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WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff, better known as “Mr. Wonderful,” died on Monday, his son Travis announced on Instagram.
He was 71. His cause of death is not yet known, though he has dealt with numerous health issues in recent years and had been living in an assisted living facility while battling dementia.
“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,” Travis wrote, in part. “He will always be Pop, Paw Paw, and Daddy at home. And as much as many of you hated him as a wrestler, he absolutely loved you for it.”
Orndorff started out as a running back at Tampa University, and was drafted in the 12th round by the New Orleans Saints in 1973. He never played with the Saints, however, and instead launched his wrestling career three years later.
Orndorff joined WWE in 1983, and quickly started an incredible rivalry with former heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan. Orndorff also competed in the very first WrestleMania in 1985 with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in a match against Hogan and Mr. T at Madison Square Garden.
He suffered numerous injuries throughout his career, and was part of a class action lawsuit against WWE claiming it failed to protect them from repeated head trauma and concussions. That suit was dismissed in 2018.
Orndorff left WWE in 1988 and eventually retired from pro wrestling in 2000. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
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