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The Tragic Death of Paul Orndorff, WWE’s Mr. Wonderful

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but WWE legend and Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff aka Mr. Wonderful has passed away at the age of 71. His cause of death evidently was tied to a long-time illness that he had been battling. In the years leading up to his death, Orndorff was reportedly in a very troubling situation that left him in a very bad state of being for quite some time.

His son Travis Orndorff announced his father’s passing on social media. He stated that the majority of his fans will probably remember him for his physique and intensity. But he emphasized that what he would miss the most about his dad was his heart.

Travis had previously posted a video and a few photos of Paul Orndorff. In those revealing posts, he shared some details relating to his father’s deteriorating health condition. In the months and years preceding his death, he was not in proper health and hardly even looked like himself.

Travis released the hard-to-watch video footage and informed Canadian wrestling promoter and interviewer Devon Nicholson who operates The Hannibal TV channel of his father’s declining condition. Among other things, Orndorff was suffering from late-stage dementia. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 but overcame it and went into remission.

He was previously involved in a class-action lawsuit against WWE that alleged that wrestlers suffered from long-term neurological injuries. After their time in the league, but that case was dismissed in 2018.

Paul Orndorff once famously participated in one of the greatest steel cage matches in the history of professional wrestling. When he confronted Hollywood Hulk Hogan at the WWE Championship’s Saturday Night Main Event.

He retired from wrestling after sustaining a neck injury in 2000 at the Fall Brawl WWE event. But he still managed to wrestle in one last match in 2017 at the age of 67. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and appeared on WWE television several times in 2014.

Let’s take a look back on Paul Orndorff’s career. Really, the world of wrestling probably would look a lot different today if he had never had risen to glory. Join Facts Verse to know about the Tragic Death of Paul Orndorff, WWE’s Mr. Wonderful.

Orndorff’s Early Career And Rise To Fame

Paul signed with the World Wrestling Federation in 1983 and made his debut out on the mat in January 1984 with Rowdy Roddy Piper as his manager. Piper dubbed Paul Orndorff ‘Mr. Wonderful’, an alias that he used ever since. Orndorff’s first WWF match was against Salvatore Bellomo on the evening that Hulk Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik thus clinching the WWF World Heavyweight Title.

On January 23, 1984, at Madison Square Garden, Orndorff became one of the first wrestlers to challenge him for the world title. Hogan obliterated his first challenger and moved on while Orndoff fought a variety of opponents including the Intercontinental Champ Tito Santana. When piper clobbered Jimmy Snuka on the set of Piper’s Pit. Orndorff assisted by Bob Orton Jr teamed up with the Rowdy One in his fights. Orndorff and Piper often faced Snuka and The Tonga Kid in tag team competitions.

In late 1984, Roddy Piper’s assault on Cyndia Lauper pitted Orndorff and Piper against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. Hogan’s feud with Piper meant that Orndorff was once again back in the main event picture. He defeated Tony Atlas at The War to Settle the Score and then played a major role in the main event. The fallout from that match led to the creation of WrestleMania with Hogan and Mr. T facing off against Rowdy Roddy and Paul Orndorff in the main event.

Orton’s interference at the end of that match ended up backfiring when he accidentally hit Orndorff with the cast on his arm. That allowed Hulk Hogan to pin Orndorff down and win the match for his team.

Piper and Orton blamed Orndorff for the loss and subsequently attacked him on the very first episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Later on that evening, Orndorff ran into the ring to help even things out when Piper and Orton were getting ready to double team Hulk Hogan. Shortly after that match, he solidified his babyface reputation by publicly firing his manager Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. Join Facts Verse to know about the Tragic Death of Paul Orndorff, WWE’s Mr. Wonderful.

The Dawn Of A New Era

Orndorff and Hogan then started teaming up to feud with Piper and Orton. Going head to head with them in tag team competitions all across the nation. Orndorff’s feud with Piper and Orton continued to build in intensity until Hogan began to defend his title against other wrestlers. Orndorff faced both Orton and Piper in individual competitions, typically without a conclusive outcome.

After firing his manager, Bobby Heenan, The Brain placed a $25,000 bounty on Orndorff payable to anybody who was capable of injuring him. When nobody succeeded at that task, Heenan upped the bounty to a whopping $50,000.

One of the first contenders who tried to claim the new, highly lucrative bonus was Roddy Piper himself. But their matches got so crazy that Bruno Sammartino was appointed as a referee in hopes of keeping the peace. Instead of achieving that noble goal, however, Sammartino became the new target of Orton and Piper’s rage which led to Orndorff and Sammartino teaming up to take them on.

