Thursday, December 29, 2016

The 2016 Additions to The Great Squared Circle in the Sky

As the year comes to a close, it's tradition here on the blog to look back at those wrestling stars that we have lost over the past twelve months. All businesses lose individuals each year, but wrestling always seem to have more than its fair share, many at a far younger age than should be acceptable. 2016 did see a number of names pass who made it their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Others met tragic ends just a few years after their names faded from the mainstream marquee.

Among those from the wrestling business who passed away in 2016 were Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, Archie "The Stomper" Gouldie, Bill Cardille, Lord James Blears, Blackjack Mulligan, Balls Mahoney, Frenchy Martin, Axl Rotten, Harley Saito, Charlie Fulton, Don Bass, Mr. Fuji, Gypsy Joe, Lord Littlebrook, Espectrito, Jean Antone, Hayabusa, Mocho Cota, Mark Young, Edmund Francis, El Mongol, and Iron Mike Sharpe.

Charlie Fulton was a journeyman's journeyman. Name a territory and a place on the card and Fulton likely worked it. Although he did not make it to the pay-per-view era of wrestling that cemented so many names into immortality, he did pass on his wealth of knowledge to a number of other wrestlers including Raven. When I met Fulton in 2013, he seemed very happy to be remembered by both fans and his peers alike. Fulton is the type of wrestler that was content no matter what his role was in the business, something that is seen less and less today where everyone feels that they need to be the center of attention.

Balls Mahoney made his name as one of the most hardcore characters to come from Extreme Championship Wrestling, but the ECW original was more than that. He knew how to technically wrestle if called upon to do so and could play the lovable cartoonish character as he did during his last WWE run. It's no secret that his lifestyle caused his premature demise, but the "Hardcore Chair-Swingin' Freak," as well as his partner Axl Rotten, who also passed away this year, will be remembered for giving their all to entertain the fans, no matter the sacrifice.

Perhaps the biggest 2016 wrestling loss to me personally was Bill Cardille. "Chilly Billy," as he was known to generations of Pittsburghers, was the voice of the Steel City's "Studio Wrestling" program in the 1960's and into the '70s. His battle with cancer was well-publicized here in Pittsburgh and the outpouring of love and respect for the broadcasting legend hopefully made his final days just a bit more comfortable. As affable in person as he was on-screen, Bill Cardille is one passing that did not get as much attention in the wrestling press as others, but he certainly made an equal impact on the business.

As we remember those who passed, we look ahead to 2017 and what good we can do in the memories of those who are now gone...

"To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die."

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