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Terry Funk

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Terrence "Terry" Funk (June 30, 1944) is an American professional wrestler and actor known chiefly for the hardcore wrestling style he adopted in the latter part of his career that inspired many younger wrestlers, including Mick Foley. Funk has appeared in the NWA, AWA, WWF/E, WCW, ECW, USWA, ROH, and TNA.

He has held many championship titles, including the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, the latter of which was also granted to him as an honorary lifetime title by ECW. He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, the NWA Hall of Fame, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Funk was a primary subject of the documentary film Beyond the Mat. Funk is often noted for the longevity of his career, which has included multiple "retirement" matches.

Professional wrestling career

1960s–1970s

Funk started out his career in 1965, working in his father Dory Funk, Sr.'s promotion in Amarillo, Texas. He and his brother, Dory Funk, Jr., quickly rose up the ranks and became big money wrestlers by the end of the decade. They joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1968. In 1975, Terry defeated Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He began a fourteen-month title reign which ended in Toronto when he was defeated by "Handsome" Harley Race, who won the title for the second time. Terry took some time off after his world title reign but he and his brother traveled around the country (mostly in Texas, Florida, and Detroit). Terry and Dory, Jr. also made a name for themselves in Japan. He made a name for himself with his over the top mannerisms and sometimes colorful get-ups as well as his brawling ability.

1980s

Terry Funk made his World Wrestling Federation (WWF) debut in 1985. In his televised debut on Championship Wrestling, he not only beat Aldo Marino, but he also beat up a ring attendant named Mel Phillips who was also, at the time, one of the WWF ring announcers. Funk also had the gimmick at the time of carrying a branding iron with him to ringside and using it to "brand" his fallen opponents. In the mid 1980s, Funk teamed with Dory (calling himself "Hoss" Funk) and Jimmy Jack Funk (Jesse Barr), a storyline "brother." They were managed by Jimmy Hart. At the time, he had a heated rivalry with the Junkyard Dog which led to a match between Terry Funk and Hoss Funk and the team of Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania 2. In 1989, Funk returned to the NWA and joined the J-Tex Corporation. He began feuding with Ric Flair, who had defeated Ricky Steamboat at WrestleWar for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Funk, who was one of three judges for the main event, challenged Flair to a title match. Flair refused, saying that Funk was "spending time in Hollywood" instead of focusing on wrestling. Funk then attacked, piledriving Flair on a ringside table. This put the champion, Flair, out of action until the Great American Bash where he faced Funk. Flair won the match by reversing a small package into one of his own, but shortly after was attacked by Gary Hart and The Great Muta. Sting came to aid Flair and the two brawled with Funk and Muta to close the show. Funk got injured but returned to continue feuding with Ric Flair. The two then had an "I Quit" match at Clash of the Champions, which Funk lost after yelling "Yes, I quit!" after Flair put on the Figure four leglock. This match received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. A notable part of the feud occurred when Funk used an actual plastic shopping bag to suffocate Flair on television after Flair and Sting defeated Muta and Dick Slater at Clash of the Champions. After losing a Clash of Champions match against Flair, he shook Flair's hand, and was attacked by Gary Hart's stable. Soon after he became a color commentator and the host of his own segment Funk's Grill where a tuxedo clad Funk would amiably interview the top stars of WCW, both face and heel. This did not last long and he left soon after.

World Championship Wrestling (1994)

In 1994, Funk reappeared in World Championship Wrestling as part of Colonel Robert Parker's Stud Stable. Along with Bunkhouse Buck, Arn Anderson and Meng, the stable would focus their energies on Dusty and Dustin Rhodes, as well as The Nasty Boys, culminating in a War Games match at Fall Brawl.

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994–1997)

Later in Funk's career, his style changed from wrestling traditional southern style wrestling matches to the more violent style of hardcore wrestling. In 1994, after a special appearance against Tully Blanchard at World Championship Wrestling (WCW) Slamboree, Funk promised to help the fledgling Eastern Championship Wrestling (later renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling or ECW) by lending his talent and notoriety to the promotion, which had just split from the NWA. On July 16, Terry and Dory Funk lost a barbed wire match against The Public Enemy. Funk maintained a regular schedule of wrestling for ECW in its early days while also competing in Japan. He had many feuds and wrestled programs with wrestlers such as Cactus Jack, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, The Sandman, Sabu, and Terry's own protege, Tommy Dreamer.

