Stevie Richards

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Stevie Richards
Stevie Richards in 2009.jpg
Born(1971-10-09) October 9, 1971 (age 43)[1][2]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[1][2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Big Stevie Cool[3]
Dr. Stevie[1]
Dr. Stevie Richards[4]
Impostor Dude Love[1]
Steve Richards[1]
Steven Richards[5]
Stevie Richards[6]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[7]
Billed weight235 lb (107 kg)[7]
Billed fromPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
New York City's Bellevue Hospital (as Dr. Stevie)
Trained byMike Sharpe[2]
Jimmy Jannetty
Glen Osbourne
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Stevie Richards
Stevie Richards in 2009.jpg
Born(1971-10-09) October 9, 1971 (age 43)[1][2]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[1][2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Big Stevie Cool[3]
Dr. Stevie[1]
Dr. Stevie Richards[4]
Impostor Dude Love[1]
Steve Richards[1]
Steven Richards[5]
Stevie Richards[6]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[7]
Billed weight235 lb (107 kg)[7]
Billed fromPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
New York City's Bellevue Hospital (as Dr. Stevie)
Trained byMike Sharpe[2]
Jimmy Jannetty
Glen Osbourne

Michael Stephen Manna[2][8][9] (October 9, 1971)[1] is an American professional wrestler and podcaster, best known by the ring name Stevie Richards. He previously wrestled for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/WWE), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Lucha Libre USA and most recently Extreme Rising. He has also appeared for Ring Of Honor (ROH) and IWA Japan. He has held 24 notable titles in his career, including the WWE Hardcore Championship 21 times,[10] the ECW World Tag Team Championship twice[11] and the NWA National Heavyweight Championship once.[12]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Stevie Richards trained at Mike Sharpe's wrestling school in Brick Township, New Jersey, after being discovered by Dan Hiney of the Pennsylvania-based World Wide Wrestling Alliance.[13]

Eastern Championship Wrestling / Extreme Championship Wrestling (1992–1997)[edit]

On February 25, 1992, Richards wrestled in the opening match of the inaugural show for Eastern Championship Wrestling (later renamed Extreme Championship Wrestling), a 20-minute time limit draw with Jimmy Jannetty.

In late 1994, Richards adopted gimmicks Scott Levy had used in WCW and the WWF (Scotty Flamingo, Scotty the Body, and Johnny Polo) on a weekly basis, substituting "Stevie" for the first names. After his first ECW loss to Tommy Dreamer, he became irate and claimed he would soon present "the real Johnny Polo". On January 7, 1995, Levy made his ECW debut as Raven, and Richards became his lackey, calling him "Boss". They reigned twice as ECW tag team champions.[11]

Richards was a part of the Blue World Order (bWo), a group parodying the New World Order. In 1997, along with the bWo, he was one of the first ECW wrestlers to appear on World Wrestling Federation programming, during a cross-promotion for ECW's first pay-per-view, Barely Legal. He defeated Little Guido in a match at the Manhattan Center.

In the main event of Barely Legal, Richards wrestled Terry Funk and The Sandman in a Three Way Dance to determine the number one contender for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. He lost the match and, in a rematch in May, suffered a neck injury that required several surgeries to fix.

Richards worked the ECW Hotline as Lloyd Van Buren, with former Ring of Honor booker Gabe Sapolsky.[14] He never wrestled under that name.

World Championship Wrestling (1997)[edit]

In May 1997, Richards announced his retirement due to a neck injury, before recovering and signing with WCW. He wrestled briefly as a member of Raven's stable, The Flock, but failed a physical examination and left WCW in October before returning to ECW. While there, he defeated Scotty Riggs, Lenny Lane and Damian,[15] and lost to Macho Man Randy Savage, Diamond Dallas Page, and Raven (at Clash of the Champions XXXV.[16] He wrote a column in several issues of WCW Magazine, under the name Dancin' Stevie Richards.

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (1999–2008)[edit]

Imitations; Right to Censor (1999–2001)[edit]

Richards dressed as Dude Love at Smackdown 1999.

In 1999, Richards joined the WWF full-time. He debuted on the August 15, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat, helping his old bWo partner, The Blue Meanie, win his match against Al Snow. The two formed a short-lived tag team, before Richards adopted an impersonator gimmick.

Mocking other wrestler's gimmicks, he appeared as an Acolyte, a Dudley Boy and a vampire of The Brood, until briefly settling on Mick Foley's Dude Love persona. After that, he impersonated Test, Chyna, and Chris Jericho, before being sidelined by an ankle injury. He returned to a stint on Jakked and Metal, where he lost matches more often than not. He challenged both Dean Malenko[17] and Scotty 2 Hotty[18] for the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship in this period.

