Jack Tunney, one of the most influential figures in Canadian pro wrestling, died last Saturday at age 68. He's survived by his two daughters and longtime partner Patricia Zownir.
Tunney rose to prominence as a promoter in Southern Ontario in the '70s and '80s, running Toronto wrestling shows out of Maple Leaf Gardens and throughout the province under the NWA banner.
When the McMahon empire began gobbling up regional territories in the mid '80s, Tunney felt the winds of change were blowing in Titan Sports' favour and quickly jumped ship from the crumbling National Wrestling Alliance. He handed over the Toronto territory to Vince McMahon and was rewarded with a job as the promoter for WWF's Canadian operations.
It was during this tenure WWF bosses decided he had just the right authoritative presence to become the company's on-screen president -- the firm-but-fair decision maker who called all the shots on the biggest angles of the day.
He was the resident authority figure on wrestling television long before there were general managers, CEOs or a board of directors fighting for control in the storylines each week.
Of course, he didn't wield any real power in the booking department -- his job was to give viewers an executive-type character to draw attention away from McMahon's relatively secret ownership role -- but the position gave him worldwide recognition.
During his lengthy run with Titan, Tunney was involved in major storylines from the golden years of the Hulkamania era through to the New Generation gear-shift in the early '90s
He was instrumental in the decision to prevent Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior from having a rematch of their pseudo-classic Wrestlemania bout at SkyDome.
He reversed The Rockers' shock tag title win at an Indiana house show in 1990 to justify WWF writers ignoring the switch on TV.
He also ruled Bret Hart and Lex Luger both won the 1994 Royal Rumble and, most famously, inserted himself in the controversial series of title bouts between the Hulkster and The Undertaker in 1991, which ultimately led to Ric Flair's first WWF championship at the following year's Rumble.
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SPANKY'S A FREE AGENT: Brian Kendrick, a.k.a. Spanky, is accepting indie bookings, having wrestled his final match for WWE.
The pint-sized grappler, a graduate of Shawn Michaels' training facility, requested his release after months of being buried on the company's B-shows.
The split is said to be amicable, with Kendrick headed back to Japan to work for the Zero-One promotion. Several other lower-card wrestlers are expected to follow suit.
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SNEAK PEEK: The money matches for Wrestlemania have been all but confirmed, with Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg and Triple H vs. Chris Benoit as the marquee matches. Undertaker vs. Kane and Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle are also in the works, with Mick Foley set to team with The Rock to take on Randy Orton and either Ric Flair or Batista. WWE is also considering a cruiserweight battle royal.
outsiders reunion: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash will be reuniting for the fifth anniversary show of Ultimate Pro Wrestling, an independent promotion running out of Southern California. The former 'Outsiders' will team up for the main event of the show, with Joe Millionaire star Evan Marriott acting as guest referee.