Many fans remember Terry Funk for his WWE run as Chainsaw Charlie in the Attitude Era. Other older fans may remember his battles with Hulk Hogan in the 1980s. However, it was over a decade prior when he made his WWE debut, teaming with his father in one of the most legendary arenas in wrestling – Madison Square Garden.
Terry Funk’s WWE Debut
Terry Funks’ WWE debut was a tag team match on August 30th, 1971 in Madison Square Garden. The match saw Terry team with his father Dory Funk Sr to take on the legendary tag team The Fabulous Kangaroos. The match was the first time Terry Funk’s first match in the WWE, although his father had wrestled for the company previously.
Dory Funk Sr’s first WWE match came in June 1971, wrestling Bill White. He won the match in 8 minutes and went on to team with his son two months later. The match against the Fabulous Kangaroos was their first time The Funks had teamed together in the WWE but had been wrestling together for years prior to that.
Little is known about the match. No footage is available due to the time period the event took place. However, we do know that the match main evented Madison Square Garden and was a two-out-of-three falls bout. The match ended in a 45 minute time limit draw, with Cagematch.net reporting that the match ended with neither teams winning a fall, ending 0-0.
Sadly, Dory and Terry Funk would only tag together two more times in the WWE. Dory Funk Sr passed away in 1973 of a heart attack. He was demonstrating a wrestling hold at his home to a visitor at his Flying Mare Ranch in Umbarger, Texas and died in the St Anthony’s Hospital on June 3, 1973. Terry Funk went on to have a number of incredible matches in his career and revived “The Funks” tag team with his brother, Dory Funk Jr.
Hulk Hogan vs Terry Funk
Terry Funk was brought into the WWE in the 1980s as a prospective opponent for then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. The Immortal One was one of the biggest stars in wrestling history at that point and was one year removed from the legendary Wrestlemania 1 main event. He had teamed with Mr T in a tag team match at the event, but it was for a singles match that Funk was thought about in regards to wrestling Hulk Hogan.
Funk was a former NWA World Champion at that point, having won the title in 1975 from Jack Brisco to start his 14 month reign. It would be over a decade later when he would be tasked with facing Hulk Hogan in the WWF, with a potential world championship feud on the horizon for The Funker.
The did face off in some impressive matches (including an encounter on Saturday Night’s Main Event, a big pay per view clash eluded them. A battle between the two on the biggest stage seemed obvious. Sadly Vince McMahon didn’t think so and canned the potential match. This was because Funk was much smaller than Hogan and didn’t want the image of Hogan towering over his heel challenger. This was explained by Jim Ross on his podcast “Grillin Jr“
“Terry could’ve been a great opponent for Hogan because Terry would’ve known how to work with Hogan to embellish Hogan’s skills.
McMahon was very cautious to not book Hogan with average sized guys. He wanted him to sell for a guy that was bigger than him.
It’s the same concept I used when I hired Mick Foley to use for The Undertaker. You’re looking for an opponent and Foley was 6’4, 300 pounds and I think that’s the same theory that we’re talking about in this topic.
Vince was going to make sure, and I don’t blame him for this, that Hogan was booked with the right guy that can create the right visual and right dynamic so that when the Hulkster sold, it had more believability. I think there’s a lot to say for that, protecting your golden goose that’s now spitting out these golden eggs in the form of tickets sold.”
Terry Funk finally retired from wrestling in 2017, wrestling his last match against a host of legends of the ring.