Thursday, June 4, 2020

Wrestlers Who Died in 2019

This post is about six months late this year, I wasn't sure I was going to post it but I want to make sure we remember those who passed away in 2019 that entertained us in the ring.  This is by no means a complete list, but I do my best to include everyone that I can find.

Trevor Dorbritz 53, January 1, 2019

Trevor was from Waukesha, Wisconsin and wrestled under the names of Jim Evans and Trevor Adonis.  He wrestled from 1983 to 1988 in the AWA and 1988 to 1998 for the WWE primarily as enhancement talent.  He was the first ever Great Lakes Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion.

"Mean" Gene Okerlund 76,  December 19, 1942 - January 2, 2019

Okerlund joined the AWA in 1970 and became a fixture of the wrestling world for the next 48 years.  In 1984 he was scooped up by the WWE becoming their top stick man, also doing some ring announcing, commentary, and evens stepped in the ring, most famously teaming with Hulk Hogan against Mr. Fuji & George "The Animal" Steele.  He joined up with WCW in 1993 staying with the promotion until it closed in 2001.  For the next 17 years he would make sporadic appearances with his final coming on January 22, 2018 at Raw 25 Years interviewing AJ Styles.

Alexis Smirnoff 71, February 9, 1947 - January 5, 2019

Born Michel Lamarche in Saint-Lin, Quebec, Canada he began wrestling in Montreal in 1970 becoming a huge heel in the Quebec and the Maritimes.  Starting in 1974 he spent a couple years in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.  In Central States Wrestling he captured their Heavyweight and tag team championships.  He traveled the territories through the end of his career making stops in All Japan, the WWF, and finished his career in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987.  He came out of retirement for a single match in 1999 teaming with Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin against The Rougeaus: Jacques Sr, Raymond, & Jacques Jr.

Rex Bacchus 35, January 17, 2019

An independent wrestler out of Florida who started his career in 2015.  Sadly he passed after a battle with cancer.

Leah Biggerstaff 39, April 25, 1979 - January 21, 2019

Was known as BellaDonna in the early days of NWA-TNA working as the valet to the Disciples of the New Church, a tag team comprising of Brian Lee and Slash (Wolfie D) with manager Father James Mitchell.  She left the company in December 2012 after being forced to wrestle in a handicap bullrope match against America's Most Wanted: James Storm & Chris Harris.

Les Thornton 84, April 9, 1934 - February 1, 2019

Born in Manchester, England he began his wrestling career in 1957.  He is a former five time NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion.  He wrestled and held numerous championships across Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.  Thornton was wrestling for Georgia Championship Wrestling when the WWF bought GCW out.  As a result he joined the WWF, where he was treated as enhancement talent for the last couple years of his career.  He was the tag team partner of Mick Foley, wrestling as Jack Foley in his WWF debut against The British Bulldogs.

Salvatore Bellomo 67, June 18, 1951 - February 9, 2019

Born in Belgium he began wrestling in 1974.  In 1983 he joined the WWF where I remember him as enhancement talent to stars.  In 1993 he reinvented himself as an unpredictable Wildman losing to Jimmy Snuka in a match to declare the first ever ECW Champion.  He returned to Belgium in early 2000's where he opened a wrestling school and continued wrestling with his last match being in October 2018.

Koji Kitao 55, Augusta 12, 1963 - February 10, 2019

Debuting in Sumo wrestling in March 1979 he earned the rank of Yokozuna in July 1986, retiring from the sport in December 1987.  He amassed an impressive record of 348-184-24.  Transitioning to Professional Wrestling he began his career in the AWA in 1989 after training with Brad Rheingans, under a mask as Monster Machine.  He returned to Japan wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling.  Later in the SWS he was involved in an infamous shoot incident with John Tenta, breaking kayfabe, no selling for Tenta and then eventually getting on the mic and declaring that wrestling was fake, even though he continued wrestling until 1998.

He stepped into the Mixed Martial Arts world in 1996 - 1997 with three bouts, the first for Universal Vale Tudo losing to Pedro Octavio.  Next he faced Mark Hall in the UFC losing due to referee stoppage after Kitao had his nose broken.  Finally he fought Nathan Jones at the first Pride Fighting Championship winning by submission.

Pedro Morales 76, October 22, 1942 - February 12, 2019

From Culebra, Puerto Rico Morales debuted in 1959 at the age of 17.  He would wrestle in several territories before joining the then WWWF in 1970.  On February 8, 1971 he defeated Ivan Koloff to win the WWWF World Championships enjoying a near 3 year run holding it for 1,027 days.  He traveled to NWA San Francisco, the AWA, Championship Wrestling from Florida, & New Japan before returning to the now WWF in 1980.  He and then WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated the Wild Samoans for the WWF Tag Team Championships on August 9, 1980 but were forced to relinquish the championships as Backlund was World Champion.

Pedro would go onto capture the Intercontinental Championship two times, December 8, 1980 - June 20, 1981 & November 23, 1981 - January 22, 1983.  Making him one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time.  After leaving the ring he did Spanish Language commentary for the WWE and later WCW.  He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995.

Cliff Sheats 52, June 8, 1966 - February 16, 2019

He began wrestling in 1990 for Dusty Rhodes PWF in Florida. He wrestled as enhancement talent in WCW and the WWE.  He also wrestled under the name Cliff Anderson, he was one half of the tag team The Exterminators.  His last match that I can find was September 16, 2006 in Coral Springs, Florida for CCW losing to Bobby Hopkins Jr.

King Kong Bundy 61, November 7, 1957 - March 4, 2019

Christopher Pallies debuted in 1981 after training with Larry Sharpe at the Monster Factory.  He is perhaps best known for headlining WrestleMania 2 wrestling Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage for the WWE Championship.  He wrestled in various territories through-out his career capturing many regional championships.  He returned to the WWE for a year in 1994 - 95 joining the Million Dollar Corporation.  He was very successful in the independent scene from 1995 - 2007.  He appeared on the television shows Married With Children and Boy Meets World.

I saw Bundy wrestle live six times from 1998 to 2007 on the independents.  My interactions with him were all positive, he was a really nice guy and was very approachable.

Wally Yamaguchi 60, May 5, 1958 - March 9, 2019

Many people from my generation most likely remember Mr. Yamaguchi as the manager of Kai en Tai in 1998 WWE.  He also famously choppy-choppy you pee pee to Val Venis.  What most don't know if that his wrestling days dated back to writing for Gong Magazine in the 1970's.  He also started working for various Japanese promotions as a referee, commentator, or other behind the scenes roles.  He is the co-founder of FMW: Frontier Martial Arts wrestling with Atsushi Onita, Universal Lucha Libra with Gran Hamada and Michinoku Pro with Great Sasuke. 

The Destroyer 88, July 11, 1930 - March 7, 2019

Dick Beyer debuted December 29, 1954.  He began his career in WWA in California winning their World Championship three times.  While wrestling in WWA as The Destroyer he wrestled in the AWA as Dr. X where he also held their World Championship.  As popular as The Destroyer was it can be said that his arrival in Japan in 1973 is when it career exploded.  He spent six straight years in Japan even hosting his own late night television show.

He wrestled is final match in 1993 in Japan teaming with is son Kurt and Giant Baba.  After his retirement Beyer open The Destroyer Golf Park and ran several charitable events.  In 2017 he was in Japan he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.

Roger Kirby 79, December 14, 1939 - March 18, 2019

Debuting in 1960 after being a Golden Gloves boxer Kirby traveled the territories doing well in Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Minnesota, and Kansas City.  On May 20, 1971 he defeated Danny Hodge to capture the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship.  In Central States Wrestling Kirby cleaned winning all of their championships including their heavyweight title five times.

Kriby wound his career down in the WWE wrestling his last match in 1986.  He stated that he wanted to be remembered as a top wrestler and not climb back down the ladder in the WWF.

Colton Quest 23, June 10, 1995 - March 30, 2019

I can't find much about Colton other than he died in a vehicle crash and was the Right Coast Pro champion.  His first match was in 2013 with his final match being March 2, 2019.

John Quinn 78, October 15, 1941 - April 22, 2019

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Quinn debuted in the ring in 1961 debuting in the WWWF in 1965.  Through out his career he wrestled in World Class, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and various NWA territories.  In 1977 he toured Japan and later the United Kingdom winning the Joint Promotions Heavyweight Championship 4 times.

Eric Chapel 33, May 29, 1985 - April 29, 2019

Based out of Maryland and Pennsylvania Chapel began wrestling in 2004.  If anyone has more information please help me build a better bio.

Silver King 51, January 9, 1968 - May 11, 2019

Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzales Barron, better known as Silver King died in the ring at a Lucha Libre World show in London, England during a match with Juventud Guerrera.  It was his second match of the day.  In the US he is best known from his time in WCW as part of the many luchadores that WCW signed in the mid 1990's.  He also starred as Ramses in the Jack Black picture Nacho Libre.

Silver King as I remember him from WCW

Ashley Massaro 39, May 26, 1979 - May 16, 2019

The WWE Diva Search 2005 winner Massaro was with the promotion until mid 2008.  She wrestled several matches for them and appeared in Playboy.

Atsushi Aoki 41, September 25, 1977 - June 3, 2019

Aoki was trained by Jun Akiyama debuting for Pro Wrestling NOAH on Christmas Eve 2005 and was with the promotion for 7 years with his final match being on Christmas Eve 2012.  While in NOAH he captured the Junior Heavyweight Championship twice.  He debuted in January 2013 for All Japan Pro Wrestling becoming a 4 time World Junior Heavyweight Champion.  He captured other championships in NOAH, AJPW, and AAA in Mexico.  He died in a motorcycle crash.

