Hercules Hernandez had a promising and eventful career in WWE (then known as the WWF) after joining the company in 1985. But by 1992, it was clear things were not going his way. Hernandez had no hang-ups about expressing his frustration in front of a live audience, and it all came to a head in a bizarre way during a match in Madison Square Garden against Sid Vicious!
Hercules Hernandez: From The Territories to Japan and Back Again
Raymond Constantine Fernandez began his professional wrestling career in 1981.
The future Hercules Hernandez had already competed as a high school amateur wrestler and served in the United States Air Force for three years.
By 1985, he had worked in the NWA, Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-South Wrestling, and toured in Japan for All Japan Pro Wrestling. He would hold titles such as the Central States Tag Team Championship, the Central States Television Title, and the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship.
A Promising Career and Intimidating Figure in Wrestling
Regardless of promotion, numerous examples of Hercules Hernandez’s proficiency, agility, and physical prowess can be found. As a professional wrestler, he was the complete package.
In addition, he was one of the most visually intimidating figures in the business, mainly when he arrived at matches with a chain around his neck, ala Bruiser Brody.
His natural flair for pro wrestling allowed him to ascend the ladder of success and popularity and work alongside top names in the business, with Paul Orndorff, Ultimate Warrior, and Dusty Rhodes being just a few.
A Successful Run in Mid-South Wrestling
Jim Ross, in particular, remembers Hercules Hernandez from their days at Mid-South Wrestling, where JR worked as an announcer.
Hercules initially performed wearing a mask under the persona of Mr. Wrestling III. On the Grilling JR YouTube channel, Ross described him as “agile for a guy so jacked up” and “kind of a quiet guy.”
Likewise, Jim Cornette described Hernandez as having the “body of a god” on The Jim Cornette Experience Podcast.
After shedding the Mr. Wrestling mask, he became Hercules Hernandez again during his Mid-South run.
The colorful Cornette ultimately managed the powerhouse.
A Troubled Run in The WWF
With his reputation across the territories preceding him, Hercules Hernandez joined the WWF in 1985.
What followed was an intense mix of career highs and lows. He gained significant exposure, and perhaps easily forgotten are the entertaining segments alongside manager Freddie Blassie during the WWF Tuesday Night Titans chat show.
Less than two years into his World Wrestling Federation stint, he also landed a WWE Heavyweight championship shot against Hulk Hogan during Saturday Night’s Main Event in 1986.
Hercules’s Heat Cools Off
It seemed, however, that Hercules Hernandez’s heat would frequently cool off in a frustratingly consistent manner during his seven years on the roster.
Despite proving his ability to hang alongside the best and most challenging in the business, his pushes would be cut short.
After scoring a victory over Haku at WrestleMania V, he was squashed by Earthquake at WrestleMania VI. Despite lasting in the 1991 Royal Rumble for an impressive 37 minutes, he was eliminated in the 1992 Rumble one year later after a meager 56 seconds.
On top of this, his promising run in the Power and Glory tag team ended after his partner Paul Roma left the WWF.
During his final months in 1991, Hercules did little of note other than putting over talent. Hercules did so as a consummate professional.
This was until a Madison Square Garden match against Sid Justice which appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back!
The Sid Justice and Hercules Hernandez No-Sell at Madison Square Garden
In contrast to Hercules Hernandez’s wavering creative direction at the beginning of 1992, Sid Eudy, aka Sid Justice (and later Psycho Sid), was receiving a major big push.
On February 23rd, 1992, at a Madison Square Garden show, Sid was given the role of indomitable heel. To achieve this effect, Sid needed to be fed a victim.
Hercules Hernandez was booked for the job.
It was an interesting choice as Hercules didn’t resemble squash material for anybody, Sid included.
A Lively New York Audience
In front of a lively New York audience, Sid Vicious, then performing as Sid Justice, took to the mic for an in-ring promo, berating Hulk Hogan and addressing Hercules directly as “a coward.”
Sid then offered a clearly unintimidated Hernandez a chance to walk out unharmed, which Hercules declined.
After standing his ground, Hercules delivered three punches to Sid, resulting in a quick scuffle that took the two wrestlers outside the ring and back in again.
There was a flurry of strikes and a knee from Sid, followed by an arm drag to bounce Hernandez off the ropes. Then, Sid gave Hercules a kick to the midsection, delivered his signature powerbomb, and folded his opponent for a pin.
No-Selling the Finish
Bizarrely at this point, Hercules Hernandez completely no-sold the finisher.
The running pattern for that particular era of Sid’s career is that his opponents would be in no hurry to recover from his devastating finisher.
One is encouraged to think about AEW and Wardlow’s powerbomb symphony in a modern context.
However, in this match, the illusion was destroyed.
Hands Behind the Head During the Powerbomb
It’s generally not par for the course for a wrestler to put their hands behind their head when taking a powerbomb. Hercules Hernandez did, however, and it’s possible he was protecting the back of his head.
On the other hand, it may also be he was flaunting a state of relaxation during this finisher.
When the ref hit the three-count after Sid’s maneuver, Hercules casually sat up and rose to his feet.
“Nobody’s Ever Beaten Hercules That Quick!”
At this moment, an amusing contrast was shown: Sid Justice’s characteristic scowl of dominance, arms raised in triumph, and Hercules Hernandez just behind him, sitting up, clearly unhurt.
But it was to no avail. Now outside the ring, Sid maintained the crowd’s energy by glaring into the camera and verbalizing his dominance.
Yet there was the briefest cutaway to Hercules, who stood in the ring, running his hands through his hair and sporting a grin of passive-aggressive defiance.
Watch the No-Sell Incident:
One of Hercules’ last notable WWF matches, as he gets squashed by Sid and does a very casual powerbomb sell, getting up after the match and calmly leaving. pic.twitter.com/sOfHdU2JSH
— OVP – Retro Wrestling Podcast (@ovppodcast) February 23, 2023
Business as Usual Later That Night
There is no account of what may have been said to Hercules Hernandez backstage in response to his no-sell.
And when he appeared later on the show in a Battle Royal also featuring Sid, it was “business as usual.”
Life After WWE
Though finished for life in the WWE soon after this match, Hercules Hernandez continued his career in wrestling throughout the ’90s.
He had a brief stint in WCW, returned to Japan, and worked the independents.
Sadly, he passed away in his sleep in his home on March 6th, 2004. The cause of death was attributed to heart disease.
His no-sell in 1992 against Sid lives on in infamy, but it does invite a greater dive into the career of a man who never received a true push while at the top. The consensus from long-term wrestling fans is that he deserved one.
As Jim Ross stated of Hernandez, “His contribution to the business should not be erased or forgotten.”
These stories may also interest you:
- Sid Vicious and the Infamous Squeegee Incident
- Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson’s Horrific Scissors Incident
- Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End
- Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with an Unfortunate End
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