Anthony Norris (born June 6, 1963) is an American retired professional wrestler and football player. He is best known for his appearances with the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from 1995 to 1998, under the ring name Ahmed Johnson. In the WWF, he held the WWF Intercontinental Championship, making him the first African American to win a singles championship in the WWF. He also headlined the In Your House 9: International Incident pay-per-view event.
|Birth name||Anthony Norris|
|Born||June 6, 1963|
Lake Alfred, Florida, US
|Residence||Houston, Texas, US|
|Alma mater||University of Tennessee|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Ahmed Johnson|
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Billed weight||305 lb (138 kg)|
|Billed from||Pearl River, Mississippi|
|Trained by||Skandor Akbar|
|Born:||June 6, 1963|
Lake Alfred, Florida, US
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||231 lb (105 kg)|
After leaving high school, Norris went on to play football at the University of Tennessee. He went on to play as a middle linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990 and 1991 seasons. He was released by the Cowboys without playing in the regular season.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Early career (1989–1995)Edit
Norris trained as a professional wrestler under Skandor Akbar, Scott Casey and Ivan Putski. After making his debut in 1989, he competed on the independent circuit for the next few years before debuting in the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) in 1993 as Moadib.
World Wrestling FederationEdit
Norris made his first appearance on July 15, 1995, wrestling on a house show in Houston, TX. Competing as Tony Norris he defeated Rico Suave. After being signed and given the ring name "Ahmed Johnson", he made his pre-television debut at In Your House 3 on September 24, 1995, in Saginaw, MI. Wrestling as a face, Johnson beat Skip in a non-televised match. His televised debut came on the October 23, 1995, episode of Raw. Prior to his first televised match, he appeared at the end of a Raw taping by entering a post-match brawl and slamming Yokozuna. He made his pay-per-view debut at Survivor Series, as the team of Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, Owen Hart, and Dean Douglas took on the team of Johnson, Shawn Michaels, Sid, and The British Bulldog. In the end, Johnson, Michaels, and Bulldog won the match as the survivors of their team, with Johnson eliminating both Owen Hart and Yokozuna by pinfall. At Season's Beatings on December 17, Johnson defeated Buddy Landel (who replaced Dean Douglas) in only 42 seconds. After the match, Johnson was interviewed by Jerry Lawler, at which time Lawler distracted him in order for Jeff Jarrett to attack him, starting a feud between the two in the process. At the 1996 Royal Rumble, Johnson defeated Jarrett by disqualification after Jarrett struck him with a guitar (causing Johnson to be hospitalized for a concussion). At WrestleMania XII, Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog) took on the team of Johnson, Yokozuna, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Camp Cornette won when Vader pinned Roberts with the Vader Bomb. At Good Friends, Better Enemies on April 28, Roberts and Johnson teamed up to take on Hart and Bulldog. While Jim Cornette had the referee distracted, Bulldog hit him in the knee with Cornette's tennis racket; he then forced Roberts to submit with a single leg Boston crab. After the match, Roberts and Johnson attempted to put Roberts' python, Revelations, on Cornette, but Hart pulled Cornette out of the ring.
Intercontinental Champion (1996)Edit
At King of the Ring, Johnson defeated Goldust to win the Intercontinental Championship. As the first African American Intercontinental Champion, most assumed it was only a matter of time before he climbed to main event status. He was soon paired on-screen with Shawn Michaels in several tag team matches and often helped Michaels against Jim Cornette and his men, known as Camp Cornette. At International Incident, Johnson, along with Sycho Sid and Michaels, lost to Vader, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.
On the July 22 edition of Raw, Michaels and Johnson teamed again and challenged The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) for the Tag Team Championship. During the match, Faarooq Asad debuted and attacked Johnson. This was supposed to lead to a match at SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Title. On the August 5 edition of Raw, Johnson won an 11-man battle royal, last eliminating the man whom he beat for the Intercontinental title, Goldust, to be the #1 contender for the WWF Championship for the day after SummerSlam. However, Johnson was diagnosed with legit kidney problems, and was forced to miss both SummerSlam and his scheduled WWF Championship match the following night. As a result, he was out for four months and in order to keep the angle going, the attack by Farooq was said to be the cause of the kidney damage. The news was made public on WWF programming by incorporating it into the 11-man battle royal which Johnson won. Voice-over commentary was added so that Johnson's participation in the battle royal was said to be against doctors' orders, when in reality his kidney problem had yet to be discovered at the time of taping. The injury forced him to vacate the Intercontinental Championship, which was subsequently won in a tournament by Marc Mero.
Feud with the Nation of Domination (1996–1998)Edit
Johnson returned later in 1996 to enter a feud with Farooq (who by then had a new gimmick and formed his own stable, the Nation of Domination). Finally, the two had an encounter at Royal Rumble 1997, where Johnson won by disqualification. Two days later, Johnson and The Undertaker defeated Faarooq and Nation member Crush in a No Holds Barred match at the Triple Threat event. He began teaming with Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and the three fought the entire Nation at WrestleMania 13 in a Chicago Street Fight. At A Cold Day in Hell, he defeated Crush and Savio Vega in a gauntlet match before losing to Faarooq.
In June 1997, Johnson turned on WWF Champion The Undertaker and joined the New Nation, with Kama Mustafa, D'Lo Brown, and Faarooq. Johnson was injured soon after this; he was scheduled to face Undertaker at Canadian Stampede for the WWF Title, but was plagued by injuries and was replaced by Vader.
The Nation turned on him after he recovered and returned in August 1997, which resulted in Johnson turning face once more. He restarted his feud with the Nation, and would reunite with the Legion of Doom as well as join forces with Ken Shamrock during the feud. At Survivor Series 1997, they defeated the Nation in a Survivor Series match.
