Ringside Remembrances: Good-bye (and RIP) 2013
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“Death – The Final Voyage, The Longest, The Best” – Thomas Wolfe
It was five years ago that I first wrote this yearly column. I was my way of saying good-bye to my first wife, Linda, as well as so many good people in the world of wrestling. In the past half-decade, this traditional column always brings a tear to my eye. As my base of acquaintances, within wrestling grows, it becomes harder and harder to say good-bye to those that I’ve come to know and those that I’ve only watched or heard about. Each year, I make the same wish…Next year, please don’t have anyone that I have to talk about in this column. I wish long and happy lives to those within this great business that I love so much. If I miss anyone that has left us, please know that you are respected and much missed. God Bless and we will all meet again…some sunny day.
“Count” Billy Varga (1/11/2013) – 94
He was the son of European wrestler, “Count” Joseph Varga. Billy was a Navy veteran who served in World War II. Billy was one of the first pro wrestlers to bridge between wrestling and acting. He had a movie career that spanned more than 40 years. He passed away, in Burbank, California, from complications related to Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Farmer” Johnny Allen (1/11/2013)
“The Son of the Soil” was a very popular European wrestler of the 50s and 60s. After performing in the ring for many years, he moved on to a successful acting career. His most well-known role was as the bartender on the long-running BBC series, Last of the Summer Wine (an excellent series, if you haven’t seen it). His passing was announced by his daughter, Yvonne.
Marquis de Pare (1/16/2013) – 78
Also known as “Monsieur Guillotine”, Robert Pare grew up in Montreal, Quebec. He began his wrestling career there but later expanded to work all across Canada and the United States. After retiring, Pare operated a very successful restaurant in his hometown of Montreal. He would later relocate to Dartmouth. He died from complication from a brief illness related to heart issues.
Billy the Kid (1/17/2013) – 76
He was an extremely popular midget wrestler, in the old WWWF, during the 60s and 70s. He also spent many years, behind the scenes, helping younger wrestlers as they started their careers.
Tito Montez (1/30/2013) – 78
Born in San Antonio, TX, this self-trained pro wrestler began working shows in and around his home area. He captured the Texas State Junior Heavyweight title before relocating to Arizona. He spent the majority of his career there, winning several titles.
Reg Trood (1/23/2013)
Known as the “Classical Stylist”, this British wrestler was high-profile in the 60s and 70s. He was one of the best of the lightweight division. Later, he became a manager. His most famous charge was The Big Brute. Reg had retired to Spain, which is where he was living at the time of his passing.
Mod Squad Spike (2/8/2013) – 52
Jim Jefferson, as Spike, partnered with Basher (Mack Jefferson). The two brothers worked together in the mid-80s in Jim Crockett Promotions. They were a mid-card team. The duo changed their gimmick to that of “Outlaw” Motorcycle Cops in 1986. They spent the next six years touring the Southern Corridor before retiring in 1992.
Vic Kalfus (2/9/2013) – 89
A veteran of World War II, Kalfus spent 20 years inside the squared circle. He worked primarily in Florida and Mississippi but did venture to other areas. He also worked as a wrestling referee before retirement.
Gran Petroneo (2/11/2013) – 59
Amador Medina was trained by El Enfermero and Rayo Tapatio #2. He bega his career in 1979. His biggest appearances were with CMLL. He also worked various indy promotions across Mexico. His finisher was La Cruceta (Figure Four Leglock).
Bob Owens (2/16/2013) – 62
Bob worked for quite a few different territories in the 1970s and 80s. His biggest successes were in CWA and Jim Crockett. He portrayed several different types of characters before retiring.
Farmer Jones (2/18/2013) – 73
Years before the Hillbilly Jim family came into existence, there was Farmer Jones. He worked primarily in the South. He wrestled in jeans with a rope belt or in overalls. He had tremendous strength and used it well. He died of natural causes.
