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Mike Graham (1951-2012)

    

Real Name - Edward Michael Gossett, Jr.
Lifespan - 9/22/1951-10/19/2012
5’10” 210 lbs. - Tampa, FL


Athletic Background - Wrestling, Powerlifting (High School)

Teacher(s) - Eddie Graham, Hiro Matsuda, Boris Malenko

Professional Background - Florida(`72-`87), Georgia(`72-`73), Nashville(`75,`77), AWA(`81,`83), Mid-Atlantic(`83-`85), Memphis(`88), PWF(`88-`90), WCW(`91-`01), XWF(`01), WWE

AliasesPort Tampa Terror

Groups - none

Peak Years - `73-`79


Finisher(s) - 
- Figure-Four Leglock

Favorites -
- Gotch Lift
- Fireman’s Carry Takedown
- Bodyslam
- Driving Kneedrop
- Punches

Ringwork Rating - 

 Move Set
 Science
 Aerial
 Power
 Strikes


Intangibles Rating - 

 Entertainment
 Selling
 Bumping
 Carrying
 Heat
 Legacy


Place in History - Mike Graham’s story is one that will, like his father’s, often be remembered for its tragic end by his own hands.  Eddie Graham was one of the most domineering, yet respected people in the pro-wrestling business in the 1970s.  Mike grew up in the shadow of this man often revered for his great mind, proven track record and viciousness.  Florida, while not the best paying territory, was arguably the best one in the 1970s with the short trips, access to beaches and women as well as being full of excellent talent and hot programs courtesy of Eddie Graham’s genius.  Mike, while undersized, was an excellent wrestler and state record-holding powerlifter, so he was a legit athlete.  His father, who held legitimate toughness in the highest regard, often called upon his son to uphold the honor of pro-wrestling by brutalizing marks.  While not pushed as a top star, Mike Graham was always kept strong as a babyface who could have Junior Heavyweight title matches on the undercard or challenge for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship if called upon.  Mike Graham was talented enough to travel out and did here and there, but due to his close ties to the office and the reality he was in one of the top territories, the need to make his name elsewhere seemed unnecessary for him.  The team of Graham and Steve Keirn was an exceptional babyface tag team in the late 1970s that could have been successful most anywhere.  It was something of a precursor to the Fabulous Ones team of Keirn and Stan Lane that was very successful and influential to tag team wrestling.  In the 1980s, top star Dusty Rhodes left for Jim Crockett Promotions to book and some key stars went with him.  Florida, like many other territories in the US, found itself struggling.  Eddie Graham, plagued with financial, personal and other problems committed suicide in 1985.  Following his father’s death, Florida rapidly declined before being sold to Crockett.  Mike would partner with Gordon Solie and Dusty Rhodes in an attempt to revive the state, but to no avail.  He soon found himself working as an agent in WCW, helping out at the Power Plant and being an important supportive player behind the curtain.  Graham also spent a time as a consultant with WWE after selling the Florida library.  In this latter stage of his career, Mike Graham largely tarnished his own legacy.  While some remember him as a fearless tough guy who backed down Sid in an altercation and an important assistant to Kevin Sullivan, he also became infamous for taking credit for successes commonly attributed to Sullivan and Eric Bischoff and burying much of WCW’s up-and-coming talent as “vanilla midgets.”  A notorious threat to Chris Benoit, allowed the WCW Champion to negotiate his departure as well as that of several key stars to avoid a PR nightmare.  Perhaps that turn of events is the most significant to which Graham can claim some credit.  Mike Graham had various personal and professional struggles before taking his own life in 2012 like his father and his own son.

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