Rocco Rock
Rocco Rock - Mar 01 2002.jpg
Rocco Rock in March 2002.
Birth nameTheodore James Petty
BornSeptember 1, 1953[1]
Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, United States[1]
DiedSeptember 21, 2002(2002-09-21) (aged 49)[2]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Alma materRutgers University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)The Cheetah Kid[1][3]
Colonel DeKlerk[1]
The Executioner
Flyboy Rocco
The Leopard Mask[3]
Rocco Rock[1]
The Rock
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[3]
Billed weight250 lb (113 kg)[3]
Billed fromCompton, California, United States
South Africa
(as Colonel DeKlerk)
Trained byAfa Anoa'i[1]

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 Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation alongside Johnny Grunge as The Public Enemy.[2]

Professional wrestling career

Born on September 1, 1953, graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in nutrition,[2] and following a brief boxing career, Petty started wrestling in 1978 as "The Cheetah Kid".[2] He was trained by Afa Anoa'i. Petty worked as enhancement talent (a jobber) in the American Wrestling Association from 1985 to 1988. He wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance in 1990, appearing at Starrcade as "Colonel DeKlerk", where along with Sergeant Krueger, he represented South Africa in a tag team match, but the team lost to The Steiner Brothers.[4]

During that same year, he worked for New Japan Pro-Wrestling where he teamed up with Pegasus Kid.[5] In 1993, under the name "Rocco Rock" and formed a tag team named The Public Enemy with Johnny Grunge, with a gimmick of inner city criminals. The team first wrestled in the Universal Wrestling Federation and Extreme Championship Wrestling.[1][2] In ECW, the team feuded with Terry Funk and The Gangstas and won the ECW Tag Team Championship four times.[6][7] The teams's success in 1995 earned him his highest placement in the annual PWI 500, in which he was ranked #90.[8]

In 1996, The Public Enemy signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW),[9] where they won the tag team title and feuded with The Nasty Boys.[2] They continued to use some of the hardcore tactics that had made them famous in ECW, including the frequent use of tables in matches.[1] He also made a few single-competition appearances as The Cheetah Kid during that time. The Public Enemy signed with the World Wrestling Federation[2] 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.[10] 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. In the two months they lasted in the WWF, their most notable appearance was losing a squash match against the Acolytes on Sunday Night Heat in Pittsburgh; following a brief feud with APA and 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.

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.[11][12] 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.[13] 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. That same year they returned to WCW.

On August 8, 1999, Petty lost to Bill Goldberg on WCW Thunder. Also they competed in the short-lived Xtreme Wrestling Federation as the "South Philly Posse" with Jasmin St. Claire as their manager.[2] Petty then competed as a singles wrestler on the independent circuit.


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.[2] He was 49 years old.[14] His family maintained that Petty never used drugs, but that his death was caused by a congenital heart defect that runs in his family.[15] 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

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

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Rocco Rock". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Power Slam". What's going down... SW Publishing. October 2002. p. 6. 55.
  3. ^ a b c d Loverro, Thom (2006). The Rise and Fall of ECW. Pocket Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4165-1058-1.
  4. ^ "Starrcade 1990". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  5. ^ Shoemaker, David (2014-11-04). The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-59240-881-8.
  6. ^ Loverro, Thom (2007-05-22). The Rise & Fall of ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-6156-9.
  7. ^ "History of the ECW Tag Team Championship". WWE. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  8. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 – 1995". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
  9. ^ Williams, Scott E. (2006). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-1-59670-021-5.
  10. ^ Williams, Scott (2006). Hardcore History. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-1-59670-021-5.
  11. ^ "The Layfield Report - Blog". Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  12. ^ "WON/F4W - WWE news, Pro Wrestling News, WWE Results, UFC News, UFC results".
  13. ^ "1999".
  14. ^ "Photos of Theodore J. "Rocco Rock" Petty - Find A". Find a Grave.
  15. ^ O'Connor, Ryan (December 21, 2015). "Rocco Rock - Dead at 49". Wrestler Deaths. Retrieved July 2, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ a b c d Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.