Richards returned to RAW on June 26, 2000, with a new look and gimmick, shorthaired and in a shirt and tie. Over the next few weeks, he cut promos condemning the risqué content of WWF programming and preaching conservative values (the gimmick was a mocking reference to the Parents Television Council, which was publicly criticizing WWF content at the time). He became a full-fledged heel, formalized his name to Steven Richards and formed a stable known as the Right to Censor. He spoke for, managed and tag teamed with his recruits: The Godfather (renamed the Goodfather), Bull Buchanan, Ivory, and Val Venis. When Chyna was featured in Playboy magazine, Right to Censor objected, and feuded with her and her (onscreen) boyfriend, Eddie Guerrero.

Stevie Night Heat (2001–2004)[edit]

After Right to Censor broke up, Richards disappeared from TV for a short time. He returned to SmackDown! to cut a promo condemning The Undertaker for attacking Right to Censor and causing it to disband. When The Undertaker confronted Richards, KroniK attacked him. Richards announced his alliance with the WCW tag team, thus becoming a de facto member of The Alliance. He managed Kronik in a match against The Undertaker and Kane, after which Kronik was released from the WWF.

Richards then appeared mainly on the SmackDown brand's "B show", Velocity, until Team Alliance lost at Survivor Series in 2001. Richards was then fired (in storylines) along with the rest of the Alliance roster by Vince McMahon. Ric Flair was able to save his job and get him drafted to the Raw brand.

There, he began using the gimmick of a "mentally unbalanced" jobber and became a twenty-two-time Hardcore Champion, trading it several times with Bubba Ray Dudley, Booker T, Crash Holly, Shawn Stasiak, Justin Credible, Bradshaw, Terri, and Tommy Dreamer.[10]

Richards formed an alliance with Victoria in late 2002, as a mentally unbalanced couple helping each other win their matches. He often helped her retain the WWE Women's Championship. Around this time, he proclaimed himself "General Manager of Heat", a title which carried no actual authority. As Victoria turned face, the duo quietly separated. In August 2004, Richards began appearing in drag as "The Mystery Woman" during Victoria's matches, helping her win.[3] The Mystery Woman's painfully obvious identity was "revealed" at Unforgiven, after "she" saved Victoria from Tyson Tomko and Trish Stratus. Richards then quickly lost an impromptu match to Tomko.[3] He went on a losing streak on Heat from April 19, 2004 till December 3, 2006 (when he defeated Rene Dupree).

Reunion of the bWo (2005–2006)[edit]

Richards was legitimately injured during the Raw debut match of Chris Masters in February 2005, when a botched Polish hammer broke his nose and orbital bone. After healing, Richards faced Masters in a rematch, but lost again.

Richards appeared at the ECW reunion event, ECW One Night Stand in 2005, reuniting with his bWo comrades and proclaiming "We have only three words for you. We're taking over!" He then dropped The Sandman with a Stevie Kick.

Richards was traded to SmackDown! on June 30, 2005, and reformed the bWo with Nova and The Blue Meanie. At The Great American Bash, the bWo lost to The Mexicools (Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and Super Crazy) in a six-man tag team match.

Richards then had a short stint on WWE Velocity, dropping the bWo gimmick as he jobbed to Hardcore Holly and Booker T. After September 6, he disappeared from TV for over six months. He returned for an 18-Man Battle Royal on Heat, immediately before WrestleMania 22.

ECW (2006–2008)[edit]

Shortly after the introduction of the ECW brand in 2006, Richards left the SmackDown! brand to join it on the "WWE vs ECW Head to Head" show on June 7, 2006. He wrestled on ECW's weekly show under his old ring name of Stevie Richards. He soon returned to his heel persona, turning on the other ECW Originals and siding with the newer stars. His first win on ECW's weekly show was on September 5, 2006, over Balls Mahoney, after interference from Kevin Thorn, who was feuding with Mahoney at the time.[19]

Richards wrestled before the ECW brand's first pay-per-view, December to Dismember, defeating Rene Dupree in a dark match.[20] Other than this match, he did not appear on ECW between September 2006 (when he joined up with the first version of ECW's New Breed - Test, Mike Knox and Hardcore Holly) and February 2007 (when he lost to CM Punk for a second time).

Richards was a lumberjack in the pre-WrestleMania 23 Lumberjack Tag Team match. He then went on to lose to CM Punk three more times. In mid-2007, Richards turned face again, and teamed with Tommy Dreamer against The New Breed on house shows, replacing The Sandman (who was drafted to Raw) in the ECW Originals.

