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.