Keeping up with the recent homage of everything Extreme Championship Wrestling it seems only fitting to look at the man who was the final World Heavyweight and World Television Champion of the original incarnation of ECW. So therefore on the heels of Thursday’s introduction of Kid Kash, here is a look back at the man who has been known as The Rookie Monster, The Manbeast and The War Machine, but more simply known as Rhino.
To his family and friends he is known as Terry Gerin but to the millions of pro wrestling fans that have seen him perform for years he is simply known as Rhino. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, he trained under Scott D’Amore at the Can-Am Wrestling School in Windsor, Ontario. He debuted in 1994 using the name Terry Richards. His first notable appearance was at the October 23, 1995 television taping of WWF Monday Night RAW where he lost to Henry O. Godwinn.
Soon after he adopted the name Rhino Richards and ran through the Canadian independent circuit with wrestlers such as Joe E. Legend, Christian Cage and Sexton Hardcastle (the future legend Edge). During these travels he also competed in Germany and worked as enhancement talent on an episode of WWF Shotgun Saturday Night where he was part of a team who “jobbed” to The Truth Commission.
He gained his first bit of following in 1999 when he joined Extreme Championship Wrestling in the summer of 1999. He dropped the “Richards” part of his name and became known as “The Rookie Monster.”
Steve Corino quickly became his manager and joined Corino’s stable, which included Jack Victory and Yoshihiro Tajiri. Rhino and Corino started a rivalry with ECW World Tag Team Champions Raven and Tommy Dreamer, which led to them losing to Raven and Dreamer at Anarchy Rulz ’99. Two months later at November 2 Remember, Rhino teamed with The Impact Players (Justin Credible & Lance Storm) to defeat Dreamer, Raven and The Sandman in a six-man tag. Corino’s group soon morphed into a stable of henchmen for Cyrus the Virus, who was a representative of “The Network.”
In early 2000, Rob Van Dam suffered a broken leg and was stripped of the ECW World Television Championship after 23 month as Champion and an eight-man tournament was set to crown a new Champion. Rhino lost to Super Crazy in the finals of the tournament in March 2000 at Living Dangerously. A month and a half later at the Cyberslam live event, Rhino beat Tajiri (who had beaten Crazy for the Championship and defected from Corino’s stable) and became the World Television Champion.
This led to a wild feud with The Sandman where he defeated the ECW legend at both the Hardcore Heaven and Heat Wave pay per views throughout the spring and summer of 2000. Rhino continued his streak through the ECW roster throughout 2000 as he defeated Rob Van Dam, New Jack and Little Spike Dudley on pay per view to retain the Television Championship.
On January 7, 2001 at Guilty As Charged, the final ECW show, Rhino destroyed Sandman literally a minute after he won the ECW World Championship for a fifth time to win his first ever World Championship. When the original ECW died, Rhino stood tall as the dual ECW World Heavyweight and World Television Champion.
When ECW closed its doors officially and its head honcho Paul Heyman took a job as a color commentator on Monday Night RAW, Rhino became one of the fortunate few to follow in to the WWF. He debuted on the March 19, 2001 episode of RAW, now using the name “Rhyno,” and assisted his old Canadian running buddies Christian and Edge.
At WrestleMania X-Seven, he helped the duo win TLC 2, which was essentially their third Ladder Match against The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz. While still running with “E & C” Rhino struck out on his own in the WWF’s Hardcore division. It was full of ECW alum and the man now dubbed “The Manbeast” was right at home. On the April 17, 2001, SmackDown taping Rhyno beat Kane to become Hardcore Champion for the first time. During this initial reign he defeated his fellow ECW alum Raven in an awesome Hardcore Title match at Backlash less than two weeks later. Less than a month later at Judgment Day he defeated The Big Show and the late Test in a triple threat match to retain the Championship. However the next night on RAW, Big Show beat Rhyno in a one-on-one match to win the Title.
Thanks to the Hardcore Title 24/7 rule, a week later on RAW, Rhyno beat Chris Jericho, who had just beat Big Show, to win his second Hardcore Championship. Two weeks later he lost the Championship to Test at the SmackDown television taping.
Meanwhile the King of the Ring tournament was going on and the semi-finals led to Rhino and his three running buddies, Edge, Christian and Kurt Angle, being the final four finalists. The four men were affectionately known as “Team RECK.” It was incredibly unheard of to see four villains, let alone four tag partners, in the finals of a tournament. At the actual King of the Ring pay per view, Edge pinned Rhyno to advance to the finals.
The next night on RAW in Madison Square Garden, Rhyno bet Test to win his third Hardcore Title. Minutes later WCW invader Mike Awesome took advantage of the 24/7 rule and beat Rhyno for the Championship.
