|CURT HENNIG BIO
|THE EARLY YEARS
Curt was the son of
the legendary Larry "The Axe" Hennig, his best friend since the eighth
grade was Richard Rood, a.k.a. "Ravishing" Rick Rude, and he graduted
from the same class as John Nord and Barry Darsow - a duo perhaps
better known to viewers of wrestling as The Berzerker and Demolition's
"Smash". Being of
that pedigree and keeping that kind of company, it was inevitable that
Curt Hennig was destined to become one of the best - technically and
affectionately - professional
wrestlers of any generation. According to Hennig himself,
Curtis Michael Hennig was born on March 28th 1958 in
Robbinsdale, Minnesota. The American state was quite a breeding ground
professional wrestlers. Names that hailed from there include Blackjack
Lanza, Verne and Greg
Gagne, Road Warriors, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, not to mention Curt's
father. Also, one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time - Ric
Flair - was a Minnesota resident, attending Verne Gagne's much-fabled
wrestling school, before he reloacted to North Carolina.
Curt was a very accomplished athlete during his school years, excelling
at many sports. At the University of Minnesota he made it onto the
football team where his life was going to change, forever.
During his time on the university's football team, Curt sustained an
injury to his knee. He had to have surgery done and Hennig decided he
needed to regain full fitness as another school was scouting him.
Rehabilitation was to take place at Verne Gagne's wrestling camp, in
Minnesota. Curt recalled that around 100 people started the course but,
by the end, only he and two-time Olympian Brad Rheingans made it
through until the very end. After making it through Gagne's camp, Curt
knew where his future laid and that was in professional wrestling.
When Curt made his professional wrestling debut in 1979 in the
Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association (AWA), he was billed
originally billed as
"Cool" Curt Hennig. Over the next few years he built up his
reputation - which included spending a short stint in the WWE - and he
was quickly recognised as a very promising talent.
Back in the
AWA - after spending two years in the WWE and having won the Pacific
Northwest Tag Team titles in Portland with his father as well as an
individual championship - Curt Hennig became one of the
promotions biggest names. He finally landed a title on January
1986, teaming up with another future WWE Intercontinental champion
Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) to defeat "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin and "Mr.
Electricity" Steve Regal for the AWA World Tag Team championship.
The success was not to be isolated. He was becoming a big enough
draw to be given a run at the AWA World Heavyweight crown. Curt
won his first major individual title by defeating Hall of Famer Nick
Bockwinkel in May 1987. The win was controversial
as it appeared Hennig hit Bockwinkel with an illegal foreign object
passed to him by Larry Zbyscko, knocking the World Champion out
There was also controversy over whether or not Curt lost his title in a
steel cage match against Greg Gagne. Nevertheless, Curt was to be
champion for 53 weeks until
he faced Jerry Lawler in the future king's own backyard of Memphis,
Curt relocated to
the North East, believing his career would only gather pace if he moved
on from the AWA. He returned to the WWE, four years after his
first tenure came to an end. At first he used his name Curt
Hennig but it was not long before every wrestling fan was simply
"Mr. Perfect". Apparently, trying to come up with a persona for Curt,
Vince McMahon asked him what kind of an athlete he was at school to
which Hennig replied "PERFECT". A legend was born.
WWE promoted Curt Hennig as being absolutely perfect by airing a string
of promos which have gone down in wrestling history. Nearly two
decades after the first vignette was aired, wrestling fans still talk
about them with
much-fondness. No doubt they will continue to talk about them for
many years to come. Curt - still referring to himself as Curt
Hennig "Mr. Perfect" - was seen playing basketball and sinking a basket
from half-court, playing horseshoes and scoring four consecutive
ringers, playing golf and holing a 40-foot putt, playing 9-ball pool
potting every ball in sequence and even recording a perfect 300 game in
bowling - amongst other things. When WWE made some more promos in
1993, Mr. Perfect showed Felton Spencer of the Minnesota Timberwolves
how to be a perfect basketball player, he proved he was the perfect
goaltender when he shutout Minnesota North Stars' Mike Modano and
teammates and his real-life friend Wade Boggs looked on in amazement at
a perfect hitting display. However, most wrestling fans'
favourite was Minnesota Viking Steve Jordan witnessing Mr. Perfect
throw a football nearly the entire length of the field, run after his
own pass and catching it in the end zone. Tight end Jordan
thought the throw and catch was unbelieveable but Mr. Perfect quickly
corrected him by declaring, "NO, NO, NO. That was PERFECT!"
