Tom Zenk became PNW's top babyface and Owen worked on getting him over with the fans.
For Owen 'getting over' was straightforward. He told Zenk "Jesus Christ, Tom... The only way to get over is to beat everybody."
So Owen booked Zenk to "beat everybody." The gimmick was to see how long Zenk could maintain a winning streak and which wrestler would be the first to break it.The fan interest came from the improbability of a young, scientific babyface holding out against veteran heels with all the low cunning of Bobby Jaggers and Rip Oliver.
Zenk's tactic, was to take all the punishment necessary to get across and suddenly pull a win out of nowhere.
Finally, according to Owen's scenario, the unbeaten face with the fans behind him, would confront the top heel Bobby Jaggers in an all out battle for the PNW heavyweight title.
Through October, November and December 1985, Tom Zenk established himself as the rising young star of the Pacific North West, building up an unbroken record of wins against the federation's major heels, Rip Oliver, Karl Steiner, Tim Flowers, Moondog Moretti and 'Mean' Mike Miller. The finishes were rarely clean. Run-ins by Jaggers and Oliver and frequent double teaming meant that Zenk often left the arena by stretcher, ("Rip's Carry Out Service") leaving the crowds shocked, angry and ready for more....
Match by match, heat was generated for the ultimate show-down between Zenk and Jaggers. As his unbroken record grew Jaggers, 'offered a $3,000 bounty' for 'the first man to defeat Tom Zenk,' with the bounty increasing by $500 every week that Zenk remained undefeated. By December the bounty had risen to $7,000 with Zenk still playing it 'scientific' yet still undefeated.
Meanwhile, Zenk was drawing wider attention for his PNW work. Wrestling Ringside reporter Ken Hamblin tracked the young wrestler down in Portland and reported -
Experience isn't the only thing that Tom had on his mind when he signed to wrestle in the Northwest. "I'd like a Northwest Heavyweight title shot sooner or later, but I guess I'm going to have to earn it and prove myself with my wrestling ability."
This tremendous ability includes fantastic flying maneuvers. "I've really practiced a lot on drop-kicks, body blocks and the lot. I've put a lot of work into aerial maneuvers, getting as much height as possible to make more of an impact on my opponent (Wrestling Ringside No 19, May 1986).
Don Owen had asked Zenk "What's the most spectacular move you can do for TV." It was important for the wrestlers to show their best moves on TV to help sell tickets for the arena matches. Zenk came up with the "Sky-High" drop-kick. It involved leaping vertically from a standing position over the head of Scott Doring to drop-kick his opponent (photo below).
|HITTING THE HEIGHTS - and the lights - Zenk flies over Doring's head to deliver a drop kick (from a standing position) to 'Mean' Mike Miller. Don Coss referred to it as the "Sky-High Drop-kick." Sandy Barr (former wrestler, PNW referee, father of Jesse and Art Barr) called it the highest drop kick he'd seen in the business.
Zenk's flying dropkick from the top turnbuckle also got its first airing in PNW at a time when Steamboat's flying bodypress was considered 'state of the art' ring technique.
While a single's title remained Zenk's primary objective, he was also deepening his experience in tag work. According to Hamblin -
Just because he's gunning for a singles crown, you shouldn't count Zenk out of the tag team competition. "Curt Hennig and I were a great tag team and I love that form of wrestling. As for a partner, I haven't found one. Mike Miller and Moondog Moretti have the belts, and I would love to lift them from around their waists and bring them back to the fans."
In fact, a tag partner was already on the interstate to Portland - but not the one that Zenk would have chosen.....
Part 3 - 'Fighting For Spots' - "By December, Zenk had achieved the top tier on PNW cards. Haynes demanded the top spot for himself. He got it but the crowd response wasn't there - as Don Owen could easily see....."
"TOM ZENK IN THE PNW"
relive the "Golden Age" of Wrestling
SINGLE AND TAG MATCHES, FEUDS, CHAMPIONSHIP ...
DELIVERY WITHIN NORTH AMERICA