Christopher Adams (February 10, 1955 – October 7, 2001) was an English professional wrestler, wrestling promoter, trainer and judoka. By the time Adams was 21 years old, he had won three British National Judo Championships for his age and weight. Adams wrestled primarily in the Texas promotions, most notably for World Class Championship Wrestling, where he became one of the most popular wrestlers in the promotion's history.
Adams is well known for being one of the trainers of Scott Hall in 1984 and training "Stone Cold" Steve Austin with his friend and close mate Jon Raven or as some might know better Jonny English in 1989. He also is credited for bringing the Superkick, a karate-style thrust kick, to American wrestlers. Adams was also among the first wrestlers to use the Sharpshooter, which he called the Super Lock by around 1985. He was also famous for using back flips and somersaults to catch his opponent off-guard. Moreover, Adams was known for diving from the canvas through the ropes to his opponent on the floor, one of the few wrestlers to execute this dangerous maneuver. Since his 1978 debut, Adams has used various thrust kicks and an enzuigiri, as well as using various judo holds during his matches throughout his career.
Chris also was responsible for starting the careers of Chad Hart (Gary Hart's son), Tasha Simone, Khris Germany, Ed Robinson, L.A. Steele, valet/manager/promoter Miss Lacy and Alex Porteau over the years, plus help other wrestlers improve their wrestling skills. Shawn Michaels and Paul Diamond were among the wrestlers Adams would help out, and both learned his trademark finisher, the superkick.
In L.A., Adams almost immediately became a major force in the waning days of the NWA Los Angeles promotion, winning the NWA Americas title in 1982 and twice winning the NWA Americas Tag Team title with two different partners: Tom Prichard and Reno Rigsby. He also won the Television Championship twice, which was called the "Beat The Champion" title.
Adams in 1982 also wrestled in Portland for Don Owen's Pacific Northwest promotion, as well as being involved in several tours of Japan, Europe, Mexico and Canada. In Portland, he learned the ins and outs of the politics of wrestling and struck close friendships with many fellow wrestlers such as Rick Martel, Matt Borne, Jesse Barr and King Parsons. While in Mexico, Adams won the then-WWF Light Heavyweight Championship from veteran Perro Aguayo in 1981, a championship reign that was virtually ignored by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Adams held the championship for two months.
Adams would eventually become married to Jeannie Clark, better known in WCW as "Lady Blossom" from the late 1970s to around 1984. Together, they had a daughter named Jade he also has another daughter and son. Jeannie made sporatic appearances alongside Chris during that time, including one notable appearance early in his career while in England around 1979.
Adams won his first eleven matches in World Class before losing his first WCCW bout to Kamala on June 20 in Fort Worth. His first tag match with the Von Erichs took place on August 19 1983 with Kerry as his partner. Adams eventually became as equally important to World Class as the Von Erichs, although he was not always a babyface in the federation. In the early going, Chris often teamed with the Von Erichs in several six and sometimes eight-man tag team matches against The Fabulous Freebirds and Jimmy Garvin.
Soon thereafter, Adams and Garvin began battling each other, with valets Sunshine and Precious getting involved. This resulted in among the first mixed tag-team matches in modern day wrestling history. At one point, in a October 21 1983 match at the Sportatorium, Adams disguised himself as "The Masked Avenger" to earn an NWA American Heavyweight Championship shot, which he eventually won at Reunion Arena on Thanksgiving night in 1983; the first of five World Class American/World Class World Heavyweight title reigns for Adams. Following a loser-leaves-town match victory over Garvin on July 4 1984 in Fort Worth, Adams split his time between Dallas and Los Angeles, during the 1984 Summer Olympics, as his brother Neil was competing in Judo and he was serving as one of the advisers to the British Judo squad.
