It has been announced by his son that “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff has passed away at the age of 71. Orndorff is most known for being a part of the main event for WrestleMania 1 which saw him team with Roddy Piper against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
Originally set on being an NFL player Orndorff was drafted to the New Orleans Saints in 1973 but his failure to gain a foothold in the league led to him switching career paths to professional wrestling. He found his biggest success in Mid South Wrestling where he was a multiple-time NWA National Heavyweight Champion. His biggest asset was his incredible physique which made him a perfect main event pro wrestler for that era.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) April 24, 2017
In the 80s Orndorff jumped to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as a babyface but eventually sided with heels like the aforementioned Roddy Piper. Shortly after WrestleMania Orndorff returned to being a babyface and was closely aligned with Hulk Hogan. That was until a shocking turn led to Paul Orndorff turning on Hogan and becoming his major rival in 1986. The two had a headlining feud which included a massive event at the Exhibition Stadium in Toronto that drew over 60,000 fans. This massive feud between Hogan and Orndorff is considered one of the most profitable and notable feuds in U.S. wrestling.
Before there was WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff drew over 60K to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in the summer of '86 after Orndorff's shocking heel turn on Hogan.
RIP Mr. Wonderful pic.twitter.com/cZjftE4V5f
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) July 12, 2021
Unfortunately, injuries would cut Orndorff’s time in the WWF short as he retired in 1988, that was until 1990 when he came out of retirement to compete for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), he mainly wrestled for WCW until 1995 when he retired for the final time. In just under 20 years Orndorff had captured numerous championships, been the main event of a historic event like WrestleMania, and drew numerous massive crowds.
With his wrestling days over Orndorff briefly served as a head trainer at the WCW Power Plant until the promotion was sold in 2001. In 2005 Orndorff’s career was honored as he was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Unfortunately, as he got older Paul Orndorff began to suffer from a number of health issues. In 2011 he announced that he was battling Lymph Node Cancer but defeated it by August that year, unfortunately, Orndorff would receive more bad health news as he would begin to suffer the effects of severe Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE. This led to Orndorff no longer making appearances and falling on financial hardships which led to the creation of a GoFundMe in 2018. Orndorff’s son blames this CTE on his father’s recent battle with Dementia.
The professional wrestling world has been quick to react to the passing of Paul Orndorff with many sharing fond memories of his feud with Hulk Hogan all these years later. Last Word On Pro Wrestling sends our condolences to Orndorff’s friends, family, and colleagues.
If you would like to donate to help Paul Orndorff’s family there is a GoFundMe organized by Travis Orndorff’s wife raising funds for his final expenses.
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) July 12, 2021
Just got slammed with the Paul Orndorff news,RIP my brother,love you and thank you for always making me fight for everything in our matches,heaven just got even more Wonderful,love U4LifeHH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 12, 2021
Thank you giving me my start in professional wrestling. You were hard on me but taught me well and accepted nothing less than my best every time.
Rest In Peace to my first trainer and one of greatest wrestlers to lace up a pair of boots:
Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. pic.twitter.com/S0WKKP5F27
— 🐺 (@RichardsWesley) July 12, 2021
PAUL ORNDORFF. MY BROTHER. YOU WERE THE TOUGHEST. WE TRAIN TOGETHER. WE RIDE TOGETHER. YOU WERE EXCELLENT BUBBA. I AM SO SAD I LOVE YOU FOREVER REST IN PEACE pic.twitter.com/RXovORjxVp
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) July 12, 2021
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