Barry Windham

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Barry Windham
Barry Windham in 1996.jpg
Birth name Barry Clinton Windham
Born (1960-07-04) July 4, 1960 (age 54)[1][2]
Sweetwater, Texas[1][2]
Resides Homerville, Georgia[1][2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Blackjack Mulligan, Jr.[1][2]
Barry Windham[1][2]
Yellow Dog[1][2][2]
The Widowmaker[1][2]
The Stalker[1][2]
Blackjack Windham[1][2]
Billed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)[1][2]
Billed weight 220 lb (100 kg) - 277 lb (126 kg)[1][2]
Billed from Sweetwater, Texas
Trained by Blackjack Mulligan[1]
Harley Race[2]
Debut November 27, 1979[1][2]

Barry Clinton Windham (born July 4, 1960) is an American semi-retired professional wrestler and the son of wrestler Blackjack Mulligan. He is best known for his appearances with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

In NWA/WCW, he was a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion,[3] a one-time United States Heavyweight Champion,[4] a one-time Television Champion,[5] a one-time Western States Heritage Champion,[6] a four-time NWA (Mid Atlantic)/WCW World Tag Team Champion[7] and a one-time NWA United States Tag Team Champion with Ron Garvin.[8] In the WWF, he was a two-time World Tag Team Champion with his brother-in-law, Mike Rotunda.[9] On March 31, 2012, Windham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early years (1980–1984)[edit]

Windham was trained by his father Blackjack Mulligan and popular world champion Harley Race. He debuted on November 27, 1979 against J.J. Dillion in Odessa, Texas when he was 19 years old. Much of his early career was in the NWA's Championship Wrestling from Florida territory where Gordon Solie was the head announcer. He was a fan favorite for most of the early and middle periods of his career, having great success in singles and tag action. Windham had notable feuds with Kevin Sullivan and his army. With his brother-in-law Mike Rotunda, Windham formed a tag team in 1984. The duo captured the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship three times between March and May 1984.[10]

World Wrestling Federation (1984–1985)[edit]

Main article: U.S. Express

Rotunda and Windham were signed by World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in October 1984. They debuted in WWF as babyfaces on the November 17, 1984 edition of Maple Leaf Wrestling defeating Mohammed Saad and Bobby Bass.[11] Their tag team was named "U.S. Express".[12] They quickly made impact in WWF's tag team division as they beat North South Connection (Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis) for their first WWF Tag Team Championship on January 21, 1985, at a house show in Hartford, CT.[13][14] At the first-ever WrestleMania, US Express dropped the titles to Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.[15] On the July 13 edition of Championship Wrestling, they beat Sheik and Volkoff for their second and final WWF Tag Team Championship,[16][17] which they lost to Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) in Philadelphia at The Spectrum on August 24.[18]

National Wrestling Alliance (1986–1989)[edit]

Championship Wrestling from Florida (1986)[edit]

After departing from the WWF, Windham worked an extended stint in National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He worked in NWA's territory Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) as a babyface, where most notably he wrestled in the main event of Battle of the Belts II for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Ric Flair,[19] and feuded over the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship with Ron Bass.[20]

Mid–card (1987)[edit]

In the fall of 1986, he shifted to NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) territory as a babyface where he had many memorable matches with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. These included matches going to 60 minute time limit draws and even some extending beyond an hour of action. He then shifted back to the tag team division, forming a successful pairing with Ron Garvin. On December 9, 1986, Windham and Garvin defeated Ivan Koloff and Khrusher Khruschev.[8] for the U.S. tag team championship. Their biggest feud as a team was with The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane), managed by Jim Cornette.

The Midnight Express were never able to beat Windham and Garvin for the titles. Windham and Garvin eventually lost these titles to Ivan Koloff and Dick Murdoch in the spring of 1987, shortly before the annual Jim Crockett Memorial Tag Team Tournament (also known as the Crockett Cup). At this time, Windham also formed an alliance with Lex Luger, who would turn his back on Windham when they were both in the NWA shortly afterward when Luger had aspirations of joiningThe Four Horsemen.[21] Rather than enter the tournament as a team, the NWA split up Windham and Garvin. Ronnie Garvin instead teamed up with his stepson Jimmy Garvin (in the storyline of the NWA, they were called the Garvin brothers, but Ronnie was actually Jimmy's stepfather). Rather than have Windham partner up with someone in the tournament, he was booked to face Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship in what would be another classic match between the two. Flair defeated Windham with a controversial pinfall after a little over 25 minutes of action.[22]

