The article below appeared in "Wrestling Eye" in May 1993. It gives Zenk and Gunn a reasonble push as a tag team in line with other wrestling magazines in late 1992 and early 1993 (see Archives). But, ironically, by the time the article appeared in print, WCW - for reasons we've yet to identify - had stopped pushing the team. Tom Zenk wasn't happy with the whole WCW deal and it was showing ......
In September, 1992, The Z-Man began training with a new tag partner Johnny Gunn (aka Tom Brandi) the short lived association with Bagwell having ended. WCW Magazine in a fictitious interview with Zenk provided the following response to the question - "Did anything happen between you two?"
Z-MAN: "No, not at all. I was happy to show Marcus some things. He sought me out as a mentor, and I helped him over a couple of rough spots. Be he's said many times that he wants to keep his options open, wrestle solo and tag teams and six-man matches and so on, so the kind of long-term commitment Johnny (Gunn) and I have made to each other just wasn't feasible with Marcus and me " (WCW Magazine, March, 1993)
In fact Zenk had been reluctant to be teamed with either Bagwell or Gunn - Bagwell was a male stripper who had recently entered wrestling via the GWF. Johnny Gunn (aka Tom Brandi) had been working longer but possessed very limited ring abilities. For Zenk they were anchors to carry - anchors that had been imposed by Rhodes and Watts as part of a larger booking strategy that excluded Zenk from any significant push as a singles wrestler in his own right.
In October, 1992, Zenk was booked by WCW to team with Jim Niedhart and others in tag action in New Japan in Chiba, Matsumoto and Hamamatsu, etc. Once again, the tour was in opposition to Zenk's wishes, since working in New Japan damaged long term relationships he had developed with Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Within days of returning from Japan, on October 25, 1992, Z-Man appeared with new tag partner Johnny Gunn and Shane Douglas at Halloween Havoc '92, in Philadelphia, the home of ECW. Though defeating Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Michael Hayes, the Philadelphia crowd clearly favored the heels. (Gunn and Douglas later heeded the message out of Philadelphia and left WCW to become heels. Z-Man, his options limited by some history with WWF, remained with WCW as a face - see PWI October, 1992)
During late 1992, WCW Magazine continued to build up the new team of Z-Man and Johnny Gunn. In another fictitious interview shortly before Starrcade 1992, Zenk was (again falsely) attributed with the following prediction -
" Assuming we don't have to deal with any major injuries in the next couple of months, I feel safe in predicting that we'll be wearing championship gold before summer"
while WCW Magazine predicted that "gold belts may not be very far off" for Zenk and Gunn -
"Z-Man and Gunn have been competing as a unit since early-November, and have impressed everyone with precision teamwork that includes frequent double-dropkicks and a powerslam/top rope combination that has led to an unbroken string of victories.......There is a growing perception in the arenas that as the precision teamwork displayed by Z-Man and Gunn grows more refined, their odds of being in the thick of the Unified World tag team title hunt grow as well".
Then suddenly in January 13, 1993 - the build up of Z-Man and Gunn as potential tag champs was discarded by WCW. At Clash of Champions XXII, Milwaukee, the team was defeated by the Wrecking Crew, Rage pinning Gunn in a short lived match (6:06)
The article below, like most in the wrestling press, deserves a high degree of skepticism. It falsely undervalues Zenk's aerial work while suggesting that Gunn has "the potential to become a genuine aerial star." It also resurrects the issue of "charisma and interview style." If you've always been impressed by Zenk's charisma and interviews, you may be mystified why this issue keeps arising in the wrestling press.
"Exactly how good are Tom Zenk and Johnny Gunn in the tag team scheme of things and do they have a place in the modern wrestling world of super giants and aerial daredevils? To find the answer the WRESTLING EYE editorial staff polled wrestling experts, authorities, fans and insiders. Their opinions were evaluated and collected into several categories. What resulted was an in-depth examination of the Zenk/Gunn team and its future in the wrestling business. What follows is that final analysis.
Tom Zenk is an accomplished wrestler. Johnny Gunn is learning. But learning quickly. This is one of those classic situations that features a veteran wrestler teaming up with a young star. Zenk seems willing to help Gunn develop, so the experts say they expect this team to get better each time it wrestles.
Obviously, neither Zenk nor Gunn possess huge physiques. Just as obviously, power wrestling can not be a big part of their game. But what can be part of their repertoire, and what they have shown they can do very well, is the use of techniques that counteract the power moves of their opponents. Turning a body slam into a rolling cradle or drop-kicking a wrestler who is about to execute a lariat or a shoulder dive are the types of moves that a quality worker can use to overcome the superior size and strength of an opponent. Zenk and Gunn have demonstrated that they are capable of using such moves and are capable of turning an opponents huge size into a disadvantage.
Sometimes it takes months for a team to develop effective teamwork in the ring. No such time frame is necessary for Zenk and Gunn. Many experts say that this team already exhibits a quality of teamwork usually seen only in veteran teams like the Steiner Brothers or the Freebirds. A few experts compared the teamwork exhibited by Zenk and Gunn to that displayed by the Rockers when they were one of the mat sport's top teams. The more Zenk and Gunn work together, the better they will get.
While neither Zenk or Gunn are aerial specialists, they both execute enough aerial moves, such as drop-kicks and flying body presses to be considered competent in this area. They will never have the aerial skill of Brian Pillman or the Great Muta, but they have enough skill to use high spot moves effectively and to offset the size advantage of larger teams. This is another area where they will only improve as they gain more experience as a team. Some experts cited Gunn as having the potential to become a genuine aerial star.
Charisma and Interview Technique
This is one area where the experts said that the Zenk/Gunn team needs improvement. However, many of the critics who have watched Gunn develop on the independent circuit said that he has the potential to become an accomplished on camera performer. Zenk, too, has shown marked improvement in his interview techniques over the last few months (see footnote below). All Zenk/Gunn have to do, the experts say, is put a winning streak together and the charisma will come.
In the final analysis of the Zenk/Gunn team, most experts predicted that they have the potential to go to the top of the tag team ranks. If Zenk and Gunn were in the WWF, the experts say, they would already be in the promotion's top teams. In WCW, where tag team competition is much more intense, Zenk and Gunn must gain experience in order to be on the same level of teams like Steamboat and Douglas or Windham and Pillman.
A few other experts urged Zenk and Gunn to turn villainous. These experts said that if Zenk and Gunn did so, they would shoot quickly to main event status. But even if Zenk and Gunn remain heroes and stay in WCW, the experts predict that they will eventually become a top tag team and perhaps even tag team champions.