Jerry O'Neil Lawler, better known as Jerry "The King" Lawler, is an American professional wrestler and color commentator signed to World Wrestling Entertainment under the company's legends program. Prior to joining WWE in 1992, he wrestled in numerous territories, winning numerous championships, including many world championships, throughout his career. Lawler is a one-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and a three-time WCWA World Heavyweight Champion, he unified the titles by defeating Kerry Von Erich at Superclash III, forming the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship, a championship which he held 28 times. Lawler has held more recognized championships than any professional wrestler in history, though he has never won any championships in WWE having wrestled sporadically whilst providing color commentary, since joining the company. In 2007, Lawler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. While working in Memphis, Tennessee, as a disc jockey, Lawler's artistic ability attracted the attention of local wrestling promoter Aubrey Griffith.
The two made an agreement in which Lawler would give Griffith free publicity in exchange for free wrestling training. Lawler debuted as a wrestler in 1970, won his first championship in September 1971 by winning a battle royal, he soon won the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship under the managerial service of Sam Bass with partner Jim White. In 1974, Lawler began feuding with Jackie Fargo, his trainer and mentor; this led to a match for the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. On July 24, 1974, Lawler won the belt and the title of "King of Wrestling." During 1975, Lawler teamed with a variety of partners such as Mr Wrestling II, Don Greene, Bob Orton, Jr. He won the NWA Macon Tag Team Championship twice during this period. While Lawler began his career as a heel, he became a face after splitting from Bass at the end of 1974. On November 12, 1979, while working in the Continental Wrestling Association, Lawler defeated Superstar Billy Graham to become the CWA World Champion. In 1980, coming off the back end of a feud with The Fabulous Freebirds, his career was put on hold due to a broken leg, but he returned to the ring after several months.
In 1982, Lawler began a notorious feud with comedian Andy Kaufman. At the time, Kaufman wrestled women as part of his skits and had declared himself the Intergender Heavyweight Champion. On April 5, who had taken exception to the skits, wrestled Kaufman in Memphis. During the course of the match, Lawler delivered two piledrivers to his opponent, sending him to the hospital. On July 29, Lawler slapped Kaufman in the face on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman. Kaufman responded by throwing his coffee on Lawler. Years Lawler appeared as himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. Lawler claimed that not only was his entire feud with Kaufman staged, but the two were very good friends. On March 7, 1983, Lawler won the AWA International Championship by defeating Austin Idol.. On May 30, 1983, Bill Dundee defeated Jerry Lawler for the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship; the feud escalated and on June 6, 1983, the two met in a Loser Leaves Town Match for the title, in which Lawler won. Lawler defeated Ken Patera on July 25 to begin his second reign as the International Champion.
Lawler became the NWA Mid America Champion on April 12, 1984, when he defeated Randy Savage for the title. In 1985, Lawler traveled to Japan, where he won the Polynesian Pacific title on January 25, 1986, he returned to the United States, where he defeated Bill Dundee on July 29, 1986, to begin a new reign as the AWA International Champion. Lawler feuded with Tommy Rich, Austin Idol, Paul E. Dangerously throughout early 1987; the animosity began after controversy over an AWA World Championship title shot involving Nick Bockwinkel. During the feud, the trio defeated Lawler in a steel cage match and cut his hair, which caused a riot in the Mid-South Coliseum. Lawler won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from Curt Hennig on May 9, 1988. During his reign, Lawler feuded with World Class Championship Wrestling's Champion Kerry Von Erich, he defeated Von Erich on December 1988, at Superclash III to unify the two titles. Soon after, Lawler's issues with Verne Gagne led to his departure from the AWA.
