In the world of professional wrestling, far too many men die entirely too young. Oftentimes that's because they abused their bodies both in and outside of the ring with a physical style of working augmented by steroid abuse and/or drug habits.
But that's not how it is for everyone. On this date in pro wrestling history (June 7, 2006), the industry lost another star, John Tenta, who was best known in his career as Earthquake during his time with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He had been battling bladder cancer for nearly two years.
Tenta was a legitimate freestyle wrestler who became a Canadian junior champion in 1981. He would move on to short lived sumo career before breaking into All-Japan Pro Wrestling and soon thereafter, the WWF. The manner in which he was introduced was brilliant, to say the least.
During a 1989 edition of Superstars of Wrestling, Tenta was put in the crowd as a plant for a later segment, which turned out to be a strength challenge between Dino Bravo and Ultimate Warrior. The competition would involve choosing a "random" member from the audience to come in and sit on each man's back while they did push ups. Whoever did the most wins.
Bravo completed his set but when Warrior attempted to do his, Tenta performed a Seated Senton (which would become his finisher) and they proceeded to destroy Warrior. This begin his push as a monster heel that would ultimately culminate in an angle with Hulk Hogan where he did the very same thing to get Hulkster off television for a while. Once he returned, they did a series of matches starting with Hogan's big return at SummerSlam 1990.
Unfortunately for Tenta, that would prove to be the height of his career, though his tag team with Typhoon to form The Natural Disasters was well generally well received. He would go on to various feuds in WWF before jumping ship to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1994. He made a WWF comeback in 1998 but had lost so much weight they didn't feel they could accurately portray him as Earthquake again and he eventually bounced back out of the company.
During his peak, Tenta was known as a big man who was still fairly athletic and had a solid workrate. He didn't spend a ton of time at the top but he was a memorable character, at the very least.
Plus, his entrance music was awesome.
A few videos to remember him: