Baron von Raschke
Baron Von Raschke by Ryan Bognar.jpg
Raschke in April 2019
Birth nameJames Donald Raschke[1]
Born (1940-07-30) July 30, 1940 (age 81)[1]
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Nebraska–Lincoln
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)The Baron[1]
Baron von Raschke[1]
The Clawmaster[1]
Fritz von Raschke
Jim Raschke[1]
Billed height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[2]
Billed weight281 lb (127 kg)[2]
Billed fromRepublic of Germany[1][2]
Trained byVerne Gagne[1]
Mad Dog Vachon[1]
Debut1966[1]
Retired1996

James Donald Raschke (born July 30, 1940) is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Baron von Raschke.

Early life

Raschke was a three-year letterman with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Cornhuskers wrestling team in 1960, 1961 and 1962. He is listed in the university's wrestling media guide as Jim Raschke.[3] He also played football for the Cornhuskers as a left tackle in 1959 and 1960.[4] After a successful amateur wrestling career and a stint in the United States Army, Raschke pursued a career in professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling career

Raschke started in professional wrestling in 1966 in the American Wrestling Association as a referee. He was soon wrestling under his real name, playing off of his amateur wrestling notoriety in the area.[1] He eventually changed his ring name to Baron von Raschke and claimed to be from Germany. He would do a goose-step and then put his finisher known as the "brainclaw", on his opponent.[1] Earlier in his career, the Von Raschke had a finishing maneuver known as the "Prussian sleeper", a rather complex variation of a traditional sleeper hold. His mantra at the time was; "I am ordered to win! I must win! And I will win!"

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s he held numerous singles and tag team titles throughout several NWA and AWA territories, as well as wrestling for the WWWF, where his claw hold was "censored" by a huge red X on WWWF television because it was considered such a violent act.[1] Managed by Fred Blassie, Von Raschke's highest-profile match of his 1970s WWWF run came in March 1977, where he wrestled WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino for the title at Madison Square Garden in New York. Von Raschke lost the match by disqualification when, after Sammartino became tied up in the ropes, he shoved the referee away as he had his clawhold applied to Sammartino's head. Sammartino defeated Von Raschke in a rematch a month later at Madison Square Garden, marking Sammartino's last successful title defense before losing the belt to Superstar Billy Graham.

In 1978, Von Raschke was recognized as the first NWA Television champion (the Mid Atlantic Television title had been renamed).[5]

Raschke in 1975
Raschke in 1975

In May 1984, Raschke and The Crusher defeated Jerry Blackwell and Ken Patera for the AWA World Tag Team Championship.[6] They would lose the belts in August of that same year to The Road Warriors.[6]

In 1986, he wrestled for the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions where he reunited with former tag partner Paul Jones (who was now a manager) as part of Paul Jones' Army.[7] He also filled in for the injured Krusher Khruschev, defending the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship with Ivan and Nikita Koloff.[7] Toward the end of his run there he turned "face" against Jones and teamed with Hector Guerrero defeating the Barbarian and Pez Whatley at Starrcade (1986).[8] After teaming with Wahoo McDaniel at the 1987 Crockett Cup he left the National Wrestling Alliance.[7]

He had a brief stint in the World Wrestling Federation in 1988 as the manager for The Barbarian and The Warlord (The Powers of Pain) under the name of the "Baron",[2][9] but was released shortly after his arrival.[9]

Raschke resurfaced in the AWA, returning to the ring to feud with Soldat Ustinov and Teijho Khan in late 1988. He then went on to captain "Baron's Blitzers" during the Team Challenge Series. When the AWA folded, Raschke continued to wrestle for independent promotions, primarily in the Minnesota area, retiring in 1995.

Raschke also took part in one of the legends matches at WCW's inaugural Slamboree: A Legend's Reunion in 1993. He teamed with Ivan Koloff, losing to Thunderbolt Patterson and Brad Armstrong.[10]

His last match was a victory over David Lynch at Superstars of Wrestling in Princeton, West Virginia on February 10, 1996.

