Former New Orleans Saints Draft Pick & Wrestling Great ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndoff Passes Away at 71
The world of professional wrestling lost another legend as WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndoff passed away today at the age of 71 in Fayetteville, Georgia.
Known in the ring as "Mr. Wonderful," Orndoff was first a standout running back at the University of Tampa in the early 1970s. He scored 21 touchdowns and gained more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.
That talent was good enough to get himself drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 12th round of the 1973 NFL Draft. He never played a down for the Black & Gold, failing to pass the physical.
He later played one season for the Jacksonville Sharks of the World Football League in 1975. After one season, he began training to become a professional wrestler.
He had success in the 1970s and 1980s with Mid-South Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance before signing with the World Wrestling Federation in 1983.
It was in the WWF where he got the nickname "Mr. Wonderful" and often shared the ring with Hulk Hogan, both as his tag team partner, and later on after a storyline betrayal, as his opponent for the WWF heavyweight championship.
The very first WrestleMania pitted Orndorff in the main event, teaming with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper against Hogan and Mr. T. Later on, a steel cage match between Orndorff and Hogan would become one of the WWF's most-watched matches on television.
In the early 1990s, Orndorff began competing for World Championship Wrestling. It was there he captured his first major championship, defeating Erik Watts on March 2, 1993, to become Television Champion. He was also a two-time WCW Tag Team Champion with Paul Roma in 1994.
When Orndorff's wrestling days came to an end, the master of the piledriver became a trainer for WCW's Power Plant.
In 2005, Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Back in early 2011, Orndoff revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer, but on August 10 of that year, he said it was gone.
On May 8, 2021, Orndorff's song Travis posted a video of his dad at a medical facility, where he was seen in a state of reported dementia.
Orndorff is survived by his wife Ronda, two sons, Paul Orndorff III and Travis Orndorff, as well as eight grandchildren.
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