Yes, I love my old hometown of Brooklyn, especially when I get a chance to visit and take in a sporting event such as a professional wrestling match in the greatest borough in the world.
I grew up watching great performers such as Brooklyn natives Johnny Rodz and Steve Lombardi (the Brooklyn Brawler), both of whom wrestled for the then-WWWF/WWF.
To honor Brooklyn sports entertainers, here are five pro wrestlers from the Borough of Kings.
Johnny Rodz, whose real name is Johnny Rodriguez, wrestled with WWWF/WWF for 20 years.
Rodz spent the majority of his WWWF/WWF career putting over other performers, a job that isn’t easy, to say the least.
But that didn’t prevent the Connecticut-based global promotion from elected him to its prestigious Hall of Fame in 1996.
“The Unpredictable One,” working out of the legendary Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, has trained countless grappling stars who’ve gone on to great success in the business.
Rodz also established the independent wrestling promotion, World of Unpredictable Wrestling (WUW).
Coming from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Lombardi started wrestling with WWF in 1983. He performed as a jobber, making other combatants look good in order to push their names up the ranks.
Lombardi took on the tough-looking Brooklyn Brawler persona in 1989 and ran with it until 1993. But he adopted additional gimmicks as well, including Doink the Clown, Kim Chee, and Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, among others.
Lombardi, in one capacity or another, lasted with the WWE until 2106, a total of 33 years.
Haling from Redhook, the “Human Suplex Machine” was an intimating force in the ring, to say the least. When Taz’s music hit, that pulsing heartbeat sound pumping through arenas spelled imminent doomed for his opponents.
The 5-foot-9 bulldog, known outside of wrestling as Peter Senerchia, is best recognized for his work with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he held the Heavyweight and Television titles twice apiece and captured the tag team championship three times.
Taz, sporting that menacing scowl, enjoyed in-ring success with the WWE until 2002 before mounting injuries forced him to retire, subsequently transitioning himself into a skilled color commentator.
Taz performed that role with Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling and now does the same with All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Additionally, Taz was the co-host of Taz and The Moose with Marc “The Moose” Malusis on CBS Sports Radio. And he also hosts his own podcast, called The Taz Show.
Growing up in Greenpoint, James, 33, always dreamed of following his passionate flight into a pro wrestling ring. And that happened at an East Coast Professional Wrestling (ECPW) event under the ring name Donnie “The Body” Johnson in 2005.
But he’s best known for his time with WWE, where he competed as Bull Demsey in its developmental territory, NXT, from 2013 to 2016.
James, whose real name is James Smith, has also performed for ROH, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), and New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC).
Kevin Matthews (McDonald)
A Bay Ridge native, Matthews wrestled on the independent scene for several years before hooking up with Impact Wrestling, where he performed under the ring name KM for two years.
Matthews continued to shine on the indies and has won several championships during his long-standingcareer.
Additionally, Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) ranked him No. 211 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 issue in 2017.
— Jerry Del Priore