In the mid 90s a pair of hog farmers were part of the WWE’s often bizarre roster of superstars. They would go on to some success capturing the company’s tag team belts on several occasions. Today we ask Whatever Happened to Henry O. and Phineas I., The Godwinns.
Ah, The Godwinns. A sometimes fan friendly silly team comprised of hillbillies and at other points a viscous entity. There teaming together in the WWF came during a period widely considered as a low point for the company. However, it was the time that their gimmick fitted in best with those around them.
Dennis Knight (Phineas I. Godwinn) and Mark Canterbury (Henry O. Godwinn) began teaming together in the United States Wrestling Association under the names Tex Sallinger (Phineas) and Master Blaster (Henry) in 1991. Renamed “Tex Slazinger” and “Shanghai Pierce”, the duo were snapped up by WCW in 1992 and made their debuts that year.
Canterbury joined the WWF in late 1994 and was repackaged with that of a farmer gimmick and renamed “Henry O. Godwinn” – get it? Hog as in Pig. He initially worked as a heel with the ‘Million Dollar Corporation’ before turning face when he was kicked out of the group.
Dennis Knight joined his former partner in the WWF in early 1996 and became “Phineas I. Godwinn”, Henry’s cousin in a ring name equally as funny as that of Henry’s. The team was managed by Hillbilly Jim and actually made their debut around the time a tournament was taking place to crown new tag team champions. The farming duo made it all the way to the finals at WrestleMania XII but lost out to the Bodydonnas. The two teams feuded for the next few months during which time Phineas became infatuated with Sunny, who managed the Skip and Zip.
During April 1997, Henry suffered a cracked C7 vertebra when he fell awkwardly after the Legion of Doom hit the Doomsday Device on him. Despite being urged to take at least fifteen weeks off, he returned in less than two months. Upon his return there was a noticeable change in attitude with the Godwinns adopting a more heelish feel to them.
They also dropped Hillbilly Jim as their manager and soon picked up Uncle Cletus (Dutch Mantell) and began attacking their opponents with their slop buckets. At Badd Blood, in October 1997, the pair would defeat The Headbangers to win the tag team titles but they would drop the gold just 48 hours later. After the match they would attack Cletus for his role in the loss.
After this, the pair returned to the mid-card with the fans interest in the act waning. The WWF repackaged the two, ditching the hillbilly act and their false names. The pair became aligned with Jeff Jarrett adopting a bodyguard role under the moniker of ‘Southern Justice’. They backed up Jeff Jarrett in a feud with D-Generation X and clashed with D-X at the Breakdown: In Your House PPV where they lost to Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, and X-Pac.
However, soon after that bout Canterbury herniated his C7 vertebrae and pinched a spinal nerve – this necessitated spinal fusion surgery. After the injury and spinal fusion, Canterbury left the WWF and retired from pro wrestling.
Left on his own, Dennis Knight was repackaged as “Mideon” as part of the Ministry of Darkness and after that “Naked Mideon“, a gimmick that certainly wouldn’t work in the PG era!
Knight was eventually released from the WWF in January 2001. He would return home and train students at Steve Keirn’s wrestling school. He appeared under a mask at TNA Destination X 2005 but was released the following day. In 2006, he wrestled a few dark matches for the WWE under his own name but was never signed to a contract.
After retiring from the business, Knight opened his own catering company and has become a bit of a star turn in the world of catering.
As for his former partner, Canterbury also had a tryout in 2006 with the WWE but was more successful and was signed to a contract. He debuted in Deep South Wrestling on November 30 as a tag partner for Ray Gordy. Gordy was known as Cousin Ray and they both reformed The Godwinns. But will Gordy moved to Smackdown, Canterbury did not and in March 2007 was released.
On November 9, 2011, Mark suffered two punctured lungs, thirteen broken ribs and a broken leg in a car accident. In an interview available here Canterbury explained that the way he was crushed inside the vehicle put enough pressure on the trunk of his body below his heart to cut off the blood supply to the femoral artery the accident had severed. Without that pressure, he says, he undoubtedly would have bled out there on the side of the road. “God was definitely riding shotgun with me that night,” Canterbury says.
After a lengthy recuperation, Canterbury was able to find love and married his wife Tracey in September 2013.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to’ pieces here.