Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Death of a Giant

Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Another death in professional wrestling.  Jorge Gonzalez, aka the Giant Gonzalez (and El Gigante in WCW) passed away the other day.  He was only 44 years old.

Gonzalez spent about two years wrestling in WCW, where he made his debut in 1990.  He had been playing basketball in his home country of Argentina.  Scouts from the Atlanta Hawks liked what they saw on the court, but owner Ted Turner offered the big man a job in his "wrasslin' company."  The rest is history.

At 7 feet 7 inches tall he truly was a giant.  Just look at how he towers over the Undertaker in the above picture.  Gigante was a babyface in WCW and teamed with the likes of Sting and took on the 4 Horsemen group.  He battled Ric Flair for the WCW title, but never won the gold belt.  I think he may have picked up a non title win over the champ.  I also remember him battling Sid Vicious in Sid's final match before leaving for the WWF in 1992.  It was a stretcher match, and I don't it lasting long.  

Since Sid was leaving, Gigante needed another "big" man to feud.  The One Man Gang and Kevin Sullivan attacked him after the match, setting up a new feud.  Gigante beat the OMG in a match that cost the Gang his hair.  Sometime in between his time with WCW and WWF, he was in an episode of Baywatch.  Although I don't think he wore the little red swimsuit.

When he arrived in the WWF, he changed his attitude, his name, and his look.  No longer was he the popular and lovable El Gigante.  Now we had the Giant Gonzalez, a monster heel complete with full body, flesh colored unitard with hair in the right places.  He took on Harvey Wippleman as a manager and the big man's first target was the Undertaker.  

Gonzalez eliminated the Dead Man from the Royal Rumble in 1993.  That set up a match between the two at Wrestlemania 9 in Las Vegas.  This was 'Taker's third Wrestlemania, so his streak was in its infancy.  Undertaker won the match by disqualification.  If I remember correctly, GG delivered a low blow to trigger the DQ.  Fun fact:  Giant Gonzalez is the Undertaker's only Wrestlemania opponent not to be pinned.

Months later at SummerSlam 93, the Undertaker defeated the Giant in a "rest in peace" match.  Basically there were no countouts and no DQ's allowed.  Harvey and Giant had previously stolen the "powerful" urn owned by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer prior to this match.  After the defeat, Gonzalez was supposed to turn face and feud with Wippleman and his new charge Adam Bomb, but that never really materialized.  Gonzalez left the WWF after spending less than a year there.

He wrestled off and on in Japan until retiring in late 1995.  In the years that followed, he spent his life in his home country of Argentina.  He spent the last year or so in a wheelchair, suffering from the side effects of diabetes.  

Rest in Peace, Giant Gonzalez.    

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