Shortly thereafter the WCW/ECW Invasion kicked off and Rhyno joined the ECW faction of The Alliance to end the WWF. He was part of The Alliance team that defeated Team WWF in the main event of the aptly titled InVasion pay per view in July 2001. He became one of The Alliance’s main soldiers, feuding primarily with Chris Jericho and main eventing television shows. At Unforgiven in September 2001 he defeated his old ECW partner and rival Tajiri to win the WCW United States Championship.
The night after No Mercy in October, Rhyno lost the US Championship to Kurt Angle. The next night at the SmackDown tapings, Rhyno was indefinitely suspended by Alliance leader Shane McMahon for his loss. In reality he needed the time off to get neck fusion surgery.
Rhyno returned to WWE television thirteen months later on the February 23, 2003 television taping of SmackDown as an ally of Chris Benoit. The duo challenged for the WWE Tag Titles against Eddie & Chavo Guerrero and Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) at WrestleMania XIX but came up short. The duo teamed through the spring and summer of 2003. In July, Benoit beat Rhyno in the first round of the United States Title tournament, which continued the cracks between the two partners. At Vengeance just weeks later Rhyno attacked Benoit, allowing Eddie Guerrero to beat Benoit and win the US Title. A month later at SummerSlam Rhyno competed against Benoit, Guerrero and Tajiri in a fatal four way for the US Title, but he failed to win the gold.
He continued on the SmackDown roster until March 2004 until he was drafted to the RAW roster. While originally it seemed like a good move for all involved, Rhyno soon feel down the card. During the summer of 2004 he formed a partnership with Tajiri. The duo beat Jonathan Coachman & Garrison Cade at Vengeance in July 2004, but they came up short against the World Tag Team Champions La Resistance (Sylvan Grenier & Rene Dupree) at Unforgiven in September.
“The Manbeast” drifted through the bottom of the RAW roster until April 2005 until he was released from his contract. He got into a fight with his wife at the post-WrestleMania 21 party and caused a scene. He and Matt Hardy were both released form their contracts on April 9, 2005. His last appearance for the company (still during his 90-day no compete clause) was during the One Night Stand ECW reunion pay per view on June 12 where he lost to Sabu.
He debuted shortly thereafter in NWA-TNA at the July 17 No Surrender pay per view where he destroyed then NWA World Heavyweight Champion Raven. This led to a tag team match the next month at Sacrifice were Rhino (now going by his original spelling) teamed with Jeff Jarrett to beat Sabu and Raven in a tag match. This led to Rhino unsuccessfully challenging Raven for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in September at Unbreakable.
In October at Bound For Glory, Rhino had a banner night. He defeated Abyss, Sabu and Jeff Hardy in a Monster’s Ball match. Then later in the night he won a ten man Gauntlet match to earn an immediate World Title match against NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett. His momentum continued as he defeated Jarrett to win the NWA World Championship on TNA’s flagship pay per view.
Two nights later at the television taping for a special two-hour episode of Impact, Rhino lost the Championship back to Jarrett. The match aired on November 3. He lost another rematch to Jarrett at the Turning Point pay per view later in November.
From there Rhino fell back into the mid-card and feuded with men such as Abyss, Monty Brown and Samoa Joe. He also used his credibility as a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion to be inserted as a main event threat when needed. In April 2006 at LockDown he teamed with fellow NWA World Heavyweight Champions Sting, Ron Killings and AJ Styles in a victory in a Lethal LockDown match against Jeff Jarrett, Abyss and America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm).
Then as the furor ECW returning to WWE television came about in the summer of 2006, Rhino got a renewed push as he admitted WWE offered him a contract to return to the re-launch of the brand. He turned down the offer, stayed with TNA and “burned” a replica of the original ECW World Heavyweight Championship that he still held due to his distinction of being the final ECW Champion in history.
He spent the end of 2006 feuding with his old friend and rival Christian Cage, which ended with Cage beating Rhino in an 8 Mile Street Fight at Bound For Glory II and then again two weeks later on Impact in a great Steel Cage match.
Now firmly established using “The War Machine” as his new nickname, he embarked on a lengthy feud with AJ Styles that carried well into 2007. The two battled on pay per view four consecutive times. First Styles beat Rhino in a straight up singles match at Turning Point, then Rhino beat him a Last Man Standing match at Final Resolution, then Styles won a Motor City Chain match at Against All Odds, and Rhino finally ended the feud with a victory in an Elevation X scaffold match at Destination X in March 2007. He met Styles one more time at LockDown when he was a part of Team Angle in the Lethal LockDown and defeated Christian’s Coalition, which Styles was a part of.
