Larry Hennig


Title History

  • AWA World Tag Team titles w/ Duke Hoffman defeating Nikita and Ivan Kalmikoff [Tournament] (January 15, 1962);
  • NWA Southwest Tag Team titles w/ The Viking defeating Ken Lucas and Fritz Von Erich (March 18, 1964);
  • AWA World Tag Team titles w/ Harley Race defeating Crusher and Dick the Bruiser (January 30, 1965);
  • AWA World Tag Team titles w/ Harley Race defeating Crusher and Vern Gagne (August 7, 1965);
  • IWA (Australia) World Tag Team titles w/ Harley Race defeating (June 1966);
  • AWA World Tag Team titles w/ Harley Race defeating Crusher and Dick the Bruiser (January 6, 1967);
  • NWA (Amarillo) Brass Knuckles title defeating Kurt Von Brauner (March 14, 1968);
  • IWA (Japan) World Tag Team titles w/ Bob Windham defeating Thunder Sujiyama and Great Kusatsu (November 19, 1970);
  • AWA Midwest Tag Team titles w/ Lars Anderson defeating Johnny Valentine Jr. and Jerry Miller (October 16, 1971);
  • NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team titles w/ Curt Hennig defeating Matt Borne and Rip Oliver (April 27, 1982);

Career Highlights

  • Larry “The Axe” Hennig is a retired professional wrestler. He is the father of the late “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, the grandfather of Joe “Curtis Axel” Hennig, and is best known for his work in the American Wrestling Association, National Wrestling Alliance and World Wide Wrestling Federation.
  • Larry Hennig was also known for his muscular neck which, to this day, measures 22 inches.
  • 1954: Larry Hennig was Minnesota State High School Heavyweight Champion before getting into professional wrestling.
  • In 1963, Hennig entered the AWA under the tutelage of Verne Gagne. He eventually found some main event success and shared a brief Tag Team Championship reign with Duke Hoffman. But in frequently losing to rougher, more experienced wrestlers, he began questioning the scientific style instilled into him by Gagne and looked toward a different approach (in kayfabe).
  • During the summer of 1963, Larry Hennig left the AWA for a stint in the Texas territories.
  • While touring Texas, Hennig adopted a more brutal style and won the Texas Heavyweight Title. He also crossed paths with Harley Race. The two young wrestlers struck up a friendship and following their mutual commitment in Amarillo, a new tag team broke out into the Minneapolis wrestling scene.
  • ~~~Race and Hennig branded themselves as “Handsome” Harley Race (which was actually a moniker given to him by fans in Japan) and “Pretty Boy” Larry Hennig, a cocky villainous tag team with a penchant for breaking the rules to win matches.
  • ~~~They quickly became top contenders, and on January 30, 1965, they defeated the legendary tandem of Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher to capture the AWA World Tag Team Championship, becoming, at the time, the youngest tag team champions ever.
  • ~~~Race and Hennig continued to feud with the Bruiser and Crusher and other top teams for the next several years, amassing three title reigns.
  • Verne Gagne, in particular, was a hated rival of the team, and recruited many different partners to try to defeat Race and Hennig during their AWA run. Gagne and Crusher would win the titles from them six months after Race and Hennig’s first reign but would lose them back on August 7, 1965.
  • The team would retain the titles until May 1966 where they lost to Bruiser and Crusher. They would then embark on a tour through New Zealand, Japan, and Australia where they became the first Tag Team Champions of the International Wrestling Alliance in June.
  • ~~~Just before leaving to Japan, they would drop the titles to Mark Lewin and Dominic DeNucci.
  • Harley Race and Larry Hennig returned to the US in fall of 1966, starting back at the bottom of the competition. As they climbed the ranks all over again, they finally received a title shot on January 6, 1967 and defeated Bruiser and Crusher in Chicago, Illinois. This would prove to be their final reign at AWA Tag Team Champions, however.
  • A rather infamous knee injury would contribute to Hennig’s retirement from wrestling. On November 1, 1967, during a tag team match in Winnipeg, Hennig was in the middle of lifting Johnny Powers as another opponent rammed into him from the front.  As he dropped Powers to the mat, Hennig found that his knee had bent inward.  Despite severe damage to the cartilage and tendons, he refused to go to the local hospital and instead had Race drive him 500 miles home to Minneapolis.
  • ~~~The injury ended their last title run. The AWA allowed Harley Race to select another partner to defend the championship. Race selected Chris Markoff, who had occasionally appeared in six-man tag matches with Race and Hennig. Race and Markoff dropped the titles to Pat O’Connor and Wilbur Snyder in their first title defense.
  • In March 1968, Larry Hennig would return to once again wrestle alongside Race. After several years at the top of the tag team division, however, Race would leave in December 1968 to pursue a singles career in the NWA.
  • ~~~Hennig was immediately partnered with Lars Anderson for the next three years.
  • August 14, 1970 – AWA Comiskey Park: Larry Hennig defeated Red Bastein.
  • In the mid-1970s, while competing in Florida, Hennig teamed for some matches with Race.
  • 1972 had Larry Hennig pair with “Dirty” Dusty Rhodes (then a heel), and in 1973, Larry worked as a singles star feuding with Verne Gagne and son Greg.
  • Larry Hennig made a face turn on August 10, 1974 at a TV taping in Minneapolis, now sporting a full red beard and calling himself “the Axe” when he saved the High Flyers, Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne, from an attack. The event had Hennig opposing his former allies, Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens, and manager Bobby Heenan (who Bockwinkel and Stevens hired following their recent loss of the AWA World Tag Team title to The Crusher and Billy Robinson the previous month) as they assaulted the Flyers during an episode of AWA All-Star Wrestling. This moment would be featured in WWE’s Spectacular Legacy of the AWA DVD released in 2006.
  • During this time, Larry Hennig also appeared in the independent film, The Wrestler, where he faced Verne Gagne at the Cow Palace in the opening match.
  • In 1976, Hennig formed a semi-successful team with Joe LeDuc.
  • When Harley Race returned to the AWA in 1984, he wrestled Hennig’s son, Curt – a match that was fueled by Larry Hennig’s confronting his former tag team partner at the end of the match. The following year, Curt’s first major push would be alongside his father in a feud with the Road Warriors.
  • April 27, 1985: The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal) vs. Larry “The Ax” Hennig and “Crusher” Jerry Blackwell.
  • ~~~Hennig and Blackwell roughed up the Warriors, who until that time, refused to sell moves for their opponents.
  • Larry Hennig now owns “Larry Hennig Real Estate Company” in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
  • July 15, 2006: Larry Hennig was inducted into the International Wrestling Museum Hall of Fame in Newton, Iowa.
  • April 2015 – Larry Hennig was honored with the 2015 CAC Iron Mike Mazurki Award.

    Greg Kelly wrote: Larry the Ax Hennig in Australia — 6/10/66 Larry Hennig d Bill Dromo, 6/17/66 Hennig d Roy Heffernan 2-1, 6/24/66 Mark Lewin and Killer Kowalski d Hennig and Harley Race DQ, 7/2/66 Dom DeNucci and Lewin d Hennig and Race 2-1 to become the first IWA tag champions.