RIP Tom Zenk
The Z-man has been future endeavored from life
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does Sal own the Z-Man action fig? price just went up
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(09-02-2011, 05:38 AM)RawrBabyRawr Wrote:
it's funny because sal really does have muscles and those pictures he posted up really are of him. seriously.

(12-17-2017, 04:39 PM)Sal Undy Wrote: WWWWWWWWWWWHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

No, that was Jim Neidhart
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[+] 2 users Like Ceallach's post
Bro... He achieved such feats as winning the US Tag-Team Title Belt!

Win the Day!

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I'm reading Zenk's bio in the new Observer. His high school was chock full of wrestlers. He, Rick Rude and Curt Hennig were all in the same class, along with Brady Boone who I don't know of. But their underclassmen were Barry Darsow, The Berzerker and Nikita Koloff.

The full obit:
Quote:Tom Zenk, a one-time rookie of the year who never reached the levels of his apparent potential, passed away on 12/9 at the age of 59.

Zenk’s cause of death has not been determined by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office. He passed away at the North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, MN, the Minneapolis suburb he grew up in.

Zenk was probably best-known for his tag teams with Rick Martel in WWF in 1986-87, a pair groomed to be WWF tag team champions, but Zenk suddenly quit the promotion, and his 90s tag team with Brian Pillman in WCW, when he wrestled as “The Z Man,” and they held the U.S. tag team titles.

A former Mr. Minnesota winner in bodybuilding in 1981, Zenk was good looking, had good size, and good athletic ability, in particular great leaping ability. But he never connected with the fans at the level he was expected to. Some of it was attitude, because he was taught early on that wrestling was a con game and “easy money.” With that mentality, he never took the next step and worked as hard as others with less gifts. He fervently believed with his looks that he could attract women fans and thus should have been pushed, and when he wasn’t, would often shut down.

Once, toward the latter stages of his WCW run in the 90s, when he was no longer being pushed, his mentality was that if they were going to treat him as a jobber, he was going to look like one. He stopped using steroids, and not only that, stopped training except for a few push-ups and things like that. He dropped about 35 pounds, saying that it would be stupid to look like a main eventer when he was always losing.

In recent years, he had been something of a recluse. He was a regular on our Eyada radio show after his career was over. He told hilarious stories and was actually among the show’s most popular regular guests. But in time, his mentality was that since wrestling was a work, he could get attention by saying anything, whether the stories were true or not didn’t matter. This led me to no longer book him, even as popular as he was on the show. Still, we stayed in touch for years, but at one point, he was saying things really outrageous on other shows about Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon, and that got him legal threats from WWE, and he disappeared at that point.

It appeared he didn’t keep in contact with anyone in wrestling. Aside from a series of arrests in 2005, it was as if he disappeared. He had a September 29, 2005 arrest for a DWI, third degree property damage, and stalking and harassing, He had an October 19, 2005, arrest for disorderly conduct and terrorist or harassing phone calls. He followed with a November 20, 2005, arrest for harassment and stalking.



NWA UNITED STATES TAG TEAM: def. Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin in finals of eight-man tournament February 12, 1990 Gainesville, GA; lost to Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane May 19, 1990 Washington D.C.

NWA WORLD TV CHAMPION: def. Arn Anderson December 4, 1990 Gainesville, GA; lost to Arn Anderson January 14, 1991 Marietta, GA

WCW WORLD SIX MAN TITLES: w/Dustin Rhodes & Big Josh def. Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin & Badstreet (Brad Armstrong) August 5, 1991 St. Joseph, MO; lost to Terrence Taylor & Richard Morton & Thomas Rich October 8, 1991 Montgomery, AL

INTERNATIONAL TAG TEAM (Quebec): w/Dan Kroffat (Phil LaFon) def. Bill Irwin & Dan Johnson (subbing for Scott Irwin in match) August 12, 1986 Quebec City; lost to Richard Charland & Sheik Ali (Steve Pettipas) October 13, 1986 Montreal

NWA PACIFIC NORTHWEST HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Bobby Jaggers January 21, 1986 Portland, OR; lost to Bobby Jaggers March 9, 1986 Findley, WA

NWA PACIFIC NORTHWEST TAG TEAM: w/Scott Doring def. Mike Miller & Moondog Moretti December 14, 1985 Portland, OR; lost to Rip Oliver & Bobby Jaggers January 26, 1986 Salem, OR


His name never came up aside from the constant questions about whatever happened to him. It wasn’t until eight times after he had died, when a death notice ran in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that anyone in wrestling

was aware that he had died.