In August, after the L.A. Olympics, Chris hired manager Gary Hart, and eventually turned heel following a September 28 1984 tag team match at the Dallas Sportatorium. In that match, Adams was paired with Kevin Von Erich against Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Gino Hernandez. As the match wound down, Stella Mae French's interference backfired, causing Hernandez to pin Adams and win the match. Afterwards, Adams began arguing with French, with Gary Hart also getting involved. Kevin came in as a peacemaker, trying to calm Adams down. Hart then was about to hit French when Kevin attacked him in retaliation. Adams then superkicked Kevin and walked back to the dressing room while Hernandez and Roberts engaged in a two-on-one gang up on Kevin, with French cold-cocked by Hart during the commotion. Kerry Von Erich eventually ran in to chase Hernandez and Roberts away. Two days later, Chris teamed with Kerry to defeat Killer Khan and The Missing Link in San Antonio Chris and Kerry competed as if nothing happened two days before, in order to stay in kayfabe since WCCW's matches aired on television two to three weeks after the actual event.
Fans were mixed on their feelings towards Chris; many sided with him as opposed to siding with Kevin, which prompted Fritz Von Erich to go hardcore in an upcoming match at the Cotton Bowl on October 27 1984. After being defeated by Kevin in that match (in controversial fashion, as Adams had his shoulder up at the count of one, but referee David Manning counted to three anyway), he was offered a deal to fire Hart and all would be forgiven. Adams then grabbed a wooden chair and smashed it on Kevin's head. What was not supposed to happen, according to Adams was the chair broke in half, which resulted in a concussion and bleeding from Von Erich's head. Kevin eventually returned the favor to Adams a month later at Reunion Arena, and again, the chair broke in half on impact, with part of the wood lodged in Adams' nose, very close to his eye (this resulted in an abrupt end to that particular angle). Adams once stated years later that in order to beat Kevin down he would have to beat the hell out of him, due to the fact that Kevin would take a brutal beating, only to come right back and return the favor.
Chris later competed in a six-man tag team match alongside Jake Roberts and Gino Hernandez, defeating Kerry Von Erich, Mike Von Erich and Bobby Fulton (subbing for the injured Kevin Von Erich). During that match, the fans chanted Chris is a traitor!, while others held Benedict Adams signs. Some fans still continued to support Adams after this, but in time the Englishman became a full-fledged heel.
Chris later tag teamed with Gino Hernandez to form the second version of The Dynamic Duo. In addition, Adams wrestled NWA World Champion Ric Flair several times, nearly winning the championship on two separate occasions. In one match, interference by the One Man Gang cost Adams, who had Flair pinned for at least 10 seconds while the referee was distracted. Another angle Chris was involved in was a battle of superkicks with The Great Kabuki, who was brought in by Sunshine in her feud against Adams. While paired with Hernandez, Adams developed a gimmick that was later used by Brutus Beefcake in the WWF--by using a pair of large scissors and cut the hair off opponents after each match. This led to an October 1985 showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where Adams and Hernandez faced Kevin and Kerry Von Erich in a lumberjack loser-loses-hair match. The Von Erichs won when Kerry pinned Chris, and Adams and Hernandez were shaved bald. The pair wore masks for a couple of months while their hair was growing back and eventually wrestled without the masks by the end of the year. Afterwards, Adams and Hernandez split and began what was to be a long-term angle in which the pair feuded against each other. During this time, Adams began competing in Gary Hart's Texas All-Star Wrestling promotion in San Antonio, first as a heel then later a babyface.
On Christmas Night in 1985, Adams and Hernandez faced The Cosmic Cowboys in a title-defense, which turned out to be Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, whom they refused to defend the title against earlier. As that match wound down, Hernandez refused to tag Adams, who took a brutal beating at the hands of Kevin and Kerry, claiming that he hurt his knee. With no other alternative, Chris threw Kevin over the rope to end the match, but Adams was furious at Gino for not making the tag. Chris slapped Gino in the face, and after more confrontational words, he left the ring. Shortly thereafter, in an interview at Fort Worth, Hernandez duped announcer Marc Lowrance into believing everything was okay, claiming that he knocked Adams out, and Chris later apologized to him. This brought Adams into the ring, causing Gino to back-track his story, but Lowrance told Adams what Gino said, and that prompted another fight. Hernandez threw Adams to the ringpost at least three times, and by the time Hernandez left the arena, Adams, in an angry rage, vowed to kill 'em when they meet again.
