Throwback Thursday: A WWE Network Birthday Tribute to Terry Funk

June 30, 2016 by Brock Allen

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There are wrestlers who are legends and wrestlers who are icons, and there are some who are in a class all of their own — Terry Funk is one such wrestler.

Today the ageless “Hardcore Legend” turns 72.

WWE Network - Terry Funk Entrance in ECW

Throwback Thursday celebrates by taking another trip through the archives of the WWE Network, this time to find forgotten classics in Terry Funk’s 50-year career.

Grudge Match” (WATCH – 4:12)
Terry Funk w/Jimmy Hart vs. Junkyard Dog
WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event III ? November 2, 1985(TAPED: October 31, 1985)

By the time Funk debuted in the WWF in July of ’85 he’d been wrestling for 20 years and had even retired in Japan in 1983 (the legendary AJPW “Forever” promo). This match with Junkyard Dog, part of the most notable feud of “The Funker’s” short WWF run in the WWF, is classic Terry Funk.

Top Ten NWA World Heavyweight Championship Ranking Match” (WATCH – 1:45:36)
Terry Funk (#10 contender) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (#1 contender)
NWA/WCW Clash of the Champions VII: Guts and Glory ? June 14, 1989

WWE Network - Terry Funk vs. Ricky Steamboat; WCW Clash of the Champions

After leaving the WWF in 1986, Terry Funk returned to AJPW before taking most of 1988 off to make films, including Road House. In 1989 Funk returned to NWA-WCW and began a legendary war with World Champion Ric Flair. Before that feud could begin in earnest Funk would do battle with former World Champion Ricky Steamboat in a classic encounter that marked Funk’s first high-profile match in NWA-WCW and set the tone for Funk’s run in 1989.

USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:15:50)
Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Terry Funk(c)
USWA ? January 5, 1991

WWE Network - Terry Funk vs. Jerry Lawler; USWA Championship Match

One of Terry Funk’s greatest rivals has been Jerry “The King” Lawler. Funk’s most recent retirement match, in fact, was against Lawler on October 24, 2015. Back in 1990, however, the Funk/Lawler feud was over the USWA Unified World title. The two met in the semi-finals of the 21-man tournament to crown a new USWA Champion on October 8, 1990, with Lawler defeating Funk by DQ. On November 5, 1990 Funk took the title from Lawler, setting up this wild war of a rematch.

“Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 45:49)
“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes & “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes vs. The Stud Stable (Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck) w/Col. Rob Parker
WCW Clash of the Champion XXVIII ? August 24, 1994

WWE Network - Terry Funk & Dusty Rhodes Wrestling in WCW

Terry Funk’s career began to rise in the early ’90s thanks to independent promotions in the U.S. and Japan, including NWA-ECW and FMW. Funk returned to WCW in May 1994 at the Slamboree ’94 event, joining The Studd Stable that night. This match, a solid, stiff fight of a match, helped set the stage for September’s Fall Brawl PPV event and the last truly old school “WarGames” in WCW history. Plus, Dusty breaking the wooden chair over Meng’s head never gets old.

“Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 3:34)
Tommy Dreamer & Terry Funk vs. Shane Douglas (ECW World Television Champion) & Raven (ECW World Heavyweight Champion)
ECW Hardcore TV # 209 ? April 3, 1997 (TAPED: March 30, 1997)

After WCW, Funk returned to the independent scene and to NWA-ECW, where by 1997 Terry Funk was Paul Heyman’s hardcore Babe Ruth. Airing a week before ECW’s very first PPV (Barely Legal), where Funk was set to battle Sandman and Stevie Richards for a shot at ECW World Champion Raven, “The Funker” teamed with Tommy Dreamer for a classic ECW war that set the stage brilliantly for ECW’s biggest main event, to that point, in company history.

ECW World Heavyweight Championship – “Three-Way Dance” (WATCH – 1:47:27)
Shane Douglas w/Francine vs. Terry Funk vs. Sabu(c) w/Bill Alfonso
ECW Hardcore Heaven ’97 ? August 17, 1999

WWE Network - Terry Funk vs. Sabu vs. Shane Douglas; ECW Championship Match

Eight days before this event Terry Funk lost the ECW World title to Sabu in a brutal, unforgettable “Barbed Wire Match” (0:00 – 3:57) at Born to be Wired. This match, the long-awaited rematch of the legendary bout that put ECW on the map in February of 1994, would mark the end, in-ring, for Terry Funk in ECW (a return in 1998 was cut short due to illness). Funk would retire in September only to un-retire a short time later.