Zenk was born November 30, 1958. His father was a pharmacist who owned his own drug store.

Robbinsdale High may have produced more wrestlers than any high school in the country. Verne Gagne in the 40s and Larry Hennig in the 50s were both football and wrestling stars at the school and went on to pro wrestling legendary status, and several of his classmates became stars.

Four members of the Class of 1976 at Robbinsdale High ended up in pro wrestling, Zenk, who because of the birthday cutoff was one of the youngest in his graduating class, two best friends, Richard Rood (Rick Rude) and second generation wrestler Curt Hennig, and Dean Peters, who wrestled as Brady Boone.

Zenk was a good, but not exceptional soccer player in high school. Even when smaller in high school, and he was only 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds when he graduated, he lifted weights and had a great physique for a high school kid, naturally ripped to shreds and with good proportions. That aspect always came easily for him. He grew to be 6-foot-2 and more than 230 pounds and was able to maintain enough of his contest-winning physique while on the road even without training that hard, drinking significantly and often heavily, and without stressing over his diet. Some of that was due to regular steroid usage, although he was not out of control in that regard, but mostly because he had exceptional genetics.

The mortality rate of pro wrestlers hit him hard, as he was from the 80s and 90s period where the recreational drug and steroid use was at an all-time high. By the time he was 43, he was the only wrestler from the Class of ‘76 still alive, as Peters had died in an auto accident. Rood overdosed on a number of drugs which Zenk continually would bring up thinking it was suicide, even though it was ruled accidental, noting the toxic levels of multiple drugs in his system. Hennig suffered a heart attack in a hotel room while in Florida for an independent show. Hennig passed away after using cocaine, but it was not a usual cocaine overdose. In actuality, his lifestyle had left him with a heart that was in bad shape, with steroids as a significant factor, and the usage of cocaine one night put the heart over the edge.

It was the Hennig death, the last one, that hit him hardest. He started talking about Leonice, Hennig’s wife, who he knew from childhood. He talked about pulling her pigtails when he sat behind her in first grade, and suddenly, way before her time, she was a widow with several children, and he was the only surviving pro wrestler from his high school class. While he had been out of the business regularly for seven years when Hennig passed away, Zenk at the time was still in the wrestler mode of living like it was high school, drinking and chasing women without a care of settling down, with his car having his custom “Z-Man” license plate. Plus, he recalled that in high school, when bigger kids were picking on him, that Hennig had pulled them off him and saved him.

“I used to help him out with the guys that used to beat up on him,” said Hennig before his death. “I used to slap the guys off of him. He was 135 pounds. I went away and started in wrestling and then all of a sudden there he was, and man had he changed. I couldn’t believe it was the same Tom Zenk.”

While in high school, also in school but a year younger were John Nord, who became Nord the Barbarian and The Berzerker in an attempt to copy his hero, Bruiser Brody, Barry Darsow (Demolition Smash/Krusher Khruschev) and Scott Simpson (who became Nikita Koloff).

Still, the four from 1976 all found different paths to pro wrestling. Hennig, as the son of Larry Hennig, had an in with Gagne, who trained him and sent him on his way. It was clear from very early on that he was going to be a big star if given the chance as he had a natural aptitude for the business. Rood, who became one of the best heels of the past 30 years, was a champion arm wrestler and night club bouncer. Even though Rood and Hennig were childhood friends, and their fathers were also good friends, that connection didn’t open the doors of wrestling to him. Rood was part of a group of big weightlifters and noted area tough guys including Joe Laurinaitis (Animal), Mike Hegstrand (Hawk) and Darsow, who worked as bouncers at Gramma B’s, along with retired wrestler Eddie Sharkey. They convinced Sharkey to train them for pro wrestling. While all started out starving in territories, the Road Warriors became huge attractions in 1983 in Georgia, and Ole Anderson, looking at using new and less expensive talent to save money, booked the other two, who became stars a few years later, Roode in Memphis against Jerry Lawler and Darsow in Mid South as an American who became a Russian sympathizer teaming with Nikolai Volkoff.

Zenk went to college to study communications. At the same time, as he grew, found steroids and is body responded quickly, he started competing in bodybuilding. In 1980, he placed third in the Mr. North Country contest. In 1981, he won Mr. Twin Cities. Later that year he won Mr. Minnesota, winning the heavyweight division, the overall and getting the Most Muscular award.

