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In Memoriam: A Look Back At The Professional Wrestlers Lost In 2019

Remembering those lost…

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As 2019 draws to a close, we here at Cultaholic look back at the wrestling legends, stars, and personalities that we lost over the previous year.

JIM EVANS (30 December 1965 – 1 January 2019)

Veteran enhancement talent of WWE throughout the late eighties and early nineties, appearing in more than sixty televised matches for the promotion, against the likes of Macho Man Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase, Mr. Perfect, and others. Also wrestled for the AWA in its dying years, and performed for Midwest-based indies into the 2000s under the name “Heartbreaker” Trevor Adonis.

MEAN GENE OKERLUND (19 December 1942 – 2 January 2019)

WWE

Renowned and esteemed backstage interviewer, announcer, and host (as well as occasional wrestler) whose dry, razor-sharp wit, natural gravitas, and innate ability to ad lib matched him well with scores of colorful characters throughout his near five decades in the business. Spent 14 years with the American Wrestling Association before joining the World Wrestling Federation in late 1983, where he became a household name, and part of the global lexicon (“Well ya know somethin’, Mean Gene!”). Joined WCW after a ten-year stint in New York, and remained with the company until its 2001 closure. Worked off and on with WWE in the years that followed as something of a host emeritus.

ALEXIS SMIRNOFF (9 February 1947 – 5 January 2019)

French-Canadian mauler that found new life in 1977 as a Russian brute, establishing himself as a star on the west coast by defeating Pat Patterson for the San Francisco version of the NWA United States title that year. Also made a strong name for himself in Japan in the late seventies and early eighties, feuding with IWA World Heavyweight champion Rusher Kimura, and wrestling extensively in All Japan. Also worked west coast events for WWE in the early to mid-eighties.

MIKE HAMMER (21 February 1954 – 11 January 2019)

Mainstay of Stampede Wrestling throughout the eighties, wrestling under a number of eclectic names, including Dr. Blood and Buddy Frankenstein. Despite the colorful monikers, was often used in an enhancement role, losing to Bruce Hart, Chris Benoit, and Jim Neidhart, among others. Later became a prolific artist in the St. Louis area.

DR. REX BACCHUS (26 September 1983 – 17 January 2019)

Began his career late, having his first match in 2015 at age 31. Florida-based tag team wrestler competed locally for EVOLVE and Full Impact Pro in 2016, as well as for Major League Wrestling, two months before his passing from cancer. Headlined in one of his final matches, in which he defeated “Cancer” in a death match.

ALEX PERRY (2 December 1992 – 18 January 2019)

Performed in various Florida independents over his brief career, including American Combat Wrestling, Tampa Bay Pro Wrestling, and REAL Pro Wrestling, as well as the NWA’s Florida Wrestling Alliance. Held the Definitive Wrestling International Light Heavyweight belt for several weeks in 2016.

TOM IVEY (2 April 1958 – 19 January 2019)

Alabama-born son of a deacon only wrestled for a brief spell in the early to mid-eighties, but worked for several major groups, including AWA, Mid South, and All Japan. In the latter, actually competed for the vacated All Asia Tag Team titles in 1984 alongside “Champagne” Gerry Morrow. Wrestled as “The Black Panther” in AWA TV jobs against Rick Martel, Ken Patera, and Hulk Hogan.

OTTO BAHN (26 February 1975 – 21 January 2019)

Diminutive manager stood only 4’11” tall, but made an impression upon the Ontario independent scene as a loudmouthed, fast-talking second for various heels of the territory in the late nineties and early 2000s. Also had a brief role in a televised biopic about the life of Jesse Ventura.

BELLADONNA (25 April 1979 – 21 January 2019)

Once the valet of The Disciples of The New Church, in the very early days of Impact Wrestling. Debuted in November 2002 during the match in which Church members Slash and Brian Lee defeated America’s Most Wanted for the TNA World Tag Team titles. Actually wrestled both AMW members in a handicap bullrope match weeks later.

LES THORNTON (9 April 1934 – 1 February 2019)

Six-time NWA Junior Heavyweight champion traded the belt with the likes of Terry Taylor, Gerald Brisco, and Joe Lightfoot throughout the early-eighties. Toured the globe as one of the pre-eminent junior heavyweight grapplers, wrestling the likes of Tiger Mask, Dynamite Kid, and Tatsumi Fujinami, while having extensive runs in Japan, Calgary, and the American territories, as well as World of Sport. Also renowned as a legitimate shooter, having trained in Wigan’s Snake Pit, with harsh strikes and permeating realness evident in his work.

SALVATORE BELLOMO (18 June 1951 – 9 February 2019)

Belgian-born heavyweight traded on various Italian handles as a wrestler, though had greatest success under the Bellomo name. Wrestled throughout Europe and Canada, as well as a several-year stint in WWE in the early to mid-eighties, where he played a mostly-underneath babyface, though did challenge Iron Sheik during Sheik’s brief World title reign. Was a trainer and promoter in later years, with Aleister Black working for him early in his career.

KOJI KITAO (12 August 1963 – 10 February 2019)

Looming sumo prodigy and former yokozuna who became a professional wrestler in 1989, after a well-publicized fallout from the sumo world. Trained at the New Japan Dojo, but was later fired from New Japan after an incident with Riki Choshu. Turned to Genichiro Tenryu’s Super World of Sports, and even competed at WrestleMania 7 as part of a cross-promotion, before his infamous “shoot” with Earthquake the following week at SWS Wrestle Dream.

PEDRO MORALES (22 October 1942 – 12 February 2019)

WWE

Seminal figure in WWE history, becoming the first Latino to hold World singles gold in WWE. Reigned as World champion for nearly three years between February 1971 and December 1973, selling out Madison Square Garden 21 times among his 30 title defenses in the building. During said reign, wrestled fellow babyface star Bruno Sammartino to a 65 minute draw at Shea Stadium in 1972. Also holds the distinction of becoming the first “triple crown” champion in WWE history, upon his winning of the Intercontinental championship from Ken Patera in late 1980. Glories outside of WWE came in California, twice reigning as WWA World champion, and twice holding AWA’s San Francisco Tag Team titles with Pepper Gomez.

HONEST JOHN CHEATUM (28 April 1959 – 15 February 2019)

Worked primarily as the manager of Abdullah the Butcher during the latter part of Abdullah’s career, mostly in American and Canadian indies. Also served as a manager and broadcaster for the Georgia-based NWA Wildside promotion in the late nineties and early 2000s.

CLIFF SHEETS (8 June 1966 – 16 February 2019)

Wrestled mostly in Florida throughout the nineties and into the early part of the 2000s, most regularly as with partner Casey Thompson as The Exterminators in the Future of Wrestling promotion. Worked a number of bouts for WWE and WCW as an enhancement talent throughout the early nineties, and later wrestled Steve Blackman on an episode of Jakked in 2000.

KING KONG BUNDY (7 November 1955 – 4 March 2019)

WWE

Gargantuan villain and Heenan Family cornerstone who received considerable acclaim as an enemy of Hulkamania, challenging for Hulk Hogan’s WWE title in the main event of WrestleMania 2 in 1986. Began his career in territories such as Mid South and World Class, the latter of which he faced Fritz Von Erich in what was billed as Von Erich’s retirement match in 1982 at Texas Stadium. Greatest fame came in WWE where he, aside from headlining WrestleMania 2, memorably flattened SD Jones in the first WrestleMania, crunched mini-wrestler Little Beaver two years later, and became the fourth notch in Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak in 1995. Trademark was the “five count” he demanded from referees, to demonstrate the thoroughness of his dominance.

THE DESTROYER (11 July 1930 – 7 March 2019)

Beyer Family, via Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Grappling great on two separate continents who carved out an unparalleled legacy across 39 years as an active wrestler, and ranks among the most famed and celebrated masked wrestlers of all time. Memorable matches with Fred Blassie and Giant Baba did spectacular business, but it was his May 1963 match with Rikidozan that is most historic, viewed by 70 million viewers on Japanese TV. Helped popularize All Japan Pro Wrestling throughout the seventies, particularly in his long rivalry with Mil Mascaras. Also bolstered his visibility in the country on prime time Japanese comedy show Uwasa No Channel, and later received the Order of the Rising Sun for his high relevance in Japanese culture. Held WWA World title on three occasions, the AWA World title once, and All Japan’s long-defunct PWF United States Heavyweight title four times.

WALLY YAMAGUCHI (5 May 1958 – 10 March 2019)

WWE

Gained most fame among WWE fans as the animated manager of Kaientai in 1998, though his influence in the business extends farther. Helped found the notorious Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) promotion a decade earlier, as well as Japanese wrestling publication Gong Magazine. Perhaps best known for farcical angle involving the attempted dismemberment of Val Venis on WWE Raw.

ROGER KIRBY (14 December 1939 – 18 March 2019)

Former NWA Junior Heavyweight champion, beating the legendary Danny Hodge for the championship in New Orleans in 1971. Traded upon the “Nature Boy” handle previously made famous by Buddy Rogers. Held championships across various NWA territories throughout the seventies and early eighties, but was most at home in Kansas City’s Central States Wrestling, where he held the region’s Heavyweight title on five occasions.

LARRY CHEATHAM (23 September 1946 – 27 March 2019)

“Moondog” was something of a mainstay in the late seventies and early eighties for Ole Anderson’s Georgia Championship Wrestling, with appearances in Jim Crockett’s Carolina territory, and Bill Watts’ Mid South Wrestling. Also a regular in Nashville and Memphis in that era, sometimes wrestling as Zebra Kid #2.

VICKI FUNK (24 February 1944 – 29 March 2019)

High school sweetheart and eventual wife of over 54 years to the legendary Terry Funk. Appeared alongside her husband in influential 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat, front and center during both Terry’s difficulties (being told he required major surgery) and triumphs (capturing the ECW World title at age 52). Co-owned the famed Double Cross Ranch with her husband, which merited frequent mention as part of his on-screen hometown.

COLTON QUEST (10 June 1995 – 30 March 2019)

“America’s Best” was a mainstay in the Delaware-based Right Coast Pro, where he wrestled exclusively during his six year career, after turning pro at age 17. Reigned as promotion’s Heavyweight champion at the time of his passing.

AL WILSON (??? – 4 April 2019)

Father of Torrie who gained rather tongue-in-cheek infamy for a 2002 SmackDown storyline in which he was seduced by Torrie’s rival Dawn Marie, and wound up marrying her before Dawn caused his death via sex-induced heart attack. Real-life passing sadly occurred two days before daughter’s induction into WWE Hall of Fame.

TONY THE ANNIHILATOR (30 November 1961 – 19 April 2019)

“Big Tony” wrestled primarily in the Wisconsin area throughout the 1990s, with notable opponents that included Jim Brunzell and former WWE tag team The Beverly Brothers. Was also a Gold Gloves boxer, as well as a competitor in Strongman contests.

BIG JOHN QUINN (15 October 1941 – 22 April 2019)

Canadian-born powerhouse toured the world, becoming a star throughout Europe, holding the British World Heavyweight title four times, and headlined a monumental Wembley Arena card in 1980 against Big Daddy. Also a former three-time Stampede North American champion, and nine-time holder of NWA All Star Wrestling’s Canadian Tag Team belts. Wrestled for a time as “Virgil the Kentucky Butcher” for the then-WWWF, unsuccessfully challenging perennial champion Bruno Sammartino in Texas Death matches in the late sixties.

ERIC CHAPEL (29 May 1985 – 29 April 2019)

Veteran of Pennsylvania and Maryland-based indies, primarily American Championship Pro Wrestling and Maryland Championship Wrestling, the latter of which he worked regularly in the final four years of his career. Reigned on several occasions as MCW Tag Team champion with Ecktourage partner Dirty Money, even facing The Hardy Boyz in a title match in 2017.

SILVER KING (9 January 1968 – 11 May 2019)

Highly-skilled son of Dr. Wagner competed through all the major promotions of Mexico, including AAA, UWA, and CMLL. Partnership with El Texano as Los Cowboys yielded tag team gold across multiple companies. Performed in WCW’s Cruiserweight division of the late-nineties, and later won All Japan Pro Wrestling’s World Junior Heavyweight title in 2008. Competed for a time in New Japan as the third incarnation of Black Tiger, and also appeared as Ramses, the main villain of 2005 Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre.

ASHLEY MASSARO (26 May 1979 – 16 May 2019)

WWE

2005 WWE Diva Search winner was immediately thrust into storylines, teaming with Trish Stratus in a rivalry with Victoria, Torrie Wilson, and Candice Michelle, and was later caught in the middle of Mickie James’ aggressive pursuing of Stratus. Performed at two WrestleManias, including in a Women’s title match against Melina at WrestleMania 23 in Detroit. Briefly managed SmackDown Tag Team champions Paul London and Brian Kendrick.

