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Edward "Wahoo" McDaniel (June 19, 1938 - April 18, 2002) was a Choctaw-Chickasaw Native American who achieved fame as a professional American football player and later as a professional wrestler.

Early life

Wahoo was born in the small town of Bernice, Oklahomamarker in 1938. His father worked in oil and he moved to several towns before settling down in Midland, Texasmarker while Wahoo was in middle school. One of his baseball coaches was George H. W. Bush. The name "Wahoo" actually came from his father who was known as "Big Wahoo." He was a problematic teenager but he was accepted to the University of Oklahomamarker to be part of Bud Wilkinson's Sooners football program.

Football career

McDaniel's college career was somewhat marred by injuries early on but by his senior year, he was one of the top players on the Oklahoma team despite being caught drinking after games and skipping classes. He played linebacker for the American Football League's Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos but really became a star with when he was traded to the New York Jets in 1964. He was a crowd favorite and made 23 tackles in a single game against his former Denver Broncos. He was picked by the Miami Dolphins in the 1966 American Football League expansion draft, as the team's major name player. During the 1968 season, he knocked out two police officers in an altercation and was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Wahoo never played a game for San Diego and started wrestling full-time.

Wrestling career

Wahoo wrestled during the off-season, a common practice at the time due to low player salaries, for Dory Funk in Amarillo, Texasmarker while he played for Houston and Denver. When he was playing for the New York Jets, Vince McMahon, Sr. brought him in for a run in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). During his run, he wrestled with stars like Boris Malenko, Dr. Jerry Graham and Waldo Von Erich. When he played in Miamimarker, Eddie Graham booked him and used him as a tag team wrestler with Jose Lothario.

After leaving football, Wahoo wrestled some in Hawaiimarker but really made his mark and had his greatest success in Houstonmarker. He feuded with Boris Malenko, eventually winning his hair, and was a frequent challenger for Dory Funk, Jr.'s NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The feud sold out the Sam Houston Coliseum on several occasion with Wahoo going time limit draws with the champ but ultimately coming up short. After Houston, he went to the American Wrestling Association and had a very successful feud with "Superstar" Billy Graham after Graham could not defeat Wahoo in an arm wrestling challenge and attacked him. Eventually, the feud turned into a tag feud with Wahoo teaming with the Crusher (another legitimate tough guy) against Graham and Ivan Koloff.

In 1974, Wahoo came to Mid-Atlantic to wrestle for Jim Crockett Promotions and help build up the territory as a singles territory in a feud with a rival from Texasmarker, Johnny Valentine. The feud evolved into a tag feud with Wahoo and Paul Jones taking on Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair, who Wahoo met in the AWA.

McDaniel and John Valentine went on to have a feud remembered to this day for the sheer force of their punch/chop exchanges, both men widely known for their hard-hitting style. Wahoo won the Mid-Atlantic title from Valentine on June 29, 1975, in Asheville, North Carolina.

McDaniel and Flair entered into a legendary feud over the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship title throughout 1975 and 1976 after Johnny Valentine's career was ended in a plane crash. Flair won the title for the first time on September 20, 1975, in Hampton, Virginia. Wahoo regained the title in the Charlotte (NC) Coliseum in May of the following year.

Flair regained the title three weeks later in a match remembered as the "table leg" match. Wahoo and Flair shattered a table at ringside, and Flair picked up one of table legs to hit Wahoo in the head, not realizing a nail was sticking out of the table leg. McDaniel was legitimately injured and the match quickly ended with Flair pinning McDaniel for the title.

McDaniel and Flair would swap the title one more time before the final exchange of the Mid-Atlantic title between the two happened on December 27, 1976, when Wahoo defeated Flair for the belt in a "No Disqualification" match in the Richmond (VA) Coliseum. Flair went on to win the United States title and matches for the U.S. belt between Wahoo and Flair drew huge houses, with Flair holding on to the championship.

In 1977, Johnny Valentine's son Greg Valentine attacked Wahoo and broke his leg in an angle to establish Greg as Johnny's successor. Greg Valentine originally won the title on June 11, 1977, with Wahoo regaining it in Raleigh, NC two months later. On September 7, 1977, Greg Valentine regained the title at the WRAL-TV studio tapings. This angle is particularly remembered for a followup interview weeks later with Flair and Valentine throwing change at Wahoo, and Valentine asking Wahoo if he needed a custom-made wheelchair for his fat body.

Wahoo won the Mid-Atlantic title for the final time in a match against Valentine in Greensboro, NC on April 2, 1978. Unusually enough for that decade, the title reign lasted only a week, with Wahoo dropping the title to Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera in Charlotte, NC.

Other than his work in Mid-Atlantic, he wrestled in Floridamarker, usually against then NWA World champion Harley Race. He also split his time wrestling in Georgiamarker and the AWA. He went to Japan several times but never really caught on although he did wrestle major names like Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki and Jumbo Tsuruta. By 1980, he was wrestling in San Antoniomarker in a feud with Tully Blanchard and his regular tag partner, "Georgous" Gino Hernandez. When the promoter in Houston broke away from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and recognized the AWA World champion Nick Bockwinkel, Wahoo was the regular challenger.

