Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Fallen Warriors of 2014

As the year comes to a close, we once again remember those from the wrestling business that left us over the past twelve months.  Although a few were still very young considering longevity in this day and age, many that were lost had actually lived long, full lives.  That is something rare for the wrestling business, an occupation that has a tendency to eat up those who give so much to it.  That being said, so many notable names that fans had an opportunity to see in a public capacity not long before their deaths (one in particular, just hours earlier) make the losses all the more shocking. 

The wrestling deaths of 2014 included Billy Robinson, George Scott, Rodger Kent, Mae Young, The Ultimate Warrior, Nelson "King Mabel/Viscera" Frazier, Lee Marshall, Jerry Kozak, Cowboy Bob Kelly, Sean O'Haire, Bob Geigel, Larry Nelson, Ken Lucas, Ox Baker, Ricki Starr, Bonnie Watson, Jimmy Del Ray/Jimmy Backlund, Dr. Ken Ramey, and Don Chuy.

The AWA fraternity took a huge hit with the loss of one it's biggest stars, Billy Robinson, as well as three very memorable voices from the promotion.  Robinson was still very active in training young athletes for the mixed martial arts.  In the several instances that I was able to meet Mr. Robinson, he seemed very proud that wrestler/MMA fighter Josh Barnett was one of his pupils, mentioning it since my first name is Josh as well.  Rodger Kent, Larry Nelson, and Lee Marshall are all well remembered for their work hosting various AWA events.  Marshall may be even better remembered for his work on WCW Monday Nitro and most recently as the voice of Tony the Tiger in Frosted Flakes commercials.

Nelson Frazier was still very active on the independent scene, and one could almost guarantee that appearances as Mabel, Viscera, and Big Daddy V would have continued for WWE.  Struck down by a heart attack at just 42, that would not end up being the case.  Due to his massive size, it's hard to believe that Frazier was just in his early twenties for his biggest run in the WWF as King Mabel.  His agility and ability to make all of his various characters come to life will always be remembered fondly.  Personally, he will always hold a special place in my own fandom as he main evented SummerSlam 1995, the first pay-per-view event that I attended live.

It's become a sad fact over the past few years that Mid-Atlantic Fanfest often becomes the final place that wrestlers make a public appearance.  80-year-old Ox Baker did not look well at the event this past summer, but he was still signing autographs, taking photos, and crooning ditty's to his many fans.  Just a little over two months later, Baker was gone.  David Ferrier, best known as either Jimmy Del Ray or Jimmy Backlund, made his first modern-day convention appearance at the same event, reuniting with his "Heavenly Bodies" tag team partner Dr. Tom Prichard and their manager Jim Cornette.  Though his appearance was much different than in his wrestling days, Ferrier seemed to enjoy the event.  On December 6th, the former Florida and SMW star died in a car accident that may have been caused by a heart attack. 

As always, this is just a small listing of some of the more notable wrestling deaths of 2014.  For all of its faults, the wrestling community always shows a great amount of respect and dignity when one of the seemingly larger-than-life names has fallen.  This final look serves as a last remembrance of their passing, so that we, instead, can continue to remember the greatness of their lives.

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