Rocco Rock
Rocco Rock in March 2002.
Birth nameTheodore James Petty
BornSeptember 1, 1953
Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, United States
DiedSeptember 21, 2002(2002-09-21) (aged 49)[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Alma materRutgers University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Antonino Rocca Jr.
Cheetah Kid[2]
Colonel DeKlerk
The Executioner
Flyboy Rocco
The Leopard Mask[2]
Mario Savoldi
Rocco Rock
The Rock
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[2]
Billed weight250 lb (113 kg)[2]
Billed fromCompton, California, United States
South Africa
(as Colonel DeKlerk)
Trained byAfa Anoa'i
Debut1978

Theodore James Petty (September 1, 1953 – September 21, 2002) was an American professional wrestler, better known by the ring name "Flyboy" Rocco Rock. Rock is best known for his appearances in Eastern Championship Wrestling / Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) alongside Johnny Grunge as the Public Enemy during the 1990s. He was a four-time ECW World Tag Team Champion, a one-time WCW World Tag Team Champion, and a one-time NWA World Tag Team Champion.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1978–1993)

Ted Petty was born on September 1, 1953. He graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in nutrition.[1] Following a brief boxing career, Petty trained as a professional wrestler under Afa Anoa'i. He debuted in 1978 under the ring name "Cheetah Kid".[1]

Petty worked as enhancement talent (a jobber) in the American Wrestling Association from 1985 to 1988.

In March 1990, Petty toured Japan with New Japan Pro-Wrestling as part of its "Big Fight Series". During the tour, he teamed with Pegasus Kid and faced opponents such as Jushin Thunder Liger, Takashi Iizuka, and Kengo Kimura.[3][4] Upon returning to the United States, he wrestled for the Philadelphia-based Tri-State Wrestling Alliance, winning its Brass Knuckles Championship. In June 1990, he began appearing with World Championship Wrestling, initially as "Cheetah Kid", then as "Mario Savoldi", then finally as the faux-South African "Colonel DeKlerk". As "Colonel DeKlerk", Petty teamed with Sergeant Krueger to defeat the Beast and Kaluha at Clash of the Champions XIII in November 1990, then teamed with Krueger in a loss to the Steiner Brothers at Starrcade '90: Collision Course in December 1990.[3]

In March 1991, Petty appeared with the Universal Wrestling Federation, taking part in a taping for the Fury Hour television show.[5]

In June 1992, Petty toured Japan with W*ING, competing in a tournament for the W*ING World Junior Heavyweight Championship.[6]

In January 1993, Petty wrestled two matches for the World Wrestling Federation as "Cheetah Kid". Later that month, he wrestled two matches for World Championship Wrestling as "the Executioner", including a bout against 2 Cold Scorpio that aired on WCW WorldWide. In April and June 1993, Petty toured Austria and Germany with the World Wrestlings Superstars promotion.[7]

Eastern Championship Wrestling / Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993–1996)

See also: the Public Enemy

In September 1993, Petty (as "Rocco Rock") and Johnny Grunge began wrestling regularly for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) as the Public Enemy. They made their debut at UltraClash, defeating Ian Rotten and Jason Knight. At NWA Bloodfest the following month, they defeated the Bad Breed and Badd Company in a triangle cage match. Over the following months, they feuded with Badd Company, defeating them in a "South Philly Hood" match at November to Remember. At Holiday Hell: the Body Count in December 1993, Pat Tanaka (one-half of Badd Company) defeated Rock in a "Body Count" match, marking the end of the feud.[7] At The Night the Line Was Crossed in February 1994, the Public Enemy defeated the Bruise Brothers in a "no rules" match. On March 6, 1994, they defeated Kevin Sullivan and the Tazmaniac to win the ECW Tag Team Championship.[8]