CHARLES MARTONI (24 August 1936 – 19 May 2019)

Regular in Pittsburgh’s studio wrestling of the sixties and early-seventies, mostly working under his real name, as well as the cloaked “Masked Marvel”. Later became the mayor of Swissville, PA, and was still a presiding councilman for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County at the time of his death.

RENE GOULET (12 July 1932 – 25 May 2019)

WWE

“Number One Frenchman” patronized the AWA and WWE throughout the seventies and early eighties, becoming part of the second World Tag Team champions in WWE history alongside Karl Gotch in 1971. Co-won what is today the New Japan World Tag League alongside Andre the Giant in 1981. Spent final years as a wrestler in WWE’s undercard, working with future stars such as Bret Hart and The British Bulldogs. Remained with the company into 1997 as a backstage agent, often visible on camera taking part in many pull-apart brawls and skirmishes.

LYLE C WILLIAMS (21 August 1961 – 2 June 2019)

Beloved Philadelphia-based photographer who worked the Tri-State scene for many years. Diligently captured iconic images from Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, and other local promotions in the post-ECW world, many of which are still disseminated today.

ATSUSHI AOKI (25 September 1977 – 3 June 2019)

Twitter/AJPW

Reigned as All Japan’s World Junior Heavyweight champion for a third time when he passed. Protege of Jun Akiyama twice held Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Junior Heavyweight Tag Team belts, with partners Kotaro Suzuki and Naomichi Marifuji. Co-won 2010 Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League with KENTA, and later held All Japan’s All Asia Tag Team titles on three occasions. Also worked in talent relations for All Japan, and trained wrestlers at the promotion’s dojo.

JIM RICHARDSON (2 April 1961 – 15 June 2019)

“The Hangin’ Judge” was a regular in the Von Erichs’ World Class territory during its final run in the late eighties, and for wrestler/booker Ken Mantell. Teamed with cousin “Gunner” Will Hitch as The Texas Outlaws, and also booked for small promotions in the Texas area.

LIONHEART (17 December 1982 – 19 June 2019)

The Wrap

Top champion for various UK promotions, including One Pro Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling, and Insane Championship Wrestling, the latter of which he was still World champion at the time of his passing. Gained unintended fame after his neck was broken during a 2014 match with AJ Styles, following a botched Styles Clash. Defied doctors’ orders to retire, making an emotional return one year later. Challenged ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness in a three-way match during a 1PW event in 2008.

BUCK RAMSTEAD (16 August 1943 – 26 June 2019)

Former collegiate wrestler at the University of Minnesota who transitioned into the professional ranks under the tutelage of Verne Gagne. Began his career in the AWA, but adopted the Pacific Northwest as his home territory for his remaining decade in the sport. Held the NWA Canadian championship for a time while wrestling as the masked Mr. Pro.

MAX MUSCLE (22 February 1963 – 27 June 2019)

Professional bodybuilder who made the transition into wrestling in 1992, working as Big Bad John for the Dallas-based Global Wrestling Federation. Ended up in WCW the following year as a peripheral player, eventually becoming Diamond Dallas Page’s imposing bodyguard in 1995. Later feuded with Page before playing out his tenure as part of the Dungeon of Doom.

JACQUES ROUGEAU SR (27 May 1930 – 1 July 2019)

Patriarch of the esteemed Rougeau wrestling family that took root as a squared circle dynasty in Quebec. Gold gloves boxer turned pro wrestler in the mid-fifties, oftentimes teaming with brother Johnny. Did incredible business as a headliner and frequent IWA International champion at the Montreal Forum alongside a cadre of villains that included Abdullah the Butcher, The Sheik, and Ivan Koloff, among others. Also a regular in New Japan Pro Wrestling in the seventies, a tenure that included a few singles bouts with Antonio Inoki. Had three sons (Raymond, Armand, and Jacques Jr) who later became wrestlers, teaming with them in a pair of eight-man bouts in July 1984.

PERRO AGUAYO (18 January 1946 – 3 July 2019)

Prensa Libre

Among the absolute top draws in the history of lucha libre, known for his untamed fighting style and his ability to take copious amounts of punishment. Considered the last great rival of the legendary El Santo, against whom he wagered his hair in a famed 1975 bout. Remained a major draw into the nineties, as evidenced by six consecutive sellouts at Arena Mexico for his feud with Konnan. Three time NWA Middleweight champion, with one of those reigns lasting 476 days. Helped found the AAA promotion in the early nineties, serving as one of its top stars. Predeceased by son Perro Jr, whom he teamed with occasionally over his final active years.

PACO ALONSO (19 September 1952 – 6 July 2019)

Third generation executive and longtime President of the CMLL promotion in Mexico, manning the position from 1987 until his passing. Known for being a hands-off owner, allowing his matchmakers and bookers to handle the wrestling end, while he remained something of a private figure. Previously worked in a promotional capacity for the then-EMLL in the seventies while father Chavo oversaw the company. Credited for maintaining a consistently-profitable promotion throughout his three decades at the helm.

BILLY RAY HICKERSON (16 February 1973 – 26 July 2019)

Tennessee native who competed throughout various southern indies, including USWA, IWA Mid-South, and various NWA affiliates. Also competed under a mask as part of the tag team Fire and Flame. Won Pro Wrestling Mid-South championship in late 2003, holding it into early 2005.

HARLEY RACE (11 April 1943 – 1 August 2019)

WWE

“The greatest wrestler on God’s green earth” was globally-renowned and respected as the golden standard of pro wrestlers throughout the latter generation of territory-era wrestling. Held the NWA World Heavyweight title eight times between 1973 and 1984, exchanging it in famed bouts with Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, and Ric Flair. Former three time AWA World Tag Team champion alongside partner Larry Hennig, memorably feuding with The Bruiser and The Crusher. Headlined inaugural Starrcade in 1983, dropping the title to Flair, and doing so in spite of a lucrative offer from Vince McMahon to sabotage the card by no-showing. Later joined WWE as “The King”, feuding with Hulk Hogan, Jim Duggan, and others in the latter half of the eighties. First man to hold the belt that today carries the lineage of the WWE United States title, capturing the gold in 1975. Also a heralded promoter and trainer, having a hand in the development of Barry Windham, Tommaso Ciampa, Trevor Murdoch, Curtis Axel, Ted Dibiase Jr, Richie Steamboat, and Bobby Fish, among many more.

ALEX RAIN (1972 – 3 August 2019)

Fixture of Manitoba’s independent scene through the latter half of the nineties and well into the mid-2000s, mostly for the NWA affiliated Canadian Wrestling Federation. Held NWA North American title for one month in 2001. Among earliest opponents for current Raw performer Eric Young, when the latter was only a couple years into the business.

DANGO WYNN (12 June 1971 – 10 August 2019)

Perhaps better known for his time as a villainous guard on The Walking Dead, but also wrestled professionally in the nineties and 2000s. Childhood friend of Rob Van Dam wrestled under the Wynn name, as well as Gemini, in Georgia-based independents including NWA Wildside and Anarchy Wrestling. Also served Athens-Clarke County, GA as a firefighter for 20 years.

GERRY HOGGARTH (17 April 1922 – 14 August 2019)

Believed to have been the oldest living professional wrestler at the time of his passing. Former British Heavyweight champion retired from the ring in 1959, later serving as a referee and promoter. One of the very earliest opponents of Shirley Crabtree, the future Big Daddy.

THE WRESTLING PRO (4 June 1938 – 15 August 2019)

Masked menace whose peak years in the seventies saw him rack up championships in Florida and the Gulf Coast. Multi-time NWA Gulf Coast Tag Team champion also held the NWA Junior Heavyweight belt and Mid-South-area North American title, and challenged for Jack Brisco’s NWA World Heavyweight crown. Wore the mask to conceal his identity, as he worked in law enforcement, before finally unmasking at a 2004 convention appearance.

EDDIE MARLIN (13 August 1930 – 15 August 2019)

Began wrestling in his twenties, though it remained a secondary part of his life until assuming a fuller role in the business in his late-thirties, wrestling under a mask as “The Mummy” for NWA Mid-America. Father-in-law of Jerry Jarrett (and grandfather of Jeff) held numerous territorial Tag Team titles alongside Tommy Gilbert and Tojo Yamamoto. Portrayed on-screen babyface commissioner for Memphis’ Continental territory throughout the 1980s, even returning to the ring for matches against former partner Gilbert in 1988.

