Federation na
World Class Championship Wrestling
World Class Championship Wrestling known as the World Class Wrestling Association, was an American professional wrestling promotion headquartered in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Owned by promoter Ed McLemore, by 1966 it was run by Southwest Sports, Inc. whose president, Jack Adkisson, was better known as wrestler Fritz Von Erich. Beginning as a territory of the National Wrestling Alliance, it went independent in 1986 in a bid to become a major national promotion, but was unsuccessful in its attempts and went out of business in 1990. Rights to the pre-1989 WCCW tape library belong to WWE and select episodes from 1982 to 1988 are available on the WWE Network. World Class Championship Wrestling experienced tremendous success from 1981-1985, shattering attendance records and achieving global exposure through their syndicated television program. Bookers Ken Mantell, David Von Erich, Gary Hart, Bruiser Brody and Kevin Von Erich provided fans with hard hitting action centered on the popular Von Erich brothers and a cast of devious villains.
Storylines during this time followed a consistent theme of friendship and betrayal, with many of the top villains being first presented as friends to the Von Erich Family, only to betray them months or years later. Talent deals and exchanges helped WCCW bring in future stars such as Chris Adams, The Fabulous Freebirds, Jake Roberts, Mick Foley, a young Shawn Michaels, Gino Hernandez and Iceman King Parsons, others. World Class Championship Wrestling was a member of the NWA and was known as Big Time Wrestling until 1982, when Adkisson decided that the name of his federation needed to be changed. Mickey Grant, who headed the production of its telecasts, suggested the name World Class. WCCW operated its enterprise in Dallas and held wrestling events at the Reunion Arena, at the famed Sportatorium, located just south of Downtown Dallas, a well-known boxing and wrestling arena as well as the one-time home to the famous Big D Jamboree. WCCW was known as Big Time Wrestling and, until the late 1970s, was dominated by its owner, Fritz Von Erich.
In 1966, Von Erich and Ed McLemore-owner of the Dallas Sportatorium- bought out the Dallas/Fort Worth Wrestling Office, breaking away from Houston Wrestling Office, managed by Paul Boesch. In 1969, Von Erich took sole control over the Office after McLemore died from a heart attack, gained ownership of the Dallas Sportatorium. Playing his longtime role of a snarling, goose-stepping Nazi monster heel and sometimes teaming with "brother" Waldo, Fritz turned babyface in late 1966 and began feuding with Gary Hart and his stable of wrestlers. Fritz's other classic rivalries during this early period were with such stars as Johnny Valentine, Stan Stasiak, Professor Toru Tanaka, Lord Alfred Hayes, The Sheik, Bruiser Brody and The Great Kabuki. Babyface wrestlers playing secondary roles in the promotion at various times included Wahoo McDaniel, Pepper Gomez, Red Bastien, Jose Lothario and Lonnie "Moondog" Mayne. Many of these wrestlers were regular mainstays of the Grand Olympic Auditorium wrestling promotion in Los Angeles, who would compete in Dallas as did Fritz and several Texas-based wrestlers doing the same for Gene and Mike LeBell's promotion in L.
A. As his sons began to launch wrestling careers of their own in the mid-to-late 1970s, Fritz cut back on his in-ring appearances and concentrated on promoting retiring from the ring altogether after a 1982 NWA American Title win over King Kong Bundy at Texas Stadium in Irving. By the promotion had switched to the World Class name and was centered on Fritz's sons, David and Mike Von Erich. Developed and booked by manager and behind-the-scenes booker Gary Hart, World Class' most storied feud was the legendary and long-running battle between the Von Erichs and the Freebirds, which began on December 25, 1982 during an NWA World title match between Kerry Von Erich and champion Ric Flair at Reunion Arena in Dallas. After several of Flair's title defenses against Kerry ended in controversy with the champion retaining the belt by various illegal means, the promotion had booked a rematch between the two in a steel cage to prevent any interference, announced a write-in poll in which fans could vote for the wrestler they wanted to serve as special referee for the match.
Freebird Michael Hayes, whose popularity in WCCW at that point was second only to the Von Erichs themselves, was selected to officiate, his tag team partner Terry Gordy was at ringside to guard the cage door. However, when Kerry refused to pin Flair following unwanted interference on his behalf by Hayes, the Freebirds turned on Von Erich, with Gordy slamming the door on Kerry's head. Backup referee David Manning banished Hayes and Gordy to the dressing room, the match ended shortly thereafter, with Flair retaining the title yet again as Manning stopped the match due to Kerry's inability to continue the match. Shortly after, Gary Hart left WCCW, due to money issues with Von Erich. A year Gordy would have his head slammed by the cage door from Fritz Von Erich, in retaliation; the Freebird-Von Erich rivalry was one of the most violent feuds in modern-day wrestling history, continued off-and-on for much of the decade.
The Godwinns was a gimmick of the professional wrestling tag team composed of Dennis Knight and Mark Canterbury that they used in the WWF. The team has used other gimmicks before they joined the WWF and had a gimmick change in the WWF shortly before disbanding, their original WWF gimmick was that of two cousins. The two men who would be known as the Godwinns first started teaming in the United States Wrestling Association under the names Tex Sallinger and Master Blaster in 1991. Master Blaster was masked. Due to their stature and ring outfits, some mistakenly believed that Sallinger and Blaster were a well traveled team known as "The Texas Hangmen" under a different gimmick as the Hangmen had left the USWA; the team feuded with Jeff Jarrett and Robert Fuller as a part of the “Texas/Tennessee” storyline. After achieving little notoriety in the USWA, the two men were signed by World Championship Wrestling in 1992; the duo was renamed "Tex Slazenger" and "Shanghai Pierce" who remained masked and made their debut in November 1992.
Their debut was without much fanfare as they were at best perceived as a mid-card team used to help establish higher level teams. They did have a "mini-feud" of Keith Cole, the Cole Twins. Tex and Shanghai would appear on the WCW “B” shows such as WorldWide and WCW Saturday Night. Tex Slazenger somehow got a cult following among the fans of the “Saturday Night” tapings who’d chant for him when he was in the ring. During one Saturday Night show, color commentator Jesse Ventura nicknamed them "the Texicans" although the name never became official. Tex and Shanghai appeared at few WCW pay-per-view s losing every time they were in the spotlight except for one occasion: Battlebowl in 1993. Tex and Shanghai found themselves on opposite sides in a “Lethal Lottery” tag-team match, which meant that one of them would get a PPV victory. Rick Rude and Shanghai Pierce won the match but Shanghai was eliminated in the ensuing battle royal. In their time in WCW, they helped put over future tag-team champions such as 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne.
In 1994, Shanghai Pierce was unmasked during a bout with Johnny B. Badd and from that day forward appeared unmasked. Sometime after the summer of 1994, Tex and Shanghai left WCW. Canterbury had joined the WWF in late 1994 and been repackaged with a “Hog Farmer” gimmick and renamed “Henry O. Godwinn”. Canterbury first worked as a heel with the Million Dollar Corporation under Ted DiBiase’s management and later as a face after being kicked out of the stable. In the early parts of 1996, Dennis Knight was signed with the WWF and became “Phineas I. Godwinn”, Henry’s cousin; the team was managed by Hillbilly Jim and made their debut shortly before the tournament began to crown new tag team champions after Billy Gunn suffered a neck injury. The Godwinns made it all the way to the finals at WrestleMania XII where they lost to the Bodydonnas; the Godwinns feuded with the Bodydonnas for the next couple of months, not just over the tag team titles but because Phineas had become infatuated with the Bodydonnas' manager Sunny, something which worked against the Godwinns.
The Godwinns got their revenge on the Bodydonnas by winning the tag team titles from them in May 1996. Sunny joined with them at this point, although she joined to use Phineas and remain near the tag team gold. At In Your House 8, the Godwinns lost the titles to the Smokin' Gunns, Sunny moved on as she paired up with Billy Gunn and kept close to the tag team titles; the Godwinns would not regain the titles. For the rest of 1996, the Godwinns would remain a solid mid-card team. During a match in April, Henry Godwinn suffered a cracked C7 vertebra when the Legion of Doom botched a Doomsday Device. Henry was told to take at least 15 weeks off to recover from the injury but returned in less than 8 weeks. Henry returned to active duty but acted more heelish and less cheerful, the team would turn heel, they ditched their goofy pig farmer gimmick for that of bitter southern boys who wanted to hurt people like Henry got hurt. They ditched their manager Hillbilly Jim and for a short time was without a manager.
They took Uncle Cletus as their manager and began attacking their opponents with their slop buckets. The turn and subsequent feud with the Headbangers would pay off as the Godwinns won tag gold once more on October 5, 1997 at Badd Blood. However, the title run was short-lived as they would lose the titles to the Legion of Doom only two days in a retirement match thanks to a botched interference by Uncle Cletus. Following their loss, the Godwinns took out their frustration on Uncle Cletus by busting his head wide open, he was never seen again in the WWF after that. After the feud with the Legion of Doom ended, they engaged in a short feud with the returning Quebecers that failed to gain fan interest; the team began to flounder again with no real direction. As a result, the two were repackaged, thus ditching false names. On the June 1st, 1998 edition of Raw, the two adopted a "Southern Hired Gun" type of gimmick that saw them wear sharp suits and sunglasses and use their real names of Mark Canterbury and Dennis Knight for the first time and backing up Jeff Jarrett.