In 1992, while working in the United States Wrestling Association, Lawler teamed with Jeff Jarrett a feud against The Moondogs. The feud between Jarrett/Lawler and The Moondogs was voted the 1992 PWI Feud of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Lawler began his WWF career in December 1992 as an announcer on Superstars. From 1993 to 1995, he feuded with the rest of the Hart family; the feud began at King of the Ring when Lawler interrupted Hart's victory ceremony and attacked Bret. Lawler claimed that he was the only true king in the World Wrestling Federation, the two were scheduled to wrestle at SummerSlam to settle the dispute. At the event, Lawler came to the ring on crutches and claimed that he could not wrestle because of injuries suffered in a car accident. Hart faced Lawler's "court jester", Doink the Clown instead, beat him by submission. Lawler attacked Hart, revealing that he was not injured. Hart refused to release the Sharpshooter; as a result, the referee reversed the decision and awarded the title of "Undisputed King of the World Wrestling Federation" to Lawler.
The two would continue to work throughout the fall on the house show circuit, including in steel cages. In a form of cross-promotion, Lawler engaged in a bitter feud with Vince McMahon (who at the time was never acknowledged as the ac
Terry Gene Bollea, better known by his ring name as Hulk Hogan, is an American retired pro wrestler, television personality and musician. According to IGN, Hogan is "the most recognized wrestling star worldwide and the most popular wrestler of the 1980s", he enjoyed considerable mainstream popularity between 1984 and 1993 as a heroic character in the World Wrestling Federation, which continued during the mid 1990s in World Championship Wrestling. In 1996, he became a villain. Hogan headlined multiple editions of the premier annual events of the WWF and WCW, WrestleMania and Starrcade. Aside from those promotions, he has notably performed for the American Wrestling Association, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Hogan is a thirteen-time world champion: a one-time IWGP Heavyweight Championship in its early version, a six-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion/WWF Champion and a six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship reign is the longest in history, while his first WWF Championship reign is the third-longest ever.
Hogan was the first wrestler to win consecutive Royal Rumbles, in 1990 and 1991, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2005, by Sylvester Stallone. Pro Wrestling Illustrated recognizes Hogan as twelve-time world champion, because it never recognised the IWGP Title as a world championship. Instead, WCW recognized that belt as a world title. During and after wrestling, Hogan had an extensive acting career, beginning with his 1982 antagonist role in Rocky III, he has starred in several movies and three television shows, as well as in Right Guard commercials and the video game, Hulk Hogan's Main Event. He was the frontman for The Wrestling Boot Band, whose sole record, Hulk Rules, reached #12 on the Billboard Top Kid Audio chart in 1995. Terry Eugene Bollea was born in Augusta, Georgia, on August 11, 1953, the son of construction foreman Pietro "Peter" Bollea and homemaker and dance teacher Ruth V. Bollea, he is of French, Italian and Scottish descent. When he was one and a half years old, his family moved to Florida.
As a boy, he was a pitcher in Little League Baseball. He attracted scouts from the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, but an injury ended his baseball career, he began watching professional wrestling at 16 years old. While in high school, he revered Dusty Rhodes, he attended cards at the Tampa Sportatorium, it was at one of those wrestling cards where he first turned his attention towards Superstar Billy Graham and looked to him for inspiration. Hogan was a musician, spending a decade playing fretless bass guitar in several Florida-based rock bands, he went on to study at the University of South Florida. After music gigs began to get in the way of his time in college, Hogan decided to drop out of the University of South Florida before receiving a degree. Hogan and two local musicians formed a band called Ruckus in 1976; the band soon became popular in the Tampa Bay region. During his spare time, Hogan worked out at Hector's Gym in the Tampa Bay area, where he began lifting. Many of the wrestlers who were competing in the Florida region visited the bars where Ruckus was performing.
Among those attending his performances were Jack and Gerald Brisco, two brothers who wrestled together as a tag team in the Florida region. Impressed by Hogan's physical stature, the Brisco brothers asked Hiro Matsuda—the man who trained wrestlers working for Championship Wrestling from Florida —to make him a potential trainee. In 1976, the two brothers asked Hogan to try wrestling. Hogan agreed. At first, Mike Graham, the son of CWF promoter Eddie Graham, refused to put Hogan in the ring. However, after Hogan quit Ruckus and started telling people in town that he was going to be a wrestler, Graham agreed to accept the Brisco Brothers' request. In mid-1977, after training for more than a year with Matsuda, the Brisco brothers dropped by Matsuda's gym to see Hogan. During this visit, Jack Brisco handed Hogan a pair of wrestling boots and informed him that he was scheduled to wrestle his first match the following week. In his professional wrestling debut, Eddie Graham booked him against Brian Blair in Fort Myers, Florida on August 10, 1977 in CWF.
