Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 In Memoriam

Every year, the wrestling community at large loses several of its members, some of them far before their time, some of them after normally long and fruitful lives. The toll that the business takes on its performers tends to shove far more of them into that former category than what makes the average person comfortable. Even if those wrestlers were closer to the latter than the former, it's heartbreaking to lose one in any stage, because these are the people whom fans have grown to love over decades of performance. The list of those who have passed this year may feel shorter than in others, but the people who were lost were giants. Come, remember those who are no longer among the living and honor their memories.

Perro Aguayo, Jr.
Photo via unionguanajuato.mx
Perro Aguayo, Jr. died at the age of 35 in the ring in Tijuana, Mexico. Few wrestlers were as important to Asistencia Asesoría y Administración or lucha libre in general as Perrito, and his passing sent shockwaves around the world of wrestling, not just in his native Mexico, but all around the world. To read a better tribute than I could provide, please read Kris Zellner's obituary/tribute from Lucha World.

Hack Myers
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated (via WWE.com)
Hack Myers passed away at age 41 from complications of brain surgery in Baltimore, MD. He was one of the most colorful undercard wrestlers from Extreme Championship Wrestling's early days, nicknamed "The Shah of Extreme."

Buddy Landel
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Buddy Landel died at age 53 due to injuries sustained in a car accident the day before his passing. Landel was a rising star in the National Wrestling Alliance, but he had a falling out with Jim Crockett Promotions right before he was scheduled to win the NWA World Championship from Ric Flair. He was also a standout performer for Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and he had a cup of coffee with WWE.

Verne Gagne
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated (via WWE.com)
Verne Gagne passed away at the age of 89 in Bloomington, MN. Gagne began his long and storied career as a technical wizard in the NWA's Midwest territories before starting his own promotion, the American Wrestling Association. Gagne's AWA made Minnesota one of the epicenters of the wrestling world, and he was one of its anchors. Even as his territory faded in the late '80s, his influence and impact on the industry can never be discounted.

Nick Bockwinkel
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Nick Bockwinkel died in Las Vegas, NV at age 80. Bockwinkel was one of the AWA's signature talents and one hell of a technical wrestler. He was praised by fans and peers alike for his cutting wit, his professionalism, and his ability to be a ring general. He later served as an on-screen authority figure for World Championship Wrestling.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Roddy Piper passed away at age 61 in Hollywood, CA due to cardiac arrest in his sleep. Piper was one of the most iconic figures in pro wrestling history, first in Portland, then in the mid-Atlantic territory, and finally in WWE. He was in marquee matches at both the first Starrcade and first WrestleMania. He was an immortal foil for Hulk Hogan, and his acting roles, though few, were memorable. You can read far more about Piper and his legacy by clicking on the Piper Week tag.

Dusty Rhodes
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Dusty Rhodes died in Orlando, FL from stomach cancer at age 69. Rhodes was the quintessential babyface wrestler, a folk hero who stood up for the common man, because that's who he was. He made waves all across the country, mostly in his native Texas and later in Georgia and the mid-Atlantic. He was the finest orator in wrestling history, and in his later years, he helped mold and cast WWE's future as a mentor and director for NXT and at the WWE Performance Center. You can read more about Rhodes on the Dusty Week tag, and be sure to check out Ian Williams' tribute at VICE Sports.