1935-1996 (Age 60)
Ray Stevens, a wrestler whose career was bookended by two periods when rings aired on network TV and whose body of occupational was just outshined by his significant zest because that living.
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Stevens started wrestling throughout the era the the legend blond “Gorgeous” George and also ended his career throughout the heyday of another legendary blond—Hulk Hogan.
A blond legend in his very own right, Stevens earned a reputation among fans and his other wrestlers as among the industry’s best talkers and workers. Among wrestling’s many incredible personalities, it’s small surprise Stevens appeared in the movie The Wrestler (1974) and Paradise Alley (1978).
Ray Stevens showed up in the 1974 film, The Wrestler.
Born Carl beam Stevens, the male who would certainly become better known as “The blond hair Bomber” beam Stevens and also Ray “The Crippler” Stevens gotten in the people on September 5, 1935.
After wrestling together an amateur in the YMCA, Stevens gone into the agree ranks at age 15, debuting in 1950. With “Nature Boy” girlfriend Rogers mentoring him, Stevens excelled in the ring, winning a number of titles early on in his career, just a couple of of the numerous belts he’d eventually capture.
Stevens married woman wrestler Theresa Theis in 1952, and credited Theis v helping him more his skills.A gold Boy in the golden e of Wrestling
It didn’t take it Stevens lengthy to reach the top.
By 17, he was main eventing, working through “Gorgeous” George, among the best names in the sector at the moment (if not the biggest). Nicknamed “The blond Bomber,” Stevens’ finisher was a knee drop turn off the peak turnbuckle which came to be known as “The Bombs Away” knee drop. The would win Stevens many matches and become the focus of among the territory era’s many despicable acts.
“The blond Bomber’s” job couldn’t have come in ~ a much better time together he wrestled when experienced wrestling was all over the United states thanks come its popular on network television. Stevens would make together a name for himself as a hated heel that also when wrestling’s national popularity waned, his career was made.
In enhancement to singles matches, Stevens branched out into tag team wrestling, creating a fictitious brothers team with Don Fargo and later, Roy Shire. Stevens’ team with Shire would cause one of the most successful periods later on in his career when Shire started booking his own promotion.The san Francisco Threat
In 1961, Stevens started working in Roy Shire’s huge Time Wrestling, a territory located in mountain Francisco, California. Stevens conveniently got over together a heel many thanks to his vicious insults the fans, opponents, and the gold Gate City. However, Stevens’ insults were nothing contrasted to the injury he would certainly inflict top top the promotion’s lover babyface, Pepper Gomez.
Promoters play upon Pepper Gomez’ background as a bodybuilder to develop him up as “the male with the cast iron stomach,” a wrestler whose abdominal muscles to be seemingly impervious come pain. Opponents who punched or kicked Pepper had no impact on the man’s strength abdomen, frequently hurting themselves in the process. Simply to build up Pepper’s powerful six-pack, Shire had actually Gomez do an amazing display in the ring, one with tragic after-effects for Gomez.
Gomez invite wrestlers to rise a ladder and jump turn off it ~ above his stomach. Numerous tried, but with Pepper laughing off their blows. Beam Stevens no impressed and also argued that the wrestlers no trying difficult enough.
“The blond hair Bomber” claimed Gomez would feel the if Stevens was permitted to jump turn off the height of the ladder. Gomez agreed and also Stevens jumped off the top. To everyone’s amazement, Pepper was unharmed. Stevens asked for one much more try, and also the i was sure babyface agreed. Stevens climbed the ladder, but this time that dove off the ladder, transferring his “Bombs Away” knee drop come Gomez’ throat. Gomez offered the attack, sneeze up blood and selling it choose he’d been trampled by one elephant.
Stevens came to be the most-hated guy in wrestling as big Time Wrestling make it well-known Gomez could never wrestle again. Naturally, he did return, resulting in a sell-out the the area’s Cow palace Arena, breaking an attendance document previously set by Elvis Presley.
According come Dave Meltzer’s publication Tributes, promoter Shire planned to organize the rematch at Candlestick Park, hope to collection an in its entirety attendance document for experienced wrestling. Unfortunately, ray Stevens’ well-known daredevil adventures observed him sidelined through a damaged ankle because that eight months adhering to a go-cart gyeongju accident.The blond hair Bombers
Stevens would continue working in san Francisco, teaming with Pat Patterson as the blond Bombers, one of the many respected tag groups of the 1960s.