Danny Williams (2/19/2013) – 85
A graduate of the University of Texas, Danny started out as the host of children shows. To hear him tell it, he got his first wrestling announcing gig, in Oklahoma City. He was there until about 1973. He coined the phrase “Look out for Flying Chairs”. After an extended run on wrestling, Danny went back to daytime television. He also discovered celebrity, Mary Hart.
Ciclon Negro (2/20/2013) – 80
Ciclon (real name Romon Rodriguez) was a former boxer and stuntman. He also had an extraordinarily hard head and often broke boards in demonstrations. He began wrestling, in his native Venezuela, in 1956. He wrestled until the early 80s. His biggest U.S. success was working for The Funks, in Amarillo (Texas), in the 1970s. He retired to Florida and lived there until his passing.
Mat Duvall (2/22/2013) – 40
Duvall was an accomplished and highly respected body builder. He also had a brief but memorable career in pro wrestling. He was found dead, in his home. Preliminary reports indicated that he died from a “cardiac incident”.
Brent “Woody” Woodworth (2/23/2013) – 51
He was the brother of “Crippler” Brian Woodworth. Brent worked for many years as a “Trouble Shooter Referee”. He also worked for the South Bend Silver Hawks organization.
Bob Clark (2/23/2013)
Bob Clark, also known as Bob Grizzly, worked for Al Tomko in the 1970s. After a brief wrestling career, Clark set up his own promotion in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He would often be called upon to portray a “Professor” character (something near and dear to my/Professor Anton Rudovich’s heart).
Don McGee (2/26/2013) – 89
Don worked mostly in the Mid-America, CWF and CCW promotions. He wrestled from 1951 until 1956. He worked as both Don McGee (a variation on the spelling of his actual surname) and as Robin Hood McGee. He was usually a Face during his time working in the various territories.
Charlie Lutke (3/4/2013) – 94
Charlie was a true Journeyman Wrestler during the early days of televised pro wrestling (1950s). He worked numerous territories during his career.
Paul Bearer/Percival Pringle III (3/5/2013) – 58
William Moody worked as a licensed mortician before getting involved with pro wrestling. As Percy Pringle, Moody worked with Mark “Undertaker” Callaway in the Dallas area, in the mid-80s. When Callaway moved from WCW to the then-WWF, he talked with Creative about bringing Moody in as his manager. Moody dyed his hair from blonde to jet black. He changed his voice to an eerie falsetto whine. He also retired the wild, colorful jackets that he had worn as Pringle for a black suit. The Bearer character started as a somewhat Igor-ish sidekick but later grew into a very complicated character. While in the WWF/E, Bearer would move between Undertaker, Kane and Mankind as his main charges.
Cameron La Rue (3/6/2013) – 36
Trained by C.B. Cane, LaRue worked under several names: Cameron LaRue, Hellfire and Black Tiger. He formed a very successful tag team with E-Dawg (the Gangsta Nation).
Jimmy Redding (3/8/2013) – 32
Known as “Too Sweet”, Redding was trained by Dan “The Beast” Severn. He began his career in 2004.
Tommy Hanson (3/13/2013) – 75
Often known as “Toma Hansom”, Tommy worked in the UK during the 1960s. He was in incredible shape and became a huge fan favorite. In addition to wrestling, Tommy was a talented rugby player. He passed away after an extensive battle with leukemia.
Don Carson (3/14/2013) –78
Carson began his career in 1964. He often teamed with Fred Blassie. He won numerous titles in a career that spanned close to a quarter century. He had a huge feud with John Tolos that sold out the Olympic Auditorium. He was a huge player in the NWA circuit in the 60s and 70s. He would become a successful manager, later on. His main charges were The Grapplers and Jos LeDuc.
Eric the Great (3/17/2013) – 79
Eric (real name Dennis Forsland) worked as a stuntman and strongman, early in his career. He was noticed by a wrestling promoter and brought in to do “Strength Demonstrations”. That eventually led to a successful wrestling career during the early television days (1950s and 60s).
Dr. Gabriel Grange (6/18/2013) — 79
A European Superstar, Grange spent many years helping train others and build New World Wrestling. He passed away of natural causes.
