Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nick Bockwinkel (1934-2015)

To my knowledge, Nick Bockwinkel never set foot in a WWE/F ring, though he would eventually be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

No, along with Verne Gagne, Bockwinkel was one of the standard bearers of Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA), holding its World title 4 times and winning 3 tag titles with Ray "The Crippler" Stevens before Stevens jumped to the then-World Wrestling Federation in the early 80's. Like Gagne and some of his contemporaries, including Ric Flair, Bockwinkel also played college football until a knee injury ended his gridiron career at Oklahoma.

A heel (villain) much of his career, managed by Bobby Heenan before Heenan followed Stevens to the WWF, Bockwinkel became a beloved fan favorite at the end of his career, entering into a splendid feud with the late Curt Hennig in the mid-80's, including an hour-long draw that aired on ESPN.

But did you know that before becoming World champ, Bockwinkel made his first non-wrestling appearance on a game show? Yep. Bockwinkel was a contestant on the evening edition of Hollywood Squares with Peter Marshall in 1968:

Now, let's scope out Bockwinkel in a familiar milieu, as he prepares to face Hulk Hogan in 1983 for the AWA title. Gene Okerlund conducts a pre-match interview.....

Bockwinkel would resurface in WCW in the late 90's for a time as a figurehead commissioner, but didn't last very long, probably because of the shenanigans at the time.

Rest in peace, Nick. Hennig & Stevens are waiting for you.......

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