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Charles Eugene Wolfe, Jr. (August 14, 1957 – February 2, 1986) was a professional wrestler better known by his ring name Gino Hernandez. His in-ring nickname was "The Handsome Half-Breed" (a reference to his Italian/Hispanic ring name)
At the beginning of Gino Hernandez' career, he wrestled as a rookie babyface for The Sheik's Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit. Gino was a fresh faced good looking young inexperienced wrestler who got over with the female fans with his long black hair and his good looks. He won the United States Heavyweight Championship in the Detroit area by defeating Bulldog Don Kent. Gino also wrestled at least one match around this time in the WWWF. Gino eventually lost his United States Heavyweight Championship to the man who ruled Detroit for many years: The Sheik (promoter Eddie Farhat's in-ring Psycho-Arab heel persona).
Southwest Championship Wrestling
"The Handsome Halfbreed" started wrestling in 1975 in Southwest Championship Wrestling (SCW) after being trained by Jose Lothario. He formed a team with Lothario and eventually turned on him, starting a feud that saw Hernandez lose his hair to Lothario as the result of a hair vs. hair match.
World Class Championship Wrestling
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gino went to World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), then known as Big Time Wrestling, where he feuded with David Von Erich over the Texas Heavyweight Title which he won and lost to Von Erich.
He returned to SCW and formed a tag team called "The Dynamic Duo" with Tully Blanchard that was quite successful.
Return to WCCW
He returned to WCCW in 1984 and feuded with the Von Erichs; Mike, Kevin and Kerry Von Erich. In the summer, he was paired with Nickla Roberts, who was billed at the time as Andrea the Lady Giant. The duo was paired in a series of mixed tag team matches between Sunshine and Mike Von Erich, with Sunshine's aunt Stella Mae French also getting involved.
He formed a tag team with WCCW newcomer, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, in August 1984. He also formed a team with Chris Adams, also called the "Dynamic Duo". That version proved to be the most famous, as Adams and Hernandez drew in high revenues and television ratings for World Class in their feud with the Von Erichs.
Adams and Hernandez lost a loser-loses-hair match to Kevin and Kerry Von Erich at the Cotton Bowl on October 6, 1985. After the match, Hernandez attempted to escape, but was tackled by Chris Von Erich, who was at ringside, and eventually had his hair shaved bald. His hair quickly grew back in two months, while Adams' hair took longer.
He soon turned on Adams in December 1985 (two months after losing their hair at the Cotton Bowl) and started a feud, which was to have been the top storyline of 1986 for World Class. On January 27, 1986, during a grudge match in Fort Worth, Hernandez threw "freebird hair cream" (a "hair-removal product" previously established in WCCW storyline continuity in 1983 by Freebird Buddy Roberts) into the face of Adams, who was to sell his blinding injury so he could spend time in England with his new wife Toni and his family. Hernandez was scheduled to compete on a house show the following Thursday and a non-televised wrestling card at the Sportatorium in Dallas the following Friday. Gino did not show for either of those matches, and phone calls made to him were never returned.
On February 4, concerned with Hernandez's well-being, two World Class officials, David Manning and Rick Hazzard, and several local law enforcement officers broke into his Highland Park apartment and found Hernandez dead (he had been dead for approximately two-three days). Initially, Hernandez's death was ruled a homicide case, but following autopsy reports, his death was ruled as a result of an overdose of cocaine. Many people believe Gino was murdered in a drug related incident.
According to Manning, he said that Hernandez had three times the amount of cocaine in his system that would have resulted in a fatality, and he and Kevin Von Erich stated that Gino also had cocaine in his stomach. Manning also suspected foul play due to the fact that Hernandez's dead bolt on his door was not locked, as he made it a habit in the past to lock the dead bolt at all times.
Scotland Yard in fact contacted and questioned Adams, who had returned to England three days before hearing the news of Gino's death. Adams, who was never considered a suspect, was never charged in the case, as the FBI and Scotland Yard later ruled him out as a potential suspect.
His cocaine addiction nonetheless was not a secret to many World Class mainstays, including manager Gary Hart, who tried to encourage him many times to kick the habit. On the DVD "The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling," Hart said that he has pictures of all of the wrestlers he managed except for Hernandez, because it makes him too upset to see a picture of Gino.
The syndicated World Class broadcast (scheduled for a February 15 airing) was scheduled to have aired a match involving Gino Hernandez, originally taped on January 24 at the Sportatorium. That match never aired; instead, announcer Bill Mercer made the announcement of Gino's death, and a different match would air instead.
Both Mercer and Marc Lowrance treated Hernandez's death as well as Chris Adams' blinding angle as equally significant during a time when World Class was about to go forward with their feud beginning at Texas Stadium. Adams returned the following May, and won the World Class Heavyweight Championship two months later.
Wolfe was married twice, both times to Janice Marie Bancroft. They were first married on April 10, 1976 in Harris County, Texas, before divorcing soon after on January 27, 1977. During their first marriage, they had a child. The pair remarried on April 12, 1978 before divorcing again on July 19, 1979.
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA American Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA American Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with El Gran Markus (2), Gary Young (1), and Chris Adams (2)
- NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Texas version) (1 time)
- NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (6 times)
- NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Jimmy Snuka (1), Pak Song (1), and Bruiser Brody (1)
- NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (Texas version) (1 time) – with Chris Adams and Jake Roberts