A short time Bollea donned a mask and assumed the persona of "The Super Destroyer", a hooded character first played by Don Jardine and subsequently used by other wrestlers. Hogan could no longer work with Hiro Matsuda, whom he felt was an overbearing trainer, left CWF. After declining an offer to wrestle for the Kansas City circuit, Hogan took a hiatus from wrestling and managed The Anchor club, a private club in Cocoa Beach, for a man named Whitey Bridges. Whitey and Hogan became close friends, decided to open a gym together. Soon after, Hogan's friend Ed Leslie came to Cocoa Beach to help Hogan and Bridges manage both the Anchor Club and the Whitey and Terry's Olympic Gym. On his spare time, he and Leslie worked out in the gym together, eventua
Tomomi Tsuruta, better known by his ring name Jumbo Tsuruta, was a Japanese professional wrestler who wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling for most of his career, is well known for being the first Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, having won the PWF Heavyweight Championship, the NWA United National Championship, the NWA International Heavyweight Championship, unifying the three titles. He is known for being one-half of the first-ever World Tag Team Champions with Yoshiaki Yatsu, having won the NWA International Tag Team Championship and the PWF Tag Team Championship, unifying the two titles. Tsuruta participated in many sports, such as swimming and sumo while attending Hikawa Senior High School in Yamanashi-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture. While at Chuo University, he began an amateur wrestling career, he won the All Japan Amateur Wrestling Championship in freestyle and Greco-Roman as a superheavyweight in the years 1971 and 1972. He competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, he finished the Greco-Roman tournament with no wins.
Scouted by AJPW promoter Giant Baba, he was sent to the local Amarillo, Texas promotion in the U. S. to train as a pro under Dory Funk Jr. While wrestling in the United States, Tsuruta was the first Japanese wrestler to be cheered by an American crowd, due to his hard work ethic and wrestling ability; the name "Jumbo" was given to him by a fan contest in Japan to replace his given name, seen as too feminine. He defeated Nick Bockwinkel on February 23, 1984 to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in Tokyo, Japan, he would lose the title to Rick Martel on May 13, 1984 in Minnesota. Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu became the first World Tag Team Champions on June 10, 1988. During his 26-year career, he fought in 3,329 matches; some of his most notable opponents include Stan Hansen, Billy Robinson, The Destroyer, Bruiser Brody, Genichiro Tenryu, Abdullah the Butcher, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr. Mitsuharu Misawa, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Rick Martel, Riki Choshu, Jack Brisco, Ric Flair, Nick Bockwinkel.
Tsuruta was the first Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, defeating Stan Hansen on April 18, 1989 in Tokyo. In 1992, he completed the October "Giant Series" tour before disappearing from the company for a year. For the rest of his career, he participated in comedic six-man tag team matches, he announced his retirement on February 20, 1999 and held a ceremony on March 6, 1999. Four days after Tsuruta's retirement, he and his family moved to the United States to be a visiting researcher at the University of Portland in Oregon. Tsuruta had a bachelor's degree in political science and earned a master's degree in coaching in 1997 becoming a part-time instructor in physical training at his old University, his health deteriorated, however, as he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, which spread to his liver, by the end of the year he was back in Japan. In April 2000, he left for Australia, where he had an operation to remove the cancer, while there a kidney donor was found in Manila. Tsuruta died at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, Philippines on May 13, 2000, from complications of the kidney transplant.
