Johnny Grunge
Johnny Grunge in March 2002
Birth nameMichael Lynn Durham
Born(1966-07-10)July 10, 1966
Sulphur, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedFebruary 16, 2006(2006-02-16) (aged 39)[1]
Peachtree City, Georgia, U.S.[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Johnny Grunge[2][3]
Johnny Rotten[2][3]
Billed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[3][4]
Billed weight263 lb (119 kg)[4]
Billed fromCompton, California[2]

Michael Lynn Durham (July 10, 1966 – February 16, 2006) was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Johnny Grunge. He is known for his appearances with Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation as one-half of the tag team The Public Enemy with Rocco Rock. In the course of his career, Grunge held championships such as the ECW World Tag Team Championship and WCW World Tag Team Championship.[2]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1987–1993)

Grunge made his professional wrestling debut in 1987. In 1993 in Woodbridge, New Jersey, Grunge formed a tag team in the UWF with Rocco Rock known as The Public Enemy. This was not the first time they had met though as The Public Enemy faced one another in Austria c. 1991, with Grunge (using the name "Johnny Rotten") losing to Rock (using the name "Cheetah Kid" and was masked).[5]

Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993–1996)

Grunge delivering a chair shot

In 1993, The Public Enemy joined Eastern Championship Wrestling, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based promotion soon to be renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling.[6] Between March 6, 1994 and October 28, 1995, The Public Enemy held the ECW Tag Team Championship on four occasions.[7] While in ECW, they were involved in two infamous incidents - the first when the ECW audience hurled folding chairs into the ring until The Public Enemy (both "unconscious") were submerged, and the second when the ECW audience invaded the ring to celebrate with The Public Enemy, with the ring collapsing as a result of the additional weight.[8] They were known for their hardcore wrestling style and usage of tables, a gimmick that was later adopted by the Dudley Boyz.[9] The Public Enemy's wrestling style was referenced in Weezer's song "El Scorcho"; the line "watchin' Grunge legdrop New Jack through a press table" was derived from a caption for a photograph of Grunge fighting wrestler New Jack that was published in Pro Wrestling Illustrated.[10]

World Championship Wrestling (1996–1998)

In 1996, The Public Enemy joined the Atlanta, Georgia based World Championship Wrestling promotion. They debuted on January 15, 1996, defeating The American Males.[11] On September 23, 1996 in Birmingham, Alabama, The Public Enemy defeated Harlem Heat to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship, but Harlem Heat regained the titles on October 1, 1996 in Canton, Ohio.[12]

World Wrestling Federation and return to WCW (1999)

The Public Enemy left WCW in 1999, and briefly wrestled for ECW before joining the World Wrestling Federation. Both men made their debut on the February 22, 1999 episode of Raw is War, but were released from the WWF two months later. They had previously performed in the company at Survivor Series 1995 facing The Smoking Gunns.[13] On July 18 at Bash at the Beach 1999, The Public Enemy returned to WCW and took part in the "Junkyard Invitational".[14]

The Public Enemy performing a double team maneuver with a table

Independent circuit (1999–2006)

They then returned to the independent circuit, making appearances with the X Wrestling Federation as The South Philly Posse, where they were managed by Jasmin St. Claire. In the early 2000s, Public Enemy performed for the short-lived i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling among other independent promotions. The team won various independent tag team titles. Following the death of Rocco Rock in 2002, Grunge teamed with his kayfabe brother Joey Grunge as The New Public Enemy throughout August 2003.[1] He also made appearances with Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling (3PW) until his last match in 2004. He participated in a memorial segment for deceased ECW wrestlers at Hardcore Homecoming on June 10, 2005, and at the end of that year, Grunge was preparing for a comeback.[15] His cousin, Jason Ray, who wrestled for Big Japan Wrestling, helped book him for BJW's upcoming spring tour.[citation needed]

Personal life

Grunge was a neighbor of Chris Benoit and helped Benoit cope with Eddie Guerrero's death in November 2005.[16]

Grunge died on February 16, 2006, in his residence in Peachtree City, Georgia, as a result of sleep apnea complications, which was most likely caused by a coronary artery blockage due to obesity.[1] He was 39 years old. Other reports say he was visiting a friend at the time of his death where he was unable to breathe.[17] He was morbidly obese and had ingested a huge quantity of Soma pills that were prescribed by doctor Phil Astin.[18]

Championships and accomplishments

Grunge's Hardcore Hall of Fame banner in the former ECW Arena
  • UWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Rocco Rock[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Brady, Hicks. "2006: The year in wrestling". PWI Presents: 2007 Wrestling Almanak and book of facts. Kappa Publications. p. 18. 2007 Edition.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Public Enemy". WWE. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Loverro, Thom (2006). The Rise and Fall of ECW. Pocket Books. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-1-4165-1058-1.
  4. ^ a b "Johnny Grunge profile". OWOW. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  5. ^ Williams, Scott E. (2011-11-01). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-61321-582-1.
  6. ^ Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Wrestling Observer Newsletter. July 2004.
  7. ^ "ECW World Tag Team Title". Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  8. ^ Public Enemy and the ECW fans make the ring collapse: Extreme Warfare Vol. 1, retrieved 2021-07-02
  9. ^ Kleinberg, Adam; Nudelman, Adam (2005). Mysteries of Wrestling: Solved. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-685-0.
  10. ^ "Is This the ECW Match Weezer References in El Scorcho?". The Big Lead. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  11. ^ "Public Enemy - OWW". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  12. ^ "WCW World Tag Team Title". Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  13. ^ "ECW star Johnny Grunge dies". Slam Wrestling. 2006-02-16. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  14. ^ "411MANIA". Random Network Reviews: Bash at the Beach 1999. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  15. ^ Crenshaw, Holly. "**SECOND FUNERAL FOR JOHNNY GRUNGE | WrestlingFigs". Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  16. ^ "Fish: Chris Benoit's doctor prescribed for other wrestlers". 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  17. ^ O'Connor, Ryan (December 8, 2015). "Johnny Grunge - Dead at 39". Wrestler Deaths. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  18. ^ Muchnick, Irvin (2021-05-25). Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling's Cocktail of Death, The Ultimate Historical Edition. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77305-766-8.
  19. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.