He returned to Mid-Atlantic in 1981 and feuded with Roddy Piper over the United States title which ended when Piper brought in Abdullah the Butcher and Abby put Wahoo out on injury. Wahoo returned and had another bloody feud with Sgt. Slaughter for the U.S. title when Slaughter won the title while Wahoo was injured. In 1984, he turned on Ricky Steamboat, taking the U.S. title for the fourth time when Tully Blanchard came to Wahoo's assistance with a steel chair. He was stripped of the title but regained it in a tournament later that year. Wahoo successfully defended it at Starrcade of that year against Billy Graham but lost it to Magnum T.A. in early 1985 in a steel cage match. Wahoo feuded again with the now babyface Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight title at various times before Flair turned heel again. After losing the U.S. title, he booked and wrestled mostly for Championship Wrestling from Florida. He made a tag team with Billy Jack Haynes which won the promotion's version of the NWA United States Tag Team title from Rick Rude and Jesse Barr (aka Jimmy Jack Funk). Wahoo wrestled some high profile matches in Florida like an unsuccessful world title bid against Ric Flair and a draw against Bruiser Brody at the Florida promotion's nationally syndicated big show, Battle of the Belts.

In 1986, he returned as a face to Mid-Atlantic wrestling in some of his famous Indian Strap Matches with Jimmy Garvin and Rick Rude. He won the NWA National Heavyweight Championship from Tully Blanchard in front of a packed house of 11,000 fans in Los Angelesmarker at The Forum marker on August 28, 1986 during a wild and bloody match, but lost a unification match against NWA U.S. champion Nikita Koloff.

For the rest of the 1980s, he wrestled mainly for the AWA and for WWC in Puerto Rico. He was a perennial top contender for the AWA World Title from 1987-1989, challenging Curt Hennig, Jerry Lawler, and Larry Zbyszko during that time. McDaniel initially retired following a match against Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom, where he supposedly suffered a detached retina.

But his retirement was brief and he returned to wrestling the following year. He continued to wrestle into the 1990s mostly for independent promotions throughout the south. In 1993 he teamed with Jim Brunzell and Blackjack Mulligan against Don Muraco, Jimmy Snuka, and Dick Murdoch in a legends match at the inaugural WCW Slamboree: A Legend's Reunion. The following year, he participated in an angle where he and Jay Strongbow supposedly passed the torch to WWF's Tatanka. He wrestled until 1996 when he officially retired. Had notable feuds in the indies with Ivan Koloff. He settled down in Houston, near his daughter, where he died from complications related to diabetes in 2002.

Wahoo is often compared to Jay Strongbow, who played a Native American wrestler at the time, but most wrestlers and critics agree that Wahoo was a better wrestler and a more versatile draw although Strongbow was successful in the Northeast. Wahoo was respected by other wrestlers and football players for his toughness, physical style and his crazy antics outside of the ring. The respect as a legitimate athlete made it easy for him to go to different territories and be successful when many babyfaces had trouble doing so. Although his playing ability in football is often overshadowed by his wild lifestyle. Joe Namath and Larry Csonka, who played with him early in their careers, both printed stories about him in their autobiographies. Along that same line, Len Dawson has been quoted as saying "The hardest hit I ever received on a football field was by Wahoo McDaniel"

In 1995, he was also inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves

Championships and accomplishments

*Other honoree (1996)

*NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*NWA Florida Television Championship (1 time)
*NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
*NWA United States Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Billy Jack Haynes
*NWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Jose Lothario

*NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
*NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Tommy Rich
*NWA Macon Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

*IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

*NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
*NWA National Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
*NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
*NWA World Tag Team Championship (4 times) - with Mark Youngblood (2), Rufus R. Jones (1), and Paul Jones (1)
*WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1995)

*NWA American Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
*NWA American Tag Team Championship (3 times) - with Johnny Valentine (2) and Thunderbolt Paterson(1)
*NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
*NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Tony Parisi

*PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1976)
*PWI ranked him # 97 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.

*SCW Southwest Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
*SCW Southwest Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Terry Funk
*SCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Ivan Putski

*Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2002)

Personal life

McDaniel's health started to deteriorate in the mid 1990s, and he eventually lost both kidneys. He was awaiting a kidney transplant when he died from complications from diabetes and renal failure. He was 63.

See also


  1. "Where Are They Now", Inside The NFL, Home Box Office, November, 1986.
  2. Florida Heavyweight Title history At
  3. NWA Florida Television Title history At
  4. NWA Southern Heavyweight Title (Florida) history At
  5. NWA United States Tag Team Title (Florida) history At
  6. NWA World Tag Team Title (Florida) history At
  7. NWA Georgia Heavyweight Title history At
  8. NWA Georgia Tag Team Title history At
  9. NWA Macon Heavyweight Title history At
  10. IWA World Heavyweight Title history At
  11. NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title history At
  12. NWA National Heavyweight Title history At
  13. NWA/WCW United States Heavyweight Title history At
  14. NWA World Tag Team Title (Mid-Atlantic/WCW) history At
  15. WCW Hall of Fame Inductees At
  16. NWA American Heavyweight Title history At
  17. NWA American Tag Team Title history At
  18. Texas Heavyweight Title history At
  19. Texas Tag Team Title history At
  20. SCW Southwest Television/Heavyweight Title history At
  21. SCW Southwest Tag Team Title history At
  22. SCW World Tag Team Title history At

External links

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