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WWE: Gorilla Monsoon

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posted on Jun, 26 2004 @ 10:37 AM

Robert Marella entered the wrestling business in 1959, working for northeastern promoters Vincent J. McMahon and Joseph "Toots" Mondt. He debuted as Gorilla Monsoon, a "former Asiatic Champion" billed as hailing from Manchuria. With manager "Wild" Red Berry at his side to do all the talking, Monsoon was instantly one of the most hated heels in the country.
On November 14, 1963, Monsoon teamed with fellow rulebreaker Killer Kowalski to win the United States Tag Team Championship from Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard in Washington, DC. Then, on November 18, with his first professional title wrapped around his waist, Monsoon stepped into the ring with World Champion Bruno Sammartino at the old Madison Square Garden in a match that both men would later cite as the toughest of their careers. It went the full 90-minute time limit without a winner decided.

Monsoon and Kowalski lost their tag team title to the Tolos Brothers on December 28 in Teaneck, NJ. He regained the United States Tag Championship in April of 1965, this time teaming with "Cowboy" Bill Watts to defeat Gene Kiniski and Waldo Von Erich in DC. The duo dropped the title to the Miller Brothers three months later.

In 1969, Gorilla Monsoon was mercilessly attacked on television by the Sheik, a wrestler even more vicious and hated than he. Coming to his rescue was former arch-rival Sammartino; thus was Monsoon reborn as a "good guy", a role he filled for the remainder of his career. The 1970s saw Monsoon go through a complete reversal; one of the most despised heels of the previous decade became one of the most beloved faces of the next one.

The most high-profile incident of his wrestling career occurred in 1976 when he was challenged by Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali. The challenge resulted in Monsoon hoisting the champ into an airplane spin and slamming him to the canvas.

In 1981, Monsoon officially retired. Vincent K. McMahon, who had bought the company from his father, put Monsoon behind the mic, making him the WWE's top play-by-play man. He and Jesse "The Body" Ventura are considered by many to have been the greatest commentary team in the history of televised wrestling. Monsoon also formed a winning duo with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, playing the exasperated straight man to great effect.

Gorilla Monsoon was named WWE President in 1995. In his role as President, Monsoon played a key role in many storylines. In 1997, he stepped down as president, and spent most of his time as a road agent and coordinator, working backstage at live events and keeping a low profile. His last public appearance was at WrestleMania XV in Philadelphia on March 28, 1999. On October 4, 1999, Robert Marella passed away at the age of 62.

For 40 years, he entertained audiences and dedicated himself to the business like few others. No one was ever a member of WWE for a longer period of time. Robert "Gorilla Monsoon" Marella will always be remembered as one of the great ones, and stands out as a true giant, both in size and reputation.

WWE Hall of fame


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