#99: Giant Gonzalez

Real Name: Jorge González
Other Aliases: El Gigante
Biggest Fan: Barry M. Reardon

We started the countdown with one of the slightest wrestlers of the 1990s, and being unveiled at #99 is one of the largest wrestlers from not just that decade, but all time. It all started in Argentina, where a 16-year-old Jorge González, already standing seven-and-a-half feet tall, took up the sport of basketball. His roundball skills led him and his countrymen to the 1988 Tournament of the Americas; Argentina finished the tourney in fifth place. More significantly, though, the exposure caused scouts from the Atlanta Hawks to take notice of him. Atlanta took him with the 54th overall selection in the 1988 NBA Draft, one spot behind future All-NBA forward Anthony Mason.

What may not have been the most savvy basketball decision, ended up being a good business decision overall. Hawks owner Ted Turner, realizing that while his new center was physically impressive his body probably wouldn't put up with the constant grind of an NBA season, made lemonade out of his new acquisition, or, whatever that phrase is. You see, Ted Turner owned his own wrestling federation as well, and soon WCW would get its very own "giant", El Gigante!

Standing "nearly eight feet" tall, El Gigante was an instant sensation with wrestling fans. He immediately began to feud with their world champion, Nature Boy Ric Flair. Though he never captured the gold in WCW, he did go on a televised date with Missy Hyatt, so that's something.

By 1993, his time in WCW had come to an end, but the WWF was quick to come clamoring for his services. At the 1993 Royal Rumble, Harvey Wippleman employed the services of Giant Gonzalez to eliminate the Undertaker from the Rumble. This set off an eight-month feud between the two enormous superstars. Unfortunately, Giant Gonzalez failed to defeat the Undertaker in either of their Pay-Per-View contests, at WrestleMania IX and the '93 SummerSlam.

González wrestled briefly in Japan, but by the end of 1995, his wrestling career was over. Size-related health issues hampered him throughout his retirement, which he spent on a ranch in Argentina. He was restricted to a wheelchair and was on dialysis for kidney failure. Sadly, at age 44, Jorge González passed away due to complications from diabetes on September 22nd of last year. And though he's gone, wrestling fans (and Argentinian basketball fans) will never forget the man known as Giant Gonzalez. And yes, this entry on the list ends on a bit of a downer, but a lot of these superstars are dead, so get used to unhappy endings.

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