Gorilla Monsoon

Robert James Marella (June 4, 1937 – October 6, 1999), better known by his ring name of Gorilla Monsoon, was an American professional wrestler, play-by-play commentator, and booker.

Monsoon is famous for his run as a super-heavyweight main eventer, and later as the voice of the World Wrestling Federation, as commentator and backstage manager during the 1980s and 1990s. He also portrayed the on-screen role of WWF President from 1995 to 1997.

In professional wrestling, the staging area just behind the entrance curtain at an event, a position which Marella established and where he could often be found during WWF shows late in his career, is named the "Gorilla Position" in his honor. Although remembered fondly by many viewers, Monsoon was voted Worst Television Announcer a record six times by readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in the publication's annual awards poll.[4]

Gorilla Monsoon
Gorillamonsoon
Birth nameRobert James Marella
BornJune 4, 1937
Rochester, New York, United States
DiedOctober 6, 1999 (aged 62)
Willingboro Township, New Jersey, United States
Cause of deathComplications of diabetes
Spouse(s)
Maureen Marella
(m. 1959; his death 1999)
Children4, including Joey Marella and Victor Quinones (unconfirmed officially)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Gino Marella[1]
Gorilla Monsoon
Billed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)[1]
Billed weight400 lb (180 kg)[2]
Billed fromManchuria[1][2]
Willingboro, New Jersey
Trained byStu Hart[3]
Debut1958
Retired1997

Career

Amateur career

Marella attended Jefferson High School in Rochester, New York, becoming a standout athlete in football, amateur wrestling, and track and field. At the time, he weighed over 300 pounds (136 kg), and was affectionately called "Tiny" by his teammates.

Marella was also a standout athlete after high school at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. He continued to wrestle, now weighing over 350 pounds, and took second in the 1959 NCAA Wrestling Championships. He also held several school athletic records, including an 18-second wrestling pin, and several track-and-field distinctions. He was inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973.[2] During the summers he was at Ithaca College, he was a construction worker in Rochester. One of the buildings he helped construct was the Rochester War Memorial Arena. He was inducted into the Section V Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010 along with longtime childhood friend Frank Marotta who gave a speech on his behalf.[5]

Marella's size and athletic ability attracted the attention of New York promoter Pedro Martinez, and he went to wrestle for Martinez after graduating from Ithaca in 1959. Gorilla was 6'2" and weighed around 330 pounds when he first started wrestling professionally. By the end of his career he was up around 375 pounds, although he had weighed as much as 440 pounds at points.

Early career

Marella originally billed himself as Gino Marella,[1] a proud Italian American babyface who would sing in Italian prior to his matches. Even after changing his ring name, "Gino" stuck as Marella's nickname among friends and colleagues, including Jesse Ventura, who would call Marella "Gino" on the air. Marella garnered moderate popularity, but soon realized that fans paid more attention to outlandish monster heel gimmicks, and they therefore made more money. Marella totally revamped his image, growing a long beard and billing himself as Gorilla Monsoon, a terrifying giant from Manchuria. Supposedly born on an isolated farm, "Monsoon" traveled across the countryside with a gypsy caravan wrestling bears, spoke no English, ate raw meat, and drank his victims' blood. The story given on WWWF television was a bit different: his first manager, Bobby Davis, claimed to have discovered Monsoon in Manchuria wading nude in a mountain stream. The Monsoon character was far more successful, and fans were genuinely afraid of him, sparking a huge financial windfall for Marella. In the ring, Monsoon dominated opponents with vicious chops, the dreaded Manchurian Splash, and his signature move, the Airplane Spin.

Marella first wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Championship on October 4, 1963, at Roosevelt Stadium, in Jersey City, New Jersey Monsoon qualified by winning a partially televised Ring Wrestling Magazine tournament, where he pinned Killer Buddy Austin in about a minute. Monsoon's disqualification win over Sammartino in NJ triggered a series of rematches at Madison Square Garden, and they would renew the feud again there in 1967. At the end of the Jersey City match as Monsoon was sitting on the mat a fan (not part of the show) jumped into the ring and broke the back of a wooden chair over Monsoon's head.