The team was named "Southern Justice" and they backed up Jeff Jarrett in a feud with D-Generation X. They clashed with D-X at the Breakdown: In Your House PPV where
Ernest Ladd, nicknamed "The Big Cat", was an American collegiate and professional football player and a professional wrestler. A standout athlete in high school, Ladd attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship before being drafted to the American Football League's San Diego Chargers in 1961. Ladd found success in the AFL as one of the largest players in professional football history at 6' 9" and 315 pounds, he helped the Chargers to four AFL championship games in five years, winning the championship with the team in 1963. He had stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers. Ladd took up professional wrestling during the AFL offseason, after a knee injury ended his football career turned to it full-time in 1969; as a wrestler, Ladd became one of the top heels in the business. For much of his career he played a villainous character who would arrogantly taunt both opponents and crowds. Ladd feuded with many popular wrestlers of the time, including Wahoo McDaniel, André the Giant, Bobo Brazil, Dusty Rhodes, Mr. Wrestling.
He retired from the ring in 1986. Ladd was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 1981, the Grambling State University Hall of Fame in 1989, the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995. Ladd was diagnosed with colon cancer in the winter of 2003–2004, he died on March 10, 2007 at the age of 68. Ladd was born in Rayville and raised in Orange, where he was a high school football and basketball star, his football coach was Sr. father of NFL star Bubba Smith. Ladd subsequently attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship, he was the nephew of Houston Oilers teammate Garland Boyette. Ladd was drafted in the fourth round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, he was taken by the American Football League's San Diego Chargers with their 15th pick in the 1961 AFL draft. He chose to sign with the Chargers. At 6'9" and 315 pounds, Ladd was said to be the biggest and strongest man in professional football during his era, his physical measurements included a 52-inch chest, 39-inch waist, 20-inch biceps, 19-inch neck, size 18D shoes.
Ladd played in four AFL championship games, helping the Chargers win the American Football League title in 1963 with teammate Earl Faison, both members of the original Fearsome Foursome. Ladd, an American Football League All-Star from 1962 through 1965, was one of the AFL players that organized a walkout on the 1965 AFL All-Star Game due to the racism they experienced in New Orleans. Although Ladd found success with the Chargers, he had a contentious relationship with the Chargers front office, he started the 1965 season being indefinitely suspended from the team by Coach/General Manager Sid Gillman. Ladd stated that he and teammate Earl Faison would play out their contract options, opting to take a 10 percent cut in salary in exchange for becoming free agents at the end of the season. A planned trade with the Oilers in early 1966 would have sent Ladd to Houston. However, both were declared free agents by AFL commissioner Joe Foss, who ruled that Oilers owner Bud Adams had tampered in trade dealings with the Chargers.
Ladd refused to re-sign with the Chargers and suggested he might instead turn to professional wrestling full-time. Ladd signed with the Oilers and spent the 1966 season playing for them before moving in 1967 to the Kansas City Chiefs. There, with king sized Grambling teammate and future NFL Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan, he filled out what was the biggest defensive tackle tandem in history. Both Ladd and Buchanan were inducted into the Grambling State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Boston Patriots center Jon Morris said. I couldn’t see the linebackers. I couldn’t see the goalposts, it was like being locked in a closet." In 1981, he was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Ladd started wrestling in 1961; as a publicity stunt, some wrestlers in the San Diego area challenged Ladd to a private wrestling workout. Before long, Ladd was a part-time competitor in Los Angeles, during football's off-season. Ladd became a huge draw in short order; when knee problems cut his football career short, Ladd turned to the more financially lucrative business of wrestling full-time in 1969.
After a run as a fan favorite, Ladd became one of wrestling's most hated heels during the 1970s, as well as one of the first black wrestlers to portray a heel character. He riled crowds with his arrogant and colorful demeanor during interviews with his less than politically correct nicknames for opponents such as Wahoo McDaniel, Mr. Wrestling. Ladd controversially employed a taped thumb, claiming the support was needed due to an old football injury; when Ladd appeared to be in serious trouble during a match he would walk out of the arena and accept a countout loss, known since as "pulling an Ernie Ladd". Ladd wrestled for a number of different professional associations, including the World Wide Wrestling Federation where he was managed by The Grand Wizard of Wrestling. Additionally, he had several successful runs in the NWA territories, The Mid - South promotion, NWF, WWC promotion. Known for his immense size and power, it was natural for Ladd to engage in feuds with other giants, including famously with André the Giant.
