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Gary Albright

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Gary Albright
Gary Albright
Statistics
Ring names Gary Albright
Height
Weight
Born May 18, 1963
Died January 7, 2000
Resides
Trainer
Debut
Retired

Gary Albright (May 18, 1963 – January 7, 2000) was an American professional wrestler who performed mainly in Stampede Wrestling in Canada and with UWF International and All Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan. Albright was a member through marriage of the famous Anoa'i wrestling family, including Afa and Sika, Yokozuna, Rikishi, and The Rock. His widow, Monica, is the daughter of Afa Anoa'i.

After wrestling as a respected amateur wrestler Albright made his debut in 1988 for Stampede Wrestling but from the early 1990s worked more or less exclusively for Japanese promotions that focused more on the “Shoot” aspects than the “sports entertainment” aspects of professional wrestling. Albright was in the ring wrestling when he died, pronounced dead only minutes after being removed from the ring.

Career

Albright was born in Rhode Island and started amateur wrestling while in High School. Albright wrestled for Billings West high school in Billings Montana. Albright would go on to wrestle in the NCAA for the University of Nebraska where he set the Nebraska State record for total falls in a season: 38 falls in the 1985-1986 season.[2]

His amateur career ended up netting him the following facts:

State Champion (55-2 record) 112 wins – 19 losses – 4 draws (70 by pin) Big 8 Champion Big 8 All-Academic team Freestyle and Greco-Roman U.S. team member from 1981-1984 1982 National Open Freestyle champion 1981 World Greco-Roman Elite champion Member of the “Sunkist Kids” national championship team

Stampede Wrestling

After graduating college Albright began to train for a professional wrestling career, getting advice and training on pro wrestling by prominent wrestlers such as Lou Thesz, Billy Robinson and Danny Hodge in the process.[3] In 1988 Gary Albright got his first break in wrestling when he signed on with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Albright was brought to the Hart family’s attention by Brian Pillman who knew of Albright through a mutual acquaintance.[3] He started out as a face but it wasn’t long until the promoters decided he would work better as a heel.

Albright’s gimmick was changed to that of "Vokhan Singh", supposedly a wrestler from Karachi, Pakistan. Albright was teamed up with Makhan Singh (Mike Shaw) to form “Karachi Vice", considering that Shaw was even paler than Albright their claims were never supposed to be taken legitimately. Albright and Shaw were led by “Gama Singh" (who was legitimately from India) the founder of “Karachi Vice", the stable also included Steve DiSalvo and Kerry Brown.[4] The two 300+ pound men made a formidable combination, so formidable that they beat the legendary British Bulldogs for the Stampede International Tag Team Championship on December 12, 1988.[5] The team defended the titles for just about four months until losing them to Chris Benoit and Biff Wellington on April 8, 1989[5] Stampede closed by the end of 1989 at which point Albright began looking elsewhere for employment. He wound up working a couple of tours of South Africa and various independent federations for the next year or so.[3]

UWF International

Thanks to Bruce Hart Gary Albright managed to sign up with the recently created Union of Wrestling Forces International, also known as UWF International or UWFi.[3] The UWFi was a Shoot Style professional wrestling promotion, this meant that they presented an in ring product that was based on shoot style fighting that focused on striking, suplexes, and submissions (similar to the UFC) but that like all professional wrestling the outcome was pre-determined.

Albright made his debut with UWFi on August 24, 1991, knocking out Yoji Anjoh in 7:29.[6] Albright's massive size and his amatour background made his suplexes seem very impressive, to add to Albright’s “Suplex machine" image he was typically booked to win by knocking out his opponents with brutal German suplexes such as his 5:26 victory by knock out over Kiyoshi Tamura on December 22, 1991.[7] The highlight of Gary Albright’s initial UWFi push came on May 8, 1992 when he knocked out Nobuhiko Takada with his signature German suplex at Yokohama Arena in front of an announced crowd of 14,000.[6] Takada was UWFi’s biggest Japanese star, the loss to Albright helped cement him as a serious competitor in the UWFi. Albright continued his winning ways in singles and tag matches through the summer of 1992 defeating such notable competitors as "Bad News" Brown.[6] Albrights string of victories came to an end when he lost a rematch with Takada on September 21, 1992.[6] Albright submitted to Takada's cross arm breaker, thus making Takada the first UWFi World champion.[5]