WWWF/WWF career

In 1963, Vincent J. McMahon reformed the Capitol Wrestling Corporation into the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) (currently known as World Wrestling Entertainment), breaking his territory away from the National Wrestling Alliance in an attempt to create a new national powerhouse. At the time, the WWWF was the dominant wrestling promotion in the Northeast U.S. Marella formed a friendship with McMahon, and became a 1/6 shareholder in the WWWF, controlling bookings in several WWWF territories. He also became one of the promotion's top heels, feuding with popular babyface champion Bruno Sammartino in sellout arenas across the country. Despite his huge size, then in excess of 400 pounds, Monsoon had great agility and stamina, often wrestling Sammartino to one-hour time-limit draws.

Monsoon teamed up with Killer Kowalski with success. In November 1963, they defeated Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard to win the U.S. Tag Team Championship. The following month, the duo lost the belts to the Tolos Brothers (Chris and John) in Teaneck, New Jersey.[2] Monsoon and Kowalski reunited in the late 1960s to defeat champion Bruno Sammartino and Victor Rivera 2 falls to 1 in Madison Square Garden in a main event, marking the first, and possibly only time, that Sammartino & Rivera lost as a tag team.

Monsoon also teamed with Professor Toru Tanaka, and they had a number of tag matches in Madison Square Garden. They won a main event on disqualification over Sammartino and Spiros Arion and later lost a Texas Death rematch to the same team. A year later, after defeating teams such as Al Costello & Dr. Bill Miller and Bobo Brazil and Earl Maynard, they went on to lose a main event to Sammartino and Victor Rivera. Monsoon had semi main event matches with Spyros Arion as well as Bobo Brazil in his key heel years.

In 1969, Monsoon became a babyface, befriending his former arch-rival when Sammartino rescued him from an attack by "Crazy" Luke Graham. The stage was set for Monsoon to become a fan favorite of the 1970s and feud with top heels of the decade, including champion Superstar Billy Graham. He turned heel for a short time in 1977 and feuded with André the Giant, and the two engaged in a special boxing match in Puerto Rico (where Monsoon owned stock in the territory), with André winning the match.

As a face, he had major wins in Madison Square Garden, including over Killer Kowalski as well as "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd.

On June 2, 1976, a very famous incident occurred in Philadelphia involving boxing great Muhammad Ali. Ali, preparing for his upcoming crossover bout with Antonio Inoki in Japan later that month, jumped into the ring as Monsoon was concluding a short match against Baron Mikel Scicluna that was being taped for the syndicated WWWF TV show. Ali removed his shirt and started dancing around Monsoon while gesturing and throwing jabs at him, to which Monsoon responded by grabbing Ali in his Airplane Spin and slamming him to the mat. Marella would never reveal whether the incident was preplanned. In an interview, he commented, "I never saw him before and haven't seen him since."[6]

A kind of torch bearer of the Vincent J. McMahon-era WWWF, Gorilla Monsoon was rabidly supported by New York audiences. On June 16, 1980, a young and up-and-coming Hulk Hogan was booked to face him at Madison Square Garden. At the time, Hogan was a widely followed heel character, while Monsoon was still a babyface. However, in order to push the new talent, McMahon told Hulk Hogan to beat Monsoon in under a minute. Upon that outcome, the crowd became livid and chased Hogan when he was leaving the arena, turning over his car. Policemen on horses had to be summoned to quiet the mob.

As the 1980s began, Marella's in-ring career wound down. On August 23, Monsoon put his career on the line in a match against Ken Patera.[7] Monsoon lost the match and stayed true to his word, retiring several weeks later and returning just four times: wrestling a match in 1982 as a substitute for André the Giant, taking part in Big John Studd's "Body Slam Challenge" in 1983, a six-man tag team match at Madison Square Garden, and participating in a special "old timers" battle royal in 1987 which was won by Lou Thesz. The next phase of his career began, as the voice and backstage manager of WWF.

