#100 Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
#99 Marty Jannetty
#98 Sensational Sherri Martel
#97 Nikolai Volkoff
#96 Hardcore Bob Holly
G’day one and all and welcome to another edition of the Top 100 WWE Superstars of All Time, I am of course your host The King of Stats, ready to take you through the career of another great wrestler. I have been a little slow getting these out this month but I will start to rectify that with today’s entry.
With WWE being an American company you of course would expect to see a lot of Americans make this list. While the majority of the entries will be made up of men and women from the company's homeland a fair chunk of them actually come from a country north of the USA, that country of course being Canada. Today we take a look at the first Canadian to make the top 100 so why don’t we now take a look at just who is #95.
95. “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson
Yep, the man who sired The Rock has earned himself a spot in the top 100, just like his son will later on. In fact (spoiler alert) Rocky and Rock are the only father/son pairing to find themselves both in the top 100. While I am of course very familiar with The Rock, his father is in most parts a blank to me, I don’t even know if I have ever seen one of his matches. That however will not stop me writing this column and doing this Hall of Famer the justice he deserves.
Win %: 73.13%
Years Active: 5
Firstly I must say it is a real shame that I limited these columns to be about the WWE careers of the included wrestlers and not their entire career, the small time that Johnson spent in the WWE is only a small chunk, and in fact pales in comparison, to the rest of his career. Johnson would spend 18 years touring the territories throughout the US making a name for himself and winning numerous titles on the way before he had his WWE run. Along that way he would become a champion in most places he would visit both singles and in tag team action. Just look at this list for some of the success he obtained in that time.
WWA Americas Heavyweight (x2)
NWA San Francisco United States Heavyweight
NWA Georgia Heavyweight
NWA Florida Heavyweight (x2)
NWA Florida Television
NWA Texas Heavyweight (x2)
NWA Florida Brass Knuckles
NWA Southern Heavyweight
NWA Texas Brass Knuckles
NWA Mid-America Heavyweight
NWA Mid-Atlantic Television (x2) (title would evolve into WCW TV Title)
NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight
NWA Vancouver Canadian Tag Team
NWA Americas Tag Team
NWA San Francisco Pacific Coast Tag Team (x5)
NWA Georgia Tag Team
NWA Florida Tag Team (x2)
World Class Texas Tag Team
AWA Southern Tag Team (would win a second after his WWE run)
NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team (x2)
NWA Macon Tag Team
NWA Detroit World Tag Team
These 18 years weren’t entirely WWE free though as Johnson would wrestle for them during 1969 at their Washington shows. From February to June Johnson would compete 15 times in singles action beating Angelo Savoldi (x2), Bob Harmon, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Johnny Rodz, Duke Savage (x2), Guillotine Gordon, Lou Albano, Prof Toru Tanaka (they also had 1 draw) and Luke Graham. Thunderbolt Patterson would be the only person to beat him in this WWE mini-run, doing so on two separate occasions and a draw on a third.
WWE Debut: 20/2/69 defeated Angelo Savoldi
TV Debut: 5/10/82 defeated Jeff Craney on Championship Wrestling
MSG Debut: 22/11/82 w/Tony Garea defeated Mr Saito & Riki Choshu (2 out of 3 falls)
It would be on October 5th that Johnson would finally make his run in the WWE. That night was a set of tapings for the Championship Wrestling television show and Johnson would win his 3 matches against Johnny Rodz, Tony Colon and Jeff Craney. The next set of tapings would see the same result beating Joe Espada and Charlie Fulton, and the next night victories over Frank Williams and Jose Estrada. In fact between his debut in October 82 all the way through to May in 84 Johnson would have 124 singles matches and while he would appear in a handful of draws he would only be beaten once, by Don Muraco in an Intercontinental Title Match.
While Johnson had such a great undefeated run in the WWE it would be because of tagging that he would be most famous for inside a WWE ring. His first chance at a WWE title would come from a house show in November 1982 when he would team with Andre the Giant in an attempt at winning the titles from Mr Fuji and Mr Saito. In March he would get another three chances, this time with Jimmy Snuka against The Wild Samoans, however the result would be the same in the whole four matches, Johnson’s team would win by DQ and therefore the titles would remain with the champions.
TV Matches: 93
PPV Main Events: 0
Johnson’s singles success wasn’t being ignored though and he would enter into a feud with Don Muraco for the Intercontinental Championship. Their first match would be in February on Championship Wrestling before his tag title shots with Jimmy Snuka. Johnson would win this match by DQ and then late in March he would once again win by DQ at a house show. In April Johnson would win twice by countout, once again meaning the title remained with Muraco, on the WWE’s shows on the USA and MSG Networks. May would see a double count out at a house show and double DQ’s on the networks. June would see another DQ win to Johnson and the one loss to Muraco at house shows before two last shots at house shows in July which saw Johnson once again win by DQ both times.
