Angelo Savoldi, whose real name was Mario Louis Forini, Sr., was a legend from the early days of North American Pro Wrestlng, and died in September at age 99. Savoldi debuted in 1937 and starred in New York when pro wrestling was “legitimate.”
He was born in Castrocielo, Italy in 1914, and moved to the Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1919, where he was reportedly friends with Frank Sinatra. He began wrestling in high school but had to leave the ring to get a job cutting metal during the great depression.
His brother Joe was already a wrestler, so Mario was christened Angelo Savoldi, when he began wrestling in 1937. He joined the Navy during WWII. In the 1950s he became a star in the Oklahoma region, where he wrestled as a heel, and held the Junior Heavyweight title for three years. In 1960 Savoldi was stabbed with a pen knife by an angry fan who turned out to be the father of his opponent, Danny Hodge.
In the 1970s Savoldi trained young wrestlers and was a minority stock holder in the WWWF. In 1984 he and his sons Mario, Tom and Joseph, started International Championship Wrestling, with Joseph as the featured star. Savoldi was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004.
Hector Solano Segura was the Mexican National Heavyweight Champion when he died of lung cancer in May at age 43. He was also featured in CMLL, New Japan, TNA, WCW, and the WWF. He was best known for starring in the X Division and his matches with Jeff Jarrett.
Solono began wrestling as Hector Garza in 1992 after being trained by his uncles for the Federacion Interacional de Luch Libre. Hector was best known to WCW fans for his twirling turnbuckle move, called the corkscrew plancha. He was part of the “Latin World Order” in 1999.
After going back to Mexico and wrestling with the AAA, he returned to the United States in 2004 and won America’s X-Cup with “Team Mexico.”
Garza was deported back to Mexico in the middle of a push for the championship of TNA when the Texas police arrested him for using steroids. He claimed he didn’t know steroids were illegal in the US. He was featured in a main match at the 1997 Royal Rumble.
Garza began wrestling with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2011 and eventally lost a non-title match to CMLL World Middleweight Campion Jushin Liger. He won the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in 2011.
Better known as “Rage” and “Blade” Al Green appeared as “The Dog” in the WCW in 2000. Green died at age 57 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Green, whose real name was Alfred Dobalo, was one half of The Wrecking Crew with Marcus Laurinatis, better known at the time as Fury and also the Terminator. Green was also half the Master Blasters team, with Steel (Kevin Nash).
He made his wrestling debut in 1990 as Blade, and received national attention competing with Brett Colt and Kip Winchester to win The Clash of the Champions XXII in January 1992. In 1995 the Wrecking Crew traveled with All Japan Pro Wrestling in a summer tour.
In 2000 Green was repackaged as The Dog where he performed in hardcore tag team matches. He performed as an attack dog, drinking from the toilet, and doing other dog like tricks. The WWF didn’t pick up Green’s contract when it acquired the WCW in 2001.
Famous throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Jackie Fargo, whose real name was Henry Faggart, debuted in 1955, and is credited with pioneering steel chair spots, and many modern aspects of today’s hardcore wrestling matches. He was also a major influence in the career of Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Ric Flair.
He first wrestled under the name “Wild Man Fargo” in 1958, and dominated the National Wrestling Alliance during the late 1950s. He was also the originator of the “Fargo Strut,” which is still being copied by wrestlers today. He held many champion titles during those years.
After retiring in 1980 he joined Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association to help The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane and Steve Keirn) in their feud against The Moondogs, and retired shortly thereafter.
He passed away in June at age 82.
Mad Dog Vachon
Maurice Vachon, a true wrestling legend, best known by his ring name Mad Dog Vachon, was the brother of wrestlers Paul and Vivian Vachon, and uncle of wrestler Luna Vachon.
As a child he regularly attended wrestling shows at the Montreal Forum, and grew up idolizing local ring legend Yvon Robert. At age 12 he was already grappling at his local YMCA. He later took a wrestling course he found advertised on the back of a comic book, and worked on the docks of a nearby canal to build up his muscles. By age 14, Vachon was established as one of Canada’s premier amateur wrestlers.
Vachon competed in the 1948 London Olympics at age 18, where he pinned the Indian champion in 18 seconds. He finished in seventh place over all. He later won a gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games in New Zealand.
He was working the doors at bars in Montreal when he was recruited to join the pro wrestling circuit in the early 1951s. He won his first title, the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship, in 1955. He eventually became a main eventer with the American Wrestling Association after bulking himself up to 225 pounds, shaving his head bald, and growing a long goatee. He drew attention to himself further by depreciating is opponent, and biting, stomping, and pounding his opponent in to submission, something that was not regularly done in that era. .