At Ultimate Jeopardy in March 1994, the Public Enemy teamed with Shane Douglas and Mr. Hughes to face Sullivan, the Tazmaniac, Road Warrior Hawk, and ECW Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk in an "Ultimate Jeopardy steel cage match". Each participant had a stipulation which would be implemented if they were defeated; if the Public Enemy were defeated, they would be forced to stop teaming together. Douglas won the bout for his team by pinning Funk.[9][10][11] At When Worlds Collide in May 1994, the Public Enemy again teamed with Douglas and Hughes, losing to J. T. Smith and the Bruise Brothers in a handicap elimination match.[8] At the same event, the Public Enemy attacked Terry Funk after being paid by Paul E. Dangerously (the manager of Funk's rival Sabu), causing Funk to declare he would get revenge on the Public Enemy.[10][12][13] At Hostile City Showdown in June 1994, the Public Enemy wrestled Terry Funk and his brother Dory Funk Jr. to a no contest. At Heat Wave: the Battle for the Future in July 1994, the Public Enemy defeated the Funk brothers in a barbed wire match. At Hardcore Heaven in August 1994, the Public Enemy successfully defended their titles against the Bad Breed.[8] Later that evening, the Public Enemy interfered in the main event bout between Terry Funk and Cactus Jack. As the four men brawled, Funk called for a fan to toss him a steel chair. This resulted in multiple fans hurtling chairs into the ring, with Rock and Grunge being buried under a large pile of steel chairs.[14][15]

The Public Enemy's first reign as ECW Tag Team Champions ended the following month at the NWA World Title Tournament event, where Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck (substituting for Terry Funk, who had temporarily departed the promotion) defeated them in an upset.[8][15] Around this time, Eastern Championship Wrestling was rebranded "Extreme Championship Wrestling".[8] In August 1994, Rock (as "the Cheetah Kid") wrestled two matches for the World Wrestlings Superstars promotion in Vienna, Austria. Back in ECW, the Public Enemy continued their feud with Cactus Jack and Whipwreck, culminating in a Brawl Game match at November to Remember where they regained the titles (now known as the ECW World Tag Team Championship). For the remainder of the year, they successfully defended the titles against challengers including Cactus Jack and Whipwreck; the Bad Breed; and 2 Cold Scorpio and Ron Simmons.[8][15]

The Public Enemy's second reign as ECW World Tag Team Champions ran until February 1995, where they lost to Sabu and the Tazmaniac at Double Tables. In March 1995, they made a short tour of Japan with Wrestling International New Generations. In April 1995 at Three Way Dance, the Public Enemy won the ECW World Tag Team Championship for a third time, defeating Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko and Rick Steiner (substituting for Sabu) and the Tazmaniac in a three way dance. Immediately following their victory, the Public Enemy were attacked by the Pitbulls, beginning a feud between the two teams. At Hostile City Showdown later that month, the Public Enemy defeated the Pitbulls to retain their titles. Over the following months, the Public Enemy defended their titles against the Pitbulls in a series of matches, including dog collar matches and baseball bat matches. Their reign finally ended in July 1995 at Mountain Top Madness when they lost to Raven and Stevie Richards following interference from the Gangstas (Mustafa and New Jack).[16][17][18]

The Public Enemy subsequently began feuding with the Gangstas, losing to them in a cage match at Heat Wave in July 1995 and in a stretcher match at Wrestlepalooza. At Gangstas Paradise in September 1995, the Public Enemy teamed with Mikey Whipwreck to defeat 2 Cold Scorpio (substituting for Mustafa), New Jack, and the Sandman. In October 1995 at South Philly Jam, the Public Enemy defeated Raven and Stevie Richards and the Gangstas in a three way dance to win their fourth and final ECW World Tag Team Championship. Their reign ended later that month when 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Rock in a bout where Scorpio's ECW World Television Championship and the Public Enemy's ECW World Tag Team Championship were both on the line. In November 1995 at November to Remember, the Public Enemy unsuccessfully challenged 2 Cold Scorpio and the Sandman for the ECW World Tag Team Championship. The following day, the Public Enemy wrestled a dark match for the World Wrestling Federation at its Survivor Series pay-per-view, unsuccessfully challenging The Smoking Gunns for the WWF World Tag Team Championship.[16]

At December to Dismember in December 1995, the Public Enemy teamed with the Pitbulls and Tommy Dreamer to defeat Raven, Stevie Richards, the Eliminators, and the Heavenly Bodies in an Ultimate Jeopardy steel cage match (with a stipulation that if the Public Enemy were defeated they would need to wrestle one another).[16][19] At Holiday Hell later that month, the Public Enemy lost to the Gangstas.[16] In January 1996 at House Party, the Public Enemy made their final appearance with ECW before leaving to join World Championship Wrestling, defeating the Gangstas in the main event.[20] Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Rock #90 in the 1995 PWI 500 (an index of the world's top 500 wrestlers) - his highest ever placing.[21]