He had three sons: Ken and Yuji. All Japan Pro Wrestling NWA International Heavyweight Championship NWA International Tag Team Championship – Giant Baba, Genichiro Tenryu, Yoshiaki Yatsu NWA United National Championship PWF World Heavyweight Championship PWF World Tag Team Championship – Tiger Mask II and Yoshiaki Yatsu Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship World Tag Team Championship – Yoshiaki Yatsu, The Great Kabuki, Akira Taue Champion Carnival World's Strongest Tag Determination League – with Giant Baba World's Strongest Tag Determination League – with Genichiro Tenryu World's Strongest Tag Determination League – with Yoshiaki Yatsu January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal Champion Carnival Distinguished Service Award Champion Carnival Technical Award Champion Carnival Technique Award Champion Carnival Fighting Spirit Award World's Strongest Tag Determination League Distinguished Award - with Giant Baba World's Strongest Tag Determination League Outstanding Performance Award - with Giant Baba World's Strongest Tag Determination League Technical Award - with Genichiro Tenryu World's Strongest Tag Determination League Distinguished Service Medal Award - with Genichiro Tenryu World's Strongest Tag Determination League Outstanding Performance Award - with Yoshiaki Yatsu World's Strongest Tag Determination League Special Award World's Strongest Tag Determination League Skill Award - with Akira Taue World's Strongest Tag Determination League Fighting Spirit Award - with Akira Taue American Wrestling Association AWA World Heavyweight Championship Championship Wrestling from Florida NWA United National Championship NWA Detroit NWA World Tag Team Championship – with Giant Baba Pro Wrestling Illustrated PWI ranked him #28 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003 PWI ranked him #10 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" with Giant Baba in 2003 PWI ranked him #14 of the 100 best tag
Mitsuharu Misawa was a Japanese professional wrestler. He made his professional debut on August 1981 for All Japan Pro Wrestling. From 1984 until 1990, Misawa wrestled as the second generation Tiger Mask, as AJPW had purchased the rights of the Tiger Mask gimmick from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Following the death of AJPW head booker Giant Baba in 1999, Misawa inherited the position of AJPW president. After being removed as president by a board of executives, Misawa left AJPW in May 2000 to form Pro Wrestling Noah. Misawa was an eight-time world champion in Japanese promotions, having won the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship five times and the GHC Heavyweight Championship three times, additionally being the inaugural holder of the latter championship, his impact was recognized by critics, as he was named Wrestler of the Year by Wrestling Observer Newsletter on three occasions and holding the record for most Wrestling Observer Newsletter five star matches, with 24. Misawa is one of only six wrestlers to have the distinction of being awarded a 6-Star rating for a match with Toshiaki Kawada in 1994.
Misawa is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Misawa soon moved with his family to Koshigaya, Saitama, he was a fan of professional wrestling the All Japan product, from an early age, wanted to drop out of school in order to begin his training. However, during an encounter with Jumbo Tsuruta, the latter convinced Misawa to complete at least his high school education, so he did, he attended Ashikaga-kodai High School in Tochigi, with future rival Toshiaki Kawada, only a year below him. Misawa was a successful amateur wrestler. Competing in the junior age group, he placed fifth at the 1980 freestyle World Championships. Misawa was trained in professional wrestling by Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer, Shohei Baba, Dory Funk Jr.. He made his professional debut on August 21, 1981 for All Japan Pro Wrestling, wrestling against Shiro Koshinaka, he traveled to Mexico where he wrestled for EMLL while improving his aerial skills under the guidance of La Fiera. From August 1984 to May 1990, Misawa wrestled as the second generation Tiger Mask, succeeding Satoru Sayama, as All Japan Pro Wrestling had purchased the rights of the Tiger Mask gimmick from New Japan Pro Wrestling.
In 1986, Misawa graduated to the heavyweight class after five years as a junior heavyweight. Between 1988 and 1989, he competed in championship matches for the AWA and NWA World Heavyweight Championships before a knee injury in March 1989 sidelined him until January 2, 1990. Upon his return, he wrestled Bret Hart to a time-limit draw on April 13 at the WWF/NJPW/AJPW Supershow in the Tokyo Dome. After Genichiro Tenryu's abrupt departure from AJPW that month, Giant Baba made the decision to turn Misawa into his new rising star. During a tag match against Yoshiaki Yatsu and Samson Fuyuki on May 14, 1990, Misawa commanded his tag team partner Toshiaki Kawada to unmask him, thus abandoning the Tiger Mask gimmick after six years. Weeks Misawa defeated Jumbo Tsuruta on June 8 in his first main event at Nippon Budokan; the match is seen as a turning point in the history of All Japan Pro Wrestling, with Misawa being established as a major threat and a new star. Misawa made his first challenge for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship in July, losing to Stan Hansen in a decision match for the vacant titles after Terry Gordy was forced to vacate the titles.
