An original WrestleMania main event star from 1985 in Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff has passed away at the age of 71.
Known for his awesome feud with Hulk Hogan in 1986, Paul Orndorff played a huge part in Vince Mcmahon’s WWE during the stage of national expansion of the then WWF. He entered the wrestling league in 1984 just as Hulk Hogan was recently crowned the WWF Heavyweight Champion of the World. It would be a year later where Orndorff would be entrenched in the historic main event of the first ever WrestleMania tag teaming with the legendary “Rowdy” Roddy Piper who passed away also in the month of July in 2015.
One of the icons of the Rock n Wrestling Era, he became a household name in 1984 – 1987 for his ratings smashing feud with Hulk Hogan. He was credited for making pro wrestling grow into a pop culture entity as the men wanted to be like him or despised him as he use to often say in his wrestling interviews. On the first ever pro wrestling event on NBC, Paul Orndorff being the “bad guy” at WrestleMania in 1985 turned to the side of the fans on the classic “Saturday Night Main Event”.
Paul Orndorff’s drawing power was unmatched during the time as he helped to draw the biggest money making event up until that point in the summer of 1986. Toronto held a show called “The Big Event” which had 70,000 plus fans attending Exhibition Stadium. The record did not last long only due to Hulk Hogan facing an even bigger challenger literally and physically half a year later in Detroit against Andre The Giant. That event was WrestleMania III which garnered a world indoor record that lasted for a few decades of 93,172 fans. The two records have been in dispute for decades as stated in this Deadspin report, but nonetheless the then WWF was perhaps at its peak in popularity in the history of the company from 1986-1989. Hulk Hogan took to social media to acknowledge the passing and also pay tribute to Orndorff pushing him to be at his best performances. The WWE Hall Of Famer stated, “Just got slammed with the Paul Orndorff news,RIP my brother,love you and thank you for always making me fight for everything in our matches,heaven just got even more Wonderful,love U4LifeHH”
— On This Day in WWE (@OTD_in_WWE) July 12, 2021
Of course, some WCW and “Attitude Era” fans reading this will proclaim the mid to late 90’s with the explosion of popularity with the NWO led by Hulk Hogan and the new WWE under “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock was more popular, but there is no argument that the 80’s WWF laid the groundwork for the decades to come for sports entertainment. Paul Orndorff would end up in WCW working for Ted Turner in matches and would eventually take a backstage position that ended when WWE bought out WCW in 2001.
WorldWide Entertainment TV sends out prayers and condolences to the family, friends, and fans of “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
Check out the reactions from fans and the wrestling culture below.
Paul Orndorff was a true, man’s man. A stud.
Condolences to Paul’s family and friends. 🙏🤠 https://t.co/e1wDZVGEcO
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) July 12, 2021
My favourite bad guy from back in the day, loved his second heel turn against the jabroni hogan himself.
— Adaminkw (@adaminkw) July 12, 2021
It's a humble request
Please honour him with the ten bells salutes on today's edition of Raw
He was a legend
He deserves a 10 bells salute
— Anmol Pawar (@Thejerk125) July 12, 2021
RIP “Mr. Wonderful,” one of the men responsible for making wrestling mainstream. 🙏🏽
— Impact Wrestling News (@TalkingImpact) July 12, 2021