Viewers were left in no doubt that they were watching a perfect athlete.
Due to Mr. Perfect's perfect start to his WWE career, he quickly moved
up the card on his way to a feud with the then WWE
champion, Hulk Hogan.
However, the title shot was not forthcoming and so
Mr. Perfect decided to take matters into his own hands. He and his
manager, "The Genius" (Leaping) Lanny Poffo, destroyed the WWE
championship belt which started a feud between the perfect one and
Hogan. Curt claimed that his on-going feud with champion Hulk
the greatest run of his career.
By this time, Mr. Perfect had already chalked up his first singles
victory at a PPV, defeating The Blue Blazer (Owen Hart) with his, by
then, patented "Perfect-plex" at Wrestle Mania V. Curt says that he got
the idea of the "Perfect-plex" while he was in Japan. He saw his
father's old tag-team partner, Harley Race, execute a "Fisherman's
Suplex". Curt thought if he bridged then he would have a finishing
move. The name "Perfect-plex" was given to him by, referee, Jim
Korderas. The perfect one was well respected by his peers and
fans and was seen as
one of the best ring-workers who had great mat mechanics in an era
where bulk and muscle seemed to be the norm. It did not take long
before he got a real shot at some gold.
Ultimate Warrior had to drop his Intercontinental strap after defeating
WWE Champion Hulk Hogan at Wrestle Mania V's main event. So an
eight-man tournament was set up by the WWE president, Jack Tunney, to
determine the next Intercontinental
champion. The eight competitors were: Tito Santana, "The African
Dream" Akeem, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Dino Bravo, "Superfly"
Jimmy Snuka, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "The Model" Rick Martel and Mr.
Perfect. Snuka was Mr. Perfect's victim in the first round and
after receiving a bye into the final, Tito Santana stood in the way of
Mr. Perfect gaining his first WWE title. Tito Santana was an
established superstar in the WWE having been successful in both singles
and tag team - being one half of Strike Force, with Rick Martel.
However, with his newly appointed manager, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan,
Perfect outsmarted Tito Santana and small packaged him to get the
3-count and the Intercontinental championship on April 23rd 1990.
For the next few months, the perfect one defended his crown and was
lined up to face long-term foe Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake at Summer
Slam '90. However, the fight never went ahead when Bruti - real
name Ed Leslie - had a horrific freak parasailing accident on Brown
Lake, Lutz, Florida. He suffered a shattered nose, jaw and a
collapsed palate. He would not wrestle for many months to come.
With 10 days to go, the WWE chose one of the company's most popular
faces at the time, "Texas Tornado" Kerry von Erich, to step in and
fight Perfect. Despite not knowing who his opponent would be
until the last moment, Mr. Perfect was immensely confident that he
However, he controversially lost the strap after von Erich threw
Perfect into a steel post and then hit him with a closed fist. A
rematch was on the cards, though, and in November 1990, with "Million
Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase keeping a close eye on things, Mr. Perfect won
the belt back.
After Bobby Heenan decided to concentrate on being a broadcast
journalist in May 1991, Mr. Perfect enlisted the help of "Coach" John
Tolos. Title defences thereafter were perfect but in the run-up
to Summer Slam '91, Curt suffered a back injury which put his wrestling
career in jeopardy.
During a fight, the turnbuckles were not quite lined up properly and
Curt hit them hard. This caused a disc in his back to bulge and a
broken tailbone. His whole left leg went numb and not only was Hennig
put onto the injury list, he feared that his wrestling career would be
Curt revealed that he even went as far as cutting off most of his hair
as he saw no way for Mr. Perfect to return to the ring.
He took two months off to try and rehabilitate his back but by Summer
Slam '91 he was still in great agony. He felt there was no way he
wrestle Bret "The Hitman" Hart and asked Vince McMahon if he could film
a backstage segment announcing he was relinquishing the
Intercontinental crown. Vince pleaded with Curt to wrestle Bret
Hart, even if it was for a very short period.
