Thomas Erwin "Tom" Zenk (November 30, 1958 - December 9, 2017) was an American professional wrestler, also known by his nickname Z-Man.


Early career

Zenk started wrestling in 1984 in the Pacific Northwest territory where he feuded with Bobby Jaggers and occasionally appeared in the AWA during the mid 1980s.

World Wrestling Federation

Zenk later made his way to the World Wrestling Federation alongside Rick Martel and the pair formed a tag team known as the "Can-Am Connection" in late 1986. The team faced, and defeated, the tag team of Don Muraco and Bob Orton, Jr. in the opening bout of WrestleMania III in March 1987. The tandem was so popular that they were being built up as the successors to the Hart Foundation as the next World Tag Team Champions, but Zenk would abruptly leave the promotion, allegedly over the result of a contract dispute. Zenk elaborated on the incident in a radio interview saying that he felt betrayed by Martel as he went behind Zenk's back and used his influence as a former AWA World Heavyweight Champion to get a better deal for himself while not doing anything to heighten Zenk's deal. Zenk also said that Martel even tried to get him to marry his sister as a way to keep him loyal to the wrestling partnership.

According to Zenk, he and Martel had received a lucrative offer to work for Shohei "Giant" Baba in All Japan Pro Wrestling while working in Japan as part of a WWF tryout tour; Martel instead insisted that within 6 months they would be making $5000 weekly if they worked in the WWF instead of AJPW. Unbeknownst to Zenk, when they started working full-time for the WWF Martel was already making $5000 weekly, while Zenk was making only $2500 due to the lowball contract Martel had negotiated for him. As per Zenk, when the 6 months came and went with no pay increase, he indicated to Martel that he would speak to WWF owner Vince McMahon about a pay raise; Martel instead ran interference and told Zenk that McMahon would not take him seriously because he was the junior member of the team. Martel offered to talk to McMahon about a pay raise, but because of his more lucrative contract never did. Martel would repeat this on numerous occasions; in the interim, Zenk had found out about Martel's contract and decided to stick to his original promise: If he was not making $5000 weekly after 6 months he would leave the WWF.

He reappeared in the American Wrestling Association in early 1989 and was the last man eliminated by Larry Zbyszko in a battle royal to for the vacant AWA World Heavyweight Title.

Jim Crockett Promotions / World Championship Wrestling

After receiving several shots at the AWA title, Zenk went on to wrestle for World Championship Wrestling in 1989. Before commercial breaks, a graphic stated that "The Z-Man is coming...September 12, 1989". Zenk, under the name Z-Man, would make his WCW pay-per-view debut at the first Halloween Havoc event in 1989. He soon formed a tag team with Brian Pillman and they won the United States Tag Team Championship while beginning feuds with the Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane) and the Fabulous Freebirds.

However, during this time Zenk tore a muscle while weightlifting and had to take several months off to recover. His physical appearance was quite different upon returning, still muscular, but more slender than before.

Upon his return, Zenk began feuding with Arn Anderson over the World Television Championship and later won the title. When the promotion changed its name to World Championship Wrestling in 1991, Zenk officially became the final World Television Champion under the NWA banner and the first under the WCW banner, but he later lost the title back to Anderson. Later that year, he, along with Dustin Rhodes and Big Josh, feuded with the York Foundation and the Fabulous Freebirds over the World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. Zenk, Rhodes and Josh later won the titles from the Freebirds before losing the titles to the York Foundation, who would become the final champions.


Zenk later left WCW in early 1994 and finished his career in the independents in 1996. Now retired from wrestling, Zenk is currently working for a small Community Hedge Fund trading Convertible Bond arbitrage.

Tom Zenk's Column

Following his retirement, Zenk's fans set up a tribute website, with photos and memorabilia of Zenk's career. The site also featured a weekly blog, "Tom Zenk's Column" in which Zenk made commentary about the current state of professional wrestling. He praised the wrestlers that treated him kindly over the years and blasted wrestlers and promoters who he felt had treated him poorly or unfairly or had attained their fame through underhanded tactics. Zenk was always especially critical of the McMahons, Triple H, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page and Hulk Hogan. The blog also often featured comically altered photos of the subjects of his discussion. The blog ended suddenly and Zenk never gave an explanation of why he stopped. The Tom Zenk website continues as a fan tribute.

In wrestling

Finishing and signature moves

Championships and accomplishments

Personal life

Zenk attended high school with fellow future pro wrestlers Nikita Koloff, Brady Boone, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, John Nord, and Barry Darsow.

External links

1991 PWI Top 500 Wrestlers
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