On August 20, 1995, IWA Japan held a King of the Death Match tournament in Kawasaki, Japan. In this tournament, Funk endured three extreme-style matches involving ladders, thumbtacks, and barbed wire. In the final match of the tournament, he lost to Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack), in an exploding ring, C4 explosive, barbed wire match.

Funk further elevated ECW by headlining their first pay-per-view, Barely Legal on April 13, 1997, winning the ECW Championship from Raven. Earlier in the night, he defeated The Sandman and Stevie Richards in a Triple Threat match, thus earning him the match with Raven. He was later defeated for the title by Sabu in a barbed wire match at Born to Be Wired, in which the ropes of the ring were taken down and replaced with barbed wire. Both men had to be cut out of the wires at the end of the match. Sabu had his biceps visibly torn open by the barbed wire - as a result, the wound was taped up and the match continued. In September of that same year, a show was held in Funk's hometown of Amarillo. It was called "WrestleFest - 50 Years of Funk" and was both his own show and a celebration of the careers of Terry, his father, and his brother. Terry lost to then WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart in the main event. However, before the match, ECW owner Paul Heyman presented Terry with a belt, paid for through a collection taken up by wrestlers on the ECW roster, that declared him the Lifetime ECW World Heavyweight Champion.

World Wrestling Federation (1997–1998)

Funk's retirement lasted just three months before he started taking independent bookings again. Soon after, he was signed by the WWF and debuted as Chainsaw Charlie. Funk had a match with Foley on Raw, and the New Age Outlaws came and threw both in a dumpster, and pushed them off of the stage. This led to a match between The Outlaws and Funk/Foley at WrestleMania XIV, for the title in a Dumpster match when Funk/Foley beat the New Age Outlaws. The title was held up and put on the line in a Steel Cage match the next night on Raw due to a technicality: the wrong dumpsters had been used in the match. The Outlaws regained the title. He then had a Falls Count Anywhere match with Foley on Raw in 1998, where Foley defeated him.

He left the WWF in the summer as Foley resumed his solo career as Mankind in a feud with The Undertaker. Upon leaving the WWF, Funk officially retired again, but only for a short time. His last match in the WWF at that time was in a tag team match at Fully Loaded, where he teamed up with Bradshaw to go against Scorpio and Faarooq.

Return to ECW and WCW (1998–2000)

At ECW November to Remember, Funk was believed to have been a mystery partner against Justin Credible and Jack Victory. However, the mystery partner turned out to be Jake Roberts. An enraged Funk attacked Dreamer at every opportunity in late 1998 and early 1999. Funk, however, came down ill before they could have a match, and Funk "retired" yet again in mid 1999.

Funk wrestled for World Championship Wrestling in 2000, winning the WCW Hardcore Championship three times (which stands as the company's record) and the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship for the second time (the first time was under the NWA banner). He was also the WCW Commissioner at one time and the leader of the short-lived Old Age Outlaws that feuded with the nWo.

2002–2005

From 2002 to 2004, Funk was a regular top star for Ring of Honor wrestling and Major League Wrestling (MLW) company based out of New York and Florida. Funk had several battles with the likes of CM Punk, the Extreme Horsemen (Steve Corino, C.W. Anderson, Justin Credible and Simon Diamond) in specialty matches such as an Exploding Barbed Wire Death match, Barbed Wire match, and a 5 on 5 WarGames match. On the last MLW show, Funk was attacked by his former manager Gary Hart and his syndicate. In November 2004, Funk competed in the UK wrestling company FWA's main annual show British Uprising. He teamed with Paul Burchill and Paul Travel to face The Triad in a 6-Man Tag Team match. Funk's team emerged victorious in front of a crowd of 2,000 people in the Coventry Skydome.

In 2005, Funk was offered a contract by World Wrestling Entertainment to appear at the ECW reunion show One Night Stand, but turned it down in favor of working the ECW nostalgia show Hardcore Homecoming that was being put together by Shane Douglas. At Hardcore Homecoming, Funk lost a three-way barbed wire match to Sabu.

