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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Big John Tenta

Earthquake squishes Big Bossman. Toronto Sun file photo

REAL NAME: John Tenta
6'6", 400 pounds (11 lbs., 3 oz. at birth)
BORN: Surrey, B.C. in 1963
ALIASES/ NICKNAMES: Earthquake, Avalanche, The Shark, Kototenzan, Golga

 John Tenta was a successful amateur wrestler (and footballer) at Louisiana State University before surprising many in January 1986, when he left for Japan to take up sumo wrestling at age 22. He was known there as Kototenzan (Heavenly Mountain Harp) and was only the second non-Japanese to train in the ancient art. Tenta didn't last much more than a year as a sumo, saying upon leaving: "I really want an ordinary life, one where I can be free and on my own. I still love Japan, but I don't love sumo."

 So for a "normal" life, he took up pro wrestling under the tutelage of Giant Baba in Japan and Al Tomko in Vancouver. He debuted as a pro in 1987 in Japan.

 Tenta joined the WWF on November 2, 1989. His career peaked during a feud with Hulk Hogan in the WWF when he was known as Earthquake. After re-surfacing in WCW, he has gone through a number of identities.

 After some time off, Tenta returned to action in May 1998 as Golga, under a mask in The Parade of Human Oddities.
 He died in June 2006.


Stories
  • Aug. 21, 2013: Back in time: The lost John Tenta interview
  • June 7, 2006: John "Earthquake" Tenta dead
  • June 10, 2006: Tenta loses battle
  • August 17, 2004: Tenta faces another cancer hurdle
  • January 21, 2000: Tenta quaking to get back to the bigs
    Memories

