One of the legends of the golden age of professional wrestling passed away on Monday in “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. Orndorff was 71.
Prior to his legendary wrestling career, Orndorff was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 12th round of the 1973 Draft after a successful career at the University of Tampa where he excelled as a running back with over 2,000 all-purpose yards. However, he never played a down in the league after failing his physical.
After playing one season in the World Football League, Orndorff began his journey in professional wrestling in the southern territories. After plying his trade at Mid-Southern Wrestling, NWA Tri-State, and Mid-South, he got a big opportunity to wrestle with Georgia Championship Wrestling which broadcast nationwide on TBS in the early 1980s.
Orndorff then joined the then-World Wrestling Federation and adopted the “Mr. Wonderful” moniker after it was given to him by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. He was one part of the main event of the very first Wrestlemania, teaming with Piper in a losing effort to Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
After leaving the WWF in 1993, he defected to WCW and appeared sporadically with the promotion until 1999. Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the Cauliflower Alley Club’s award for Men’s Wrestling in 2016.
Orndorff had recently been diagnosed with dementia before passing away on Monday.