According to a tweet sent out by a family member on Saturday night, former WWF and early ECW wrestler Salvatore Bellamo, who began in 1974 and managed to reinvent himself throughout the eras, has passed away following a battle with cancer. Earlier on Saturday evening, a family member whose cousin was married to Bellamo posted he was “fighting for his life” due to battles with cancer, and at 10:50 pm on Saturday night she announced he had lost his battle. He was 67 years old.
— Beverly (@BevG33) February 10, 2019
Originally from Hornu, Belgium but of Italian descent, Salvatore Bellomo began working in North America, starting out in Mexico with EMLL (precursor to CMLL) and in Canadian territories like Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling, Gene Kiniski‘s NWA All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver, and Frank Tunney‘s Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto. He would have his most success in Vancouver, winning the NWA Pacific Coast Heavyweight title (ASW’s top singles title) and win NWA Canadian Tag Team gold alongside “Iron” Mike Sharpe.
When Vince McMahon Jr. acquired Stampede and Maple Leaf in the early 1980s, Bellamo began working for the WWF in 1982. Although he’d been a solid singles and tag team star on the rise in the Canadian NWA territories, in the WWF he was used primarily as an enhancement, often working more comedic angles.
By 1987, he had given up on the WWF and headed back to Europe, where he joined the prestigious Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) in Belgium. Wrestling as Tino Bellomo he could better showcase his mat skills beyond the pomp and circumstance of the WWF’s Rock N’ Wrestling Era. He would wrestle for the CWA from 1988 until 1992, when he made his North American return.
By the early 1990s, he had grown his hair and beard out, becoming “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo. He began to use his power and size more than his mat technician skills, but continued to be a great draw in Europe.
In 1992, he returned to the US and joined a small NWA promotion based out of Philadelphia called Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW). He took part in the first ever match to crown the ECW Heavyweight title, losing to “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. He also became a mentor to a young aspiring talent named Sandman.
He wrestled for ECW for two years, departing just before the Eastern was rebranded to Extreme, but he would return to the new ECW in 1996, for a short program against JT Smith. But he would ultimately return to Europe for the remainder of his career, working at places like Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) in Germany, Freestyle Championship Wrestling (FCW) in Netherlands, and the Belgian Catch Wrestling Federation (BCWF).
Our condolences to the entire Bellomo family and all his friends.