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WWE and WCW legend Mr Wonderful dies aged 71 as Hulk Hogan leads tributes
July 13, 2021
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Wrestling legend and infamous WWE strongman Paul Orndorff – more widely known by his stage name Mr Wonderful – has died at the age of 71, his family have confirmed.
Paul's son, Travis Orndorff, announced the tragic news on his Instagram page on Monday, July 12.
Hulk Hogan tweeted soon after: "Just got slammed with the Paul Orndorff news, RIP my brother,l ove you and thank you for always making me fight for everything in our matches, heaven just got even more Wonderful,love U4LifeHH"
Orndorff joined WWE in 1983 and was soon landed with the now notorious “Mr. Wonderful” nickname by his then-manager and fellow wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Named for his larger-than-life persona in the ring, "Mr. Wonderful" was in many ways "a prototype for the modern-day Superstar" according to a tribute published by the WWE on Monday evening.
The tribute went on: "He made a memorable debut on January 23, 1984, with a win over Salvatore Bellomo at Madison Square Garden and launched right into the main event picture with matches against World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan.
"Mr. Wonderful achieved sports-entertainment immortality by competing alongside Piper to face Hogan and Mr. T in the main event of WrestleMania I."
Paul later went on to coach upcoming WCW stars at their Power Plant set up, and cemented his reputation as a true great of the industry in his final years.
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As a trainer, Orndorff molded a generation of promising stars, including Mark Jindrak, Stacy Keibler and Goldberg.
An alumnus from the University of Tampa in Florida, USA, Paul had beaten cancer in 2011, with reports in the last few years suggesting the wrestling legend had been battling dementia.
His son Travis penned an emotional tribute on Instagram and said: "It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr. . He is better known as “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
"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. 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. He was an amazing father that showed me more love than I ever deserved.