Obit: Tom Zenk, former member of Can-Am Connection in the WWF, plus WCW and AWA veteran, dead at 59

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Tom Zenk (photo credit Wade Keller © PWTorch)

Tom Zenk, perhaps best known for his short stint with Rick Martel in the 1980s as part of the Can-Am Connection in the WWF, is dead at age 59. He died at North Memorial Medical Center in Robinsdale, Minn. where he went to high school. No details on his cause of death are available yet.

Zenk was a regular on the Minnesota indy wrestling scene, including playing the role of a jobber who made valiant efforts against The Road Warriors while taking tremendous bumps to help Hawk and Animal seem like destroyers, worked for the WWF briefly as part of the popular Can-Am Connection tag team. Zenk had a falling out with management and was replaced by Tito Santana, and the team of Santana & Martel was renamed Strike Force.

Zenk also wrestled in the Pacific Northwest region, the AWA, based out of his home state of Minnesota, and WCW in the 1990s. Pegged as having a main event body and great looks mixed with standout athleticism, he was seen as a potential main event player. He never quite got in sync with any promoter he worked for, is promos lagged behind his other assets, and he ended up a role player in the upper-mid-card. He went from teaming with “Flying'” Brian Pillman as U.S. Tag Team Champions in WCW to being used as a jobber, mostly due to perceived attitude issues.

He attended high school with Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, and Brady Boone. He was the last of the four to die, all well before old age. He was trained in Minnesota by Eddie Sharkey, who also trained the Road Warriors, Jesse Ventura, and Rick Rude, among other big names.

He had disappeared from the public eye over the last ten years. He had made many podcast appearances where he was caustically critical of the WWF and Vince McMahon. He was also critical in an online blog when blogs were first taking off. Those disappeared from the web and he went silent in recent years. Locals hadn’t seen him at any indy wrestling shows in many years and he had become a top “Whatever happened to?” question on the Minnesota wrestling scene.

His funeral, as reported in his obituary in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, is Jan. 13.

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1 Comment on Obit: Tom Zenk, former member of Can-Am Connection in the WWF, plus WCW and AWA veteran, dead at 59

  1. I enjoyed Tom’s work in International Wrestling out of Montreal in the mid-80s, before his more publicized stint in the WWE. He was given a big push there, primarily in a tag team with Dan Kroffat, and seemed to really be comfortable in his role.

    His interviews and promos came across as authentic, rather than over scripted, and over the top, and the actual wrestling was very entertaining.

    My condolences to his family.

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