FanPost

In memoriam: Wrestlers we lost, July to December 2021

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As at the end of every recent year, a tribute to those who passed on over the last six months. Also see the obituaries for January to March and April to June.

Jackie Robinson (died June 27; age unknown) was a major name in British light heavyweight wrestling of the 1970s, a contemporary of Dynamite Kid, Marc Rollerball Rocco and Johnny Saint. Cousin of the legendary Billy Robinson, he was a three time European lightweight champion between 1983 and 1985 and a regular on World Of Sport.

Del Wilkes (July 1; aged 59) was a college football star who became better known under a mask as The Trooper and even more so as The Patriot. An offensive lineman for the University of South Carolina, he was a consensus All-American first team pick in 1984 but failed to make the NFL grade so switched to the AWA under his trainer Verne Gagne. Under a highway patrol gimmick as The Trooper, handing out badges and tickets, he was half of the final AWA World Tag Team Champions when the promotion closed in 1991. The Patriot, based on a Jerry Lawler comic book character, was birthed later that year in Dallas' GWF, becoming North American Heavyweight and Television champion. After a Dark Patriot (Doug Gilbert) took the former title Wilkes moved on to All Japan, where he and The Eagle (The Fantastics' Jackie Fulton) beat Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi for the All Asia Tag Team Championship, then returned home to WCW in 1994 and held the world tag titles twice with Marcus Alexander Bagwell as Stars & Stripes. He was unhappy there and headed back to All Japan in 1995 before being spotted by WWF, where he started in June 1997 in a feud with anti-American Bret Hart, beating him on television with an assist from Shawn Michaels. That led to an unsuccessful tilt at Hart's world title at September's In Your House, the feud with the Hart Foundation continuing until a bad triceps tear just before Survivor Series led to his retirement. In retirement Wilkes struggled with painkiller addiction and spent nine months in prison in 2002 for forging prescriptions.

Cyanide Sid Cooper (real name Norman Cooper; July 6; unknown) was one of the most famous heels in the World Of Sport era, a rule bending welterweight who William Regal has called his childhood wrestling hero and basis of his WCW Lord Steven Regal persona. A classic grappling technician who was among the best at using bumping and crowd psychology to get the face over, Cooper was often used to build a new star and tag opposite Big Daddy. Appearing on TV across 25 years up until the show was dropped at the end of 1988, his sole title run was with the British welterweight title in 1985.

Chris Youngblood (Chris Romero; July 7; 55) was from one of Texas' great wrestling families, the son of huge local favorite Ricky Romero and the younger brother of Jay and Mark Youngblood. Debuting in 1985, the same year Jay died, most of his career was spent teaming with Mark in WCCW, USWA and most successfully WWC, holding the tag titles seven times from 1987. Among the many to leave Puerto Rico after Bruiser Brody's murder, they returned in 1989 under some controversy for another title run. Back in the US WCW turned them into the Renegade Warriors through 1990 and 1991, after which they joined GWF and became Tribal Nation. Chris later turned heel to join Skandor Akbar's Devastation Inc. stable, mocking his gimmick Native American heritage by calling himself Pronto. Much of the rest of the decade was spent touring Japan with Mark and Leatherface before going into semi-retirement, though he wrestled until 2019.

'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff (July 12; 71) was a big part of the first wave WWF boom as an antagonist to Hulk Hogan and compadre of Roddy Piper and Bobby Heenan, working the first WrestleMania main event and the most financially successful house show feud in wrestling history. After a successful college football career at the University of Tampa Orndorff was drafted to New Orleans Saints in 1973 but quit during training camp citing "personal problems". He started in-ring in 1976 by feuding with Jerry Lawler in Mid-South, claiming his NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. In Tri-State he won the NWA North American title twice in 1978, a main event defence against Bruiser Brody drawing 23,000 to the New Orleans Superdome, and tag titles both there and in Alabama. Turning heel in Mid-South in 1981 he won their North American title, then arrived in Georgia as a face and beat Buzz Sawyer in June 1982 for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship. He soon vacated that title to chase Ric Flair's World Champion belt but was unsuccessful, so gained it back and traded it with the Masked Superstar (later Demolition Ax) and Super Destroyer until Killer Tim Brooks beat him with the aid of a chair only to reveal he'd been paid off by Larry Zbyszko to do so.

Orndorff joined the WWF at the end of 1983, being given his most famous nickname by his manager/tag partner Rowdy Roddy Piper, and made his debut on the night Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik for the world title. The birth of Hulkamania was soon followed by a feud with now Heenan Family member Mr Wonderful, tied in with Piper's issues with Cyndi Lauper from the end of 1984. Having beaten Tony Atlas at Madison Square Garden's The War To Settle The Score he interfered in the Hogan vs Piper main event on MTV, which led to the Hogan and Mr T vs Piper and Orndorff WrestleMania main event, which Hogan won after the heels' manager Bob Orton Jr accidentally hit Orndorff with his fake cast. That led to Piper and Orton turning on Orndorff on the first NBC Saturday Night's Main Event, Paul uniting with Hogan as Heenan placed a bounty on his head. The union broke in June 1986 as Orndorff attacked and piledrove Hulk, rejoining the Heenan Family. Their feud was huge and highly profitable, setting a North American attendance record drawing 64,100 at the Exhibition Stadium in Toronto with the first $1 million gate in history, reputedly the spark that led Vince McMahon to book the Pontiac Silverdome for WrestleMania III. The rivalry was blown off in a steel cage on Saturday Night's Main Event in January 1987 when both escaped simultaneously and Hogan won the restarted match. It was during this time that Orndorff seriously injured his right arm and herniated a disc in his neck in a weightlifting accident but chose to put off the necessary surgery.

Returning from the eventual layoff, Orndorff fired Heenan and feuded with Rick Rude but he left WWF just after Survivor Series and took time away to regain his physique. He returned in WCW for a few months in 1990, then won the UWF's Southern States Championship and the American Wrestling Federation heavyweight title before returning to Atlanta in late 1992 where he won Harley Race as manager and had an intense feud with Cactus Jack, then claimed the vacant TV title. Forming Pretty Wonderful with Paul Roma, he won the World Tag Team Championship but lapsed into the mid-card - his most notable win during this time was a backstage fight in which he knocked out Vader - and an attempt to confront Brian Pillman resulted in a Horsemen spike piledriver to the concrete which acted as kayfabe reasoning for Orndorff's retirement, covering that the right side of his body had begun to atrophy due to his injuries. He did return to the ring in 1999 but his body giving up during a match at Fall Brawl 2000 was the full stop to his active career, instead concentrating on the WCW Power Plant. Inducted into the WWE and Professional Wrestling Halls of Fame, having fought off lymph node cancer in 2011 he died due to dementia likely as a result of CTE.

Ethel Brown (Ethel Craig; July 21; 90) was an early pioneer of women's wrestling. Spotted by Mildred Burke's husband and female promoter Billy Wolfe, she worked between 1949 and 1956 in a fast, aerial style while befriending and tagging with African-American women when that was still very much frowned upon. After her ring career ended she became a dialysis nurse in Chicago and Florida.

Brazo de Plata (José Alvarado Nieves; July 26; 58), also known as Super Porky, was a respected and hugely charismatic worker who became a much loved comic character. One of the siblings in the Alvarado wrestling family he began working with his brothers across Mexico and the US, chiefly Indianapolis and LA, winning NWA Hollywood's tag titles with Brazo de Oro. The family's big rivals were Los Villanos, to whom they bloodily lost their masks in October 1988. By the mid-1990s Los Brazos (Brazo de Plata, Brazo de Oro and El Brazo) worked primarily for CMLL, where Plata, Oro and El Brazo won the world trios titles in 1993 before Plata beat Black Magic (Norman Smiley) for the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship that June, holding the title for just over a year. As he got older his weight roughly doubled and he consequently shifted to a comedic style, earning the nickname Super Porky, which he took to WWE's Juniors division on SmackDown in 2005 where he had skits with minis involving his appetite but never actually worked a match. On returning to Mexico he jumped to AAA and joined Los Guapos VIP, a deliberate standout in a stable obsessed with their good looks, not helped when he lost his hair at Guerrera de Titanes 2006. El Brazo joined and surprisingly attacked Plata in 2008, ending in a hair vs hair steel cage match at Guerrera de Titanes 2008 which Plata won. Leaving AAA in 2009 he worked independent dates, including calling in on CMLL and IWRG, before retiring in 2016. All five of his children entered the business, including four time AAA TripleMania main eventer Psycho Clown and former CMLL champion Máximo.

Hideki Hosaka (Aug. 2; 49) was chiefly a hardcore wrestler taken under the wing of Atsushi Onita. Starting in W*ING in 1991, he joined FMW in 1993 as a semi-invading faction from that company, holding the World Junior Heavyweight Championship in 1995 and facing Onita in a number of street fights and deathmatches. In 1997 he joined Onita and Kintaro Kanemura in the ZEN faction, under which he worked an All Japan Tokyo Dome show, and then Onita's Team Zero. After Onita was forced out he won the WEW Hardcore Tag Team titles three times in 2000 before joining the FMW exodus in 2001, passing through Big Japan and an unsuccessful 2002 stint in AJPW towards prominence in Zero1. A knee injury that left him wheelchair-bound for some time forced him out of the company in 2004 and he spent the rest of his career as a freelancer, occasionally with Onita, appearing in Zero-1, NOAH and the revived FMW. He retired in 2019 to fight the colon and liver cancer that eventually claimed him.

The Assassin/Assassin #1 (Jody Hamilton; Aug. 3; 82) was half of one of the great tag teams of the territory era. The Missourian initially teamed with his brother Larry in Vince McMahon Sr's Capitol Wrestling, where in 1958 the nineteen year old became the youngest man to ever main event a Madison Square Garden card. He then broke away and worked Texas, Oklahoma and Florida in singles competition before finding a berth in GCW. With Tom Renesto brought in under a similar mask the pair clicked and their team lasted for over a dozen years as hated rulebreakers the Assassins (except when working in the Carolinas, where Renesto had been The Great Bolo so Hamilton became The Mighty Bolo) Most of their success was concentrated in GCW, where they held the NWA tag titles twelve times and sold out shows across the eastern seaboard. When the company split from the NWA and became All-South in 1972 Renesto unmasked and became booker, leaving Hamilton as a solo Assassin, and when the company folded two years later Hamilton returned to Georgia, mostly working GCW in a long feud with Mr Wrestling II while winning tag titles with Randy Colley (Moondog Rex).

Come the 1980s Hamilton moved to Central States and won their heavyweight NWA US tag titles, then formed a new Assassins with Hercules Hernandez in Mid-South as part of Paul Jones' Army. Around 1985, by which time his son Nick Patrick was developing his refereeing career in GCW on the way to nWo membership and WWE, Hamilton swapped one mask for another and became The Flame, becoming NWA Southeast Continental Heavyweight Championship four times and AWA Southern Tag Team Champion once. In 1986 he started Deep South Championship Wrestling in Georgia, only to badly injure his back two years later and be forced to sell the company. In 1989 he opened and became director of the WCW Power Plant, also making occasional TV appearances in 1993 as a manager for Paul Orndorff and his Pretty Wonderful team. The Power Plant closed when WWE took over but in 2005 Hamilton agreed to reopen Deep South as a training ground, a partnership which was terminated in 2007 and ended with an out of court settlement in 2010.

Bert Prentice (Aug. 4; 62) was a much respected figure in Tennessee wrestling as a manager and promoter. With his mother an employee of Verne Gagne's, Prentice was ring announcing by age eleven and refereeing at fourteen. Prentice was brought into Southwest Championship Wrestling in 1983 as a writer but soon became a manager as Christopher Love, working with Tully Blanchard and Vampire Warrior (Gangrel). Unfortunately that was the year WWF bought out the company's USA Network time slot, so Prentice went to manage in Global and then settled in Memphis where he promoted and worked with the likes of Jerry Lawler, Jerry Jarrett and Jim Cornette, bar a diversion to run Ozark Mountain Wrestling in Arkansas. In the early 1990s he shifted to managing in the USA, usually representing the WWF invaders that would feud with Lawler, including the Harts, and feuding with Miss Texas (Jacqueline Moore). After the USWA collapsed Prentice returned to Nashville and was able to book the Fairgrounds for his own Music City Wrestling promotion, and when NWA/TNA subleased the same building he became a working partner and co-host of Xplosion, but the knock-on effect was for his own shows to stop drawing when TNA started giving away free tickets to their tapings in bulk. In later years he launched USA Championship Wrestling in Jackson, continuing to appear as host and interviewer throughout his battle with colon cancer.

Bobby Eaton (Aug. 4; 62) was one of the greatest tag team wrestlers and one of the most admired technical wrestlers of his era, a master of ring psychology and precision whose spot-on work in opposition Steve Austin described as "a night off", and according to everyone who knew him one of the friendliest and most helpful people in the business. Starting in 1976 in NWA Mid-America he quickly caught on with crowds and started earning his tag stripes, winning the tag title seven times with Pistol Pez Whatley, Lanny Poffo and George Gulas. When Mid-America closed Eaton won GCW's TV title, then returned to Continental and won the AWA Southern tag titles four times as the New Wave with Sweet Brown Sugar (Koko B Ware). A 1983 talent trade sent Eaton to Mid-South where Bill Watts saw him as the man to revitalise the Midnight Express alongside Dennis Condrey, being given the Beautiful Bobby nickname and Jim Cornette as manager. Setting sights on Magnum T.A., tarring and feathering him in the ring, they then took the tag titles after Magnum's partner Mr Wrestling II turned. That set in motion the long and storied feud with the Rock 'n' Roll Express, who won the titles two months later but lost them back after three weeks when Cornette used an ether soaked rag on Robert Gibson. The Rock 'n' Roll Express eventually claimed the titles for good and the Midnight Express left town soon afterwards, but this was just the start of a series that would last well into the next decade and across several promotions, innovating and developing the notion of tag wrestling - Missy Hyatt wrote that the Midnights could "go forty-five minutes in the ring and never repeat a move".

In all the Midnight Express, since inaugurated into the Professional Wrestling and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Halls Of Fame, held some local form of Tag Team Championship 54 times, including nineteen times in Tennessee's NWA Rocky Top, ten in Kentucky's NWA Bluegrass and another ten in Pittsburgh-based IWC. Their highest profile stopoff was with JCP in 1985, where they won the NWA World tag team titles from the Rock 'n' Roll Express in February 1986 and held them for six months, then had a famous scaffold match that November where they not only lost but Jim Cornette fell off the construction and injured his knee. Condrey quit suddenly in spring 1987 and was replaced by Stan Lane, winning the NWA US titles another three times and the world belts in September 1988 leading to a face turn before the Road Warriors brutalized them and came away with the titles a month later. Feuds followed with a string of star names - the Fabulous Freebirds, the Dynamic Dudes, Samoan S.W.A.T. Team, the Steiners, even an Original Midnight Express of Condrey, original partner Randy Rose and Paul E Dangerously for a while - and another US title as JCP transitioned to WCW.

The Midnight Express split up as Cornette and Lane left WCW after Halloween Havoc 1990 and Eaton went solo, winning the World Television Championship at SuperBrawl I and challenging for Ric Flair's world title in a two out of three falls main event of Clash of the Champions XV. When Dangerously formed the Dangerous Alliance at the end of that year Eaton came on board, he and Arn established as its tag team specialists and quickly winning the world title while feuding with Sting, coming to a head at the celebrated War Game match at WrestleWar 1992, where Eaton took the pin after being accidentally struck with a metal rod by Larry Zbsyszko. After Eaton was fired by Bill Watts for cost-cutting reasons Cornette took him to Smoky Mountain where he won the Beat the Champ Television Championship and formed the Heavenly Bodies with Stan Lane and Tom Prichard, but he was rehired for WCW when Eric Bischoff took over in 1993. This was mainly as tag enhancement to the stars though, and after being released in 2000 he worked the independent circuit, making one appearance in TNA in 2003. Eaton's final match, in October 2015, was fittingly against the Rock 'n' Roll Express' Ricky Morton.

Dominic DeNucci (Domenico Nucciarone; Aug. 12; 89) was a well travelled tag team specialist. Italian-born DeNucci began his career in 1958, working across Canada and later the territories. His work for the then red hot Big Time Wrestling in San Francisco put him on the map with a long unbeaten run and US title win, his series against Ray Stevens in 1964 filling the Cow Palace with over 13,000 fans. His travels took him to Australia's own World Championship Wrestling, where he found popularity in a hot territory and won the IWA World Heavyweight Championship four times between 1964 and 1970. DeNucci won the WWWF International Tag Team Championship in 1971 with his friend Bruno Sammartino, at a time when he was often used as a set-up for Sammartino's next world title opponent, either through comprehensive defeats - a debuting Superstar Billy Graham pinned him in nine seconds - or through attacks and injuries. DeNucci also won WWWF World tag titles with Victor Rivera in 1975 and Dino Bravo in 1978, and Championship Wrestling from Florida's version of the NWA tag belts in 1974. He later feuded with Pat Patterson for the WWF Intercontinental title and worked house show programs with a young Hulk Hogan as in-ring mentor. Although DeNucci last wrestled in 2012 he concentrated on training from the mid-1980s onwards, working with Mick Foley, Shane Douglas and Moondog Spot.

Daffney (Shannon Spruill; Sep. 1; 46) was the kind of wrestler whose look and mannerisms you tend to remember. Responding to a new talent contest in 1999 she was hired as David Flair's deranged, besotted girlfriend, inspired by Harley Quinn and Juliette Lewis as Mallory Knox in Natural Born Killers. She unleashed her signature piercing shriek and ever changing hair color as Flair and Crowbar's manager, entering the ring in 2000 and somehow becoming co-Cruiserweight Champion with Crowbar. The resultant match between the two was decided when Chris Candido piledrove Crowbar and Daffney was deemed to have pinned him while trying to revive him. Released just before the WWF buyout she went onto the independent circuit, valeting in ROH, XPW, briefly WWE developmental territory OVW and TNA. It was the latter where she did most of her later work, returning to the ring in 2008, fooling the Beautiful People as a faux Sarah Palin, then allying herself with Dr Stevie Richards and his patient Abyss. That led her to the first ever Monster's Ball match and a thumbtacks match, both with Taylor Wilde, and a string of bad booking decisions including being chokeslammed through a barbed wire board at Bound For Glory 2009, getting badly concussed. After a concussion and bruised sternum in a dark match in 2010 she filed a compensation claim against TNA citing lack of training on how to take hardcore bumps once her contract expired the following year, settling out of court in 2013. That ended her in-ring career but she continued with Shine as a manager and backstage mentor for a few years. Concussions however likely contributed heavily to her mental health issues and self-inflicted death.

Ryan Sakoda (Sep. 2; 48) had successful spells in California's Ultimate Pro Wrestling, where he teamed with fellow Japanese imports Masato Tanaka and Shinjiro Otani, and NWA outpost Zero-1, where he won their version of the NWA Intercontinental tag titles with fellow UPW trainee Samoa Joe (John Cena was another UPW contemporary) Sakoda signed to WWE in September 2003 and debuted at No Mercy attacking Rey Mysterio, becoming Tajiri's henchman in the Kyo Dai faction alongside Akio. He lasted less than a year before being released and didn't return to the ring outside the MTV series Wrestling Society X.

Rumi Kazama (Rumie Saito; Sep. 21; 55) had a kickboxing and shoot boxing (boxing with takedowns) background when she was invited by Jackie Sato to join JWP at its 1986 launch. She never became the major star she was expected to become but when JWP split in two in 1992 she joined LLPW as both wrestler and president, winning its six-woman tag titles three times and lost two inter-promotional bouts to AJW's Akira Hokuto, one a hair match. She finally claimed the LLPW Singles Championship in early 2002 and held it for a year, then won it again in her 2003 retirement match. Kazama later came out of retirement to appear in WAR and DDT.

The Snowman (Eddie Crawford; Sep. 29, 74) was a significant name in Memphis, where he was at the center of an enormously controversial angle, and Mid-South Wrestling despite not picking up wrestling until he was nearly 40. Trained by Jerry Lawler and Koko Ware, Crawford debuted for CWA in 1984 as a jobber to the stars but got an immediate babyface push on moving to Mid-South a year later as Bill Watts was looking for a replacement for Junkyard Dog. Winning the TV title in his second televised match, Muhammad Ali was persuaded to appear in his corner and endorse him at a New Orleans Superdome match against Jake Roberts. The idea was to bring in Louisiana fans but the 11,000 gate was the lowest take in two years and Roberts no-sold an Ali punch, feeling he shouldn't have to put over someone who wasn't sticking around. Snowman continued to not draw and Watts let him go after just four months. Crawford had two short spells in CWA, including teaming with Lawler, but then disappeared from wrestling for three years.

In 1990 Crawford began giving interviews claiming racism among Memphis promoters, which led to Lawler and Jerry Jarrett deciding to turn a shoot into a work, hiring him for what was now the USWA and had him cut a race-baiting promo on live television while heel champion Lawler and matchmaker Eddie Marlin retorted he was using the race card to get a main event push. After an "unsanctioned" appearance at the Mid-South Coliseum and an argument with Marlin leading to security getting involved, the lights-out match that resulted in May drew double the usual crowd and ended after four minutes as a no contest worked shoot bout. Two further heavyweight title matches followed, one won by Lawler after a fireball, the second by Snowman after guest referee boxer Leon Spinks punched Lawler in retaliation. The rubber match was won by Lawler via interference but the pair shook hands afterwards. Crawford however remained unhappy with how Lawler still main evented all the Coliseum shows and felt he was being stiffed on pay so walked out in August with the title belt, working independent shows as the real USWA champion. Marlin claimed on TV that he had pawned the belt for drugs (he hadn't); Crawford never worked for another major promotion.

Reggie Parks (Oct. 7; 87), "the King of Belts", was a Canadian-based journeyman wrestler who trained under Stu Hart and worked the territories, winning Omaha's version of the NWA tag titles nine times. Based with the AWA for a decade from 1963 he became known for his feats of strength, billed as 'Quiet Superman' - he once had a VW Beetle driven over his stomach. Working in Texas in 1968 he was Dusty Rhodes' first opponent. His last match was in 1999, but his ongoing legacy is his work in belt design. He is credited with designing and engraving title belts for the WWE, WCW, NWA, AWA and Shimmer among others, most famously the Winged Eagle WWF Championship title and the contemporaneous Intercontinental belt. He also produced designs for UFC, boxing and taekwondo associations; one of his works appears on the cover of Madonna's 2008 album Hard Candy.

Hido (Hideo Takayama; Oct. 17; 51), also known as BADBOY Hido, was a hardcore specialist. He debuted in W*ING in 1993 and lost a loser leaves town street fight just over a year later, spending time in WAR before moving on to FMW in late 1994 as part of a W*ING alumni faction aiming to end the company, winning the Brass Knucks tag title in 1997 though most often used as a jobber to the stars. After W*ING Alliance were forced to split Hido was picked up by Atsushi Onita's heel ZEN faction, winning the World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, but Hido and others turned on Onita at the end of 1997 and formed Team No Respect, winning the Brass Knuckles and Street Fight 6-Man titles. TNR splintered after a year, Hido facing karateka Willie Williams in an MMA fight at the 10th Anniversary Show, losing via knockout in the second round. Hido changed his name to Willie Takayama as a mark of respect and developed a karateka style, unsuccessfully challenging for Tetsuhiro Kuroda's WEW World Heavyweight Championship. Takayama left FMW that May and travelled to the US, taking part in IWA-MS' King of the Deathmatch Tournament 2001 and winning their heavyweight title in July 2001 only to lose a loser leaves town match to Necro Butcher four days later, before returning to the Japanese independent scene including Onita Pro, FMW successor WEW where he won the World and Hardcore Tag Team titles, and Big Japan whose tag titles he also won. Takayama married Megumi Kudo in 1998.

Joe Cornelius (Oct. 30; 93) was a major British star of the 1960s, described in his retirement year of 1967 as "possibly the most popular heavyweight in the game today". Already a main eventer, his fame increased after he started appearing regularly on television in 1960, working the Royal Albert Hall 1963 show that was attended by Prince Philip. He won the Southern Heavyweight title in 1965 and retained it until retirement, working as a fight choreographer for the TV series The Avengers.

Judy Bagwell (Nov. 5; 78) was Buff Bagwell's mother. Little is known about her background but many remember her WCW appearances, which stemmed from how often she would call up their offices on his behalf. She first appeared in 1998 when Rick Steiner named her as his new partner as tag title holder due to Kaos' injury as they were feuding with Buff, but when Steiner himself picked up an injury the titles were vacated before she could do anything. Two years later Chris Kanyon started harassing her as a psychological tactic, which ended when Bagwell beat him in a match where she was suspended from a forklift and had to be "rescued". Officially she had a match on an August 2000 Nitro, a mother-son tag against Kanyon and Pamela Paulshock, but was pushed off the apron before doing anything. In 2001 when Bagwell was released from his WWF contract accusations were made that she had called the company complaining about her son's travel arrangements and injury healing time.

Angelo Mosca (Nov. 6; 84) had a fourteen year career in the Canadian Football League as a defensive lineman with Ottawa Rough Riders, Montreal Alouettes and for most of his career the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, playing in the season ending Grey Cup a record equalling nine times (winning five). In all he earned two CFL All-Star call-ups, five for CFL East and was later elected to the Canadian Football and Ontario Sports Halls of Fame. His reputation as a battle hardened tough guy was picked up by Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn, who hired him to wrestle in the off-season and then turn full-time after his retirement in 1972. He wrestled across North America as an upper mid-card attraction, almost always a heel until the late 1970s. Mosca held the Stampede North American title twice during which time he often teamed with the future Superstar Billy Graham, feuded with Bruno Sammartino in Pittsburgh, main evented in San Francisco, was a headliner in the Carolinas while Ric Flair recovered from his plane crash injuries, drew a 12,000 sellout in Chicago for the AWA in a steel cage against the Crusher, and was Canadian heavyweight champion five times, drawing 12,000+ to Maple Leaf Wrestling. In 1981 he joined WWF, two unsuccessful challenges for Bob Backlund's world title both selling out Madison Square Garden at 19,000 and nearly doing the same in the blowoff to a feud with Pat Patterson, who was doing color commentary at the time and who Mosca attacked with a water pitcher in retaliation for his criticisms. Mosca briefly became a color announcer himself until being let go in 1985, after which he promoted and hosted TV for NWA Ontario up to 1987. In 2011 Mosca went viral after a fight with former B.C. Lions quarterback Joe Kapp at a CFL alumni luncheon, stemming from a big hit during the 1963 Grey Cup and during which Mosca hit Kapp with his cane, was captured on video. Mosca later auctioned the cane for $7,700, raising money for the association's former players fund.

Estrella Blanca (Nov. 15; 83), was a local hero in the Mexican city of Puebla who claimed to have won more Luchas de Apuestas hair and mask matches than anyone else, over 700 between 1954 and 2011, and while only around 200 have been officially documented that is still a record as far as is known. He won the Mexican National Lightweight Championship in August 1968, held it for over a year, and then reclaimed it in August 1971 for a twenty month run, though this was not a main event level title at the time.

El Vikingo (Manuel Galavis Macias; Nov. 25; 84) - no relation to El Hijo del Vikingo - was a big star in the 1960s and 1970s as half of rudo tag team Los Hippies with Renato Torres, who lost their masks in April 1968 in a Arena Mexico main event; as a singles wrestler he had shots at the EMLL world and Mexican national middleweight titles.

"Irish" Pat Barrett (Nov. 28; 80), unlike most "fighting Irish" characters, was actually born in Dublin. In 1963 he moved to North America, winning the NWA Canadian tag titles three times between 1965 and 1968. After spells in California and Australia he joined WWWF in 1975 and got an early shot at Bruno Sammartino's title but lost by countout, and while he held their tag titles it was as a replacement for Victor Rivera, who had been teaming with Dominic DeNucci but left the company, and they dropped the titles soon afterwards. Returning to the territories he claimed the vacant NWA world junior heavyweight champion in 1976, the NWA Mid-America titles twice in 1977 and NWA Hollywood's Americas Heavyweight Championship in 1979. Barrett left the NWA later that year and over the next couple of years would win titles in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand before returning home in 1984.

Blackjack Lanza (John Lanza; Dec. 8; 86) was a much travelled and successful brawler who will be best remembered as half of the original Blackjacks, cowboy boot-sporting brawlers associated with Bobby Heenan who were one of the biggest tag teams of the 1970s and early 1980s. Originally from Minneapolis, Lanza began in Alabama with NWA Mid-America, holding its Southern Junior Heavyweight title, and by 1967 was in Indianapolis' WWA, where he first used the Blackjack name and earned Heenan as manager, and it was there he won the WWA World Heavyweight Championship and held it for nearly two years. In 1971 he and Blackjack Mulligan - who had been given the identity by Vince McMahon Snr in WWWF earlier that year as an outright copy of Lanza - came together, claiming the tag belts that November. They meanwhile had two runs as WCWA tag champions in Dallas' Big Time Wrestling, where Lanza also held the NWA American Heavyweight Championship. The Blackjacks returned together to WWWF in 1975, now managed by Lou Albano, and quickly won the tag titles but the team dissolved shortly after their three month title run when Mulligan left for better money under Jim Crockett. Lanza returned home to Minnesota and joined his trainer Verne Gagne's AWA, winning their World Tag Team titles teaming with Bobby Duncum as part of the Heenan Family. Lanza and Heenan turned up in Georgia in 1979 and won their TV title before Lanza took four years away from the ring. On returning to the AWA the Blackjacks reformed for one last year feuding with Heenan. After his 1985 retirement Lanza worked as a WWF road agent and leading producer throughout the Attitude Era, a particular favorite of Steve Austin's. He inducted Heenan into the their Hall Of Fame in 2004 and received the same honor in return two years later.

Jimmy Rave (James Guffey; Dec. 12; 39) was a heat magnet, primarily in Ring Of Honor. Debuting in 1999 he appeared in the likes of CZW, FIP and NWA Wildside, where he won the World Junior Heavyweight Championship twice in 2002. Signing for ROH in 2003 he joined Prince Nana's stable The Embassy, developing a feud with AJ Styles when he stole the Styles Clash finisher and claimed to have invented it, something he later adopted with the Pedigree. Often having toilet paper rolls thrown at him instead of streamers, his key year was 2006, when he won the Trios Tournament with Alex Shelley and Abyss and then feuded with Bryan Danielson, attacking him with Shelley after a world title match and using the title shot earned with the tournament victory unsuccessfully at the Fourth Anniversary Show. Nana left ROH in September of that year and Rave found himself drifting before surprisingly beating world title number one contender Homicide and going after Nigel McGuinness, eventually losing a Fight Without Honor in March 2007. Rave left ROH in August 2007 for TNA and formed The Rock 'n' Rave Infection with Lance Rock (Archer/Hoyt) and manager Christy Hemme, also working NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors 2008. The pair were released in February 2009 and a month later Rave returned to ROH as a surprise partner to Bison Smith at the 7th Anniversary Show, though they lost to Danielson and Colt Cabana. He feuded with Necro Butcher, losing a dog collar match in September, but by this time he was deep in a drug addiction which Rave said started when he broke his jaw against Samoa Joe in early 2007 and the company let him go. Rave made occasional returns to both ROH and TNA between 2011 and 2013, in the former losing to new Embassy Crown Jewel Tommaso Ciampa at Final Battle 2011 and briefly joining Kevin Steen, Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs' S.C.U.M. stable in 2013, while also acting as trainer and tag wrestler in Ring Ka King. For most of the rest of his career he would flit around the indies, making appearances in Dragon Gate USA and winning some minor heavyweight titles, while dealing with his personal demons, eventually getting a position as director of a Wellness and Respite Center. However his medically compromised issues caught up with him, leading to having his arm amputated in November 2020 and then both legs after an MRSA infection in October of this year.

Corporal Kirchner (Michael Penzel; Dec. 22; 64), also known as Leatherface, was WWF's attempt to breed a replacement for Sgt Slaughter in 1985, chosen primarily because he had served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division in his teens and early twenties. Once discharged he befriended Hulk Hogan, who introduced him to Verne Gagne, but Penzel wasn't interested in the AWA. While jobbing for the WWF as R.T. Reynolds, Vince McMahon discovered his past and repackaged him accordingly. Kirchner was the complete serviceman patriot, beating Niklai Volkoff in a flag match at WrestleMania II. Considered one of the stiffest men in the business, many top names were reluctant to work with him, meaning he had nowhere to go but down the card before being suspended for drug use in 1987. On leaving as soon as the suspension elapsed he appeared in Stampede, UWF and New Japan. His renaissance and new identity came after joining the Japanese hardcore promotion W*ING in 1992, where he fulfilled their brief of a horror movie gimmick by adopting the name of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre character. Renowned as an especially tough guy even among deathmatch workers, he got over well but after being imprisoned for four months after causing serious facial injuries in a bar fight was banned from the country for a year. On returning in 1994 he became Super Leather and united in IWA Japan with Rick Patterson, who had taken up the gimmick in his absence. Unfortunately in their one and only tag match, a "double hell deathmatch" involving a bed of nails in December of that year, Penzel went mad after the bell, legdropped Hiroshi Ono while he had part of the bed on his throat and then powerbombed him onto the rest of the board. Fired as a result he went to FMW, where he held the World Brass Knux heavyweight title in 1996 as well as a couple of tag titles. After FMW's closure in 2002 Penzel (who changed his surname to Kirchner at some point) returned to IWA Japan but retired from full time wrestling in 2004. WWE wrongly announced his death in 2006, having confused his real name with someone else's.

Markus Crane (Mark Pobanz; Dec. 27; 33) was a deathmatch specialist, trained by Chris Hero, who appeared in GCW, Freelance, Glory Pro and IWA Mid-South among others, holding titles in No Peace Underground and Unsanctioned Pro, and wrestled at Korakuen Hall in August 2019 in a light tubes and glass board match as part of a Jun Kasai produced deathmatch card. In December of that year a brain infection was discovered which required part of his skull to be removed; his only match since then was winning a sub-90 second bout, more angle than match, against Kit Osbourne at a GCW PPV in April of this year.

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