Windham spent the rest of 1987 in NWA's mid-card division. On June 20, 1987, Windham defeated Black Bart in a tournament final to win the short-lived NWA Western States Heritage Championship, becoming first champion.[6][23] He defended the title against the likes of Rick Steiner,[24] Big Bubba Rogers[25] and Incubus.[26] The title was also recognized by Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).[21] He began climbing up the ranks of UWF. At NWA's first pay-per-view (PPV), Starrcade 1987: Chi-Town Heat, he lost to UWF Heavyweight Champion "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.[27] In 1988, Windham began rising up in the NWA ranks again. He started off by dropping the Western States Heritage Title to Larry Zbyszko at Bunkhouse Stampede.[28]

Four Horsemen (1988–1989)[edit]

On March 27, 1988 edition of Clash of the Champions, he teamed up with Lex Luger to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.[29][30] A few weeks later, on April 20, in Jacksonville, Florida, a swerve took place where Windham betrayed Luger causing the team to lose the titles back to Blanchard and Anderson. Windham turned heel and joined Ric Flair's stable, the Four Horsemen (which also consisted of Anderson and Blanchard) and his heel turn was considered shocking at the time.[31] In addition, he began using a black glove as well as the clawhold as his finisher, which was a signature move of his father Blackjack Mulligan. He went back to singles competition and defeated Nikita Koloff in a tournament final to win the vacant NWA United States Heavyweight Championship when NWA suspended then-champion Dusty Rhodes.[32][33] Windham was a dominant US Champion, who reigned for nine months. He defended the title against the likes of Brad Armstrong,[34] Dusty Rhodes,[35] Sting[36] and Bam Bam Bigelow[37] before dropping it to Lex Luger at Chi-Town Rumble in February 1989.[38] His contract with NWA expired in March 1989.[1]

Return to the WWF (1989)[edit]

Windham returned to the WWF in June 1989 as the Widowmaker. Despite the nickname, Windham did not change his image much, portraying a heel cowboy type character. He went undefeated for four months and was to have been on Randy Savage's Survivor Series team, but was replaced by the Canadian Earthquake as Windham left the company in October due to undisclosed personal reasons.

World Championship Wrestling (1990–1994)[edit]

Rejoining the Four Horsemen (1990–1991)[edit]

In May 1990, Windham joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and re-united with the Four Horsemen which at that point consisted of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Sid Vicious, and Ole Anderson. At the time, Ole Anderson was only semi-active and permanently became their manager once Windham joined. He defeated Doug Furnas on June 13, 1990 edition of Clash of the Champions. He spent most of the time that year in tag team matches with the other Horsemen as partners.[39] At Halloween Havoc 1990, Windham was involved in a controversial match between Sid Vicious and then NWA World Champion Sting. Vicious appeared to pin Sting and win the championship, but it was actually Windham who was dressed like Sting. Once the hoax was noticed, the match was restarted and the real Sting defeated Sid Vicious.[40] Windham spent the rest of the year teaming with Arn Anderson in the continuation of a feud between the Four Horsemen and then NWA World Tag Team Champions, Doom. At Starrcade 1990: Collision Course, Windham and Anderson wrestled Doom to a no contest in a Street Fight when a member of each team was pinned.[41]

A famous vignette was shot in an Atlanta, GA ghetto before a series of match ups between Barry Windham & Arn Anderson and the tag team of Doom (Ron Simmons and Hacksaw Butch Reed). A famous quote from Arn Anderson to Barry Windham, "Ya know something BW, when I took a look at this dump, it ain't the Helmsley college, pal!." Barry responds, Ya, but it's a lot cheaper!"

