can't be an act. That CAN'T be an act. It's either the greatest work in the history of the business, or that man is a little nuts.
Meet the prime minister of hardcore wrestling
"The Hardcore Icon" and "The Funker" Terry Funk
(born Terrence Funk on June 30, 1944) is a semi-retired American Professional Wrestler
who is a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion
, a pioneer of the hardcore style in North America, and one of the ECW
Originals. He also has made appearances in Japan with AJPW
and (around 2011) NJPW
and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW)
, as well as in Puerto Rico with the World Wrestling Council (WWC), the WWWF/WWF/WWE
(both during the later NWA/WCW days and near the end of WCW's run), as well as MLW
, Ring of Honor
, Juggalo Championship Wrestling
, Pro Wrestling Guerilla
He's known as a member of the Funk Wrestling Family
, which includes his late father Dory Funk Sr.
(May 4, 1919 – June 3, 1973) and his older brother Dory Funk Jr.
(born 1941). (As a bonus, Terry and Dory Jr. are the only brothers to date to ever hold the NWA World Heavyweight title.) In addition, there is his acting resume, starting with Paradise Alley
He may not look like much, but he's taken bumps men a third
his age would not consider, let alone attempt. While not quite the living embodiment of hardcore (that would be Abdullah the Butcher
), he ranks pretty close; the Funkasaurus is a walking museum, proselytizing the traditions and heritage of the sport as it originated in mid-20th century fairs. Not surprisingly, he is critical of modern pro wrestling, despite numerous attempts to break into it.
Oh, and too many Ten Minute Retirements
to count. He was last noted to have partnered with Tommy Dreamer
against Sean Waltman
and Lance Storm
in 2013, so he's a Long Runner
"Spinning Trope Hold":
- Affably Evil/Faux Affably Evil: Pre-hardcore years. He is generally very soft-spoken and often comes off as jovial and good natured. Don't be fooled.
- Americans Are Cowboys: Seen throughout the 1970s and 1980s in typical cowboy garb: cowboy hat, poncho, and chaps. He also had his "double-cross" branding iron at times.
- Awesome McCool Name: One of the few pro wrestlers whose actual name makes a fancy stage name redundant.
- Autobiography: 2005's More Than Just Hardcore.
- Ax-Crazy: He wouldn't be Terry Funk without this trope.
- Bash Brothers* Had a massively successfull tag team with his brother Dory Funk Jr.
- Badass Family: He's a Funk, it's a natural
- Badass Grandpa/Cool Old Guy/Ring Oldies: He has been at this since December 9, 1965.
- Berserk Button: In Memphis, he doesn't like sissies. (*cough* Jim Cornette *ahem*)
- Big Word Shout: Yelled out "Son Of A Bitch" at Naohiko Yamazaki for targeting one of his knees at 1999 FMW Judgement Day loud enough to be heard without aid of a mic, while sitting down.
- Blessed with Suck: Being NWA World Heavyweight Champ back in The Seventies meant lots of travel from one territory to another, seven days a week. (This still continued with Ric Flair's NWA World Heavyweight title reigns in the 1980s.) Traveling so much led to...
- Heroic Fatigue: His February 6, 1977 title loss to Harley Race was because of this. He got sick and tired of the travel schedule.
- Blood Knight: In Memphis, aiming straight for Jerry "The King" Lawler.
- Breakup Breakout: Averted. He and Dory Jr. were equally successful, albeit in different ways.
- Broken Record: "JAPAN! NUMBER ONE! NUMBER ONE! FOREVER! AND EVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER! FOREVER!"
- By the Hair: Ignored Naohiko Yamazaki's complaints about such during the Funk Brother match at Judgement Day 99. It's not as if he was going to be disqualified for something so minor in FMW.
- Chainsaw GOOD: As Chainsaw Charlie in the WWF in 1997/1998.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Had a tendency to stab his allies in the back in a second if he thought he wasnt getting what he deserved.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Felt that Memphis fans, wrestling announcer Lance Russell, and Memphis police were all on Jerry Lawler's side in 1981. This led to him challenging Lawler to an Empty Arena Match. (See Eye Scream for the results.)
- Cowboys and Indians: The Cowboys to the "Native Americans" Jack Brisco and Jerry Brisco.
