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Billy Graham

پنجشنبه 13 بهمن 1390 10:17 ب.ظ

نویسنده : MR WRESTLING

Eldridge Wayne Coleman[1][2] (born September 10, 1943) is a retired American professional wrestler. He is best known under the ring name "Superstar" Billy Graham and for his tenures in the World Wide / World Wrestling Federation. During his time in the promotion, he became a one time WWWF World Heavyweight Champion.

Graham's popularity was based principally on the basis of his character, rather than his wrestling skills. His bodybuilder physique and flamboyant patter paved the way for wrestlers like Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner, and Triple H, who were all heavily influenced by Graham's example.[1][3] Graham called his twenty-two inch arms "pythons," and often recited self-aggrandizing poetry during his interviews, a technique inspired by Muhammad Ali. A typical example: "I'm the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour. The women's pet, the men's regret. What you see is what you get. And what you don't see is better yet."[4]

[edit] Early life

As a teenager, Coleman became a devout Christian and also won several bodybuilding titles.[1] He would also perform feats of strength so as to invite people to attend his evangelistic meetings.[1] Upon reaching adulthood, Coleman began playing professional football and joined the American Football League for three years, where he played for the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders.[1]

[edit] Professional wrestling career

[edit] Debut

While being scouted by the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, Graham was encouraged by Bob Roop to train with Stu Hart for his Stampede Wrestling promotion.[1] After joining Hart instead of the Stampeders, Coleman trained under him before debuting in 1969. After wrestling briefly under his real name, Graham traveled back to America and joined the National Wrestling Alliance's Los Angeles in a tag team with Dr. Jerry Graham and changed his ring name to Billy Graham, as a tribute to the famous evangelist of the same name.[5] While wrestling in Championship Wrestling from Florida, the name doubled as both his ring name and also to make him the (kayfabe) youngest brother of Jerry and the other Graham Brothers (Eddie and Luke).[1]

In 1972, Graham's popularity rose significantly during his feud with Verne Gagne in the American Wrestling Association.[1] Another of Graham's opponents during this time frame was Ric Drasin, a bodybuilder and wrestler who was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's weight training partners.[6][7]

[edit] World Wide Wrestling Federation (1975–1978)

Graham debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1975, with The Grand Wizard as his manager.[1] After a few stints for the promotion between 1975 and 1976, Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino for the World Heavyweight Championship on April 30, 1977, in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] The title win set a precedent, as previous heels who had won the WWWF Title would almost immediately lose it, serving as a conduit (or "transitional champion") between fan favorite reigns. Graham would go on to hold the title for nine and a half months; to this day, Graham's 296 day reign is the longest single world title reign of any heel in WWE history, with Yokozuna's second championship run and JBL's only championship run in a tie for second-place (although Randy Savage held the title longer than all three, for 371 days, he didn't become a heel until almost the end of his title run).[2]

[edit] WWWF Champion

During his reign, he wrestled across America and even in Japan, facing well-known challengers such as former champion Bruno Sammartino, Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Pedro Morales, Don Muraco, Mil Mascaras and Riki Chōshū.[1] One of Graham's most famous matches took place in 1977 in Miami, Florida at the famed Orange Bowl football stadium against then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race in a WWWF Championship vs. NWA World Heavyweight Championship unification match which ended in a bloody one hour time-limit draw.[1] He eventually lost the title to Bob Backlund on February 20, 1978.[1] Graham competed in the 1980 world's strongest man competition and finished seventh despite being injured in one of the events.[1]

Graham suggested to Vincent J. McMahon that Ivan Koloff should turn on him, thus starting a feud that would make Graham a fan favorite. McMahon refused because of a handshake deal to make Bob Backlund the new fan favorite champion. He did not want to go back on his word. It was also unheard of for a character like Graham to be a fan favorite, because McMahon and many old promoters saw Graham as a heel. Fans were making Graham a popular figure on their own — even Roberta Morgan's 1979 kayfabe book Main Event had to admit that, "Although he is a rule bender, [Graham] has managed to stay very popular with the fans, probably because of his skill, strength, and colorful personality" — but the era of explicit and intentional "cool heels" did not come until the 1990s with the likes of the New World Order (nWo), D-Generation X, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock.

One of Graham's most renowned feuds as Champion was with Dusty Rhodes, which culminated in a Texas Bullrope match.[1] Graham left the promotion soon after the match.[1] As a headliner in Madison Square Garden, which was the WWWF's primary arena throughout his heyday, Graham sold out 19 of 20 shows.[2] Though other wrestlers such as Sammartino and Backlund had more career sellouts at Madison Square Garden, Graham's 95% percentage is easily the highest in company history.[2]

[edit] World Wrestling Federation (1982–1983)

Graham returned to the now renamed World Wrestling Federation in 1982. Upon returning to the promotion, Graham debuted an entirely new look, sporting a bald head and mustache. This gimmick was not considered successful, and Graham later stated that he wanted to retire the "Superstar" character out of frustration with Vince McMahon Sr. for not letting him turn babyface.[8]

He soon challenged Backlund for the WWF Championship, but was unable to win the title. In response, he destroyed Backlund's championship belt by literally tearing it half.[1] He left the promotion soon after.[1]

[edit] National Wrestling Alliance (1983–1986)

After his run in Championship Wrestling from Florida, first as a member of Kevin Sullivan's Army of Darkness and later as the group's opponent, Graham spent some time in Jim Crockett Promotions, working for Paul Jones in his feud against Jimmy Valiant. It was during this time that the Graham returned to his tie-dyed look, growing a full goatee and dyeing the mustache blond. Hulk Hogan copied elements of this look, with his villainous "Hollywood Hogan" character in World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s (as did Scott Steiner with his "Big Poppa Pump" character around the same period). Graham also spent some time in the American Wrestling Association, working with Wahoo McDaniel and Ken Patera.