Departure from WWFEdit
Johnson's last WWF appearance was at the pay-per-view No Way Out of Texas in February 1998, alongside Shamrock and the Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball) against the Nation. While still in Texas, Johnson was booked to appear in a segment with The Truth Commission where he was to be beaten and dragged up the entrance ramp. Unbeknownst to WWF management, Johnson's sister - an avid fan of WWF - was battling cancer. Johnson knew his sister watched WWF each week and didn't want her to have the image of her brother being beaten and dragged by the neck while she was gravely ill.
According to Johnson, 15 minutes before he was scheduled for the match which would end in his being attacked, he received a call that his sister was "doing really bad" and that he should come immediately to her hospital in Florida. Johnson then met with Vince McMahon and told him he "had some things to deal with" and immediately left WWF and flew to Florida, where his sister passed away the following week. Johnson has stated subsequently that he did not tell WWF management the reason for his departure at the time because he "didn't like to burden people with his problems" and didn't want to give the impression that he was "telling them something for sympathy".
World Championship Wrestling (1999–2000)Edit
In late 1999, Norris signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and debuted at Souled Out as a heel. He gained a massive amount of weight at this time, and was aptly named Big T. He interfered in a match between Harlem Heat tag team partners and real-life brothers, Booker T and Stevie Ray. He attacked Booker, causing Ray to be disqualified. Big T and Stevie formed the tag team Harlem Heat 2000. At SuperBrawl, he defeated Booker to earn the rights to the Harlem Heat name and the letter T. At Uncensored, he and Stevie lost to Booker and Billy Kidman. At Spring Stampede, they participated in a 5-team tag team tournament for the vacant World Tag Team Championship, where they lost to the eventual winners Shane Douglas and Buff Bagwell in the semi-finals of the tournament. He was released by WCW shortly afterwards due to ongoing weight issues.
Independent circuit and retirement (2002–2003)Edit
Norris stayed away from wrestling after his release from WCW until he wrestled his return match for Arlington, Texas, based Professional Championship Wrestling in 2002 against Jared Steele. He wrestled his final match in 2003 in a tag team match for Maximum Pro Wrestling, teaming with Monty Brown in a losing effort against Sabu and Gangrel.
Norris grew up in Florida before taking up residence in Houston, Texas, with his daughter Nina. He endured a harsh childhood, where his father abused his mother regularly and abused him as well if he intervened.
Norris claims he briefly attended the University of Tennessee and left soon after to play for the Dallas Cowboys. According to Norris, he joined the United States Army, but was later discharged due to striking his captain over viewing his orders as "kind of cowardly."
In July 2016, Norris was named part of a class action lawsuit filed against WWE which alleged that wrestlers incurred traumatic brain injuries during their tenure and that the company concealed the risks of injury. The suit was litigated by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against WWE. US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant dismissed the lawsuit in September 2018.
- Witness to the Execution (1994) as Reggie Foster
- Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story (2001) as Marion "Suge" Knight
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Texas All-Pro Wrestling
- TAP Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- United States Wrestling Association
- World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Worst on Interviews (1996, 1997)
- "Ahmed Johnson: Found!".
- "Ahmed Johnson's Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2008.
- "Ahmed Johnson's Bio". Accelerator's Wrestling Rollercoaster. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2008.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 – 1996: 5 Ahmend Johnson". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, United States: Sports and Entertainment publications LLC. September 28, 1996. p. 29. October 1996.
- "Cagematch profile".
- EazAy, Kris. "Ahmed Johnson Clears the Air and Kills a Few Rumors". Bleacher Report.
- EazAy, Kris (August 5, 2013). "Ahmed Johnson Clears the Air and Kills a Few Rumors". Bleacher Report.
- Grasso, John (2014). Historical Dictionary of Wrestling. Rowman and Littlefield. p. 230. ISBN 0810879255.
- "King of the Ring 1996 results". Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "Ahmed Johnson's first Intercontinental Championship reign". WWE. Archived from the original on April 29, 2007. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "International Incident results". Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 2: WWF 1990 - 1999. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ASIN B00RWUNSRS.
- "Royal Rumble 1997 official results". WWE. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "The Triple Threat results". Online World of Wrestling. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "WrestleMania 13 official results". WWE. Archived from the original on March 31, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "A Cold Day In Hell results". Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "Survivor Series 1997 official results". WWE. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
- "No Way Out 1998 official results". WWE. Archived from the original on May 4, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "Ahmed Johnson Reveals the True Reason Why He Walked out of the WWF... and Why He Has Never Told Vince Mcmahon - PWInsider.com". www.pwinsider.com.
- Bayless, Brian (February 27, 2014). "Highspots Shoot Interview with Ahmed Johnson". Retrieved February 28, 2019.
- Cawthon, Graham (2015). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 5: World Championship Wrestling 1995-2001. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1499656343.
- "Harlem Heat profile". Online World of Wrestling. Archived from the original on May 23, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "WWE sued in wrestler class action lawsuit featuring Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, Paul 'Mr Wonderful' Orndorff". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 18, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Robinson, Byron (September 22, 2018). "Piledriver: WWE uses 'Hell in a Cell' as springboard to future shows". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- "IMDB profile".
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 – 1996". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2009.
- "PWI 500 of the PWI Years". Retrieved January 16, 2019.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Awards". PWIOnline. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship history at Wrestling-Titles". The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship history at Solie". Solie's Title Histories. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
- "WWE Intercontinental Championship history". WWE. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2008.
- "WWF Kuwait Cup history".
- "1996 Slammy Award winners".
- Meltzer, Dave (January 19, 1998). "Jan. 19, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 18th Annual Newsletter Awards Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter.