Martin Austin Ruane (10 October 1947 – 29 November 1998) was an English professional wrestler. Best known by the ring name Giant Haystacks he was one of the best-known wrestlers on the British wrestling scene in the 1970s and 1980s. He also worked in both Canada and the United States under the name "Loch Ness Monster" or simply "Loch Ness".
Ruane was known for his massive physical size, billed as standing 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) tall and weighing 48 stone 13 lb (685 lb; 311 kg) at his heaviest. In the 1970s he formed a heel (those that portray the villains) team with Big Daddy and later had a long-running, high drawing feud with Big Daddy as the team broke up. During his career, he held the European Heavyweight Championship and British Heavyweight Championship in the UK, and won the Stampede International Tag Team Championship twice in Canada, with the Dynamite Kid and Bret Hart.
Ruane was born in Camberwell, London, His parents were from County Mayo, Ireland. When he was three years old, in 1949, Ruane and his family moved from London to Broughton in Salford, Lancashire, which remained his home. He worked as a labourer and a nightclub bouncer before a friend suggested he take up professional wrestling as a career.
Professional wrestling career
Ruane began wrestling in 1967, initially for the independent WFGB as Luke McMasters (later incorrectly reported as being his legal name). In the early 1970s, Ruane worked for Wrestling Enterprises (of Birkenhead), where he was billed as Haystacks Calhoun, after the American wrestling star William Calhoun who had wrestled under that name in NWA: All-Star Wrestling and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Ruane's name was subsequently modified to Giant Haystacks.
In 1975, he moved to Joint Promotions, where he formed a heel tag team with Big Daddy (also a heel at this point). Haystacks' TV debut came in July that year, when he and Daddy teamed up against the brothers Roy and Tony St Clair, losing by disqualification. Although mainly known as brutal superheavyweight heels who crushed blue-eye opponents, they also had a major feud with masked fellow heel Kendo Nagasaki. Daddy in particular heard cheers during this feud and eventually completed a turn to blue eye. This was cemented when Haystacks and Daddy broke up their tag team in 1977 and feuded with each other, with Haystacks remaining as the heel, resulting in high ratings on Britain's ITV any time they battled one another and establishing Haystacks as a household name during the 1970s and 1980s. The feud would continue on and off until Daddy's retirement in 1993. Throughout Haystacks' homeland success he also wrestled all over the world. Ruane wrestled in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion as the Loch Ness Monster, managed by J.R. Foley from Wigan, England (alias John Foley, alumnus of Billy Riley's Wigan Snakepit wrestling school). He also regularly worked for the CWA in Germany and Austria, winning several trophy tournaments over there.
In January 1996, Ruane debuted in the United States for World Championship Wrestling, under the ring name Loch Ness. He served as a member of The Dungeon of Doom and feuded with Hulk Hogan. However, the feud was short-lived, ending abruptly when Ruane was diagnosed with cancer and returned to Britain.
In popular culture
- A play by Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon, Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks, was performed at the Brighton Festival Fringe between 26 and 28 May 2011.