World Wrestling Entertainment (2006)

Funk was set to wrestle at the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view on June 11, 2006. As part of the buildup to the event, Funk appeared on the May 15 episode of Raw, where he confronted Mick Foley over the attack of Tommy Dreamer the previous week. At One Night Stand, Funk, Tommy Dreamer, and Beulah were defeated by the team of Foley, Edge and Lita. Midway through the match, Foley injured Funk's eye with barbed wire, and Funk was taken backstage. He later returned to the match (with a bloody cloth tied over his eye) to hit Foley with a flaming 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire.

2006–present

Funk then worked some dates on the independent circuit and in Japan. He claimed to be semi-retired after wrestling in his last match in September 2006 against Jerry "The King" Lawler in an Extreme Rules match at The Great Plains Coliseum in Lawton, Oklahoma for the promotion Impact Zone Wrestling. Funk was also the special guest referee during the Raven and Johnny Webb vs. Khan Kussion and Homeless Jimmy match at "Cold Day in Hell" on May 24. On the February 16, 2009 edition of Raw, it was announced that Terry along with his brother Dory would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2009 by Dusty Rhodes. On May 23, 2009, Funk made an unannounced appearance at a house show for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. At the show, Terry joined longtime friend, Mick Foley, as special guest enforcers for a match between Scott Steiner and Samoa Joe. On August 8, Terry made a surprise appearance for Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo Championship Wrestling at the 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos. He served as special guest referee for a match between Viscera and 2 Tuff Tony.

Funk also appeared at the annual NJPW January 4 Dome Show in 2010, teaming with Manabu Nakanishi, Masahiro Chono and Riki Chōshū to defeat Abdullah the Butcher, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano.

Funk was scheduled to be the special guest referee in a match between Kevin Nash and Hannibal for a Great North Wrestling event in May 2010. During the press conference to announce his involvement, an altercation involving Funk and Hannibal damaged and possibly broke his eardrum. On September 11, 2010, at Ring of Honor's Glory By Honor IX, Funk worked as the ringside enforcer for the ROH World Championship match between Tyler Black and Roderick Strong.

Other media

In 1999, Funk was featured in director Barry Blaustein's wrestling documentary, Beyond the Mat. His legendary toughness was attested to in the wrestling documentary when cameramen followed him to a medical appointment where he was told, by the doctor, that he should not even be able to walk without intense pain. He has also appeared in other movies such as Road House, Paradise Alley, The Ringer, and Over the Top. He released an autobiography, Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore, in 2005.

On May 11, 2010, Funk appeared on "Right After Wrestling" with Arda Ocal on SIRIUS Satellite Radio to discuss his possible retirement, to which he replied "I never really truly will retire". This was also the interview with the infamous quote, "I dislike Vince (McMahon). I'm jealous of Vince."

Personal life

Funk married his wife Vicki Ann Weaver on August 14, 1965. Their first of two daughters, Stacy, was born on September 10, 1967, followed by Brandee on September 30, 1971. His younger daughter Brandee was married on August 14, 1993 to Larry Paul Backus.They later divorced, with Brandee remarrying Jason M. Dungan (born 1975). Funk's older daughter Stacy was married on June 23, 1997 to Kelly Don Clenney (born 1969). Their wedding was featured briefly on Barry Blaustein's wrestling documentary, Beyond the Mat. In the film as well Funk is seen with a doctor who tells him he needs a knee replacement. Years later he did have the knee replacement. For many years Terry and Vicki owned a ranch in Canyon, Texas, which they later sold.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

1Funk was named an honorary Lifetime ECW World Heavyweight Champion by Paul Heyman in 1997 due to Funk's contributions to both ECW and Professional Wrestling in general

2Terry Funk's first reign occurred while the promotion was an NWA affiliate named Eastern Championship Wrestling, and was prior to the promotion becoming Extreme Championship Wrestling and the title being declared a world title by ECW. Terry Funk held the title again after these events.

Filmography

  • Movies
    • Paradise Alley (1978)
    • Over the Top (1987)
    • Timestalkers (1987)
    • Road House (1989)
    • Mom, Can I Keep Her? (1998)
    • Active Stealth (1999)
    • Beyond the Mat (1999)
    • Friday Night Lights (2004) (Uncredited role)
    • The Ringer (2005)
    • Holyman Undercover (2010)
  • Television
    • Wildside (1985)
    • Swamp Thing (1991)
    • Quantum Leap (1991)
    • Tequila and Bonetti (1992)
    • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993)
    • Thunder in Paradise (1994)
    • Beyond Belief - Fact or Fiction (1998)

References

External links

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