Jesse Ventura’s last match in Boston was against “Chico Santana”

I used to get a kick out of Jesse “The Body” Ventura busting Tito Santana’s balls when Ventura served as a heel color commentator on the syndicated Championship Wrestling show, which we saw in Boston every Saturday morning.

Ventura always used to refer to Tito instead as “Chico Santana,” which in turn constantly drew a reaction from straight man commentator Vince McMahon. The exchange went something like this:

Ventura: “Look at Chico Santana punching his opponent with a closed fist.”

McMahon: “Ah, that’s Tee-toe Santana.”

Ventura: “Right, that’s what I said, Chico.”

Ventura got relatively few title shots in the WWF during Hulk Hogan’s heyday, largely due to his retirement stemming from the after effects of blood clots in his lungs. But I saw Ventura challenge Santana for the Intercontinental Title during a matinee show in December 1985 at the old Boston Garden.

Ventura frequently joined Gorilla Monsoon at the announcer’s table in Boston during the time that NESN broadcast the cards live. Ventura left Monsoon early to get ready for his match with Santana in Boston, which went on right after intermission and immediately brought the crowd back into the action.

The audience largely cheered Ventura during the bout, and may have been hoping for a surprise title change given the show as being taped. But it was not to be because Santana was counted out, which did not result in Ventura getting the belt.

Little did we fans in the Garden know that it would be Ventura’s last match ever in Boston. It was also one of the final matches of his career.


  1. Pingback: If you liked the old NESN cards at the Boston Garden, get the WWE Network | Boston Garden Balcony
  2. Evan J Rodgers

    Tito Santanna said in his autobiography that Jesse Ventura was not a rasist, that he was just trying to draw heat to promote the match. However, in todays politically correct enviorment I dont think Ventura could get away with saying alot of what he said. But he WAS hilarious. You would have to take him with a grain of salt, kind of like watching Archie Bunker on “All in The Family”. Tito did say in his book that Dick Murdoch was a card carrying member of the KKK. Tito said Dick showed him his membership card and was quite open about it. Why did Jesse Ventura retire from active wrestling so early. I remember hearing that his leg or legs was adverslry effected by some chemical he was exposed to while serving as a Navy Seal. Maybe he just liked commentating better- he sure was good at it. Jesse Ventura has a great vocabulary and a great command of the English language. I always liked and rooted for the heels, so having a commentator with a heel bias/perspective was a refreshing change!!

  3. THe BOD

    it is kind of neat the old nesn shows would pop up on classics on demand every once and while. didnt have cable until the very late 80s so i missed out. thanks for another great post

  4. Joe Lowry

    Jess “The Body” Ventura was one of and if not the most colorful commentators of the WWF in its hey day. I recall his announcing antics to be hilarious. In this day in age it may have been deemed racist and stereotypical. But either way he helped make the WWE what it is today…here are a couple lines I remember him saying…

    Jesse Ventura commenting on Uncle Elmer kissing his wife: “They look like to carp going after the same piece of corn.”

    “Dusty Rhodes wouldn’t win a body building contest for best abs, MacMahon, he’d win for MOST abs.”

    “Want a hot dog, McMahon?”

    “The pleasure was all yours.”

    “I guess you could call that poetry in motion.” Jesse after watchin the Genius smacking a jobber with his poetry plate.

    And my personal favorite…“Win if you can, lose is you must, but ALWAYS cheat!”

    I am sure there are countless of others.

    As for the 1986 card I was there and witnessed that cage match between Piper and Sammartino. The crowd was in a frenzy when Bruno stuck the posters of William “The Refridgerator” Perry up Pipers ass. I also recall this match had one of Pipers most famous blade jobs. Piper tore his head up pretty bad. I have this match on video. He was a bloody mess!

    And lets not forget Macho Mans victory over Tito Santan for the IC belt. The ending was a bit botched. After Macho Man hit Santana with the foreign object, the reporter at ringside picked up the object and was trying to show the referee. The camera guy sensing this quickly panned away from him. Classic stuff!!

  5. Scott

    Classic! Remember like it was yesterday. I too was in the Gah-den that day. I believe we also had an early, pre-WMIII feud, Savage-Steamboat match. Chico lost to Ventura by countout and then went on to defend the IC title against Savage in January. Chico lost again by countout and Savage then earned his rematch on February 8, 1986 in the Garden.

    That February ’86 card would turn out to be my favorite live WWF card I ever attended as Savage beat Chico for the IC title and Bruno beat Piper in a steel cage. This was right after the Bears trounced the Pats in Super Bowl XX and Piper came to the ring with and hung posters on Refrigerator Perry and Jim McMahon inside the cage. It was definitely the hottest crowd I’ve ever witnessed at a house show.

    Thanks for the post. Very cool to think back and relive those great mid-80’s Boston cards. Thanks to NESN for televising them back in the day. Makes me want to go grab my December ’85 and February ’86 WWF VHS tapes out of storage and pop them in the ‘ol VCR.

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