Terry Funk, the man, the myth, the legendary pro wrestler, passed away on August 23, 2023. The entire pro wrestling industry was devastated at the loss of the trendsetting icon, who really revitalized the industry and even broke into film and TV, starring in two Sylvester Stallone films, Paradis Alley and Over The Top, as well as having many other performances.
But perhaps it was his legacy of matches and memories in pro wrestling that truly made him the legendary icon he will always be remembered for being.
These pieces are an honor to write, but really they are certainly difficult at the same time; especially when legends like Terry Funk are concerned.
It can certainly be argued that without Terry Funk and his influence, many of the trends in pro wrestling today would not exist.
-above image via Reddit
In the ring he had the perfect execution of movement and story-telling ability that made classic pro wrestling what it was and over the years he parlayed that into quite the hardcore career, ushering an entire movement…one that would unearth other legends like Mick Foley and even the legendary Atsushi Onita.
Terry Funk started wrestling in 1965 and officially retired in 2017! So he was indeed at it for a long time, folks.
His accolades were many, but to name a mere few, he held the ECW World Championship, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, even the WWF Tag Titles with Mick Foley, and a plethora of others that are too many to name here.
Today we look at some of the most epic matches this man laid down and left for the world to love and discover “forever…forever…forever…”
The Funks vs. Stan Hansen & Terry Gory – AJPW, 1983
Not only was this match amazing and really a precursor for what tag team matches would one day become in modern day wrestling, but the promo at the end of this match has certainly gone down in infamy.
Terry Funk’s passion for the sport of professional wrestling really came through in this promo and in particular his love for the Japanese audience.
Mick Foley, Edge, & Lita vs. Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer, & Beulah McGillicutty – ECW (WWE) One Night Stand, 2006
Terry Funk wrestled for a long time and even after teasing a retirement in the late nineties there (documented for the film, Beyond The Mat), he came back again and again and in 2006 when WWE revived ECW for second time for that One Night Stand event, there he was again and in a match that was just as brutal as the matches he’d had in the original run of that ECW promotion and even Japan.
New Age Outlaws vs. Chainsaw Charlie & Cactus Jack in a Tag Team Championship – RAW, 1998
These two teams had some very memorable matches. One in particular is definitely the dumpster match from WrestleMania 14 (where Funk and Foley would win the WWF tag championships), but a lot of the matches they had during that same year really made for quite the feud—this one in particular was a great match. It ended in a DQ, but the sound of the bell, alerting the match was over didn’t deter Funk and Foley from causing a wee bit more damage to their foes.
No-rope exploding barbed wire time bomb Deathmatch pitting Terry Funk vs. Atsushi Onita Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, 1993
-above image via Pro Wrestling Post
Onita was a trendsetter. He really wanted to make an imprint of what these types of matches and wrestling in Japan could be. In the end he revolutionized the sport of professional wrestling on the hardcore side of things, but in the end, perhaps the immortal words of Terry are best to describe this event and brutal match:
“He would watch me in barbed wire matches, he really idolized me and that’s why he came to Amarillo. To be like Terry Funk, you know. What a horrible thing to want to be. He wanted to be an idiot too…
It was a stadium full. About 30, 40 thousand and they don’t charge 0.50 cents a ticket over there either. There are the idiots in the front row people. We’re going to have an exploding ring match here tonight…
Well, I want a front-row ticket! Bulls**t! I just went out to the damn ring. I’m a glutton for a crowd being into a match. I was just out there ready to just capture that crowd. And we did…”
-via atletifo.com (Transcription)
Kawasaki Dream – IWA King of the Deathmatch tournament final – Terry Funk vs. Mick Foley, 1995
Both men had their work cut out for them. The event was a tournament in which each of the final competitors battled first for an opportunity to be King of the deathmatch against many other opponents.
They of course both became those top two men to battle it out in the final match of the tournament. Mick Foley ended up coming out on top, but really this entire event and that last match in particular, has gone down in infamy for very good reason.
Brutal, creative, artistic in its violence, and at the same time rather quite beautiful. It showed the artistry of what hardcore wrestling can be…and in the end, who better than two men whose respective legacies embody what hardcore wrestling truly is to have been in that final match?
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