After in-ring retirement

In the early 1980s, Vincent J. McMahon's son, Vincent K. McMahon, began assuming the reins of the promotion from his father. The elder McMahon asked his son to take care of long-time employees that had been loyal to him. The younger McMahon agreed, and in 1982, Vince bought Marella's shares in the company in exchange for a guarantee of lifetime employment. As he had been to his father, Marella became a close confidant of the younger McMahon, and assumed a prominent backstage role within the then WWF. Marella would then become an announcer for the WWF starting in 1982. In addition, McMahon needed a new commentary team to head up his television programming, and installed Marella with the recently retired Jesse "The Body" Ventura in 1985.

Marella and Ventura had great chemistry, with Ventura as the pro-heel color commentator and Marella as the pro-face "voice of reason". Marella and Ventura called five of the first six WrestleManias together (the notable exception was WrestleMania 2, where Marella commentated on the Chicago portion of the event with Gene Okerlund, Cathy Lee Crosby and Ernie "The Cat" Ladd while Ventura commentated on the Los Angeles portion with Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark).

The Ventura/Monsoon duo of heel and babyface were the original broadcast duo, setting the standard which all who followed would attempt to emulate, especially Ventura's charismatic pro-heel character which was a first of its kind as previous wrestling commentators had almost always been in favor of the fan favorites. The pair commentated on all the WWF pay-per-views together with the exception of the first two SummerSlams and the 1990 Royal Rumble (at SummerSlam 1988 Ventura was the guest referee for the main event so Monsoon commentated with "Superstar" Billy Graham, while Ventura was paired with Tony Schiavone at both SummerSlam 1989 and the Royal Rumble). When Ventura left the WWF in mid-1990, he was replaced in commentary by Monsoon's Prime Time Wrestling co-host, heel manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, another duo that subsequent wrestling commentary teams have often tried to emulate. The two also formed a close real-life friendship which Heenan often recalled fondly. In his WWE Hall of Fame induction speech at the 2004 ceremony, Heenan finished by saying that only one thing was missing – that he wished Monsoon was there. Other people who were often paired with Monsoon in the broadcast booth included Lord Alfred Hayes, Johnny Polo, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Hillbilly Jim, Tony Schiavone, Jim Neidhart, Randy Savage and Jim Ross.

Monsoon called the first eight WrestleManias from 1985 to 1992. Monsoon was the lead commentator on the syndicated show, WWF All Star Wrestling, its successor WWF Wrestling Challenge, and the USA Network weekend show, WWF All American Wrestling, as well as hosting the WWF weeknight show, Prime Time Wrestling. Monsoon also served as co-host of Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS during McMahon's short-lived ownership of the promotion.

Commentating style

As a play-by-play commentator, Monsoon's colorful announcing style proved a perfect fit for the character-based WWF while, at the same time, maintaining the sporting aspect of pro wrestling. Not only would Monsoon call holds but he consistently brought up the athletic competition frequently mentioning his and Jesse's wrestling backgrounds and drawing on that, saying on occasion that he was "glad [he] had retired" (after a particularly devastating move during a match he was commentating). Gorilla would also mention the "winners and losers purse" when it came to match decisions. Monsoon accentuated the storylines surrounding the bouts while relying on hyperbole, deadpan humor and unique catchphrases. One such phrase was his ironic use of the word "literally", such as "the Garden just literally exploded!" Nearly every venue was described, at the start of the broadcast, as "Jam packed to the rafters", even events in a roofless location. Another popular catchphrase was, "...and a beauty!", which would usually follow a well-executed wrestling move (such as "[A] clothesline, and a beauty!"). On the other hand if Monsoon would see a poorly executed move he would quip "not but behind it".