In certain areas, Ladd's wrestling nickname was "The King", he would wear an ornate crown. In other wrestling associations, he was "The Big Cat", entered wearing a big cowboy hat. After handily pinning Earl "Mr
Antonino Rocca was an Italian Argentinian professional wrestler. He tag teamed with partner Miguel Pérez, he was posthumously inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 1995 and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996. As a soccer and rugby player when he moved to Argentina before World War II, Rocca was known for his unique, off-the-ground, flying wrestling style. Rocca started his American professional wrestling career in the late 1940s in Texas, he had been trained by former World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Stanislaus Zbyszko in Argentina. In the early 1950s, he held two regionally recognized World Heavyweight Championships while still headlining nationwide in territories where other wrestlers were the recognized champions. In 1949, Rocca started wrestling in the New York City-area territory for Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt, the Johnston family of promoters, which controlled wrestling at Madison Square Garden and Mondt, who owned Rocca's exclusive contract.
The territory had been one of the four largest-grossing areas up until the mid-1930s New York, would be run by Capitol Wrestling Corporation. Rocca formed a tag team with Jose Miguel Pérez in 1957. Together, they captured the NWA Capitol World Tag Team Championship, the top tag team title used in the CWC, like so many other titles, was a regional one, they were never defeated after winning this title, but the appellation was abandoned after about five years. Perez was videotaped with his original championship belt from that title in a 1987 30th anniversary tribute, after Rocca's death. In 1963, the CWC left the NWA. WWE history lists a tournament final to crown the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion as Buddy Rogers over Rocca on 29 April 1963 in Rio de Janeiro, but this tournament is fictitious. Rogers had legitimately held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost that title to Lou Thesz in Toronto earlier in 1963 in a match – and rematch – ignored by the New York City and Chicago promoters.
In 1959 and into 1960, Rocca worked with Kola Kwariani and under Jack Pfefer, took effective control of the Garden's wrestling office. Kwariani had just broken away from his partnership with Vince McMahon, Sr. Rocca set the post-World War II record for wrestling-attendance at Madison Square Garden's 49th–50th Street location, drawing 21,950 fans in a singles match against an obscure wrestler named The Amazing Zuma known as Argentina Zuma, on 2 January 1960, as reported by The New York Times; this was part of a series of three matches between the two held during a four-month period, when the pair drew, on another night as many fans to the Garden. Rocca had been provided with new wrestler Bruno Sammartino as a tag team partner. However, when this team failed to sell-out the Garden, the pair was split up to wrestle each other in the hopes that business would pick up, but it did not. McMahon Sr. took the New York territory back and built it by first featuring "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and a few years the by-then charismatic Sammartino as its champion.
After a demotion, with the arrival of Buddy Rogers as the featured star at the Garden in 1961, within a few years Rocca left the WWWF and set up a competing promotion based at the Sunnyside arena in Queens, New York. In the mid-1970s, he teamed up with Vince McMahon to handle the color commentary on the WWWF's weekly television show, he provided color commentary on WWF Championship Wrestling and All-Star Wrestling from 1972-76. Rocca was involved as a professional wrestler, but as a referee in Japan during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he refereed a number of matches for the Japan Pro Wrestling Association, followed Antonio Inoki to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972. In 1973, he joined the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico with partner Miguel Pérez, they captured the defunct WWC North American Tag Team Championship on 11 September 1976 by defeating Los Infernos. They lost the championship to Gordon Nelson on 16 October. Rocca was depicted wrestling Superman on the cover of the Superman No. 155 comic book.
The 1976 horror film Alice, Sweet Alice, featuring child actress Brooke Shields, includes Rocca in a bit part. Maestro Arturo Toscanini, a professional wrestling fan, was good friends with Rocca. Rocca died on 15 March 1977, at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City after complications following a urinary infection, his funeral was made the front page of New York newspapers. Montreal Athletic Commission MAC World Heavyweight Championship American Wrestling Association AWA World Heavyweight Championship Stampede Wrestling Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame Capitol Wrestling Corporation NWA World Tag Team Championship – with Miguel Pérez Southwest Sports, Inc. NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship World Wrestling Council WWC North American Tag Team Championship – with Miguel Pérez. World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation CWC/WWWF International Heavyweight Championship WWF Hall of Fame Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum Class of 2003 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame List of premature professional wrestling deaths Antonino Rocca on WWE.com Wrestling Museum profile Antonino Rocca's profile at Cagematch.net, Wrestlingdata.com, Internet Wrestling Database Antonino Rocca on IMDb
Louis Vincent Albano was an Italian-American professional wrestler and actor. He was active as a professional wrestler from 1953 until 1969 before becoming a manager until 1995. Over the course of his 42-year career Albano guided 15 different tag teams and three singles competitors to championship gold. Albano was one of the "Triumvirate of Terror," a threesome of nefarious WWF managers which included The Grand Wizard of Wrestling and Freddie Blassie; the trio was a fixture in the company for a decade until The Grand Wizard's death in 1983. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubber band facial piercings, loud outfits, Albano was the forefather of the 1980s Rock'n' Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he ventured into Hollywood with various television and music projects, he became well known to a new generation of fans as the actor and voice of Mario in The Super Mario Bros.
