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Wrestling / John Tenta

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John Anthony Tenta Jr. (June 22, 1963 – June 7, 2006) was a Canadian sumo and Professional Wrestler best known for his work in WWE from 1989-1994 as Earthquake.

Prior to his pro wrestling career, Tenta was sumo wrestler in Japan, active from November 1985 to July 1986. Known as Kototenzan, he racked up 24 consecutive wins, attained the rank of makushita, and earned considerable press coverage in Japan and abroad as the first Canadian rikishi. He retired after a career of only eight months because the arduous training and lifestyle of sumo, and instead switched to pro wrestling.

Tenta made his in-ring debut in All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987 under his own name, and also competed in the Universal Wrestling Alliance promotion in British Columbia, Canada. As Earthquake, he had significant singles feuds with Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. In summer 1991, he teamed regularly in six-man tag team matches with The Nasty Boys (Jerry Saggs and Bryan Knobbs) against Tugboat (Fred Ottman) and The Bushwhackers (Luke and Butch), until the June 15 (taped May 28) episode of WWF Superstars, which featured Ottman turning heel, leading to him being reintroduced as Typhoon and he and Quake forming the Tag Team The Natural Disasters the following week.

The Disasters feuded with the Legion of Doom over the WWE World Tag Team Titles. The Disasters turned face after their manager "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart sided with Money Inc. ("The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiasenote  and Irwin R. Schyster) after they defeated the LOD for the belts. The Disasters defeated Money Inc. for the belts in a dark (non-televised) match on July 20 in Worcester, MA, at a taping for the August 8th episode of WWF Superstars. Money Inc. regained the belts on the November 1 (taped October 13) episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge. They also defeated George and Shunji Takano for the SWS (Super World Sports in Japan) Tag Team Titles on April 17, 1992, losing them to the Natural Powers (King Haku and Yoshiaki Yatsu) the next day. During a break from WWE in 1993, he went back to Japan to compete for the WAR (Wrestle Association R) promotion, usually wrestling with or against King Haku and made some appearances for West Coast Championship Wrestling in British Columbia and for CMLL.

He returned to WWE in January 1994 and left after being Kayfabe injured by Yokozuna. He went back to WAR and also teamed with Super (Big Van) Vader for two matches for the "shoot-style" UWFi (Union of Wrestling Forces International) promotion before debuting in WCW as Avalanche at WCW Halloween Havoc 1994. After an unsuccessful run there from October 1994 to early 1997, he resurfaced in WWE in May 1998 as the masked Golga of The Oddities.

Tenta died of bladder cancer in 2006, after having experienced a new wave of online support via his friendship with WrestleCrap founder R.D. Reynolds. Reynolds's tribute to Tenta can be found here.

Not to be confused with the movie Earthquake.

The following tropes register a 10.0 on the Richter Scale:

  • Acrofatic: Not as obvious as some examples, but Earthquake was surprisingly agile for a man his size and had amazing conditioning. He was one of very few big men who could give a post-match interview without panting so hard he could barely talk.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: John said he enjoyed his time as Golga, even though he believed the character was supposed to be punishment because he had jumped to WCW.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Of himself as Avalanche in WCW
  • Animal Motif: As the Shark of the Dungeon of Doom in WCW
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Of, well, an earthquake. For a time, his ring gear featured a design that resembled a Richter scale's wavelength.
  • Arch-Enemy: (as Quake): Hogan, Warrior and Jake were easily his biggest feuds.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: He would drag his thumb across his throat and do the "tremors," where he jumps up and down a few times around his opponent before going into the Finishing Move. See below.
  • Ass Kicks You: His finisher as Earthquake (later used as Avalanche in WCW and again in WWE as Golga), the Earthquake Splash, consisted of him running off the ropes, leaping a not unimpressive for his size distance into the air, then come crashing down ass first onto his victim's chest.
  • Bash Brothers: With the Great Kabuki, Dino Bravo, Typhoon, Genichiro Tenryu
  • Bear Hug: As Quake, he'd use it to wear down his opponents.
  • Beard of Evil:
  • The Brute: Earthquake was this to Jimmy Hart. A lot of Earthquake's wrestling revolved around him simply brutalizing his opponents with sheer power, using everything from bearhugs to clotheslines to his Earthquake Splash finisher.
  • Canada, Eh?:
  • Circus of Fear:
    • The Oddities' original Heel carnival sideshow gimmick.
    • The Jackyl Lampshaded any similarities between the gimmick and the movie Freaks during the Golga-Thrasher match that marked its debut when he, on commentary, said, "These people are normal compared to people like you (Michael Cole) and Jim Ross."
  • Collegiate American Football: Competed in this at Louisiana State University after the school dropped the wrestling program to comply with Title IX.
  • Companion Cube: Crossed with a Shout-Out: Golga regularly carried around a stuffed Cartman doll. He sometimes wore Cartman T-shirts as well.
  • Cool Mask: Averted, as his Golga mask was meant to be scary, as it was covering up a physical deformity.
  • Could Have Been A Contender: Probably could have been a very successful sumo, but tattoos in Japan are associated with Yakuza, and he was told he'd have to get his removed to advance any further.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Was undefeated in Sumo.
    • Never pinned as Earthquake on PPV. In fact, was only ever pinned twice on PPV in his entire career. Sting/Randy Savage d. Avalanche/Big Bubba at WCW SuperBrawl V, February 19, 1995, when Sting pinned him. The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) d. The Oddities (Kurrgan and Golga, w/The Giant Silva and Luna Vachon) at WWF Rock Bottom, December 13, 1998, when Mosh pinned him.
    • While not on the level of The Undertaker's streak, was undefeated at WrestleMania during his original run.
      • Quake (w/Jimmy Hart) d. Hercules, WMVI. 1-0.
      • Quake (w/Jimmy Hart) d. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, WMVII. 2-0.
      • The Natural Disasters d. WWE World Tag Team Champions Money Inc. ("The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) (w/Jimmy Hart) by countout, WMVIII. 3-0.
      • Quake d. Adam Bomb (wHarvey Wippleman) in 32 seconds, WMX. 4-0.note  His only WM loss came when Tugboat eliminated him from the Gimmick Battle Royalnote  at WMXVII.
  • Enemy Mine: In battle royals, since it would usually take several guys teaming up to eliminate him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Made his first TV appearance on the November 11 (taped October 2), 1989 WWF Superstars, which was taped at the Civic Center in Wheeling, WV, as a "fan" picked from the audience named "John." "Canada's Strongest Man" Dino Bravo (w/manager "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart) was doing a "Test of Strength" demonstration, with the idea that "John" would sit on Bravo's back while he did push-ups, which he did.WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion the Ultimate Warrior walked down to the ring and offered to do some push-ups with "John" sitting on his back as well. "John" then hit a sit-down splash on Warrior's back, and he and Bravo double-teamed him. He was officially introduced as Earthquake on the November 18 (taped October 31) WWF Superstars.
  • Finishing Move: (As Earthquake/Avalanche/Golga): The Earthquake Splash (though it was never called by that name under those other two gimmicks; even as Quake, announcer Vince McMahon would sometimes just call it "The Big One"; WCW called it the "Avalanche Drop"); (As the Shark) Shark Attack (running clothesline)
