|Birth name||Aurelian Smith|
August 6, 1932|
Grayson County, Texas
|Died||June 12, 2010
|Spouse(s)||Marsha Smith (divorced)
Michelle Hyde (divorced)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Grizzly Smith
|Billed height||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Billed weight||350 lb (160 kg)|
Aurelian Smith (August 6, 1932 – June 12, 2010) was an American professional wrestler better known as Grizzly Smith. He was the father of professional wrestlers Aurelian, Jr. (Jake "The Snake" Roberts), Michael (Sam Houston), and Robin (Rockin' Robin).
After his wrestling career ended, he served for a time as a backstage official in the World Wrestling Federation and a road agent in World Championship Wrestling, as recounted in Mick Foley's book Have a Nice Day.
Smith began competing in professional wrestling in Texas, but he worked on an oilfield part-time as well. Smith also competed in Georgia, where he challenged Freddie Blassie for the NWA Georgia World Heavyweight Championship but was unable to win the title belt. While wrestling in Texas, Smith met Luke Brown, who he followed to Oklahoma. Smith, who had wrestled under the ring names Jake Smith and Tiny Anderson, began competing as Grizzly Smith, although he also wrestled as Tiny Smith. Smith and Brown formed a tag team known as The Kentuckians, and the pair used the gimmick of a pair of hillbillies. Together, they won the Georgia version of the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship in 1962 and held them until dropping them to Lenny Montana and Gypsy Joe on November 23 of that year.
In 1964 The Kentuckians made a brief stop in the WWWF in the Northeast. They feuded with Gorilla Monsoon & Klondike Bill, the Graham Brothers, and the Mortieas. Unfortunately the team never won the tag titles and went back south. The Kentuckians' biggest rivals were The Assassins, with whom they feuded in matches across the United States. In many of these matches, The Assassins were joined by The Missouri Mauler and The Kentuckians teamed with Haystacks Calhoun. The Kentuckians biggest win over The Assassins came while competing in the Los Angeles-based World Wrestling Association on August 8, 1965, when they defeated their rivals to win the WWA World Tag Team Championship. They held the belts for several months before dropping them to Gorilla Monsoon and Luke Graham the following January. Later in 1966, Smith and Brown won the American Wrestling Association's Midwest Tag Team Championship.
In January 1967, the Kentuckians showed up in Japan's International Wrestling Enterprise. They challenged Antonio Inoki and Hiro Matsuda for the NWA World Tag Team Championship twice but lost by disqualification both times, although Inoki was able to pin Smith in the second fall of the second match. (Matsuda later recommended Smith's daughter Rockin' Robin to work for All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling in the 1990s).
Smith's feud with The Assassins also took him to Western Canada, where he teamed with Don Leo Jonathan to defeat The Assassins for the Vancouver version of the NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship. Smith, who was wrestling under the ring name Ski Hi Jones, and Jonathan held the title from March 25, 1968 until the following month, when The Assassins regained the championship in a rematch.
Smith then returned to Texas, where he was involved in a rivalry with The Spoiler. The two wrestlers feuded over the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship, which Smith won from The Spoiler in June 1968. The following month, Smith gained another title when he teamed with Fritz Von Erich to defeat The Spoiler and Gary Hart to win the NWA American Tag Team Championship. Smith and The Spoiler continued to feud, however, and The Spoiler regained the Heavyweight Championship in August and the Team Team Championship in September.
The Kentuckians reunited in the NWA Tri-State territory. In an April 1971 match that was scheduled to see Bill Watts and Billy Red Lyons challenge Waldo Von Erich and Karl Von Brauner for the Tri-State version of the NWA United States Tag Team Championship, Smith and Brown took the place of the challengers. They won the match and the title belts but were stripped of the championship later that month. They continued to pursue the belts and regained them later that month, holding them until a loss to The Spoilers later that year.
After retiring as a competitor, Smith promoted wrestling events in Louisiana alongside Jack Curtis. He then worked with Bill Watts in the Mid-South territory until being fired during a disagreement over wages. From there, he went to Mississippi to work with promoter George Culkin.
Smith was born in Grayson County, Texas and grew up with a brother, who died at age nine, and two sisters. He had two children from his first marriage, Aurelian, Jr. and a daughter. He later had two more children, Michael and Robin, with his second wife Marsha. Three of his children went on to become professional wrestlers: Aurelian, Jr. as Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Michael as Sam Houston, and Robin as Rockin' Robin. Smith briefly married again on June 22, 1992 this time to a woman named Michelle D. Hyde who was 24 years his junior. This marriage was finalized March 17, 1996.
Smith retired from wrestling and moved to Louisiana, where he shared a house with his son Michael in Metairie. Smith took on a job performing maintenance in a cemetery near New Orleans' French Quarter. The pair lost most of their possessions in the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They were able to salvage some footwear and canned food, but flooding destroyed the remainder of their belongings. Smith's health had been deteriorating for several years, and he developed a staphylococcal infection after scraping his leg the day before the storm hit. He was not able to get medical attention and almost lost his leg as a result. Smith died of Alzheimer's disease on June 12, 2010 in Amarillo, Texas.
Accusations from Jake Roberts
Smith had a strained relationship with his son Aurelian, Jr. (Jake Roberts), which Roberts stated was partially the result of his father not informing his children of the scripted nature of professional wrestling. In an interview on Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Pick Your Poison, a video released by World Wrestling Entertainment, Roberts stated that his father convinced the family that his injuries in the ring were real and wore a neck brace at home to sell a storyline. On the same video, Roberts also stated that he was conceived when his father, who was dating Roberts' grandmother, raped her 13-year-old daughter (this was also stated in the documentary Beyond the Mat, which Roberts was also featured in). He said that the two were forced to marry against their wishes and that the resulting emotional trauma is responsible for Roberts' substance abuse and his sister's mental health problems. At age 18, his sister married a man 35 years older than she was; the man's ex-wife later kidnapped and killed Roberts' sister.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Johnson, Steve. "NWA Wrestling Legends Hall of Heroes: Grizzly Smith, Class of 2008". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Martin, Adam (2008-11-14). "Southeastern Wrestling News, Notes, and Nostalgia: 11/13/2008". WrestleView. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "NWA Southern Tag Team Title (Georgia)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- Mooneyham, Mike (2000-04-30). ""The Assassin" Tom Renesto". The Wrestling Gospel According to Mike Mooneyham. Archived from the original on November 14, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "WWA World Tag Team Title History". Solie's Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "AWA Midwest Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "NWA Canadian Tag Team Title History". Solie's Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title History". Solie's Wrestling Titles.
- "WCCW/NWA American Tag Team Title History". Solie's Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "NWA United States Tag Team Title (Tri-State)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- "Mid-South (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Watts, Bill; Scott Williams (2006). The Cowboy and the Cross: The Bill Watts Story: Rebellion, Wrestling and Redemption. ECW Press. p. 130. ISBN 1-55022-708-4.
- Kelley, Patrick (2009-02-25). "Sam Houston talks about his life after wrestling". Figure Four Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- Johnson, Steven (2006-03-01). "Sam Houston and Grizzly Smith rebuild their lives". SLAM! Wrestling.
- Cauliflower Alley Club: Remembering those we have lost in 2010
- Oliver, Greg; Steven Johnson (2007). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. ECW Press. p. 312. ISBN 1-55022-759-9.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts – Pick Your Poison. World Wrestling Entertainment. 2005.
- Nation, Ryan (2005-12-04). "Jake 'The Snake' DVD doesn't disappoint". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer.