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Original Undertaker Val Puccio and Memphis backstage figure Guy Coffee pass away

I'm sad to report two wrestling-related deaths today:  Northeast mainstay Val Puccio and Memphis backstage figure Guy Coffee.

Val Puccio, 45, is probably best known for his ECW run where he was a founding member of the FBI, but is often confused with Sal E. Graziano, who replaced him in the group, stuck around longer, and has worked on the high profile reunion shows.  He had severe weight problems over the years in addition to dealing with depression.  While he's best known for the ECW run, he cemented himself in wrestling trivia beforehand.  In the late '80s through 1990, he teamed with his brother Tony as The Undertakers for independent promotions in the northeast US, most notably Mario Savoldi's ICW, and also worked one tour for All Japan Pro Wrestling.

ICW had surprising reach on TV and occasional magazine coverage, so it didn't go unnoticed among hardcore fans when Mark Calaway made his WWF debut as The Undertaker.  The Puccios ended up getting some kind of settlement from the WWF where they were paid for the name and got to work some dates for the company.

They did about 20 shots in 1992 on house shows as Double Trouble, did another in 1993, and a few more in the northeast in July 1994.  They also did a tour for Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion in Japan during this period, possibly booked though the WWF.  Tony ostensibly stopped wrestling while Val ended up in ECW a year after their last WWF match as Big Val Puccio, doing a comedy gimmick playing off how (dangerously) overweight he had gotten.  He was never slim, but he had gone from overweight to unhealthy.  He stuck around for a little while, including as a member of the early version of the Full Blooded Italians, before eventually disappearing from wrestling.  He gained even more weight over time, legitimately topping 600 pounds and being featured in a documentary about the Brookhaven Obesity Clinic on TLC.  As far as I know, he had not had much success in losing weight.

Coffee (often referred to as "Mr. Coffee")  was one of those guys who were around forever working in the office of a given territory.  He did a lot of backstage work for decades in the Memphis-based territory, often being mentioned on TV.  He was found dead last night of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  No other details have been made public yet.

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