Ali loses to Gorilla Monsoon! (multimedia) - 1976
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Monsoon - WWE
Ali official website
irresistible force meets the immovable object
just one of the legendary catchphrases uttered by
Gorilla Monsoon during his years as a WWE broadcaster.
While the generation of WWE fans growing up in the
1980s and 1990s may only remember Monsoon as a broadcaster,
an earlier generation remembers him as one of the
most feared competitors in sports-entertainment.
a youth, Robert Marella was a standout athlete, lettering
in three sports in high school. He continued on to
Ithaca College, where he became one of the most accomplished
wrestlers in the school's history; so accomplished,
in fact, that he was inducted into his alma mater's
Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979.
his college graduation in 1959, Marella began wrestling
in New York as Gino Marella; shortly after, however,
he re-debuted for northeast promoters Vincent J. McMahon
and Joseph "Toots" Mondt as Gorilla Monsoon,
a "former Asiatic Champion" billed as hailing
from Manchuria. With manager "Wild" Red
Berry at his side to do all the talking, Monsoon was
instantly one of the most hated Superstars in the
country. He used his immense size to his advantage
and looked the part of a savage, decimating his opponents
with his Manchurian Splash and famed Airplane Spin.
WWE broke away from the NWA in 1963, Monsoon became
one of the cornerstones of the new promotion. In November
of that year, Monsoon teamed with fellow Hall of Famer
Killer Kowalski to win the United States Tag Team
Championship, at title he would hold once again a
few years later with "Cowboy" Bill Watts.
that same month, however, he stepped into the ring
with then-WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino at the old
Madison Square Garden in a match that both men would
later cite as the toughest of their careers. It went
the full 90-minute time limit without a winner decided,
and became just the first in a long series of battles
between Monsoon and Sammartino over the gold.
1969, Gorilla Monsoon was mercilessly attacked on
television by The Sheik, a wrestler even more vicious
and hated than he. Former arch-rival Sammartino came
to his rescue; the two then became friends, leading
to Monsoon becoming a huge fan favorite, which he
would remain for the rest of his career. The 1970s
saw Monsoon go through a complete reversal, as one
of the most despised men of the previous decade became
one of the most beloved of the next.
most high-profile incident of his wrestling career
occurred in 1976 during a match with Baron Mikel Scicluna
in Philadelphia. Boxing's Heavyweight Champion, Muhammad
Ali, rushed the ring at the end of the match, dancing
and throwing jabs at Monsoon. Gorilla responded by
hoisting the champ into an airplane spin and slamming
him to the canvas.
year later, boxing would again come into Monsoon's
spotlight, as he met Andre the Giant in a boxing match
in Puerto Rico, which was won by Andre. By that time,
however, Monsoon's career began to wind down, and
in 1980, he lost a Retirement Match to Ken Patera.
Gorilla only wrestled a handful of times after that
(in special Legends matches), but that was just the
beginning of the second phase of his career.
had been a partial owner of WWE since its inception;
in 1982, he was bought out by Vincent K. McMahon,
who was in the process of purchasing WWE from his
father. McMahon put Monsoon behind the mic, sparking
his legendary broadcasting career by making him the
WWE's top play-by-play man. Gorilla worked with many
partners on many different television shows, and became
the voice of pay-per-view when WWE expanded into the
new genre in the late 1980s. As a commentator, Monsoon
gave birth to a slew of "Gorilla-isms,"
various phrases that he used repeatedly during his
commentary. During this time as well, Monsoon's son
Joey Marella began working as a WWE referee, a duty
he would continue until his untimely passing in 1994.
and Jesse "The Body" Ventura (his first
pay-per-view partner) are considered by many to have
been the greatest commentary team in the history of
sports-entertainment. Monsoon also formed a winning
duo with good friend Bobby "The Brain" Heenan,
playing the exasperated straight man to great effect
and coining him as "The Weasel." Their run
as hosts of Prime Time Wrestling on the USA Network
has produced some legendary comedy, and in a fitting
end, it was Monsoon who threw "The Brain"
out of the Manhattan Center during his final appearance
on Raw in 1993.
still active in 1994, Monsoon was inducted into the
WWE Hall of Fame by fellow announcer Jim Ross. That
wasn't the end of his career by any means, however;
while Ross succeeded him as the lead voice of WWE,
Monsoon took on another role in 1995 when he became
WWE President. He was a key figure on WWE television
while in this role, but as his health began to deteriorate,
he began to appear less and less until relinquishing
his post in 1997.
stepping down as president, Monsoon spent the majority
of his time backstage as a coordinator; in fact, the
producers' area just behind the curtain is known as
"Gorilla" in his honor. His last public
appearance came at WrestleMania XV in Philadelphia
on March 28, 1999, where he acted as a judge for the
Brawl for All Match. Sadly, on Oct. 4 of that year,
Robert Marella passed away at the age of 62.
40 years, he entertained audiences and dedicated himself
to the business like few others. Whether in the ring,
at the mic or behind the scenes, Robert "Gorilla
Monsoon" Marella will always be remembered as
one of the greatest of all-time; he stands out as
a true giant, both in size and reputation. (WWE.com)