The professional wrestling world lost one of its biggest legends today as “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff passed away. He was 71 years old. His son Travis confirmed his passing with a post to Instagram this afternoon, along with a call for donations for his funeral expenses.
Orndorff was a star running back at the University of Tampa in the early-1970s. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1973 NFL Draft, but played one year in the WFL before trying his hand at wrestling. It didn’t take long for Orndorff to realize his potential in the ring.
Orndorff made his mark in some of the many regional pro wrestling promotions between 1976 and 1983. But it was in the then-World Wrestling Federation where he truly became a legend.
After Hulk Hogan won the World Heavyweight Championship in 1984, Orndorff was the first to challenge him. He never won the belt off Hogan, but Orndorff would feud with him for several years.
Their rivalry culminated in the main event of the first-ever WrestleMania – a tag team match that also featured Muhammad Ali and Mr. T.
RIP “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndoff one of the most underrated heels of all time in WWF pic.twitter.com/lY38la7J6H
— IB 🔌 THE GAMBLER (@incarceratedbob) July 12, 2021
Injuries would end Paul Orndorff’s run in WWF in 1988, and he would spend the next few years in various promotions before joining WCW in 1992. He would spend nearly 10 years in WCW before retiring.
In 2005, Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and made a handful of appearances over the next 10 years.
He had a brief bout with cancer in 2011, but announced seven months later that he had beaten it.
Orndorff would wrestle one final time – at the age of 67 – in 2017 at a regional event in Canada. He was on the winning end of a six-man tag team match.
— The Rolling Pin Podcast (@Rollingpintalk) September 19, 2020
Our hearts go out to “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff’s family and loved ones.
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