Rhino’s next lengthy rivalry was against “The Tennessee Cowboy” James Storm. Storm defeated him in singles matches at both Victory Road and Hard Justice in July and August of 2007, but Rhino gained a victory the next month at No Surrender. He then took time off and returned in early 2008 and reignited his feud with The Cowboy. He defeated Storm in Elevation X II at Destination X ’08. Then he was a part of Christian Cage’s team (who had now turned back into a hero) at LockDown in his third consecutive Lethal LockDown match to face Tyson Tomko’s team. Rhino got the winning pinfall over James Storm to win for his team and put the exclamation point on their rivalry.
He then started teaming regularly with Christian and the duo feuded primarily with Team 3-D, which led to Cage and Rhino beat the legendary team at Hard Justice in August 2008. After that feud ended Rhino slid further down the card. He played second fiddle to the women feuding in the Knockouts division and had a patriotism based feud against Sheik Abdul Bashir.
In late 2008, he got a renewed push once again as he helped the TNA originals battle the established villains of The Main Event Mafia. For his troubles he received a World Heavyweight Title shot against Sting at Genesis in January 2009 but did not emerge victorious.
From there he switched gears and took on the former US Naval officer Jesse Neal as his new protégé as the young man attempted to break into the wrestling business. Rhino became impatient with Neal’s training, which led to a feud between the two and interference from Team 3-D, Neal’s other mentors.
But by the end of 2009, Rhino and Team 3-D had joined forces once again, angry at being overlooked in the company in favor of younger and newer talent. Alongside with their rookie Jesse Neal, the four men formed a short-lived stable and feuded with the likes of Suicide, Matt Morgan, Hernandez and D’Angelo Dinero throughout November and December of 2009.
When Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff took over the company in early 2010, Rhino was pushed far to the back burner. He didn’t make an impact again until July of 2010 where he joined fellow ECW alum, including Tommy Dreamer, Raven and Stevie Richards, as they prepared for the Hardcore Justice ECW reunion pay per view in August. At Hardcore Justice defeated Brother Runt and Al Snow in a three way dance.
After the pay per view, Rhino stayed with his ECW brethren as part of the EV2.0 faction and feuded with Hulk Hogan’s Immortal faction and Ric Flair’s Fourtune team. At No Surrender in September 2010, Rhino lost to his old rival Abyss in a Last Man Standing match. The next month at Bound For Glory VI he teamed with EV2.0 in a loss to Fourtune in a Lethal LockDown match.
After that match Rhino’s contract with TNA officially ended, but he was kept on the roster on a pay per appearance deal. He turned on EV2.0 after another ten man tag loss to Fourtune the next month at Turning Point in hopes of gaining a new deal with TNA Wrestling and joining Immortal. He battled EV2.0 leaders Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer in separate matches, including a loss to Van Dam in a First Blood Match at Final Resolution. On the next Impact, Rhino was not given a new deal with TNA or Immortal and was subsequently released by the company.
After his TNA departure he hit the independent scene. His most notable run was when he was a part of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s first tour of America in May 2011. In addition he also worked for a variety of organizations, including The Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo Championship Wrestling.
On June 13 of this year he debuted in Ring of Honor when he was introduced as the bodyguard for Prince Nana and his Embassy. So far his one and only match with the company was a defeat of Homicide on June 26 in a Street Fight at Best in the World ’11.
Plain and simple, if Rhino had five more inches of height he would be a mega star in the wrestling world. He has incredible intensity, a great look and a character he was able to cultivate for over ten years. He has had flashes of brilliance and success over the years and periods of time where he was misused and under utilized.
Not many wrestlers can say they were the final Champion(s) in a company when it folded, but Rhino was one of those. Even though he has never become the mega-star he surely dreamed of, he found success in every company he wrestled in. He will forever be known as the final ECW World Champion and TV Champion in the original ECW and the man who main evented the first ever prime time episode of TNA Impact. But at only 35 years old he definitely has time make an impact on the main stage once again.
Billed Height – 6’2
Billed Weight – 270 lbs.
Billed From – Detroit, Michigan
Nicknames – The War Machine; The Manbeast; The Rookie Monster
Signature Move – Gore
Major Titles Held – NWA World Heavyweight Championship; ECW World Heavyweight Championship; ECW World Television Championship (2); WWF/WCW United States Championship; WWF Hardcore Championship (3)
Debuted – 1994
For more info:
Rhino’s Wikipedia entry
Rhino on Online World of Wrestling
For more on ECW:
A brief look back at ECW
Top ECW performers
Top ECW pay per views
Top ECW matches
Rise & Fall of ECW DVD review
Forever Hardcore DVD review
Looking back at the InVasion in hindsight