Vacant WWF World Tag Team Championship – “Steel Cage Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:23:14)
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & “Mr. Ass” Billy Gunn)
WWF Monday Night RAW #253 ? March 30, 1998

After a brief stint in FMW, Terry Funk returned to the WWF for the first time since spring 1986, debuting as Cactus Jack’s partner “Chainsaw Charlie” on the December 29, 1997 edition of RAW. The two would win the WWF Tag Team titles from the New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XIV in a “Dumpster Match” only for the titles to be held up the next night, setting up this unforgettable “steel cage” rematch to fill the vacancy.

“Hardcore Match” – “WCW Commissionership vs. nWo Disbandment” (WATCH – 2:00:41)
Kevin Nash vs. Terry Funk (WCW Commissioner)
WCW Souled Out 2000 ? January 16, 2000

WWE Network - Terry Funk Powerbombed into Chairs by Kevin Nash; WCW Souled Out

For health reasons Terry Funk took 1999 off. When Funk returned to wrestling in January of 2000 it was as WCW Commissioner, putting “The Funker” at odds with the nWo’s Kevin Nash. This is a wild, bloody brawl that features many memorable spots and a finish as painful to watch now as it was the night it happened.

WCW Hardcore Championship – “Hardcore Match” (WATCH – 38:44)
Terry Funk vs. Crowbar(c) w/Daffney
WCW Starrcade 2000 ? December 17, 2000

A large portion of Terry Funk’s final run in WCW involved the Hardcore Championship. This match, Terry Funk’s third and final WCW Hardcore title win, was Funk’s first match since losing the U.S. title to Lance Storm on September 23, 2000. A hard-hitting, chaotic brawl, Funk ended Crowbar’s one and only Hardcore title reign at 39-days with a devastating piledriver on a car door.

“6-Person Inter-Gender Extreme Rules Match” (WATCH – 1:13:22)
Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer, & Beulah Mcgillicutty vs. Mick Foley, Edge, & Lita
ECW One Night Stand 2006 ? June 10, 2006

WWE Network - Bloody Terry Funk & Tommy Dreamer; ECW One Night Stand 2006

Terry Funk wrestled at Shane Douglas’ Hardcore Homecoming event rather than the inaugural One Night Stand event, choosing principles over money. In 2006, however, the timing and story were right and Terry Funk, in rare form, put on what may go down as the final high-profile fight of an incredible career. Through ladders, barbed wire, fire, and blood, Terry Funk made one last stand for hardcore in the name of Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Final Thoughts

There was, is, and never will be anyone like Terry Funk again. Ever. From a gifted wrestler and World Champion to a ruthless brawler who took it all and kept getting back up, Terry Funk was one of a kind. “The Funker” can break you heart (35:50) with one promo and have you in stitches (27:00) in another. He’s no legend or icon; he’s Terry Funk. And that’s all there is to it.

As the “Hardcore Legend” turns 72 today pauses to wish one of the greatest wrestlers ever a truly happy and wonderful birthday. Thanks for the memories!

WWE Network - Terry Funk Birthday Tribute

That’s all for this week’s TBT – thank you for reading! Are you subscribed to the WWE Network? Then check out these classic Terry Funk matches yourself, and let us know what you think.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

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  1. Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life says:

    Happy birthday to the Funkster.. I got a very special “love” for the type of performers that Funk is.. A truly inspiration to Foley and others that liked it hardcore.

    The GAB ’89 match against Flair has one of my absolute favorite endings of a match.. you don’t see matches these days end like that.

    Terry “loosing” an eye at the 2006 ONS is one of many bloody highlights of an overall awesome event, which I hope will be on the OMG vol. 3 top 50 list later this year.

    So many Funk You-moments to pick. Great reading again, Brock. And thanks for sending the pop-up spam-ads to Supplex City! 😉