Zenk, even in his mid-30s, was able to drink all night and keep a small waist and never dieted hard. But he was open that at the contest level, it was all about the steroids, as when he became friends with Scott Doring, who got reached the national level in bodybuilding before becoming a pro wrestler, and they became partners in Oregon, Doring told him at the national level, it’s all about the drugs.

While at a contest, Zenk met Joe Laurinaitis, who saw him and thought with his look, he could be a great “white meat babyface.”

“They were all making a good living off wrestling,” he said. “It seemed a good way to make some money off my body and looks.”

Zenk loved the term, basically a babyface designed to attract women to shows, and even titled his unpublished autobiography, “White Meat Babyface.”

Zenk trained with Sharkey, and started his career working independent shows for him in the Midwest for a company called Pro Wrestling USA in early 1984, but that company didn’t last long.

After it folded, Sharkey sent him down to start his career with Bill Watts and Mid South Wrestling in April 1984. On April 7, 1984, just days into his real major league career, he was in the second match, beating veteran Jerry Gray, on the second biggest Superdome card up to that point in history, and really the third biggest ever, the famed “Last Stampede,” headlined by Cowboy Bill Watts & Stagger Lee (Junkyard Dog) beating The Midnight Express managed by Jim Cornette before 25,000 fans paying $176,000. He told Watts after a week in the territory that his father was undergoing heart surgery, so he needed to go home. He never came back and Watts openly called him a flake.

He got a break at home a few months later in the AWA, where he mainly worked underneath, but showed a lot of promise to the point he ended up tied in the 1984 balloting for Rookie of the Year with Keiichi Yamada, who is better known now as Jushin Liger.

Nick Bockwinkel, who was one of the AWA’s top stars, told Rick Martel, who was the AWA champion at the time, that Zenk reminded him of a younger version of Martel, with his speed, looks and good leaping ability. In reality Martel was only two years older than Zenk (although Zenk maintained Martel lied about his age), but he had started wrestling as 16 and was a 12-year veteran while Zenk was just starting. People told Martel that Zenk, when he started out, was trying to copy him.

Zenk had already been told by people in the gym that he looked like Martel, as the pro wrestlers in that era were huge stars in the Twin Cities.

“I saw some of the moves he made and I always took bits and pieces from the people I respected,” said Zenk. “And I did respect Rick. I still respect Rick. He was a great worker by today’s standards. He got screwed over. What is DDP compared to Rick? Yet Rick never made $1 million (a year) like DDP.”

Martel, who had points in the Montreal-based International Wrestling promotion, suggested Zenk come with him there, where he could get more of a push and then come back to the AWA with experience. He started there in May, 1985. He was there a few months, was back with the AWA, and then Martel got him booked with Don Owen in Oregon in October.

Zenk loved working for Owen. He was paid well, and fair, the trips weren’t bad, he was home every night, and Oregon was a place where women flocked to white meat babyfaces, especially when they were pushed. He always expressed that the 1985-86 period he was there was perhaps the most fun of his career, as he was a regular headliner, holding both the singles and tag team titles, and did long matches where he could learn from the veterans on the crew.

“Don Owen was a man of his word. Don Owen was a saint,” he said to Northwest historian Mike Rodgers.

Martel called him to come back to Montreal, as the Rougeau Brothers, two of the key babyfaces with the promotion, had just signed with WWF. So they needed someone who could be a top babyface and had heard Zenk was successful in the spot in Oregon.

He was brought back in March, 1986, with a big push, immediately put over by established heels Frenchy Martin and Richard Charland, and even bigger, Bockwinkel, one of the biggest stars in wrestling, went to time limit draws with him in both Montreal and Quebec City. Martel wanted to establish Zenk & Dan Kroffat (Phil LaFon, who later became well known as Doug Furnas’ tag team partner in Japan and Mexico, and later the U.S.) as the top babyface tag team for a program with The Long Riders, Bill & Scott Irwin, which included a few months as International tag team champions.

His biggest match was part of a huge show in Quebec City on July 22, which drew 15,297 fans to the Quebec City Coliseum for a triple main event of Ric Flair vs. Martel for the NWA title, Dino Bravo vs. Samu and the Road Warriors & Zenk vs. Steve Strong (Steve DiSalvo, the second Steve Strong) & The Irwin Brothers.

Zenk & Kroffat lost their titles on October 13, 1986, in Montreal, on the Mad Dog Vachon retirement show, to Charland & Sheik Ali (Steve Pettipas).

International Wrestling was falling on hard times for a number of reasons, and Martel began talking to Vince McMahon.