Being a man of integrity and someone who always wanted the right thing
done for the sake of the business, Curt Hennig decided to put aside his
pain and hand Bret Hart the title in the proper tradition - in the
ring. Despite being in immense pain - although Curt claimed he
eased the pain slightly with "a couple of beers" - the fight lasted for
around 20 minutes and was ended when Bret Hart put Mr. Perfect into his
"Sharpshooter". The fight is still seen as an all-time classic.
After Summer Slam '91, Curt took some more time off to try and fully
recover from his back injury. He eventually returned at Survivor
'91 but in a slightly different capacity. Mr. Perfect became the
Executive Consultant of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who had just moved to
the WWE, bringing with him his World Heavyweight belt from then rivals
WCW. Ric Flair had been the champion of NWA/WCW many times and
when he was lured to the WWE he took the championship belt with
him. He was able to do this because, legally, the belt was
his. WCW eventually bought the belt back off him for a sum
believed to be of $70,000. Mr. Perfect and Flair had a run-in
with Hulk Hogan, sabotaging Hogan's title match against Undertaker at
Survivor Series '91. Despite Hogan quickly regaining the title at
the "Tuesday in Texas" show, Jack Tunney declared the WWE title vacant
with the "Nature Boy" still claiming to be the real World's Heavyweight
champion. The title was up for grabs at Royal Rumble 1990 and,
despite entering the battle royal at no.3, Ric Flair claimed the crown
when Hulk Hogan - who had already been eliminated - pulled his one-time
friend Sid Justice out of the ring. Flair proved that he truly
was a 60-minute man!
The WWE were moving towards a titanic clash between Flair and Hogan at
Wrestle Mania VIII but eventually decided against it due to Hogan's
Hollywood commitments. So Ric Flair faced off against former-WWE
champion "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Flair and Perfect resorted to
mind games and played on the fact that the "Nature Boy" was a
kiss-stealing, wheeling and dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son
of a gun. The duo claimed that Macho Man's manager and wife,
Elizabeth, had been with Flair before she met Savage. They even went as
far as playing answer phone messages that Elizabeth had apparently left
for Ric and releasing shocking photos of Ric and Elizabeth enjoying
time together. Later it was revealed that these were faked but
had got into the mind of Macho Man. In the end, the stunts did
not work and Savage beat Flair at Wrestle Mania VIII, although he did
have a hand full of trunks to help him. The feud
continued up until Summer Slam '92, which was held at Wembley Stadium
in London, UK. Flair and Perfect once again played the mind games
by claiming they would be in the corner of either Savage or his
opponent, Ultimate Warrior. Eventually the duo attacked both men
competing in the World title match, revealing they just wanted to do
some damage to the eventual champion - who turned out to be
Savage. It worked as Flair won the WWE title back but after he
lost it to Bret Hart his relationship with the perfect one took a twist.
As well as being Ric Flair's Executive Consultant, Mr. Perfect had
worked as a colour commentator alongside Vince McMahon since ceasing to
wrestle. His wrestling knowledge and wit made him a great
addition behind the microphone and in front of the camera. On an
edition of WWE Primetime Wrestling in November 1992, McMahon and
Perfect were joined in the studio by Mr. Perfect's former-manager,
Bobby Heenan. Speaking at a press conference from his hometown of
Randy Savage was announcing who his new partner would be at Survivor
Series after Ultimate Warrior dropped out. Savage proclaimed to
have found a PERFECT partner and
that man was none other than Mr. Perfect. Back in the studio, the
perfect one looked as if he was taken aback. Unimpressed by
Savage's revelation, Heenan decided to step in. Obviously, Heenan
thought Savage's idea to
choose Mr. Perfect to be in his corner was an outrageous decision and
there was no way Perfect would take him up on the offer. However,
Mr. Perfect seemed keen on the idea and this angered Heenan.
"The Brain" told the perfect one that he took orders from himself
Ric Flair and there was no way he would wrestle at Survivor Series.
