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Pez Whatley
Mr. Excellent vs Pistol Pez Whatley sunset flip
Whatley (upper) facing Mr Excellent
Birth namePezavan Whatley
Born(1951-01-10)January 10, 1951[1]
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States[1]
DiedJanuary 18, 2005(2005-01-18) (aged 54)[1]
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Cause of deathHeart attack
Alma materUniversity of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Pez Whatley
Shaska Whatley
Shaska
Willie B. Hert
Pistol Pez Whatley
Billed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Billed weight245 lb (111 kg)[2]
Billed fromChattanooga, Tennessee[2]
Trained bySaul Weingeroff[1]
Debut1973
Retired1998

Pezavan Whatley[3] (January 10, 1951 – January 18, 2005) was an American professional wrestler best known for his time with NWA Mid-America.[1]

Professional wrestling career

Whatley played football and wrestled for Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). He was UTC's first African-American wrestler.[3][4]

Whatley started wrestling in 1973 after a brief career as a power lifter. He wrestled with the (original) Sheik's Big Time Wrestling, after which he wrestled primarily in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. While in Georgia Championship Wrestling, he had a memorable angle on television, where he was confronted by the Junkyard Dog, before a match against Buzz Sawyer. JYD slapped Whatley in the face, enraging him enough to pin Sawyer twice in a single episode of World Championship Wrestling. While in Ga, Whatley had a feud with Paul Ellering's Legion Of Doom that included matches against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He also had a match in the Omni for the United States Heavyweight championship against Greg Valentine. Whatley was one of the most popular wrestlers in Ga, before going to Florida Championship Wrestling in 1984. He won the Southern Title twice while there.[1] He was one-third of the "Convertible Blondes" with Rip Rogers and Gary Royal in the Angelo Poffo-promoted ICW, even though he didn't dye his hair blonde.[1] One of Whatley's best-known moments in ICW was the "Mop Head" angle where Whatley had to wear a mop wig after losing a match to Ron Garvin. The match stipulation also required him to keep wearing it until he won another match. This led to not only a lengthy feud with Garvin but also to a long losing streak for Whatley. Most of Whatley's losses were by disqualification due to outside interference when Garvin would attack Whatley's opponent. The angle lasted for several months until Whatley finally won a match.

He went to the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 and often teamed with Jimmy Valiant against members of Paul Jones' Army.[3] He frequently teamed with The Barbarian and Baron von Raschke in their war against Valiant, and would frequently spit on his opponents during matches. He eventually lost a hair vs. hair match to Valiant and was shaved bald.[5] In 1986, during a short stint when Dusty Rhodes was NWA Champion, Whatley appeared to freelance during a TV interview and made the announcers visibly uncomfortable when he said that he wanted to become the first black NWA Champion.[3]

In late 1987, Whatley had left Jones and started teaming with Tiger Conway Jr. as "The Jive Tones".[3] They did not have much success, and Whatley left for Florida in 1988.[4] He was part of Kevin Sullivan's goon squad in Florida and departed for Alabama shortly after his arrival.[3]

In Alabama's Southeast Championship Wrestling, Whatley became "Willie B. Hert" and was one of the top faces for the company.[4]

In the early 1990s Pez Whatley had a short stint in Japan's UWFi. He also worked for the World Wrestling Federation as an enhancement talent on their weekly television programs from January 1990 until April 1991, putting over many of the WWF's top stars.[4] He also picked up a few victories on house shows, most notably over Buddy Rose, Paul Diamond and The Genius. Whatley then made sporadic appearances in World Championship Wrestling throughout the 90s as an enhancement talent as well as appearances at the 1995 and 1996 World War 3 events until his in-ring retirement in 1998, becoming a backstage worker for WCW and an assistant trainer at the WCW Power Plant.[3][4][2]

Whatley was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2021 as a legacy member.[6][4]

Death

While working for WCW in the late 1990s, Whatley was hospitalized for bronchitis, where doctors discovered he was suffering from heart failure; he was pronounced dead on two occasions while awaiting a heart transplant.[3] He suffered a heart attack in 2003.[4] On January 15, 2005, he had a heart attack and died in the hospital in Chattanooga on January 18.[3] He left behind four children.[4]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Pez Whatley profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Oliver, Greg (January 19, 2005). ""Pistol" Pez Whatley dead at 54". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on May 10, 2021. Retrieved January 11, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Mooneyham, Mike (April 17, 2021). "'Pistol Pez' Whatley was gifted grappler, skilled showman". The Post and Courier. Retrieved February 20, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "The Great American Bash 1986". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  6. ^ Wells, Kelly (April 6, 2021). "WWE Hall of Fame 2020 & 2021: Wells's alt-perspective coverage of the induction ceremony for both the 2020 and 2021 classes". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved April 7, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  8. ^ "NWA Southern Heavyweight Title (Florida)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  9. ^ a b Prowrestlinghistory.com Prowrestlinghistory.com retrieved March 23, 2019
  10. ^ "ICW United States Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  11. ^ "ICW World Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  12. ^ "NWA Mid-America Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  13. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  14. ^ "NWA Western States Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2008-01-10.