Another of Monsoon's phrases was "Will you stop?" This was usually directed, in frustration, at co-commentator Bobby Heenan after he went off on one of his many heel-backing tangents or other rants. Monsoon also used "will you stop" when either Ventura, Heenan or any other heels he was commentating with would mention what a bad job referee Joey Marella was doing, the joke being that Marella was Monsoon's real life adopted son, a fact not well known among wrestling fans at the time.

Another classic Monsoon comment regularly heard just after he would sign on for an important event was, "Pandemonium is running wild! The electricity in here is so thick that you can cut it with a knife!" Another was "This place has gone bananas!", which was preceded by an event in which the audience had erupted in cheers or jeers, such as the entrance of a wrestler or the finish of a match. Many times, Monsoon would also substitute simple words with needlessly complex and obscure equivalents – for example, he memorably used "external occipital protuberance" as an alternative to "back of the head." Or when a wrestler suffered a knee injury, he would state, "He may have temporarily dislocated the patella!" Heenan mocked this, once sarcastically calling a move to the "cervial dervial part of the back." However, Monsoon also employed several homegrown substitutes for body part terminology – for example, describing the mouth as a "kisser" and the abdomen as "the bread basket." When a wrestler put his finishing hold/maneuver on a jobber, he would say "Get the (hot) shower ready, this one is history!" or "Stick the fork in (losing wrestler), he's done!". While commentating a match where a title changes hands, Monsoon might declare "History has been made!" When discussing something he didn't believe would happen, he would say "highly unlikely." If a babyface wrestler was attacked from behind or by surprise, he would refer to it as a "Pearl Harbor Job." When a babyface wrestler used an illegal tactic on a heel wrestler that was used on the babyface earlier in the match, Monsoon would state "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." Also, when a wrestler or tag team (usually the face) lost a match through illegal tactics (such as being hit with "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart's megaphone), Monsoon would often proclaim that there had been a "miscarriage of justice". Monsoon generally put more emphasis on this when the heel(s) won a championship match, or retained their title(s). When referring to the heel managers/on screen personalities (Bobby Heenan, Luscious Johnny V, Jimmy Hart, Brother Love, etc.), he would refer to them as "That fountain of misinformation" "a walking advertisement for birth control" or "That piece of garbage".

When speaking to and/or about someone's lack of presence at some event, he would often remark that they were "conspicuous by their absence." Other common phrases used were "listen to the ovation for (name of wrestler)" as a fan-favorite made his way to the ring and "take a look at (name of wrestler)" to highlight the impressiveness of a wrestler. Finally, during encounters between two super-heavyweights, Monsoon sometimes described the match as "the irresistible force meeting the immovable object." This phrase became most well-known after being used to promote the match between André the Giant and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. During matches which involved heavyweight wrestlers such as André the Giant, King Kong Bundy or the One Man Gang, Jesse Ventura would often reference Marella's own wrestling weight by asking him what he weighed at his heaviest, with Marella often replying "440" (440 lb (200 kg)), and that he could easily wrestle for an hour at that weight. Ventura would then usually ask where he got weighed to which the reply was usually that he would go to the truck weighbridges located on the interstate.