     I remember reading a story in the paper about this Sumo wrestler from LSU who was undefeated in Japan but had difficulty because they couldn't fix his hair in the Sumo style. (This kid didn't have enough hair on the top)
     I later met him in Japan while wrestling for All Japan Pro Wrestling and we became good friends. I haven't seen him in some time.
     Dory Funk Jr.
     (Visit Gunslinger, Dory Funk Jr.'s web site at http://www.dory-funk.com.)  I remember when he was under management of Jimmy Hart, and had the help of Earthquake in most of his matches.
      TooTall544
     I remember when John Tenta entered the WWF, he was a very big and dangerous man who would crush anybody who dared to get in his way. Known as the Earthquake under the management of Jimmy Hart, he had a memorable feud with Hulk Hogan, he even sent Hogan to the hospital for several months. After that, he got rid of Jimmy Hart and became Tag Tag Champion with Typhoon and the team known as the Natural Disasters, he had his best moments with this tag team. Finally, he left the WWF for WCW where he changed his identity several times, he almost battled the NWO with Roddy Piper but it never happened. Today, we see him less and less often in matches.
     A wrestling fan.
     John Tenta...a remarkable debut in the WWF. I seem to recall, he was chosen out of the crowd at a WWF house show to sit on Dino Bravo while he did a sit-up. He was, of course, a plant and squashed Bravo when given the opportunity.
     adfilms
     I remember watching WWF Superstars in late 89 and Dino Bravo challenged The Ultimate Warrior to do some push ups. Bravo did his set with Frenchy Martin or Jimmy Hart on his back (I dont remember who managed him then.) Well Warrior up'd the ante by allowing Bravo to pick some one out of the crowd, I guess this was a set up cause Bravo picked Tenta, the thing was if you didn't know Tenta's history prior to this event you were lead to believe it was really some guy from the audience. Well Warrior started to do his set, then wham out of nowhere Tenta squashes the Warrior. It was classic WWF.
     Dave
     I will tell you, the most vivid memory from John Tenta's Career was the untimely demise of Damien, when Earthquake created himself a snake sandwich...mmm...snake sandwich...poor little guy...oh well, that just paved the way for Lucifer to make his entrance...
     Doogie
      This guy was a tremendous monster heel during his WWF tenure. He used to send the babyfaces off on stretchers while the 1990-era prepubescent WWF crowd jeered him on. Then, as I recall, him and Tugboat teamed up to form the Natural Disasters. They completely dominated the WWF tag-team ranks. They even dominated the LOD at the 1992 Royale Rumble.
     Niilo Mikkola
     I remember when I the Black Raiden knocked Tenta out in Cloverdale, B.C.
     Darrell
     My best memory of John Tenta was when he was wrestling with 2 other wrestlers against Tug Boat and the Bush Whackers. Tug Boat splashed one of the Bush Whackers and the Natural disasters then became a major force in the WWF.
     L Williams
     Big John Tenta, no matter what his gimmick, has always been one of my favourite all-time wrestlers. From his mid-ring teetering when struck by the big-carders, to his absolute squashes of mid-carders, I was invariably in his corner. The Natural Disasters were "Natural Champions": in order to be the best, one had to somehow pin these two massive men. I'm extremely happy to see Tenta back in the WWF, and I hope that they use him to his full ability!
     Derek Irwin
     I remember vividly when "Earthquake" squashed Damien. Jake Roberts was tied in the ropes, crying his eyes dry, while the big one screamed "I'M GONNA SQUASH THE SNAKE!!!" and proceeded to jump on the "snake bag". a Truly Memorable moment. I saw it again later in the day on Maple Leaf Wrestling and I remember that they had to "censor" it with this big red X with "censored" written on it that came up every time he landed on the snake. My most vivid and probably my earliest memory of the WWF.
     Laurence Hauser
     I remember when Typhoon threw out Eartquake in the Royal Rumble
     ja'Net Olton
     I remember when Earthquake squashed Hoagan on the Brother Love set on Superstars
     Tyler
     I remember when that no good son of a b interfered in my title match with one of his buddies,the Basher. He cost me my title that night!
     Thanks for the memories brother!
     Loverboy Johnny Canuck
     My first memory of John Tenta was being introduced to him by The Iron Sheik, he was a very down to earth, good natured person. We chatted in the bar for about fifteen minutes only for me to discover John is a huge sports fan and enjoys collecting sports memorabilia. I recall in 1993 collecting the McDonalds hockey card set for both him and his manager Jimmy Hart. I recently ran into John along with Tom Pritchard at LaGuardia Airport in New York. He is a very nice man and a credit to Canada and the wrestling business.
      Terry Harris
     My fondest memory of Big John was when he had the Sumo match with Yokozuna. No too interesting of a match, but it was definatly a first in the WWF. They actually took the ring posts off and reinforced the entire thing. Only in the World Wrestling Federation. I love it!!
     MaTT X
      I remember when Golga come to the ring one raw is war with sable. He then beat Mark Mero.
      Another really good memory was at wrestle mania 10, it was my first live pay per view IJ ever had the chance to witness and I remember him beating Adam Bomb (Wrath) in a matter of seconds
      Chris Muehleisen
      My Favoite Memory of Big John Tenta was when The Great White Shark and the Giant feuded... which force WCW to top it's own big men and bring in the 700+ pound LOCK NESS MONSTER.... the Giant feuded with him for a while... but it didn't last more than 2 or 3 weeks... Lock Ness put Scotty Riggs in the Hospital for 6 moths with that "Breach" elbow drop of his.... that's when Tenta came out as "Human"
      Axdemo
     Golga, not too shabby, but why play him like that? With him, and two 7 feet men, make them win more!!! Anyways, I also saw this guy manhandle Hercules at WM6, but the best match I ever saw with Earthquake, was SummerSlam 92, with Typhoon as a partner. Now, that was a match to be proud of. Great partnership with Bravo, but fairly cheep.
     Derek M. Ellis
      Tenta's one of the toughest guys in the business; he was the WWF monster heel when I started watching wrestling. He hospitalized Hulk Hogan, crushed Damian, and I saw him catch the 340 lb. Big Boss Man in mid-air. He's one of the biggest, strongest men in wrestling, and The WWF is misusing him. I hope John wises up and goes to ECW or somewhere where he'll be appreciated.
      Nicholas Baldwin
      I liked it when John Tenta, known then as Earthquake, was feuding with Money Inc. That was when he was at his best. During that period of time, he captured the tag belts with his then-partner, Typhoon, from Money Inc. But then, he lost it to the same team by giving up to the Million Dollar Dream. That kinda sucked, but a man could only take so much. Anyway, then he went to WCW and his career when downhill from there. Ever since he left the WWF, his career never recovered. Now he is wrestling under a mask in the WWF, not receiving the push that he really deserves. Only time will tell if he could return to his former status in the sport, and I hope that it will happen soon. He IS my favorite wrestler.
      Paul Tran
      Earthquake,Shark,Golga he is still one of the biggest men in pro-wrestling. Look at his record. He put out Hulk Hogan, Adam Bomb, Yokozuna, and a whole list of others. But the big 6'8 500 lbs will always be my hero even though he is currently Golga. Hopefully the fans of this man will support him. One last thing you Don't get up after the Avalanche or Earthquake.
      The Big Earthquake, Richard Morin
     I wish that the Earthquake will returne to WWF as Earthquake
     CFVR2
     I remember when my cousin John fighting all the great superstars of the WWF especially in the tag division back with the Nasty Boys, the LOD, Demolition, I hope I can see him wrestle in the WWF again with a better gimmick than Golga
     mike benker
     I just loved the way John mauled some of the Fan Favs in WWF, he was the most awesome heel since the Master of the five count, King Kong Bundy. They were also similar in style. I would love to see Tenta back in the bigs.
     Wayne M. Reifferscheid
     I remember while wrestling at the Burnaby Wrestling club John Returned from Japan just before he began touring he had to loose 30 pounds and Mike Jones put John with me to do it. He lost 30 pounds I lost 3 ribs. Best words of advice given to me by John was after he gave me a belly to belly suplex on to a 1.5 inch wrestling mat on a cement floor, I stood up tried to breath and John in his ever so gentle voice said "I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD WRESTLE WITH ME ANY MORE TODAY" I was glad because I had a chance to get x-rays.Good to have known you John....
     Clayton Dyck(original Ryno)
     My favorite character of John Tenta is Earthquake. I remember when the Hulkster got lucky and eliminated him from the Royal Rumble in 1991. But hey you have to say he was one of the best for manhandling guys such as Hulkster, Hercules, and Adam Bomb. John, my hats off to you!
     Your #1 fan, MATT THOMPSON
     All through my childhood people loved the "Hitman" Bret Hart, the Macho Man and such superstars, but the awesome sight of a 468lb behemoth partnered by the Typhoon always captured my heart. Every avalanche that hit Adam Bomb, every belly to belly executed on Ted Dibiase, every one of the modern Earthquake's drop-kicks on I.R.S. and every vertical splash that crushed the victims' chests, sent chills down my spine and made me feel brilliant. I felt that The Natural Disasters were my wrestlers and nobody could take them away from me.....When Earthquake left for the second time I tried to track him in WCW as Avalanche but my heart broke when this could not be accomplished. You were my hero, I will never forget you and if by chance you ever read this I would like you to know that You have made my life a happy one up until now......PLEASE TRY AND COME BACK TO WRESTLING( and Typhoon) I love you big guy
      Your greatest fan, Ciaran Bowman.
     John Tenta - the very name sends a shiver down the spine of any wrestling fan. My love for you is great. Come back big fella. I know Tenta longs to enter a ring anywhere he can. I've written you this little poem as a gesture of my gratitude to you, Quake:
      Big John Tenta, you were a great fighter,
      are you still a big man, or are you any lighter?
      Watching you perform was indeed a true treat,
      you had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
      In the WWF you were renowned and feared,
      my God i loved your beautiful beard.
     I hope my poem gave you much pleasure. I wrote it to repay you for the years of joy you gave me. You are my chief, Tenta!!!!
     Mungo Doherty
     I remember growing up watching WWF Superstars on FOX in the early 90's, all the colorful characters, I loved it. Years later, I found a NES emulator for my PC and the early 90's game, Wrestlemania, for the NES...such cheese, what a bad game! I picked Hogan to win the singles title and the Natural Disasters to win the tag titles...anyway, a few days later, I get a notice that John Tenta is opening a wrestling school, and they want me to put something up about it. I called the number, and who but John should pick up the phone! It was great, I interviewed the guy an hour or so later, he was great. So cordial and easy to talk to, one of the best interviews ever.
     You'll always be a star, John, and I hope you can break back into the bigs!
      Alexi Franklin
     The actual debut of John Tenta in the WWF happened as you guys had mentioned it, a pushup contest between Dino Bravo (then managed by Jimmy Hart) and the Ultimate Warrior. Jimmy Hart looked all around the audience to see who would sit on Dino while he did his pushup. I remember it plain as day. A little kid was pointing feverishly at the mountain of a man sitting beside him. That man was picked by Jimmy Hart from the crowd to come into the ring.
     Then as soon as Tenta came to the ring, he sat on Dino's back while Dino did a pushup. That was something to see. Then the Warrior hit the ring and asked Tenta to do the same thing. Tenta, faking it to the crowd that he wasn't a wrestler looked hesitant and wanted to leave the ring but the Warrior assured him he would not be harmed. Then as Tenta was about to position himself over the Warrior, he squashed him and then the double-team ensued with Dino holding the Warrior's legs and Tenta giving him a series of body splashes.
     The next thing I remember was Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura commentating......
     Vince: "But wait! He's not supposed to know how to wrestle!"
     Jesse: "Well he sure learns quick, don't he McMahon?"
     Thanks for all of the memories John, hope to see you kicking some a$$ in the WWF again soon.
     George Marusic
      I remember when Earthquake competed against Yokozuna on RAW in a sumo match where the ring ropes were taken down. Earthquake won this particular encounter.
      MFWSlash
     When I first started to watch wrestling, I first remember seeing Tenta squishing Hulk Hogan, after that I would always wait for him to squish another wrestler.
     Mario
     I can recall all of the above mentioned incidents regarding my favourite wrestler The Earthquake, but one particular incident which no one has surprisingly mentioned was when he took out Andre The Giant on Superstars Of Wrestling.
     Jimmy Hart was about to make "A Giant Announcement" and was taken aback when Andre suddenly changed his mind about teaming up with Hart and the Quake then as Andre grabbed Jimmy, Hart cleverly dropped the megaphone in Earthquakes Direction and Earthquake took out Andre with complete and utter ease. I was absolutely shocked to discover that John Tenta was only 27 when he feuded with the Hulkster. He removed everyone who got in his way before the WWF made him lose his matches (which he could have easily won). I'm quite sad to see him lose so much weight as his most possessing feature was his 468lb frame. It used to take Hogan and The Warrior 3 or 4 clotheslines from the ropes to knock him down. Earthquake's legs were too big for Valentine's figure 4. I have never seen a whiter face than Earthquake's when Dibiase put on the million dollar dream. Big John Tenta, you are by far my favourite wrestler and I hope things work out for you because firstly you deserve it and secondly because you seem like a gentle giant who actually takes time out to talk to fans. God Bless!
     John Fearon, Glasgow, Scotland