Follow TV Tropes


Wrestling / Jesse Ventura

Go To

"My governor can beat up your governor"
— T-shirt popular during his term as governor of Minnesota.

James George Janos (born July 15, 1951 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American retired professional wrestler, actor, politician and broadcasting personality from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He performed in the American Wrestling Association and the WWF under the name Jesse "The Body" Ventura, a Heel, from the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s, when he had to leave the ring due to blood clots in his lungs (which he claimed were the effects of exposure to Agent Orange). At that point, he took up color commentary with both the WWF and WCW. He also competed in the NWA Central States territory in Kansas City, NWA Pacific Northwest Wrestling in Portland, OR and NWA Hawaiʻi. .

In 1987, Ventura appeared alongside fellow future governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. Ventura and Schwarzenegger would also appear together in The Running Man and Batman & Robin. In the same year as Predator, Ventura made a guest appearance on Small Wonder; he also appeared in the famous The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's from Outer Space".

He was elected mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 1990, serving from 1991 to 1995. In 1998, he successfully ran for the office of governor of Minnesota, serving from January 1999 to January 2003. He ran as a member of the Reform Party, Ross Perot's short-lived political party. note . This was the first such occurrence in modern political history.

In late 2003, Ventura hosted a show on MSNBC called Jesse Ventura's America. In 2004, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He returned to broadcasting in 2009 with Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.

As for his in-ring achievements, he is a former AWA World Tag Team Champion with Adrian Adonis, a former 2x NWA PNW Heavyweight Champion, a 5x NWA PNW Tag Team Champion (2x w/"Playboy" Buddy Rose, 2x w/Bull Ramos and 1x w/Jerry Oates), a 1x NWA Central States Tag Team Champion with Tank Patton, a 2x Southern (Memphis) Heavyweight Champion and a 1x NWA Hawaii Tag Team Champion with Steve Strong (better known as Steve DiSalvo.)

His life resembles that of Mike Haggar. No relation to Ace Ventura.

"These tropes ain't got time to bleed":