Later career

Marella stepped down as the WWF's lead commentator at WrestleMania IX (where he was Master of Ceremonies) to make way for WCW recruit Jim Ross. He was phased out of Wrestling Challenge with Bobby Heenan and was moved to All-American Wrestling with Lord Alfred Hayes on April 11, 1993. He commentated with Jim Ross on WWF Radio for the broadcasts of SummerSlam 1993, Survivor Series 1993 and Royal Rumble 1994. He returned to the television broadcast team to call the King of the Ring 1994 with Randy Savage as well as covering a few episodes of Monday Night RAW in 1993 and 1994 whenever Vince McMahon was unavailable. He was also called upon sporadically to return to Challenge from 1993 to 1995, calling action with Stan Lane, Ted DiBiase, and Ross again. Monsoon also did various work for Coliseum Video. Marella's last pay-per-view commentary was for the 1994 Survivor Series, with Vince McMahon on play-by-play. Marella remained in his backstage role and appeared on-air frequently, becoming the storyline WWF President in the summer of 1995 (replacing Jack Tunney). The WWF President's role was to arbitrate disputes between wrestlers and make matches, similar to the current WWE general managers. It was during this time that, after he was attacked and (kayfabe) severely injured by Vader, that Roddy Piper became interim WWF President until WrestleMania XII, when Marella assumed the position again. Health concerns forced him to relinquish this role during the summer of 1997. Instead of naming a replacement, the WWF decided to retire the role of "President" and introduced Sgt. Slaughter as the new WWF Commissioner in August 1997. Marella's health deteriorated from there. In late 1998, Marella returned briefly to call the international version of WWF Superstars. In 1999, Marella appeared in a WWF Attitude commercial featuring Freddie Blassie, Ernie Ladd, Pat Patterson and Killer Kowalski. His final appearance on WWF television before his death was as one of the three judges for a Brawl for All contest between Bart Gunn and Butterbean at WrestleMania XV. Because of his frail appearance and rapidly declining health, the camera only focused on Monsoon during his introduction as a judge, for which he received a standing ovation.

Personal life

Marella was married to his wife, Maureen, for more than 40 years and had three children: Sharon (born 1960), Joey (adopted, 1963–1994), and Valerie (born 1966).Victor Quinones (1959-2006) was listed in Gorilla's obituary as his son as well. This was never confirmed officially by Gorilla but the Marella family has acknowledged this after Gorilla's death.[8]

Along with Linda McMahon, Marella was considered as a possible replacement for Vince McMahon as the owner of the WWF if McMahon had been found guilty during his 1994 legal trial for illegal steroid use in the company.

On July 4, 1994, his adopted son, Joey Marella, fell asleep at the wheel and died in a car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, while returning from refereeing a WWF event in Ocean City, Maryland. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

For years, Marella had a custom New Jersey license plate which read "kayfabe".

Death and legacy

Marella died on October 6, 1999, of heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes, at his home in Willingboro Township, New Jersey.[9] He was 62 years old. In a tribute that aired on October 11, 1999, on an episode of Raw Is War from the Georgia Dome, McMahon described Marella as "one of the greatest men I have ever known."

He is interred next to his son, Joey Marella, at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, New Jersey.

WCW commentator Tony Schiavone acknowledged Marella's death on the October 11, 1999, episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Bobby Heenan insisted on doing a tribute to Marella, even though Marella never worked for WCW. Heenan said on-air: "Gorilla will be sadly missed. Now he was one big tough man. He was a decent honest man. And we're all gonna miss him very much. And you know the pearly gates in heaven? It's now gonna be called 'the Gorilla position.' Goodbye, my friend."

Robert Marella was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame, class of 1994, on June 9.

When Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, he ended his acceptance speech with a very emotional, "There's only one thing missing, I wish Monsoon was here."

In 2007, when Anthony Carelli made his debut with WWE, as a tribute to Marella, he was given the ring name "Santino Marella".

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Gorilla Monsoon's Hall of Fame profile". WWE. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Solomon, Brian (2006). WWE Legends. Pocket Books. pp. 57–61. ISBN 978-0-7434-9033-7.
  3. ^ Hornbaker, T.; Snuka, J. (2012). Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. ISBN 9781613213148. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  4. ^ Eck, Kevin (November 29, 2007). "More of the best and worst wrestling announcers". The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "Section V Wrestling Hall of Fame". Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Farewell to Wrestler Gorilla Monsoon". Ithaca College Quarterly 1999/No. 4. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  7. ^ Cawthon, Graham (2013). The History of Professional Wrestling: Vol. 1: WWF 1963–1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 310. ISBN 978-1-4928-2597-5.
  8. ^ http://wrestlingclassics.com/cgi-bin/.ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=157123#000011
  9. ^ S. Joseph Hagenmayer (October 7, 1999). "Robert Marella, 62, Wrestler Known As 'Gorilla Monsoon'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2013. Robert "Gorilla Monsoon" Marella, 62, a professional wrestler whose demeanor in the ring resembled Atilla the Hun's but whose deeds and personality were more akin to those of Santa Claus, died yesterday at his Willingboro home after being ill for the last month.
  10. ^ Meltzer, Dave (January 26, 2011). "Biggest issue of the year: The 2011 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 1–40. ISSN 1083-9593.