Moondog Spike (3/21/2013)
Bill Smithers was trained by Tojo Yamamoto. During his career, he had three main personalities. He began as Inferno #1 in Tennessee. That tag team underwent numerous changes in members. Eventually, he would become Dizzy Golden, the “Brother” of Mike Golden. His biggest success, however, came as the bearded wildman known as Moondog Spike. He was a six-time USWA Tag Team Champion (partnering with 3 different partners). Due to health issues, Spike fully retired in 2007.
The Redneck Kid (3/24/2013) – 26
Charles Britt served in the military, just out of high school. He had a brief career before his untimely death.
Charlie McGowan (3/26/2013) – 96
Charlie worked at just about every possible job in wrestling. He was a wrestler, manager, promoter, booker, marketing agent, etc…
Reid Flair (3/29/2013) – 25
Reid was the younger son of the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Reid was a standout in high school and a natural in the ring. Flair had been in and out of WWE Developmental. Flair was just coming off a tour of Japan when he was found dead in a Charlotte hotel room. It would later be announced, by the medical examiner, that Flair had died of an accidental overdose of mix of heroin and prescription drugs.
Damon Diablo (4/2/2013) – 47
A stand-out in the indy circuit. Diablo often utilized the Bearhug to force opponents to submit to his massive strength.
Don Duffy (4/13/2013) – 80
He worked under several names, including: Baby Destroyer, Donald Quigley (his given name), The scorpion, the Ugly American and Don Duffy. He worked from 1961 until the mid-70s.
Ella Waldek (4/17/2013) – 82
Elsie Schevchenko was trained by Fabulous Moolah. Prior to becoming a wrestler, Ella worked as a roller derby participant. Elsie worked under the names of Charmin’ Carmen and Jackie Lee. She settled on the Waldek surname because she quipped that it was impossible to do a lot of autographs when your last name had 11 letters. Ella often teamed with Mae Young. Ella also “killed” another female wrestler, Janet Wolfe in the ring. Ella Body Slammed Janet and Janet rolled out of the ring. Janet collapsed and later died. Even though Ella immediately got the time keeper to go get help, Ella was arrested for the death. She was later cleared of all charges when it was determined that the Slam, in and of itself, did not contribute to the death. The death did severely shake up Ella. Ella was one of the featured stars of the documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite”.
Sue Britton (4/28/2013) – 76
Sue was one of the top female wrestlers of the 1960s. She learned from just about every partner or opponent that she encountered. She held numerous titles during her career.
Ronnie West (5/15/2013)
He was one of the most respected refs of his era. He also worked as a promoter and booker. He also worked in boxing and for the Cole Brothers Circus.
Rocky Roman (5/16/2013) – 46
Roman helped to promote Lucha Libre cards in Northern Mexico and the Southwest US.
Mick McManus (5/22/013) – 93
William George Matthews began his career in 1947. He wrestled actively until 1982. McManus was distantly related to WWE Superstar William Regal (Darren Matthews). McManus moved from wrestling to acting in the early 80s. He did guest spots on numerous BBC programs. He later worked in public relations.
Hector Garza (5/26/2013) – 43
Garza began his career in AAA and CMLL< in Mexico. Garza was scouted and eventually brought to WCW as part of their “International Expansion”. Garza would later work in WWF and TNA. In 2012, Garza was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died about 7 months later.
Hector Moyano (5/27/2013)
Moyano worked as both an announcer and producer.
“Colonel” Buck Robley (5/28/2013) – 68
Buck worked the Southern Corridor during most of the 70s and 80s. A hated heel, Robley was quite apt at inciting a crowd. He often worked as a manager. He would even join his charges in battle. He was excellent on the microphone.
Shawn Summers (6/1/2013) — 34
A member of the Juggalo Championship Wrestling family, Summers died of an accidental overdose. He worked almost exclusively in Michigan.
Ray Evans (6/5/2013) – 49
Evans worked for several wrestling companies in and around the Dallas area in the 1980s and 90s. His death was related to an unspecified cancer.