“I secretly went to see Vince and I proposed forming a tag team with Tom Zenk under the name the Can-Am Connection. He (Zenk) told me, `Rick, you have the magic wand. I trust you.’”

One month after leaving International Wrestling, Zenk & Martel would be back at the Montreal Forum, working the main event, before 11,667 fans, of a WWF show against tag team champions Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith. Kid & Smith were WWF’s top babyface team, but in Montreal, they were the heels. They tore the house down, but because the Bulldogs were a babyface team, it was the only time they wrestled.

But before starting full-time on the road, Martel had booked them into the 1986 Real World Tag League tournament with All Japan. They finished tied for sixth, but only lost one tournament match, to Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu, the eventual tournament winners, going to no contests with Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu, Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase and Giant Baba & Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa).

Martel said that Zenk changed during the WWF run. But Martel has looked back 30 years and wonders if he wasn’t partially to blame.

“Ever since I had been fired by Jim Barnett (Barnett fired Martel in the 70s in Georgia for talking about his pay with other wrestlers), I decided not to discuss money matters with other wrestlers,” he said. “I did the same thing with Tom, and 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.”

Don Callis reiterated that, noting that years later, he and Martel were about to go to WWF as a tag team called “The Models.” Callis figured that since Martel was a big star, and he didn’t have a big name, that Martel would make more, but Martel was insistent, because of what happened with Zenk, that if they were a team, they would be paid the same. As it turned out, The Models were never a team in WWF since Martel got a better offer and went to WCW as a singles wrestler.

Martel later claimed that he and the McMahons helped Zenk by his first house. Zenk claimed that the office was constantly pushing him to buy a house in Florida, and felt it was because if you had a big monthly house payment, you couldn’t afford to leave. They did help him get the house, but he claimed they tried to push him to get a more expensive house, which he thought was suspicious.

The Can-Am Connection was a hot babyface tag team at the time. The Can-Am Connection opened WrestleMania III, at the time the biggest pro wrestling event in North American history, at the Pontiac Silverdome before 78,000 fans, beating Bob Orton Jr. & Don Muraco. The plan was for them to beat The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) for the championship. Zenk made $10,000 for the show, a figure he thought to be unfairly low given it was the biggest grossing pro wrestling event ever up until that time.

Suddenly, Zenk quit the promotion. The story of him quitting was a big deal. He always claimed that the money wasn’t good, particularly because of the schedule and the road expenses, and didn’t like the manipulations and dominance games being played. He claimed he found out Martel made more than he did, which Martel always denied. There were all kinds of malicious rumors spread by those in the company about him after quitting, including trying to insinuate he was gay. Martel’s version is Zenk got a big head, and refused to abide by the company dress code. He said he was getting heat over Zenk, confronted him about it, and Zenk the next day sent him a memo saying he was quitting. Zenk admitted that Terry Joyal, better known as Terry Garvin, one of the people in talent relations, was on his case regarding how he dressed outside the ring.

Vince McMahon then sent Martel and Jack Lanza to Zenk’s house to try and convince him to come back. He refused. Then they asked him to return and do an angle where he’d be injured and written off, but he refused that as well. The company buried Zenk on television, calling him a quitter, which is something they weren’t doing at the time as the rule was in those days if somebody left, you pretend they never existed in the first place. Tito Santana was then put in his spot as the tag team called Strike Force. Even though Santana was a better wrestler than Zenk, for whatever reason, the team was never as hot, even though they got the promised push and a tag team title reign.

Zenk always insisted Martel made more, because after that first All Japan tour, he said they were both offered $5,000 per week to become a regular pushed tag team. He was averaging $2,500 a week in WWF, and with road expenses, his take-home pay would have been well under half of what he could make in Japan. He claimed that he and Martel agreed if they weren’t making $5,000 a week in WWF after six months, they’d leave and go to Japan. But Martel wouldn’t go, and he couldn’t figure out, based on what they were making, how you could turn down that offer.

“I didn’t know how much Vince was paying Rick, but in the back of my mind was the nagging question, `Why wouldn’t Rick want to be tag team champion in All Japan unless he had a better deal in WWF–better than the one I had.”

Zenk’s problems with the McMahons got worse. After leaving WWF, he wanted to return to All Japan. WWF threatened to sue him for breach of contract and asked for damages that would have destroyed him financially. He worked some the next few years with All Japan, forming a tag team with Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis), who he really liked and tried to teach as much as he could about the wrestling to.

