|Ring name(s)||Kototenta, Kototenzan (sumo)
|Billed height||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Billed weight||462 lb (210 kg)|
|Born||June 22, 1963
Surrey, British Columbia
|Died||June 7, 2006 (aged 42)
|Trained by||Giant Baba
John Anthony Tenta (June 22, 1963 – June 7, 2006) was a Canadian professional wrestler, known for his work in the World Wrestling Federation as Earthquake and later Golga, and in World Championship Wrestling as Avalanche and The Shark.
John Tenta was born in Surrey, British Columbia. Named after his father, he was a large baby weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces at birth. Inspired by professional wrestlers Gene Kiniski and Don Leo Jonathan, Tenta decided to pursue wrestling at age 6. He learned freestyle wrestling at North Surrey Secondary, becoming a Canadian junior champion in 1981. Shortly after his 18th birthday, he finished sixth in the super-heavyweight category at the World Junior Wrestling Championships at Vancouver.
Tenta won an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University (LSU), where he competed in NCAA-level collegiate wrestling. At LSU he was nicknamed "Big John" Tenta, lettering on the Tiger varsity wrestling team and participating on the football team. LSU had dropped varsity wrestling to comply with Title IX in 1985, forcing Tenta to choose a new sport. Tenta then walked on to the LSU football team, where he played in some junior varsity games as a defensive lineman. He was also known as a quiet giant bar bouncer at an LSU college bar, The Bengal. John also played rugby for the LSU Rugby Club.
Tenta then moved to Japan to pursue a career in sumo after being recruited by a former Yokozuna who met Tenta on a trip to Vancouver. In October 1985, he joined a sumo stable, Sadogatake, run by former-Yokozuna Kotozakura Masakatsu (his stable also produced current Ōzeki Kotoōshū Katsunori from Bulgaria). Following tradition, the young sumotori took the name of Kototenta (Koto + Tenta), translated as Tenta the Harp.
Beginning the sport at age 22, he entered nearly 7 years later than many non-college aspirants. The combination of his size—he already weighed 192 kg (423 lb)—and training as a wrestler were to his advantage in learning and advancing in the sport. The novice won a string of 17 consecutive victories in his first six months, and was later renamed Kototenzan, Heavenly Mountain Harp. The novelty of being a rare Westerner sumotori in the mid-1980s, and the third-ever Caucasian, garnered him press coverage, and he earned the additional nickname of the "Canadian Comet".
Despite doing well as a newcomer he soon quit the sport due to the difficulty of the sumo lifestyle and the toll the hard ring surface was taking on his body. In addition, the sumo world frowned on the large tattoo of a tiger on his left biceps and, though he covered it during matches, would have required him to remove it via skin graft before moving up to the higher level competitions (in Japan tattoos are associated with gangsters).
|year in sumo||January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Haru basho, Osaka
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
Aki basho, Tokyo
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
|1986||West Jonokuchi #40
|East Jonidan #54
|West Sandanme #53
|East Makushita #43
|Record given as win-loss-absent
Yokozuna — Ōzeki — Sekiwake — Komusubi — Maegashira
After leaving sumo, he quickly signed up for puroresu (Japanese pro wrestling) under the tutelage of Shohei "Giant" Baba. He made his professional wrestling debut with All Japan Pro Wrestling in May 1988. Tenta had a solid 18 month career, teaming with popular Japanese wrestlers Giant Baba and The Great Kabuki, before getting the attention of American pro-wrestling promoters, as well as making tours in his home country of Canada.
After making two dark match appearances under his given name in March 1989, Tenta joined the WWF full time in September 1989. In his first match after signing on, a dark match on September 21, 1989, he was known as Earthquake Evans and managed by Slick. For his introduction to WWF television (aired on the November 11, 1989 edition of WWF Superstars of Wrestling), Tenta was planted in the audience as a normal spectator. During the show, Dino Bravo challenged The Ultimate Warrior to a strength competition. In order to demonstrate, Bravo and manager Jimmy Hart suggested that they pick a random audience member to come into the ring and sit on the backs of Bravo and the Ultimate Warrior as they did push-ups to see who could do the most. The Ultimate Warrior agreed, and Hart, after pretending to look around the audience, centered his attention on very large Tenta who was sitting in the audience in casual clothing and appeared surprised. Tenta came down into the ring and proceeded to sit on Bravo's back as he did a set of push-ups. During the Ultimate Warrior's set, however, Tenta jumped down onto the prone Ultimate Warrior using a seated senton that was adapted to be his signature move. The victorious Bravo and Tenta celebrated as the latter was inaugurated into the WWF as a heel with Hart as his manager. Tenta was pushed as The Canadian Earthquake — and later, simply Earthquake - an unstoppable monster heel who often sent his opponents out on a stretcher after repeatedly hitting them with his sitdown splash.
Earthquake's first PPV appearance was when he replaced Barry Windham on Randy Savage's team at the 1989 Survivor Series. Earthquake survived the match, along with Savage and Dino Bravo. He made his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hercules.
Tenta's career peaked when he entered a feud with Hulk Hogan. The feud exploded in May 1990, when Earthquake snuck up on Hogan from behind during a segment of The Brother Love Show (on WWF Superstars of Wrestling) and repeatedly crushed Hogan's ribs with his "Earthquake splash." Eventually, Hogan recovered and gained revenge on Earthquake and defeated him in a series of matches across the country, starting with Hogan's countout victory at SummerSlam 1990. Hogan and Earthquake were the last men left in the 1991 Royal Rumble, with Hogan getting the victory.
