Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017: A Year of Loss

As is tradition, one of the last blog entries of the year celebrates the many names who have left us over the past twelve months. Although some received their own individual tribute on this blog, it's always good, and somewhat sobering, to look at the losses in the sport as a whole over a year span.

Those in wrestling who passed in 2017 included (but were not limited to) Ivan Koloff, "Pretty Boy" Larry Sharpe, "Z-Man" Tom Zenk, Rex King, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Diane Von Hoffman, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Bucky Palermo, Gran Apache, Bob Sweetan, Rosey, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Tugboat Taylor, Ron Bass, Johnny K-9, Otto Wanz, Mr. Pogo, George "The Animal" Steele, Stan Kowalski, Nicole Bass, Smith Hart, Lance Russell, and Dennis Stamp.

With men like Stamp and Sharpe, the famed journeymen of wrestling took a major hit. These men enjoyed some success but will be best remembered for their ability to make others look good in the squared circle. Stamp and Sharpe, in particular, will be remembered for their lives in wrestling after the matches were all but over. Stamp continues to be celebrated from his appearance in the famous "Beyond The Mat" film while Sharpe will always be associated with The Monster Factory wrestling school that has turned out many names in pro wrestling.

You could not find two more different entries in the world of wrestling than Ron and Nicole Bass, despite both using the same last name. Ron Bass was a rough and tumble outlaw who came up through the wild 1970's wrestling scene. Although he was managed for a time by Maw Bass, one of the first female managers, he was never associated with Nicole Bass. This female named Bass instead gained a measure of fame through her associated with The Howard Stern Show as well as stints in ECW and the WWF.

Two familiar names to fans of the great Pittsburgh territory also passed this year. Bucky Palermo, in addition to being a famed cobbler in the Steel City, was one of the last living referees from the classic Studio Wrestling program. George "The Animal" Steele, while a huge name nationally, credited much of his career to his time in Pittsburgh. His ring used surname of "Steele" was even derived from the Steel City. Steele is also remembered for being a top opponent of Bruno Sammartino, who calls Pittsburgh his home.

While it never gets easier and the lists seem to get longer, one small comfort can be found in that many of the wrestlers who passed in 2017 did so at an advanced age. While it cannot be said for all, the number that did live into their seventh decade or older is much higher than just a few years ago. Regardless of how many years the individual spent in this life, as fans we choose to remember the impact that they made on our lives through their work in the ring.


Johngy said...

Well done. Happy Holidays, Josh!

J\/\/ said...

Thanks, Johngy, same to you!!!

Mike Parker said...

Ron Bass was especially shocking as he was supposed to at a convention in March and no one knew what had happened. Wish I had met George Steele.Great piece.