Former WWE Star Corporal Kirchner Passes Away

Was also a deathmatch star in Japan during the nineties

Michael Penzel, known for his decades of wrestling around the world as several distinct characters, passed away Wednesday at his North Carolina home, according to an online memorial.

Penzel was 64 years old. No cause of death has been given.

WWE fans of the eighties best remember Penzel as the American flag-toting Corporal Kirchner between 1985 and 1987. After wrestling for a time as enhancement talent RT Reynolds, Penzel was given the Kirchner gimmick, reportedly after WWE officials learned that Penzel had served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. Kirchner would enter arenas to a rendition of "As the Caissons Go Rolling Along".

Kirchner's most prolific moment came during the Chicago portion of WrestleMania 2 in 1986, when he defeated Nikolai Volkoff in a brief match where the winner got to raise his country's flag.

After leaving the WWF in 1987, Penzel spent the remainder of the year wrestling in Calgary's Stampede territory. After stints in New Japan, Penzel became Leatherface in Memphis' USWA in 1991, and brought the horror-themed gimmick to Japan the following year, where he became a regular on the deathmatch circuit.

After wrestling for WING and IWA Japan over the ensuing two years, Penzel brought the character (redubbed Super Leather) to FMW in 1995. There, Penzel held the FMW Brass Knuckles title, Brass Knuckles Tag Team titles, and World Street Fight Six Man Tag Team titles.

Largely inactive after 2002, Penzel wrestled his last reported match in December 2009, at an independent event in Pennsylvania.

Cultaholic offers its condolences to Mr. Penzel's family and friends.

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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.