A short time ago, Mick Foley shared the sad news that Terry Funk, his mentor and someone many consider to be among the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, has died.
Terry Funk is gone. I just talked to Terry’s daughter, Brandee, who gave me the awful news. He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw.— Mick Foley (@foleyispod) August 23, 2023
If you get the chance, look up a Terry Funk match or a Terry Funk promo, and give thanks… pic.twitter.com/WwdFLwXqZ0
Terry Funk is gone. I just talked to Terry’s daughter, Brandee, who gave me the awful news. He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw.
If you get the chance, look up a Terry Funk match or a Terry Funk promo, and give thanks that this incredible man gave so much, for so long, to so many. There will never be another like him. May God bless Terry, his friends, family and all who loved him. RIP my dear friend - it was an honor to know you. #RIPTerryFunk
Funk was 79. In recent years he was living with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, along with other aches and pains associated with a remarkable 50 year wrestling career.
He was born in Indiana into a wrestling family (his father Dory was a wrestler & promoter, his brother Dory Jr. a wrestler & trainer) and grew up in West Texas. He wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance’s Florida territory throughout the 1970s, winning the NWA Worlds Heavyweight championship once in 1975. It was also during that point in Terry’s career that he first worked in Japan, teaming with Dory Jr. in All Japan throughout the 70s and 80s.
In 1985, he made his way to then-WWF for a run that saw Terry, Dory Jr. & a fictional Funk brother managed by Jimmy Hart. He worked a tag match with Tino Santana & Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania II, and had several title matches with Hulk Hogan during this time. A few years later, Terry found his way to WCW for a feud with Ric Flair, then returned in 1994 for a program that led to his taking part in War Games at the second Fall Brawl.
Funk would join a new promotion, the International Wrestling Association of Japan, where he worked their King of the Death Match Tournament and took on the style most would know him for over the remainder of his career. It was there he first wrestled Cactus Jack, Foley’s alter ego at the time. He brought the hardcore style back with him to the States at an opportune time, as Eastern Championship Wrestling became Extreme Championship Wrestling. He helped elevate the company, headlining their first PPV Barely Legal in 1997. Later that year ECW held Terry Funk’s Wrestlefest in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas, where he wrestled Bret Hart and was awarded a lifetime title belt from Paul Heyman.
One of many retirements came that year in between returns to the WWF, during which he was eliminated from the Royal Rumble by Foley-as-Mankind and came back months later as “Chainsaw Charlie” to team with Foley-as-Cactus Jack. He spent the rest of the 90s going between WWF, ECW, another Japaneses deathmatch promotion in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, and WCW — a stretch that included another short-lived retirement in 1999.
By that point established as a master of his craft in the ring and on the microphone, Funk helped another promotion get its start when he starred for Ring of Honor in the early aughts, working with the likes of CM Punk and Steve Corino there. Funk returned to the now-WWE in 2006, working their ECW One Night Stand PPV. He & Dory Jr. were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by their friend, Dusty Rhodes. He would amazingly wrestle throughout most of the following decade too, continuing until working a pair of tag matches for Big Time Wrestling in the Carolinas in September of 2017 at the age of 73.
Outside of wrestling, the Funker dabbled in movies & television, most famously as “Morgan” a nemesis of Patrick Swayze’s “Dalton” in the 80s action classic Roadhouse.
Terry’s wife of 54 years, Vickie, died in 2019. They had two daughters.
Tributes are already pouring in for Funk, who worked with just about everyone over his remarkable career and who remains a huge influence on the world of professional wrestling to this day.
Our thoughts are with anyone who’s missing Terry. May he rest in peace... Forever.