Tom Zenk

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Tom Zenk
Birth name Thomas Erwin Zenk
Born (1958-11-30)November 30, 1958
Robbinsdale, Minnesota, U.S.
Died December 9, 2017(2017-12-09) (aged 59)
Robbinsdale, Minnesota, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Tom Zenk
The Z-Man
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Billed weight 240 lb (110 kg; 17 st)
Billed from Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Trained by Eddie Sharkey
Brad Rheingans
Debut 1984
Retired 1996

Thomas Erwin Zenk (November 30, 1958 – December 9, 2017)[1] was an American professional wrestler and bodybuilder. He was best known for his appearances with professional wrestling promotions the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Bodybuilding career[edit]

Zenk placed third in a Mr. North Country bodybuilding contest in October 1980, then won Mr. Twin Cities in May 1981. That July, he won the Mr. Minnesota triple crown, titling in the heavyweight, overall and most muscular categories.[2]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1984-1986)[edit]

After Road Warrior Animal met him at a bodybuilding contest and introduced him to wrestling, Zenk started in 1984 for the American Wrestling Association (AWA), before moving to the National Wrestling Alliance's (NWA) Pacific Northwest Wrestling (PNW).[2] Here he feuded with Bobby Jaggers. At Rick Martel's request, he moved to Montreal to work for Lutte Internationale. Here, the two formed The Can-Am Connection, which later appeared in the World Wrestling Federation.

World Wrestling Federation (1986–1987)[edit]

Zenk joined the World Wrestling Federation with Martel in late 1986, as The Can-Am Connection.[3] They defeated the tag team of Don Muraco and Bob Orton, Jr. in the opening bout of WrestleMania III, on March 29, 1987.[3] The popular team pushed as the possible successors to The Hart Foundation as the World Tag Team Champions, but this push ended abruptly when Zenk left the promotion.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1986–1989)[edit]

Between 1987 and 1989, Zenk made multiple tours of Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).

American Wrestling Association (1989)[edit]

Zenk reappeared in the American Wrestling Association in early 1989 and was the last man eliminated (by Larry Zbyszko) in a battle royal for the vacant AWA World Heavyweight Title.[4]

World Championship Wrestling (1989–1994)[edit]

After receiving several shots at the AWA title, Zenk moved on to World Championship Wrestling in 1989.[5] As "The Z-Man", he debuted at Clash of the Champions VIII that September 12.[5] He soon formed a tag team with Brian Pillman, won the United States Tag Team Championship and feuded with The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane) and The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes).[5]

During this time, Zenk tore a muscle while weightlifting and took several months off to recover. He appeared more slender upon returning. Z-Man then feuded with Arn Anderson over the World Television Championship, eventually winning the title.[5] When the promotion changed its name to World Championship Wrestling in 1991, Z-Man officially became the final NWA World Television Champion and the first WCW World Television Champion.[5] He re-lost the title to Anderson on January 7, 1991.[5] Later that year, Z-Man, Dustin Rhodes and Big Josh feuded with The York Foundation and The Fabulous Freebirds over the World Six-Man Tag Team Championship.[5] Z-Man, Rhodes and Josh won the title from the Freebirds in August, and lost it to The York Foundation in October.[5]

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1994)[edit]

After Zenk's release from WCW in May 1994, he participated in All Japan Pro Wrestling's (AJPW) Summer Action tour that July, and their Giant Series tour in September.

American Wrestling Federation (1996)[edit]

In August 1996, Zenk joined the American Wrestling Federation (AWF), where he finished his career in October.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Zenk attended high school in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, with fellow future pro wrestlers Nikita Koloff, Brady Boone, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, John Nord, and Barry Darsow.

Zenk was the son of Lois and Robert Sr., and had three siblings: Robert Jr., Kathryn and James. His father died on February 20, 2018.[7]

Death[edit]

Zenk died in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017, at the age of 59, from arterial sclerosis and cardiomegaly.[8] He was interred at St. Nicholas Cemetery in Carver, Minnesota.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  1. ^ The title's name was changed to the WCW World Television Championship due to WCW withdrawing from the NWA after Zenk won it, technically making him the last World Television Champion under the NWA banner and the first under the WCW banner.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Obituary for Thomas Erwin Zenk". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-12-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Tom Zenk, of Can-Am Connection, dies at 59", by Kari Williams, Slam! Wrestling
  3. ^ a b Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 1: WWF 1963 - 1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1492825972. 
  4. ^ Will, Gary; Royal Duncan (1994). "United States: 19th century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW: AWA World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (3 ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 23. ISBN 0-9698161-1-1. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cawthon, Graham (2014). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 4: World Championship Wrestling 1989-1994. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1499656343. 
  6. ^ Tom Zenk's matches, from WrestlingData.com
  7. ^ "Robert James Zenk", Minneapolis Star Tribune
  8. ^ Csonka, Larry (2018-02-23). "Tom Zenk's Cause of Death Revealed". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. 
  9. ^ http://www.purolove.com/ajpw/history/rwtl86.php
  10. ^ Will, Gary; Royal Duncan (1994). "United States: 19th century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW: NWA United States Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (3 ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 23. ISBN 0-9698161-1-1. 
  11. ^ Will, Gary; Royal Duncan (1994). "United States: 19th century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW: NWA Television Title". Wrestling Title Histories (3 ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 23. ISBN 0-9698161-1-1. 
  12. ^ Will, Gary; Royal Duncan (1994). "United States: 19th century & widely defended titles - NWA, WWF, AWA, IWA, ECW: WCCW Six-Man Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (3 ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 23. ISBN 0-9698161-1-1. 
  13. ^ "Canadian International Tag Team title history". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved June 20, 2015. 
  14. ^ Duncan, Royal; Gary Will (2006). "(Oregon & Washington) Portland: NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 315–317. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  15. ^ Duncan, Royal; Gary Will (2006). "(Oregon & Washington) Portland: NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 317–320. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  16. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Awards « Tom Zenk « Wrestlers Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved 2017-04-08. 
  17. ^ "Wrestling Information Archive - Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". 2008-06-16. Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2017-04-08. 

External links[edit]