Johnny Stamboli
Birth nameJonathan Hugger
Born (1977-04-20) April 20, 1977 (age 45)[1][2]
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.[1][2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Jon Hugger[1]
Johnny Hugger[1]
Johnny the Bull[1][2]
Johnny Stamboli[1][2]
Redrum[1][2]
Rellik[1][2]
The Great Muta[1]
The Unknown Wrestler[1]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[2]
Billed weight240 lb (109 kg)[2]
Billed fromLittle Italy, Manhattan
"The Depths of Hell"[3]
Trained byPaul Orndorff[1]
WCW Power Plant[1][2]
Debut1999[1]
Retired2014

Jonathan Hugger (born April 20, 1977) is an American professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with World Championship Wrestling under the ring name Johnny the Bull, for World Wrestling Entertainment under the ring name Johnny Stamboli, and for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Lucha Libre AAA World Wide and Lucha Libre USA under the ring name Rellik.[2]

Professional wrestling career

World Championship Wrestling (1999–2001)

See also: The Mamalukes

While attending college in Atlanta, Georgia and working as a doorman at the Club Oxygen nightclub, Hugger exercised at the Main Event Fitness gym, which was owned by World Championship Wrestling employees Lex Luger and Sting.[4] During one of his visits to the gym, WCW employee Diamond Dallas Page met with Hugger and encouraged him to train as a wrestler. Hugger subsequently participated alongside 19 other prospective wrestlers in a $240 tryout at the WCW's Power Plant training center. The tryout featured press ups, sprinting, squats and freestyle wrestling in temperatures of over 100 degrees. Hugger passed the tryout, but did not immediately begin training as a wrestler. Six months later, he was attacked and stabbed six times. Hugger resolved to change his lifestyle, which he believed had resulted in his assault, and enlisted in the Power Plant,[5] where he was finally trained to wrestle in earnest.[6]

After training, Hugger debuted for WCW as "Johnny Hugger" on the September 28, 1999 episode of WCW WorldWide, losing to Chuck Palumbo.[7] Hugger's WCW Pay-Per-View debut came at their December 19, 1999 Starrcade.[8] He adopted the ring name "Johnny the Bull" and formed a Mafia-themed tag team called The Mamalukes with Big Vito, which was managed by Tony Marinara.[5]

On January 18, 2000 in Evansville, Indiana, Hugger and Big Vito defeated Crowbar and David Flair for the WCW World Tag Team Championship.[9] The match was broadcast on the January 19 episode of Thunder. They held the championship until February 12, when they were defeated by Creative Control in Oberhausen during a tour of Germany. The Mamalukes regained the championship on the following day in Leipzig, and held it until March 19, when they lost to Creative Control in a no disqualification match at the pay-per-view Uncensored, which took place in the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida.[10]

On June 5, 2000, The Mamalukes attacked Hardcore Champion Terry Funk during a title defense against WCW President Eric Bischoff, enabling Bischoff to defeat Funk. On the June 7 episode of Thunder, Bischoff awarded the Hardcore Championship to The Mamalukes, making them co-champions.[11] On June 19, Big Vito defeated Hugger to become the undisputed Hardcore Champion.[7] On the July 3 episode of Nitro, while wrestling Funk in a hardcore match, Hugger tore his urethra while executing a diving leg drop and was sidelined for two months while recuperating.[5][10][12]

On the September 11, 2000 edition of Nitro, Hugger returned to betray Vito and join several other Power Plant graduates in a stable known as The Natural Born Thrillers,[13][14] a collection of young wrestlers who sought to challenge more established wrestlers. Hugger eventually reconciled with Vito and reformed the Mamalukes, and the two continued teaming until WCW's closure in March 2001. Their final match in WCW was a loss to the team of Lance Storm and Mike Awesome on 12 March 2001's edition of Nitro.[7]

World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment (2001–2004)

See also: The Full Blooded Italians

In March 2001, World Championship Wrestling was purchased by its Stamford, Connecticut-based rival, the World Wrestling Federation. Hugger's contract was bought out by the WWF. Johnny the Bull wrestled one dark match before the July 12, 2001 edition of SmackDown!, losing to Rob Van Dam. Johnny the Bull was introduced to the promotion as a member of The Alliance but after a single appearance on WWF television, Hugger was sent to the Heartland Wrestling Association, an Ohio-based WWF developmental territory, in late July 2001, to further his training. While in the HWA, he won the promotion's Heavyweight Championship on two occasions in 2002.[15]

After the company was renamed to World Wrestling Entertainment in May 2002, Hugger returned to WWF television on the June 30, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat under the ring name Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, losing via disqualification to Tommy Dreamer. On the July 15 episode of Raw, Stamboli won the Hardcore Championship, his first title in WWE, from Bradshaw. Bradshaw would, however, regain the title from Hugger later that night.[16][17] On the July 29 episode of Raw, Stamboli won the Hardcore Title once again after pinning Jeff Hardy, but lost the title a few seconds later to Tommy Dreamer. Following this, he became a mainstay on Heat and would later turn face due to fan reaction in late September 2002.

On February 13, 2003, Stamboli was moved to the SmackDown! brand and became a heel again when he allied with Nunzio and Chuck Palumbo to attack Rikishi. Together, the trio became The Full Blooded Italians.[16] The FBI would go on to wrestle throughout 2003 and early 2004 before disbanding on March 22, 2004 when Palumbo was moved to the Raw brand. Stamboli and Nunzio continued to team together until he was released from his WWE contract on November 4.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (2004–2005)

See also: Voodoo Murders

Following his release from WWE, Hugger began wrestling for the Japanese All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion after his friend Troy Endres, who was portraying a fake Great Muta, retired after tearing both of his anterior cruciate ligaments and nominated Hugger as his replacement. Hugger donned a mask and adopted the character of GREAT MUTA, losing to the real Great Muta at The Unchained World on December 5, 2004 in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.[5]

On January 2, 2005 in the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Hugger dropped his Great Muta character and formed a stable with Taru known as the Voodoo Murders. The Voodoo Murders, who declared that they wished to destroy AJPW, eventually expanded to include several other WCW and WWE alumni, including Chuck Palumbo.[18]

Independent circuit (2005–2007)

In 2005, Hugger and Chuck Palumbo reformed the Full Blooded Italians in the Italy-based Nu-Wrestling Evolution promotion. In 2006, Hugger toured Mexico, teaming with Marco Corleone in the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre promotion. In late 2006, Hugger began working for the Arizona-based Impact Zone Wrestling promotion, where he created a character named REDRUM, a reference to the 1980 film The Shining. Hugger based Redrum on the Great Muta character he had portrayed in AJPW.[6][12]

In the summer of 2007, Hugger wrestled two dark matches for World Wrestling Entertainment, using the ring name The Unknown Wrestler.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2007–2008)

In late 2007, Hugger exhibited his REDRUM character for Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo and Terry Taylor, members of the creative team of the Orlando, Florida-based Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion, and was subsequently hired. He debuted in TNA on November 11, 2007 at the pay-per-view Genesis. In his next appearance, his ring name was changed to Rellik, which is Killer spelled backwards. He then aligned himself with Black Reign and James Mitchell, with he and Reign forming a tag team.[5][19] In their debut match as a team, they lost to Abyss and Raven at Turning Point in a Match of 10,000 Tacks.[20] After losing several matches, the team picked up its first and only victory after defeating The Motor City Machineguns on the March 10, 2008 episode of Impact!.[20] On the April 16 episode of Impact!, Rellik and Black Reign made their final appearance as a team in a losing effort to Team 3D in the first round of the Deuces Wild tournament.[20] After losing three dark matches in mid-May, Hugger left TNA.[7]

Lucha Libre USA (2010–2011)