Unable to win the Intercontinental Title Johnson returned his sites to the Tag Team Championships, this time teaming with Salvatore Bellomo in a losing effort against The Wild Samoans on the PRISM Network. The end of the month would start to see a change in Johnson’s luck when he would find a permanent partner, Tony Atlas.
1. World Tag Team Championship - w/Tony Atlas - 15/11/83-17/4/84 - 154 days
Known as The Soul Patrol the pairing would first team together at the August 23 tapings of Championship Wrestling where they would beat the teams of Jeff Craney & Len Kruger and Bob Bradley & Don Kernodle. At the November 15 tapings after only five matches together they would face the tag champions the Wild Samoans and would win by DQ. In the second part of the tapings they would once again face the Samoans, this time in a no-DQ match. The Soul Patrol would win this match, therefore winning the WWE World Tag Team Titles along with it. This win was a major moment in the WWE as it was the first time black team to win the tag titles in WWE’s history.
Over the next five months the Soul Patrol would successfully defend the titles on TV and house shows a total of 18 times against mostly teams made up of jobbers. There were some legit teams though such as the Wild Samoans, Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch and Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff. The only time they would be on the losing end of the equation would be in February against Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch when on Wrestling at the Chase they would lose by referee's decision, which meant that they retained the title as it wasn’t by pinfall or submission.
Site 1 score: 6.42/10
Site 2 ranking: 148th/533
The second time the Soul Patrol would face Adonis and Murdoch they would not be so lucky. On April 17 they would face once more and once again Adonis and Murdoch would win, this time by means which saw the titles change hands. As this match was at a taping for Championship Wrestling and wasn’t televised until May 26 the Soul Patrol would defend the titles two times at house shows, the first against Billy Travis and Randy King, the second against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
Other than a couple of matches in November once the Soul Patrol had officially lost the titles on TV they disbanded going their separate ways. For Johnson this meant a return to the singles division and a hopeful return to his unbeaten ways (except for that one Muraco match of course). If you are following along with the dates you would be already aware though that this is not the case as May 1984 was where Johnson would start losing singles matches. He wouldn’t lose all of them but he was definitely no longer in an undefeated run.
Ranked #211 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003
WWE Hall of Fame - Class of 2008
The first person to beat him coming out of the Soul Patrol was Roddy Piper, a result that would happen a fair few times in the coming months. The other wrestler Johnson would have trouble getting a victory over was Greg Valentine as he would trade victories with him around the same time. Eventually the other wrestlers that would get singles victories over Johnson in the WWE were Bob Orton, Jesse Ventura, Nikolai Volkoff, David Schultz and Big John Studd, thus meaning only eight wrestlers were ever able to beat him 1on1 in the WWE.
Johnson had not forgotten about his tag team titles however and would unsuccessfully team with Special Delivery Jones at three house shows in July in an attempt to win them back from Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch. He would also get one more shot at the Intercontinental Championship in October, losing to Greg Valentine at a house show. Johnson’s last match in the WWE would occur on July 8 1985 when he would beat Ted Grizzly in a match at an All-Star Wrestling Taping.
TOP 5 MATCHES
1 The Soul Patrol v The Wild Samoans - WWF Championship Wrestling - 15/11/83
2 Rocky Johnson v Don Muraco - WWF on USA Network - 23/4/84
3 Rocky Johnson v Greg Valentine - WWF on PRISM Network - 1/9/84
4 Rocky Johnson v Ken Patera - WWF on MSG Network - 22/10/84
5 The Soul Patrol v Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch - WWF Championship Wrestling - 17/4/84
In January 2003 the WWE would once again hire Johnson, this time however not as a wrestler but as a trainer for their developmental territory OVW. This would not last long though as in May he was once again gone from the company. He would once again return in 2008, this time to receive his Hall of Fame induction along with his Father-in-Law Peter Maivia.
While most people in today’s day and age only think of Rocky Johnson as the father of The Rock there was a lot more to him then that. If it was not for him (and Tony Atlas too of course) paving the way we would not be able to have teams like current champions The New Day being Tag Team Champions. And that was only something he had done in a four year span that he was in the WWE. What he had achieved in the 18 years prior could very well have made up another five columns, possibly even more. There is a reason why Rocky Johnson is in the WWE Hall of Fame and it isn’t just because he is the father of the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. No it is because he truly is a legend of the ring whose career demanded the inclusion and the WWE portion alone saw him make the Top 100 WWE Superstars of All Time.