- Defeat by Modesty/Giving Them the Strip: To somebody else. Ripped off Jim Cornette's pants in Memphis in 1983.
- Determinator: During a tag team match in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in 1977, Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik cut up his arms to the point that his brother Dory had to take over against both foreign madmen. Terry rolled out of the ring, got his arms taped up while in the crowd, and came back in the ring to continue the match, which the Funks won by DQ.
- Another time back in Memphis around 1981, and this was after the piece-of-wood-based Eye Scream, he would stop at nothing to get his hands on Lawler.
- Expy: Terryman in Kinnikuman. Terry Boy (aka MEN'S Teioh) in Michinoku Pro Wrestling.
- Eye Scream: Twice, both in 1981. First, the "Empty Arena Match" against Jerry "The King" Lawler: Got himself stabbed in the eye with a piece of broken-off wood. For the second one, which you don't exactly hear him screaming, see Going Native / To Know Him, I Must Become Him below.
- Finishing Move: Spinning Toe Hold, Piledriver, Sleeper, Moonsault
- Forgot Flanders Could Do That: People tend to forget he was a great technical wrestler
- Fun with Acronyms: His FMW Heel faction, Funk Masters of Wrestling.
- Garbage Wrestler: Subverted. Even though he's the Trope Codifier, he was a great technical wrestler during his NWA World Champion days.
- Going Native/To Know Him, I Must Become Him: The "Florida Cracker" promo. In 1981, when he was feuding with Jerry Lawler, this time in Florida, he was saying that Lawler wanted to become a real Floridian (Lawler's from Memphis, Tennessee), "not a transplant". The Funker wanted to know what it'd be like to be a "true Florida cracker". He then really mocks the people of Florida (and what he said was Lawler's desire to become one of them) by dumping Quaker State Super Blend motor oil on his head, upper body, and face, which burns his eyes. (Damn, Terry could've blinded himself right then and there!) He then pours dirt and sand on himself to really drive it home and then wants to challenge Lawler to a loser-gets-covered-in-motor-oil-and-dirt match. (At this point, Terry shuts his eyes tight enough due to the oil burning his eyes. Ouch.)
- What an Idiot: Terry should've worn goggles if he was going to shower himself in oil so he could spare his eyes the pain. Because of the oil not washing out of his hair for several days, his pillow got oil blotches and had to be thrown away, confirmed by Word of God in his 2005 autobiography. Some websites advertising VHS/DVD collections of his matches and promos (with this promo on them) have also said that he had to either cut his hair short or shave it off because the oil wouldn't wash out of it.
- Hair Color Dissonance: Depending on the arena and studio lighting, as well as hair dampness and length, he could either be an Evil Redhead/Fiery Redhead or a brown-brunette.
- Heroic Second Wind: He's gotten so fired up he's grabbed and almost struck the head of his own tag team partner and brother Dory, but managed to calm back down before the mistake could be made.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Earned some financial success by pulling out of the business side of wrestling at least twice: he sold the Amarillo NWA territory before cable TV killed the territory system, and decades later sold his stock in WWE just before the value plunged due to the WWE Network's slower than anticipated growth.
- Lampshade Hanging: At ECW Ultra Clash 1993, Terry Funk and Stan Hansen faced Kevin Sullivan and "The Madman from the Sudan" Abdullah the Butcher in a "Bunkhouse Match." The match went to a DQ when "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, who had left the company the night before and announced his "retirement," interfered and attacked Funk. Joey Styles explained that in Eastern Championship Wrestling, which it was called back then, you can use weapons but can not have outside interference. Eventually, ECW got rid of the "no outside interference" rule.
- Laughing Mad: At the end of his "Florida Cracker" promo in 1981.
- Mark of Shame: The "branding iron" aspect of his mid-1980s WWF "evil cowboy" gimmick, wherein he'd take said object and stamp his hapless opponent in the back, with the jobber selling it as though he was legitimately being branded with a hot iron.
- Older Hero VS Younger Villain: The older hero to the younger villain Raven in the original ECW.
- Other Cities in Texas: Billed from Amarillo, Texas. Subverted in that he was born in Hammond, Indiana.
