The WWE Hall of Fame is probably the most prestigious group of wrestlers and personalities in the history of the business. To be a member of the WWE Hall of Fame means that you have left an indelible mark on this business. So, the future of the WWE Hall of Fame, which congregates the night before WrestleMania, will become one filled with WWE performers and performers from other wrestling organizations for years to come.
In December 1965, the wrestling world was introduced to a man who would come to be known as the "Hardcore Living Legend." Terry Funk would be the man who would revolutionize the business, competing for NWA promotions, the WWF, WCW, FMW, and of course ECW among others. Funk would team with Dory Funk Sr. for most of the beginning of his career before heading to the WWF in the mid 80s. Funk would have a decent run with the company, headlining live events teaming with "Hoss" (Dory) to take on Hulk Hogan and The Junkyard Dog for several months. Funk then took off for WCW. Funk was brought in as one of three judges for one of the Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat matches. Funk made an immediate impact, challenging Flair after his match for his World Title. Flair declined and suffered the wrath of Funk via a piledriver on a table. Funk and Flair would feud for several months with battles involving Sting and The Great Muta. Their greatest match took place at the ninth Clash of the Champions where Flair proved he was the man beating the "Funker" in an "I Quit" Match. Several years later, Terry Funk would be on the "extreme" ride of his life.
When Paul Heyman took over Eastern Championship Wrestling, he had a vision. That vision was to take the wrestling industry and bring it something that they have never seen. That was simply put, unadulterated violence. Heyman thus formed Extreme Championship Wrestling and though Shane Douglas was the champion, the promotion was built around Terry Funk. Funk was the ultimate business man, willing to put the younger guys over so there could still be a business after he left. Funk would balance his ECW schedule with several matches in WCW, the WWF and FMW. For those of you who are not familiar with FMW, here's a quick rundown. Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling or FMW was run by promoter/wrestler Atsushi Onita. Onita took the "death match" style and incorporated it into his promotion. Thus, FMW became the promotion to look for over the top extreme wrestling. Funk would have many memorable matches and moments in FMW, some better than others. Funk would try to make examples of many in FMW, allying himself with Mike Awesome, The Headhunters, Hisakatsu Oya & Super Leather and frequently bash the FMW roster, including a beat down of Hayabusa and burying him underneath the American flag. One of Funk's most talked about matches in FMW saw him team with Mr. Pogo to take on Hayabusa and Masato Tanaka in a "Double Hell Time Bomb Death Match." In this match, two sides of the ring had barbed wire ropes lined with explosives. The other two sides had no ropes but a pit of glass, barbed wire and explosives. It was a brutal match featuring knives, chairs, alcohol and fire. Funk and Pogo won the match that really cemented all four as harder than hardcore.
A year later, Funk had several memorable matches, mainly for ECW. April 13, 1997 will be a date that lives in the mind of wrestling fans around the world. It was ECW's very first pay-per-view entitled Barely Legal. The scheduled main event would feature The Sandman face Stevie Richards and Tommy Dreamer in a Three Way Dance with the winner facing Raven for the ECW Title right after it ended. However, Tommy Dreamer gave up his spot in this match so that his mentor, Terry Funk could get one last shot at gold.
Funk, Richards and Sandman fought for nearly twenty minutes. Funk and Sandman eliminated Richards leaving them as the final combatants. Funk would eliminate Sandman after an assist from Richards and a moonsault off the top rope. Raven immediately pounced on Funk, busting open his forehead. Now, in the previous match, Funk used a strand of barbed wire on Sandman. This backfired to an extent as Funk ripped open his side, just above his hip. Funk was now losing a lot of blood from several spots on his body. The fans called for Tommy Dreamer to leave the announce position to help Funk but Dreamer promised Funk that he wouldn't. Raven then called for his allies to deliver a group beating on Funk as Raven nailed the referee with the DDT. Raven grabbed a microphone and threatened to put Funk through three tables off the Eagle's Nest in front of Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer called for Raven to come up and Big Dick Dudley flattened Dreamer with a trash can. Dudley then tried to chokeslam Dreamer off the Eagle's Nest through three tables. Dreamer blocked it and chokeslammed Dudley through the tables. Dreamer then took out the rest of Raven's Nest and hit the ring. Dreamer hit Raven with a big DDT and Funk covered him for a near fall. Raven picked up Funk but Funk rolled him up once again and this time got the three. At 53 years of age, Terry Funk defeated Raven for the ECW Championship. Funk celebrated with the crowd and Dreamer in an emotional scene. Funk would lose the ECW Title several months later to Sabu at "Born To Be Wired" in a Barbed Wire Match. The match was brutal and nearly fatal as the barbed wire was wrapped around Funk's throat near a main artery. Officials had to cut both men out of the tangled mess as Funk's shoulders were never fully down.