Mark Starr (6/6/2013) – 50
He began wrestling, in 1986, in the Memphis-based CWA organization. He was tag team specialist, winning titles with numerous partners. He was the brother of wrestler Chris Champion. He worked in WWF and WCW, primarily as a Talent Enhancement competitor. He had to retire, due to back injuries, in 1998. He passed away from a heart attack.
“Big Daddy” Rog(er) Cox (6/6/2013) – 43
Little John (6/10/2013)
John Adams was a very popular midget wrestler. He often teamed with Farmer Pete. He started wrestling in Canada but eventually became a world traveler.
Al Green (6/14/2013) – 57
Al worked in numerous brutal tag teams during the 1980s and 90s. He was strong undercard performer for WCW. His biggest success was as one-half of the Wrecking Crew. He also did some acting, showing up on Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best. He was under contract to WCW when it was bought out by WWF but he was never placed on the roster.
“Night Stalker” Paul Dyer (6/15/2013) – 39
The brutal battler was, in reality, a loving family man with two children and a lovely wife. Dyer loved wrestling since he was a child. He enjoyed his time in the ring but when the mask and ring gear came off, it was family time.
Joe Bailey (6/16/2013) – 60
Bailey worked his way up through the ranks to become a wrestling promoter. He was much respected by his peers.
Jackie Fargo (6/24/2013) – 85
Fargo (real name Henry Faggart) was trained by Joe and Kenny Marshall. He began his career in 1955. He formed a very successful “brother” tag team with Don Fargo. He also had another “Brother” in Joe Fargo. In later years, Jackie became a mentor to numerous stars. His most famous “Student” was Jerry “The King” Lawler. Fargo appeared on the very first TNA/NWA Pay-per-view, back in 2002.Fargo died of complication related to pneumonia.
Matt Borne/Doink the Clown (6/28/2013) – 55
Matt was the son of “Tough” Tony Borne. He began his career in the Portland area. He would then relocate to the World Class area. He had a huge career there. He would later move to WCW, where he worked as Big Josh (a lumberjack character). His biggest role came as the original Doink the Clown. Borne would later be replaced by others under the whiteface and green hair. Matt worked a patchwork version of Doink, mixed with his old Matt Borne character. He was one of the few men to work in Portland, World Class, AWA, ECW, WCW and WWE. He died, in Plano, Texas, from what medical examiners listed as “an accidental overdose of Morphine and Hydrocodone”.
Big Bad Mama (6/29/2013) – 56
Lynn Braxton was working, in Hollywood, as an actress in the early 80s. She answered an ad to audition for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.). She took on the character of the “Voodoo Queen” Big Bad Mama. She primarily feuded with Mountain Fiji. Braxton was a major part of the recent documentary about the GLOW organization. The film aired on the LOGO Network.
“Big” Joe Lacreta (6/30/2013) – 79
Lacreta was an actor and wrestler in the Delaware area. “Big Joe” was even more famous for his Big Joe’s Subs and Pizza” restaurant, which he ran for 52 years in Wilmington, DE. Lacreta often used profits from wrestling and the restaurant to help support local athletes. He was much respected in his community and beyond.
Tom “Boogaloo” Shaft (7/9/2013) – 72
Shaft began wrestling in 1973. He worked mostly in the Georgia and Mississippi territories. He was a huge fan favorite. He also worked under the name of Ulysses S. Thomas.
Tinker Todd (7/14/2013) – 85
Known as one of the best storytellers in all of pro wrestling, Todd spent his later years writing blogs about his experiences and interactions. He also worked under the names of Danny Knapp and Ramon Napolitano (and several other minor personas). He was a member of the British Army. He joined that organization just as soon as he was old enough to do so. He came to the US in 1952. He had great success in Jim Crockett (Sr) Promotions.
Gary Lawler (7/15/2013) – 59
Gary was the second most famous pro wrestler to work under the Lord Humongous mask (the other was Sid (Vicious/Justice) Eudy). Gary both partnered with and feued with Jerry Lawler in the Memphis area. Often managed by Nate the Rat.
