- Disambiguation: Hercules redirects here. For another wrestler with a similar name see Mighty Hercules.
Raymond Fernandez (May 7, 1956 – March 6, 2004) was an American professional wrestler who primarily wrestled in Florida and Texas before joining the World Wrestling Federation. He was best known by the ring name Hercules or variations thereof. Fernandez was also a featured bodybuilder, appearing in several muscle magazines.
Early career (1981-1985)
Fernandez started wrestling in 1981, mainly performing in the Florida and Texas territories, as ”Hercules” Hernandez. In 1982, Hercules joined the NWA Central States territory (which ran out of Kansas City and promoted shows in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa). While in Central States, Hercules teamed up with Dewey Robertson, the future Missing Link, and the two won the Central States tag team championship on two occasions; they beat Mike George and Mark Romero (aka Mark Youngblood) both times. He also held the Central States Television title for a little over 6 months, winning it from, and losing it back to, his main rival, Mark Romero. His two other notable feuds in the Central States territory were with Manny Fernandez and Harley Race. His feud with Race garnered Hercules significant attention in the national wrestling scene, due to Race's stature as a former NWA World Champion. This feud began because Race had an issue with Oliver Humperdink’s House of Humperdink stable, which Hercules had become a part of soon after joining the promotion. One match between the two had the stipulation that if Race won, he would get 5 minutes inside a steel cage with Humperdink. Hercules was caught using brass knuckles and disqualified, which meant that the cage match was on. When the match was about to start, Hercules ran to ringside, knocked Race out, in kayfabe, and threw him into the ring with Humperdink. In the end, Race recovered and piledrove Humperdink onto a steel chair (an act scripted to allow the "injured" Humperdink to leave the territory). After losing his manager, Fernandez did not stay in the Central States territory for long but instead signed up with Jim Crockett Promotions(JCP).
In JCP, Fernandez was paired up with Jody Hamilton, who had been wrestling as the Masked Assassin; Fernandez became the Masked Assassin 2, a gimmick that had been played by several other wrestlers over the years. The two competed at the first ever Starrcade beating the team of Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw. Fernandez's run as one of the Assassins ended less than a year later, after he was unmasked by Jimmy Valiant.
After being unmasked, Fernandez moved on to Bill Watts' Mid-South promotion, where he once again donned a mask. Mr. Wrestling II had recently turned on his tag team partner Magnum T.A. and become a heel. Mr. Wrestling II renamed himself simply “Mr. Wrestling” and got a new protégé, “Mr. Wrestling II”, who was Fernandez under a mask (referred to as “Mr. Wrestling III” in magazines to avoid confusing their readers). Mr. Wrestling II seconded Mr. Wrestling in his feud with Magnum T.A. Later on, Fernandez unmasked and competed once again as “Hercules Hernandez", and feuded with ”Hacksaw” Jim Duggan under the tutelage of Jim Cornette. Hercules would soon join Skandor Akbar’s stable known as Devastation Inc. alongside future WWF co-worker Ted DiBiase. As part of Devastation Inc., Hercules would feud with the Junkyard Dog and Terry Taylor, before leaving for Florida.
In “Championship Wrestling from Florida”, Hercules quickly won the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship from Brian Blair, and then won the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship from Hector Guerrero the following month; this made him a double champion. Some time during July 1985, Fernandez was fired from CWF after a dressing room fight with Wahoo McDaniel and stripped of both titles. After leaving Florida, Fernandez signed with the World Wrestling Federation.
World Wrestling Federation (1985-1992)
Fernandez debuted in the WWF in 1985, managed by "Classy" Freddie Blassie. His first major national exposure came when he competed at WrestleMania 2 in a losing effort against Ricky Steamboat. Blassie would soon retire, in storyline terms selling his stable to Slick. Hernandez soon found himself floundering in the WWF midcard. In late-1986, however, his contract was "sold" to Bobby Heenan. Soon after, he would drop "Hernandez" from his ringname, begin carrying a long steel chain to the ring, and re-emerge with a visibly changed, more-muscular physique. On the November 26, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, Hercules received a highly hyped shot at the WWF World Heavyweight Title, facing champion Hulk Hogan. Although he was able to put the 300 lb. Hogan in the "Hercules Backbreaker" torture rack, he came up short in what was arguably the biggest match of his wrestling career.
