Geno

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"Rowdy" Roddy Piper attends the WrestleMania 25th anniversary press conference at the Hard Rock Caf� on March 31, 2009 in New York City.

The news this weekend that former WWF star Razor Ramon / Scott Hall is on life support was sad to hear. The man had overcome some really tough times in life. Well documented fights against drugs and alcohol were just as famous as his in-ring bouts with Shawn Michaels or the NWO. But he pulled his life together and seemed to be in a good place. News reports say his family will visit him and they will then take him off life support as soon as today.

I got into radio only really because I grew out of professional wrestling. I loved the WWF as a kid. My mother somehow scraped together enough money to take me to Atlantic City to see WrestleMania 4. The seats were so good we were just a few rows away from a real estate guy who one day would become the president. I got to see Hulk Hogan take on Andre The Giant and Sarasota’s own “Macho Man” Randy Savage lift his first world championship belt. It’s sad to look at the pictures I snapped on my Kodak Disc camera back then. So many of the guys are no longer with us.

Before you assume this is a hit job piece on the WWF, it’s not. Years later, I got to work in pro wrestling as a ring announcer and got to hear real stories. Yes, many of the guys took steroids. (They were legal in the 80s.) Yes, many of the guys partied. But put the judgment away for a moment and try to understand the life they lived back then. You don’t know what these guys went through. Unlike other sports, yes I call pro wrestling a sport, there is no offseason. There are no home games. Constantly traveling, trying to eat well, find a place to work out, performing while injured all while resisting the temptations with drugs that eased the pain … that was a tough balance for the guys back then. It probably still is.

My pro wrestling fan days are behind me. I turn it on from time to time to reminisce. I even went to WrestleMania in 2021 when it came to Tampa. But it was really that mid to late 80s era of WWF and NWA wrestling that made my childhood so awesome. And these 10 WWE legends are missed.

  • #10: The British Bulldogs

    We are only beginning to learn what we’ll eventually know about concussions and the horrific consequences they bring. The story of The Dynamite Kid will evolve as more research is done. Yes he did some cruel awful things. But I wouldn’t blame them on steroids. Davey Boy Smith didn’t make it to age 40. Tom Billington (The Dynamite Kid) died at age 60, but much of his life was spent wasting away after injuries decimated him.

  • #9: King Kong Bundy

    You’ll never see this guy on a “best of all time” debate, but as a kid, King Kong Bundy terrified me.  Years later, I got to ring announce for him and like many of the “heels” I worked with, you realize the “bad guys” are usually the nicest ones when the cameras are off.

     

  • #8: Miss Elizabeth

    True she wasn’t a wrestler, but no one will ever forget Elizabeth.  Another tragic set of circumstances led to her premature death in 2003 at just 43 years old.

  • #7: Bam Bam Bigelow

    Scott Bigelow was an inspiration for me to want to become a pro wrestler.  I mentioned my mom got tickets for my uncle and I to go to WrestleMania 3.  The day before that, my mother and I drove all around New Jersey trying to find a pro wrestling school that I read about in Sports Illustrated.  Bigelow was the subject of the story.  Google wasn’t a thing back then and pro wrestling still kept many secrets.  We never found the wrestling school.  But I did get to meet Bigelow a few years later and he let me take a pic of his head tattoo in the parking lot behind the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine.

  • #6: Ravishing Rick Rude

    Rude was the dude every guy wanted to be like… ripped and tough as nails!  Rude passed at just age 40 after suffering heart failure.  At the time, he was trying to make a comeback.

  • #5: Owen Hart

    I wasn’t the biggest Owen Hart fan.  His characters amused me, but Owen was more of a wrestler’s wrestler.  Fans now praise him as one of the best to step in the ring, but that adulation came after the horrible accident that caused his death.  Hart fell from the ceiling when a harness malfunctioned, killing Hart at only age 34.  Owen was usually a midcard wrestler that didn’t get a lot of TV time like his brother. Many say that Owen was planning an exit strategy to spend more time with his family when the tragedy occurred.  It really goes to show you that while yes, the action you see has a predetermined winner, the injuries these guys suffer are far from fake.

  • #4: Macho Man Randy Savage

    If you look deep enough into my Facebook photos archive, you’ll see a completely embarrassing photo of me with Randy when I was about 14. Pimples, dark-rimmed glasses. I was the epitome of a nerd. It wasn’t until I was older and working in pro wrestling when I really truly appreciated his talent. He was so far ahead of his time with his athleticism and attention to detail. He was just 58 when a car crash took his life in Seminole back in 2011.

  • #3: Andre The Giant

    I feel so lucky that I got to see the big man twice in person.  The first time, he stood about 5 feet away from me when I was a teenager. It’s one of those moments you never forget.  As beloved as he was, Andre died alone in a Paris hotel at age 46.

  • #2: Bobby The Brain Heenan

    I know 72 is far from young.  But I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed The Brain.  If you’ve listened to my radio show, you can definitely hear a little bit of Bobby Heenan from time to time.  This video I did that went viral a few years ago is a great example.  I was in a mandatory evacuation area when a hurricane approached Tampa so I flew home to Maine to see family.  Bobby definitely inspired this…

  • #1: Rowdy Roddy Piper

    While all the other kids in my school were cheering for Hulk Hogan, I wore my “Hot Rod” t-shirt to school just to antagonize them. Roddy and Bobby Heenan being my top 2 on this list probably shows why I eventually found radio more fun than wrestling. I love sarcasm and wit. Roddy and Bobby were both magic on the mic. After the 5 or so years I worked in pro wrestling as a ring announcer, I got to meet just about every 80s WWF star I grew up watching… EXCEPT these two. And they were the two I’d wanted to work with the most. Decades later, I did get to meet Roddy shortly before his passing. He came by my radio station in Boston to promote a wrestling show. Normally, I don’t bug guests for a picture. But this was my childhood hero. After we snapped the photo in our lobby, Roddy stopped me as I started to walk back to my office. He said we should take another one in case that first one didn’t come out. I’ll never forget that.