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Wrestling / Antonino Rocca

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Trained by the Polish strongman Stanislaus Zbyszko in Argentina, Antonino Biasetton (13 April 1921 15 March 1977) was an Italian-Argentinian Professional Wrestler who competed from 1942-1976 as Antonino Rocca. He is best known for his work for the Capital Wrestling Corporation, which was the precursor to WWE. He was a major box office draw for the New York City territory. He also competed in Montreal, Ohio, Texas, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico, where he finished out his career. Among his in-ring achievements, he was a 1x World (Capitol) Tag Team Champion, a 1x World (Montreal) Heavyweight Champion, a 2x NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion and a 1x WWC North American Tag Team Champion.

He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.

"Argentinian Tropes":

  • Agony of the Feet: His lack of boots sometimes backfired on Rocca, such as when Karl Von Hess got out of a double leg lock by biting the side of Rocca's foot.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: Rocca would sometimes raise a leg and make a kicking motion in an attempt to intimidated or mislead his opponents.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.
  • Bash Brothers: With Jose Miguel Perez.
  • Carpet of Virility: Not as much as Miguel Perez, but Rocca still had a famously bushing chest. And to fan delight, Perez reduced his body hair to the amount Rocca had while they tagged together.
  • Cool Teacher: He trained George Espada of the Silver Angels tag team.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: No one managed to take the World (Capitol) Tag Team Championship off of him and Jose Miguel Perez.
  • Demoted to Extra: He eventually left New York after being kicked down the card in favor of Natural Guy Buddy Rogers, who was then fed to Bruno Sammartino.
  • Face: The defining example of his era. His primary concern was entertaining the fans, and thus he would rarely try to win matches quickly and would often showboat. However, if the opponent insisted on being nasty Rocca would set about breaking their legs, faces and or backs to the best of his ability.
  • Hero of Another Story: His time in Rikidozan's JWA while still taking bookings as a wrestler outside of Japan. He was the inspiration for Antonio Inoki's ring name and also refereed for New Japan Pro-Wrestling after it and All Japan Pro Wrestling split JWA in two between Inoki and Giant Baba.
  • I Have Many Names: He was sometimes introduced as "Argentina" Rocca.
  • Legacy Character: Antonio Inoki named himself for Rocca.
  • Murderous Thighs: He had a version of the victory roll that put his opponent on their back but landing with Rocca applying a read head scissors submission hold instead of a pin cover.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He loved Opera and reportedly could sing it as well. In turn Italian maestro Arturo Toscanin was not just a professional wrestling fan but a close personal friend of Rocca's.
  • Red Baron: An announcer in Chicago tried to get "South American Cheetah" over.
  • Retired Badass: Even after he stopped wrestling he hung around the WWWF as a commentator and referee.
  • She-Fu: He could wrestle as well on his hands, knees, ass or elbows as well as he could simply standing. Usually his acrobatics transitioned into moves somehow, but sometimes Rocca would do cartwheels for no other reason than to show off.
  • Signature Move: He was know for applying an Indian death lock, and then doing a headstand while maintaining a knee spreader and kicking the opponent in the face upside down... or toe trusting them in the abdominal region rapidly as if he was riding a bicycle. A handstand head scissors take down was a favorite of his for opponents in the corner. He also had a standing cross legged ankle scissors around the head of an opponent on his back. Also, the classic airplane spin since Rocca did not get dizzy easily.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: He headlined every single main event in Madison Square garden for seven straight years, though he often shared the spotlight with other people. Probably justified, as he did bring wrestling back to the garden and was largely responsible for making the New York territory profitable again after Jack Pfefer had sabotaged it.
  • Start My Own: The World Booking Office, his very own wrestling promotion that was propped up by Jim Crockett.
  • Tag Team: His tag team with Miguel Perez is one of the top two contenders for the most successful one out of the United States, ever. No other team was a top draw for as long and none drew as much money in the United States. The Road Warriors are comparable, if one counts the money they drew overseas, but besides not all being in the US Hawk and Animal tagged with people besides each other like Kensuke Sasaki and Hawk had a single's run in Germany, so it's not fair to say Hawk and Animal drew it all as a tag team.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Italian-Argentinian
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: He starred in the comic book Downfall of Superman and was the cause of it, using his superior wrestling ability. "Antonino" and "Superman" were actually other men in disguises.
  • Underwear of Power: Typically wrestled in black trunks
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Rocca would proceed his leg picks and take downs with several different rolls towards the opponent.
  • Ur-Example: Responsible for introducing the fast, high-flying style to wrestling, including the dropkick, cross body and huracanrana, though the drop kick is disputed by "Jumping Joe" Savoldi, and Abe Coleman, who both claim to have based their versions off of kangaroos, and the Huracanrana is disputed by Huracan Ramirez. Rocca also innovated the Argentine back breaker.