After losing to Tsuruta in a rematch on September 1, he teamed with then-regular partner Kawada to place third in the World's Strongest Tag Determination League, beating the team of Tsuruta and Akira Taue on the final day. Misawa again fell to Tsuruta for a second time. Misawa continued his growth throughout 1991, pinning Terry Gordy in successive months in June and July, the second coming in a World Tag Team Championship match, where Misawa and his partner Kawada defeated Gordy and Steve Williams; the pair made their first defence against the team of Tsuruta and Taue on September 30 at Nippon Budokan, with Misawa forcing Jumbo to submit to a standing variation of the crossface to end the match. On August 22, 1992, Misawa defeated Hansen to win the first of what would be five Triple Crown Heavyweight Championships; the first of these title reigns lasted for two years before Misawa dropped the belts to Williams. Misawa went on to dominate All Japan Pro Wrestling throughout the 1990s, with multiple World Tag Team Championship reigns, feuds with Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama and Williams throughout the rest of the 1990s.
In 1996, he became an inaugural member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Following the death of AJPW founder Giant Baba, Misawa inherited the position of AJPW president. After disagreements with widow Motoko Baba, his removal by a board of executives in 2000, Misawa left All Japan Pro Wrestling in May 2000. Pro Wrestling Noah held its inaugural show, from August 5–6, 2000. Collectively, the shows featured the 23 other wrestlers that had resigned from AJPW. On July 18, 2004, Misawa defeated Satoshi Kojima at Battle Banquet. In 2005, Misawa and his long-time tag team partner Yoshinari Ogawa returned the GHC Tag Team Championship to Noah from the NJPW com
Professional wrestling is a form of performance art and entertainment that combines athletics with theatrical performance. It takes the form of events, held by touring companies; the unique form of sport portrayed is fundamentally based on classical and "catch" wrestling, with modern additions of striking attacks, strength-based holds and throws and acrobatic maneuvers. Much of these derive from the influence of various international martial arts. An additional aspect of combat with improvised weaponry is sometimes included to varying degrees; the matches have predetermined outcomes to heighten entertainment value and all combative maneuvers are executed with the full cooperation of those involved and performed in specific manners intended to lessen the chance of actual injury. These facts were once kept secret but are now a accepted open secret. To promote and sustain the willing suspension of disbelief by maintaining an aura of verisimilitude, the performing company avoids discussing the true nature of the performance in official media.
Fan communications by individual wrestlers and promotions through outside media directly acknowledge the dramatic and "fixed" nature of the spectacle. Originating as a popular form of entertainment in 19th-century Europe and as a sideshow exhibition in North American traveling carnivals and vaudeville halls, professional wrestling grew into a standalone genre of entertainment with many diverse variations in cultures around the globe, is now a billion dollar entertainment industry. Since the 1980s, local forms have declined in Europe, wrestling from North America has experienced several different periods of prominent cultural popularity during its century and a half of existence and has been exported back to Europe to fill the cultural gap left by the aforementioned decline of local versions; the advent of television gave professional wrestling a new outlet, wrestling was instrumental in making pay-per-view a viable method of content delivery. Show wrestling has become prominent in Central/North America and Europe.
In Brazil, there was a popular wrestling television program from the 1960s to the early 1980s called Telecatch. High-profile figures in the sport have become celebrities or cultural icons in their native or adopted home countries. Although professional wrestling started out as small acts in sideshows, traveling circuses and carnivals, today it is a billion-dollar industry. Revenue is drawn from ticket sales, network television broadcasts, pay-per-view broadcasts, branded merchandise and home video. Pro wrestling was instrumental in making pay-per-view a viable method of content delivery. Annual shows such as WrestleMania, Bound for Glory, Wrestle Kingdom and Starrcade are among the highest-selling pay-per-view programming each year. In modern day, internet programming has been utilized by a number of companies to air web shows, internet pay per views or on-demand content, helping to generate internet-related revenue earnings from the evolving World Wide Web. Home video sales dominate the Billboard charts Recreational Sports DVD sales, with wrestling holding anywhere from 3 to 9 of the top 10 spots every week.
Due to its persistent cultural presence and to its novelty within the performing arts, wrestling constitutes a recurring topic in both academia and the media. Several documentaries have been produced looking at professional wrestling, most notably, Beyond the Mat directed by Barry W. Blaustein, Wrestling with Shadows featuring wrestler Bret Hart and directed by Paul Jay. There have been many fictional depictions of wrestling; the largest professional wrestling company worldwide is the United States-based WWE, which bought out many smaller regional companies in the late 20th century, as well as its primary US competitors World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling in early 2001. Other prominent professional wrestling companies worldwide include the US-based Impact Wrestling known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Ring of Honor; when talking about professional wrestling, there are two levels: the "in-show" happenings that are presented through the shows, happenings which are outside the scope of performance but have implications on the performance, such as performer contracts, legitimate injuries, etc.
Because actual events are co-opted by writers for incorporation into storylines for the performers, the lines are blurred and become confused. Special care must be taken; the actions of the character should be considered fictional events, wholly separate from the life of the performer. This is similar to other entertainers; some wrestlers would incorporate elements of their real-life personalities into their characters if they and their in-ring persona have different names. Historians are unsure at what point wrestling changed from competitive catch wrestling into worked entertainment; those who participated felt that maintenance of a constant and complete illusion for all who were not involved was necessary to keep audience interest. For decades, wrestlers lived their public lives; the pra
Ronald Doyle "Lonnie" Mayne was an American professional wrestler in the 1960s and 1970s who went by the name Moondog Mayne. Mayne wrestled in various National Wrestling Alliance territories, as well as the World Wrestling Federation. Lonnie was in an automobile accident on August 13, 1978, succumbing to his injuries on August 14, 1978, at 33 years old. Born in Fairfax, Mayne grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from the College of Southern Utah where he was an All American in Football. Lonnie's father Ken was a professional wrestler, Lonnie chose to follow in his father's footsteps and become a professional wrestler as well. Lonnie won his first NWA United States Heavyweight Championship by defeating then-champion Pat Patterson on December 29, 1973 in San Francisco. At the time, Lonnie was a villainous "heel" and Patterson was the good guy "face". Although the two had a long-standing feud, both before and after Lonnie defeated Patterson for the heavyweight belt, they teamed to win the NWA tag team title.
This occurred on August 1975 in San Francisco when they defeated The Invaders. During the 1970s, Mayne allied with Oregon wrestler "Tough" Tony Borne, teaming together in tag team bouts and they wrestled separately, they were "bad guys" and become "good guys", making themselves two of the most popular wrestlers in the Pacific Northwest. During his time in Oregon, Apache Bull Ramos broke Mayne's arm, causing the bone to stick out through the skin. Mayne was in an automobile crash on August 13, 1978, in Southern California, succumbing to his injuries one day on August 14, at the age of 33. At the time of his death, he was the reigning NWA United States Heavyweight Champion for the third time, left behind his wife Susan Hutchins. 50th State Big Time Wrestling NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship - with Ripper Collins and Sweet Daddy Siki Georgia Championship Wrestling NWA Macon Tag Team Championship - with Luke Graham NWA Big Time Wrestling NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship NWA Hollywood Wrestling NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship NWA Americas Tag Team Championship - with Ron Bass NWA San Francisco NWA United States Heavyweight Championship NWA World Tag Team Championship - with Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, Dean Ho Pacific Northwest Wrestling NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship - with Tony Borne, Frankie Laine, Dutch Savage, Les Thornton, Ron Bass Ring Around The Northwest Newsletter Wrestler of the Year Tag Team of the Year with Tony Borne, Dutch Savage and Les Thornton List of premature professional wrestling deaths Moondog Immortalized in Song
Richard Vigneault is a Canadian retired professional wrestler and television presenter, better known by his ring name, Rick Martel. He is best known for his appearances with the American Wrestling Association, the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. Championships held by Martel over the course of his career include the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, WCW World Television Championship, WWF World Tag Team Championship. Martel is from a family of wrestlers, made his professional debut at age sixteen when his brother Michel, a wrestler, asked him to replace an injured wrestler. Martel was a skilled amateur wrestler, adapted to professional wrestling. Martel wrestled throughout the world, winning titles in New Zealand and Puerto Rico, his first real success in the United States came in the National Wrestling Alliance's Portland affiliate, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, where he became a top talent, holding the Canadian and PNW tag team titles simultaneously. He left PNW on August 1980, when he lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Buddy Rose.