In 1991, Windham continued teaming with Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious.[1] Windham feuded with Brian Pillman in the spring of 1991, culminating in a taped fist match at SuperBrawl I: Return of the Rising Sun, which Windham won.[42] As the middle of the year approached, controversy erupted in the WCW (which the NWA became fully known as from then on) when WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair, was fired by the company, causing the title to be vacant. Windham was then elevated to the number 2 contender spot and faced Lex Luger in a steel cage match to declare the new champion. At The Great American Bash 1991, Windham lost the match to Luger in a double turn as Luger became the top bad guy of WCW and Windham becoming one of the most popular, due to Luger's cheating tactics and his involvement with heel manager Harley Race. This, and Windham's dogged determination to win the belt after years as a perennial upper-mid carder got Windham over in terms of popularity with the fans again despite still not winning the world championship. It's rumored that Flair was going to drop the title to Windham at a TV taping in Columbus, Georgia, but was fired before it could happen.[43]

Face turn (1991–1992)[edit]

In October 1991, Windham formed a tag team with Dustin Rhodes and feuded with WCW World Tag Team Champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko). At Halloween Havoc 1991: Chamber of Horrors, Anderson and Zbyszko slammed a car door on Windham's hand, breaking it, and putting him out of action for a while (including that night's Chamber of Horrors match, where he was replaced by El Gigante). That also led to Ricky Steamboat stepping in as the mystery partner for Rhodes at the Clash of the Champions that November.[1] Steamboat and Rhodes won the titles.[1] Windham, meanwhile, would come back a couple of months later to feud with Anderson, Zbyszko, and the rest of what was now the Dangerous Alliance. Windham would feud with TV Champion "Stunning" Steve Austin in the spring of 1992. On the May 9, 1992 edition of Saturday Night, he defeated Austin in a two out of three falls match to win the WCW World Television Championship.[5][44] He dropped the title back to Austin on the June 13 edition of WorldWide.[45]

On a taped edition of Saturday Night on September 2, Windham teamed with Dustin Rhodes to defeat Steve Williams and Terry Gordy for the unified WCW World Tag Team Championship and NWA World Tag Team Championship (their NWA title reign is not recognized by NWA); the match would air on October 3.[7] They held the belts for about two months before losing them to Steamboat and Shane Douglas in a memorable match on November 18 edition of Clash of the Champions. Windham turned on Rhodes after the match when Rhodes refused to pin Steamboat after an accidental low blow.[46]

Heel turn (1992–1994)[edit]

At the end of the year, Windham teamed with Brian Pillman, who had also turned heel, to pursue the titles he and Rhodes lost, but ended up losing to Steamboat and Douglas at Starrcade 1992: Battlebowl/The Lethal Lottery II.[47]

Windham became a full-time singles wrestler in January 1993 and pursued the NWA World Championship held by The Great Muta. He defeated Muta for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at SuperBrawl III.[3][48] Ric Flair, who returned to WCW that night, tried to present Windham with the belt, but when Windham saw it was Flair trying to put the belt around his waist, he took the belt and walked away.[49] Flair and Anderson tried to recruit Windham to join the Horsemen again, but Windham declined and became the "Lone Wolf," feuding with Flair and Anderson. He successfully defended the title against Anderson at Slamboree 1993: A Legend's Reunion.[50] After a successful title defense against 2 Cold Scorpio,[51] Windham dropped the NWA belt to Flair at Beach Blast 1993,[52] then disappeared from wrestling for almost a year, where he took on Flair again at Slamboree 1994: A Legend's Reunion for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. For weeks leading up to the match, WCW lead fans to believe it would be Hulk Hogan coming to challenge Flair, saying a 6'7", 300 lbs blond haired former World Champion was the masked man that Col. Robert Parker's Stud Stable was bringing in to challenge Flair as his "Stable Stud." It was revealed to be Barry Windham. Flair won again and Windham dropped out of sight for over two years.[53]

Return to the WWF (1996–1998)[edit]

The Stalker (1996)[edit]

Windham would again return to the WWF in late 1996, this time as "The Stalker", wearing camouflage face paint as well as being billed from "The Environment".[54] Windham's success with this gimmick was hampered by last minute changes. Windham cut promos as a heel, displaying The Stalker as a deranged and dangerous former military man and was scheduled to start a feud with Marc Mero. However, behind the scenes, Mero refused to agree to the planned storyline that would have been kick started by The Stalker stalking Sable and appearing to cut her throat. Following Mero's rejection of this plot point their whole program was scrapped and Stalker was introduced with little fanfare as a babyface. For a short time, he renewed his feud with Rhodes (known by that time as Goldust). In Windham's only pay-per-view appearance with this gimmick, he was eliminated from a Survivor Series match at Survivor Series 1996 by Goldust.[55]

