King Kong Bundy
The world lost on of the original giants of the WWE this year as Chris Pallies (better known as King Kong Bundy) passed away on March 4 at the age of 61. Bundy had a successful career spanning from his debut in 1981 up to his final independent appearances in the mid-2000s. He most famously wrestled Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 2.
For his time Les Thornton was considered one of the best junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world. The British grappler held both the WWF and NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship at the same time. Thornton passed away on February 1 at the age of 84.
Clifford Sheets was an independent wrestler who primarily wrestled in Florida. He made sporadic appearances in the WWF, World Championship Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling in his career. He passed away on February 16 at the age of 52.
Martin Eason (better known as Eric Chapel) was a veteran of the Maryland independent scene. A mainstay of MCW, he held their tag team titles on two occasions. He passed away on April 29 at the age of 33.
Colton Quest was an independent wrestler who primarily worked in the Delaware-based Right Coast Pro promotion. He was the promotion’s heavyweight champion when he passed on March 30. He was just 23 years old.
John Czawlytko (better known as Maxx Muscle) was a professional bodybuilder who was best known for his work in WCW. He worked as Diamond Dallas Page’s bodyguard before splitting up and feuding. He passed away on June 27 at the age of 56.
John Quinn was a Canadian professional wrestler who competed all over the world. He wrestled in Canada, Britain, Japan and the United States having a very successful career. Quinn even had a run in the WWWF where he challenged champion Bruno Sammartino on a number of occasions. He passed away on April 22 at the age of 77.
‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund
One of the men who embodied the WWF’s global expansion in the 80s, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund was a legendary interviewer in the AWA, WWE and WCW. He was always the man with the microphone reacting to the ridiculous promos of men like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. ‘Mean’ Gene is the measuring stick by which all other wrestling interviewers are measured. He passed away on January 2 at the age of 76.
Alexis Smirnoff was a Canadian who wrestled as a Russian who found success on the West Coast. He defeated Pat Patterson in San Francisco to win their version of the NWA United States Championship. Smirnoff later found extended success working in All Japan Pro Wrestling. He passed away on January 5 at the age of 71.
Alberto Munoz was a Mexican Luchador who wrestled under the name White Man as well as his real name. He primarily spent his career in Mexican promotion EMLL. His final big match came in a Hair vs. Mask match against Villano III where he lost and had his head shaved. He passed away on December 14 at the age of 76.
Rene Goulet was known as the Number One Frenchman during his time in wrestling. He worked in the AWA and the WWE during his 30 year career and his most notable moment came when he and Karl Gotch won the WWWF World Tag Team Championships. He passed away on May 25 at the age of 86.
‘Nature Boy’ Roger Kirby was a mainstay of the NWA and AWA throughout his career. In a career highlight, he held the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship in 1971. He continued to wrestled until his retirement in 1986. He passed away on March 18 at the age of 79.
Salvatore Bellomo wasa Belgian wrestler who wrestled across Europe and Canada. He also had a successful run in the WWE during the 1980s. While in the WWE he unsuccessfully challenged the Iron Sheik for the WWE Championship. He passed away on February 9 at the age of 67.
Jim Evans/Trevor Adonis
Jim Evans (or Trevor Adonis) wrestled as an enhancement talent for the WWE in the 80s and 90s. He can be seen wrestling matches against the likes of Ted DiBiase and Mr. Perfect. Evans also wrestled for the AWA in its final years. He passed away on January 1 at the age of 53.
Ashley Massaro was the winner of the WWE Diva Search competition in 2005. She was a member of the WWE roster until 2008. During her time with the company she wrestled on two WrestleManias and posed for the cover of Playboy magazine. She passed away on May 16 at the age of 39. Since her passing, Mick Foley and a number of others set up a fund to benefit Massaro’s daughter. The fund raised over $100,000.
Koji Kitao had a turbulent history everywhere he went. A former sumo wrestler, Kitao left the sumo world publicly and began training at the New Japan Dojo. He was fired from New Japan after an incident with Riki Choshu but joined Genichiro Tenryu’s Super World of Sport promotion. Kitao and Tenryu competed at WrestleMania VII where they defeated Demolition. He passed away on February 10 at the age of 55.
‘Lionheart’ Adrian McCallum was an English wrestler who competed for numerous promotions in Britain. He held the major championships in most promotions he competed in. McCallum became the first English wrestler to compete in WWE and TNA in the same year in 2012 and became infamous by breaking his neck in a match against AJ Styles in 2014. He passed away on June 19 at the age of 36.
‘The Destroyer’ Dick Beyer
A true legend of the business, ‘The Destroyer’ Dick Beyer was one of the greatest masked wrestlers of all time. He had success stateside but he had his biggest impact in Japan. While in Japan he wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling where he helped popularize the promotion. His match with Rikidozan in 1963 garnered over 70 million viewers across Japan. He later was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his impact on Japanese culture. He passed away on March 7 at the age of 88.
Rex Bacchus was an American independent wrestler who began wrestling at the age of 31. He performed for EVOLVE and for Full Impact Pro and MLW. In his final match, he defeated ‘Cancer’ in a deathmatch. He passed away after a battle with cancer on January 17 at the age of 35.
Randy Colley (better known as Moondog Rex) was an American wrestler who was best known for his work in the WWF. He and Moondog King won the WWF World Tag Team Championships and he later unsuccessfully challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship. He later worked briefly in WCW. Colley passed away on December 14 at the age of 69.
Former WWWF Champion Pedro Morales was a Puerto Rican wrestler best known for his 1,027 day run as WWWF Champion. Morales is considered one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995. He is also the first Triple Crown Champion in WWE history as he was the first man to hold the Intercontinental, Tag Team and Heavyweight Championships. He passed away on February 12 at the age of 76.
Atsushi Aoki was a member of the All Japan Pro Wrestling roster and the promotion’s Junior Heavyweight Champion when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. He had previously worked for Pro Wrestling NOAH where he was a former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He passed away on June 3 at the age of 41.
Rocksan Biggerstaff (better known as BellaDonna) was an American wrestler and valet, best known for her work in TNA. She was a member of the Disciples of the New Church stable before managing Chuck Taylor on the independent scene. She passed away on January 22 at the age of 39.
Yusuke ‘Wally’ Yamaguchi was a Japanese wrestling manager best known for managing Kaientai in the WWF during the Attitude Era. He will forever be remembered for the infamous angle involving a sword and Val Venis’… well you know. He passed away on March 9 at the age of 60.
Rick Bognar was a Canadian wrestler, most well known as being Big Titan in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and the fake Razor Ramon in the WWF. Bognar also worked for New Japan Pro Wrestling as a member of NWO Japan in the late 90s. He passed away on September 20 at the age of 49.
Silver King was a Mexican Luchador, who was the son of the legendary Dr. Wagner. Silver King wrestled in every major promotion in Mexico, claiming championships in AAA, CMLL and UWA in the process. He also competed in WCW, All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling over his impressive career. Most famously, Silver King appeared as the villainous Ramses in the Jack Black film Nacho Libre. He passed away on May 11 at the age of 51.
Jacques Rougeau Sr.
Jacques Rougeau Sr. was a Canadian pro wrestler and the patriarch of the Rougeau wrestling family. He had feuds during his career with the likes of Abdullah the Butcher, Don Leo Jonathan and The Sheik. His sons Jacques Jr., Raymond and Armand all became pro wrestlers as well. He passed away on July 1 at the age of 89.
Perro Aguayo Sr.
Perro Aguayo Sr. was one of the great luchadors of all time. He was one of Mexico’s top draws ever and was a rival to the legendary El Santo. He competed alongside his late son, Perro Aguayo Jr. well into the 2000s. In his later years, Aguayo Sr. helped found the AAA promotion. He passed away on July 3 at the age of 73.
Mr. Niebla was a Mexican luchador who spent his career primarily in CMLL while also spending a brief stint in AAA. He held the CMLL Heavyweight Championship for over a year in 2003-04. Unfortunately, his life and career were plagued by alcoholism as he struggled to maintain sobriety in his later years. He passed away on December 23 at the age of 46.
Mike Hammer was an enhancement talent for Stampede Wrestling in the 80s. He wrestled against many of the promotions stars, such as Chris Benoit and Jim Neidhart. He passed away on January 11 at the age of 64.
Alex Perry was an American independent wrestler who worked primarily in Florida. He passed away on January 18 at the age of 26.
A mainstay of the Ontario, Canada independent scene, Otto Bahn was the manager of many heels during the 90s and 2000s. He passed away on January 21 at the age of 43.
‘Honest’ John Cheatum
‘Honest’ John Cheatum served as the manager to Abdullah the Butcher during Abdullah’s later years. Cheatum also served as a manager and announcer into the 90s and 2000s. He passed away on February 15 at the age of 59.
Tony The Annihilator
Tony ‘The Annihilator’ was an independent wrestler who primarily worked in the Wisconsin area during the 90s. He had some notable matches against the likes of Jim Brunzell and the Beverly Brothers. He passed away on April 19 at the age of 57.
At one point Charles Martoni was a mainstay of the Pittsburgh wrestling scene in the 60s and 70s. After his wrestling career ended he enjoyed a second career as a politician. He was the mayor of Swissville, PA and a councilman in Pennsylvania until his passing. He passed away on May 19 at the age of 82.
The long-time president of CMLL was one of the most successful living promoters in wrestling. He was the president since 1987 and was known as a hands-off executive who let his bookers do their jobs. Many stars, such as Chris Jericho credited Alonso for their success in Mexico. He passed away on July 6 at the age of 66.
Dango Wynn was an American pro wrestler who worked on the independent scene in the 90s and 2000s. He worked in Georgia before taking up a second career as a fire fighter. He passed away on August 10 at the age of 48.
Gerry Hogarth was perhaps the oldest living wrestler at the time of his passing. He was a former British Heavyweight Champion. Hogarth passed away on August 14 at the age of 97.
The Wrestling Pro
The Wrestling Pro was an American pro wrestler who wrestled across North America in the NWA. He held numerous championships over his career and even challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. He passed away on August 15 at the age of 81.
Norman Frederick Charles III
Norman Frederick Charless III wrestled in the NWA and Stampede Wrestling during his later years. He held a number of titles during his career and wrestled the likes of a young Dynamite Kid. He passed away on August 22 at the age of 78.
The very large Giant Gustav was a pro wrestler who wrestled in the 1980s. He had a brief run in New Japan Pro Wrestling before starting a new life as an actor. He passed away on October 6 at the age of 58.
Matt Travis was an independent wrestler who worked for House of Glory and GCW before he passed. After his passing, Private Party and Santana and Ortiz did a tribute match for Travis on AEW Dynamite. He passed away on November 9 at the age of 25.
One of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, Harley Race was a true man’s man. An eight-time NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, Race defeated many of wrestling’s best from 1973-1984. His matches with Terry and Dory Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and other became legendary as did his status in the business. His influence on the business is felt from generation to generation as the likes of Triple H, CM Punk, Bobby Fish and others have talked at length about Race’s influence on them. He passed away on August 1 at the age of 76.
He and everyone on this list will be missed dearly and we here at WrestleTalk would like to take the time to thank each of them for their contributions to pro wrestling as a whole.
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