Hugger's 6 June 2010 Lucha Libre USA debut match saw him, as Rellik, team with Misteriosito in a losing effort against Lujo Esquire and Octagoncito.[21] Rellik took part in a tournament to crown number one contenders for the LLUSA Heavyweight Championship but was defeated by Charly Malice in the first round of the tournament. Hugger Joined Lizmark, Jr.'s stable Treachery along with Sydistiko. On December 12, 2010, Treachery (Rellik and Sydistiko) defeated Dinastia (El Oriental and Tinieblas, Jr.) in a tag match to advance into the 3-way tag team title match, Rellik helped Lizmark, Jr. to win the LLUSA Heavyweight Championship by blinding Marco Corleone with powder. On January 22, 2011, Rudisimo (El Oriental and Tinieblas, Jr.) defeated Puerto Rican Power (P.R. Flyer and San Juan Kid) and Treachery (Rellik and Sydistiko) in a three-way tag match to become the inaugural Lucha Libre USA Tag Team Champions. On March 19, Marco Corleone and Shane Helms defeated Treachery (Rellik and Sydistiko) in a tag team match, and later on in the main event, Rellik took part in a lucha roulette elimination number one contenders match for the LLUSA Championship, which was won by Charly Malice.

Independent circuit (2011–2014)

Hugger wrestled as Johnny Stamboli for the Phoenix, Arizona based IWF promotion. He teamed with Tyson Tyler as "G.F.Y.".[citation needed] Hugger also appeared in IWF as "REDRUM," a character similar to Rellik. As REDRUM, Hugger lost via disqualification to The Hurricane on 15 May 2014.[7] As of January 2022, according to Cagematch.net, this was Hugger's most recent wrestling match.[7]

Personal life

In July 2016, Hugger was named part of a class action lawsuit filed against WWE which alleged that wrestlers incurred traumatic brain injuries during their tenure and that the company concealed the risks of injury. The suit is litigated by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against WWE.[22] In September 2018, The lawsuit was dismissed by US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant.[23] He currently Kroskies Credit Triggas all day every day.

Championships and accomplishments

1Johnny the Bull held the title jointly with Big Vito during his reign.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Cagematch profile".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "ReliK's OWOW profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  3. ^ "The Way I C It 12.10.07: Jericho, Super Dragon, Karl Gotch, Manami Toyota and More Posted by Chris Lansdell on 12.10.2007".
  4. ^ Barrasso, Justin (2 June 2015). "Goldberg, WWE headed in separate directions". SI.com. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e "WrestlingData interview". WrestlingData.com. 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  6. ^ a b "Cagematch profile". Cagematch.com. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Matches". Cagematch.com. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  8. ^ "WCW Starrcade (1999)". IMDB. Amazon. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  9. ^ Lentz III, Harris M. (21 October 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling (2 ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 0786417544. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  10. ^ a b Will, G., Duncan, R. (2001). "WCW World Tag Team Championship history". Solie.org. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  11. ^ "Mamalukes". Cagematch. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  12. ^ a b Kelley, P. (2007-11-25). "Johnny "Rellik" Stamboli interview talks about his TNA character, WCW & WWE days and more". WrestlingObserver.com. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  13. ^ "Natural Born Thrillers". Cagematch. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  14. ^ "Jon Hugger - Biography". IMDB. Amazon. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  15. ^ a b "HWA Heavyweight Championship history".
  16. ^ a b Waldman, J. (2003-11-13). "Recent arrivals didn't save InVasion". Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  17. ^ a b "WWF Hardcore Championship history".
  18. ^ "Shining Road". PuroresuFan.com. Archived from the original on 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  19. ^ "Black Reign and Rellik's tag team profile".
  20. ^ a b c "Black Reign and Rellik's tag team match listing".
  21. ^ "Rellik's LLUSA debut".
  22. ^ "WWE sued in wrestler class action lawsuit featuring Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, Paul 'Mr Wonderful' Orndorff". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 18, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  23. ^ Robinson, Byron (September 22, 2018). "Piledriver: WWE uses 'Hell in a Cell' as springboard to future shows". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  24. ^ "IZW Heavyweight Championship history".
  25. ^ "2006 Yamaha Cup results".
  26. ^ Oliver, E. (2001). "WCW Hardcore Championship history". Solie.org. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  27. ^ Duncan, R.; Will, G. (2001). "WCW World Tag Team Championship history". Solie.org. Retrieved 2008-04-01.