  • Good Is Not Soft: On April 1, 1991, WWE and SWS (Super World Sports in Japan) held a joint card at the Coliseum in Kobe, Japan. Earthquake was scheduled to face Koji Kitao, a legitimate Sumo yokozuna (Grand Champion, not to be confused with the WWE character played by Rodney Anoai from 1992-1996) who had gone into pro wrestling. The match never really got started because Kitao refused to cooperate, left the ring and picked up a microphone to say (in Japanese) how the match was fake and there was no way Quake (who went undefeated in Sumo under the name Kototenzan [Japanese for "Heavenly Mountain Harp"] but was not ranked as highly as Kitao was) could beat him in a real fight. Quake, with support from the Great Kabuki (who had a grudge with Kitao and incited Tenta to shoot on him if he gave him the opportunity), did not back down.
  • Happy Dance: Once the Insane Clown Posse joined the Oddities, and contributed their theme song ("Oddities," which can be found on WWF The Music: Volume 3), the whole group could be counted on to dance around before matches and again after they won.
  • Hard Head: Golga would bang his head against the top turnbuckle with no effect.
  • I Have Many Names: Earthquake Evans (a dark match Squash of an unknown at a TV taping on September 21, 1989), Canadian Earthquake, Earthquake, Avalanche, the Shark, John Tenta, the Gargoyle (matches on May 15 and May 16, 1998 at WWE's training camp in Lynn and Wittman, Massachusetts, respectively), Golga, and Kototenzan.
  • I Know Sumo: Also did amateur wrestling before he took up sumo.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: Had one for most of his career, as he was close to bald on top but still had long hair on the other sides.
    • Big Bubba shaved off half of the Shark's hair to kick him out of the Dungeon of Doom.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: During Earthquake's run as a face, a group of fans hung up a banner that said "Earthquake Rocks The House" as he came out for a match.
  • Irony: Earthquake had an sumo match against Yokozuna on RAW in 1994 (which he won). John Tenta was actually a real sumo wrestlernote  while Yokozuna, of course, was not.
  • Kick Them While They're Down: During his heel run as Earthquake, one of his trademarks was doing his finishing move, the Earthquake Splash, over and over again on his downed opponent usually well after the match had already ended, usually resulting in the opponent in question having to be carried out on a stretcher.
  • Killer Bear Hug: One of his favorite moves besides the Earthquake Splash.
  • Legacy Character: Shark Boy, anyone?
    • The WWE trio of the Great Khali, Natalya and Hornswoggle have been compared to the Oddities, and there is a genuine connection, since Khali, as Giant Singh, teamed with Silva in New Japan Pro-Wrestling as Club 7 in Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 heel faction.
  • Leotard of Power: Except as Golga, when he wore a T-shirt and pants.
  • Lightning Bruiser: 6'6, usually well over 400 lbs., and, as Earthquake, could throw dropkicks, and could move much faster than you would expect from someone his size. Also, while it generally took a lot for an opponent to knock him down, he could take bumps when needed.
  • Man Bites Man: As the Shark, of course.
  • Meaningful Name: The nickname "Earthquake" was especially fitting when much of his wrestling involved simply brutalizing opponents with his sheer power. When he wasn't crushing them with bearhugs or slamming them with clotheslines, Earthquake would simply crush them with an Earthquake Splash.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Earthquake, Avalanche, The Shark
  • No Indoor Voice
  • Parts Unknown: (As Avalanche) "Mt. Everest, WA"; (as the Shark) "Tsunami", later changed to "The Great Barrier Reef"
  • Power Stable: The Dungeon Of Doom
  • Sock It to Them: Faced Big Bubba in a "Carson City Silver Dollar Match" at WCW Bash at the Beach 96. The idea was that a sock full of silver dollars was attached to a pole which was attached to one of the ringposts, and whichever guy grabbed the sock could use it as a weapon. The pole was about 20 feet high, so neither Tenta, who was around 500 lbs. at the time, nor Bubba, who was usually around 330 or so, could climb it, so manager Jimmy Hart had to climb up for Bubba. Yes, they booked a match where neither guy would be able to actually get the weapon and the manager had to get it instead. Bubba tried taping Tenta to the post to cut off some more of his hair, but Tenta broke free and grabbed the sock and hit Bubba with it for the pin. Object-on-a-pole matches wouldn't be seen in WCW again until Vince Russo in 1999 and 2000, and which generally involved smaller, lighter, faster wrestlers who actually could climb the poles. The matches were still stupid, of course.
  • Start My Own: For a short time, had his own wrestling school and promotion, Intense Florida Wrestling, in Sanford, FL.
  • Still Got It: Demonstrated that he did in a dark (non-televised) try-out match on December 22, 2001.
  • Tag Team: (As Earthquake): The Natural Disasters, with Typhoon
  • Threatening Shark
  • Token White: In his sumo days.
  • Trash the Set: An accidental example, as Golga once ran into the ropes and they actually broke off of the ringpost.
  • Video Full of Film Clips: The Oddities' entrance video mixed footage of the team with clips from the 1932 horror classic Freaks, even starting with the lines, "We wouldn't lie to you folks, we told you we had living breathing monstrosity."
  • Worked Shoot: His "I'm not the Shark!" promo, where he delivered a Take That! to every gimmick WCW had put him through at the time.
  • Wrestling Monster: As Earthquake, pre-face turn.