Geeto Mongol (7/19/2013) – 82
Canadian born, Newton Tattrie began wrestling for Stu Hart in the 1960s. When he moved to the old WWWF organization, he was partnered with his “Brother”, Bepo (later known as Nikolai Volkoff). They captured the WWWF tag team championships under the tutelage of “Captain” Lou Albano. The Mongols also won the WWWF International Tag Team Titles. During this same time, Tattrie owned and operated the wrestling promotion in Pittsburg. He would later sell the promotion. Tattrie would later train Bill Eadie (Masked Superstar/Demolition Ax) and bring him in to the Mongols Family as another brother, Bolo. He trained others, as well, before retiring to Virginia.
Chuck Conley (7/26/2013) – 73or 75
He was one-half of the “Scufflin’ Hillbillies”, with partner Rip Collins. Chuck was also a former Marine. He passed away of natural causes. There are conflicting dates of birth for Conley.
Nagaharu Imai (7/29/2013) – 52
I first encountered Imai’s announcing work thanks to a gift from my friend, Lee. Imai was the announcer for All-Japan Wrestling for many years. Imai also announced for Big Japan.
Corey Maclin (7/30/2013) – 43
A staple in the Memphis area, Corey wore several hats, as it related to production and promotion of wrestling. He was a sportscaster for many years. He also did various vignettes, over the years. Maclin worked closely with Jerry “The King” Lawler for decades. Maclin died from injuries he sustained in a single car crash.
Vic Coleman (8/2/2013) – 93
He worked in the UK from the 1930s through the 1960s. He was the British Empire Middleweight Champion in 1951. He was the son of 1098 Olympic wrestling medallist, Victor “Bull” Coleman, Sr. He was Britain’s Youngest Professional Wrestler (under the name of “Young Bull” Coleman). He was only 15 years old, at the time. Coleman augmented his income by taking occasional Stuntman jobs.
Dutch Savage (8/3/2013) – 78
Frank Stewart began his career in 1962. The majority of his wrestling career was spent in the Pacific Northwest. Savage also worked as a promoter. He held the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight championship on 7 occasions and the tag team belts a dozen times (with 6 different partners).
Charles “The Natural” Hairston (8/10/2013)
A beloved coach and promoter, as well as outstanding wrestler. Hairston’s main joy was helping to train the future superstars of society (inside and outside professional wrestling).
Cosmic Commander (8/16/2013) — 51
Cosmic Commander was a much hated wrestling manager in the indy circuit. His character was somewhat similar to the late Grand Wizard of Wrestling.
Rasputin II (8/19/2013) – 70
The tag team competitor worked for Stu Hart (in Stampede) and for the Central States organization. The team also made a couple of tours of Europe and Japan. Rasputin II retired by the early 80s.
“Silent” George Hubert (8/22/2013) – 86
He was a staple in the pre-World Class Dallas area. He worked at the Sportatorium in the early 1950s. He was one of the first wrestlers to avoid doing promos, thus his “Silent” nickname.
Marty Gibson (8/31/2013)
A Southern Corridor indy wrestler, Gibson was supposedly a cousin of Rock and Roll Express member Robert Gibson. The ring name paid tribute to Robert, as well as Marty Jannetty.
Paul Duvall (9/7/2013) – 67
After his career in pro wrestling ended, Paul returned to teaching. He was a beloved coach and inspiration for many generation of amateur grapplers.
Mini L.A. Park (9/16/2013) – 25
A very popular midget (Mini) wrestler, in Mexico. Park played numerous reduced-sized versions of popular Mexican Luchadores. The cause of his death was not immediately available.
“Frenchy” Bernard (9/16/2013) – 77
Born in Quebec, Bernard would later relocate to the southern US to begin a pro wrestling career. He would later moved into management and toured the world, several times over. Later, he would retire to the AJR Ranch in North Carolina (the ranch owned by the late Andre the Giant). Frenchy and Andre had been friends for many years. Frenchy also worked as a promoter. He fully retired in 1994.
