Every once in a while we dig into the MinnesotaProWrestling.com vault to tap the knowledge of Razzlin’ Rick. We call these stories “The Razzlin’ Files”. You can check out Rick’s Facebook Page by clicking on this link.
MINNESOTA’S TIES TO WRESTLING
Minnesota is known as the State of Hockey, but it could also very well be called
the State of Wrestling. For decades, Minneapolis and Saint Paul have produced
some of the most talented wrestlers in the world, and the Twin Cities has been
the site of some memorable moments that local fans will never forget. You might
be surprised at how many legends were made here in the Twin Cities.
Robbinsdale High School Class of ’76
The Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale was a fertile breeding ground for future
WWF and WCW wrestlers in the mid 1970’s. Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig,
Tom Zenk and Brady Boone (who wrestled as Battle Kat) all graduated from the
school in 1976. In 1977, it was Nikita Koloff and The Berserker, followed by
Barry Darsow, aka The Repo Man, in 1978. However, the most famous Robbinsdale
High School wrestling alum just might be…
Verne Gagne And The American Wrestling Association
Verne Gagne was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at the University of
Minnesota before making his professional wrestling debut in 1949. Gagne would
become one of the most popular wrestlers in America in the 1950’s, and in 1960,
he started the American Wrestling Association. Gagne had one of the longest
World Title runs in history, holding the AWA belt for more than 7 years.
Jesse “The Governor” Ventura Referees The Main Event At Summerslam ’99 at Target Center
The only thing crazier than a Jesse Ventura conspiracy theory is the fact that
the Governor was the focal point of a major wrestling event in 1999, while in
office. Summerslam is one of the WWE’s biggest shows, so who better than Jesse
to make sure the main event between Mankind, Triple H and Stone Cold Steve
Austin was fairly decided?
Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig
Hulk Hogan once called Curt Hennig “the best of the best”. Not only was he the
best, but he was Perfect. Not just in the ring, but also on the football field.
A 1976 Robbinsdale grad, Hennig held the AWA Heavyweight Championship for over a
year in 1987-88, and was one of the most popular villains in the WWF during the
late 80’s and early 90’s.
Brock Lesnar: Golden Gopher Champion, Wrestlemania Main Eventer
Brock Lesnar is the only person on this planet who can say he’s won an NCAA
wrestling championship, a UFC Heavyweight championship, and a WWE title. Oh,
and he also main evented the biggest wrestling show of the year…and briefly
played in the NFL. Not bad for a guy from Webster, South Dakota.
Ric Flair: 16-time World Champion, Living Legend…and Former Golden Gopher
Before beginning a career that would span more than 40 years in the ring, Ric
Flair spent some time at the University of Minnesota, knocking people around as
a member of the Gophers offensive line. Flair played for Murray Warmath on the
1969 Gopher football team, but soon decided that football, and college, just
weren’t right for him. He dropped out of school, and worked as a bouncer at a
local bar before attending Verne Gagne’s wrestling camp in 1971.
Saint Paul’s Steel Domain Wrestling: Where CM Punk and Colt Cabana Perfected
Former WWE champion CM Punk and his longtime friend, indie wrestling sensation
and podcasting legend Colt Cabana, came up together in the independent
wrestling scene in the early 2000’s. They met at Steel Domain Wrestling in
Saint Paul, where they competed in numerous classic matches. The CM Punk-Colt
Cabana feud was one of the hottest in the midwest at the time, thanks in large
part to their matches in Steel Domain.
Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania! And The First WCW Monday Nitro at The Mall of America
On September 4th, 1995, World Championship Wrestling held the premiere episode
of WCW Monday Nitro inside the rotunda at the Mall of America. That same Labor
Day Weekend, Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania! opened its doors to hungry Hulkamaniac’s.
Nitro as a television program was cancelled in March of 2001 after WCW was
purchased by the WWF. Pastamania’s run was much shorter; the restaurant lasted
less than a year.
Two Bar Bouncers In Minneapolis Team Together To form The Road Warriors
Joe Laurinaitis and Michael Hegstrand were both bouncers at Grandma B’s in
Minneapolis during the early 1980’s, when they were discovered by local
wrestling trainer Eddie Sharkey. In 1983, the pair became The Road Warriors,
who intimidated fans and opponents alike with their brute strength, charisma,
and unique look. They would go on to become one of the most decorated,
successful tag teams in wrestling history, and their contribution to the
fashion world will never be forgotten as well.