Robert James Marella, better known by his ring name of Gorilla Monsoon, was an American professional wrestler, play-by-play commentator, and booker.
30 Facts About Gorilla Monsoon
Gorilla Monsoon portrayed the on-screen role of WWF President from 1995 to 1997.
Gorilla Monsoon continued to wrestle, now weighing over 325 pounds, and took second in the 1959 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Gorilla Monsoon held several school athletic records, including an 18-second wrestling pin, and several track-and-field distinctions.
Gorilla Monsoon was inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973.
Gorilla Monsoon was inducted into the Section V Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010 along with longtime childhood friend Frank Marotta who gave a speech on his behalf.
Supposedly born on an isolated farm, "Gorilla Monsoon" traveled across the countryside with a gypsy caravan wrestling bears, spoke no English, ate raw meat, and drank his victims' blood.
The Gorilla Monsoon character was far more successful, and fans were genuinely afraid of him, sparking a huge financial windfall for Marella.
Gorilla Monsoon became one of the promotion's top heels, feuding with popular babyface champion Bruno Sammartino in sellout arenas across the country.
Gorilla Monsoon first wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Championship on October 4,1963, at Roosevelt Stadium, in Jersey City, New Jersey Gorilla Monsoon qualified by winning a partially televised Ring Wrestling Magazine tournament, where he pinned Killer Buddy Austin in about a minute.
In 1969, Gorilla Monsoon became a babyface, befriending his former arch-rival when Sammartino rescued him from an attack by "Crazy" Luke Graham, a former tag team partner of Gorilla Monsoon.
The stage was set for Gorilla Monsoon to become a fan favorite of the 1970s and feud with top heels of the decade, including champion Superstar Billy Graham; he then began to speak English.
Gorilla Monsoon turned heel for a short time in 1977 and feuded with Andre the Giant, and the two engaged in a special boxing match in Puerto Rico, with Andre winning the match.
Ali, preparing for his upcoming crossover bout with Antonio Inoki in Japan later that month, jumped into the ring as Gorilla Monsoon was concluding a short match against Baron Mikel Scicluna.
Ali removed his shirt and started dancing around Gorilla Monsoon while gesturing and throwing jabs at him, to which Gorilla Monsoon responded by grabbing Ali in his Airplane Spin and slamming him to the mat.
At the time, Hogan was a widely followed heel character, while Gorilla Monsoon was still a babyface.
Gorilla Monsoon lost and only wrestled a few more matches, retiring several weeks later.
Gorilla Monsoon called the first eight WrestleManias from 1985 to 1992.
Gorilla Monsoon was the lead commentator on the syndicated show, WWF All Star Wrestling, its successor WWF Wrestling Challenge, and the USA Network weekend show, WWF All American Wrestling, as well as hosting the WWF weeknight show, Prime Time Wrestling.
Gorilla Monsoon served as co-host of Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS during McMahon's short-lived ownership of the promotion.
Gorilla Monsoon was phased out of Wrestling Challenge with Bobby Heenan and was moved to All-American Wrestling with Lord Alfred Hayes on April 11,1993.
Gorilla Monsoon commentated with Jim Ross on WWF Radio for the broadcasts of SummerSlam 1993, Survivor Series 1993 and Royal Rumble 1994.
Gorilla Monsoon returned to the television broadcast team to call the King of the Ring 1994 with Randy Savage as well as covering a few episodes of Monday Night RAW in 1993 and 1994 whenever Vince McMahon was unavailable.
Gorilla Monsoon was called upon sporadically to return to Challenge from 1993 to 1995, calling action with Stan Lane, Ted DiBiase, and Ross again.
In January 1996, Gorilla Monsoon was attacked and severely injured by Vader: Roddy Piper became interim WWF President until WrestleMania XII, when Marella assumed the position again.
Gorilla Monsoon appeared as one of the three judges for a Brawl for All contest between Bart Gunn and Butterbean at WrestleMania XV.
Gorilla Monsoon was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Gorilla Monsoon's body was buried next to his son, Joey Marella, at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, New Jersey.
Martin said that Gorilla Monsoon gained "bad weight" and lost mobility later in his career.
PWInsiders Dave Scherer said of Gorilla Monsoon, "I did love him as an announcer".