The New Blackjacks (1997–1998)[edit]

Main article: The New Blackjacks

Windham later formed The New Blackjacks with Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw in 1997.[56] Windham dyed his hair and moustache black. The tag team was a tribute to the original Blackjacks (Windham's father, Mulligan, and Bradshaw's uncle, Lanza). The team had opportunities for the World Tag Titles but no success. That team didn't last long, as Windham turned on Bradshaw to join Jim Cornette's "NWA faction" in January 1998.[1] The angle was scrapped months later, and Windham left for WCW again.

Return to WCW (1998–1999)[edit]

Main article: West Texas Rednecks

In his last World Championship Wrestling run, Barry Windham was originally brought back to WCW by Eric Bischoff who had him turn on Ric Flair. Barry was then loosely associated with Bischoff's nWo Hollywood for a while before forming a tag team with Curt Hennig. At SuperBrawl IX, Hennig and Windham defeated Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko in the finals of a tag team tournament to win the vacant WCW World Tag Team Championship.[7][57]

Barry reinjured his knee during this period but would return as part of The "West Texas Rednecks" in mid-1999. They were supposed to be a heel group to feud with rapper Master P's "No Limit Soldiers" but the southern fans of WCW cheered the Rednecks, going against what WCW management and booking had hoped for, and the angle was eventually dropped. The group consisted of his brother Kendall Windham, Curt Hennig, and Bobby Duncum, Jr.; Duncum was replaced by Curly Bill after he was injured and shortly before the group was disbanded and the Rednecks storyline was dropped.[58] On August 23, 1999 edition of Nitro, the Windham brothers defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) to win their final WCW World Tag Team Championship,[7][59] before losing the titles back to Harlem Heat at Fall Brawl 1999.[60] Both Barry and Kendall were shortly after released by WCW.

By the end of 1999, they all had left WCW and Barry worked for Ted DiBiase's promotion WXO and World Wrestling Council, where he won the latter's World Tag Team Championship in Puerto Rico with brother Kendall.

Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling and semi–retirement (2001–present)[edit]

By 2001, Windham began competing on the American independent scene in the Florida-based Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, where he won their Heavyweight Championship and held it for the better part of a year.[2] He also became part of the Xtreme Horsemen in stable with Steve Corino and C.W. Anderson. They feuded with Dusty and Dustin Rhodes.

Barry's last appearances were at Major League Wrestling's War Games,[61] a one time U.S. Express Reunion with Mike Rotunda at WrestleReunion I,[62] and on the "WrestleMania Rewind" episode of Raw on March 10, 2008 in a rematch from the first WrestleMania.[63]

Windham worked as a producer for WWE. In 2007, he appeared on the Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen DVD. Barry was also seen during the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame broadcast, sitting next to former partner John "Bradshaw" Layfield. In June 2007, Windham did the introduction of SuperBrawl III for WWE 24/7. On March 13, 2008, Windham teamed up with Rotundo, in a WrestleMania 1 match against the Iron Sheik and Nikolia Volkoff. On December 31, 2008, he was released by the WWE.

In the evening of October 26, 2011, Barry was taken into intensive care in Florida, his father posted a message to Facebook saying "I have a son near death".[64] Having recovered from the heart attack, Barry appeared at the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame with Ric Flair, J J Dillon, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard as The Four Horsemen were inducted.

Personal life[edit]

Windham has a son named Callan and a daughter named Abigail with his ex-wife, Kebra.

On October 26, 2011, it was reported that he was hospitalized for either a very serious stroke or heart attack and was in an ICU unit.[65] He was found at his ranch by his brother-in-law Mike Rotunda.[66] His family confirmed that Windham suffered a heart attack. His father described him as "near death". He was later moved to a facility in Orlando for a MRI on his neck due to the fall he took from the heart attack.[67]

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

1The title was won by Windham and Blanchard in a small North Carolina NWA affiliated promotion. However, it should not be confused with the more prominent NWA All-Star Wrestling promotion that operated out of Vancouver, British Columbia from the early '60s to the late '80s.

References[edit]

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