Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dead Wrestlers Society: Dino Bravo

I’m wildly entertained by feats of strength. I’m always at rapt attention when those old “World’s Strongest Man” competitions air on ESPN, where guys with names like Thor and Magnus pull trolleys and carry refrigerators and throw railroad ties in hopes of being awarded a $50 MET-RX gift certificate and the title of “World’s Strongest Man.” There’s just one problem with these shows however. Thor Magnus Hjalksand Pfister can’t possibly earn the title of “World’s Strongest Man.” In my world, only one man holds that title, and that’s the original World’s Strongest Man: Dino Bravo.

Adolfo Bresciano was born in Italy in 1949, (let’s just soak in for a moment the fact that an Italian family named their child “Adolfo” four years after WWII ended) but moved to Montreal during his childhood. He took up wrestling, which is pretty much the third-favorite sport of Canada, behind hockey and heckling Troy Percival. Bresciano named himself after 1950s wrestler “Dino Bravo,” whose real name was Pepe Dipasquale. I’ll be honest - I just wanted to write the name Pepe Dispasquale. Bravo would soon form tag teams with Dino Brito, Domenic Denucci and anyone else with body hair and a vowel at the end of their name.

Bravo began a singles career in 1978, quickly winning the NWA Canadian Championship, and would have seven more Heavyweight championship runs during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, making him more popular in Canada than the Tragically Hip.

He signed with the WWF in 1985, and as the story goes, was booked to wrestle Hulk Hogan in Montreal during January of 1986. However, the match was cancelled at the last minute when WWF officials realized that the crowd was cheering the hometown Bravo, and not Hogan, their top star and biggest marketing vehicle. Bravo quit in protest, and despite the fact that he returned a year later, he was never pushed as a main-eventer again, and instead was a staple of the mid-card heel (bad guy) roster.

Vince McMahon, like myself, was always a fan of strongmen, and Bravo was one of the legitimately strongest men on his roster by 1987. McMahon therefore decided that Bravo would take up the moniker of the “World’s Strongest Man,” highlighted by his “record bench press” at the 1988 Royal Rumble, where, with the assistance of Jesse Ventura, Bravo pressed “715 pounds,” which would have been a world record. As a six-year-old, I thought this was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen, even if Bravo was a bad guy. Bravo later doing pushups with Earthquake sitting on his back was equally awesome, even if Earthquake was actually supporting himself with his feet.

Don’t get me wrong – Bravo was a TERRIBLE wrestler. I mean, just awful. His finisher was a side suplex for chrissakes, and he’s one of the few wrestlers since 1830 to actually use the airplane spin with regularity. His matches with Ken Patera were utterly painful, and his feud with Ronnie Garvin wasn’t that much better. The WWF paired Bravo with various managers, including the annoying Jimmy Hart and Luscious Johnny Valiant. In the early ‘90s, Bravo was given a French-Canadian gimmick (despite the fact that he was Italian) and paired with Frenchy Martin.

The WWF had some fantastic racial stereotyping going on during this time period (the spear-carrying Saba Simba comes to mind) , but Frenchy Martin may have topped them all. Look at the guy – a beret, a monacle, and a handlebar mustache? And he legitimately spoke French! I have no idea why this guy wasn’t pushed to the moon, instead of that megaphone-toting has-been Jimmy Hart. God I hate Jimmy Hart.

Anyways, Bravo started to fade from the scene after the Earthquake-Bravo tag team gave way to the Natural Disasters of Earthquake and Typhoon (who will always be Tugboat to me), and Bravo retired from the WWF in 1992. Bravo never won any titles in the WWF, but was a mid-card staple for years, and appeared in four Wrestlemanias.

Only a year later, Bravo would pass away, but not by the typical “wrestler death” of steroid-induced heart attack. Oh no, Bravo went out in a more gruesome way, being shot nine times “gangland style,” including twice in the head. Authorities believed that Bravo had become entangled in Montreal’s organized crime scene, and had been involved in..get this…black market cigarette sales. Yes, Dino Bravo was brutally murdered…over cigarettes.

So next time you remember Dino Bravo as “boring,” remember the things he brought us. Being legitimately named Adolf. Kinda-sorta world record bench presses. Pushups with Earthquake sitting on his back. Frenchy Martin. Keep him in mind next time you smoke a Canadian black-market mafia cigarette.


Hazel Maes Landing Strip said...

I didn't know Luca Brasi was a wrestler.

Stitchface said...

Finally. The article I've been waiting for all my life.

Anonymous said...

First of all nobody cares if you like Jimmy Hart or not. And nobody thinks you're funny, this is an idiotic blog. It's also obvious that you know nothing about wrestling, save for what you read on the internet as obvious with your stupid comment that Bravo never held a belt in the WWF. Dino Bravo is a former WWF World tag team champion.

Anonymous said...

"Bravo was given a French-Canadian gimmick (despite the fact that he was Italian)"

Hey idiot, he was Italian-born but he grew up and performed in Canada, thus he's Canadian. It isn't any different then someone from Japan growing up in the United States, they would be considered American, or Japanese-American. Same with Bravo in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wrestling fans

Listen, first of all, in the W W F it was Vince McMahon who ruined lots of talent in the World Wrestling Federation, for example Hulk Hogan was one of his favorites and that's why he remained Champion for so long, but despite his wrestling habbits sucked, and as for Dino Bravo for those of you that don't know him well just watch his prime days in Montreal Wrestling called International Wrestling and he was a very big hero back home in Canada and held the International Heavyweight Champion for many years and was a very fantastic wrestler with incredible moves, not like Hogan with his leg drop and slow punches, just go to Youtube and watch Dino Bravo against Jerry Blackwell and you'll be surprised

Anonymous said...

Hello Wrestling fans

I'm Italian myself and let me remind you that Dino Bravo in His WWF days as a heel wasn't the Dino Bravo I knew, in the WAFT he was just a character of Vince McMahon creation which sucked for Dino Bravo. Bravo wasn't the World's Strongest Man he was truly Canada's Strongest Man and that what they called him in his prime, International Wrestling is where you truly can see this fantastic Superstar who also deserves to be in the Hall of Fame in the WWE in 2012, his punches used to knock out opponents, man this wrestle can really lift heavy check him out body-slamming Jerry Blackwell on YouTube, Jerry weighs 460lbs, Dino Bravo will be missed in the Professional Wrestling, if he were alive who knows what good position he can have in the WWE. Thankyou Dino for you great Wrestling career and Awesome wrestler not like the Mizz today

Anonymous said...


In the WWF(WWE) many superstars have characters for instance The Rock, The Miz and of course The Undertaker all of this was a creation by Vince McMahon. Dino Bravo debut wrestling was in the 70's, I can tell you this wrestler was a fantastic technician and powerhouse, the drop kicks he did to his opponents, he even was able to lift heavy wrestlers and body slam them. Big wrestlers never bothered him even the likes of Hulk Hogan, Dino Bravo was much better wrestler than Hulk Hogan and stronger, don't judge him in the WWF days, that wasn't the real Dino Bravo we Montrealer's know of.
I remember seeing Dino Bravo in the Gold's Gym benching 650lbs regularly, I can tell you not much men out their can do this, only few strong men can lift this.
I hope many people out their can respect this fantastic Wrestler.
I'm sure he is in Heaven because God forgives everybody, God knows how much evil their is on earth, but people in this world belong to God. I wish Dino Bravo to be in the WWE Hall of Fame 2012 he truly deserves it.

Anonymous said...

Its so from that time its going to hirt really bad