Real name: Dennis Waters
From Hamilton. NWF world champion in the Buffalo-Cleveland territory and master of the powerlock (figure-four). Became well-known in Japan after being brought in by Antonio Inoki in the mid-1970s. An entrepreneur in a wrestler's body who became involved with promoting and the business side of wrestling while still in his 20s.
Made his debut in Michigan in the early 1960s, wrestling as Anthony Lansdowne. Career took off after joining Toots Mondt's Pittsburgh promotion in 1963, where he dyed his hair blond and wrestled as Johnny Powers, the Golden Adonis. Challenged Bruno Sammartino six times for the WWWF title in Pittsburgh main events in 1964. Was managed by Bobby Davis, best known as the manager of Nature Boy Buddy Rogers.
Made his Maple Leaf Gardens debut at the end of that year and appeared in his first Maple Leaf Gardens main event in 1965 against Sweet Daddy Siki. The same year, he challenged Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title three times in Toronto and scored two wins over Whipper Billy Watson in other Maple Leaf Gardens main events. Turned babyface later that year.
Became the first NWF champion in 1970. Was co-owner of the Buffalo and Cleveland promotions with Pedro Martinez. Very popular in Buffalo in the early 1970s, where he did public service announcements and even had his name in the title of the local wrestling TV show. Had memorable feuds against Waldo Von Erich, Eric the Animal, and Johnny Valentine. His heel turn there against Ernie Ladd is probably the angle I remember best from my childhood.
Sold his share in Buffalo in 1972 but continued to own Cleveland. In the summer of that year, he presented the "Super Bowl of Wrestling" at Cleveland Municipal Stadium with Powers vs Valentine as the main event. The show drew about 14,000 fans, which was a big disappointment in a large venue.
Wrestled the Sheik three times in Maple Leaf Gardens main events in 1973.
Powers and Pat Patterson were billed as North American tag champs for the 1973 tour of Japan where Powers dropped the NWF belt to Inoki. He wrestled as North American champion in the New Japan promotion in the late 1970s. Retired in the early 1980s and ran a wrestling school in Toronto with Siki.
I saw him interviewed on TV around 1994. He was talking about putting together a syndicated TV series of old wrestling matches. Nothing ever seemed to come of it.
"Powers is seldom cast as the villain anymore. He's 29 years old, 6'4", and 265 [sic] pounds and a lot of female fans will be disappointed to learn that he was married recently. "The promoter in this area, Pedro Martinez, has been like a father to me. He's helped guide my career, and I owe him something for it."
Powers' goal is to "stay at my present level of income for as long as I can. We constantly have to sell ourselves to the public. We have to maintain our popularity. [...] I don't like the gimmicks because they make wrestling too much of a sideshow, but I like them because they attract fans. And more fans means more money."
(by Bob Matthews, from the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, June 24,
- 2-time NWF World champion, 1970, 73
- NWF World tag champion, with Jacques Rougeau, 1973
- 5-time NWF North American champion, 1971-73