Monday, October 2, 2017

They Wrestled in the WWE?

In this post I take a look at a few guys that you may not have known ever wrestled in the WWE.  Everyone one of these men I associated with wrestling in World Class, the NWA, Japan, AWA or anyplace but the WWE;

Jumbo Tsuruta
April 1, 1974 Madison Square Garden defeated Johnny Rodz

Tsuruta was recruited into wrestling by Shohei "Giant" Baba and sent to Texas to train with Dory Funk Jr.  He is the man who unified the NWA International Heavyweight, NWA United National, & the PWF  World Heavyweight Championships into the All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Championship on April 18, 1989.  He is also a former AWA World Heavyweight Champion and held numerous other championships.

However, I never knew that Jumbo had a match in the WWE.  His one and only appearance was on April 1, 1974 at the fabled Madison Square Garden where he defeated Johnny Rodz.  This match was part of a short 4 match tour he made in the States also wrestling in NWA St. Louis and Championship Wrestling from Florida.

Gino Hernandez
February 8, 1977 Philadelphia, PA defeated Sylvano Sousa at Championship Wrestling TV Taping
February 9, 1977 Hamburg, PA drew Johnny Rodz at All Star Wrestling TV Taping
March 7, 1977 Madison Square Garden defeated Johnny Rodz

When I hear the name Gino Hernandez the only place I think about it Texas.  Hernandez debuted in 1973 after training with Jose Lothario for Joe Blanchard's Southwest Championship Wrestling.  In Southwest he feuded with Lothario before forming a top heel tag team with Tully Blanchard; The Dynamic Duo.  In World Class Championship Wrestling he feuded with the Von Erichs teaming with "Gentlemen" Chris Adams losing a famed hair vs. hair match at the Cotton Bowl on October 6, 1985.  He turned on Adams in December blinding him with the Freebirds hair cream.

Sadly Hernandez died on February 2, 1986 from a cocaine overdose he was only 28 years old.

David & Kevin Von Erich
November 19, 1979 Madison Square Garden David defeated Davey O'Hannon 8:47
January 21, 1980 Madison Square Garden Kevin pinned Johnny Rodz with a Thesz press

The world famous Von Erich family are a Texas Wrestling institution.  There has been so much written about the Von Erich's that I don't need to rehash it here.  I knew about Kerry's run in the WWE from 1990 - 1992 but I wasn't aware of any other time on of them wrestled in the WWE.

However, in a five month period brother's David, Kevin, & Kerry all did.  For David and Kevin not only was it their only appearances in the WWE but it was at Madison Square Garden which is significant.  Incidentally Kerry defeated Jose Estrada on March 24, 1980 also at MSG.

"Wildfire" Tommy Rich
January 28, 1980 Scranton, PA wrestled WWF World Champion: Bob Backlund to a 60 minute time limit draw
February 18, 1980 Madison Square Garden defeated Johnny Rodz 7:41

Tommy Rich debuted in 1974 and is most likely best known for four day reign as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion defeating Harley Race on April 27, 1981 in Augusta, GA and losing it May 1, 1981 in Gainesville.

Prior to that though Rich made two appearances in the WWE where he wrestled then champion Bob Backlund and later making his only appearance at Madison Square Garden.  Otherwise Rich spent the majority of his career in the Southern Promotions and a couple years in ECW as the Big Don.

Greg Gagne
January 17, 1977 Madison Square Garden defeated Johnny Rodz
April 21, 1980 Madison Square Garden pinned Jose Estrada after two dropkicks
August 9, 1980 Shea Stadium pinned Rick McGraw

The son of promoter Verne Gagne his name is synonymous with the AWA.  I knew he had worked for both WCW and the WWE in producer or agents roles after his in ring career ended however I can't recall ever hearing about him wrestling anyplace other than the AWA.

The pattern that stands out for all of these competitors is that each of these competitors wrestled at Madison Square Garden which has long been considered the mecca of wrestling venues in the United States.  The only other connection is other than David Von Erich, they all wrestled "The Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz.

"The Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

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