This edition of the WWE Hall of Famers Blog features The Master of the Tomahawk Chop himself: Chief Jay Strongbow!
Real Name: Luke Joseph Scarpa
Birthday: October 4,1928
Death: April 3,2012
From: Nutley,New Jersey,USA
Weight: 260 lbs
Trained by: Don Eagle
Inducted by: Tatanka
Notable Titles Held:
WWWF World Tag-Team Championships (4x)
NWA World Tag-Team Championships (4x)
NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship
NWA Florida Brass Knuckles Championship (2x)
NWA Georgia Television Championship
NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag-Team Championships
WWC Carribean Heavyweight Championship
Notable Promotions Wrestled:
WWE (fka: WWF)
Georgia Championship Wrestling
Championship Wrestling From Florida
Big Time Wrestling
Maple Leaf Wrestling
Joe Scarpa began his wrestling career on 1947 competing under his real name. Throughout the 50's and 60's he won several championships in different territories of the NWA and was a growing fan favorite.
It wasn't until in 1970 where his career really took off when he joined the WWWF under the guidance of Vince Sr. who gave him the character "Chief Jay Strongbow" a Native American gimmick complete with headgear and all. He feuded with the top heels around that time notably "Superstar" Billy Graham whom he almost defeated for the WWWF World Title at one point!
In 1975 "The Golden Greek" Spiros Arion made his return to the WWWF as a babyface, he teamed up with Chief Jay Strongbow but would later on betray him and destroying his headdress and while The Chief was tied in the ropes, Arion rubbed the feathers in his face, this received massive heat from the fans at the time! Of course in the end Strongbow was at the winning end of this feud and would challenge Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship but once again failed to capture it.
While he may not have managed to become the World Champion, Strongbow had tag-team success! He won the WWF World Tag-Team Championships four times with different partners: Sonny King,Billy White Wolf,and his kayfabe brother Jules Strongbow who was an actual Native American.
He had a short stint at The Sheik's Big Time Wrestling promotion in 1977 where the infamous "shark cage match" with "Bulldog" Don Kent took place. He returned to the WWF in the late 70's and continued wrestling for the company till he decided to retire after a four decade career!
Strongbow would go to have a role as a road agent for the WWF after his retirement although this stint of his isn't fondly remembered by many of the wrestlers during that time. He participated in a storyline for Tatanka acting as his mentor along with Native legend: Wahoo McDaniel in 1994, the same year he got inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.
His final appearance with the company was at an episode of RAW on November 17,2008 when Stephanie McMahon introduced him to the audience. He passed away on April 3,2012 at the age of 83.
Chief Jay Strongbow is an interesting figure in wrestling. He was one of the biggest fan favorites in the WWWF during the 70's by playing a gimmick that is not his identity at all!
Critics often consider him as a racist gimmick and I can't blame them for thinking so, but to The Chief's defense he did donate to a lot of Native American charities and embraced their culture so at least he had that going for him.
He wasn't a great wrestler in the sense that he's a technical wizard, but he didn't have to be. All he needed was his signature moves Tomahawk Chop and The Sleeper Hold, plus the war dance, he is able to gain the attention of the crowd!
I'm not a big fan of Chief Jay myself but I can respect his work as a wrestler for over 4 decades entertaining the fans across the States and he did lived the gimmick so that's some dedication right there. Although his time as a road agent, maybe not so great especially hearing some negative stuff from guys like Honky Tonk Man and Lanny Poffo.
Yeah sure he might have been a racist gimmick but this is the wrestling business we're talking about, racist gimmicks exists left and right, besides there are much worse portrayals of other races in wrestling take Muhammad Hassan for example.
*Strongbow isn't the only non-Native to play a similar gimmick but his tag-team partner: Billy White Wolf is actually from Iraq and would become more known to many as the controversial General Adnan later on in the 80's.
*Chief's son Joe Jr. wrestled in the 1980's to early 90's as Mark Young for both WWF and WCW but his career never took off.