WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff has passed away at the age of 71. His son Travis revealed the news on Monday afternoon.
WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff has passed away at the age of 71. His son Travis revealed the news on Instagram Monday.
Paul Orndorff, better known to some wrestling fans as Mr. Wonderful has passed away at the age of 71. His son Travis Orndorff revealed the news on Instagram early on Monday afternoon. While it remains unclear what caused the WWE Hall of Famer’s death at this time, Travis had let fans know his father was in poor health prior to his passing.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr,” Travis wrote on Instagram. “Most of you will remember him for his physique. Many will remember his intensity. But if I could only get you to understand and see his heart.” You can check out Travis’s touching tribute to his father in full below.
Orndorff made a name for himself in the AWA before making the jump to WWE in the early 1980s. He battled and teamed with Hulk Hogan on a number of occasions during that time. However, the most notable of their battles came in the first-ever WrestleMania main event. Orndorff would team with fellow Hall of Famer Roddy Piper that night to take on Hogan and Mr. T. His time in WWE came to an end a few years after that, at which point Orndorff would sign for WCW.
Orndorff would eventually and deservedly return to the WWE fold so that he could be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Bobby Heenan, who Orndorff spent a lot of his time with both off and on-screen, was the man to induct him that night. That would be his final appearance in WWE until WrestleMania XXX where he appeared on-screen with the rest of the stars from WrestleMania’s first-ever main event.
Orndorff was a heel for much of his career, and a darn good one at that. As his son Travis puts it in the post above, “as much as many of you hated him as a wrestler, he absolutely loved you for it.” The mark of a true heel, and a huge loss to the wrestling business. Our thoughts go out to Travis and the rest of the Orndorff family at this time.
Several groups have paid tribute to the legendary Hall of Famer “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff on Twitter this afternoon.
Mr. Wonderful never worked for TNA or Impact Wrestling but they remembered him on Twitter today.
They wrote, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of pro wrestling legend ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff. We offer our sincere condolences to his friends and family.”
Orndorff also never worked for AEW but they remembered him in another tweet this afternoon.
“AEW joins the wrestling world in mourning the passing of a true legend, ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his fans,” AEW wrote.
The Cauliflower Alley Club paid tribute to Orndorff with two tweets.
“Everyone here at CAC is truly saddened at the news that the legendary Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff has passed away at 71 years old. We send out our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans around the world. Rest in Peace Mr Wonderful and thank you for the memories,” they wrote, also posting a photo collage in a follow-up tweet.
WWE issued a lengthy statement on their website, as seen below:
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff passes away
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff, known to fans as “Mr. Wonderful,” passed away at the age of 71.
Orndorff was a standout running back at the University of Tampa and joined Mid-Southern Wrestling after a brief stint in the World Football League. Early rivalries with Jerry Lawler, Ted Dibiase and Jake “The Snake” Roberts gave way to NWA North American Heavyweight and National Heavyweight Championship reigns.
Orndorff joined WWE in 1983 and was tabbed with the “Mr. Wonderful” nickname by his then-manager “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. With his awe-insipring in-ring style and umatched swagger, “Mr. Wonderful” turned his talent into a prototype for the modern-day Superstar. He made a memorable debut on January 23, 1984, with a win over Salvatore Bellomo at Madison Square Garden and launched right into the main event picture with matches against World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan. Mr. Wonderful achieved sports-entertainment immortality by competing alongside Piper to face Hogan and Mr. T in the main event of WrestleMania I.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Wonderful began competing for WCW. It was here that Orndorff captured his first major championship when he defeated Erik Watts in a tournament final on March 2, 1993, to become Television Champion. Orndorff’s championship reigns did not stop there, however, as he was also a two-time WCW Tag Team Champion with Paul Roma in 1994.
When Orndorff’s in-ring days came to an end, the former master of the piledriver became a trainer for WCW’s Power Plant. As a trainer, Orndorff molded a generation of promising stars, including Mark Jindrak, Stacy Keibler and Goldberg.
WWE extends its condolences to Orndorff’s family and friends.
Mr. Wonderful began his pro wrestling career back in 1976. He had stints with WWE, WCW, SMW, Mid-South, the NWA, NJPW, and many other promotions. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2017, the NWA Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also an inductee into the University of Tampa’s Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1986.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched a few days ago to help prepare for Orndorff’s farewell. The campaign can be found here.
Sources: The Sportster and Wrestling Inc.