He worked from 1989 to 1994 with WCW, with varying degrees of a push. When Ric Flair, who was the booker at the time, and Jim Herd pushed to bring him in from Japan, they told him they were going to make him one of the four top new stars in the company with Sting, Lex Luger and Pillman.

At one point he was TV champion, and he and Pillman had a good run as a tag team working with The Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) and The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane). Because he was bigger, in a size oriented business, Zenk would have under normal circumstances at that time been the star of the team, but it was really Pillman.

Zenk always was negative about the hierarchy in WCW, complaining that Dustin Rhodes (the son of Dusty, who was booker at times) or Erik Watts (the son of Bill, who was running the company) got bigger pushes than he did. He often complained that in wrestling you are supposed to be judged by how well you draw, but they built the company around Sting, and were dying, but wouldn’t give anyone else a chance.

He was making $156,000 a year, a contract he always credited me with getting him since we discussed what to say in negotiations and what to ask for, including telling that to talent, which got some people mad because the rule of thumb in those days was that you weren’t supposed to admit talking to me, and he not only admitted it, but told everyone that if they wanted to keep up on their business, they needed to subscribe.

He also rubbed people the wrong way because he and Pillman were “chick magnets,” and while Pillman did his stuff and really didn’t talk much about it, Zenk would talk about how they got more women then the main event babyfaces while complaining about not being pushed more. The reality is Zenk, because he wasn’t strong on interviews and had the “easy money” attitude, he was talented enough to be a solid worker, but never pushed himself like Pillman did to go to the next level, nor did he connect with the fans at the main event level. Once he and Pillman even went at it and Pillman tackled him into a wall.

“The bookers knew I could talk,” he said in an interview with The Armpit. We all saw each other out at night clubs, bars, cutting promos. But it was only the top spots that got to show personality. They were all guarded and very close. Angles were never discussed with the rest of us. Pillman and I were split up one day, no notice, no discussion, no sense, all politics.”

He and Pillman tore it up in a great match at the 1992 WrestleWar PPV, and then never wrestled each other again.

“I’m very proud of the match, so was Brian,” he said. “We laughed at how stupid the office was for not booking a rematch. But then Watts and Dusty had their children to look after.”

He claimed the people in power in WCW squandered a lot of top talent, specifically noting himself, Steve Austin, Paul Levesque, Mick Foley, Pillman, Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace, saying they were almost the lost generation.

At the end, he was getting no push at all, wouldn’t train because of it, and got into trouble.

During the summer of 1994, he was, against his will, used as a government witness in Vince McMahon’s trial for distribution of anabolic steroids to wrestlers. While he didn’t like McMahon, that was for within wrestling, not outside wrestling, saying his father taught him, “you don’t shit where you eat.”

Still, under oath, he had to talk about the steroid use in the company when he was there, which was plentiful, as well as his own use, causing McMahon’s attorney, Laura Brevetti, to try and discredit him saying he was a steroid user (as was almost everyone in that era) who would go into a garbage can to get more steroids, a line he repeated over and over.

After leaving WCW, he did a few more tours with All Japan, reforming his team with Laurinaitis after several years. Although he did some independent shows over the next few years, Zenk’s last real major league match was at the All Japan’s 22nd anniversary show on October 22, 1994 at Budokan Hall, in a six-man tag team match to put over legends as Baba & the ill with liver issues Tsuruta & Dory Funk Jr. beat he & Johnny Smith & The Eagle (Jackie Fulton).

For reasons nobody is clear about, for more than a decade, he stayed away from wrestling and those in it. Most of the wrestlers from his era were able to pick up extra money doing conventions from time-to-time and he didn’t make himself available. There were reports that he was working at a law office in the Twin Cities.

“Wrestling provided the money and lifestyle I liked, a single guy womanizing night to night, town-to-town, the best year’s of my life.”

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(12-21-2017, 09:50 AM)Ceallach Wrote: The Can-Am Connection opened WrestleMania III, at the time the biggest pro wrestling event in North American history, at the Pontiac Silverdome before 78,000 fans, beating Bob Orton Jr. & Don Muraco.

Stopped reading here, ZERO credibility from whichever hack """wrote""" this shit.
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[+] 4 users Like Fro's post
I love how Dave just subtly tosses shit like that in there to rile up people LOL
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post
I think Boone was Battle Kat.
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Lol. Yeah, he didn't quite reach the highs of Rude and Hennig. Though tbf, all of them are kind of under achievers. Rude, Hennig and Zenk all had the potential to do more.
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rude and hennig both got derailed by injuries tho
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