  • And This Is for...: When Ventura threw Shane McMahon out of the ring at SummerSlam 1999, he (in)famously shouted, "That's for your old man, you little bastard!"
  • Appropriated Appellation: As governor of Minnesota, he handed out media badges labeled "Media Jackal". These quickly became a hot commodity.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: A key part of his victory in the gubernatorial election was a combination of Minnesota's same-day voter registration laws and campaign workers accosting young men in the street and saying, more or less, "Hey, you! Jesse Ventura is running for governor! You want to vote for him?" "Hell, yeah!" After the election, his office printed up t-shirts that were just an outline of Minnesota, with the words "My governor can beat up your governor."
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Okay, so he was a wrestler before becoming a governor, but still. One example of him being this while being governor is his role as ref during the 1999 SummerSlam main event.
    [After literally throwing out Shane McMahon for interfering] That's for your old man, you little bastard!
  • Because I Said So: During the Team Strike Forcenote -Team Hart Foundationnote  match at Survivor Series 1987, he and Gorilla Monsoon got into an argument over the pronunciation of Islander Tama's name.
    "Tama, Toma, it's Toma if I say it's Toma."
  • Berserk Button: Increasingly, lately—seemingly just for someone daring to challenge him confidently on an issue. Could be an act, though.
    • Crossed with Serious Business: He really didn't like people calling him racist for calling Koko B. Ware "Buckwheat" on commentary, to the point that he actually once slipped into the Face locker room to ask Koko if it was okay for him to say that. He claims Koko told him, "Body, you say anything you want about me because anytime you talk about me, I make money."
  • Blatant Lies: His claims about having "hunted men." Ventura never saw combat in Vietnam, though he frequently claims otherwise. Although he frequently claims to have been a Navy SEAL, he was instead a member of an Underwater Demolition Team on active duty (the two had the same training pipeline (the infamous BUD/S course), but SEALs were combatants and frogmen by and large weren't), and only served in SEAL Team One as a reservist, after Vietnam was over and reservists were never called up in any case.
  • Catchphrase:
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Some people see him as this in light of the conspiracy theories he espouses on his TV show about them.
  • The Confidant: He was on commentary with Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino on the May 30 (taped May 12), 1987 WWF Superstars. There was a tag match with The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) vs. The Islanders (Haku and Tama). Vince talked about how Bobby Heenan was going to reveal a new tag team, with Jesse laughing, since he clearly knew something Vince and Bruno didn't. Of course, Heenan came out and distracted the Can-Ams, leading to them losing by countout, and the Islanders and the Brain embraced, turning them heel. Jesse said that he knew ahead of time.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: To the point that he made a TV show about them, Conspiracy Theory. For a time, he was one of the most vocal proponents of the 9/11 conspiracy theory.
  • Cool Old Guy: If you think putting a wrestler in the White House would be cool, Ventura thinks there should probably be one in there. People have said they'd like to see him run for it, even people who wouldn't vote for him.
  • Dented Iron: Blood clots in his lungs forced Ventura into retirement. To this day he's still on blood-thinners.
  • Dirty Coward: Allergic to direct confrontation in the ring, even from much smaller or non malicious "adversaries".
  • Expansion Pack Past: Navy SEAL (technically, UDT, or Underwater Demolition Team, which merged with the SEALs after he left), bodyguard for The Rolling Stones, member of the outlaw motorcycle gang "The Mongols"...
  • Expy: The bleach-blond locks, wild facial hair and colorful outfits he wore as a wrestler (and later as a commentator) were clearly influenced by "Superstar" Billy Graham. As a commentator, Ventura would lampshade this by claiming Graham stole HIS look.
  • Finishing Move: Overhead gutwrench backbreaker rack.
  • Glass Cannon: Very strong, but, in his manager "Classy" Freddie Blassie's autobiography Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks!, he said, "Jesse couldn't take the bumps."
  • Gorgeous George: Less camp than most examples, but Ventura's wrestling attire included tie-dyed tights, feathered boas and lots of rhinestones, with one of those rhinestones in the cleft of his chin.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Weightlifting powder.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: He'd end editions of "The Body Shop" with "The pleasure was all yours."
  • Heel: Braggart turned coward at the slightest sign of trouble
  • It's Personal: Genuinely hates Hulk Hogan because Hulk "stooged" him to Vince over Jesse's idea to unionize the WWF.note 
  • Jerk Jock: For all of the Gorgeous George aestetics of his wrestling persona, it also had shades of this.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: His motivation for running for mayor.
  • Malicious Misnaming: During his run as heel commentator in the WWF, has often called several face wrestlers disparaging names to help put them over. Most notable are Hulk Hogan (whom he's called "Chump" Hogan) and Tito Santana (nee "Chico" Santana). Santana remarked about this once in his biography, saying in fact that he encouraged Ventura the two shared mutual respect for one another to refer to him as "Chico" to help boost his popularity.
  • No Indoor Voice: Always manages to sound kinda...forceful, whatever he says.
  • The Peter Principle: He may have been able to serve well as Mayor of Brooklyn Park, but he was far less competent serving as Governor, when his forceful personality and tendency to grandstand alienated him from the legislature and press.
  • Power Stable:
    • (in Central States): Robley's Army
    • (in Memphis): The First Family, led by Jimmy Hart
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: As an on-camera interviewer, Jesse had a habit of mouthing the lines of pro wrestlers as he questioned them, feigning shock over a revelation he'd already whispered to himself.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wore extremely color outfits as a wrestler and a commentator, including a pink suit! He also wore feather boas regularly.
  • Retired Badass: Sports and politics.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
  • Sore Loser: Assaulted and put Precious Paul Ellering on a stretcher for beating him in a dead lifting contest back in the AWA.
  • Stealth Insult: When Jesse would claim to be better than "Superstar" Billy Graham, someone would often point out that Graham is a former World Champion while Jesse wasn't. Jesse would usually respond with, "He beat an easy champion!" Graham beat Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Title.
  • Tag Team:
    • The East-West Connection, with Adrian Adonis
    • The Far East-West Connection, with Mr. Saito
    • The Younger Generation, with "Playboy" Buddy Rose
  • Talk Show with Fists: "The Body Shop"
  • Testosterone Poisoning: All the memes and bragging about his being tough can easily come across this way...
  • Theatrics of Pain: He sold lifting weights as a dreadfully painful experience, which is pretty ironic, considering he's "the body" and all.
  • Unbuilt Trope: As the first widely regarded heel announcer, Ventura was very nuanced. He would root for the heels but acknowledge and point out mistakes they would make in the ring. Even while rooting for the heels, he would still give credit where credit was due and praise babyface wrestlers such as Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage for their athleticism and wrestling ability.
  • Unperson: His commentary is often edited out of DVDs released by WWE. Subverted later with box sets and shows on the WWE Network. The reason for the edits is because Ventura won a lawsuit after leaving the WWE where he gets royalties for any broadcasts, videos, etc. that use his commentary.
  • Ur-Example: Ventura is generally credited as the first heel announcer.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ventura's broadcast partnership with Gorilla Monsoon played out like this.
  • Warrior Poet: Ventura was known for dressing like a beatnik in his wrestling days.