World Championship Wrestling (1996–1998)

See also: the Public Enemy

At the outset of 1996, the Public Enemy signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW).[22] They debuted on the January 15, 1996 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, defeating the American Males. Soon after arriving, they began a long-running feud with the Nasty Boys. At Clash of the Champions XXXII, the two teams wrestled one another to a double disqualification. At SuperBrawl VI in February 1996, the Nasty Boys defeated the Public Enemy in a falls count anywhere match. At Bash at the Beach in July 1996, the Nasty Boys defeated the Public Enemy in a dog collar match.[20]

On the September 23, 1996 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, the Public Enemy defeated Harlem Heat to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Their reign lasted until the October 1, 1996 episode of WCW Saturday Night, where Harlem Heat regained the titles. The Public Enemy continued to compete in WCW's tag team division for the remainder of the year. In December 1996, they took part in WCW's "Christmas Brawl" tour of Germany.[20]

In early 1997, the Public Enemy had a series of matches against the Faces of Fear and Harlem Heat, culminating in a triangle match at SuperBrawl VII that was won by the Public Enemy. At Uncensored in March 1997, Harlem Heat defeated the Public Enemy. At Spring Stampede in April 1997, the Public Enemy defeated Jeff Jarrett and Steve McMichael. At Slamboree in May 1997, the Public Enemy defeated Harlem Heat in a dark match. For the remainder of the year, the Public Enemy faced teams such as Harlem Heat; the Faces of Fear; the Steiner Brothers; High Voltage. At World War 3 in November 1997, Rock competed in the titular three ring battle royal which was won by Scott Hall.[23]

Throughout 1998, the Public Enemy continued to wrestle on WCW WorldWide, WCW Pro, WCW Saturday Night, and WCW Monday Nitro, facing tams such as the Outsiders; the Armstrongs (Scott Armstrong and Steve Armstrong); Disorderly Conduct (Mean Mike and Tough Tom); High Voltage; and the Barbarian and Hugh Morrus. In July 1998, they began a short feud with the Dancing Fools that culminated in a street fight at Road Wild in August 1998 that was won by the Public Enemy.[24]

The Public Enemy left WCW in September 1998. They spent the next few months wrestling for the Ohio-based Championship Wrestling promotion, facing the Bushwhackers in a series of matches.[24]

World Wrestling Federation (1999)

See also: the Public Enemy

The Public Enemy signed with the World Wrestling Federation[1] in early 1999. They were not accepted "backstage" by veteran WWF wrestlers and backstage personnel due to animosity over the fact that The Public Enemy chose WCW over the WWF when the two companies were pursuing the tag team in late 1995.[25] Rocco Rock was also forced to change his name and go by the shortened name "Flyboy Rocco", in order not to "cause confusion" with The Rock. They made their WWF debut on the February 22, 1999, episode of Raw is War, defeating The Brood by disqualification.

On the March 2, 1999, episode of Sunday Night Heat in Pittsburgh, the Public Enemy lost to the Acolytes in a squash match. In 2013, John "Bradshaw" Layfield elaborated that much of the animosity was due to them being brought into the company by Terry Taylor, who had his own backstage issues with much of the wrestlers, including the Acolytes. They had also desired to change the planned finish of the squash match, which involved them being driven through tables by the Acolytes. The Acolytes were instructed only to ensure that they go through with the planned finish of the match, leading to the match to be turned into a legitimate shoot, with The Acolytes dominating Public Enemy for the entirety of the four-minute match.[26][27] Following the Public Enemy's subsequent release, the APA claimed that they "ran The Public Enemy out" of the WWF. They said they could do the same to another famous ECW tag team (the Dudley Boyz); after the Dudley Boyz succeeded in the feud, it was commonly referred to as "Passing the Acolyte Test" since the Dudley Boyz did get over after a feud with the APA while The Public Enemy failed.

The Public Enemy would wrestle a final time on March 30, 1999, in a match taped for Shotgun Saturday Night, losing to the Hardy Boys via disqualification.[28] The match was aired on television on April 10, 1999. Shortly after airing, both members of Public Enemy were released in mid-April, along with "Dr Death." Steve Williams (who main-evented that same episode), Bart Gunn, and LOD 2000.