In the spring of 1991, Tenta entered an infamous feud with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, in which Earthquake performed his Earthquake splash on Jake's pet snake, Damien. In truth what he crushed was a length of pantyhose filled with hamburger meat that had been swapped for the actual snake, which was stored in a cloth bag. He later served quakeburgers to babyface announcer Lord Alfred Hayes, only to reveal later that they were made kayfabe from Damien's carcass. Earthquake and Roberts feuded through the summer months of 1991.
At the end of the Roberts feud, Tenta teamed with his friend Fred Ottman, who changed his ring name from Tugboat to Typhoon, and the two became a tag team known as The Natural Disasters, managed by Jimmy Hart. Initially heels, the duo tried on many occasions to capture the WWF World Tag Team Championship from the Legion of Doom. The Disasters later turned face when Jimmy Hart betrayed them and joined forces with Money Inc., Irwin R. Schyster and Ted DiBiase, who had just won the tag titles from the Legion of Doom. Although Earthquake and Typhoon eventually won the tag titles (and defeated the Beverly Brothers at the 1992 SummerSlam pay-per-view to retain the titles), it wasn't long before Money Inc. regained the belts.
Tenta left the WWF in January 1993 after losing to Bam Bam Bigelow the night after the Royal Rumble for a spell in Japan, but returned in January 1994 when he assisted Bret Hart in a match with Shawn Michaels by countering Diesel's interference. He defeated Adam Bomb in a quick squash match at WrestleMania X. He then engaged in a short feud with Yokozuna, with whom he had a sumo match on Raw (the early days of Tenta's Sumo training were also revealed).
Earthquake was scheduled to face Owen Hart in a King of the Ring qualifying match. However, during a May 14, 1994 house show in San Jose, California, Earthquake had been injured by Yokozuna and Crush. Footage of Yokozuna hitting a Banzai Drop at the show was televised before the qualifying match to explain his absence in which Doink the Clown was his replacement. He again disappeared from WWF thereafter.
Personal financial difficulties led Tenta to contact World Championship Wrestling. Hulk Hogan, a longtime friend, lobbied to have Tenta come in, and so Tenta broke his WWF contract to join WCW.
Tenta was introduced as Avalanche and feuded with Sting, but the character name was dropped after WWF threatened legal action over similarities to the Earthquake character. He then joined the Dungeon of Doom faction as The Shark. Tenta believed this could be the beginning of a long term gimmick and even changed the tattoo on his arm of an LSU Tiger to that of a shark. Rumors were that WCW management forced him to do that, but in reality, it was John himself that brought the idea up. He eventually left the Dungeon of Doom and wrestled under his real name after delivering a scathing promo about the many other names and gimmicks he'd been forced into in the past, including the memorable line "I'm not a fish. I'm a man".
Following a match with the Dungeon of Doom's Giant, Big Bubba Rogers, another Dungeon member, shaved half of Tenta's head. The two went on to feud against one another, with Rogers shaving off Tenta's beard as well. In the spring of 1997, John Tenta joined Roddy Piper as a member of his "family." The angle was quickly dropped and Piper instead joined forces with the Four Horseman, dropping the members of his "family."
After his feud with Rogers, Tenta left WCW and resurfaced in the WWF on the May 25, 1998 episode of Raw is War under the name Golga. He wrestled under a mask as one of the Oddities and the character had a fascination with Eric Cartman from the TV series South Park. The gimmick was given to Tenta because he lost a considerable amount of weight, so much so that the WWF thought it wouldn't be believable for Tenta to reprise the Earthquake gimmick with the weight loss. This was a short-lived gimmick, and the group disappeared in the beginning of 1999 with all the members released.
He did however return to the WWF one last time in 2001 with the Earthquake gimmick, where he was one of the participants of the 20 Man Gimmick Battle Royal match at WrestleMania X-Seven. In November of the same year he also worked a tryout dark match against Joey Abs before an episode of Smackdown.
Tenta retired from wrestling in 2004 after it was revealed that he had developed bladder cancer, in which he was given a twenty percent chance to live, assuming he continued with his chemotherapy treatments. During his November 18, 2005 interview on WrestleCrap RadioListen, Tenta announced that a recent radiation dosage did not go as planned, as it had no effect on the tumor. He also announced that multiple tumors had spread to his lungs.
John Tenta's professional wrestling career garnered him appearances in several video games. In 1991, Tenta as Earthquake was portrayed as a feature character in Technos' popular arcade video game WWF WrestleFest. He was also included in the 1992 home video game WWF Super WrestleMania by Flying Edge for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (he wasn't in the Sega Genesis version). In 2004, the Japanese video game developer Spike released King of Colosseum II, a puroresu-wrestling game for PlayStation 2 that featured Tenta as a playable character; it was a Japan-only release. On April 14, 2009, Tenta was announced as downloadable content for WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 which was released April 16, 2009.
John "Earthquake" Tenta died this morning, June 7, at the age of 42 after a lengthy battle with bladder cancer. Tenta is survived by his wife and three kids.
On the June 9, 2006 edition of SmackDown and the June 12, 2006 edition of Raw, before each show began, World Wrestling Entertainment showed an eyecatch that said "In memory of John "Earthquake" Tenta 1963-2006."