Ray "The Crippler" Stevens

Fans erupted in a riot at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on the evening of July 15, 1967 as the local favorite who sold out the arena multiple times, Ray Stevens, won a fall via countout over the out of area challenger Bruno Sammartino. It was his second in a 2/3 falls match to unify the WWWF World and Big Time Wrestling US Titles. He landed his Bombs Away finisher (top rope knee drop) but the ref got knocked to the floor, which led Sammartino to go check on the downed official. Stevens was announced the new champion but the celebration wouldn't last long since WWWF rules did not allow titles to be won on a countout.

In 1971, Stevens joined the AWA, where he cemented his legacy forming a legendary tag team with Nick Bockwinkel and reuniting with his past tag partner Pat Patterson. Between Bockwinkel and Patterson he captured AWA tag gold three times. Amazingly, he ventured to the WWWF while AWA Tag Team Champion. There Stevens was a top challenger for WWWF Champion Pedro Morales, garnering a few Madison Square Garden sellouts.

By the time Stevens had his final WWE run in the early '80s, age, injuries and weight had taken their toll. Also, the landscape of the promotion had changed and Stevens' modest 5'8" stocky frame was a stark contrast to the muscular figures that were becoming more favored. did. Stevens adjusted, relying on his mind in feuds and interviews, as evidenced as a hilarious ringside interview with Vince McMahon prior to a bout with Salvatore Bellomo. McMahon peppered Stevens with questions, asking him to concede that his upcoming opponent was superior in ability. Stevens uttered not a word, just snorting and shaking his head at the assertions. He eventually walked away with McMahon remarking that he had "not a heck of a lot to say".

Despite being considered to have lost a step from his AWA and San Francisco days, Stevens proved he could still headline as a challenger for WWF Champion Bob Backlund and the vicious heel foil in a high profile feud with Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. On an episode of Wrestling Challenge, Stevens challenged Snuka to a match, putting up a $1000 check and Snuka accepted. Later in that same episode, it was revealed that Captain Lou Albano, Snuka's manager, had been taking his money during Rogers Corner, Buddy Rogers' weekly interview segment. Albano stormed off at the accusations and Snuka was declared a "free man". He then headed to the ring for the match against Stevens but he was ambushed by Stevens and Albano. Stevens added on a piledriver on the exposed concrete for good measure, leaving Snuka busted open. A feud ensued and the two would headline several arenas in the Northeast, propelling Snuka as a babyface and one of the biggest attractions of the time. Stevens wasn't in the WWF much longer after, briefly serving as color commentator, before returning to the AWA where he closed out his career.