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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-05-2012, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Forgotten Legends63: First North American Crossover Superstar: Antonino Rocca

Trained by none other than Stanislaus Zbyszko and having a career over three decades where he was hugely over with Italian American/Hispanic crowd as a face, he was one of the major stars during his tenure.

He is often credited with inventing the off the ground flying wrestling style when he started wrestling in 1942 (someone like H.B.K but much before him). He is credited as the first Hi-Flyer and North American Crossover star (correct me if I am wrong).

He joined the then WWE and peaked during the Television era when he headlined main event in MSG for over 7 years for them. Though he was not the champion in NWA, he was considered the people's champion so much that the then NWA champion Pat O'Connor challenged him for a match on national television. He is credited with making MSG as big as it was today and reviving New York Territory with his drawing power and popularity.

With merely 8 titles to his name in a time when titles did not change hands that much (he held the WWE tag titles for 5 years), he created records in/for MSG and became one of the first north american superstar to feature in a comic book when he came in the cover of SUPERMAN issue wrestling the titular character. A forgotten legend who was inducted in 1995 H.O.F.



Spoiler for Give the guy a break:

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-2012, 12:33 AM
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Re: Forgotten Legends63: First North American Crossover Superstar: Antonino Rocca

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Originally Posted by theidealstranger View Post
Trained by none other than Stanislaus Zbyszko and having a career over three decades where he was hugely over with Italian American/Hispanic crowd as a face, he was one of the major stars during his tenure.

He is often credited with inventing the off the ground flying wrestling style when he started wrestling in 1942 (someone like H.B.K but much before him). He is credited as the first Hi-Flyer and North American Crossover star (correct me if I am wrong).

He joined the then WWE and peaked during the Television era when he headlined main event in MSG for over 7 years for them. Though he was not the champion in NWA, he was considered the people's champion so much that the then NWA champion Pat O'Connor challenged him for a match on national television. He is credited with making MSG as big as it was today and reviving New York Territory with his drawing power and popularity.

With merely 8 titles to his name in a time when titles did not change hands that much (he held the WWE tag titles for 5 years), he created records in/for MSG and became one of the first north american superstar to feature in a comic book when he came in the cover of SUPERMAN issue wrestling the titular character. A forgotten legend who was inducted in 1995 H.O.F.


It is a shame Rocca has been overlooked. I hardly ever see him metined in modern day GOAT lists. He was the inspiration for Vince Sr.'s idea of putting over stars of certain ethnic backgrounds to pop the heavy immagrant crowds of the area. He was the forerunner of Bruno, Putski, Pedro Morales, Arion, and many others.

However from what I remember he had issues that probably prevented him from becoming as big a name as some of his contemporaries in wrestling history.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-2012, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Forgotten Legends63: First North American Crossover Superstar: Antonino Rocca

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It is a shame Rocca has been overlooked. I hardly ever see him metined in modern day GOAT lists. He was the inspiration for Vince Sr.'s idea of putting over stars of certain ethnic backgrounds to pop the heavy immagrant crowds of the area. He was the forerunner of Bruno, Putski, Pedro Morales, Arion, and many others.

However from what I remember he had issues that probably prevented him from becoming as big a name as some of his contemporaries in wrestling history.
He was managed by Toots. That itself could be the issue for Toots was notorious for his terms and allegedly took 15% of the earnings if they wanted Rocca; other than being disavowed by his trainer for failing him and taking up flying style, his trainer being one of the four Gods of wrestling and any "real" wrestling fan would hate him though casual fans loved him. He was third behind Pat O'Connor, the then NWA champion and Killer Kowalski, the legendary monster heel during his peak and hence I compared him to HBK who was behind Rock and Austin other than similarities in their styles.

Spoiler for Give the guy a break:
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-2012, 01:19 AM
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Re: Forgotten Legends63: First North American Crossover Superstar: Antonino Rocca

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Originally Posted by theidealstranger View Post
He was managed by Toots. That itself could be the issue for Toots was notorious for his terms and allegedly took 15% of the earnings if they wanted Rocca; other than being disavowed by his trainer for failing him and taking up flying style, his trainer being one of the four Gods of wrestling and any "real" wrestling fan would hate him though casual fans loved him. He was third behind Pat O'Connor, the then NWA champion and Killer Kowalski, the legendary monster heel during his peak and hence I compared him to HBK who was behind Rock and Austin other than similarities in their styles.
I think his "problem" had more to do with substance abuse if I am remembering correctly.

In your original post you said he was the original "high flyer" and I think you are corret in terms of the American style.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-08-2012, 01:20 AM
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Re: Forgotten Legends63: First North American Crossover Superstar: Antonino Rocca

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Originally Posted by theidealstranger View Post
He was managed by Toots. That itself could be the issue for Toots was notorious for his terms and allegedly took 15% of the earnings if they wanted Rocca; other than being disavowed by his trainer for failing him and taking up flying style, his trainer being one of the four Gods of wrestling and any "real" wrestling fan would hate him though casual fans loved him. He was third behind Pat O'Connor, the then NWA champion and Killer Kowalski, the legendary monster heel during his peak and hence I compared him to HBK who was behind Rock and Austin other than similarities in their styles.
I think his "problem" had more to do with substance abuse if I am remembering correctly. He passed away very young due to this as well.

In your original post you said he was the original "high flyer" and I think you are corret in terms of the American style.
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