Van Hammer in 1993
|Birth name||Mark Hildreth|
November 11, 1967 |
Hebron, Maryland, US
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Billed weight||280 lb (130 kg)|
|Trained by||Boris Malenko
WCW Power Plant
Mark Hildreth (born November 11, 1967) is an American retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his tenures in World Championship Wrestling under the ring name Van Hammer or simply Hammer.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 2.1 Start (1991)
- 2.2 World Championship Wrestling (1991–1993)
- 2.3 World Wrestling Federation
- 2.4 Return to WCW (1994-1995, 1997-2000)
- 2.5 Maryland Championship Wrestling and retirement (2001–2003, 2009)
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Professional wrestling career
After being trained by Boris Malenko and Dan Spivey, Hildreth made his debut on July 19, 1991 as "The Hammer", teaming with "Iceman" King Parsons to defeat Billy Travis and Khris Germany in a tag team match for the North Georgia Wrestling. The referee for this match was Hildreth's brother, Dwayne Hildreth. Hildreth had expected to wrestle on the independent circuit for at least a few years. However the promotion was being booked by Dusty Rhodes, who also served as the booker for World Championship Wrestling. Despite having wrestled just one match, Hildreth was invited to be the opponent for fellow Malenko trainee Marc Mero for the latter's tryout match for WCW.
World Championship Wrestling (1991–1993)
Marc Mero was brought in for a tryout match in 1991, and Hildreth was his opponent. Then booker Dusty Rhodes liked both and signed each of them to contracts, with Hammer inked to a $156,000 deal. In September 1991, Hildreth joined World Championship Wrestling as "Heavy Metal" Van Hammer, a rock star gimmick. He made his debut for the promotion at Clash of the Champions XVI, where he squashed Terrance Taylor in 39 seconds. He immediately was thrust unto the house show circuit, defeating Taylor in multiple rematches as well as defeating Oz and Cactus Jack. He made his WCW television debut on the October 15 episode of Saturday Night, defeating Paul Lee. Twelve days later, he made his pay-per-view debut at Halloween Havoc, defeating Doug Somers. On November 3, he gained a non-title victory over WCW TV Champion Arn Anderson at a house show in Charleston, WV. Hammer would go on to amass a 42-0 record competing on both house shows and television before finally having his streak ended when he lost a match to Cactus Jack at Clash of the Champions XVII. At Starrcade, Hammer teamed with Big Josh in a losing effort to Steve Austin and Rick Rude.
After briefly continuing his tag team with Big Josh, Hammer returned to singles competition and faced Steve Austin for the World Television Championship on the January 12 episode of Main Event, but was unable to win the title. After the loss, Hammer competed sporadically throughout the rest of the spring (including a brief feud with JT Southern) before returning full-time in August 1992. Hammer would fall to Greg Valentine and Nikita Koloff before his push began to accelerate. In September he went on a ten match winning streak, defeating Dallas Page, Vinnie Vegas (Kevin Nash), and Super Invader (Hercules Hernandez). He received a US title shot against Rick Rude on the November 21st episode of WCW Power Hour but came up short. Hammer teamed with Erik Watts at Halloween Havoc and was victorious against The Vegas Connection. For the remainder of October and November he was strongly pushed, going 19-2 in a streak that included victories over Tony Atlas, The Barbarian, and Mustafa Saed. He would also team with Brad Armstrong in a brief feud with Page and Vegas.
On the November 21 episode of WCW Worldwide, Hammer was entered into the Jesse "The Body" Ventura Strongest Arm Tournament and defeated Vinnie Vegas. On the December 12th episode, Hammer upset Big Van Vader to advance to the finals against WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons. The following week Hammer defeated Simmons to win the arm wrestling challenge.
Hammer teamed with Sting and was victorious in a tag-team match on the November 21st episode of WCW Saturday Night, defeating Rick Rude & Cactus Jack via disqualification. On a November 26 house show at the Omni in Atlanta, GA, Hammer was given a broken nose by Rick Rude during a eight-man tag-team main event match held in a thunderdome cage. Rather than take time off he instead took a Sharpie, inserted it into his nose, and straightened it out. Despite the injury he missed no dates and continued to be victorious on the house show circuit. Hammer made his second Starrcade appearance, where he and his trainer Dan Spivey defeated Cactus Jack and Johnny B. Badd to qualify for the Battlebowl. In the main event, The Great Muta defeated both Hammer, Spivey and five other wrestlers to win the Battlebowl.
On January 2, 1993, Van Hammer lost to Tony Atlas in the quarterfinals of a tournament for the vacant United States Heavyweight Championship on Saturday Night. A day later he lost to World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader on a house show in Bristol, TN, after which he took time off to have surgery to repair the broken nose that he had been wrestling with, causing him to miss the Thunderdome match at the Clash of the Champions on January 13. He would be out for a month before returning on the February 9th taping of WCW Power Hour. Hammer continued to be a mainstay on Saturday Night, winning the majority of his matches. At the first-ever Slamboree pay-per-view, Van Hammer lost his match with Sid Vicious in only 35 seconds.
Despite the quick loss Hammer continued to be pushed, defeating Vinnie Vegas on a house show in Louisville, KY on June 3. He was victorious as well against Tommy Angel and Vladimir Koloff as well that month, although he sustained a defeat to Rick Rude. On July 3, Hammer defeated Lord Steven Regal at a house show in Spartanburg, SC. His final WCW match came on July 11 in Tower City, PA when he pinned Wrecking Crew Fury. However due to WCW's lengthy tapings that began that month, he continued to appear much later in the year. On the September 11th episode of WCW Worldwide (taped July 7 in Orlando, FL) he teamed with 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Alexander Bagwell in a losing effort against Sid Vicious & Harlem Heat. His final television appearance came on the November 6th episode of WCW Worldwide (taped July 10 in Orlando, FL), Hammer attempted to defend his Jesse Ventura's Strongest Arm championship but was defeated by The Equalizer in the first round.
World Wrestling Federation
On July 26, 1993 Hildreth received a tryout match at a WWF Superstars taping in Utica, NY. Wrestling as Van Hammer, he worked as a heel but was defeated. The following day at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Plattsburgh, NY he was defeated by Damien Demento in another dark match.
Return to WCW (1994-1995, 1997-2000)
1994 - 1995
In addition to making a television appearance in November 1993 (due to the pre-taping in July) in the Jesse Ventura arm-wrestling challenge, Hammer's name was also mentioned on the January 4 episode of WCW Main Event in a segment with Dallas Page. The heel randomly drew names out a fishbowl, and Hammer's name was one of the selections. However Hildreth would not make his actual return until November 29, 1994, when he was defeated by Dick Slater in a television taping.
On the January 21, 1995 episode of WCW Pro (taped on Dec 4th, 1994 in Dalton, GA) another challenge was made by Dallas Page, this time a call to defend his arm wrestling title. Van Hammer made a surprise appearance to accept the challenge and Page faked an arm injury and called it off. One month later, on the February 25th episode of WCW Pro, Page defeated Hammer in an arm wrestling match after Max Muscle interfered.
The Flock (1997–1998)
Hildreth returned to WCW in November 1997 under the shortened ring name Hammer, where he was placed in Raven's stable The Flock. Despite being an undercarder, much like the rest of The Flock's members, he was granted a title match against the United States Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page on the February 23, 1998, episode of Monday Nitro, but was unsuccessful in winning the title. On the March 2, 1998, episode of Nitro, Hammer lost to Page via disqualification in a title rematch.
Singles competition (1998–1999)
Hammer began jobbing to several top stars before winning a Loser Leaves The Flock match against fellow Flock member Perry Saturn on a special Friday episode of Nitro on May 4. Despite the win, The Flock attacked Hammer after the match and he was thrown out of the group. In his first match following his expulsion from The Flock, Hammer faced the new United States Heavyweight Champion Goldberg for the title the following night on Saturday Night, but lost. He then abandoned the grunge-related attire he had while with The Flock and became a face by adopting a hippie gimmick. After spending the rest of 1998 and January 1999 jobbing, he became a heel again and changed his gimmick to that an anti-pacifist and returned to using his full Van Hammer name. Following this, he began a short winning streak over the next few weeks before losing to Bam Bam Bigelow on the February 22, 1999 episode of Nitro. Van Hammer quickly rebounded and began another winning streak over the following weeks on Nitro, Thunder, Saturday Night and even on pay-per-view at The Great American Bash on June 13 by defeating Mikey Whipwreck. Hammer's winning streak was ended a few weeks later as he lost to Rick Steiner in a title match for Steiner's World Television Championship on July 11 at Bash at the Beach. On the October 11 episode of Nitro, Hammer lost to Sid Vicious in a match for the United States Heavyweight Championship.
Misfits In Action and departure (2000)
On the May 2, 2000 episode of Thunder, Hammer participated in a 41-man battle royal to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, which was ultimately won by Ric Flair. Soon afterwards, Hammer joined the Misfits In Action and was renamed Major Stash so as to fit in with the stable's military gimmick. He was originally to be named Private Stash, as an inside joke to marijuana, but balked at being given the lowest rank in the stable, leading him to being "promoted" to "Major". However, Stash's tenure with the Misfits was short-lived, as he wrestled what turned out to be his final match in WCW, a losing effort to The Demon on the July 12, 2000 episode of Thunder, as he was released from his contract shortly after.
Maryland Championship Wrestling and retirement (2001–2003, 2009)
After leaving WCW, Hildreth took a brief hiatus from wrestling. On March 16, 2001, under his Van Hammer ring name and rock star gimmick, he lost to Thrasher in a match for Maryland Championship Wrestling. He returned to MCW on June 9, and defeated Dino Devine. On December 16, he teamed with Cowboy to defeat Devine and Chad Bowman. On February 16, 2002, Hammer teamed with Cowboy in a rematch against Devine and Bowman, which he and Cowboy lost. After a year long hiatus, Van Hammer returned to MCW on July 16, 2003 at MCW's annual Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup, where he won an eight-man tag team match alongside Gillberg, Thrasher and Kelly Bell against Brock Singleton, Genesis and The Holy Rollers (Earl the Pearl and Rich Meyes).
In 2009, Hildreth attended an MCW show where wrestler Champ Pain performed a promo calling Hildreth "washed up" and comparing him to Randy "The Ram" Robinson, the character played by Mickey Rourke in the film The Wrestler. In response, Hildreth entered the ring, but Champ Pain fled before a fight could break out. On April 11, 2009, at MCW's event Xtreme Measures, Hildreth - wrestling as "Van Hammer" - came out of retirement for one night to defeat Champ Pain.
- Finishing moves
- Wrestlers trained
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Championship Wrestling
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Most Embarrassing Wrestler (1991)
- "OWOW profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "Accelerator's profile".
- Van Hammer profile, from WrestlingData.com
- "Cagematch profile".
- "Cagematch matches, page 1".
- "Cagematch matches, page 2".
- "Cagematch matches, page 3".
- "Managers and wrestlers trained".
- "Jesse Ventura Strongest Arms Arm Wrestling Tournament results".