NORMAN FREDERICK CHARLES III (25 July 1941 – 22 August 2019)

Partnered with cousin Jonathan Boyd as The Royal Kangaroos, winning the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team titles on six occasions between 1971 and 1976. Held other championships with Boyd, including the NWA International Tag Team titles in Stampede. While in Stampede, held the British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship on three occasions. Final years in Stampede were spent as a foil to the Hart family, most notably siblings Bret and Bruce, as well as a young Dynamite Kid.

JOHN CHAMBERS (23 June 1952 – 23 August 2019)

Former police officer who didn’t take to wrestling until he was in his mid-thirties, competing primarily in Georgia area for several NWA affiliates, holding the Southern Wrestling Federation’s American Heavyweight title. Personas used included Gunnery Sergeant Chambers, Colonel John Murdock, and the Russian Assassin.

DR. KARONTE (??? – 26 August 2019)

Masked luchador fathered five sons that all eventually became wrestlers themselves, including Argenis, Caristico, Astro Boy, Argos, and Dr. Karonte Jr. Began his career in the early sixties, and also wrestled under the name Manuel Almanza. Competed frequently in tag matches against rivals such as Genaro Contreras and Mario Prado.

MICHAEL RAY PORTER (27 March 1949 – 31 August 2019)

Owned and operated Main Event Wrestling (or NWA Main Event) in Nashville from 2000 until its 2012 closure, which at times included appearances from Cedric Alexander, James Storm, Taeler Hendrix, and Brian Christopher. Promoted shows in Tennessee as well as Georgia and Kentucky during his time running the company.

FERNAND FRECHETTE (16 December 1943 – 17 September 2019)

Quebec native began wrestling as a teenager in the late-fifties, before finding steady work under a mask as one of the Green Hornets for Johnny Rougeau in 1969. Later donned a different mask and costume as The Scorpion, wrestling all over Canada and in Japan’s IWE promotion, before retiring in 1983.

BIG TITAN (16 January 1970 – 20 September 2019)

WWE

Canadian powerhouse who formed a potent, title-winning duo with The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) in Japan’s FMW promotion in the early nineties. Toured in other international promotions such as the German/Austrian Catch Wrestling Association, and Genichiro Tenryu’s WAR promotion in Japan. Gained notoriety for 1996 run in WWE in which the 6’6″ heavyweight was repackaged as the impostor Razor Ramon.

GIANT GUSTAV (25 April 1961 – 6 October 2019)

Mammoth super-heavyweight known for his immense frame and abnormally-large hands. Student of Edouard Carpentier debuted in the mid-eighties, and had a brief run through New Japan Pro Wrestling, decimating foes in handicap matches. Went on to have a career in film, appearing in wrestle-centric No Holds Barred, as well as 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.

MATT TRAVIS (5 August 1994 – 9 November 2019)

Student of The Amazing Red wrestled for northeastern indies such as House of Glory and Game Changer Wrestling, and had several matches for CZW in 2019, representing House of Glory in a promotional war. Select opponents from his brief time in the business include Homicide, Jimmy Rave, and Private Party. AEW Dynamite match pitting Private Party against Santana and Ortiz in November was dedicated to his memory.

MOONDOG REX (2 May 1950 – 14 December 2019)

WWE

Woolly brawler that worked the southeastern territories throughout the seventies (including a stint as one of the Assassins) later captured Tag Team gold in WWE with Moondog King in 1981. Continued on as the bone-gnawing Moondog well into the nineties, though did find other success in Mid-South in 1985, winning the North American title as The Nightmare. Portrayed the original Demolition Smash in early 1987, before his obvious identity led to WWE replacing him with Barry Darsow.

MR. NIEBLA (22 February 1973 – 23 December 2019)

Animated, physically-exuberant lucha icon whose comedic performances ran parallel to championship glory, including a 500-plus day reign as CMLL Heavyweight champion in 2003-04. Made CMLL his primary home from 1995 until his passing, save for 16 months spent in AAA in 2007-08. Formed La Peste Negra (“The Black Plague”) with Negro Casas and others in 2008, enduring in various incarnations to the present day. Successfully defended his mask on at least nine occasions in matches throughout the nineties. Also held Tag Team and Trios gold in CMLL alongside the likes of Shocker, Atlantis, Black Warrior, and Lizmark.

Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.

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