Anthony Norris (born June 6, 1963) is a former American professional wrestler known for his appearances with the World Wrestling Federation as Ahmed Johnson, where he was the first African-American to ever hold the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
Early Years (1993-1993)
After a brief career as a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, Norris began training under Skandor Akbar, Scott Casey and Ivan Putski. After making his debut in 1989, he competed on the independent circuit for the next few years before debuting in the Global Wrestling Federation in 1993 as Moadib.
World Wrestling Federation (1995-1998)
Norris made his WWF debut as a face under the ring name Ahmed Johnson on the October 23, 1995 episode of Raw. Prior to his first televised match, he appeared at the end of a Raw taping by entering a post-match brawl and slamming Yokozuna. He made his pay-per-view debut at Survivor Series, as the team of Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, Owen Hart, and Dean Douglas took on the team of Johnson, Shawn Michaels, Sycho Sid, and The British Bulldog. In the end, Johnson, Michaels, and Bulldog won the match as the survivors of their team. At Season's Beatings on December 17, Johnson defeated Buddy Landel (who replaced Dean Douglas) in only 42 seconds. After the match, Johnson was interviewed by Jerry Lawler, at which time Lawler distracted him in order for Jeff Jarrett to attack him, starting a feud between the two in the process. At the 1996 Royal Rumble, Johnson defeated Jarrett by disqualification after Jarrett struck him with a guitar (Ahmed got taken to the Hospital because of a concussion from the guitar). At WrestleMania XII, Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog) took on the team of Yokozuna, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Ahmed Johnson. Camp Cornette won when Vader pinned Roberts with the Vader Bomb. At Good Friends, Better Enemies on April 28, Roberts and Ahmed teamed up to take on Hart and Bulldog. While Jim Cornette had the referee distracted, Bulldog hit him in the knee with Cornette's tennis racket; he then forced Roberts to submit with a single leg Boston crab. After the match, Roberts and Ahmed attempted to put Roberts' python, Revelations, on Cornette, but Hart pulled Cornette out of the ring.
Intercontinental Championship (1996)
At King of the Ring, Johnson defeated Goldust to win the Intercontinental Championship. As the first African American Intercontinental Champion, most assumed it was only a matter of time before he climbed to main event status. He was soon paired on-screen with Shawn Michaels in several tag team matches and often helped Michaels against Jim Cornette and his men, known as Camp Cornette. At International Incident, Johnson along with Sycho Sid and Michaels lost to Vader, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.
On the July 22 edition of Raw, Michaels and Johnson teamed again and challenged The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) for the Tag Team Championship. During the match, Faarooq Asad debuted and attacked Johnson. This was supposed to lead to a match at SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Title. On the August 5 edition of Raw, Ahmed won an 11-man battle royal, last eliminating the man whom he beat for the IC title, Goldust to be the #1 contender for the WWF Championship for the day after SummerSlam. However, Johnson was diagnosed with legitimate kidney problems, and was forced to miss SummerSlam, and his scheduled WWF Championship match the following night. As a result, he was out for four months and in order to keep the angle going, the attack by Farooq was said to be the cause of the kidney damage. By the time the news was made public on WWF programming and it included the 11-man battle royal which Johnson won. Voice-over correction was done so that Ahmed's participation in the battle royal was said to be against doctors' orders when in reality his kidney problem had yet to be discovered. The injury forced him to vacate the Intercontinental Championship, which was subsequently won in a tournament by Marc Mero.
Feud with the Nation of Domination and departure (1996-1998)
He returned in 1996 to enter a feud with Faarooq (who by then had a new gimmick and formed his own stable, the Nation of Domination). Finally, the two had an encounter at Royal Rumble 1997, where Johnson won by disqualification. Two days later, Johnson and The Undertaker defeated Faarooq and Nation member Crush in a No Holds Barred match at the Triple Threat event. He began teaming with the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and the three fought the entire Nation at WrestleMania 13 in a Chicago Street Fight. At A Cold Day in Hell, he defeated Crush and Savio Vega in a gauntlet match before losing to Faarooq.
Johnson eventually in June 1997, turned on WWF Champion The Undertaker and joined the New Nation, with Kama Mustafa, D'Lo Brown, and Faarooq. Johnson was injured soon after this; he was scheduled to face Undertaker at Canadian Stampede for the WWF Title, but was plagued by injuries and was replaced by Vader.
The Nation turned on him after he recovered and returned in August 1997, which resulted in Johnson turning face once more. He restarted his feud with the Nation, and would reunite with the Legion of Doom as well as join forces with Ken Shamrock during the feud. At Survivor Series 1997, they defeated the Nation in a Survivor Series match. His last WWF appearance was at the pay-per-view No Way Out of Texas in February 1998, alongside Shamrock and the Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball) against the Nation.
World Championship Wrestling (2000)
In late 1999, Norris signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling and debuted at Souled Out as a heel named Big T. He gained a massive amount of weight at this time, and was aptly named. He interfered in a match between Harlem Heat tag team partners and real-life brothers, Booker T and Stevie Ray. He attacked Booker, causing Ray to be disqualified. Big T and Stevie formed the tag team Harlem Heat 2000. At SuperBrawl, he defeated Booker to earn the rights to the Harlem Heat name. At Uncensored, he and Stevie lost to Booker and Billy Kidman. At Spring Stampede, they participated in a 5-team tag team tournament for the vacant World Tag Team Championship, where they lost to the eventual winners Shane Douglas and Buff Bagwell in the semi-finals of the tournament. He was released by WCW shortly afterwards due to ongoing weight issues.
Norris stayed away from wrestling after his release from WCW until he wrestled his return match for Professional Championship Wrestling in 2002 against Jake Steele. He wrestled his final match in 2003 in a tag team match for Maximum Pro Wrestling, teaming with Monty Brown in a losing effort against Sabu and Gangrel. Since retiring, Norris began working for Booker T and Stevie Ray's Pro Wrestling Alliance wrestling school.
Though born in Kokomo, Indiana, Norris also grew up in Auburndale, Florida and Pearl River, Mississippi before taking up residence in Houston, Texas with his daughter Nina. He endured a harsh childhood, where his father abused his mother regularly and abused him if he intervened. While in high school, Norris excelled at football, basketball, amateur wrestling, and track and field.
Norris attended the University of Tennessee from 1990 to 1991, but left soon after to play for the Dallas Cowboys. After his stint with the Cowboys, Norris joined the United States Army, but was later discharged due to striking his captain over viewing his orders as "kind of cowardly."
After retiring from wrestling, Norris returned to college and earned a degree in criminology from Huston–Tillotson University.
- Finishing Moves
- Pearl River Plunge (Double Underhook Powerbomb)
Championships and accomplishments
- PWI ranked him # 380 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003.
- PWI Most Improved Wrestler Award (1996)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- Tony Norris at the Internet Movie Database