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
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
He signed with the WWF in 1985, and as the story goes, was booked to wrestle Hulk Hogan in
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
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.