Paul Orndorff, Wrestler Known as Mr. Wonderful, Dies at 71

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U.S.|Paul Orndorff, Wrestler Known arsenic Mr. Wonderful, Dies astatine 71

The wrestler competed successful the archetypal WrestleMania, held successful 1985 astatine Madison Square Garden.

Paul Orndorff astatine  his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame successful  2005.
Credit...Chris Farina/Corbis, via Getty Images

Jesus Jiménez

Published July 12, 2021Updated July 13, 2021, 1:17 a.m. ET

Paul Orndorff, the WWE Hall of Famer known to fans arsenic Mr. Wonderful, who fought against Hulk Hogan successful the first-ever WrestleMania, died connected Monday successful Fayetteville, Ga. He was 71.

Mr. Orndorff’s decease was announced by his lad Travis Orndorff connected Instagram. No origin was given.

“Most of you volition retrieve him for his physique,” his lad said successful the Instagram post. “Many volition retrieve his intensity. But if I could lone get you to recognize and spot his heart.”

Mr. Orndorff joined the World Wrestling Federation, known contiguous arsenic World Wrestling Entertainment, successful 1983, and debuted successful 1984, according to WWE.

He participated successful the archetypal WrestleMania astatine Madison Square Garden successful March 1985 successful a combat with Roddy Piper against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T., according to WWE. Mr. Hogan and Mr. T won the fight. The adjacent year, Mr. Orndorff fought against Mr. Hogan successful an lawsuit that drew much than 60,000 spectators to Canadian National Exhibition Stadium successful Toronto, which Mr. Hogan won by disqualification.

Mr. Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame successful 2005, successful the aforesaid people arsenic Mr. Hogan.

On Monday, Mr. Hogan paid tribute to Mr. Orndorff connected Twitter: “Thank you for ever making maine combat for everything successful our matches, eden conscionable got adjacent much wonderful.”

Born connected Oct. 29, 1949, successful Brandon, Fla., Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr. attended the University of Tampa, wherever helium was a moving back, and graduated successful 1972, according to the university. Mr. Orndorff was selected by the New Orleans Saints successful the 12th circular of the 1973 N.F.L. draft, but aboriginal began a vocation successful nonrecreational wrestling.

Mr. Orndorff won his archetypal championship, Memphis territory’s Mid-Southern Heavyweight title, successful 1977, according to the University of Tampa Hall of Fame, which helium was inducted into successful 1986.

In a tweet, WWE said Mr. Orndorff “brought a swagger and benignant to the WWE Universe that turned his endowment into a prototype for the modern-day superstar.”

Gary Cassidy, a freelance writer who covers nonrecreational wrestling, said successful a tweet that Mr. Orndorff was “an integral portion of the strides that made it imaginable for Hulkamania to tally chaotic and 1 of the astir WrestleMania matches of each time.”

He said that Mr. Orndorff was “without doubt, 1 of the top wrestlers to ne'er clasp a large satellite championship.”

In Instagram posts earlier Mr. Orndorff’s death, his lad alluded to concerns astir encephalon harm from wrestling.

Three days earlier Mr. Orndorff died, his lad posted a representation of 1 of his father’s notebooks connected Instagram with a telephone number.

“If you can’t work it, it says ‘son, I think.’ I haven’t had that telephone fig since 2005,” Mr. Orndorff’s lad said successful the caption. “I anticipation the satellite volition commencement to instrumentality announcement of the encephalon harm and the consequences of this lifestyle.”

Mr. Orndorff was progressive successful respective cases filed by a radical of erstwhile wrestlers against WWE. They claimed that they had suffered neurological damage, specified arsenic chronic traumatic encephalopathy, “as a effect of carnal trauma they experienced portion performing.”

The cases were dismissed due to the fact that the claims were filed aft a statute of limitations expired oregon due to the fact that they were “frivolous,” tribunal documents show.

Complete accusation connected survivors was not instantly disposable connected Monday night.

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