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Adrian Adonis

Athlete

Keith A. Franke, Jr. was a professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Adrian Adonis. He was best known for his appearances with the American Wrestling Association and World Wrestling Federation throughout the 1980s.

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Keith A. Franke, Jr. was a professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Adrian Adonis. He was best known for his appearances with the American Wrestling Association and World Wrestling Federation throughout the 1980s.

In the late 1970s, Adonis joined the American Wrestling Association. In 1979, he formed a tag team with Jesse Ventura. The team was called The East-West Connection because Adonis was from New York (in the East), while Ventura was billed from California (in the West). The East-West Connection was awarded the AWA World Tag Team Championship on July 20, 1980, when Verne Gagne (one half of the tag champions with Mad Dog Vachon) was unable to defend it because he was vacationing in Europe. They held the belts until June 14, 1981, when they were defeated by Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell.

Adonis and Ventura debuted in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in late 1981, working both as a team and in singles matches. Adonis was a frequent challenger of WWF Champion Bob Backlund and Intercontinental Champion Pedro Morales throughout the first half of 1982.

In late 1985, after being briefly managed by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and adopting the DDT as a finisher, Adonis' gimmick began to change. First, Jimmy Hart became his manager when Hart traded King Kong Bundy to Heenan in exchange for Adonis and The Missing Link. With Hart in his corner, Adonis defeated Corporal Kirchner to advance in The Wrestling Classic pay-per-view tournament in November, then lost to Dynamite Kid in the quarterfinals. In early 1986, Adonis started carrying a briefcase with the phrase "Relax with Trudi" on it and a spray called Fragrance. During an edition of Piper's Pit, Adonis gave his signature leather jacket away to host Roddy Piper (who wore it for years afterward). Adonis then adopted the gimmick of the effeminate "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, bleaching his hair blonde and wearing pink ring attire, as well as scarves, leg warmers, dresses, hats, and clownish amounts of eye shadow and rouge. At this time, his weight further ballooned, peaking at over 350 lbs.. He also ceased his prior weightlifting regimen, stopped tanning, and removed all of his body hair. The result made him appear pale, soft, rotund, and flabby, despite the fact that he retained considerable athleticism and agility in the ring. He defeated Uncle Elmer in quick fashion at WrestleMania 2 and feuded extensively with the Junkyard Dog and George "The Animal" Steele, while also unsuccessfully challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship on multiple occasions.

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