Martel served a stint as a booker for a wrestling territory in Hawaii, where he would help the promotion set up matches and construct the storylines that would play out inside and outside of the ring. Martel debuted in the World Wrestling Federation in July 1980; that fall, he formed a tag team with Tony Garea. On November 8, they defeated The Wild Samoans to capture the WWF Tag Team Championship, they defended the title until dropping the belts to The Moondogs on March 17, 1981. They regained the title from The Moondogs on July 21, their second reign came to an end on October 13, when they lost to Mr. Saito. Though they would challenge the champions numerous times and Garea were unable to recapture the belts, Martel left the WWF in April 1982. Martel signed with the AWA in 1982 and ascended through the ranks, defeating Jumbo Tsuruta to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship on May 13, 1984, his reign as champion lasted nearly nineteen months, during which time he wrestled several matches with NWA World Champion Ric Flair, as well as with Jimmy Garvin, Nick Bockwinkel and King Tonga.
His finishing move alternated between the slingshot splash and the combination atomic drop/back suplex. On December 29, 1985, Martel lost the title to Stan Hansen, who forced him to submit to the "Brazos Valley Backbreaker". In 1986, Martel returned with his tag team partner Tom Zenk, they were billed as The Can-Am Connection. The Can-Am Connection had been formed by Martel in the Montreal-based Lutte Internationale in 1986. Zenk was the boyfriend of Martel's sister-in-law, had been introduced to Martel in the AWA by Curt Hennig; the Can-Am Connection with their youthful looks and high energy in-ring performances garnered the affection of fans, they looked to win the WWF Tag Team Title in the near future. At WrestleMania III in front of a reported 93,173 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome, The Cam-Am connection defeated Ace Cowboy Bob Orton and The Magnificent Muraco in the opening match, when Martel pinned Muraco with a flying cross-body helped by what commentator Gorilla Monsoon called "a schoolboy trip from behind" by Zenk.
They split shortly afterward. Martel disagreed. In Mad Dogs and Screw Jobs, he said: “Ever since I had been fired by Jim Barnett, I decided not to discuss money matters with other wrestlers... I did the same thing with Tom, he put it in his head, or some other people put it in his head, that I made more than him, but as far as Vince was concerned, if you were in a tag team, you earned the same amount of money.” He claimed Zenk "...was overwhelmed by it all... Wrestling is hard on your body. Hard on you mentally. It's hard physically. Tom wasn't mentally or physically hard as I thought he would be." At the time of Zenk's departure, The Can-Am Connection was in a feud with The Islanders. In July 1987, Martel defeated both Tama in singles competition. On the August 15, 1987 episode of Superstars of Wrestling after Martel defeated Barry Horowitz, he was jumped by The Islanders. Tito Santana, doing commentary in the Spanish broadcast booth, ran to the ring to help Martel fight off his attackers. Martel and Santana formed a tag team called Strike Force.
The team were played off as good looking pretty boys using the theme called "Girls In Cars", made for the Can-Am Connection. The name Strike Force came from Santana's promise that as a team they would, "be striking with force." Martel came up with the team's name based on this. After winning their feud with The Islanders, Strike Force challenged The Hart Foundation for the WWF World Tag Team Title. Strike Force won the titles on an episode of Superstars after Martel made Neidhart submit to a Boston crab. Strike Force would hold the titles for five months, defending against the Hart Foundation and the Islanders, before losing to Demolition at WrestleMania IV in Atlantic City when Smash pinned Martel as a result of Martel be