The Public Enemy was the tag team of Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). They won the World Tag Team Championships in each company except WWF. Their name was taken from the rap group of the same name, and prior to becoming a team, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge had a long-standing feud on the independent circuit. In addition, the two wrestled each other under their former ring names the Cheetah Kid and Johnny Rotten in a dark match at the first TV tapings for WWF Monday Night Raw on January 11, 1993, eight months before they would debut as a tag team in ECW. Today, both members of this tag team are deceased.
Extreme Championship Wrestling
The Public Enemy made their ECW debut on Ultra Clash in 1993, as booker Paul Heyman gave them the gimmick of white guys who embraced and loved the growing hip hop culture of America. Heyman has stated that he got the inspiration to create The Public Enemy from a Time article about the street violence going on in Los Angeles during the early '90s, with a quote that stated "The generation of today is more afraid of living than dying".
The team quickly became one of the more popular acts in the company; their wild brawling style, complete with a myriad of foreign objects and the inclusion of tables, made them one of the most feared teams in the company and it wasn't long before they won their first (of four) ECW Tag Team Championship. As The Public Enemy was embraced by the majority of fans, Heyman was inspired to bring in The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustapha Saed, from Smoky Mountain Wrestling) to feud with TPE. The Gangstas immediately began a long and bloody feud with The Public Enemy, which pitted The Gangstas' "harsh, gritty West Coast gangsta" lifestyle against The Public Enemy's "East Coast feel good" style. Their feud is among the feuds most often cited as "classic ECW".
The Public Enemy was also involved in some of ECW's most memorable moments. On one occasion, during a singles match between Cactus Jack and Terry Funk at ECW Hardcore Heaven 94, the Public Enemy interfered and attacked both wrestlers. Terry Funk turned to the crowd and asked the fans if he could have a chair to use. A fan immediately threw a chair into the ring, and not long after many other fans followed suit. Eventually the ring was filled with chairs with both members of The Public Enemy buried underneath.
In another incident in Tampa, Florida, towards the end of their run with ECW, The Public Enemy asked the fans to come into the ring to dance with them one last time. As more and more fans piled in and onto the ring, all dancing and celebrating, the ring actually collapsed.
At ECW's House Party 1999 (on January 10), The Public Enemy made a long-awaited and much-hyped return to the ECW Arena, in order to answer the challenge of the Dudley Boyz. At the time, they were still under contract to WCW, but they successfully brawled (along with assistance from New Jack) with the Dudleys. Following the showdown, Johnny Grunge grabbed the microphone and claimed that the past three years had been a "rollercoaster ride" for the team, and that "if you opened up our chest and looked at our hearts, there's only one thing stamped on it, and that's ECW!" Grunge further thanked the Dudleys for house-sitting "the house that the Public Enemy built" while they were gone, and then invited everyone in attendance to join then in the ring for a post-show celebration.
World Championship Wrestling
In 1996, after their success in ECW, The Public Enemy signed on to work for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). When they arrived in WCW, they continued acting as they did in the manner that made them so popular with fans. Although the majority of the WCW fanbase was unfamiliar with the ECW product at the time, they still carried tables to the ring. Due to the lack of the rest of their style, they seemed out of place and floundered in WCW. Their tenure lasted for three years, and they won the WCW World Tag Team Championship on one occasion (in a victory over Harlem Heat) in 1996).
World Wrestling Federation
The Public Enemy signed on to work for the World Wrestling Federation. They weren't accepted "backstage" by veteran WWF wrestlers and backstage personnel, however, due to animosity over the fact that The Public Enemy chose WCW over the WWF when they had the chance. Rocko Rock was also forced to change his name and go by the shortened name "Flyboy" Rocko, in order not to "cause confusion" with The Rock. They made their WWF debut on the February 22, 1999 episode of Raw is War. In the two months they lasted in the WWF, their only feud was against the APA; following the feud and The Public Enemy's subsequent release, the APA claimed that they "ran The Public Enemy out" of the WWF. They said they could do the same to another famous ECW tag team (the Dudley Boyz); after the Dudley Boyz succeeded in the feud, it was commonly referred to as "Passing the Acolyte Test" since the Dudley Boyz did get over after a feud with the APA while The Public Enemy failed.
The Public Enemy briefly returned to WCW after leaving the WWF, with both men involved in the infamous "WCW Hardcore Junkyard Invitational." Neither member returned to WCW programming afterwards, and the Public Enemy made one last appearance on ECW on TNN, which was their last exposure on mainstream television.
The tag team made brief appearances on the independent scene after both WCW and ECW folded, appearing in ECW-nostalgia promotion Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling (3PW), along with various NWA territories. They also participated in the unaired tapings for the X Wrestling Federation promotion, under the name "South Philly Posse," and managed by Jasmin St. Claire.
On September 21, 2002, Ted Petty ("Flyboy" Rocco Rock) died after suffering a heart attack following a wrestling event. Johnny Grunge had been semi-retired for a few years after the XWF failed to get a TV deal. On February 16, 2006, Mike Durham (Johnny Grunge) died in his home after suffering from complications from sleep apnea. A friend tried to get Durham to the hospital in time, but by the time they arrived at the hospital, Durham was pronounced dead on arrival.
Durham's widow has since become an advocate against drug abuse in the wrestling industry since the Chris Benoit double murder and suicide in 2007.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Other honorees (1995)
- ECW World Tag Team Championship (4 times)
- MECW Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- TCW Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time)