Tom Zenk (November 30, 1958 – December 9, 2017)
Former WWE Tag Team Superstar Tom Zenk Dies At Age 59
Former WWE and WCW superstar Tom Zenk died at the age of 59. The death, announced in an obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Saturday, did not reveal the cause of death but did state that the death occurred on Dec. 9 and his funeral will take place on Jan. 13, 2018. According to the obituary, Zenk was not married and had no children and left behind his parents, three siblings and eight nieces and nephews. The celebration of his life will take place at the church at 11 a.m. on Jan. 13, but the burial will be a private family affair.
Tom Zenk’s Career In The WWE
While Tom Zenk did not wrestle for long in the WWE, he took part in a tag team that many old-school wrestling fans might remember. When Zenk started out his career, he wrestled in the AWA after training under AWA legend Brad Rheingans.
He left the AWA and ended up invited by former AWA world champion Rick Martel to join him in Canada and wrestle for the International Wrestling Association. The two formed a tag team called the Can-Am Connection, with Zenk from Minnesota and Martel from Montreal.
In 1986, the WWE signed both Martel and Zenk, and they debuted with their pre-existing Can-Am Connection tag team. They won the opening match at WrestleMania III by beating the Magnificent Muraco and Cowboy Bob Orton Jr. That was the largest indoor event of all-time when it occurred, and it looked like the Can-Am Connection could become massive stars in the WWE tag team scene.
However, Zenk said in a shoot interview that he was paid less than Martel and didn’t appreciate it. As a result, he left the WWE in 1986, and the WWE had to scramble to restructure Martel’s status in the company, pairing him with Tito Santana in Strikeforce.
Tom Zenk And His Post-WWE Career
Tom Zenk had to deal with threats from the WWE about breaching his contract, but once that was settled, he went to All Japan and then returned to America in 1989 to wrestle in the AWA and then sign with WCW.
Tom Zenk made his WCW debut at the 1989 Clash of Champions. Going by the name "The Z-Man," Zenk quickly moved back to the tag team scene and started a team with Brian Pillman. The two won the U.S. Tag Team Championship and feuded with the Midnight Express and Freebirds.
Also in his time in WCW, Tom Zenk won the TV title from Arn Anderson and held the six-man tag team championship with partners Dustin Rhodes (Goldust) and Big Josh (Matt Osborne / Doink the Clown). Zenk finally finished his wrestling career and retired in 1996.