T-John Tibbideaux (9/17/2013) – 64
A much beloved “Southern Giant”, T-John worked the Dallas area in the 1970s and early 80s, as well as surrounding areas. T-John had a very child-like persona and was always surrounded by children. He was one of my favorites, as a young man.
Angelo Savoldi (9/20/2013) – 99
Angelo was the oldest living professional wrestler, at the time of his passing. He was still active behind-the-scenes. Weeks before his death, Angelo filmed segments for an upcoming documentary on professional wrestling. I had the honor and privilege of interacting with Angelo shortly before his death. He was a true gentleman and a credit to the world of professional wrestling and the world in general.
Jeffery James (9/28/2013) — 43
Known as “The Playboy”, James often teamed with Nasty Ronnie. He tore up the indy circuit for several years.
Gene Lewis aka Cousin Luke (9/29/2013)
Gene Petit got involved with wrestling in a most unusual fashion. He began as a driver for Olympic wrestler-turned-pro, Dale Lewis. At one event that Gene had driven Dale to, the promoter found himself short on talent. Gene had been studying the pros for a few weeks, by this point, and agreed to get in the ring. He wrestled under his given name in a six-man tag match. With no official formal training, Gene began to work alongside Dale. Gene would professional change his surname to Lewis and work a “Brother” angle with Dale for some time. Gene would later have a meeting with George Scott, a booker for the then-WWF. Scott wasn’t really interested in Gene, until he showed him a few photos that were taken as a joke. In the photos, Gene was dressed in overalls and a big hat. He also had some photos of him in jean shorts. Scott thought about it and decided to team Gene with Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer. Gene was transformed into Cousin Luke (the name being a nod to Dukes of Hazzard). After the Hillbilly Family storyline ran its course, Gene left the WWF. He worked the indy circuit until 1980. Back problems eventually forced him into full retirement. Following his departure, Gene became a member of the board of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He had to move into an assisted living facility, in later years, due to his issues with Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes.
El Brazo (10/15/2013) – 52
Trained by Mexican legend, Shadito Cruz, El Brazo (the Arm) debuted in 1980. El Brazo was, in fact, the son of Cruz and part of the huge Alvarado Wrestling Family. He often teamed with his brothers, Brazo de Oro (Arm of Gold) and Brazo de Plata (Arm of Silver). He occasionally wrestled as Brazo Negro (Black Arm). He worked almost exclusively for CMLL but did make a few visits to others organizations. He died due to complications related to his diabetes.
Dennis Hall (10/18/2013) – 78
Hall was a true “Tag Team Specialist”. During the 1960 and 70s, Hall teamed with numerous partners to capture gold in almost every territory he worked in. He worked, primarily, in the NWA system. His most famous partner was his (real-life) cousin, Roger Kirby. He also often worked with Les Thatcher and Ken Lucas. He even did a brief run as masked Taurus, in Florida.
Porfirio Langoria (10/19/2013) – 82
He worked in and around the Chicago area in the late 50s and early 60s. While much admired by his peers and the fans, Langoria was one of the first professional wrestlers of the televised era to earn the status to Talent Enhancer.
“Hardbody” Calvin Knapp (12/20/2013) — 43
Calvin had a short but exciting career working for the Global Wrestling Federation, in Dallas, Texas. I met him in mid-1992 and he was a very nice guy who had big dreams of following his heroes: The Von Erichs, “Superstar” Billy Graham and Hulk Hogan. Initial reports stated that his death was related to heart issues.
Doug Gilbert aka Doug Lindzy (11/4/2013) – 76
Not to be confused with the brother of the late Eddie Gilbert, this Doug Gilbert worked for the AWA and NWA from the mid-60s until the mid to late 70s. Gilbert was credited as the first man to “Officially” Body Slam Andre the Giant.
Roland Alexander (11/5/2013) – 59
The owner and operator of the Northern California-based All-Pro Wrestling. He was also involved in the film, “Beyond the Mat”. He was highly respected in the business and helped to launch the careers of numerous stars since taking over APW in 1991. I was introduced to Roland, back in 2011, at a convention in the Bay Area. He was a nice gentleman and true credit to this business.
Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon (11/21/2013) – 84
The WWE Hall of Famer worked primarily in the old AWA, alongside his brother Paul “Butcher” Vachon. On May2, 1964, Vachon defeated Verne Gagne to capture the AWA version of the World Heavyweight Title. Vachon would hold the title on five different occasions. He also held the World tag belts, once with brother, Paul, and once with Verne Gagne. He also held several titles in different NWA territories. Vachon lost one of his legs after being struck by a car in 1987. Vachon also had a sister, Vivian, and a niece, Luna, who wrestled professionally.
Princess Salima (12/28/2013) – 83
Joyce Jean Farhat began her career as the valet to the original Sheik, Ed Farhat. The two would later marry and she worked behind-the-scenes to help her husband promote in the Detroit, MI area.
The Canadian Giant, Garry Robbins (12/9/2013) – 86
Years before the arrival of Andre the Giant, Robbins was Canada’s premier “Giant”. The huge man was both loved and hated during his career. Some sources say Andre the Giant’s “character” was somewhat based on Robbins. He passed away of natural causes.
Payaso Coco Blanco (12/18/2013) – 45
The name translated to “White Chocolate Clown”. (I have a couple of friends who wrestle on the West Coast as Payasos, so I called on them for a little help with this one). Like most of the Payasos, Coco Blanco was loved by the kids. The cause of death was not revealed.
“El Mago” Pedro Septien (12/19/2013) – 97
He was the oldest ring announcer in the world. He actually did his phenomenal voice work until the last couple years of his life. He also did quite a bit of dubbing work for English-Language films that were being dubbed into Spanish.
Vivian St. John (12/22/2013)
Vivian was trained by The Fabulous Moolah. Vivian, who was living in Florida, was introduced to Harley Race. She expressed an interest in doing what he did. Race saw something in her and set up a meeting between Vivian and Moolah. During the 70s and 80s, Vivian became a key player in Moolah’s traveling group of female wrestlers. Vivian did a “Cowgirl” gimmick for most of her career. She often tagged up with Susan Green. Vivian passed away after a lengthy illness.
Scott Epstein (12/27/2013) – 64
A key player in the New York wrestling scene, Epstein worked in several positions inside wrestling. He was an accomplished photographer and outstanding marketing specialist. He had close relationships with numerous wrestlers, especially “Superstar” Billy Graham. Epstein got into the wrestling scene after retiring from teaching. Sadly, Epstein was killed in an auto accident early on the morning of the 27th.
Ari Romero (12/29/2013) – 52
Joes Luis Aries Romero was one of the most hated Rudos in Lucha Libre history. He worked as the masked El Reyo de Tenedor. Due to his bloodlust and viciousness, he was often called El Reyo de las Cadenas (The King of the Bull Terriers/Pitbulls). This vicious beast was trained by one of the most technically sound wrestlers of all time – Lou Thesz. In addition to his wrestling skills, Romero was an accomplished musician. He formed “The Group” to perform at wrestling shows. The Group’s members were all wrestlers and their friends that worked for the love of music. The main members were: Romero (lead guitar and vocals), Estrellita (keyboards and vocals), El Pantera (Guitars), El Apache (Bass Guitar), Kung Fu (Drums) and Mario Prado (Percussions). The Group produced four CDs before disbanding. Romero died of liver cancer.
I’ve always said I respect all people in the world of wrestling. To me, they are all family. Most of the men and women listed above are people that, at best, I barely knew. Some, like Angelo Savoldi, Paul Bearer or Calvin Knapp, had direct interaction with me. I always make the same wish at the end of each and every one of these columns:
“Dear Heavenly Father, please make it so there is no one that we have to say good-bye to, next year. Amen”. Sadly, I know as age pushes us closer and closer to “The Veil”, there will be several that cross over. Just remember:
“We’ll meet again…don’t know where…don’t know when. But we’ll meet again…some sunny day” – Rosemary Clooney
(Rest in) Peace