- Playing with Fire: Used a flaming branding iron as a weapon in ECW and MLW. In fact, the Funkin' Army (Terry/the Sandman/Dr. Death Steve Williams/Sabu/Bill Alfonso) defeated the Extreme Horsemen (Steve Corino/C.W. Anderson/Simon Diamond/PJ Walker [Justin Credible]/Barry Windham) in the War Games match at MLW War Games when Funk burned Corino with the branding iron and forced him to submit to the Spinning Toe Hold.
- Power Stable:
- The Royal Family (in Florida led by "King" James Dillon [JJ Dillon])
- The J-Tex Corporation (led by "Playboy" Gary Hart in NWA/WCW in 1989-1990)
- F.I.T.E. (in SMW led by Jim Cornette)
- The Stud Stable (in WCW in 1994 led by Col. Robert Parker)
- (see Fun with Acronyms above)
- On the January 10, 2000 WCW Monday Nitro, Funk, then the WCW Commissioner, came together with Arn Anderson, Paul Orndorff and Larry Zbyszko as The Old Age Outlaws. It didn't even last a week, since Kevin Nash beat Funk for the "Commissionership" that Sunday at the Souled Out 2000 pay-per-view.
- Real Song Theme Tune:
- Red Baron: "Terrible" when he started with the WWF in 1985/1986, "The Funker" and "The Hardcore Legend" from the 1990s to today.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red Oni to his Blue Oni brother Dory Funk Jr. You should only need one match, preferably after both of their NWA World title reigns, to see who was what half of this trope.
- The Rival: Ric Flair, the Briscos (especially when Terry teamed with Dory Jr.), Dusty Rhodes, and Jerry Lawler.
- Screw the Rules! This Is Going To Be Huge!: His promo about the new wrestling company "The FFF: Funk, Funk and Florida!" in Championship Wrestling from Florida in 1987. He and Dory Funk Jr. didn't have millions of dollars to throw around or 220 syndicated stations, but they were the best athletes. (He then proceeds to rip into Blackjack Mulligan, Mike Rotunda aka IRS, Kevin Sullivan, and Dusty Rhodes. Oh, and he also said that Oliver North -- and this was after the Iran-Contra Affair broke out -- wouldn't take a chance on either Terry or Dory!)
- Again, the YouTube link to the promo isn't provided here because WWE owns the footage. Go to YouTube and search for "Epic Terry Funk Promo" to find it on there.
- The Southpaw
- Talk Show with Fists: Funk's Grill in WCW, circa 1989/1990.
- Tareme Eyes: More squinted than doe-eyed, but he does have pretty droopy (around the outer corners), sad-looking eyes.
- 10-Minute Retirement: To elaborate, his first retirement was in 1983 in All Japan Pro Wrestling. A more well-known retirement match was in 1997 against Bret Hart, documented in Beyond The Mat, which had been broken during the film's editing. As of 2013, due to finally getting knee replacement surgery (which was recommended on camera in Beyond the Mat), it looks like he might finally be unable to get back in the ring, though he might still do it for a ridiculous amount of money.
- Theatrics Of Pain: His selling grew more exaggerated and over-the-top as he got older. He is noted for his unusual psychology when selling: Unlike most wrestlers who simply act hurt, Funk often asks for mercy or help from opponents by name. This is showcased in the Empty Arena match against Jerry Lawler - after sustaining his eye injury, Funk veers between calling Lawler a "Yellow Bastard" and begging him for assistance.
- Unfortunate Names: His last name is one letter away from being one of George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Television. (Does the interchangeable letter need to be noted here?) It doesn't help that a nickname for the Funking Conservatory (Dory Jr's wrestling school) is "Funk U".
- Unrelated Brothers: Both straight with Jimmy Jack Funk (Jesse Barr, son to wrestler and promoter Sandy Barr, older brother to WCW and AAA wrestler Art Barr) in Rock 'N' Wrestling Era WWF and averted with Real Life brother Dory Funk Jr.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Mick Foley. If they're working at the same promotion at the same time, they'll have brutal matches against each other and team up in a short span of time.
- Vocal Dissonance: A crazy-as-hell Texan with a soft-spoken voice. Yeah, he'll scream, but he does start his promos off like a Southern gentleman.
- Wrestling Doesn't Pay: His forays into acting, which afford him health insurance by way of the Screen Actors' Guild.
- You Don't Look Like You: Fans might have trouble believing that the clean-shaven, curly haired NWA World champion of the late 70s is in fact Terry Funk.