Adrian McCallum 36, December 17, 1982 - June 19, 2019

McCallum wrestled as Lionheart in the UK debuting in 2002 wrestling his last match three days before his death on June 16, 2019 defeating Alexander Dean in Glasgow, Scotland winning the European Championship while retaining his ICW World Heavyweight Championship.  During his career he captured eighteen championships from twelve different promotions.

John Czawlytko 56, February 22, 1963 - June 27, 2019

Known in WCW as Max Muscle he debuted in Texas in 1992.  In 1993 he signed with WCW and was sent to the Power Plant for additional training.  He was with the promotion until 1997.  He returned to wrestling in 1999 on the independents wrestling sporadically until his last known match in 2009.

Alan Ward 57, March 10, 1962 - June 27, 2019

I can't find a lot about Alan Ward.  He was based in the Missouri area and had the moniker The Hollywood Stud.  He was inducted into the Midwest Independent Wrestling Hall of Fame class of 2016.  He passed away from Cancer.

Jacques Rougeau Sr 89, May 27, 1930 - July 1, 2019

Jacques Sr, the father of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers: Jacques Jr & Raymond debuted in 1956 teaming with his brother Johnny.  I guess they were the original Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, I have no evidence that they wrestled under that name.  His third son Armand was also a wrestler but never reached the heights of his brothers.

Jacques Sr. is a former five time IWA International Heavyweight Champion and NWF Heavyweight Champion.  He also captured the IWA and NWF tag team championships. Aside from wrestling in Canada he toured Japan several times, his final tour was with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

His final match was on August 8, 1999 teaming with his sons Jacques & Raymond defeating Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin and Alexis Smirnoff who passed away in January of this year.

Perro Aguayo 73, January 18, 1946 - July 3, 2019

The Mexican legend Aguayo debuted in 1968.  Over his 30 plus year career he competed in UWA, EMLL, WWA, AAA, World Wrestling Council, the WWE, NWA, NJPW and more.  He captured numerous championships all over Mexico in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. 

Paco Alonso 66, September 19, 1952 - July 6, 2019

Francisco Alonso Lutteroth was the current owner of CMLL: Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre the oldest wrestling promotion in the world.  Grandson of the companies founder Salvador Lutteroth he took control in 1987.

The King, Handsome Harley Race 76, April 11, 1943 - August 1, 2019

Harley Race is one of the greatest NWA World Heavyweight Champions of all time!  He debuted in 1960 and wrestled his final matches in November 1993 filing in for an injured Vader against Ric Flair.  He wrestled for all the major promotions across the United States and around the world.  Aside from being a multi time NWA World Champion, he captured championships everywhere he went, All Japan, the AWA, Central States Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and more.

I can't do Mr. Race justice with this write up, Ellbow Productions made a fantastic documentary on him and Mr. Race wrote and excellent book that is well worth the read.  I met him once over the weekend of NWA Legends Fanfest 2009 in Charlotte.  My buddy smoked at the time and so more than once we ran into Mr. Race in the smoking area where he took his time telling us stories of his wrestling career.  It was amazing. 

Eddie Marlin 89, August 13, 1930 - August 15, 2019

Former wrestler and promoter Marlin is the father-in-law of Jerry Jarrett and grandfather of Jeff Jarrett.  He wrestled for NWA territories before joining Jerry Jarrett's Continental Wrestling Associate based out of Memphis, TN.

Edward Baxter 81, June 4, 1938 - August 15, 2019

Wrestled under a mask as the Wrestling Pro and later Tarzan Baxter along with other names.  He debuted in 1963 staying primarily in the Gulf Coast area of Florida and Alabama winning numerous regional NWA Championships and feuded with Jack Brisco for the NWA World's Championship.  He left the ring in 1978, however would frequent many of the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunions.

Rick Bognar 49, January 16, 1970 - September 20, 2019

Best known as the fake Razor Ramon during his 1996 - 1997 WWF run, Bognar debuted in the Canadian indies in 1988.  1991 saw him go to Japan's FMW at Big Titan capturing the Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship and tag team championships with The Gladiator Mike Awesome.  He also wrestled for CWA in Germany, ECW, AAA, & New Japan before retiring full time in 2000.

Matt Travis 25,  - November 9, 2019

A New York native Travis wrestled primarily in House of Glory and CZW.  He was tragically killed in a hit and run crash while he was on his bicycle. 

Alberto Munoz 76, January 15, 1943 - December 14, 2019

Debuting in 1964 for EMLL capturing the Mexican National Lightweight, Middleweight, and Welterweight championships, he was also a former NWA World Welterweight champion.  He left lucah libre in the early 1980's.

Mr. Niebla 46, February 22, 1973 - December 23, 2019

Born in Mexico City, Mexico he debuted in lucha libre on November 11, 1990. From 1995 until the end of his career he primarily wrestled for CMLL, save 2007-08 when he left the promotion for Lucha Libre AAA.  He won several championships in CMLL including their Heavyweight Championship holding the championship for 543 days.  He passed away unexpectedly from a blood infection.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Until next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment