WWE Hall of Famer “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff passed away today. He was 71 years old.
The news was announced by his son, Travis Orndorff, on his Instagram account. No details are known at this time, but Orndorff was battling dementia.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr. . He is better known as “Mr. #1derful” Paul Orndorff. Most of you will remember him for his physique. Many will remember his intensity. But if I could only get you to understand and see his heart. He will always be Pop, Paw Paw, and Daddy at home. And as much as many of you hated him as a wrestler, he absolutely loved you for it. He was an amazing father that showed me more love than I ever deserved. I love you Daddy.
A donation page is available in my bio for funeral expenses. Any close friends whom would like to speak at his funeral, please message me on Instagram Travis_Orndorff.
Orndorff began his career in 1976 for Mid-Southern Wrestling, feuding with Jerry Lawler, and won the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. Orndorff would bounce around in numerous NWA territories, feuding with Ernie Ladd, Baron von Raschke, and Greg Valentine.
In the early 1980s, Orndorff would find his way to Georgia Championship Wrestling. While there, he feuded with NWA World Champion Ric Flair for the championship, coming up short in his efforts. Orndorff would also have a run with the NWA National Heavyweight Championship.
Orndorff signed with the World Wrestling Federation in 1983, where he would find great success. In early 1984, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper became his manager and named him “Mr. Wonderful.” Orndorff would have a long feud with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. While teaming with Piper, he would be part of the first WrestleMania main event to take on Hogan and Mr. T in 1985. Orndorff would take the pinfall loss in the match.
On the first Saturday Night’s Main Event, Piper and Bob Orton would turn on Orndorff. Orndorff would go on a babyface run against Piper and Orton while also firing Bobby Heenan. Heenan would put a bounty on Orndorff’s head, but it wouldn’t be claimed. Orndorff would eventually go back to being a heel, turning on Hogan once again and having a run challenging for the WWF Championship. Unfortunately, Orndorff would injure his right arm in a weightlifting accident. Not wanting to lose out on the money associated with a Hogan feud, he did not take time off to have surgery and caused further lasting damage to the arm.
After going into semi-retirement in 1988, Orndorff would reemerge in 1990 in World Championship Wrestling. It would be short-lived, but he would go back in 1992 for a long run until 2000. During this time, Orndorff would team with “Stunning” Steve Austin and Paul Roma, creating a tag team with the latter called Pretty Wonderful. After 1995, he would make sporadic appearances for the company and would work in the WCW Power Plant to train wrestlers. His in-ring career came to an end in 1999 after suffering a serious neck injury.
Orndorff would go on to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. He would also make some appearances for WWE in 2014, including WrestleMania XXX. In 2016, he was part of the class-action lawsuit claiming WWE covered up knowledge of head trauma in performers, but this was dismissed in 2020.
On behalf of the staff of Wrestleview, we send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Paul Orndorff.
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