WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas engaged in many memorable feuds during his time in the ring as both a singles competitor and as part of a tag team. One of his earliest in WWE was with Jesse “The Body” Ventura as the two argued who had the more impressive physique.
Atlas talked about that feud and what he thinks of Ventura when he was interviewed by Wrestling Inc’s Andy Malnoske.
“I wanna thank Jesse for his service. He served in the Navy SEALs and fought for our country,” said Atlas. “Not only did Jesse Ventura have a great body but he had a great head on his shoulders and was a wonderful guy. He tried years ago to get a union going for the wrestlers and later on became the [governor] of Minnesota and did a wonderful job.
“We were in competition in wrestling but as far as a person is concerned, Jesse Ventura is a great, true American.”
Atlas was part of the WWE vs. NFL battle royal at WrestleMania II which also featured William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears. He talked about going toe-to-toe with Perry in front of a bunch of rowdy Chicago fans.
“He was a little bit afraid of me because if you watch the tape, you saw me pick him up. At the time I had an 800-pound squat, 650-pound bench and a 420-pound clean and jerk,” revealed Atlas. “I was ranked third in the world in powerlifting so there weren’t many people that had my type of strength.
“I didn’t fear him at all as he was just a weight. He was a lot lighter than what I lifted everyday in the gym.”
Atlas and Paul Orndorff had a real-life fight outside the ring that has been exaggerated over time. Atlas talked about what really happened between him and Mr. Wonderful.
“It got blown out of proportion. We got angry at each other and pulled the car over. Paul tried to sucker punch me and I took him down and put him in what’s called a crater. Every amateur wrestler knows what a crater is where he couldn’t move. The only thing he could do is bite my ear,” stated Atlas.
He said the two were broken apart and eventually shook hands. Then while driving, another wrestler in the car pointed out that Atlas’ ear was bleeding and he went to the hospital.
“I went to the hospital to get it stitched up and the doctor kept me there all night. He told me a human bite is the worst bite you can get,” stated Atlas. “So they gave me a tetanus shot but it really wasn’t a fight. He threw a punch. I ducked and cratered him. That was the whole incident.”
Atlas said that he and Orndorff are now friends and that “a story worth telling is worth embellishing.”
Atlas was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 and he talked about what that means to him.
“It’s a great honor when your peers recognize you as being successful in your sport. But being a Hall of Famer, you carry a heavy load because I don’t just represent Tony Atlas, I represent Tony Atlas and WWE. So, anything that I do wrong in life, this ring will come off my finger,” Atlas said before noting that Hulk Hogan was temporarily removed from the Hall of Fame due to his racist tirade.
“If Vince would do that to Hulk Hogan, then what would he do to me? He would kick me out and never put me back. So I do what I can to give back to the fans and WWE Universe and the people who put Tony Atlas where he’s at now because the fans are No. 1.”
Atlas’ full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post, or viewed via the video player at the top.