[edit] Return to the WWF (1986–1988)

Graham returned to the WWF one more time in 1986 as a fan favorite. After a few appearances, it was diagnosed that Graham required a hip replacement, the result of steroids deteriorating his body. The footage of Graham's hip replacement surgery was shown on WWF TV as a means to promote Graham's comeback. He returned in mid-1987 and feuded with Butch Reed for a few months, but the strain on his hip as well as his ankles also deteriorating proved to be too much. One Man Gang retired him from active competition permanently with a running splash on the concrete floor during a match against Reed, aired on the November 14, 1987 episode of Superstars. Don Muraco came to Graham's aid, and Graham subsequently became Muraco's manager. Graham was scheduled to wrestle in the main event in the first-ever Survivor Series, but Muraco took his place once Graham retired.

Graham had further medical complications in subsequent years, having to have his ankle fused in 1990 and a second hip replacement (on the same leg) in 1991.

[edit] Dispute with Vince McMahon

In 1992, at the height of Vince McMahon's steroid allegations, Graham went on The Phil Donahue Show and revealed to the world that he was an avid user of steroids, and went on a tirade against McMahon about it. This caused a rift between McMahon and Graham that lasted for over ten years before Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. However, five years after being inducted, Graham was released from his consultancy position in World Wrestling Entertainment and reacted by selling his Hall of Fame ring on eBay after discovering McMahon had no intentions of constructing a physical building for the WWE Hall of Fame.[9]

In the November 18, 2009 edition of the Hartford Courant, Graham discussed his intentions to ensure the defeat of former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, wife of Vince McMahon, in her bid for a seat as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.[10]

[edit] Return to WWE (2004, 2005, 2006)

On March 14, 2004, Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the night before WrestleMania XX, by then-World Heavyweight Champion Triple H.[1] Several months later, Graham returned to WWE at a live event on December 28, where he was interviewed by Jonathan Coachman before knocking Coachman out.[1]

On February 25, 2005, Graham appeared at another live event, and was again interviewed by Coachman before knocking him out.[1] Three days later, Graham appeared on Raw, where he encouraged Randy Orton to do something to make himself notable.[1] On October 3 at WWE Homecoming, Graham participated in a Legends Ceremony with 24 other WWE legends.[1]

On the January 23, 2006 episode of Raw, he promoted his book and DVD.[1]

[edit] Retirement and legacy

Many wrestlers have claimed to have based their looks and styles on Billy Graham. Some examples are Austin Idol, Scott Steiner, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Rusty Brooks, S.D. Jones and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.[1]

Due to his body being ravaged from years of steroid use, Graham now lectures high school athletes on the dangers of steroids. Graham's autobiography, Tangled Ropes, was released by WWE on January 10, 2006.[1] WWE also released a DVD about Graham's career, titled 20 Years Too Soon: The "Superstar" Billy Graham Story.[1]

[edit] Personal life

As stated in his autobiography Tangled Ropes, Graham and his wife Valerie were never able to have children due to his massive steroid abuse rendering him sterile. He does, however, have two children from a previous marriage: a son named Joey (born in 1975) and a daughter named Capella (born in 1972).

Graham received a liver transplant in 2002 from twenty six year-old donor Katie Gillroy, who died in a car crash, and said he would not be alive today without the transplant.[2] On March 12, 2004, only a day before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Graham was hospitalized due to an intestinal ailment, in which his intestine was starting to protrude to the outside of his body.[1]

On November 18, 2005, Graham presided over the funeral service for wrestler Eddie Guerrero.[2]

Graham was again hospitalized, this time on May 24, 2006, due to a bowel obstruction from an earlier surgery.[1]

In July 2010, Graham was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona due to liver problems.[11][12] Afterwards, it was announced he had an enlarged spleen and would probably have one year left to live without another liver transplant.[13][14]

On December 2, 2010,[15] Graham issued a statement regarding his last wrestling-related appearance, health issues and funeral ceremony.[16] Graham stated that he reserved a burial spot at the Green Acres cemetery in Scottsdale, Arizona, next to Eddie Guerrero.[17] On March 31, 2011, The Phoenix New Times reported that Graham's doctor, Hector Rodriguez-Luna, acknowledged that Graham's advanced fibrosis may be early cirrhosis and that he could live for two more years if he takes Interferon-a drug to help slow his Hepatitis C-[17] at a good pace and stays in shape.[17]

On April 2011, Billy Graham stated he wanted out of the WWE Hall of Fame stating "For the WWE to induct into their Hall of Fame, Abdullah The Butcher, who has never wrestled one match under a WWE contract, is bordering on blasphemy. I am demanding that this company remove my name from their index of Hall of Fame wrestlers. It is a shameless organization to induct a bloodthirsty animal such as Abdullah The Butcher into their worthless and embarrassing Hall of Fame and I want the name of Superstar Billy Graham to be no part of it. The WWE and their Hall of Fame is disgustingly embarrassing, I want out." Despite these demands Billy Graham's name has not yet been removed from the Hall of Fame section on WWE's main website.[18] Ironically enough, Billy Graham's autobiography referenced Abdullah in a very positive light.

[edit]




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