WWE Hall of Famer "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff died at age 71


Paul Orndorff, a WWE Hall of Famer, died Monday at the age of 71.  The announcement was made by his son Travis:

Mr. Wonderful main evented the first WrestleMania and was a huge success against Hulk Hogan.  Prior to wresting entertainment, Orndorff was an amazing athlete who played American professional football.  He was a star running back for the University of Tampa.  He led the Tampa Spartans to a bowl victory defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes 21-18.  Orndorff scored two touchdowns, all in the first quarter.  After college, he was selected in the 12th round (289 overall pick) in the 1973 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.  However, Orndorff failed the physical with both the Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.  He did play one season with the Jacksonville Sharks, a World Football league in 1975.  

In 1976, Paul Orndorff started wrestling in the Mid-Southern Wrestling.  He went on to wrestle different promotions to include the NWA.  

Then, Orndorff signed with WWE in late 1983.  He debuted on January 23, 1984 and pinned Salvatore Bellomo.  He would later feud with Hulk Hogan (WWF World Heavyweight Champion) and Tito Santana (WWF Intercontinental Champion).  

Orndorff was selected as Piper's partner in the main event of the original WrestleMania, tangling with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.  After the loss in the match, Piper and Bob Orton dismissed Mr. Wonderful and allied with the Hulkster.  The partnership did not last long as he would eventually double cross Hulk Hogan and feud again.  This time, their match was in Toronto, Canada, in front of over 76,000 in attendance.  

Pro Wrestling illustrated voted Mr. Wonderful as one of the top superstars in the business.  Here are the following accomplishments:

  • PWI Feud of the Year (1986) vs. Hulk Hogan
  • PWI Match of the Year (1985) with Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at WrestleMania
  • PWI Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1986)
  • PWI ranked him # 38 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1993.
  • PWI ranked him # 49 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003

Paul Orndorff was famous for his signature move, the piledriver.  He was honored and inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2005.