In July 1995, a 5-foot-9 man with a thick New York accent entered a Florida emergency room complaining of pain after a wrestling match. The hospital staff couldn’t believe he had walked into the building. The competitor known as Tazz had a broken neck.
Upon his return to active competition, the Red Hook, Brooklyn, native shed the tattered garb of The Tazmaniac and became known simply as Tazz (the second “Z” is silent). With ease, The Human Suplex Machine executed innovative “Tazzplexes” to foes twice his size. But it was the Katahajime judo choke that became Tazz’s meal ticket. The hold was so effective at incapacitating opponents that it popularized “tapping out” in a wrestling ring, long before MMA reached national prominence.
The entire ECW locker room knew Tazz meant it when he said: “Beat me if you can. Survive if I let you.” Even longtime rivals Bam Bam Bigelow and Sabu became “just another victim” as Tazz earned his spot as the most dominant ECW World Champion in history. — Z.L.