External links

Preceded by
Vince McMahon
Monday Night Raw Lead Announcer
1994
Succeeded by
Jim Ross
Bobby Heenan

Raymond Louis Heenan (November 1, 1944 – September 17, 2017), better known as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, was an American professional wrestling manager, color commentator, wrestler, and comedian, best known for his time with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Frequently described as the greatest professional wrestling manager of all time, he was known for his skill in elevating villainous on-screen talent by drawing negative reactions for himself and his wrestlers from the crowd. He was paired with numerous wrestlers, including Nick Bockwinkel, whom he led to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, and he became an integral figure in the 1980s professional wrestling boom by managing King Kong Bundy and André the Giant in WWF main event matches with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 2 and WrestleMania III respectively.

Known for his quick wit and comedic ability, Heenan also served as a color commentator and is remembered for his on-screen repartee with Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan retired from full-time appearances in 2000 after a six-year stint as a commentator in WCW but he continued to make sporadic appearances in several promotions. In 2002, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, which limited his appearances in later years, and he died from complications of it in 2017. Outside of wrestling, Heenan authored two books, appeared on numerous television shows, and briefly hosted a parody talk show titled The Bobby Heenan Show on WWF Prime Time Wrestling. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004.

Grizzly Smith

Aurelian Smith (August 1, 1932 – June 12, 2010) was an American professional wrestler better known as Grizzly Smith. He was the father of professional wrestlers Aurelian, Jr. (Jake "The Snake" Roberts), Michael (Sam Houston), and Robin (Rockin' Robin).

After his wrestling career ended, he served for a time as a backstage official in the World Wrestling Federation and a road agent in World Championship Wrestling, as recounted in Mick Foley's book Have a Nice Day.

Joey Marella

Joseph Anthony Marella (February 28, 1963 – July 4, 1994) was an American professional wrestling referee for the World Wrestling Federation and the adopted son of former wrestler and then WWF announcer Gorilla Monsoon (Robert Marella) from Willingboro Township, New Jersey.

John Quinn (wrestler)

John Quinn (born 1944) is a Canadian retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) under the ring name The Kentucky Butcher in the late-1960s, where he challenged then WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino on several occasions, including a 1968 main event at Madison Square Garden.

In addition to his appearances in the WWWF, Quinn performed under his birth name for North American regional promotions including NWA All-Star Wrestling, Pacific Northwest Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling from the early 1960s to early 1970s. During his later career, he also appeared in European and Japanese organizations from the 1970s until the late 1980s. A popular "heel" in Great Britain during this time, he held the British World Heavyweight Championship a record four times between 1980 and 1986.

Larry Sharpe (wrestler)

Larry Weil (June 26, 1951 – April 10, 2017) was an American professional wrestler, manager and trainer better known under his ring name, "Pretty Boy" Larry Sharpe. Sharpe is perhaps most well known for creating the Monster Factory professional wrestling school. He grew up in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and was the original trainer of Kevin Von Erich, and many other well-known wrestlers.

Lord Alfred Hayes

Alfred George James Hayes (8 August 1928 – 21 July 2005) was an English professional wrestler, manager and commentator, best known for his appearances in the United States with the World Wrestling Federation between 1982 and 1995 where he was known as Lord Alfred Hayes. Hayes was distinguished by his "Masterpiece Theatre diction" and "Oxford accent".

Luke Graham (wrestler)

James Grady Johnson (February 5, 1940 – June 23, 2006) was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, "Crazy" Luke Graham. As Luke Graham, Johnson was a member of the Graham family, a stable of wrestling brothers.

