Happy birthday to the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz

I was certainly surprised to read in the Wrestling Observer’s daily update that the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz turned 76 today.

Wow. Anyone who grew up watching WWF wrestling in the 1980s and earlier will no doubt remember Rodz, who was a career-long jobber in the federation, but one who was taken seriously.

That may be a hard concept to grasp these days, but there was an upper echelon of enhancement talent that got respect from the fans. People like Rodz, Jose Luis Rivera, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Jose Estrada, S.D. Jones, and others gave the stars real fights during bouts.

My friend Tom likes to remind me that Rodz actually was a star in Los Angeles in the 1960s before many became more familiar with him in the WWWF.

By the time I saw Rodz, he was a regular on Saturday morning Championship Wrestling on Channel 56 in Boston.

By the count of The History of WWE website, Rodz wrestled 29 times in the old Boston Garden in the 1980s. In fact, during my first live wrestling show in December 1981, Rodz lost to Dominic DeNucci in a prelim bout. Back in those days, the arena shows often had several jobber vs. jobber matches in addition to the featured bouts.

Rodz was one of the early inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame, going in during the 1996 class. One could argue whether prelim wrestlers should be in a hall of fame, but if you’re going to allow them, then Rodz is an obvious choice.

These days, Rodz continues to train young wrestlers in Brooklyn through his World of Unpredictable Wrestling. And the dude is on Twitter, which I did not know — check him out at @RodzJohnny.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Joe Lowry

    My memories of “The Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz were that of numerous battles in which he would come up on the losing end. Other wise known as “jobbers’ back in the day, he would always put over the good guy. He personified his role as the jobber. His tag team battles in which he would team up with Jose Estrada were classics. It seemed that every other week Rodz/Estrada were taking on Tony Garea and Rick Martel in non title matches. I never understood why they were non title matches?! Another fond memory of Rodz was his handicap matches against Andre The Giant. Somehow even with one or two other “jobbers’ they could never get the duke. When talking about the old days and the role of the jobber, why is it we never hear about of the likes of Israel Matia or Salvatore Bellomo?

  2. J.Cee

    Wrestling under the name Java Ruuk, he was the winner of the 1976 Battle Royal at the Olympic auditorium; regarded as an “unknown” entry in this major battle royal that attracted marquis talent from other territories of that era. Bruno, for example, won it in ’72 as did Andre in ’75. It was the cover story of (I believe) Inside Wrestling, and the photo of Johnny Rodz with a camel on his trunks, messed with my head because I knew otherwise that this was Johnny Rodz. He’s somebody who should do a shoot interview because I bet he’s got a lot of interesting stories to share with us. .

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