This meant nothing to Perfect and he told Heenan that
he and Ric Flair had held him back over the last year. They
did not want him to wrestle because he would outshine "Nature Boy".
Enough was enough and Mr. Perfect agreed to partner Savage at
Survivor Series. Bobby Heenan was livid and found himself
slapping Perfect in the
face. This was a huge mistake as Perfect grabbed Heenan and
threatened him. "The Brain" pleaded with Mr. Perfect to let him
go and said
he was sorry but the perfect one was not having any of it and got a
pitcher of water and poured the contents over Heenan's head, completely
humiliating him. It was official - Mr. Perfect would be back in
the ring. It later transpired that the Warrior had dropped out of
his tag team match with Savage against Ric Flair and Razor Ramon
because he had left the WWE for good. It was decided that Mr.
Perfect would turn face to partner Savage, although Curt was initially
against the idea because he felt that Perfect was a natural heel.
Mr. Perfect started the Survivor Series match at a lively pace and it
seemed like he had never been away from the squared-circle.
at one point Perfect looked like he
had become disheartened and walked away from his partner but he
returned to record a victory via disqualification. This was the
beginning of the end of Ric Flair's reign in the WWE. The former
allies feuded again at the Royal Rumble in January, 1993,
when Mr. Perfect eliminated Ric Flair. It would all culminate in
following night's Monday Night Raw where the two went head-to-head in
a "Loser Leaves WWE" match. The perfect one was triumphant over
Boy" and Flair had to leave the WWE - an absence which lasted nearly a
Although it was felt that Mr. Perfect's reintroduction as a wrestler
going to see him pushed right to the top, things never really took off,
again. He had a feud with Lex Luger which culminated with a great
Wrestle Mania IX. Perfect controversially lost when the
referee did not see his foot on the ropes and deemed that Luger had
pinned him. Mr. Perfect was furious but, before he could do
anything, Lex Luger hit
him with his forearm which had a steel plate implanted inside it.
When Mr. Perfect eventually awoken he went in search of Lex
When he found him he dished out a severe beating until
"Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels came to the aide of Luger.
Perfect was soon feuding with Shawn Michaels in the following months
and one brawl actually saw them accidently damaging Howard "The Fink"
Finkel's car. The feud was to lead up to Summer Slam '93 where
Perfect would take on H.B.K. for the title Perfect once held, The
Intercontinental championship. Mr. Perfect found the challenge
too much with Diesel in Shawn Michaels'
corner. Perfect was thrown out of the ring and, while H.B.K.
the referee, Diesel gave Perfect a punishing beating which resulted in
him being counted out.
Due to injuries, wrestling became more and more sparse. Wrestling
fans started to know Mr. Perfect more and more as a colour commentator
he guested as a referee. Most notably he was the official when Lex
Luger met Yokozuna at Wrestle Mania X in 1994. Mr. Perfect still
held a grudge against Luger from the previous year and
didn't hesitate to disqualify Lex when he laid a hand on the
official. During his time as a colour commentator, Mr. Perfect
started a conflict
with Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (H.H.H.) by stealing his women from
Hunter laid down the gauntlet at the feet of Mr. Perfect which
Perfect accepted. The match was set for an edition of Monday
Night Raw in October 1996,
but, on the night, Hunter damaged Mr. Perfect's knee by pushing a cart
into him. There was no way Perfect could compete.
Mr. Perfect thought Hunter should still fight that night and seeked
out Intercontinental champion at the time, "Marvelous" Marc Mero.
Mero accepted but Hunter was not keen on the idea. He said the
only way he would fight Mero that night was if he put his title on the
line. Mero duly accepted. Mr. Perfect watched the fight at
ringside. During the match, the
referee got injured and Hunter used the opportunity to grab a steel
chair. Mr. Perfect pulled the chair away from Hunter and looked
set to hit him with it. Astonishingly, though, Mr. Perfect struck
Mero instead and Hunter Pedigreed the knocked out
Intercontinental champion to
grab the title away from him. When Hunter was given the belt it
suddenly dawned on everyone that
hitting Mero was no accident on Perfect's part and it was just a
ploy to make Hunter Hearst-Helmsley the new Intercontinental
champion. A new partnership was in the making until Curt Hennig
decided to switch
to the WCW brand the following week - a decision, he felt, that made
sense financially but creatively he wasn't too happy about.
mid-1990s, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) - with Ted Turner's
and Eric Bischoff's creativity - became a credible threat to the WWE.
