The article covers Tom Zenk's work in the Pacific North West - in National Wrestling Alliance promotions run by Don Owen in Oregon and Dutch Savage in Washington State.
During the interview Zenk claims, at that time to have no tag partner - an absence he remedied in December 1985 (with Scott Doring) - suggesting that the original interview took place in late 1985.
Zenk's work in the region lasted from approximately October 1985 to late March, 1986. He then traveled back to Montreal with Ric Martel to work in the IWA before moving, again with Martel, to the WWF in November, 1986.
Martel rates several mentions in the piece. The two men had already worked alongside each other briefly in the AWA. Zenk's references to Martel suggest that, at this stage anyway, he regarded him as a suitable 'model' for his own career development - " It takes time to be a good wrestler. Look at Rick Martel. He paid his dues out here in the Northwest and now he's World Heavyweight Champion."
The article repeats Zenk's ring persona of that time - that he 'hailed' from Arizona, had been trained by Gagne and Rheingans, etc. It notes Zenk's involvement in a significant moment in the 1980s rehabilitation of pro-wrestling - "the thrill of a lifetime had to be wrestling on the first nationally televised wrestling program on ESPN, the all sports channel." Finally and interestingly it notes how a pro-wrestler of the period was trained to endure high performance matches of considerable duration ("You have to be in real good physical condition to get in the ring because you go in there for 15 to 60 minutes.")
The dark haired, deeply tanned Arizona native is one of the biggest young stars to roll down the interstate in quite some time. In the short time that Zenk has been in the Northwest, his good looks and high-flying maneuvers have made him a favorite with the fans.
"The fans are a major part of wrestling," noted Tom. "If the people are behind you, there's a big difference. I feel that you can't win without the fans. It's good to hear the cheers when you're down and know you've got someone out there supporting you. "
Tom Zenk got his initiation into professional wrestling through former world champion Verne Gagne. "I was trained by Verne Gagne and Brad Rheingans, the man who coached our Olympic team. Brad had me lifting a log, running, conditioning and such. I also went through the same training that the United States Olympic team did. Brad put me through hell and months of workouts to see if I had the guts to become a wrestler."
After a few months in AWA, Tom ventured out to Montreal, Canada where he headlined cards battling men such as King Tonga, Jimmy and Ronnie Garvin, Bob Boucher and others.
"I was voted Rookie of the Year in the AWA and I decided to head up North and try my luck. I went to Canada and the fans were so impressed with me that they named me the most improved wrestler of the year in Canada. From Montreal I came to the Northwest and I hope this area will be my big break."
The Pacific Northwest has produced some great wrestlers including Billy Jack, Jerry O., Rick Martel and Zenk's former tag team partner Curt Hennig.
"The Northwest was talked about highly by my former partner Curt Hennig. He mentioned it and said that Don Owen is a great promoter and he is highly respected and recommended." Tom commented, "This is definitely a great place to gain experience. There is a lot of great talent here in this territory and a lot of wrestling, six or seven nights a week and that also is a great opportunity for me."
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."
But 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."
To do any of this, a wrestler has to be in tip top shape. "You have to be in real good physical condition to get in the ring because you go in there for 15 to 60 minutes. There are holds and counter-holds. you've got to be thinking at the same time."
Tom went on to say , "It's not easy to be a wrestler. People sit and watch their television sets and they get the impression that they can be a wrestler. If they would climb in the ring they would see just how hard it really is."
Weighing in at 230 pounds, Tommy is considered a small man in a big man's sport. "You have to be strong and maintain yourself just to get in the ring. Look at Bobby Jaggers; he's 280 pounds. Look how muscular Ricky Vaughan is: the man is super strong. Not everyone has a great body, but these guys are big, and you have to move that amount of weight when it comes down on top of you. It's hard to get the wind knocked out of you and get back and fight a man that size. That's why I rely on speed and agility so much."
Though Tom is still at the start of his career, the thrill of a lifetime had to be wrestling on the first nationally televised wrestling program on ESPN, the all sports channel. "It was great to be selected to wrestle on national television, and it was a good experience for me," stated Zenk.
Tom's goal, as is that of any person who climbs through the ropes of the squared circle, is to be World Heavyweight Champion. "I've only been in the sport for two years and still have a long way to go. I'm realistic about my goals and the World title is in the back of my mind." Tom added, "It takes time to be a good wrestler. Look at Rick Martel. He paid his dues out here in the Northwest and now he's World Heavyweight Champion. It doesn't come overnight. As most know, first you crawl, then you walk and then you run."
When the three World Champions are mentioned. Tom's interest perks up. "Ric Flair, Rick Martel and Hulk Hogan are the best at what they do. It's very competitive at the top as someone is always looking over their shoulders, young men like me wanting their belts because it means a lot of money and prestige. For me to get where they are now, I have to set goals. The stars today all have them. You have to have them to be successful."
"I'd like to thank all the fans. Not enough of the wrestlers say 'thank you' to them. I really appreciate it when they come out and support me vocally, " stated Zenk.
"The reason I'd like to thank the fans is because we, the wrestlers, really never get a chance to. We are always so busy traveling from town to town that we never get to meet and thank them all the way we would really like to. I personally want to say thanks to all the fans, and I hope they will continue to give their total support. If they do that, I will promise to give them the same in return."