Also in the fall of 1986, Hercules would rekindle a feud with Billy Jack Haynes that went back through every promotion the two were ever in together. Both men at the time were using the full-nelson submission hold as their finisher. Heenan on an episode of WWF Challenge, called out Haynes saying he'd like to see him get out of Hercules' version of the hold. Haynes promptly answered the challenge and was waiting for Hercules to apply the hold when Heenan appeared to have second thoughts. Haynes grew tired of the charade and shoved Heenan. This gave Hercules the opening he needed and he clotheslined Haynes. Haynes was unable to defend himself and Hercules slapped the full-nelson on and maintained the hold until Haynes passed out. This incident set the stage for their match at WrestleMania III. The momentum swung back and forth throughout the contest until Haynes clotheslined Hercules over the top rope. When he refused to re-enter the ring, Haynes gave chase and successfully applied the full-nelson only to have both men counted out. Heenan attempted to break Haynes hold by driving a knee into his back. Haynes attention turned to Heenan once again as Hercules grabbed his steel chain and wrapped it around his fist. When Haynes turned to deal with his adversary, Hercules drove the chain into his forehead. Haynes bled profusely while Hercules and Heenan both gloated. The feud culminated some weeks later in a chain match that saw Hercules as the victor.
In the early part of 1988, during an episode of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Hercules was swinging his chain in the direction of The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior caught the chain, and the two began a tug of war, which led to the steel chain snapping at the middle. The broadcast commentators gave credit to the Warrior for snapping the chain, to the chagrin of Hercules and Heenan. This led to their match at WrestleMania IV, which ended with Warrior pinning Hercules after pushing off from the turnbuckle while in Hercules' full nelson and landing on top of him. During the fall of 1988, Bobby Heenan sold Hercules' contract to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase; DiBiase claimed that in Hercules, he had now purchased his own slave". This comment angered Hercules, who stated that he was owned by no man and turned face to feud with DiBiase. The two were on opposite teams at Survivor Series 1988 where DiBiase eliminated his “slave” from the match.
After the feud with Dibiase ended, Hercules had a series of matches with ”King” Haku. Despite pinning Haku at WrestleMania V, he did not become “King”. Hercules’ career stalled following his feud with Haku. He was mainly used as a jobber to help push the latest heels such as The Earthquake, who squashed him at WrestleMania VI. In the summer of 1990, Hercules turned heel alongside Paul Roma and the two formed Power and Glory, managed by Slick. They had a high profile feud with The Rockers, defeating them at SummerSlam '90 in Philadelphia and challenged WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation. Yet, despite the fact that the two worked well together as a team, they were never given the opportunity to cement themselves as serious players in the tag team division. When the Legion of Doom squashed them in 59 seconds at WrestleMania VII, it was evident to fans that the team was not destined for greatness. After SummerSlam 1991, Roma left the WWF. Hercules spent the rest of his time in the WWF jobbing again, losing to wrestlers such as the Big Boss Man and Sid Justice, and then Intercontinental champion Bret Hart. His last televised WWF match was against Sid Justice at MSG where he was squashed in under a minute.
After the WWF (1992-1999)
After being with the WWF for 7 years, Fernandez signed with World Championship Wrestling. He once again adopted a masked persona, this time as Super Invader, a supposed oriental assassin under the management of former rival Harley Race. As Super Invader, he beat Todd Champion at WrestleWar 1992 and beat Marcus Bagwell in a dark match before the Great American Bash 1992 PPV. The highlight of his run as Super Invader was his appearance at Clash of the Champions XX teaming with Rick Rude, Jake Roberts, and Big Van Vader in an elimination tag team match against Sting, Nikita Koloff, and the Steiner Brothers. Although Sting eliminated him early, Super Invader's team won the match. By the end of 1992, Ray Fernandez had left WCW and was competing on the independent circuit, as well as overseas.
One of the promotions he worked for was New Japan Pro Wrestling where he appeared as “Hercules Hernandez" once more, mainly teaming with fellow powerhouse wrestler Scott Norton to form The Jurassic Powers. The team would win the IWGP Tag Team Championship from the Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior) in August 1993 and hold it for about 4 months before losing it back to the Hell Raisers at NJPW’s January 4 Dome Show (NJPW’s biggest annual event). While holding the title, the Jurassic Powers successfully defended against teams such as The Japanese Jollyjacks (Takayuki Iizuka & Akira Nogami), Masa Saito and Manabu Nakanishi, and the Barbarian & Haku. The team also had a series of matches with the Steiner Brothers and made it to the finals of the 1993 Super Grade Tag League where they lost to Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase.
In 1994, Hercules wrestled in the American Wrestling Federation promotion taking part in the tournament to crown the first AWF champion. In 1999, Ray Fernandez retired from wrestling after working for various independent promotions across the world.
Fernandez died in his sleep in his home on March 6, 2004. The cause of death was attributed to heart disease according to his wife.
Championships and accomplishments
- IAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- IAW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Paul Roma
- IWF Can-Am Championship (1 time)
- (PWI) ranked him #220 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.