Gino Hernandez is unfortunately not a commonly dropped name in 2018. Even more unfortunately, when it is, it’s usually due to his untimely demise and the conspiracy theories surrounding it. The goal of this piece is to shine a light on the forgotten side of Gino: his tremendous body of work, as well as his status as the ‘real’ million dollar man of wrestling.
The man known to us as Gino Hernandez was born Charles Eugene Wolfe, Jr. He didn’t know his biological father and he was later adopted by Luis Hernandez. This made Gino a second-generation superstar, as his stepfather was a wrestler in the 1940s and 1950s as El Medico. After Luis’ sudden death in 1972, Gino decided he was going to become a wrestler in his father’s honor. He attempted to drop out of high school to start immediately, however his mother and a recurring figure in his life, Paul Boesch, convinced him to finish school. Gino was trained by the great Jose Lothario (whose other notable student is Shawn Michaels). Under Lothario’s tutelage, he broke into the wrestling business in 1973.
One of the first places Gino made his name was in Joe Blanchard‘s Southwest Championship Wrestling (SCW). He frequently teamed with his mentor, before later turning on Jose and aligning himself as a heel with manager Gary Hart. This feud culminated here in a hair versus hair match, where Gino’s signature locks were first shaved off. This feud would pop up later in Gino’s career, as a blood feud in Paul Boesch’s Houston Wrestling in the late 1970s.
Gino’s next notable program in SCW was the formation of the team known as the Dynamic Duo with (a pre-Horseman) Tully Blanchard in 1982. After a remarkable run studded with Southwest Tag Team Championships, they were set to feud after their split in 1983; however, it did not materialize. After one match against each other, Gino abruptly left SCW and the wrestling business. Not much is known or at least documented to be known about Gino’s time away from wrestling.
He returned to the business in 1984 and also began to work for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). He reformed the Dynamic Duo, this time with “Gentleman” Chris Adams, to great success. The Hernandez/Adams team feuded with the famed Von Erichs, Kevin and Kerry. This feud also culminated in a hair versus hair match in October of 1985. Following this loss, eventually, the Dynamic Duo imploded. Gino left Adams high and dry during a tag team bout on Christmas Day 1985. Unlike his schism with Tully, this feud would see some action. The former partners squared off on January 27, 1986, in a ‘Freebird Hair Cream’ match. The point of this gimmick was to get this “hair loss cream” on your opponent’s head. A great heel that he was, Gino squirted his former friend in the face and “blinded” him.
Sadly, this would be the abrupt end to the feud and soon, of Gino himself. He no-showed several shows he was booked on, which raised concerns about his well-being. Gino Hernandez was found dead in his apartment on February 4, 1986, he was just 28 years old. Gino’s legacy will be his excellent work as a heel and his fast-paced lifestyle. Gino had lived life in the fast lane – his friend Bruce Prichard has stated on numerous occasions that had Gino lived, he could have taken Ted DiBiase‘s place as the Million Dollar Man character. As evidence of this, Gino was buried in a platinum casket, with bottles of champagne and his American Express card.