Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Adrian Adonis

Two, late great stars
Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis
Photo from WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Fans who watched wrestling in the mid to late 80's probably remember Adrian Adonis as the "Adorable One", prancing around the ring in a wig, dress, and make-up that would embarrass Tammy Faye Baker.  But the fact of the matter is, Adonis was an accomplished superstar before the drastic change in gimmick.

My first memories of him were after he signed with the WWF and started teaming with Dick Murdoch. That duo beat the wildly popular Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas for the tag team titles.  I was stunned when it happened.  Adonis had a tough New Yorker gimmick, which was carried over from his days in the AWA.  He and Jesse Ventura were a successful tag team there.  Even after he and Murdoch last the tag titles and Adonis disappeared for a while, he came back with Bobby Heenan as his manager.  That gimmick didn't last long.  Quite honestly it was a bit boring for the cartoonish, larger than life characters Adonis was competing with back then.

Here's a promo where Adonis "comes out".  I don't think the WWF ever claimed Adonis was gay, but this particular video is filled with enough innuendo to imply it.  As time went on, Adrian become more and more flamboyant.

"Adorable" Adrian
Photo by WWE
I think my favorite memory of Adonis did come with his whole "Adorable" phase though.  It was during his feud with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Adonis' talk show 'The Flower Shop."  I found it entertaining and I was a Piper mark back then and loved the way they did the whole face turn for him.

Through the years Adrian packed on the pounds, but that didn't hide the fact that he was an accomplished wrestler.  Adonis ended up on the losing end to Piper at Wrestlemania III and got his head shaved by Brutus Beefacke, hence the birth of the barber gimmick.  It appeared that the two of them would feud next, but I'm guessing there were contract issues and Adonis ended up leaving the company.  He headed back to the AWA, still holding on to the "Adorable" gimmick, and this time with Paul E. Dangerously as his manager.

It was a short run for Adonis as an injury basically forced him out of action.  On July 4, 1988 he was getting back to wrestling when he was killed in a van accident with a group of other wrestlers in Canada.  Dave McKigney and Pat Kelly also died that day.

The Flower Shop
Even though he's been gone for more than two decades, I think it's important we remember Adrian Adonis.  I really hope at some point the WWE inducts him into the Hall of Fame.  While maybe he's not a first ballot choice, there is a spot for him I believe.

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    There's a clip where Adrian actually says "I'm gay."