The largest state in the 48 contiguous United States has produced arguably the greatest crop of professional wrestling talent of all-time. During the territorial days of pro wrestling, Texas was the home to five legitimate, full-time wrestling territories. Fritz Von Erich promoted World Class Championship Wrestling in Dallas, Texas. Paul Boesch promoted Houston Wrestling in Houston, Texas. Joe Blanchard promoted Southwest Championship Wrestling in San Antonio, Texas. Gory Guerrero promoted El Paso Wrestling in El Paso, Texas. Dory Funk Sr. promoted Amarillo Wrestling in Amarillo, Texas.
No other state can lay claim to the amount of rich talent and legitimate wrestling promotions that at one time was based in the state of Texas. Today we are going to look at some of the best talent to come out of the state of Texas. Whether they were born in Texas, grew up in Texas, went to school in Texas or largely established their professional wrestling careers in Texas, we’re going to begin our look at some of the best talent in the history of the business that we all share an affinity of, that can thank the state of Texas for their extraordinary careers.
Did you know that 12 major pro wrestling stars all played football at West Texas State University? Those were Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Barry Windham, Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana, Tully Blanchard, Manny Fernandez and Scott Casey. Of those 12, three actually became the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, as Rhodes had multiple runs with the title, and both of the Funk brothers each had a run as NWA Champion early in their careers.
That, to me, is an amazing statistic. Look over that list one more time. It is an incredible amount of talent, all of which went to the same school and played the same sport, all leading to an eventual career, most of which ended up being a legendary one at that, in the great business of professional wrestling.
Dusty Rhodes is one of the biggest stars in wrestling history who is also responsible for many of the concepts that are still used to this day. He’s considered one of the best heavyweight champions in the history of the sport, and is among the best talkers in wrestling history. As a booker for Jim Crockett Promotions, Rhodes innovated a number of concepts and promotional ideas that revolutionized this great industry.
Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody helped pioneer the brawling style of pro wrestling that made them mega-stars, especially in Japan, during their legendary careers. Bruiser Brody ended up being a tragic figure in the sport, however, as his no-nonsense style ended up resulting in his murder by a pro wrestling promoter in Puerto Rico. Hansen was a similar guy when it came to the business side of the sport, as everyone by now has likely heard the infamous story of him driving over the AWA Heavyweight Championship with his truck when promoter Verne Gagne demanded he cease referring to himself as the AWA Champion.
Terry Funk is one of the true innovators of the hardcore style of pro wrestling, a style that he would later use to help establish the renegade Extreme Championship Wrestling promotion in the 1990s. Long before fans were rabidly chanting “E-C-dub, E-C-dub” Funk was pile-driving “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair through tables in famous “I Quit” matches, screaming “my eye! my eye!” in empty-arena matches with Jerry “The King” Lawler, and blowing his ass off in Japan in death-matches alongside his pal Cactus Jack.
Dory Funk Jr. was one of the longest reigning NWA Champions in history and outside of his own legendary in-ring career, is responsible for training and developing some of the biggest stars in the history of the industry, such as Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Christian, Lita and Mickie James.
Of the 12 West Texas State boys, seven went on to become WWE Hall Of Famers. Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Barry Windham, Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana and Tully Blanchard all have the ring to prove it. If the future serves any justice, Dick Murdoch, Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen will eventually join that list, making it an even ten.
This is just one school! Many great wrestlers emanate from the largest state in the union and when we return for part two of our look at the best wrestlers to come out of Texas, we will focus our attention on some of the biggest names specifically in WWE history that have roots to The Lone Star State.
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