World Championship Wrestling (1999)

See also: the Public Enemy

After leaving the WWF, the Public Enemy returned to WCW in July 1999 at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, taking part in the "Junkyard Hardcore Invitational" that was won by Fit Finlay. Over the following weeks, the Public Enemy wrestled in the tag team division, facing teams such as the Insane Clown Posse; Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn; and Barry Windham and Curt Hennig. On the August 5, 1999 episode of WCW Thunder, Rock lost to Goldberg. They made their final appearance with WCW on the August 19, 1999 episode of WCW Thunder, losing to Sid Vicious in a handicap match.[20]

Late career (1999–2002)

Rocco Rock in March 2002

After leaving WCW in late-1999, the Public Enemy began wrestling on the independent circuit. In June 1999, they briefly held the NWA World Tag Team Championship. From December 1999 to May 2000, they appeared with Xtreme Pro Wrestling. In July and August 2000, they wrestled in Perth and Sydney for the Australian i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling promotion, briefly holding the i-Generation Tag Team Championship on two occasions.[29][30]

In November 2001, Rock and Grunge (as the "South Philly Posse") took part in television tapings for the X Wrestling Federation in Orlando, Florida.[31]

In May 2002, Rock and Grunge began appearing with the Philadelphia-based Pro-Pain Pro-Wrestling promotion.[32]

Death

Petty died of a heart attack on September 21, 2002, while en route to a Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling show where he was scheduled to wrestle against Gary Wolfe in a match for the promotion's heavyweight title.[1] His family maintained that Petty never used drugs but that his death was caused by a congenital heart defect that runs in his family.[33]

Every year, the IWA-Mid South professional wrestling promotion memorializes him by holding the Ted Petty Invitational tournament. Previous winners include A. J. Styles, Matt Sydal, Low Ki, and Mike Quackenbush.

Championships and accomplishments

Rocco Rock's Hardcore Hall of Fame banner in the former ECW Arena.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Power Slam". What's going down... SW Publishing. October 2002. p. 6. 55.
  2. ^ a b c d Loverro, Thom (2006). The Rise and Fall of ECW. Pocket Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4165-1058-1.
  3. ^ a b Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1990". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  4. ^ Shoemaker, David (2014). The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-59240-881-8.
  5. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1991". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  6. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1992". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1993". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1994". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  9. ^ Misnik, Tom (March 23, 1994). "E.C.W. update 3/22". Rec.Sport.Pro-Wrestling. Archived from the original on August 9, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Johnson, Mike (July 23, 2020). "ECW Ultimate Jeopardy, WWE on Quibi, WWE's planned Diva Search revival and more". PWInsider.com. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  11. ^ Douglas, Shane (August 30, 2020). "Franchised with Shane Douglas - episode 32: Ultimate Jeopardy 1994". Anchor.fm (Podcast). Superior Radio Network. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  12. ^ Matt (September 2019). "ECW: When Worlds Collide (05.94)". PDRWrestling.net. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
  13. ^ Matthews, Paul (August 31, 2019). "Classic Wrestling Review: When Worlds Collide '94". classicwrestlingreview.com. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  14. ^ Colling, Bob (July 4, 2010). "ECW Hardcore Heaven 8/13/1994". WrestlingRecaps.com. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c Foley, Mick (2000). Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. Turtleback Books. ISBN 978-0-613-33590-4.
  16. ^ a b c d Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1995". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  17. ^ Big Red Machine (June 30, 1995). "ECW Mountain Top Madness". TheWrestlingRevolution.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  18. ^ Raven. "Match results - June 1996". TheRavenEffect.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  19. ^ Raven. "Match results – December 1995". TheRavenEffect.com. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1996". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  21. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 – 1995". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  22. ^ Williams, Scott E. (2006). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW. Sports Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-59670-021-5.
  23. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1997". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  24. ^ a b Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1998". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  25. ^ Williams, Scott (2006). Hardcore History. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-1-59670-021-5.
  26. ^ "The Layfield Report - Blog". Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  27. ^ "WON/F4W - WWE news, Pro Wrestling News, WWE Results, UFC News, UFC results".
  28. ^ "1999". thehistoryofwwe.com.
  29. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 1999". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  30. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 2000". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  31. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 2001". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  32. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Rocco Rock - matches - 2002". Cagematch.net. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  33. ^ O'Connor, Ryan (December 21, 2015). "Rocco Rock - Dead at 49". Wrestler Deaths. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  34. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  35. ^ a b c d Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.