|Baron von Raschke|
Raschke in April 2019
|Birth name||James Donald Raschke|
|Born||October 17, 1940|
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
|Residence||Hastings, Minnesota, United States|
|Professional wrestling career|
Baron von Raschke
Fritz von Raschke
|Billed height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Billed weight||281 lb (127 kg)|
|Billed from||Republic of Germany|
|Trained by||Verne Gagne|
Mad Dog Vachon
After a successful amateur wrestling career and a stint in the United States Army, James Raschke started in professional wrestling in 1966 in the American Wrestling Association as a referee. He was soon wrestling under his real name, playing off of his amateur wrestling notoriety in the area. He eventually changed his ring name to Baron von Raschke and claimed to be from Germany. He would do a goose-step and then put his finisher known as the "brainclaw", on his opponent. Earlier in his career, the Von Raschke had a finishing maneuver known as the "Prussian sleeper", a rather complex variation of a traditional sleeper hold. His mantra at the time was; "I am ordered to win! I must win! And I will win!"
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s he held numerous singles and tag team titles throughout several NWA and AWA territories, as well as wrestling for the WWWF, where his claw hold was "censored" by a huge red X on WWWF television because it was considered such a violent act. Managed by Fred Blassie, Von Raschke's highest-profile match of his 1970s WWWF run came in March 1977, where he wrestled WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino for the title at Madison Square Garden in New York. Von Raschke lost the match by disqualification when, after Sammartino became tied up in the ropes, he shoved the referee away as he had his clawhold applied to Sammartino's head. Sammartino defeated Von Raschke in a rematch a month later at Madison Square Garden, marking Sammartino's last successful title defense before losing the belt to Superstar Billy Graham.
In 1978, Von Raschke was recognized as the first NWA Television champion (the Mid Atlantic Television title had been renamed).
In 1986, he wrestled for the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions where he reunited with former tag partner Paul Jones (who was now a manager) as part of Paul Jones' Army. He also filled in for the injured Krusher Khruschev, defending the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship with Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Toward the end of his run there he turned "face" against Jones and teamed with Hector Guerrero defeating the Barbarian and Pez Whatley at Starrcade (1986). After teaming with Wahoo McDaniel at the 1987 Crockett Cup he left the National Wrestling Alliance.
He had a brief stint in the World Wrestling Federation in 1988 as the manager for The Barbarian and The Warlord (The Powers of Pain) under the name of the "Baron", but was released shortly after his arrival.
Raschke resurfaced in the AWA, returning to the ring to feud with Soldat Ustinov and Teijho Khan in late 1988. He then went on to captain "Baron's Blitzers" during the Team Challenge Series. When the AWA folded, Raschke continued to wrestle for independent promotions, primarily in the Minnesota area, retiring in 1995.
His last match was a victory over David Lynch at Superstars of Wrestling in Princeton, West Virginia on February 10, 1996.
In April 2007, James Raschke began a several month run at the Minnesota History Theatre in a play based around his life, persona, and times in the AWA. The play detailed how a very mild-mannered and polite man created an in-ring gimmick that drew so much heat that he and his frequent tag-team wrestling partner (and real life friend) Mad Dog Vachon often had to fight their way out of the ring.