In November 2021, Raschke made an appearance with All Elite Wrestling at its Full Gear pay-per-view. He was in the crowd for the 10-man street fight between The Inner Circle and American Top Team, and put the Iron Claw on Ethan Page.

Personal life

When not wrestling, Raschke worked as a substitute teacher. Upon retirement, Raschke purchased and managed a bric-a-brac shop called "The Wigwam" in Lake George, Minnesota. He sold it in 2000.

Legacy

Stage play: The Baron

In April 2007, Raschke starred in a stage play, The Baron, based around his life, persona, and times in the AWA. The Baron, co-written by Cory McLeod and Raschke's son Karl, ran for several months at the Minnesota History Theatre. It detailed how a very mild-mannered and polite man created an in-ring gimmick that drew so much heat that he and his frequent tag-team wrestling partner (and real-life friend) Mad Dog Vachon often had to fight their way out of the ring.[11][12]

Film documentary: The Claw

The stage play was later used as the starting point for a film version of Raschke's life and career, The Claw. The film, again written by Karl Raschke, was directed by Phil Harder, a noted director of dozens of music videos, who had first met Raschke when he hired the wrestler to star in a video by Duluth indie-rock band Low. The film was shot in Minneapolis, with locations including the nightclub First Avenue (where the wrestling re-enactments were filmed), Mancini's restaurant, and the Walker Art Center. Begun in 2010, The Claw took nearly 10 years to complete, and made its debut as part of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Film Festival in 2021. It was hailed as "wildly entertaining" by St. Paul Pioneer Press critic Ross Raihala.[12]

Championships and accomplishments

Amateur wrestling

High school football

Professional wrestling

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Greg Oliver & Steve Johnson (2007). "Baron von Raschke". the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame - The Heels. ECW Press. pp. 391–394. ISBN 978-1-55022-759-8.
  2. ^ a b c d Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  3. ^ University of Nebraska–Lincoln Wrestling 2021–22 Media Guide (scroll down to page 99). Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  4. ^ "Jim Raschke". Huskers.com. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Gary Will & Royal Duncan (2006). "(United States: 19th Century & widely defended titles – NWA, WWF, AWA, IW, ECW, NWA) NWA/WCW TV Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  7. ^ a b c Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 3:Jim Crockett and the NWA World Title 1983-1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1494803476.
  8. ^ "Starrcade 1986". Pro Wrestling History. November 27, 1986. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 1: WWF 1963 - 1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1492825975.
  10. ^ Cawthon, Graham (2014). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 4: World Championship Wrestling 1989-1994. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1499656343.
  11. ^ Bahn, Christopher (2007-04-19). "Interview: Baron Von Raschke". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  12. ^ a b Raihala, Ross (2021-05-01). "Pro wrestling vet Jim Raschke grapples with life, legacy in new film 'The Claw'". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-19.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Kansas and Western Missouri) West Missouri: World Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 253. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  15. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Kansas and Western Missouri) West Missouri: North American Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 253. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  16. ^ "NWA North American Tag Team Title (Central States version)". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  17. ^ "N.W.A. Florida Television Title". Wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  18. ^ "Mid-Atlantic Title History (NWA World Tag Team Championship Title History 1975-1978)". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  19. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  20. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  21. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Texas) Dallas: NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 271. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  22. ^ "Texas Brass Knucks Title [East Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  23. ^ Meltzer, Dave (2012-12-10). "Mon. update: Major Spike announcement tomorrow, Aces & 8s identity, TNA injury updates, Hall of Fame inductions announced, WWE two PPVs this weekend, Jericho schedule, Amateur wrestling hits MSG first time ever". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  24. ^ Gary Will & Royal Duncan (2000). "(Minnesota) PWA Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  25. ^ "W.W.A. World Tag Team Title (Indianapolis)". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  26. ^ Hoops, Brian (March 7, 2020). "Daily Pro Wrestling history (03/07): Bruno Sammartino vs. Giant Baba". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved March 8, 2020.