On July 24, Richards defeated Kevin Thorn by reversing a crucifix powerbomb into a backslide pin.[21] This was his first victory on WWE television since December 2006. In a rematch the next week, he was dominated, yet again defeated Thorn, via roll-up. On August 7, he was ambushed by Thorn while giving an interview backstage. He again defeated Thorn on August 14 by a reverse decision disqualification, when Thorn continued to assault him after initially winning the match. Richards ambushed Thorn during an interview the next week. He teamed with Tommy Dreamer and lost to Thorn and Elijah Burke. A week later, he teamed with CM Punk and defeated them.

Richards was eliminated from the Elimination Chase for the ECW Championship on the September 18 episode of ECW. He then disappeared from WWE programming to have throat surgery.[22]

Richards made his return on the February 12, 2008 episode of ECW, defeating Rory Fox with his signature Stevie-T.[23] He beat James Curtis next, then Mike Knox (Richards' final victory on WWE TV).

In the following months, Richards wrestled in the pre-WrestleMania 24-Man Battle Royal, lost to Shelton Benjamin, The Great Khali and Mike Knox in singles matches, teamed with Kelly Kelly to lose to Mike Knox and Layla and was one of fourteen ECW wrestlers who faced Triple H and Mr. Kennedy in a 14 on 2 Handicap Match on Raw. He commentated on the Extreme Rules match between Mike Knox and Tommy Dreamer on the 100th episode of ECW.

Richards remained on the ECW brand after the June 2008 Draft, but wrestled his final three WWE matches on SmackDown!. He lost to Vladimir Kozlov twice in July 2008, and to The Brian Kendrick on August 15. He was released from his WWE contract shortly thereafter.[24]

Independent circuit (2009–present)[edit]

Various Promotions (2009–present)[edit]

Before returning to the independent circuit, Richards' lung collapsed while undergoing a biopsy to determine the cause of a lung infection, causing him to wear a chest tube for several days and miss a scheduled appearance for Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW).

Richards then occasionally wrestled for MCW and other promotions. He won the Force One Championship Wrestling Heavyweight championship on February 28, 2009 in Barnegat, NJ, defeating Danny Doring.,[25] as well as the TRP and Showcase heavyweight championships.

On May 28, 2011, Richards debuted as an announcer for Lucha Libre USA.[26] At the next taping on June 18, he turned heel by helping RJ Brewer win the Lucha Libre USA Championship, joining his anti-Mexican stable, The Right, in the process.[27] He made his promotional wrestling debut at the next taping on July 30, defeating Rocky Romero after interference from stablemate Petey Williams.[28]

In 2012, Richards wrestled regularly for the Extreme Rising promotion, as well as for the NWA and Florida-based promotions CCW and ICW. On June 16, Richards retained his Showcase Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title against Marty Jannetty.[29] On October 6, 2012, Richards defeated Aramis to win the American Championship Pro Wrestling (ACPW) Heavyweight title in Vineland, NJ.

Stevie spent the majority of 2013 and 2014 either defending the Extreme Rising World Championship on the indie circuit or challenging for titles in other promotions, such as the WildKat Revolution Title,[30] the SCW Southern Heavyweight Championship,[31] the DWE Heavyweight Championship,[32] the Freedom Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship, the CCW Southeastern Heavyweight Championship,[33] the W.O.W Heavyweight Championship[34] and the MPW Heavyweight Championship.[35]

Other notable Independent appearances included a one-off return to the Steven Richards Right to Censor gimmick where he defeated Jack Hurley at the SCW Fallout in Florida,[35] reuniting the b.W.o once again for a Pro Wrestling Syndicate iPPV in New Jersey,[36] teaming again with Victoria for Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore promotion at "HOH 3"[37] and main-eventing as the titular star of Canada Wrestling Elite's "Stevie Night Heat" event.[38]

Extreme Rising (2012–present)[edit]

In early 2012, Stevie Richards was announced to take part in the Extreme Reunion event that would take place on April 28 at the Pennsylvania National Armory in Philadelphia, he teamed with The Blue Meanie once more as the b.W.o against old foes The F.B.I (Guido and Mamaluke).[39] The b.W.o were eventually defeated following outside interference that led to the Blue Meanie being pinned, Richards appearing frustrated would Stevie-Kick Thomas "Inchworm" Rodman, with the announcers who had previously been positively remarking on his conditioning and ring-shape that "Stevie was here to win, not for nostalgia."