Stevens and also Patterson caught the san Francisco version of the NWA people Tag Team Championship three times, battling teams such together The Destroyer and also Billy Red Lyons, Ciclón Negro and also the Mongolian Stomper, and Pepper Gomez and also Pedro Morales.
The blond Bombers reunited in the American Wrestling association (AWA in the 1970s), capturing the AWA civilization Tag Team Championship native the High Flyers (“Jumping” Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne).
Stevens to be a fixture in the AWA during the 1970s, forming a championship tag team v Nick Bockwinkel, with Bobby Heenan guiding their careers.Here There and also Everywhere
Ray Stevens’ incredible capacity to speak fans into buying ticket to check out him acquire what was coming to him, an unified with his uncanny capacity to offer for enemies put the in high demand roughly the globe.
The guy who would certainly later end up being known together “The Crippler” (earning this nickname after breaking the foot of wrestler Dr. X in the AWA), operated in a range of territories, including large Time Wrestling, Championship Wrestling native Florida, the AWA, Jim Crockett Promotions, and also Australia’s people Class Championship Wrestling.
Stevens worked in the AWA, the national Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and also the WWWF/WWF. He hosted a range of titles including the WWWF’s United claims Championship, WCW’s IWA civilization Heavyweight Champion, JCP’s NWA people Tag Team Championship, and huge Time Wrestling’s United claims Heavyweight Championship.
A perform of Stevens’ top enemies is beyond the border of this article, yet he was recognized for his dream match versus Bruno Sammartino in the 1960s (a complement Stevens winner by count-out), his feud v Pat Patterson, his regimen with Bobo Brazil in the WWWF, his surprise babyface revolve in the AWA whereby he feuded through Nick Bockwinkel in 1977, and his brutal assault on Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka in 1982, an edge which caused Snuka’s babyface turn.
Living the an excellent Life
Ray Stevens’ capability to make an opponent look like a champion would lead to later comparisons v “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The two blonds were also alike in your love the life, which consisted of a enthusiasm for hard-drinking nights and the ladies.
In addition to his famous propensity because that booze and the ladies, Stevens’ love for daronger antics external the ring would keep him the end of the ring for at the very least two major programs (the abovementioned Pepper Gomez feud and a later on feud v Pat Patterson).
Stevens occurred the relocate where an enemy threw him into the corner and also he flipped end the top, a move later on used through Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels.
According to Dave Meltzer’s might 13, 1996 Wrestling Observer Newsletter obituary that Stevens, “The blond Bomber” to be the first wrestler to continuously hit a relocate off the top rope.
To some, Stevens was a child at heart. Large Time wrestles announcer Walt Harris claimed of Stevens:
“He was constantly a little boy who never grew up. He never paid taxes because that years. Because that years Verne Gagne had wanted him yet he didn’t desire to go. Gagne available him a large amount of money if he’d come job-related there and he’d take treatment of all his income tax problems and the sell was too an excellent to rotate down.”
Longtime competitor Pepper Gomez would comment, “The guy made a the majority of money in wrestling and also threw away a lot of money and also ended up through shit.”
Jim Cornette would talk about Stevens’ wild life:
“He had actually made countless dollars, and also should have actually made millions more, yet very small if any kind of of it was still in his possession. He was when the facility of attention anywhere he went and lived in opulent surroundings, currently he was in a dark apartment in a town no one also knew he to be living in. However that man had probably had much more fun in his life time than you, and also me, and any other ten civilization we know put together. That? the couldn’t possibly, ever be taken away from him.”
Ray Stevens retirement in 1992, later showing up at WCW’s 1994 Slamboree pay-per-view.Undaunted come the End
Despite his jae won difficulties, Stevens ongoing living as he chose, also after a quadruple bypass surgery about a year before his death.
Like Flair, Stevens’ later health problems didn’t seem to organize him down, and despite financial problems, Stevens never seemed come worry about tomorrow.
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Ray Stevens died in his sleep on might 3, 1996. He was 60 years old at the moment of his passing. Stevens was endured by his youngsters Timothy, Roy, Laura, Kelly, and Carl.