Northwest Athlete Profile: John Tenta

Vancouver Boy

Name:  John Anthony Tenta
Born:  June 22, 1963
Died:  June 7, 2006
Birthplace:  Surrey, British Columbia
Height:  6’7″, Weight:  465lbs
Stage Names:  Earthquake Evans, Canadian Earthquake, Earthquake, Avalanche, The Shark, Golga

He may not fit the typical profile of an “athlete”, but let us not pretend that those who choose to take up the profession of being a wrestler are not athletes or athletic.  Yes, we all know that it is choreographed and for the most part “fake”, but nevertheless, in order to make it through even a five minute match, these people have to be able to perform at a very high level.

Tenta’s Beginnings

Born and raised in Surrey, BC, John Tenta found early success in the wrestling world, capturing a variety of amateur wrestling championships and awards.  As a result of his successes, Tenta was rewarded with a scholarship to Louisiana State University. During Tenta’s time as a member of the Tigers, he also was a member of the football and rugby program.

Tenta’s first foray into the world of professional wrestling was not an area which many expected as he turned to Japan after being recruited by a Yokozuna.  Again not a traditional route for many university wrestlers, Tenta surprised many by quickly picking up the art Sumo wrestling and captured 17 straight victories early in his career.  Unfortunately for Tenta, or Kototenzan,as he was known in Japan, his career was short lived due to wear and tear on his body.  Although he quit the traditional Japanese form of wrestling, he quickly took up the more American entertainment style as a member of the All-Japan Pro Wrestling circuit.

Return from Japan

Spending nearly two years in Japan, Tenta returned to North America and his home in Vancouver, wrestling as a part of the local NWA All-Star Wrestling crew.

John Tenta pose

John Tenta , though not a traditional athlete, was still a monster in the ring.

It would be the last time that Tenta would be on the small circuit, as Vince McMahon would quickly make him into a big name superstar.

During his six year tenure with the World Wrestling Federation, Tenta, who was renamed The Earthquake (Earthquake Evans and Canadian Earthquake were also stage names during this time) would perform as one of the shows biggest (in more ways than one) bad guys, taking on such heroes as The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Tenta had made the big time, making main event appearances in the WWF’s main pay-per-view shows; Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Survivor Series.

Rising Popularity

It was almost four years later that Tenta would become a fan favorite, teaming up with the equally large “Typhoon” to form the “Natural Disasters” and captured Tenta’s first WWF honor as one half of the Tag Team Champions.

Tenta would go on to share the squared circle with two of Canada’s most beloved wrestlers; Bret and Owen Hart, who were respectively a “face” and “heel”, before leaving the federation.

During his time with the WWF and before he crossed over to rival WCW (World Championship Wrestling) Tenta would return to Japan, the place where he found early success.  Upon his arrival in the WCW, Tenta would take on the monikure of another natural disaster, Avalanche, taking on another wrestling legend, Sting.

Unfortunately for Tenta fans, this appeared to be the beginning of the end.  Threatened with a law suit by McMahon for using a similar theme for his show name, Tenta would finish out the remainder of his wrestling career under such lame gimmicks as The Shark and Golga.

Tenta’s final appearance under the big lights came at Wrestlemania 17 in Houston, where he once again appeared under the character name that most wrestling fans knew him to be, The Earthquake, as part of the Gimmick Battle Royal.  For the following three years, Tenta would travel the independent wrestling circuit both in the Nortwest and Japan.

Unfortunately for wrestling fans worldwide, John Tenta’s life in and outside the squared circle came to a short lived end as he passed away at the age of 42, due to a match with bladder cancer that he was unable to defeat.

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About Steve Lee

Steve is a 12 year writing vet, and writes for a number of sports sites, offering a unique and abstract look at the games we love. He still hopes the Grizz + Sonics return to the Northwest, and has been a Lakers fan since "Showtime".
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