In our previous article we discussed five professional wrestlers who broke barriers (as well as skulls) and managed to achieve awesomeness both inside and outside the ring. That worked out fairly well and scored us a kajillion hits. However some names were absent from our previous list so we figured why not give another five worthy grapplers their due. In the interest of not being belly to belly suplexed through an announcer table (ouch) Jesse Ventura is on our list this time.
JESSE “THE BODY” VENTURA
In the Ring
Jesse Ventura was one of the most colorful personalities both as a performer and later as a broadcaster. As a wrestler, he proudly performed as a heel and often spouted the catchphrase "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!" This is a sentiment shared by many on Wall Street nowadays. Much of Jesse’s flamboyant character was directly inspired by "Superstar" Billy Graham.
In fact the two performers were so similar that even their figures are basically interchangeable.
Like many wrestlers Ventura honed his craft in smaller promotions before hitting his peak in the big two, the WWE and later in WCW. In 1984, Jesse’s in-ring career nearly came to an end due to blood clots in his lungs. The setback forced him to miss a title match against then Champion Hulk Hogan which certainly could have been a career highlight.
Surprisingly, Jesse made a comeback and thrilled crowds for a few more years before finally settling in as an announcer. His wrestling commentary style was an extension of his in ring persona, thus he was usually partial to the heels. This was notable because it gave the often one-dimensional villains a voice that they otherwise never had. Jesse served as an announcer for both the WWE and WCW. Hilariously, it was in WCW where Ventura was fired for supposedly falling asleep during a taping of “WCW Worldwide”. It was speculated that his departure probably had more to do with Hulk Hogan's arrival to the company. Hogan was one of many Ventura had a beef with. However, we’d like to think the falling asleep story was the true reason because it’s far more amusing.
Outside the Ring
Upon his departure from the world of madcap hi-jinks and backstabbing, Ventura entered the political arena (a world of madcap hi-jinks and backstabbing - where everyone wears suits and ties). In 1998, he famously ran for governor of Minnesota. Ventura maintained his tough-guy wrestling persona and launched himself into the national spotlight as a unique political figure and pop culture icon.
Like many politicians, his stretch was far from perfect. During his controversial run as governor Jesse made many enemies and stirred controversy on a number of occasions. As far as accomplishments go, he was the driving force behind the overhaul of the property tax system. Ventura's push for a simpler system was body-slammed through Legislature. His reforms shifted the cost of education to the state and reduced business and apartment property tax rates. Ventura also persuaded (re: piledrived) the Legislature to cut car license tab fees and gave rebates to billions of taxpayers in what were referred to as "Jesse checks".
Also, 900 million in Endowments set up by Ventura were used for smoking prevention, medical education and research. The money came from the state's tobacco settlement. Jesse is also well known for writing several books and his continued passion for broadcasting. Alas, let’s not forget his memorable role as a non-bleedin’ solder (along side future California governor Schwarzenegger) in Predator.
In the Ring
"Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence”, these are the three I's Kurt has often mentioned as his motto. Although we’re sure if we think hard enough, we can come up with some filthy acronyms to use instead. Kurt (sort of) began his professional career in ECW as a guest commentator. We say “sort of” because he was so offended by a controversial gimmick involving the mock crucifixion of a wrestler named Sandman that he immediately hit the road. Ironically, he joined the WWE where storylines were often just as outrageous and crude. In fact, by 2004 the Undertaker was regularly “sacrificing” people by tying them to his "T" symbol, in “non-violent crucifixions”.
Backed up by his tremendous in-ring ability, Kurt played up the persona of a smug, moralizing character who constantly referenced his Olympic achievements - which we’ll get to shortly. In his first year alone, Angle won numerous WWE titles as well as the King of the Ring tournament. By 2000 he snagged the Heavyweight Championship from The Rock. Kurt wrestled at the top of the WWE's roster for the next several years, until he was sidelined by serious neck injuries. Eventually, he ended up at TNA where his success has continued as of this writing.
Outside the Ring
Prior to his sports entertainment career, Kurt won the Olympic Gold Medal for wrestling. Okay, so about now you may be thinking such an achievement, while significant, may be too closely related to professional wrestling to apply. We disagree in this instance, mainly because amateur wrestling and professional wrestling as we know it are two very different animals. One involves pure, genuine mat wrestling and the other involves midgets, laser light shows, William Shatner, barbed wire, pantsings, soap opera antics, blabbing on a mic for 20-30 minutes and spankings…
We’re also giving Angle a bit of a pass based on the fact that he went through quite an ordeal on his road to the gold medal. For example, in 1995 Angle began preparing for the Olympics (between eight and ten hours a day) under the famous Olympic athlete Dave Schultz. Shockingly, in January of 1996, Schultz was murdered by John DuPont: the sponsor of Schultz's team of Olympic prospects. Angle promptly quit Eleuthère’s team, was forced to find new sponsors, and joined the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club in Schultz's memory.
However, that was far from the end of Kurt’s issues. During the Olympic Trials he fractured two of his cervical vertebrae, herniated two discs, pulled four muscles…and broke a nail. Surprisingly, he won the trials anyway and spent the next five months rehabilitating. By the time of the Olympics, he was able to compete with the aid of numerous pain-reducing injections to his neck. He won a gold medal in the heavyweight weight class despite his severe injury and setbacks. As you can see, Angle earned his pass.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
In the Ring
Better known as DDP, this veteran’s storied career has spanned two decades. He began with WCW as a manager before finding his true calling as a wrestler in 1991. Page went on to hold the WCW Heavyweight title three times and eventually was dubbed “The People's Champion" long before The Rock used the namesake. He also enjoyed success in the WWE by winning championships and gaining a new fan base, although his stay there was brief.
As an interesting side note, during his wrestling career DDP created (and copyrighted) the "Diamond Cutter" hand gesture. Basically it was made by joining the thumbs and index fingers on each hand to form a diamond shape. In 2005, (after his wrestling career had ended) DDP filed a lawsuit against hip-hop icon Jay-Z, whom he claimed illegally adopted his hand gesture. Page accused Jay of copyright infringement and sought “prohibitive monetary damages”.
The suit was settled in 2007 after the court signed off on an agreement reached between the two parties. The settlement included a monetary fee that was paid by Jay to Page. In exchange for the fee, Page agreed to drop all claims in regards to the infringement suit…and stop being a douche about the whole thing. Regardless of his win, the entire internet collectively handed DDP his head for that fiasco.
Outside the Ring
When not suing rappers, DDP has managed to keep himself very busy as an actor, an author and most notably as a successful yoga / fitness guru.
In 2006, DDP’s program was credited as saving the life of Lee Marshall, a radio DJ and the famous voice of Tony the Tiger. Lee went from being a dynamo capable of bench-pressing 500 pounds to a nearly crippled, 70-pound-overweight heart attack waiting to happen… that was until DDP stepped in. DDP, who had also suffered severe injuries and physical hardships throughout his wrestling career, could relate to Lee. Lee underwent DDP’s exercise therapy program and it worked like a charm.
On a related note, here is a pretty inspiration vid featuring one of DDP’s happy customers.
YRG (aka Yoga for Regular Guys) is a workout routine which is a “hybrid of traditional yoga, calisthenics, isometrics, isokinetincs and breathing methods. Rather than work body parts separately, YRG engages the entire body and mind simultaneously, providing a dynamically effective workout in a third-less time.” You can read all about it on his website. That is unless you are too busy chomping down on a double bacon burger with extra cheese.