Gowen's left leg was amputated when he was eight years old. He was the only one-legged competitor in professional wrestling before former US Army veteran Chris Melendez became a wrestler.
Gowen was diagnosed with cancer as a child, and as a result lost his left leg due to amputation at the age of eight. He was a fan of professional wrestling from a young age, and cites Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio as two of his favorite wrestlers.
Professional wrestling career
After being trained by Truth Martini, Gowen made his professional wrestling debut on March 16, 2002, in a loss to Martini. While training Gowen made the decision to wrestle without his prostethetic leg as he found it difficult to wrestle with the "dead weight". Gowen won his first title on August 17 when he teamed with Kamikaze to win the IWR Tag Team Championship but would lose them back Anthony Rivera & Truth Martini the next day. Gowen first gained national exposure wrestling for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling during early 2003 under the name Tenacious Z, but soon left TNA, after signing a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
World Wrestling Entertainment (2003–2004)
He made his World Wrestling Entertainment debut on the May 15, 2003 episode of SmackDown! as a planted fan in the audience, who attempted to help Mr. America when he was being attacked by Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire. During the segment, Piper pulled off Gowen's prosthetic leg. This began a short collaboration of Gowen and Mr. America, and a feud pitting the two against Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire. This storyline culminated at the Judgment Day pay-per-view when Mr. America, accompanied by Gowen, defeated Piper, who was accompanied by O'Haire.
Gowen's partnership with Mr. America put him on bad terms with Mr. McMahon, as McMahon was convinced Mr. America was Hulk Hogan in disguise. On the June 26 episode of SmackDown!, McMahon told Gowen that if he would join his "Kiss My Ass Club", he would be awarded a WWE contract. Instead Gowen attacked McMahon. As a result, Gowen and Stephanie McMahon were put in a match against The Big Show, in what McMahon billed as the first "real" handicap match (referring to Gowen and his amputee status in addition to the two vs. one parameters of the match). With help from both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, Gowen and Stephanie McMahon defeated the Big Show, winning Gowen a contract. Gowen's win further fueled the ill-feelings toward him from Mr. McMahon. This feud culminated in a one-on-one match between the two at Vengeance in which McMahon defeated Gowen.
Gowen then lost several singles matches to wrestlers including Shannon Moore, Nunzio, and John Cena, with Gowen being attacked by Matt Hardy, Moore's mentor, following each loss. The storyline was cut short on the August 21 episode of SmackDown, when Gowen defeated Brock Lesnar by disqualification after Lesnar broke Gowen's leg in storyline. The following week, Lesnar threw Gowen down a flight of stairs.
Gowen was absent from television for nearly a month, returning in an interview on the October 2 episode of SmackDown promoting his in-ring return for the following week. In his in-ring return, Gowen lost to Moore following interference from Hardy, reigniting their feud. As a result, Gowen and Hardy faced off in a singles match at the No Mercy pay-per-view, which Gowen won. On the October 23 episode of SmackDown, Gowen lost to Tajiri in a singles match, and afterward was attacked by two of Tajiri's associates and was legitimately knocked unconscious. Gowen did not return to WWE television due to suffering an injury, and was later released from his WWE contract on February 4, 2004.
Independent circuit (2004–present)
Following his release from WWE, Gowen decided to focus on his education and work limited professional wrestling dates. Gowen returned to the independent circuit on February 13, 2004 where he lost of triple threat match to Chris Sabin which also included Jimmy Jacobs. He appeared for several independent promotions, including Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South (IWA Mid-South) where he played the character of an egotistcal heel (villain). Gowen was part of the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup in 2004. He also wrestled in Canada for the first time in 2004 for Border City Wrestling. On September 24, 2005, Gowen defeated Truth Martini for the IWR King Of The Indies Championship but would lose it back to him only 35 days later. In June 2006, for AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined, Gowen and Jimmy Jacobs participated in a tag team tournament and made the finals before losing to Dan Lawrence and Ryan Boz.
On June 14, Gowen won Twin Wrestling Entertainment's Nacho Cup. In February 2007, Gowen won the CAPW Junior Heavyweight Championship and lost it in May to Super Hentai. In All American Wrestling, he is also a part of the "Michigan Invasion" heel stable (along with fellow Michigan wrestlers Truth Martini, "Amazing" N8 Mattson, Eddie Venom and Brian Gorie). On April 14, 2007, Gowen and his mystery partner Krotch defeated "Michigan Invasion" members Truth Martini and "Amazing" N8 Mattson to become new AAW Tag Team Champions. They then lost the championship to Trik Davis and Conrad Kennedy III in a four-way elimination match on June 16, 2007. Starting on September 19, Gowen made his first tour of Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling which ended on November 18.
Gowen debuted for Xtreme Intense Championship Wrestling in 2008 and would eventually become the XICW Light Heavyweight Champion on February 22, 2009. A week later he also won the 3XWrestling Heavyweight Championship but lost it on the same night to the former champion Casanova. Gowen got to the semi final of the Malcolm Monroe Memorial Tournament 2009 but lost to Necro Butcher.