Richards would then return for the company in June (now Extreme Rising) and begin a feud with Luke Hawx, who had been verbally attacking the ECW alumni. Hawx defeated Richards using heel tactics in New York but Richards would defeat him the following night in Philadelphia with a Stevie-Kick, earning his first win for the promotion. Richards was then entered into an eight-man tournament to crown the first Extreme Rising World Champion. On November 17 at the "Remember November" iPPV, Richards would defeat Papadon by submission to advance into the semi-finals. Later in the show, Richards would confront Raven who had been running down the promotion, which led to a "Loser Leaves Town" match which ended as No Contest due to interference from Raven's new Flock, who Richards would decimate through a series of Steve-Kicks and Stevie-Bombs.

On December 29, 2012 Richards would win the tournament and the World Championship by first defeating Luke Hawx in the semi-finals and then Rhino in the final round to become the first Extreme Rising World Champion.[40] He would win all matches by submission with the "I'll Tap You," following this final round win, the Extreme Rising locker room surrounded the ring to congratulate him on his first World Championship.

Following Stevie's championship win over Rhino,[41] he soon took the title overseas where he defended against Tarkan Aslan for the DWA promotion in Germany[42] before returning to America and defending the belt for other independent promotions such as Coastal Championship Wrestling,[43] I Believe In Wrestling,[44] and Southern Championship Wrestling Florida.[45] Title defenses then became less regular, though Stevie was due to defend the title three times at Extreme Rising's Wrestlemania weekend shows, notably against mentor/nemesis Raven,[46] the events were cancelled[47] which was followed by a brief dispute with Stevie and Extreme Rising[48][49][50] However, title defenses eventually resumed as Stevie defeated Kenny Kendrick at a SCW show in August 2013[51] prior to him making his first defense in an Extreme Rising ring at the December 28th 2013 iPPV "Unfinished Business" where he defeated former NWA, ECW and WWC World Champion Steve Corino by submission.[52] Later that night he ran-out after the co-main-event and Stevie-Kicked top contenders Matt Hardy, Luke Hawx and Homicide as well as Hardy's wife Reby Sky[53] which he would later justify in a video promo.[54]

Extreme Rising and Stevie's World Title reign hit another roadblock when Extreme Rising were forced to reschedule their February/March shows for safety reasons[55][56] where Richards was due to battle Sabu. Following this, Richards would lose a non-title match at an ECWA show in Delaware to Luke Hawx following outside interference from Papadon where Hawx would 'steal' the World Championship belt.[57] Following this confusion, Stevie would continue to defend the championship without the belt while Hawx would continue to proclaim himself champion while 'defending' the belt also. During this period, Stevie would retain over Chachi in New York for Warriors of Wrestling,[58][59][60] Ricky Martinez in Pennsylvania for Central PA Wrestling,[61] Ring of Honor and CZW star Azrieal for PWA in Connecticut[62] and Joey Ace in New York again for Warriors of Wrestling.[63]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009-2011)[edit]

Various Storylines (2009–2010)[edit]

On the February 12, 2009 episode of TNA Impact!, Manna made his Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) debut as Abyss's therapist, Dr. Stevie.[64] For two months, Dr. Stevie's face did not appear on television, as the camera was positioned behind him during his sessions with Abyss and, later, Daffney.[1] His identity was revealed when he interfered in Abyss's match with Matt Morgan at Lockdown, preventing Abyss from using a chair, which caused him to lose.[1] Stevie's heel role was solidified the next month, when his sessions with Abyss became increasingly abusive.[1] At Sacrifice, Abyss turned on Stevie and chokeslammed him onto a pile of thumbtacks, after he threatened Lauren, Abyss' girlfriend.[1] On the May 28 episode of Impact!, Raven returned to TNA, attacked Abyss and aligned himself with Stevie and Daffney.[1] Stevie lost to Abyss at the 2009 Victory Road pay-per-view.[1]

Stevie scored his first TNA victory on July 19, defeating Cody Deaner with his new finishing move, General Anesthesia, in a match for TNA Xplosion, also streamed on TNA's website.[65] On the July 30 Impact!, he announced he was not done with Abyss and placed a $50,000 bounty on his head.[1] On September 1, he defeated Jay Lethal via submission in another webmatch.[66]

After Lethal Consequences (Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed) and Jethro Holliday failed to collect the bounty on Abyss,[1] Kevin Nash claimed it at No Surrender after pinning him in a Legends Championship match, even though it was supposed to be paid for ending his career.[1] Stevie tried to explain this to Nash, only to receive a Jackknife Powerbomb.[67] On the next Impact!, Stevie took the money back after using a taser on Nash. The feud ended a week later, when Nash defeated Stevie in a non-title match.[1]

