Born on June 18, 1934 in Juarez, Mexico, the youngest of a poor bricklayer’s 11 children, some may not have thought that anything “Great” would become of Pablo Ordaz Crispin. But they would’ve been greatly mistaken.
Pablo would grow physically strong from his work with his father and when a young man he was introduced to the world of professional wrestling and became a student of and a driver for “Gorilla” Ramos in Mexico. He made his wrestling debut under his actual name in 1959 with the payoff for his first match only being a 6 pack of Coca Cola! However, success wouldn’t elude him forever, and he eventually took the name “El Gran Goliat” or “The Great Goliath”. Goliath would work hard and find success in the wrestling rings of Mexico, eventually winning the Mexican National Heavyweight title from Henry Pirousso on December 3, 1967.
It wasn’t long before Goliath would head north of the border to Los Angeles seeking a new world to conquer.
The Great Goliath would definitely find success working in Mike LeBelle’s Southern California territory and sometimes that success came in bunches. Within a 4 month span in late 1970, Goliath would twice win the “Beat the Champ” Television title by defeating The Great Kojika and then Takachio (The Great Kabuki), win the Pacific Coast Heavyweight title from Pantera Negra, and win his first America’s Tag Team title teaming with Black Gordman against Los Medicos in Bakersfield.
And while he was certainly a proficient singles wrestler, even challenging Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF Jr. Heavyweight title at the Olympic Auditorium in 1978, it was teaming with Black Gordman where he would see the most success. The pairing of Black Gordman and the Great Goliath was a match made in heaven, in the ring if not outside of it.
And it was The Great Goliath who first came up with the idea to have the announcers announce the great tag team as being from “NEW Mexico” rather than Mexico, to raise the ire of the heavily Mexican fan base in Los Angeles. Promoter Mike LeBelle initially thought that Goliath was crazy for suggesting such an idea, but Goliath was confident it would work. And it did.
In fact, that gimmick would become one of the many memorable things about the great tag team and they were phenomenal at drawing heat when they wrestled as heels. Goliath, with his incessant gum chewing, and his partner Black Gordman coupled that ability to draw heat with an aggressive offensive style in the ring and manipulated the attention of the referee, allowing them to use their cheating tactics and further infuriating the fans who watched. And those same fans who booed them vigorously would be cheering soon after as Gordman and Goliath did an unselfishly incredible job of selling their opponents offense and comeback. The fans would rise from their seats in excitement as Gordman and Goliath would beg off and plead for their opponents to show mercy.
It wasn’t unusual to see them flying out of the ring, really selling their opponents prowess. Although according to Jeff Walton, the publicist and one of the key figures in the NWA Hollywood promotion of the 70’s and early 80’s, selling their opponent’s offense wasn’t always the motivation for their sailing into the front row of seats. “I’ll never forget the Great Goliath… with his partner, Black Gordman, they would often fly out of the ring to check out a pretty girl or to land on someone’s foot. Then they would get back into the ring look at you square in the face and laugh their heads off. “(1)
After that first tag team title victory over Los Medicos on November 26, 1970, Gordman and Goliath, wearing their distinctive red and black tights (which Goliath designed and hand sewed himself) would go on to hold the America’s tag team titles a record 18 times as a team, from that first title in 1970 until 1982, which was the final year of the NWA Hollywood territory. They would also win several regional tag team titles as well and would defeat Kurt and Karl Von Steiger for the NWA World Tag Team titles on Janurary 23, 1978 in San Francisco. Their longevity as a successful tag team is a testament to their ability to perform at a high level of quality for an extended period of time, as well continuing to provide a product that continued to maintain an appeal with the fans. Whether they were battling the Hollywood Blondes, the Guerrero Brothers, the Twin Devils, or anyone else, they made us alternately boo them, cheer for them, hate them, love them, but most importantly of all…want to watch them.
After the closing of the L.A. promotion, the Great Goliath would continue to wrestle in California, as well as go on to form his own wrestling promotion and wrestling school in the San Bernardino area. Sadly, while living in retirement in Las Vegas, Pablo Ordaz Crispin passed away from heart failure on April 12, 1964 at the age of 69.
Former student and professional wrestler Jesse Hernandez is one of the many who have fond memories of the life and work of The Great Goliath and honors the memory of his mentor and long time friend by holding the Annual Great Goliath Battle Royal. While regrettably the Great Goliath is no longer with us, thankfully his legacy continues to live on.
(1) “Remembering the Great Goliath” by Jeff Walton and Scott Walton – Slam! Wrestling April 20, 2004
For further reading on The Great Goliath: “From Which Mexico?” http://www.TheFlyingbodypress.blogspot.com