'Giant' Gonzalez, Former WWE and WCW Star, Dies at 44
Gonzalez was brought into WCW by Turner Broadcasting through a contract shift. Originally drafted into the NBA by the Atlanta Hawks, Turner introduced the wrestling world to El Gigante ("The Giant") at WCW's Capital Combat 1990 pay-per-view, debuting as a surprise during a Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger steel cage match. Gigante made an impression on fans with his incredible height, but was considered "extremely limited" in the ring.
Gigante worked from 1990 through 1993 for WCW, and was signed by WWF in early 1993. Gonzalez debuted at the Royal Rumble that year in an airbrushed, furry bodysuit that made him appear to be naked. He began a feud with The Undertaker that culminated in a match at WrestleMania IX in Las Vegas. Gonzalez was managed by Harvey Wippleman during the run, which ended after a SummerSlam loss to Taker in a "Rest in Peace" match. He left the company soon afterward.
Gonzalez made appearances with both New and All Japan Pro Wrestling and appeared in an episode of "Baywatch," playing a sad, bullied giant. Last year, he was scheduled to return to the U.S. for a convention appearance, but his health was deteriorating and the appearance was canceled.