One of Funk's last big runs was in the WWF in the late 90s. Funk went under the "Chainsaw Charlie" moniker and teamed with Cactus Jack to take on the Tag team Champions, The New Age Outlaws. Funk main-evented the Royal Rumble and No Way Out before wining the Titles with Cactus Jack at WrestleMania 14 in a Dumpster Match. Funk left the WWF later that year and resurfaced in WCW in 2000. Some of the details of Funk's return are hard to follow. He was the Commissioner, then Hardcore Champion, then he lost to Eric Bischoff (you read that correctly), then he was the United States Champion and it was all just really confusing. I guess you can say the only thing that was more of a mess than the tangled Funk and Sabu was WCW in 2000.
Funk started to slow down his career but hadn't stopped at all. In 2005, Shane Douglas decided to create a show dedicated to the spirit of the original ECW called Hardcore Homecoming at the old ECW Arena in Philadelphia. That same weekend, the WWE produced ECW One Night Stand, a one night reunion of the original stars of ECW that would air out of the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on pay-per-view. Funk committed to Douglas that he would take part in the event on Friday Night, June 10. Vince McMahon sent a contract over to Funk which offered him more money to appear at One Night Stand. Funk decided to appear at Hardcore Homecoming rather than One Night Stand saying that the main reason was that there would not be enough time for him to heal from Friday to Sunday. Sabu defeated Terry Funk and Shane Douglas in a Barbed Wire Three Way Dance, explaining the tape all over Sabu's body two days later at One Night Stand. One year later, the WWE decided to bring back ECW as a third brand and signed Terry Funk to a short term contract. Funk's first appearance back was on May 15. Funk questioned Mick Foley on why he attacked Tommy Dreamer from behind the week before. Foley and Funk would come to blows with Funk getting the upper hand. Edge made the save and the duo left Funk lying.
The next week, Funk and Dreamer took out Edge and Foley and sent them running. ECW stood tall in the Raw ring through the "Innovator of Violence" and the "Hardcore Living Legend." It was announced then that Funk and Dreamer would face Edge and Foley at One Night Stand. On June 5, Funk along with Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Balls Mahoney, Sabu and The Sandman sent a message to the WWE by absolutely destroying the WWE Champion John Cena. Two days later, Funk competed in his first WWE match in eight years in a Battle Royal between ECW and the WWE. Funk stayed with Dreamer after the match and got into another fight with Mick Foley during the Dreamer-Edge Extreme Rules Match. Foley's eye was busted up and after a commercial break Foley was sitting on a chair in the ring with the lights dimmed low. Foley cut an awesome promo promising to unleash terrible horrors on Dreamer and Funk in five days.
At One Night Stand, it became Edge, Foley and Lita vs. Dreamer, Funk and Beulah. This match was the epitome of extreme as anybody who watched it would admit that this was the most violent match the WWE ever produced. Only a few minutes into the match the fans began to chant "This is Awesome!" something heard very few and far between at WWE events. Funk was cut open badly by barbed wire and Foley raked some more barbed wire across his eye. Funk left for the back and needed serious medical attention. Dreamer was forced to fend for himself but Edge and Foley took him out with a barbed wire baseball bat. Edge then looked to destroy Beulah when Funk came back through the crowd, taped up and holding a barbed wire two by four up high. Dreamer nailed both Foley and Edge with low blows, along Funk to nail them both with the weapon. As Dreamer set up a barbed wire board on the floor, Beulah lit the barbed wire two by four on fire and Funk nailed Foley with it twice. Foley was on fire as he stood on the apron and Funk nailed Foley one more time with the flaming object as Foley went through the barbed wire board. Funk would go through the board as well as the match would end several minutes later with Edge pinning Beulah.
Terry Funk will always be known as the most hardcore wrestler that many have ever seen. Funk has always shown his toughness and his integrity by putting the business ahead of himself instead of others who put themselves ahead of the business, brother! Who knows if Funk will ever step back into a wrestling ring? All we know is that at the age of 62, this "Living Legend" has conquered all there is to gain including the respect of all the fans who have ever watched him compete, making Terry Funk a perfect candidate to enter the WWE Hall of Fame.
by Steven M. (View/Submit your feedback here)..