Why Wayne Munn Paved the Way For “Characters” By John Brecko


Image Credit via Atlas Obscura


There have been many larger-than-life characters that have stepped into a wrestling ring throughout the years, especially as the sport grows older decade after decade. We have seen “Superstar” Billy Graham, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (“Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers before him), Hulk Hogan brought us Hulkamania, The Rock and his millions of catchphrases and many more characters throughout wrestling’s long history.

However, the person who paved the way for all of these characters may have been some one that you have never head of. Part of the reason for that is because he paved the way for characters today nearly 100 years ago.

He took pre-determined results as well as the theatrics of wrestling to a new level that had not yet been seen before.

Back in his day, pro-wrestling was the same as the amateur sport, but everyone backstage knew what the result would be. This made it hard to fake for those that had limited wrestling ability.

However, Ed “The Strangler” Lewis had the idea to bring someone in who had size, even if he had limited wrestling experience and ability. He had size and was a football player when he was in college, so he was someone people would notice when brought into the sport.

The person Ed Lewis wanted to bring in was a man named Wayne Munn.

Ed Lewis faced Wayne Munn for Lewis’s World Title in 1925 in a back-and-forth grappling match. However, it was not a “shoot” match like most matches were back in the day apart from their finishes.

In wrestling, something that is a “shoot” is something that happens for real and the grappling back then was always legitimate apart from the finish of the match.

Towards the end of the match, Munn threw Lewis outside of the wrestling ring, which the crowd could not believe. Wayne Munn was a newcomer and the crowd thought Lewis would have an easy night, so no one expected what they got.

The referee gave Lewis a break to get his bearings together, but was “hurt” after being thrown like that and Wayne Munn capitalized, pinned Lewis and won the championship. This way, Lewis could use the excuse that he was hurt and Munn’s victory could actually put some credibility behind him.

Lewis’s reputation was not at steak in the match. He knew he was one of the best wrestlers in the world at the time if not the best. If Ed Lewis were to lose one match, it would be of no consequence to him. The finish to the match was made the way it was because no one would believe it if Munn beat him completely clean and Lewis being healthy.

However, this would backfire on Lewis and Munn.

Wayne Munn went on to defend the title against Stanislaus Zbyszko in a match that he was supposed to retain the title in. However, Zbyszko would legitimately pin Munn’s shoulders to the mat, stealing the title from him and double-crossing Munn. The crowd in attendance was perplexed and was not sure what to think. They were furious because they expected a competitive match, but they got Zbyszko pinning Munn and in a few minutes.

When Ed Lewis regained his world title, he pinned Wayne Munn in minutes and Munn retired from wrestling soon after.

The reason why Munn paved the way for characters was because of his limited wrestling ability. If Munn had not won the world title and if the match was not set up to make him look like a legitimate world champion, no one knows if we would have as many characters we have grown to have in wrestling today.

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