John Tenta is looking for work. But his profession, that theatre of the absurd pro wrestling, doesn’t exactly have a help wanted section in the local newspaper. And so he finds himself on the outside of the big two promotions, wanting to get back in the door.
He was let go by the WWF, his contract not renewed as the company abandoned The Oddities gimmick, and Tenta’s Golga character.
“I had a small meeting with [the WWF] two weeks ago in Tampa. I’m probably going to drop by, I think they’re in Orlando this week coming up,” explained Tenta backstage at the International Wrestling 2000 show on December 29, 1999 in Montreal. “I’ve ran a few ideas by them, they said they’ll think about it. So since then, I’ve come up with a few more. Just keep trying, and if that doesn’t work, I will try WCW. I’ve contacted them, and they said not right at this moment, but call us early in the new year.”
The former Earthquake, who has dropped over 100 pounds, has a family to feed at his Florida home, and is open to almost anything. He has met with Paul Heyman to discuss working with ECW, but he said “nothing ever came of that.”
He credits his dramatic weight loss to going to the gym and watching what he eats. His advice for others? “More exercise, and more frequent, small meals.”
Before the show in Montreal, where he and his partner Goliath (aka Kurrgan) had a falling out, and lost to Les Prisonniers, Tenta had been on a tour of the United Kingdom for the British Wrestling Federation. The British tour paid well, said the B.C.-born Tenta. “[It’s] small-time, but we did alright. I was there six weeks out of the last two and a half months.” And he’s probably going back again in February.
At 36, he is fairly reflective of his career up to this point, wondering at times how he went from a main eventer against Hulk Hogan in the WWF to almost an afterthought.
“There’s a lot of stuff that maybe I don’t understand, a lot of things that I wouldn’t know about as to why things didn’t happen for me,” he explained. “If it has something to do with my leaving them a few years ago … I’ve been told that it has nothing to do with that. So, I’m hoping that it’s true.”
His initial departure from the WWF and subsequent debut in WCW didn’t leave him on the best of terms with the WWF.
“I met Vince McMahon on a plane a short time later. We were flying from Vegas to St. Louis, and we had a chance to talk. I got a chance to explain my side, why I left, that it wasn’t just all money,” Tenta said. “He told me at that time that I’d be welcomed back. And I did make it back for that time as Golga. I thought it would last a while longer.”
Golga was a bit of a strange character, even for someone who has gone through as many name changes and gimmicks as Tenta. He said that he “wasn’t really comfortable with Golga … until they turned it baby, then I started to have some fun with it.”
Plus, to better portray his character’s appreciation for South Park, he started to watch the show, and now considers himself a South Park fan.
He thinks that The Oddities “had a lot of potential” and adding something that was missing from the WWF shows. “I thought it was quite entertaining, it was a lot of fun for people. I thought it was one part of the WWF show that didn’t so much deal with sexuality. I thought it had some of the old qualities of just entertainment, good clean entertainment.”
Apparently, there was a plan to remove the gold mask at some point. “I was told that I was going to be taking it off and that didn’t happen. I was disappointed,” he said.
The former sumo wrestler hasn’t ruled out returning to Japan at some point, but has many hurdles to jump first.
“Politics get in the way. When Baba was alive, I couldn’t go back, he didn’t want me back because when I was with WWF, I wrestled for Tenyru, his big star that left him. And New Japan’s tied up with WCW. They have got a big contract. There’s not a lot over there for me right now,” Tenta said. “I’ve contacted the American booker for All-Japan, but he said they’re cutting down to only six foreigners each tour, so they pretty much have their regular, top names there.”
In the immediate future, fans should look for Tenta to appear on the fledgling WXO Wrestling syndicated TV shows. He appears at his first TV taping next week, and expects to be wrestling his under real name.