This led to a January 27 1986 encounter at the Convention Center in Fort Worth, where Adams and Hernandez faced each other with the stipulation that the loser would lose his hair again, this time by having Freebird Hair Cream rubbed into the scalp. With the fans completely siding with Adams, Hernandez was in trouble from the opening bell, but did manage to gain some offense with a sleeperhold, which Chris managed to escape. Adams then took control and had the match won, when twice he refused to pin Hernandez (on one occurrence after piledriving Hernandez). While Chris was arguing with referee Rick Hazzard, Hernandez managed to grab the hair cream and throw a dark liquid substance into Adams' eyes, thus "blinding" him. Adams won the match by disqualification, and afterwards, Hazzard and David Manning helped Adams to the shower to flush out the content from his eyes. In an interview Adams did in 2000, Chris said that several wrestling fans followed him home to see if he was actually blinded, and security was needed to protect him. Adams was supposed to sell his injury and take time off to visit relatives in England and then return to Texas to feud with Hernandez, beginning with the Texas Stadium card. Hernandez, however, was found dead on February 4 1986 from a cocaine overdose, having died approximately three days after his match with Adams. After the match, according to newspaper accounts from Houston, Gino visited a few friends and family in Houston, then returned to Dallas the day before he apparently died. Chris worked an angle in which he was being helped into his Corvette by his wife Toni Adams after a brief interview with announcer Bill Mercer. The angle had to be re-shot because on the first take, Chris (whose eyes were bandaged shut) entered the Corvette the wrong way. Four days after returning to England, Scotland Yard questioned Adams regarding Hernandez's death (which was originally considered a homicide case), but eventually Adams was not considered a suspect, and Gino's death was ruled a suicide by OD.
Adams returned in May 1986 wrestling for both Texas All Star Wrestling in San Antonio as well as World Class while wearing an eye patch on his left eye for several matches, although, in TASW he later dropped the patch while still wearing it in WCCW. He then worked an angle with Rick Rude, in which Adams won the World Class heavyweight title on July 4 1986 at Reunion Arena. Adams held the WCCW title until leaving the promotion in September 1986 due to legal troubles (World Class explained the title change occurring in Los Angeles with Black Bart winning the World Class title; however, that match never took place).
Also during that year, on June 30, while returning from a wrestling event in Puerto Rico, Adams head-butted an airline pilot which resulted in a 90-day jail sentence and a $500 fine. During that flight, according to newspaper reports, Adams, who was under the influence of alcohol, became belligerent when liquor sales would no longer be available in-flight. Kevin Von Erich, who was on the flight, restrained Adams which may have prevented any further serious charges and possibly a longer jail term.
In late 1988, Adams began operating his professional wrestling school at the Dallas Sportatorium, upon returning to World Class. Before that, beginning in 1984, he trained other wrestlers behind-the-scenes, including Scott Hall. In 1989, a young loading dock worker, Steve Williams (known to most as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin), was among the many students Adams taught professional wrestling, and within five months, he wrestled his first pro match at the Sportatorium. The duo feuded against each other throughout the United States Wrestling Association. Adams, who had recently divorced Jeannie Clark and married Toni Adams, suggested bringing the two women into the feud. During one match in which the participants wore anything he wanted in the ring, Adams wore his Judogi and performed many Judo maneuvers. Jeannie was also married to Steve Austin in the 1990s.
In late-1990, following the demise of World Class, Adams competed in the Pat O'Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament alongside Norman Smiley. The pair competed against the Mexican tag team of Konnan and Rey Misterio, in which the British team lost when Konnan pinned Smiley. During the introductions at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Adams received a huge ovation from the crowd, due to the past success he had in the region with World Class and the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).
In 1991, Adams faced more legal woes when he was put on probation for a pair of DUI's, including one while in Pittsburgh. Two years before, in February 1989, he was arrested in Lufkin, Texas after his wife, Toni, was found severely beaten by Chris during a drunken rage, resulting in probation for one year.