Mike Chioda

Michael Joseph Chioda (born August 1, 1966) is an American senior referee who is currently signed to WWE on the SmackDown brand. Chioda is the longest-tenured referee in WWE history, having been with the company since the late 1980s.

Red Berry (wrestler)

Ralph L. Berry (November 20, 1906 – July 21, 1973), better known by the ring name "Wild" Red Berry, was an American professional wrestler.Berry was a nine-time NWA World Light Heavyweight Champion and an important smaller wrestler of the 1930s to the 1950s, as well as a famous professional wrestling manager in his later years.

Standing only 5'8", Berry had to find creative ways to win his matches, which is why he oftentimes turned to rule breaking. His defiant in-ring actions made him one of the most hated professional wrestlers of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Berry did not care, as his disregard for authority eventually lead him to more than fifteen professional wrestling championship reigns over the course of his lengthy career.Berry continued his deviant behavior long after his in-ring career came to a close. As manager to such top stars as Gorilla Monsoon, The Fabulous Kangaroos and Bull Ramos, Berry was not above using his signature cane as a weapon.

The Big Event

The Big Event was a professional wrestling special house show event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on August 28, 1986, at the Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. It drew a crowd of over 74,000 fans, which was an outdoor attendance record at the time. A VHS tape of the event was released later by Coliseum Home Video, with commentary by Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valiant, and Ernie Ladd. This 115 Minute tape featured edits to a number of the matches. In 2014, WWE Network made the same version of the event available on demand in the pay-per-view section (although the event was not originally broadcast via pay-per-view).

The Yukon Lumberjacks

The Yukon Lumberjacks was the name of a professional wrestling tag team who worked in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in 1978, consisting of Eric and Pierre. The team was managed by "Captain" Lou Albano and worked as heels (wrestling term for those who portray the "bad guy"). The team held the WWWF Tag Team Championship for 148 days in 1978.

Victor Quiñones

Victor Quiñones Hernandez (June 30, 1959 - April 2, 2006) was a Puerto Rican professional wrestling promoter, the founder and owner of International Wrestling Association. Quinones has been linked to being the son of WWE Hall of Famer Gino "Gorilla Monsoon" Marella but was never confirmed during Gorilla's life time. The Marella family stated in Gorilla's obituary that Victor was his son but this has never been confirmed. Quiñones was primarily a manager for The Headhunters and Mr. Pogo, but was affiliated with Terry Funk, Mike Awesome, Hisakatsu Oya and Cactus Jack in the stable Funk Masters of Wrestling on Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) from 1996 to 1997. He also became official manager for Taka Michinoku for one time only, when he assisted him to fought his own mentor The Great Sasuke on 4th Anniversary of Michinoku Pro after Taka won WWF Light Heavyweight Championship from Brian Christopher at D-Generation X: In Your House in 1997.

Victor Quiñones was one of the true power brokers in pro-wrestling in the 1990s and he left an impact on every major hub in one form or another. His mother ran several businesses and his stepfather was a lawyer and politician and they raised Victor Quiñones to be savvy and entrepreneurial. Being bilingual, he became an asset to the Puerto Rican wrestling office at a young age, helping out Gorilla Monsoon (who owned a piece of Puerto Rico) and others when they came to the island. In 1984, Capitol Sports went bankrupt and Quiñones bought a quarter interest in the World Wrestling Council company.

Quiñones was one of the prominent managers of the pioneering hardcore wrestling promotion Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, and also was the founder and owner of two hardcore wrestling promotions in Japan:

Wrestling International New Generations (W*ING)

International Wrestling Association of Japan (IWA Japan)In July 1988 when Bruiser Brody was stabbed in Puerto Rico, Quinones had to call a radio station, to broadcast that they needed an ambulance urgently and a local ambulance driver heard the call over the radio at a local restaurant and made his way to the scene.

