Adrian Adonis



Height: 5'11"

Weight: Varied (from 230 lbs - 300 lbs)

Real Name: Keith Franke

DOB: 9/15/54

DOD: 7/04/88

Hometown: New York City, New York

Other Names: Keith Franks, "Adorable"(WWF)

Wrestler Since: 1974

Finishing Maneuver: Goodnight Irene Sleeper

History: Keith Franke may not have been known as the greatest wrestler who ever lived, but there's no doubt that, as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, he definitely had one of the more memorable styles in professional wrestling.

Franke began wrestling in various organizations in 1974, as he honed his craft while wrestling under his own name. After a few years, Franke began to really start to have success in the NWA Americas organization, located in Los Angeles. In 1977, Franke partnered with Black Gordman to earn the NWA Americas Tag-Team Titles from Chavo Guerrero Sr & Victor Rivera. The reign only last a short time, before Chavo's brother, Mando Guerrero, teamed with Tom Jones to beat Franke & Gordman for the belts. This didn't discourage Franke, though, as in May '77, he defeated the Hangman for the NWA Americas Heavyweight strap. This reign, too, though, was quickly stopped by Mando Guerrero, who took down Franke only a week later. Franke continued to feud with Mando over the next few months, and later found another tag-team partner in "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The two defeated Mando & Jones for the NWA Americas Tag-Team straps in July '77, but once again, Franke couldn't hang onto the gold, as Mando & Jones won the rematch a week later.

Soon, Franke would transform himself into a much different character, as he began wrestling under the name of Adrian Adonis. At this point, Adonis was more known as a black leather-wearing biker who was known for his brawling skills. In April '79, Adonis partnered with Ron Starr to win the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag-Team Titles, taking down his former partner, Roddy Piper, & Killer Brooks. This time, Adonis had a strong reign, as he and Starr held the belts for over 3 months before falling to the Kiwi Sheepherders (later more well-known as the Bushwhackers). Adonis and Starr later went their separate ways, with Adonis heading on to the American Wrestling Association.

It was in the AWA that Adonis formed a powerful tag-team, as he began partnering with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the East-West Connection. In July '80, the duo was scheduled to face Verne Gagne & Mad Dog Vachon for the AWA World Tag-Team Titles. Surprisingly, however, Gagne didn't show, forcing the belts to be vacated to the East-West Connection. Adonis & Ventura would defend the tag belts for the next year, becoming the dominant tag-team in the organization. They finally were beaten for the belts in June '81 by the High Flyers, and were never able to regain the gold.

Adonis had success in various venues after leaving the AWA, including a run with Southwest Championship Wrestling in '83. In April, Adonis defeated Bob Sweetan to become the SCW Heavyweight Champion. After a month, Sweetan regained the belt. But Adonis was moving onto bigger things, anyway, as, only a week later, he beat Sweetan, Wahoo McDaniel, Scotty Casey, & Bob Orton Jr to be declared the first SCW Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion. After three months defending the gold, Adonis was beaten by Casey, ending his reign. By this point, Adonis was already regularly competing overseas in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and near the end of '83, Adonis & Dick Murdoch, known as the North-South Connection (obviously a copy of the East-West Connection), competed in the NJPW 4th Annual MSG Tag-Team League. Adonis & Murdoch worked great as a team, and nearly won the League, only falling to two future legends, Hulk Hogan & Antonio Inoki, in the finals. The North-South Connection continued to wrestle together for the next few years, both in Japan as well as being brought into the World Wrestling Federation.

In April '84, the North-South Connection had a momentus victory, taking down Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas to claim the WWF World Tag-Team Titles. This was perhaps Adonis' biggest victory in his career. The North-South Connection continued to work well over the rest of '84, getting big victories against the WWF's top teams, including a win at the Brawl To End It All over Terry Daniels & Sargeant Slaughter. Finally, in January '85, Adonis & Murdoch met their match, losing the belts to Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo (later known as the U.S. Express in the WWF). Adonis & Murdoch later had a shot to become the WWF International Tag-Team Champs, but lost to Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura, who won the vacated belts.

After Adonis and Murdoch broke up as a tag-team soon after the defeat, Adonis began to change his entire personality. He later took on "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart as his manager, and began to depart from the leather jacket ways he had been known for. In '86, on Piper's Pit, Adonis gave his 'retired' jacket over to Piper, as he had now become "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, bleaching his hair blonde and wearing pink. Adonis 'grew' into the role, gaining a bunch of weight to go from 230 lbs to over 300 lbs, an amazing increase. He also began to win some matches by blinding opponents with perfume. At Wrestlemania II, Adonis took on Uncle Elmer, in a battle of heavyweights (Uncle Elmer was closer to 400 lbs). Although Adonis took a beating, he managed to get the win after a flying headbutt off the top rope.

Going into '87, Adonis started a major feud with his old tag-team partner, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. On one episode of Piper's Pit, Adonis brutally beat down Piper, then later started his own show for a few weeks on WWF television, calling it the Flower Shop. Unfortunately for Adonis, when Piper returned, he assaulted Adonis on the show, leading to a massive brawl. The two men agreed to have a "Hair vs. Hair" Match at Wrestlemania III. Adonis gave as good as he got in the match, and nearly had it won near the end thanks to his sleeper hold, Goodnight Irene. But outside interference from Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake helped Piper come back and knock out Adonis with his own sleeper hold, leading to Beefcake shaving off Adonis' blonde hair and leaving him bald.

Sadly, this would be the way Adonis was remembered, as he never had another major match in the WWF after the loss. A year later, on the U.S. Independence Day in 1988, Keith Franke, along with Pat Kelly and Dave McKigney, were in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, on the way to another wrestling event. The car, though, went off the road and into a lake. With another car-full of wrestlers watching, unable to help, all three men drowned in the car, ending their wrestling careers in a terrible accident. Franke was just 33 years old.

Pay-Per-View/Show Summary: (15 - 13)
- Florida Superbowl of Wrestling (January 25, '78) = Keith Franks won over John Ruffan.
- AWA Comiskey Park (July 14, '80) = Adrian Adonis & Jerry Valiant were beaten by Mad Dog Vachon & the Crusher. Later that night, Adonis competed in a Battle Royal, which was won by Jerry Blackwell.
- NJPW 3rd Annual MSG Tag League (November/December '82) = Adonis & Dino Bravo competed in the league, which was won by Hulk Hogan & Antonio Inoki.
- Southwest Title Tournament (January 1, '83) = Adonis took down Scott Casey and Bob Sweetan, then fell to Tully Blanchard in the finals.
- SCW World Title Tournament (May 26, '83) = Adonis beat Bob Sweetan, Wahoo McDaniel, Scott Casey and Bob Orton Jr to win the tournament.
- NJPW 4th Annual MSG Tag League (November/December '83) = The North-South Connection (Adonis & Dick Murdoch) competed in the league, but lost in the finals to Hulk Hogan & Antonio Inoki.
- NJPW IWGP League '84 (May/June) = Adonis competed in the league, which was won by Antonio Inoki.
- NJPW Sumo Hall (June 14, '84) = The North-South Connection & Ken Patera fell to Yoshiaki Yatsu, Masa Saito & Riki Choshu.
- WWF The Brawl to End It All (July 23, '84) = The North-South Connection stayed the WWF Tag Champs, beating Sgt. Slaughter & Terry Daniels. Later that night, Adonis competed in a Battle Royal, which was won by Antonio Inoki.
- NJPW 5th Annual MSG Tag League (November/December '84) = The North-South Connection competed in the league, losing in the finals to Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami.
- NJPW Sumo Hall (April 18, '85) = The North-South Connection kept the WWF International Tag Titles, beating Kengo Kimura & Kantaro Hoshino.
- NJPW IWGP League '85 (May/June) = Adonis beat King Kong Bundy, then lost to Tatsumi Fujinami. Andre the Giant won the tournament.
- WWF Michigan State Fair (August 28, '85) = Adonis won over George Welles.
- WWF The Wrestling Classic (November 7, '85) = Adonis took down Corporal Kirschner.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #5 (February 15, '86) = Adonis was pinned by the Junkyard Dog.
- WWF WrestleMania II (April 5, '86) = Adonis defeated Uncle Elmer.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #6 (May 1, '86) = Adonis won, via DQ, over Paul Orndorff.
- WWF The Big Event (August 28, '86) = Adonis lost, via countout, to the Junkyard Dog.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #9 (December 14, '86) = Adonis won, via countout, over Roddy Piper.
- WWF WrestleMania III (March 29, '87) = Adonis lost a "Hair vs. Hair" Match to Roddy Piper.

Title Summary:
- NWA Americas Tag-Team Champion w/ Black Gordman (77 - 4/25/77)
- NWA Americas Heavyweight Champion (5/13/77 - 5/20/77)
- NWA Americas Tag-Team Champion(2) w/ Roddy Piper (7/22/77 - 7/29/77)
- NWA Pacific Northwest Tag-Team Champion w/ Ron Starr (4/03/79 - 7/21/79)
- AWA World Tag-Team Champion w/ Jesse Ventura (7/20/80 - 6/14/81)
- SCW Southwest Heavyweight Champion (4/15/83 - 5/20/83)
- SCW Heavyweight Champion (5/26/83 - 8/30/83)
- WWF World Tag-Team Champion w/ Dick Murdoch (4/17/84 - 1/21/85)

PWI Achievement Awards: (1 win, 0 1st RUs, 0 2nd RUs, 0 3rd RUs)
- 1988 PWI Editors' Award