At a towering 8-feet-tall, Giant Gonzalez was one of the most impressive individuals to ever step foot inside a WWE ring. Making his debut in January 1993, he immediately set his sights on Undertaker and eliminated him from the Royal Rumble. The move laid the foundation for a rivalry that lasted the length of Gonzalez’ WWE career.
The Story Of Giant Gonzalez In The World Wrestling Federation | Details On The Hulk Hogan vs. Giant Gonzalez Feud That Almost Happened | Photos Of Giant Gonzalez Before His Death | Rare Giant Gonzalez Photos
At WrestleMania IX, the bitter feelings between the two giants nearly came to a premature end when Gonzalez attacked Undertaker with a cloth soaked in chloroform. With Undertaker rendered motionless, many onlookers began to fear the worst. Miraculously, Undertaker rose to his feet and cleared the ring of his nemesis.
Following his assault on Undertaker, Gonzalez tried to finish the job at SummerSlam in 1993 when he battled “The Deadman” in a Rest in Peace Match. Like WrestleMania, however, the result favored Undertaker. After the match, a frustrated Gonzalez hit his smarmy manager, Harvey Wippleman, with his signature chokeslam. The attack immediately put the giant in the good graces of the fans. He didn’t have long to enjoy it, though as Gonzalez was gone from WWE soon thereafter.
When Jorge González’ contract with WCW was not renewed, pundits in the professional wrestling industry felt his career was over. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF), however, signed him to contract and he was introduced at the Royal Rumble on January 24, 1993. Although not officially a participant in the Royal Rumble Match, the giant competitor made a startling appearance in the middle of the contest, lurching to the squared circle in a bizarre body suit that featured airbrushed muscles with fur attached. His strange costume aside, the giant brute quickly targeted The Undertaker and savaged “The Demon from the Death Valley” in a manner few wrestlers have ever done.
Now known as Giant Gonzalez, the tallest wrestler in the history of the sports-entertainment organization, challenged The Undertaker at WrestleMania IX and nearly halted “The Deadman”‘s legendary “Streak” before it even began. The 8-foot beast lost to The Undertaker by disqualification after smothering his face with a cloth soaked in chloroform—in the fictional world of the WWF. With “The Deadman” rendered motionless, many fans began to fear the worst. Miraculously, Undertaker rose to his feet and cleared the ring of his rival.
“The match had its campy moments, mostly from an announcing standpoint,” Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer opined in his obituary on González. “The finish saw Gonzalez smother Undertaker with a towel. It was the old Southern chloroform finish but the live audience in Las Vegas has no idea what was going on and why Undertaker would pass out because a towel was held up to his face.”
Although he failed to defeat Undertaker, Gonzalez went on to make mincemeat out of a series of overmatched opponents, oftentimes demolishing three at once. He was being managed by the diminutive Harvey Wippleman, which made for impressive looking publicity photos when the two stood side-by-side. Wippleman, also known as Bruno Lauer, described his role as the wrestler’s manager, friend, confidante and errand boy.
“Not that I minded either, shit if I was eight feet tall, I’d want somebody to run out and get my food and medicine too,” Lauer said in an interview published on rasslinriotonline.com following the wrestler’s death. “Jogo (his nickname) was always a gentleman and a true friend.”
With Wippleman guiding his career, the wild giant continued to battle The Undertaker in arenas across the United States before the two titans faced off for the final time at SummerSlam on August 30, 1993, at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The storyline leading to the match was that Gonzalez had laid out Undertaker and Paul Bearer and stolen the urn. Now, with urn in his possession, the 8-foot brute was going to assume its mystical powers. Undertaker was legitimately injured going into the match and the joke within the professional wrestling industry was that since it was promoted as a Rest in Peace Match, it was the moniker for a match that was sure to die. Bearer reemerged during the match, where he clotheslined Wippleman and retrieved the urn. The no rules brawl saw Gonzalez push Undertaker to his limit before “The Demon from the Death Valley” ultimately defeated one of his most imposing rivals following five consecutive clotheslines and a flying clothesline from the top rope. With the victory, Undertaker became the first individual to pin Gonzalez—he was never pinned in WCW. Wippleman berated Gonzalez following the contest, who then turned on the pipsqueak manager by hitting him with a chokeslam, thereby turning babyface.
Though the foundation was set for Gonzalez to feud with Wippleman’s new associate, Adam Bomb, the program never truly began. His contract expired in October 1993 and he parted ways with the World Wrestling Federation. His final wrestling appearance for the company took place on the October 4, 1993, episode of Monday Night Raw in a 20-Man Battle Royal where the winner earned the Intercontinental Championship. Before the match even began, Gonzalez was first eliminated by Adam Bomb, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger, Diesel, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty and 1-2-3 Kid.
Jorge González had something of a bad break in the World Wrestling Federation in terms of timing as some executives proposed that he not lose to Undertaker in order to protect him for a program with Hulk Hogan. “The Hulkster,” however, had a falling out with company leader Vince McMahon after being asked to drop the WWF Championship to Bret Hart. The leather-skinned grappler denied the request and dropped the belt to Yokozuna instead. He then quit the company. With Hogan gone, WWF executives promoted Lex Luger, formerly known as The Narcissist, as the premiere babyface in the promotion. Company executives ultimately decided that Luger not feud with González due to fear it would lead to bad matches that could hurt his momentum.
Giant Gonzalez vs. Hulk Hogan, it almost happened!
In 1993, Vince McMahon had planned for “The Hulkster” to face Bret Hart in a big match at SummerSlam where he would drop the WWE Championship to “The Hit Man.” Hogan, however, refused to drop the title in a clean loss to Hart, due to Hart’s size and doubts over whether he could successfully draw. He opted to lose the title to monster heel Yokozuna instead and bolted from the Federation shortly thereafter. Now, had Hogan agreed to McMahon’s original plan, his next scheduled feud would have been against the “eight-foot-tall” Giant Gonzalez.
Although the proposed Hogan/Gonzalez feud never materialized, the two did interact once inside a WWE ring (as you can see in the surreal photo below). The giant appeared as an enforcer for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Irwin R.Schyster in a tag team match against Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake at a non-televised event in Huntington, West Virginia on June 15, 1993 – two days after “The Hulkster” lost the title to Yokozuna at the King of the Ring. After Hogan and Beefcake disposed of the heels, Hogan and Gonzalez had a confrontation. However, rather than fight Hogan, Gonzalez left the ring and headed to the backstage area.
As if that isn’t enough, Gonzalez was not originally scheduled to come out on the losing end of his feud with The Undertaker. The proposed angle is why Gonzalez did not suffer a pinfall loss to The Undertaker at WrestleMania IX and was instead disqualified for knocking out “The Deadman” with chloroform; McMahon wanted to keep the giant grappler strong for a potential program with Hogan.
There was also talk of “The All-American” Lex Luger feuding with Gonzalez in 1993, but McMahon opted not to run with it for fear it would lead to bad matches, thus hurting Luger’s strong momentum at the time. The Chairman instead chose to cut off Gonzalez’ monster heel push by having him lose to ‘Taker at SummerSlam. He became a good guy immediately following the match by turning on manager Harvey Wippleman, but the proposed babyface push was quickly rescinded and he was released from his contract in October. He was actually not let go due to poor performance, but because of health issues. He returned to the ring the following year in Japan before retiring in 1995 due to problems with his health.
The above image of Gonzalez shaking Hogan’s hand comes from WWE’s behind-the-scenes documentary on the history of WrestleMania, The Mania of WrestleMania.