Jump to content

Tom 'Z-Man' Zenk RIP


The Reverend
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good, not great, but good worker. His best stuff was teaming with Martel (Can-Am connection were way better than Strike Force) and teaming with Pillman in WCW. It's amazing to think back that he was classed as a light heavyweight when he challenged Pillman at WrestleWar '92. He'd be a large heavyweigh by todays standards. 

Of course he's another one of the Eddie Sharkey Minnesota guys to have died young, joining Hawk, Rick Rude, Curt Hennig and Brady Boone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Damn. This feels very sad - in my early internet days the buzz around the Zenk interviews on eYada was huge, and after checking them out I was wildly entertained. Still have them on my iPod to this day and will listen if it comes on shuffle. In hindsight it certainly feels like he was wanting to create a buzz and angle his way onto an office spot in WCW, and it was sad when he fell off the grid and you'd hear about personal problems. 59 is still no age to go, and it was tough in the bio to read that both parents and all his siblings are alive to witness it.

As a wrestler I always remember him as a guy who, as a younger fan, I always felt like should be doing better (usually jobbing on PPVs and such) between his look and athleticism. In hindsight, I wonder if splitting from the WWF was a bad move, since he surely would have been featured as a team with Martel for a while, and the promoter most in tune with pushing guys on look was Vince.

Edited by Liam O'Rourke
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Obituary from F4W

Tom Zenk, a bodybuilder turned wrestler who was one of the most popular guests on Wrestling Observer Live after his career in wrestling ended, passed away on December 9th at the age of 59.

Few details are available at this point other than he passed away at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Zenk was a Mr. Minnesota winner in bodybuilding who grew up and went to Robbinsdale High School with Curt Hennig, Brady Boone, and Rick Rude in his graduating class and knew Hennig's wife from first grade. He was shaken up years ago realizing the four of them grew up and went to school together, and by the time he was in his early 40s, he was the only one still alive.

Like so many weightlifter and bodybuilder types in that era, they saw the success of the Road Warriors and grew up with the popularity of Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, and Ken Patera in the AWA and were interested in wrestling.

He was trained by Eddie Sharkey and because of his looks and physique, became a star in short order working for Don Owen in the Pacific Northwest where he held both the singles and tag titles right away. His success led him to tie Keiichi Yamada (now Jushin Liger) in the 1984 balloting for Rookie of the Year. But his career never reached the level of his potential.

Only two years into his career, he was signed by the WWF for a tag team called the Can-Am Connection with Rick Martel. They were being groomed as the promotion's top babyface tag team, and were to win the tag titles, but Zenk quit the promotion, unhappy about money.

He became bitter with the McMahons because they tried to legally stop him from wrestling with All Japan after he left WWF, citing he was still under contract to them.

Eventually he went to WCW as The Z Man, with his best success coming as U.S. Tag Team Champion with Brian Pillman. Zenk was thought of as having a great look and he was a good athlete, but was not a favorite of the bookers and after the team broke up, was relegated to jobber duty. He was often bitter, citing that his looks and his ability to get women should have made him pushed above promoter's sons, but also he didn't work hard on breaking through and if he wasn't pushed, would stop lifting citing if he was going to be used as a jobber he would look like one, which led to a spiral downward.

Zenk testified against Vince McMahon in his 1994 trial, and later, pretty much disappeared after legal threats were made regarding comments he made publicly on a number of shows.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The old NWA Worldwide show with Lance Russell on commentary got me into wrestling back in the late 80s. Used to get my dad to record it for me. Z-Man was literally on EVERY week finishing some jobber off with a top rope crossbody. He wasn't great but he was ripped to fuck. That's my endearing memory of him. I remember he was shoved in a makeshift tag team with an equally green Flyin Bryan and at the time their top rope offence thrilled my 10 year old mind. Shame to hear of his passing. RIP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

Did this death have the least amount of "RIPs" of any semi-major name from the 80s? I mean Zenk was around for years and in several giant locker rooms and around in the first modern boom. Yet few bothered giving him a "RIP mate soz."

Did WWE say anything? There are rumblings he was the only man blackballed from their wellness policy, which surely cant be true.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

always had a soft spot for Zenk because i owned his action figure years before i ever seen him actually wrestle, so i basically had to make a moveset and peersonality for him in my head. Lance Storm and Paul Lazenby have a little tribute section to him on this weeks Killing the Town. Sad news.

1462048228-1874-336.jpg

Edited by Egg Shen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

Did this death have the least amount of "RIPs" of any semi-major name from the 80s? I mean Zenk was around for years and in several giant locker rooms and around in the first modern boom. Yet few bothered giving him a "RIP mate soz."

Did WWE say anything? There are rumblings he was the only man blackballed from their wellness policy, which surely cant be true.

Its pretty sad that no ones really said anything I think. He was quite a big part of 89-92 WCW looking back. Not a main eventer but seemed to feature a lot. I vaguely recall an angle he had with Rick Rude and Cactus, although I might be misremembering the last part. He used to be a featured guest on WOL on eyada and the LAW. He never did a shoot interview though where he could have aired his grievances. After his radio appearances he walked away from the business. Don't think he did any conventions or indie bookings. Also I don't think he hung around with any of the boys but I could be wrong. So if he's out of the scene and not connected it could be why he's not getting many condolences. I used to like the Z-Man and he's a name I hadnt thought about in years. I think he'd be remembered of fans of the 89-92 period of WCW. Like I said he tagged with Bagwell and Flyin Brian and had the "look".

He'd have been a solid midcard Babyface in the WWF had he stayed there ala Tito Santana IMO. I doubt he was blackballed from the wellness policy. Unless he personally offended Vince and burnt bridges then he would have. WWE helps out a lot of their ex stars putting them through rehab. Sunny especially and its more a hush hush behind the scenes thing. So say Tom Zenk did have substance abuse problems I believe they'd have helped him, again if he didn't piss Vince off. He's like the gatekeeper and if you do something as a personal affront you become persona non grata in his world. That Superstar and Bruno came back into the fold is very surprising and I don't think Tom said anything worse then they have. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
8 hours ago, Really Big Shoe said:

He used to be a featured guest on WOL on eyada and the LAW. He never did a shoot interview though where he could have aired his grievances.

He got more or less blackballed from the industry under threats from WWE lawsuits. He got caught selling WCW videos on his website and the WWE sent him a letter basically saying disappear or you'll be put away for, I suppose piracy. I mean all wrestlers do it behind closed doors and they arent to fussed, but they obviously took this much of an offensive because of all the shit he was saying on his website at the time. He stopped sending blogs into his fansite and he was never heard from again.

Edited by IANdrewDiceClay
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...