Super Show! Albano's parents, Carmen Louis Albano and Eleanor Albano née Morrone, were of Italian heritage but both born in the United States. Eleanor was a classical concert pianist who had performed at Carnegie Hall and became a registered nurse, her brother, a physician, introduced her to Carmen in the 1930s, training to be an obstetrician. After marrying, they temporarily relocated to Italy while Carmen pursued his medical degree at the University of Bari, he co-patented a forceps instrument to assist in breech birth deliveries. Louis Albano was born in Italy, he was baptized in the Vatican, his parents shortly thereafter returned to the New York City area. Lou was one of nine children; the family settled in the Mount Vernon area. Lou attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, where he competed in track and field, rose to the position of captain of the football team, it was this rank that inspired his wrestling moniker, "Captain" Lou Albano. His skills were such that he received 32 offers of full scholarship from universities around the country, he chose the University of Tennessee on the strength of their football team.
Here, Albano was teammates with the likes of Darris McCord, Doug Atkins, his roommate, Sam Rutigliano. Albano had conflicts with the dean due to poor behavior and was expelled after attempting to cheat on a final exam, he joined the United States Army, but due to a childhood injury exacerbated by his football days, Albano was honorably discharged after only eight months. Although Albano's father, retired from medicine, wanted to open an insurance agency with his son, Lou instead began training as a boxer. A distant cousin and family friend, Lou Duva, introduced Albano to Willie Gilzenberg, a boxing promoter who became the first titular president of the WWWF. Gilzenberg, noting Albano's short stature, instead encouraged him to enter wrestling. Albano's father had himself been an amateur wrestler, Albano himself had been introduced to professional wrestling at an event held at Fort Dix during his tenure in the Army, where he had seen the likes of Gorgeous George, Arnold Skaaland, Soldier Barry, Lenny Montana—all of whom Albano worked with.
Gilzenberg asked Soldier Barry to help train Albano, in 1952, the two began doing house shows in the New York area. Albano was seen as a "pretty boy," and wrestled as the babyface "Leaping Lou Albano." After a non-wrestling injury caused a gash on his forehead, he purposefully did not allow the scar to heal, the minor disfigurement allowed him to turn heel. Now billed as the "Mount Vernon Mauler," and a pirate, he began establishing himself in the New York professional wrestling community. At this point, Gilzenberg introduced Albano to Vince McMahon Sr. promoter of the new Capitol Wrestling Corporation in Washington, DC—the first predecessor to what is today WWE. Albano worked for Capitol Wrestling and its successors, under Vince McMahon and his son, for the rest of his career, he made little impact as a solo wrestler, working prelims in various circuits, but he achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altomare. Dubbed The Sicilians and Albano competed as a stereotypical Italian gangster combo in the mode of the then-popular television series The Untouchables.
The pair won the Midwest tag team championship on the undercard of the 30 June 1961 Comiskey Park event starring Pat O'Connor and Buddy Rogers that set the all-time record gate in the United States to that point. Their realistic depiction of gangster characters caught the attention of actual mafiosi in 1961. In Chicago, Tony Accardo and two associates "requested" that Albano and Altomare cease using the word "mafia." During their run as Midwest tag team champions, personal differences with bookers and other wrestlers resulted in the pair abandoning the territory enough that they did not lose the title before leaving. In July 1967, they won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiros Arion. Albano and Altomare only held the championship for two weeks, a title change, not acknowledged on WWWF television outside the Atlantic City market, but several photographs of the pair with their title belts were taken, which elevated Albano's reputation in the wrestling magazines of the time, provided good publicity fodder in his career.
In 1970, fellow wrestler Bruno Sammartino mentioned to McMahon that Albano, a mediocre wrestler, nonetheless an entertaining speaker, might be better utilized as a manager. In professional wrestling, a manager might be tasked with behind-the-scenes efforts t