Many WWE Superstars switched brands whether it was to earn a
quick buck or they felt they owed their families a secure future.
Curt Hennig was no different. He admitted he was in the business
for the money and when Turner Broadcasting presented him with a huge
cheque he felt it was the right time for a change of scene. Curt
revealed there was no heat between himself and Vince McMahon.
They held a meeting together
and shook hands. Curt really appreciated what the WWE had done
him and he presented everyone who worked for WWE's television facility
little award statues, thanking them all. Also, H.H.H. learnt to
forgive him. Their partnership was meant to
be H.H.H.'s first big push in the WWE but, when Curt Hennig departed
WCW, Hunter had to wait just a little bit longer for his time to
Mr. Perfect was now wrestling as Curt Hennig once more. In WCW,
initially teamed up with Diamond Dallas Page to take on Randy Savage
and Scott Hall - two other WWE Superstars who had made the switch to
WCW. Later, Hennig became one of the "Four Horsemen" - perhaps
the most legendary stable in wrestling history - when Arn Anderson had
to retire from the ring due to injuries, saying it would be an honour
to take Anderson's place. However, he soon turned on them to be a
of the "New World Order" (NwO) in 1997 at the "Fall Brawl". It
on that night he won his first WCW title, defeating Steve McMichael for
the WCW United States strap. He held the title for three months
until he met his former tag-team partner, Diamond Dallas Page.
An injury to his knee held Curt back for most of 1998 although he did
take on (Bill) Goldberg twice for the WCW championship. The
following year, though, he teamed up with another former-Horseman Barry
Windham to take the WCW tag team championship. They were part of
"The West Texas
Rednecks" (yes, I know Curt is really from Minnesota) along with
Kendall Windham and Bobby Duncam
Jr. The West Texas Rednecks' most famous angle, perhaps, was
rapper "Master P". It was intended for the fans to take to Master
P as the face and Curt to be the heel. However, it did not quite
work out that
way. During a Master P fight, Curt - who was co-commentating at
the time - declared "Rap is Crap!" Little did Curt Hennig realise
phenomenon he had just created. "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy
Hart, who had co-written many entrance
theme tunes for wrestlers, wrote a song called "I Hate Rap" (Rap is
Curt added his little bit to it and felt the song was so bad that
it was good. Soon Curt and the other West Texas Rednecks were
among the most
popular groups in WCW and the song was getting airtime on
country radio stations across the US and big crowds would turn out to
see the West Texas Rednecks perform it on stage.
Knee injuries held Curt back in the ring, once again, though, and he
found himself mainly in a non-wrestling capacity throughout 1999.
Things did not really improve the following year and the company
decided to release Curt. Hennig admitted that his time in WCW was
a success financially but on
the production-side things never really progressed at all. Ideas
were not really taken aboard by the creative team and he felt he just
had to turn up to work and put a brave smile on his face.
After his departure from WCW, it looked as if Curt Hennig would be
confined to the independant wrestling circuit by the age of 42 but, to
our delight, there was to be one last hurrah. During Curt 's time
on the independant circuit - where he won a handful of titles - he
refocus on life and started eating the right foods, lifting weights and
spend some good quality time with his family. Within the next 18
months, Curt claimed that
he found himself in the shape of his life which could allow
him to compete with anyone in the wrestling business.
WCW was bought out by WWE in March 2001 and former stars of the brand
were introduced onto the WWE roster. At the 2002 Royal Rumble, in
January, Curt Hennig was brought back as
Mr. Perfect. Mr Perfect held his own and nearly equalled his best
finish by being the penultimate wrestler to be eliminated. Mr.
Perfect found himself presenting the "No Way Out" PPV in February,
perfectly, of course but, in the ring, he appeared to remain mid-card.
His highlight, perhaps, was Perfect-plexing the "Big Show" - something
he had done to Paul Wight during their WCW days. Things didn't
really move on and an incident on the flight back from
the "Insurrextion" show in London probably cost Mr. Perfect his WWE
Curt was known as someone who liked a good laugh and he used to
rib everyone. This included one of WWEs rising stars Brock
Lesnar. According to some people, the WWE management had already
warned Lesnar not to ride with
Hennig as he was being a bad influence on him. On the flight back
from London, it is alleged, Hennig was ribbing Lesnar about being a
better amateur and shoot wrestler. The two decided to sort it out
physically. It is thought that this was the final straw for Vince
McMahon and the WWE
decided to release Curt from the company. Unfortunately, this was going
to be the last time we were to see Mr. Perfect.
Curt went back to the independent circuit wrestling, after a stint in
NWA-TNA, for the Jimmy Hart-promoted World Wrestling All-Stars.
It was just prior to one of these shows where, sadly, Curt Hennig
was to die. He was in Brandon, Florida, preparing to fight Ian
"The Iron Brit"
Harrison at The Tampa State Fairgrounds. On the night of Sunday
9th February, it was said he was suffering from severe gas pains.
He was last seen on the day of the show by referee Micky Jay in
his hotel room around 9:30am, that morning. Micky invited Hennig
to breakfast but Curt declined and remained in bed. He was
show up at the restaurant at 1:30pm, for a meeting, but he did
show up. So, wrestler Davie "The Cuban Assassin" Sierra asked his
wife to check on Curt. There was no answer and a hotel
found Curt dead, at the age of 44, in his room just after 1:30pm, on
Monday 10th February, 2003. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
said no foul play was involved. The Tampa Coroner's office and
the Tampa Medical Examiner's office
revealed their findings on Curt Hennigs death on Tuesday 26th March,
2003. They announced that Curt Hennig's death was caused by
"acute cocaine intoxication". Curt Hennig is survived by his
mother and father - Irene and Larry - wife,
Leonice, who he had been together with since high school, and their
four children: Joe, Amy, Kate and Curtis Henry (Hank).
Curt has been sadly missed by the wrestling fraternity as well as his
family. A Mass of Christian Burial was held for Curt at 11am on
February 17th, 2003, at the Church of St. Stephen, 5th & Jackson
St., Anoka, Minnesota. Friends and family gathered and the
wrestling world was well represented. The likes of Jesse "The
Body" Ventura from yesteryear and Brock Lesnar from more recent times
turned up to say goodbye to a much loved man. Of course, Mr.
Perfect's entrance theme "Exodus" could be heard over the speakers
as well as the West Texas Rednecks' classic, "I Hate Rap" (Rap is
was also a prayer service at the Washburn-McReavy Seman Chapel, 1827
Coon Rapids Blvd., Coon Rapids, Minnesota, held at 6pm the previous day.
In February 2007 the WWE announced that Curt Hennig would become the
ninth man to be inducted into its Hall of Fame posthumously. This
in recognition of over two decades at the top of the wrestling
profession, numerous singles and tag-team major titles and an array of
classic matches that have gone down in history as some of the greatest
of all-time. Curt's good friend Wade Boggs inducted him into
Hall of Fame - as a member of the Class of 2007 - on Saturday, March
2007. His family were on hand to accept the award on his
behalf. A short time afterwards, on Saturday July 14th, Curt was
also inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Hall of
Fame, situated in Waterloo, Iowa USA. His father, the legendary
Larry "The Axe" Hennig, represented Curt at the ceremony, having been
inducted himself as part of the Class of 2006. Curt's wife,
Leonice, was present, too.
It is understood that two of Curt's children - Joe and Amy - are
currently pursuing a career in pro-wrestling. If they are
successful in continuing the Hennig family tradition, some might say
that would be "Absolutely PERFECT!"
CURT HENNIG'S TITLE HISTORY:
You probably remember Mr. Perfect reminding Sean Mooney that he was the
"greatest Intercontinental champion of all-time". Well, Curt
Hennig found the time to win numerous other titles to go along with his
two Intercontinental crowns in a much-decorated career. You can
take a look at his title
history - which titles he won, when he won them and for how long he
held them - by clicking
to original picture
*credit to "The Early Years" pictures: onlineworldofwrestling.com