Orndorff ended up joining forces with a variety of wrestlers in his fights with Piper and Orton including the legendary brawler Andre the Giant. In February 1986, Bobby Heenan seized the opportunity during a match between Hulk Hogan and Don Muraco. To have his buddy King Kong Bundy attack Hogan thus setting the stage for their Wrestlemania 2 match. While Hogan fought off Bundy victoriously, Orndorff fought Don Muraco in a match that ended in a double count-out.

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And don’t you dare think about going anywhere just yet. Stick around to learn all about Orndorff’s years in the WCW and the honors that he received after entering into retirement. Join Facts Verse to know about the Tragic Death of Paul Orndorff, WWE’s Mr. Wonderful.

The Feuding Continues

Orndorff’s next big feud was with Adrian Adonis who took every opportunity available to him to mock him. Calling him Hulk Jr and saying that he had gone soft ever since he teamed up with Hogan. The next time that Hogan and Orndorff teamed up against the Moondogs. He wrestled the majority of the match by himself in a bold attempt to upstage Hogan. The following week, during a match where Hogan and Orndorff took on the duo of Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy. Orndorff accidentally collided with Hogan and was thrown out of the ring.

When Studd and Bundy then started to attack Hogan, Orndorff did nothing at first to help him out. It wasn’t until the team had Hogan in a compromised position that Orndorff chose to reenter the ring to fend them off. He then helped Hogan to his feet and raised his hand in the air before giving him a clothesline followed by a piledriver.

After that match, Orndorff reunited with his former manager Bobby Heenan and again feuded with Hulk Hogan. After several matches with no clear outcome. Hogan and Orndorff clashed in a steel cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hogan ended up winning that match which ended their feud.

During the feud, however, Orndorff seriously injured his right arm in a weightlifting accident. Since he’s in the middle of his profitable run with Hogan. He didn’t take the time off to have the surgery he needed to properly treat it. After his feud with Hogan ended, Orndorff forced to work a reduced schedule for several months because of the injury.

While he was away from the WWF, Heenan brought in a new man, Ravishing Rick Rude, to take Orndorff’s place. Orndorff returned to the ring to both fire Heenan once again and to feud with Rick Rude. Join Facts Verse to know about the Tragic Death of Paul Orndorff, WWE’s Mr. Wonderful.

He then took Oliver Humperdink on as his new manager for his fight with Rude and Heenan. Orndorff’s last major appearance was at the first Survival Series on November 26, 1987. When he teamed up with Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, and Don Muraco to take on Andre the Giant, The One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. Early on in the match, Rude eliminated Orndorff with a roll-up.

Orndorff retired in early 1988 in part because of his arm injury. He then started running his own bowling alley in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While he’s away from the ring, it actually reported that Orndorff had died. But he was far from dead, and during that time away from the sport, Orndorff recovered from his injury and got back into shape.

The WCW Years And Retirement

In 1990, Orndorff staged his return to the world of wrestling with a series of matches against Kerry Von Erich on the indie circuit. He then signed with World Championship Wrestling debuting as a member of a group called the ‘Dudes with Attitudes. Orndorff remained with the WCW until the fall of 1990.

After taking a couple of years off, Orndorff returned to WCW in late 1992. In 1993 he went head to head with Cactus Jack. After the match, Orndorff declared by manager Harley Race to be his new chosen man. Orndorff later pinned by Cactus Jack in a Thunderdome Match which kicked off an intense feud between the two. Cactus Jack eventually put Orndorff in his place at SuperBrawl III.

Orndorff went on to earn the title of WCW World Television Champion after participating in a 16 man tournament involving wrestlers like Johnny B. Badd, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Erik Watts. On August 18, 1993, Orndorff’s lost his title to Ricky Steamboat at Clash of the Champions XXIV.

Orndorff then retired once again and began running WCW Power Plant where he trained numerous wrestlers including Natural Born Thrillers. On February 3, 2005, Orndorff was announced as one of the inductees for the Class of 2005 WWE Hall of Fame. He inducted on April 2nd at the Univeral Amphitheatre in LA by Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan. Later that evening during Hulk Hogan’s induction, Orndorff seen clapping when his old rival came onstage.

Following Orndorff’s death, Hulk Hogan sent his condolences to his former rival’s friends and friends. Fans came forward on social media and shared their favorite memories of the legendary wrestler. What were some of your favorite matches, feuds, and controversies that Orndorff got involved in? Let us know in the comments section below.

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