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By Mike Johnson on 2022-09-21 12:00:00

As we noted earlier today in our This Day in History feature, today marks the 20 year anniversary of the passing of Teddy "Flyboy Rocco Rock" Petty, who was most famously remembered for his run as one half of The Public Enemy, the tag team that became the original ECW's first homegrown act to headline and draw money for the promotion in the mid-1990s.

Before being paired with the late Mike "Johnny Grunge" Durham, Petty has a long career wrestling as the masked Cheetah Kid and even made a cameo as an alleged South African star in WCW at Starrcade 1991.  He made appearances in New Japan and on the first Raw taping ever in January 1993, the masked "Cheetah" wrestled Johnny Rotten, who would go on to become Johnny Grunge.  After their ECW run, they went to WCW and then WWF before returning to the independents.

What was really interesting about the ECW run is that Petty was already an older talent and one who had always relied on working the high flying, masked persona but as Rock, he showed a great gift for promos and charisma that was never seen before in his work.  It was nothing for he and Grunge to go from bumbling comedy characters to pissed off, angry hoodlums with the snap of a finger, without ever losing credibility.  Petty always credited the ECW audience in Philly for the ability to pull off some of the things that he did during that era, believing that he'd worked in far larger venues, but nothing ever matched the electricity of the fans in that venue in that time period. 

It was said that Arena was the house Public Enemy built.  There are lots of others who can rightfully make that claim, but TPE were the first act that were developed in that building and who weren't stars elsewhere to headline there and when they turned babyface, make the difference in bringing in more fans to the venue.  It's fitting (yet sad) that the first banner ever hung in the 2300 Arena was in memory to Ted Petty.  He left as much of himself as anyone behind in that venue and it's a true shame that most fans who come across ECW won't ever truly understand how, in the moment, that team meant to the fabric of ECW, especially since so much of the zest and power of the time period has been lost via music edits and things that worked in 1995 just not standing the test of time to 2022 eyes.  No matter how good or bad the show might have been, all it took was The Public Enemy coming out to Here Comes The Hotstepper dancing (well Petty did, I still have no idea what Grunge was doing) and then some mic work and some brawling and magically, the show ended with everyone happy.  There was something special in that era and in that building and to me, TPE was a big part of that magic and sadly, it never translated as well anywhere else for them, not even when they were getting paid FAR more money.

Anyone who ever met Ted Petty can attest that he was a legitimately tough person who never felt the need to carry himself as if he was one of the toughest people in whatever room he walked into.  He was a giving person who always went out of his way for everyone, someone who loved the business and someone who treated everyone he came across with respect.  Honestly, pro wrestling in 2022 or any other era, could really use because he was a special talent and a wonderful person.  He has been missed for two decades now and in my mind, always will be.  

If you never had the chance to see Ted Petty in any of his personas, take the time to check out some of the videos below and take a moment to reflect on someone who made professional wrestling better when he was alive.  Thanks Champ.











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