Quiñones retained strong connections with many professional wrestling federations outside Puerto Rico, and was known for his extraordinary booking/promoting faculty. He was a very rich person and took very good care of wrestlers. Japanese wrestler Taka Michinoku was heavily helped by Quiñones when he had been to outside Japan. Thanks to Quiñones, he could wrestle in ECW, WWF (USA), AAA (Mexico), IWA (Puerto Rico), FMW (Japan), and he has stated that without Quiñones' help, he wouldn't be able to start Kaientai Dojo and that Quiñones was like a father to him. Kintaro Kanemura reminisced about Quiñones as "If I didn't meet him, maybe I would die in the middle of America" (when he first arrived in North America, he had only ¢20). Mitsunobu Kikuzawa described Quiñones as the No.1 promoter in the world. Tajiri has referred to Quiñones as his biggest mentor in wrestling.On April 2, 2006, Quiñones died in his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Soon after the death, several Japanese federations and wrestlers, including Taka Michinoku and Tajiri, paid tribute to him by having special ceremonies.

WWC North American Heavyweight Championship

The WWC North American Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship defended in the Puerto Rican promotion, the World Wrestling Council. Created in 1974, it was the primary singles championship of the promotion until the creation of the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship in 1982. It was then relegated to secondary status until it was abandoned sometime in late 1991.

WWE Madison Square Garden Classics

WWE Madison Square Garden Classics is a professional wrestling television program on the MSG Network, produced by World Wrestling Entertainment. It debuted in a two-hour block on July 12, 2006 and was hosted by longtime wrestling announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund.

WWF All American Wrestling (show)

WWF All American Wrestling is a cable television program produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The show was a predecessor to Tuesday Night Titans and Saturday Night's Main Event, originally filling the 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time slot on Sundays vacated by the cancellation of Southwest Championship Wrestling. The show ran from September 4, 1983 to October 16, 1994 on the USA Network. After it was canceled in 1994, it was replaced by Action Zone. The longest running host of the show was Gene Okerlund, who hosted it for nine years of its run.

WWF Prime Time Wrestling

WWF Prime Time Wrestling is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It aired on the USA Network from January 1, 1985 to January 4, 1993. A precursor to Monday Night Raw, Prime Time Wrestling was a two-hour long, weekly program that featured stars of the World Wrestling Federation. The program featured wrestling matches (most of which were compiled from WWF "house show" matches from venues such as Madison Square Garden), interviews, promos featuring WWF wrestlers, updates of current feuds and announcements of upcoming local and pay-per-view events. In addition, Prime Time Wrestling would also air wrestling matches and interviews from other WWF programming such as Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge. Episodes 61 to 227 of Prime Time Wrestling are available for streaming on the WWE Network.

WWF Wrestling Challenge

WWF Wrestling Challenge is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by World Wrestling Entertainment, known at the time as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It was syndicated weekly and aired from 1986 to 1995. The show became simply known as WWF Challenge in 1995. The show featured matches, pre-match interviews, and occasionally, summarized weekly events in WWF programming. Matches primarily saw top-tier and mid-level talent versus jobbers. At times, there was a "feature" match between main WWF talent. As with other syndicated WWF programming, the show promoted WWF event dates and house shows in local media markets. It was the 'B' show of WWF syndication, meaning it generally only aired in markets where WWF had two weekly slots, with the other taken up by WWF Superstars of Wrestling.

WWWF United States Tag Team Championship

The WWWF United States Tag Team Championship was the first version of the main tag team title in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from 1963 until 1967. Originally, the WWWF was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance operating out of the Northeast and was called the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The championship began as Capitol Wrestling's territorial version of the NWA United States Tag Team Championship from 1958 until 1963.

World Wrestling Council

The World Wrestling Council (WWC) is a professional wrestling promotion based in Puerto Rico. It was originally established as Capitol Sports Promotions in 1973 by Carlos Colón Sr., Victor Jovica, and Gorilla Monsoon. It was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance until 1988. By the mid-1990s, the promotion had changed its name to the World Wrestling Council.

In November 2018, WWE acquired the WWC video library.

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