Guest Author - Vance Rowe
“Tricky” Nick Bockwinkle
Nick Bockwinkle was born in 1934 and began his professional wrestling career in 1955 after a knee injury forced the University of Oklahoma to withdraw his football scholarship. He was trained for professional wrestling by his father, Warren Bockwinkle, and the great Lou Thesz. He spent much of his earlier career teaming with his father and didn’t win his first major title until 1970. He won the NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship from Assassin #1. He was thirty–six years old. Soon after that he joined the American Wrestling Alliance and was a formidable tag team partner of “Crippler” Ray Stevens and they were managed by Bobby Heenan. They won the AWA World Heavyweight Tag Team Championship three times between 1972 and 1975.
By 1975, Bockwinkle was probably the biggest star in the AWA and won his first of five different AWA World Heavyweight Championship belts. As the AWA champion, Bockwinkle had prominent feuds with the likes of Jerry Lawler, Hulk Hogan, Larry Zbyszko, The Crusher, Otto Wanz, Mad Dog Vachon, and Verne Gagne. His last title reign came to an end in 1987 when he dropped the title to Curt Hennig after Hennig nailed him with a fist that had a roll of coins in it and were given to him by Larry Zbyszko. Nick Bockwinkle also has the distinction of being in the very first World Title Unification match between the AWA and the WWWF as he faced off against WWWF champion, Bob Backlund. The match ended in a double count out. This match took place in 1979.
At the last AWA show in Winnipeg in 1986, Bockwinkle challenged then NWA World champion Ric Flair to a match. He was not the AWA Champion at the time. Shortly after he lost his belt to Curt Hennig in 1987, Bockwinkle retired from the ring wars. In one of his last matches, he was able to pay Zbyszko back by clobbering him with a roll of coins and winning the match. He wrestled again in 1993 to wrestle at a card promoted by World Championship Wrestling called Slamboree: A Legends Reunion. There he wrestled NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk JR. on the undercard to a time limit draw.
Bockwinkle was also supposed to be the original “Million Dollar Man” with the WWE but they decided to give it to a much younger Ted DiBiase. In 1994, Bockwinkle was the onscreen commissioner for WCW but was fired after the Great American Bash after he forgot the name of the event.
Nick Bockwinkle will always be remembered as a great wrestler, a superb mat technician and a very articulate and lengthy promo speaker. In fact Larry Zbyszko said this about him: “If you asked Bockwinkle for the time, he would tell you how to build a watch.” He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and in November of 2007 he had a triple bypass heart surgery.