Mark Hildreth (November 11, 1967) is an American former professional wrestler. He is best known for his tenures in World Championship Wrestling under the ring name Van Hammer.

Professional wrestling career

Global Wrestling Federation (1991)

After being trained by Boris Malenko and Dan Spivey, Hildreth made his debut on July 19, 1991 as The Hammer, teaming with "Iceman" King Parsons to defeat Billy Travis and Khris Germany in a tag team match for the Global Wrestling Federation. The referee for this match was Hildreth's brother, Dwayne Hildreth. Two months later, he signed with World Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling (1991–1993)

In September 1991, Hildreth joined World Championship Wrestling as "Heavy Metal" Van Hammer, a rock star gimmick. He made his debut for the promotion at Clash of the Champions XVI, where he squashed Terrance Taylor in 39 seconds. He made his WCW television debut on the October 15 episode of Saturday Night, defeating Paul Lee. Twelve days later, he made his pay-per-view debut at Halloween Havoc, defeating Doug Somers. After being undefeated on both television and house shows, Hammer's streak ended when he lost a match to Cactus Jack at Clash of the Champions XVII. At Starrcade, Hammer teamed with Big Josh in a losing effort to Steve Austin and Rick Rude.

After briefly continuing his tag team with Big Josh, Hammer returned to singles competition and faced Steve Austin for the World Television Championship on the January 12 episode of Main Event, but was unable to win the title. After the loss, Hammer competed sporadically throughout the rest of the year (including a brief feud with JT Southern) before making his second Starrcade appearance, where he and his trainer Dan Spivey defeated Cactus Jack and Johnny B. Badd to qualify for the Battlebowl. In the main event, The Great Muta defeated both Hammer, Spivey and five other wrestlers to win the Battlebowl.

On January 2, 1993, Van Hammer lost to Tony Atlas in the quarterfinals of a tournament for the vacant United States Heavyweight Championship on Saturday Night. After the loss, Hammer continued to be a mainstay on Saturday Night, winning the majority of his matches. At the first-ever Slamboree pay-per-view, Van Hammer lost his match with Sid Vicious in only 35 seconds. This was his final match before leaving WCW.

Return to WCW (1997–2000)

The Flock (1997–1998)

Hildreth returned to WCW in November 1997 under the shortened ring name Hammer, where he was placed in Raven's stable The Flock. Despite being an undercarder, much like the rest of The Flock's members, he was granted a title match against the United States Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page on the February 23, 1998 episode of Monday Nitro, but was unsuccessful in winning the title. On the March 2, 1998 episode of Nitro, Hammer lost to Page via disqualification in a title rematch.

Singles competition (1998–1999)

Hammer began jobbing to several top stars before winning a Loser Leaves The Flock match against fellow Flock member Perry Saturn on a special Friday episode of Nitro on May 4. Despite the win, The Flock attacked Hammer after the match and he was thrown out of the group. In his first match following his expulsion from The Flock, Hammer faced the new United States Heavyweight Champion Goldberg for the title the following night on Saturday Night, but lost. He then abandoned the grunge-related attire he had while with The Flock and became a face by adopting a hippie gimmick. After spending the rest of 1998 and January 1999 jobbing, he became a heel again and changed his gimmick to that an anti-pacifist and returned to using his full Van Hammer name. Following this, he began a short winning streak over the next few weeks before losing to Bam Bam Bigelow on the February 22, 1999 episode of Nitro. Van Hammer quickly rebounded and began another winning streak over the following weeks on Nitro, Thunder, Saturday Night and even on pay-per-view at The Great American Bash on June 13 by defeating Mikey Whipwreck. Hammer's winning streak was ended a few weeks later as he lost to Rick Steiner in a titlr match for Steiner's World Television Championship on July 11 at Bash at the Beach. On the October 11 episode of Nitro, Hammer lost to Sid Vicious in a match for the United States Heavyweight Championship.

Misfits In Action and departure (2000)

Main article: Misfits In Action

On the May 2, 2000 episode of Thunder, Hammer participated in a 41-man battle royal to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, which was ultimately won by Ric Flair. Soon afterwards, Hammer joined the Misfits In Action and was renamed Major Stash so as to fit in with the stable's military gimmick. He was originally to be named Private Stash, as an inside joke to marijuana, but balked at being given the lowest rank in the stable, leading him to being "promoted" to "Major". However, Stash's tenure with the Misfits was short-lived, as he wrestled what turned out to be his final match in WCW, a losing effort to The Demon on the July 12, 2000 episode of Thunder, as he was released from his contract shortly after.

Maryland Championship Wrestling and retirement (2001–2003, 2009)

After leaving WCW, Hildreth took a brief hiatus from wrestling. On March 16, 2001, under his Van Hammer ring name and rock star gimmick, he lost to Thrasher in a match for Maryland Championship Wrestling. He returned to MCW on June 9, and defeated Dino Devine. On December 16, he teamed with Cowboy to defeat Devine and Chad Bowman. On February 16, 2002, Hammer teamed with Cowboy in a rematch against Devine and Bowman, which he and Cowboy lost. After a year long hiatus, Van Hammer returned to MCW on July 16, 2003 at MCW's annual Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup, where he won an eight-man tag team match alongside Gillberg, Thrasher and Kelly Bell against Brock Singleton, Genesis and The Holy Rollers (Earl the Pearl and Rich Meyes).

In 2009, Hildreth attended an MCW show where wrestler Champ Champagne performed a promo calling Hildreth washed up, comparing him to Mickey Rourke's character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, from the film The Wrestler. In response, Hildreth entered the ring, but Champagne fled before a fight could break out. On April 11, 2009, at MCW's event Xtreme Measures, Hildreth came out of retirement for one night only, and Van Hammer defeated Champ Champagne in a singles match.

Personal life

Before becoming a wrestler, Hildreth joined the United States Navy after graduating from high school and traveled around the world while on tour. He married twice. His second wife, Alexis, has a whole page in PWI's Women of Wrestling (Collector's Edition).

He is also good friends with fellow WCW alumnus Diamond Dallas Page.

In wrestling

Wrestlers trained by Hammer

Championships and accomplishments

External links