Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015: Losing the Icons of Wrestling

It was not a year for smiles in the wrestling world. One loss is too much, but it felt as if we were mourning another icon daily. Just when the shock and hurt of one began to subside, more news hit the industry like a ton of bricks. They aren't friends or family to most of us, but they have visited us in our living rooms for weeks on end. They tugged at our emotions, lightened our lives, and even made us open our wallets. They did their jobs and made us the fans that we are in the process.

Those that left us in 2015 included Steve Rickard, Tito Carreon, Buddy Landel, Dusty Rhodes, Cora Combs, Larry Winters, Duke Myers, Perro Aguayo Jr., Nick Bockwinkel, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Don Fargo, Ron Wright, Lizmark, Tommy Rogers, Percival A. Friend, Tony Charles, Verne Gagne, Daisy Mae, The Great Malumba, and Marie Darnell.

What more can one say about Rhodes and Piper? Would even the two men themselves have predicted the worldwide mourning of their losses? They captivated millions and became not only stars in their industry, but faces of it. Both had the gift of gab, boatloads of charisma, and the ability to back it up physically. If you know me or the writings of this blog, you know that I lost two of my all-time favorite wrestlers here. I feel extremely lucky that I made personal memories with both, and had the opportunity to thank them for their contributions to pro wrestling.

The AWA lost both of its pillars with the passings of Gagne and Bockwinkel. A pioneer in television wrestling, Gagne built his brand in the business and rode it to the end. A whole new generation is now getting a mainstream look at the American Wrestling Association thanks to WWE Network, and hopefully we will get to see some of the work of Nick Bockwinkel sooner rather than later. "Bock" is considered by many to be the greatest champion in wrestling history. Upon hearing his promos and seeing his fluidity in the ring, I'm sure that many more will be agreeing in the future.

All of these men crammed a lot of life into their years, but perhaps none more than Don Fargo. A true chameleon of wrestling, it is estimated that Fargo had more personas in his long career than any other wrestler. As the brother of Jackie, Don Kalt found perhaps his most lasting name, also teaming with Sonny and Johnny (Greg Valentine) Fargo over the years. His reunion with Jackie at the 2009 NWA Fanfest in Charlotte is one of my favorite wrestling memories. Two wild men, together one last time.

As always, this is just a brief overview of the many men and women lost during 2015 who gave their blood, sweat, and tears to professional wrestling. We remember them all, and those they left behind, as we transition into the new year.

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