Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#4 On Favorite Wrestling Spots is Minnesota

Number 4 in the series of best places for wrestling is the wonderful state of Minnesota. Depending on how you feel this one could easily be 1,2 or 3. The land of 10,000 lakes is the home of some of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Names like Curt Henning, Rick Rude and Ric Flair are from the the great state of Minnesota.

Rude and Henning were both from Robinsdale, MN where they went to high school with five other future professional wrestlers. Barry Darsow (Smash from Demolition), Brady Boone, Tom Zenk (Z-Man), John Nord(The Berzerker), and Scott Simpson (Nikita Koloff).

Steeped in a deep legacy of amateur wrestling the state is very proud of its wrestling heritage. One of the greatest and most storied promotions in the history of professional wrestling was birthed in the Golden Gopher state.
The American Wrestling Association(AWA) ran out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Owned and founded by Verne Gagne and Wally Karbo. The territory was apart of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), becoming an independent territory in the late 1950s.

Gagne was a former amateur-wrestling champion who had earned a spot on the U.S. team at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Verne ran his organization with the foundation of technical wrestling and never was a big fan of the entertainment spin that some promoters were bringing into the business. In the 1970s, Gagne trained his newcomer wrestlers from his farm in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Those newcomers were names like Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Ken Patera(former Olympic Weightlifter).

The AWA was the launching pad for many iconic wrestlers in the business such as Jesse "The Body Ventura, Sgt. Slaughter and was even the first national exposure for a young Shawn Michaels. The most famous launch the AWA helped was that of the immortal Hulk Hogan. After Gagne's retiring, he focused the promotion on Nick Bockwinkel who was a technical-wrestling master like Gagne. Bockwinkel faced many challengers for the title but non bigger than Hogan.

Hogan rapidly caught on as a face with AWA fans, and became the AWA's top draw. To counter act the heel persona of Bockwinkel.

Non Wrestlers who Changed the Business from the AWA

The AWA was not only a platform for some of the greatest wrestlers of all time but other influential figures in the professional wrestling business. A lot of managers and announcers got their start in Gagne's promotion. The AWA was the launching pad for names like Eric Bishoff, Paul E. Dangerously and Sherri Martel. The most famous career maybe that of manager Bobby "The Brain Heenan".

Wrestlers From Minnesota

Rick Rude
Larry "The Axe" Henning (Curt's Dad)
Curt Henning
Ric Flair
Greg Gagne
Jesse Ventura (later became Governor of the the state)
Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal)

Wrestlers Were Big in Minnesota
Larry Zybesko
Wahoo McDaniel .
Fabulous Freebirds
Scott Hall
Midnight Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannety)

Ric Flair and The 4 Horsemen

Ric Flair and The 4 Horsemen