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Dino Bravo

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Adolfo Bresciano (August 6, 1948 – March 11, 1993) was an Italian-born Canadian professional wrestler, best known for his work as Dino Bravo, self-proclaimed as "Canada's Strongest Man".

Professional wrestling career

Territories

Bresciano began wrestling in 1970, taking the "Dino Bravo" moniker from a wrestler from the early 1960s who had teamed with Dominic DeNucci as the Bravo brothers, Dino and Dominic. He was trained by Gino Brito and often worked in a tag team with his mentor, billed as Brito's cousin. Bravo worked in a number of other tag teams, partnering with, among others, "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods and DeNucci. Dino's actual height was 5'11" and he weighed in around 255 pounds.

Bravo held the Jim Crockett Promotions version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Woods, winning the title from Gene and Ole Anderson and eventually losing the title to the Andersons. Bravo also had a major program with Blackjack Mulligan, pinning Mulligan twice in a televised non-title match to set up a series of matches for Mulligan's United States title. Bravo did not win the U.S. title from Mulligan, but did receive several shots at NWA World Champion Harley Race during his tenure with Crockett.

By the late 1970s, Bravo had become a big enough draw to get a singles push in the Montreal territory. In December 1978, he defeated Gene Kiniski in Toronto to win the new Canadian heavyweight title as recognized in that area

World Wrestling Federation

With Dominic DeNucci, Bravo captured the WWF World Tag Team Title in March 1978 from Professor Tanaka and Mr. Fuji. Three months later in June, The Yukon Lumberjacks defeated Bravo and DeNucci for the title.

In the early 1980s, Bravo and King Tonga (later known as Haku) formed a tag team for a brief while, but never got much of a push. Bravo was scheduled to headline a card against Hulk Hogan in 1986, but the match was canceled on short notice, with Bravo leaving the company shortly thereafter; the rumor was that the company did not want the Montreal crowd to cheer Bravo, the hometown hero, over Hogan, and that Bravo quit after finding out. Bravo returned to the WWF the next year, almost immediately dying his brown hair blond and working as part of Lucious Johnny Valiant's stable with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake was kicked out of the stable at WrestleMania III and Bravo took his place in The Dream Team tag team with Valentine.

Bravo returned to singles competition after a few months and began a strongman gimmick. At the 1988 Royal Rumble, Bravo (who was legitimately strong and was said to be able to press more than 500 pounds) attempted to bench press what he claimed was 715 pounds, which would have been a world record at the time. Commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura helped lift the bar at one point, but Bravo played the lift as a success and began billing himself as the "World's Strongest Man." In this gimmick, Bravo feuded with Don Muraco, Ken Patera, Ron Garvin, and Jim Duggan. Bravo yelled "Bah-Ah" every time he got the upper hand on an opponent to get crowd heat.

He played up his Québécois identity wearing the Fleur-de-lis and was managed by Frenchy Martin; who often toted around a sign reading USA is not OK. In March 1988, Bravo lost in the first round of the WWF Championship tournament at WrestleMania IV against Don Muraco. During a rematch at SummerSlam in August, Martin distracted Bravo's opponent Muraco to allow Bravo to get the victory. In October at the King of the Ring, Martin managed Bravo in a win over Jim Duggan in a flag match. At the Royal Rumble in January 1989, Bravo, accompanied by Martin, teamed with The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond) but lost a two out of three falls match against Jim Duggan and The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart). At WrestleMania V Bravo defeated Rugged Ronnie Garvin.

After Frenchy Martin's departure, Bravo joined Jimmy Hart's stable and often teamed up with Earthquake, and Bresciano would often display his strength by doing push ups while the 460 lb. Earthquake sat on his back (although Tenta kept his feet on the floor, so not all of his weight was on his partner). The team of Earthquake and Bravo would have a lengthy feud with Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior.

Retirement

Following a WrestleMania VII loss to Kerry Von Erich, he disappeared from WWF TV for several months before having a short run on several Canadian house shows as a babyface in matches against The Mountie. Bresciano left the WWF and retired from active competition following a tour in Europe in April 1992. After his retirement, he helped train wrestlers in Montreal.

Death

On March 11, 1993, Bresciano was found shot to death. He was 44 years old. Bresciano was thought to have been shot up to 17 times to the head by a gunman while watching hockey in his Vimont, Laval, Quebec apartment. It is widely believed that his alleged role in illegal cigarette smuggling in Canada led to his murder. Rick Martel has stated in interviews that because of Bresciano's notability from being a popular professional wrestler, he was able to attract many customers (specifically Aboriginals) to switch over to having him as a supplier of illegal cigarettes, thus crossing the mafia. According to various sources, right before his death Bresciano had confided to close friends that he knew his days were numbered. He was a nephew by marriage of Montreal crime boss Vic Cotroni, and was believed by authorities to be involved in his organization for some time. Bresciano's remains are in a mausoleum at Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec. He is survived by his wife, Diane Rivest and their daughter.

In wrestling

  • Entrance themes
    • "La Marseillaise" by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (WWF)


Championships and accomplishments

See also

External links

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