Adams also wrestled in various other independent promotions, including the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), in which he won that federation's Heavyweight Championship twice in 1994, and briefly with Jim Crockett's 1995 version of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Adams also promoted a tour to Nigeria in 1993 (co-sponsored with Pepsi), which was a huge success.
During his stint in the GWF, Adams was involved in a match against Rod Price, in which Adams by accident tore the hair weave off Price's head, which resulted in stitches on Price's head. He also engaged in a lengthy feud with Iceman Parsons, whose history with Adams dates back to the glory days of World Class. This feud, in which Adams promoted himself, featured Toni Adams as a heel manager, vowing to destroy Chris. During one interview segment, Toni and Iceman were making their plans to vacation in Hawaii, where Chris and Toni married in 1985. Adams also formed a tag team with Kerry Von Erich which ended following Kerry's suicide on February 18, 1993. In a heart-felt tribue to Kerry, Adams was famous for telling the Sportatorium crowd that in his heart, Kerry will never die.
On the side, Adams also traveled to Memphis and competed in the USWA for a few months, where he was involved in an angle involving Brian Lawler (then known as Brian Christopher) and Toni Adams, who was known in Memphis as Nanny Simpson. Adams also faced Eddie Gilbert several times for the USWA World heavyweight title, and late in his USWA tenure he wrestled as The Masked Avenger, wrestling with a mask after losing a losers-leave-USWA match to Brian Lawler.
After his stint in the GWF, Chris competed in the American Wrestling Federation, a Chicago-based organization which, unlike other organizations, promoted under European wrestling rules. Adams, who had experience in European wrestling, often mentioned in the broadcasts of how the European wrestling rules work, and the use of a round system, which is similar to boxing. Chris was also a promoter and wrestler of a few Dallas-based organizations, including Big D Pro Wrestling and the Freestyle Wrestling Federation.
While Adams was involved with the Blue Bloods, he became a heel wrestler for the first time since 1986. While being jeered for the most part by WCW fans, Adams' heel move was praised by many longtime fans, and during a 1999 WCW event in Dallas, Adams drew the largest cheers of any heel wrestler on the card. It has been said that his Blue Bloods partner, Lord Steven Regal, hated Adams, as Adams was very open about his drinking and drug habits, often indulging in front of Regal, who at the time, was trying very hard to kick the habit and Adams' "in your face" attitude regarding openly tempting the recovering Regal made him unpopular in the locker room.
In late-1999, Adams was granted his release from WCW, unsatisfied with how he was being used in the organization, and returned to Texas as a promoter and part-time wrestler, appearing for a time in the NWA Southwest organization.
On October 7, 2001, he was shot dead during a drunken brawl with a friend. The owner of the gun claimed self-defense and was found innocent of the charge. According to Jim Ross, Adams was a con man, who abused women and had a nasty temper.
Prior to his death, Adams, who was considered semi-retired, planned to move to Florida and compete in a wrestling organization promoted by Ted DiBiase featuring several former WCW and WWF stars, including Hulk Hogan. Chris was also planning to produce along with Gary Hart, Mickey Grant and others a pro wrestling documentary, which was to have included footage of wrestling matches dating back to the 1930s.
1While he did win the championship, the win and reign are no longer recognized by World Wrestling Entertainment. All reigns with the championship prior to December 1997 aren't officially recognized.
A documentary about Adams, The Gentleman's Choice, is currently in post-production by Mickey Grant's Creative Hat Productions in Dallas, and a six-minute trailer preview to the documentary was recently released. The documentary, like Heroes of World Class, will feature interviews from many of Chris' longtime friends, associates and family, including his brother Neil, Bill Mercer, David Manning, Kevin Adkisson, Brian Gower, his widow Karen Adams, Gary Hart, L.A. Steele, and Miss Lacy.
In 1997, a wrestling documentary "Beyond the Mat," film director Barry Blaustein and Ron Howard filmed a Nebraska Main Event between the Chris Adams and his tag partner, Jake Roberts ~VS~ Greg Valentine and L.A. Steele managed by Miss Lacy. Adams also appeared in the film, Universal Soldier with Bill Goldberg and Jean-Claude Van Damme.