In mid-2012 Gowen debuted in Cleveland-based Prime Wrestling teaming with another handicapped wrestler, Gregory Iron. They would face off against The Dead Wrestling Society (Krimson and Kirst) for the Prime Wrestling Tag Team Championships, but would be unsuccessful as the match would end as a no contest after Iron was powerbombed by Kirst on his head, knocking him out. At the next Prime TV taping he wrestled Kirst but lost after Iron attacked Kirst. After the match, Gowen turned on Iron and joined forces with the Sons of Michigan. At Prime Wrestling's 5th Annual Wrestlelution internet pay-per-view, Gowen would take on Gregory Iron with the Sons Of Michigan at his side. Gowen though, would be defeated by Iron. After the match, Gowen turn on N8 Mattson, re-aligning himself with Iron.
Continuing on as a tag team in Prime Wrestling, Gowen and Iron would call themselves "The Handicapped Handguns". The two would defeat The Dead Wrestling Society in January 2013 to become the Prime Tag Team Champions. In March, both Gowen and Iron came to an agreement to change their tag team name to the "Handicapped Heroes" mainly due to the amount of school shootings that occurred earlier in the year for they did not want to promote any form of violence. The next month, Gowen would be kicked-out of a show in the famous Agora Theatre and Ballroom by Prime Wrestling Commissioner, Vic Travagliante. This would leave Iron to defend the tag titles on his own, allowing him to be defeated by The Brotherhood of Mushtachioed Brawlers.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2005-2006)
Gowen returned to TNA on May 15, 2005 at their Hard Justice pay-per-view event, as the second entrant in the 20-Man Gauntlet for the Gold match. He lasted just under five minutes in the ring before being eliminated by Shark Boy. The next month, Gowen wrestled at the Slammiversary pay-per-view, losing in a six way match. He also appeared on TNA Impact!, wrestling Mikey Batts to a no contest before leaving the promotion once again later that year. In October 2006, at Bound For Glory, Gowen returned to TNA during the Kevin Nash X-Division Open Battle Royal Gauntlet match as the sixth entrant, but was eliminated by Johnny Devine.
Ring of Honor (2006, 2008, 2010)
Gowen made his Ring of Honor (ROH) debut on October 7, 2006, losing to Delirious in a singles match. Gowen would later return to ROH on February 22, 2008 in Deer Park, New York, immediately aligning himself with The Age of the Fall. On November 12, 2010, he appeared at an ROH show in Detroit, where he was announced as the newest member of Truth Martini's House of Truth faction. He teamed with ROH World Champion Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin in a loss to the Briscoe Brothers and Christopher Daniels. After a tag team loss to Grizzly Redwood and Bobby Dempsey at the following day's event in Toronto, Elgin and Martini turned on Gowen and kicked him out of the House of Truth.
Juggalo Championship Wrestling (2007–2008; 2011–present)
Gowen debuted in Juggalo Championship Wrestling as a part of their 2007 internet wrestling show SlamTV!. Initially a villain, his hard work ethic and wrestling abilities earned him the respect of the juggalo audience, per storyline. Following a failed attempt to win the JCW Heavyweight Championship from then-champion Trent Acid, Gowen formed the tag team Pimp & Gimp Connection with Human Tornado. The team made an immediate impact and earned themselves a spot in the 8 Team Tag-Team Elimination match for the JCW Tag Team Championship at Bloodymania. They failed to capture the championship after Gowen was eliminated by Doug Basham.
In the following season, Zach formed a tag team with Conrad Kennedy to compete in the JCW Tag Team Tournament for the vacant championship. Tornado, though, saw villainous manager Scott D'Amore leaving Kennedy's dressing room and grew suspicious. Two weeks later, Kennedy attacked Gowen after the team lost their match against The Bloody Brothers. Human Tornado ran into the ring to save Gowen, forcing Kennedy to retreat to the stage, where Scott D'Amore met with him. The following week, a match was set for Bloodymania II between Pimp & Gimp Connection and Conrad Kennedy with a mystery partner. The match, however, was scrapped after Gowen legitimately no-showed the event.
Zach returned to the company on March 23, 2011, where he defeated Jimmy Jacobs. He formed a tag team at Up in Smoke with U-Gene, who believed that he could be Gowen's second leg. Though U-Gene cost his team the match by distracting the referee, Gowen forgave him and announced that the team would wrestle again at the next event. On July 28, Gowen and U-Gene defeated the Ring Rydas to win the JCW Tag Team Championship. However, Gowen forfeited the championship after realizing that U-Gene cheated to win, causing U-Gene to attack him and disband the team. Both men wrestled each other at Bloodymania 5, with Gowen emerging victorious after U-Gene was caught cheating again.
Gowen attended Eastern Michigan University where he studied Secondary Education and Mathematics.
- Finishing and signature moves
- One-Legged Figure Four Leglock
- One-Legged Moonsault
- One-Legged Dropkick
- One-Legged Suicide Dive Attack
- "Tenacious Z"
- Tag teams and stables
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
- 3XW Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- CAPW Junior Heavyweight Champion (1 time)