On the October 8 Impact!, Mick Foley announced that Stevie would be the special guest referee in the Monster's Ball match between Foley and Abyss at Bound for Glory.[1] The match ended after Abyss pushed the interfering Daffney off the top rope through a barbed-wire board (giving her a legit concussion), chokeslammed the enraged Dr. Stevie onto a pile of thumbtacks and slammed Foley onto the barbed wire board. He covered Foley, pulled an unconscious Dr. Stevie over, and used his hand to count the pinfall.[68]

Two weeks later, Stevie assaulted Abyss after losing a match to him; Foley turned on him and saved Abyss.[69] The next week, Foley explained he had manipulated Dr. Stevie all along, and had challenged Abyss to test how tough he really was. He then booked Stevie in a match with Abyss for the following week; if Abyss pinned Stevie, he would have to leave TNA.[70] On the November 12 Impact!, Stevie defeated Abyss to save his job, after the lights suddenly went out and came back on with Abyss mysteriously laid out.[71] After the match, Foley (who was commentating during the match) entered the ring and attacked Stevie, when the lights went out again. In the darkness, a fireball was thrown in Foley's face. When the lights came back, Raven was revealed as the one who had interfered.[71] Stevie, Raven and Daffney then reformed their alliance and feuded with Abyss and Foley.[1] During the feud, Stevie set Abyss on fire. Spike (TNA's broadcaster) didn't allow the footage to air, so it was streamed on the company's website.[1] At Final Resolution, Abyss and Foley defeated Stevie and Raven in a "Foley's Funhouse" tag team match to end the feud.[72]

EV 2.0 (2010–2011)[edit]

After months of being off television, he (now billed as Stevie Richards) returned on the June 24 Impact!, in the audience beside Raven and Tommy Dreamer.[73] The next week, the three were joined by Rhino.[74] On the July 15 Impact!, Richards, Raven, Dreamer, Rhino, Brother Devon, Pat Kenney and Al Snow, led by Mick Foley, aligned themselves with TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam, by attacking Abyss and the rest of the TNA locker room, thus turning face.[75][76][77]

Richards (left) with Rhino in 2010

The next week, TNA president Dixie Carter agreed to give the ECW alumni their own reunion pay–per–view event, Hardcore Justice, a celebration of hardcore wrestling and a final farewell to ECW.[78] At the event, Richards defeated P.J. Polaco.[79]

On the next Impact!, the ECW alumni (known collectively as Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0)) were assaulted by A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan of Ric Flair's Fourtune stable, who claimed EV 2.0 didn't deserve to be in TNA.[80][81] During the assault, Abyss came out, fought Rob Van Dam backstage and caused him storyline injuries which forced him to vacate the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, and caused EV 2.0 to seek vengeance.[82] On the August 26 Impact!, Richards volunteered to take out Abyss, but ended up beaten when he attacked him backstage.[83] The following week on Impact!, Richards defeated Abyss in a singles match. After the match, Abyss was about to attack Richards with a nail-studded board, but he was saved by EV 2.0's newest member, Brian Kendrick.[84]

In late August, Richards began writing a weekly health and fitness column for TNA's website.[85]

At Bound for Glory, Richards, Dreamer, Raven, Rhino and Sabu defeated Fourtune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match.[86] At Turning Point, EV 2.0 faced Fortune in a ten man tag team match, where each member of EV 2.0 put their TNA careers on the line. EV 2.0 lost the match and Sabu was released from TNA. Richards then challenged TNA Television Champion A.J. Styles to a match on the next Impact!.[87] He failed to bring the Television Championship to EV 2.0, and was taken from the ring in a neck brace, suffering a storyline injury.[88] Despite this, TNA streamed a match on Xplosion, in which Richards defeated Okada.[89]

On January 11, 2011, Manna announced he had quit TNA.[90] On an October 2014 interview, Manna explained that he quit TNA because TNA was not paying him a living wage at the time.[91] TNA added Manna to their Alumni section on April 17, 2014.[92]

Outside of wrestling[edit]

In 2007, Manna started his own technology podcast, "The T4 Show" (standing for "Tech Today Tech Tomorrow").[93] Josh "Colm" Coleman joined the show as Manna's co-host in 2009.

In 2008, Manna joined the Stratford, Connecticut campus of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting as an instructor.[94]

In 2011, Manna pitched a perfect game in the MLB 2K11 video game. A promotional contest offered a million dollars to the first person to accomplish this, but because Manna did so before the contest officially started, he did not win the money.[95][96]

In wrestling[edit]

Richards performing the Stevie Kick in 2008.
Richards performing a Somersault Leg Drop at a SmackDown show in 1999.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]


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