After the loss to Takada, Albright continued to win singles matches, usually in less than five minutes,[6] but with the arrival of Super Vader, Gary Albright was supplanted as the top Gaijin in the federation, fighting in the undercard instead of the main events. Albright teamed up with Dan Severn in a loss to Salman Hashimikov and Vladimir Berkovich. Hashimikov forced Severn to submit to a Cross Armbreaker in 13:09 on the first UWFi PPV broadcast in American called "Shootfighting".[8] Albright began to get pushed again in 1994 as part of UWFi's "Best of the World" tournament. In the first round of the tournament Albright knocked out Billy Scott in 2:11.[6] He then defeated Yoji Anjoh in the second round to advance to a semifinal match with Nobuhiko Takada. On June 10, 1994, in front of a sellout crowd at Nippon Budokan, Albright lost by submission in 16:00 in the main event.[9] Albright defeated Kiyoshi Tamura on August 18, 1994 to finish third in the tournament, the same night that Vader defeated Takada for the UWFi title.[6]

With Albright finishing third in the tournament and Vader defeating Takada to win the tournament the UWFi started to promote a meeting between Vader and Albright as an UWFi “Dream Match". Building up to the singles title match the two faced off in a couple of tag-team matches leading up to the big event. On October 8, 1994, Albright forced Vader to submit to the cross arm breaker in a main event tag team match,[6] then on November 30, 1994, Albright forced Takada to submit to a cross arm breaker in the main event to earn a match with Vader in January.[6] The UWFi “Dream Match" took place on January 16, 1995, a match that saw Vader winning the match in 11:25 using a choke hold.[10] The buildup and the match were a commercial success, with Albright and Vader drawing large sellout crowds in their two tag team main events, Albright's contenders match with Takada, and the Vader versus Albright title match.

During 1995 UWFi began having problems because while they had pushed Albright, Takada and Vader to the main event they had not succeeded in building up more challengers and their attendance was dwindling.[11] On May 17, 1995, Albright lost to Masahito Kakihara in the semi main event to build up Kakihara for a match with Takada.[6] On June 18, 1995 Albright was supposed to put over Kiyoshi Tamura to build him into a main eventer. The match saw Albright ignoring the referee's instructions leading as he yelled "Break Gary, break!" Albright also laid around on the mat doing nothing much until Tamura secured a rear choke and Albright tapped out. It is not clear if Albright’s actions in this match were legitimate or part of a Storyline, the only thing that is known for a fact is that Albright returned two months later, on August 18, 1995 and submitted to Tamura in the main event without incident.[6] Six days later UWFi announced a working agreement with New Japan Pro Wrestling[12] and Albright left the promotion, signing with All Japan Pro Wrestling.

All Japan Pro Wrestling

On October 25, 1995 Albright lost to Toshiaki Kawada at Budokan Hall in a semi-main event singles match. Albright teamed with Stan Hansen on the following tour and the pair finished third in the Real World Tag League. On January 24, 1996 Albright and Hansen beat Kawada and Taue for the AJPW Unified World Tag Team Championship,[5] but lost them four weeks later on February 20, 1996 in a rematch with Kawada and Taue.[5] Albright challenged Mitsuharu Misawa for the AJPW Triple Crown Championship on March 2, 1996 but Misawa's high flying style was too great to overcome. Misawa won by pinfall after his "rolling elbow" forearm smash to retain the title in Albright’s only shot at the AJPW title.

After the loss to Misawa Albright was not pushed as a singles wrestler in All Japan, finishing seventh in each of his four Champion's Carnival appearances while scoring a few upsets over wrestlers such as Toshiaki Kawada in 1997 and Kenta Kobashi in 1998. Albright teamed with Sabu in the 1996 World's Strongest Tag Team League, finishing last with 6 points scoring only 3 wins in the tournament.[13]

Albright teamed with Steve Williams and Lacrosse to form the "Triangle of Power" in 1997. Albright and Williams finished third in the World's Strongest Tag League that year[14] and went on to win the Unified tag titles on July 25, 1997.[5] Albright became the leader of the Triangle of Power. after Williams left the promotion, but Albright's faction was not pushed. Albright teamed with Kimala in the 1998 World's Strongest Tag League, winning only one match[15] and teamed with Wolf Hawkfield (Jim Steele) to finish last in the 1999 Tag League.[16] Albright won his final match in All Japan in 1999, beating Masao Inoue in 8:35.

Death

On January 7, 2000, Albright wrestled at a World Xtreme Wrestling show in Hazleton, Pennsylvania against Lucifer Grimm (real name Bill Owens). After being hit with a three-quarter facelock bulldog, Albright collapsed to the canvas. A worried Grimm rolled Albright on top of himself to finish the match after which concerned wrestlers and ring crew tried to resuscitate him. Albright was pronounced dead shortly after being removed from the ring.

The official cause of death is listed as a heart attack. The medical examiners also found that Albright suffered from diabetes, had an enlarged heart, and blockage of several coronary arteries.[17] Because it was determined that Albright died of natural causes, the police were never involved in the matter.[18]

Albright was survived by his wife Monica Anoa’i, his son Samuel, and two daughters, Angelica and Alexandria.[19]

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