The Hall of Famer – whose real name was Eldridge Wayne Coleman – passed away this week aged 79 after being in hospital for weeks with various health issues.
“Superstar” Billy Graham achieved prominence in the 1970s. Born on June 7, 1943, in Phoenix, Arizona, Graham became known for his flamboyant personality, muscular physique, and charismatic promos. He was one of the earliest wrestlers to popularize the “heel” or villainous persona, often engaging in provocative and boastful behavior.
Ric Flair announced his passing on social media and thanked him for influencing his career as a heel world champion.
The Superstar Billy Graham Just Left Us 🙏🏻 THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFLUENCE On My Career! pic.twitter.com/YH0eT2NM4p
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) May 18, 2023
Graham’s wrestling career spanned from 1969 to 1988, during which he competed in various promotions, most notably with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), which later became the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and then the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). He won the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1977, defeating Bruno Sammartino.
Graham’s unique style, which included colorful attire, bleached blonde hair, and his signature “Superstar” pose, made him a popular figure among fans. He was influential in inspiring future wrestlers, such as Hulk Hogan and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, with his charismatic and larger-than-life persona.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer “Superstar” Billy Graham has passed away. We extend our condolences to Graham’s family, friends, and fans.https://t.co/Qpykpjv616
— WWE (@WWE) May 18, 2023
Following his retirement from professional wrestling, Graham faced several health issues, including hip replacements and liver transplant surgery due to steroid use during his career. Despite the challenges, he remained a revered figure within the wrestling industry, often making appearances at conventions and events.
Before Billy Graham, performers in WWWF / WWF/ WWE were known as professional wrestlers. After Billy Graham left his mark, Vincent Kennedy McMahon decided everyone would be a WWE Superstar. A most heartfelt RIP to the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour! pic.twitter.com/bwL6UQ3c3h
— Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle) May 18, 2023
Superstar Billy Graham’s impact on professional wrestling is recognized to this day, and he is remembered as a trailblazer in terms of his character work, physique, and mic skills.