The title Mad Dog was given to him in 1962 after a particularly violent match. After the match he went outside and started to turn things upside down in a fury. A policeman tried to stop him and Vachon decked him. Afterward his promoter told him he looked like a real mad dog out there, and the name stuck.
Cited as a mighty influence to many modern day stars of the last two decades, Vachon was wrestling’s all time heel, dominating the AWA, and capturing 5 world titles, and was well known for this wild style and intense interviews.
After a stint with the WWF, Vachon retired from the business in 1986 and was struck by a hit and run drive in 1987, resulting in the amputation of one of his legs. He later became a restaurant critic for a Quebec City television station, saying “I’ve eaten in almost every gas station restaurant and roadside diner in North American. I’m one Mad Dog who knows his chow.”
Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010, Vachon passed away in his sleep in November at age 84.
Richard Reid Flair
Son of wrestling legend Rick Flair, died in March at age 25, apparently of a accidental overdose of Heroin and prescription drugs. His most famous moment was when he beat Eric Bischoff in WCW when he was just 10 years old.
Flair was arrested for assault and battery in June 2007, and for driving while impaired in Mecklenburg Country, NC, in March of 2009. He was arrested again in April after crashing his car. Police found black tar herion at the scene. He overdosed twice in 2011.
Not ready to join WWE, Reid appeared in several independent wrestling events, including All Japan Wrestling. He was due to team with his father when his death occurred.
Matt “Doink The Clown” Osborne
Matthew “Matt” Wade Osborne was the son of wrestler “Tough” Tony Borne, and the longest-running wrestler to portray the character “Doink the Clown.”
Osborne debuted as Matt Borne in December 1978, and performed for many independent promotions. He competed against Ricky Steamboat at the first Wrestlemania in Madison Square Garden.
He joined World Class Championship Wrestling in 1986 and won the World tag Team Championship crown with Buzz Sawyer. He also won the Texas Heavyweight Championship that same year. He debuted as Big Josh, the outdoorsman who danced with bears, with the WCW in 1991, and won several team championships.
He joined the WWF in 1992 and competed in dark matches as himself, and then became Doink the Clown, a villainous character that frequently pulled tricks on wrestlers and fans at ringside. He was fired from the Doink performances in 1993 for re-ocurring drug abuses, which he overcame, but another wrestler, Ray Apollo, took over the Doink character.
Osborne became Doink again in 2007 for Raw’s 15 Anniversary performances and took part in a Legends Battle Royal.
He was wrestling semi-full time again when he died at age 55, of an accidental drug overdose.
William George Matthews, or Mick McManus, was a star on the British wrestling scene, who made more wrestling appearances on British TV than any other wrestler, and frequently hung out with the Beatles, died at 92. He was often promoted as “The Man You Love to Hate,” “Rugged South London Tough Guy,” and “The Dulwich Destroyer.”
He began a wrestling career during WWII and helped teach Royal Air Forde personnel how to wrestle. His first professional performance took place in Australia in 1945, while still in the in the service.
McManus because famous for his short range forearm jabs, his trademark black trunks and cropped black hair, and for the catchphrase “Not the ears! Not the ears!”
He retired from active wrestling in 1982, was an advisor on London Weekend Television, and continued to advise professional wrestling promoters.
Many other greats, like Steve Austin, Daniel Bryan, and William Regal, have talk about learning from his tapes. He rarely ever lost and was on British TV for 26 years.
Manager of the Undertaker, Kane, Steve Austin, Lex Luger, Mick Foley, and Vader, William Moody, worked his way through various wrestling territories and companies, to make it to the WWF, and was highly respected backstage.
He entered the wrestling business as a teen as a ringside photographer. While in the US Air Force he often wrestled for Indian Coast independent promotions while off duty.
In 1979 he began managing as Percival “Percy” Pringle, III. After the birth of his first son he cut back his wrestling business and obtained a degree in mortuary science and to earn a certification as an embalmer and mortician.
We went back to the wrestling business full time in 1984, using his Pringle character, and managing many of future stars. When he joined the WWF in 1990 WWF owner Vince McMahon used Moody’s real life involvement in the funeral business to create the character Paul Bearer for him, a very histrionic, ghostly manager who was always seen bearing an urn. Management of the Undertaker was passed on to him by Brother Love. Bearer also hosted the WWF talk show, “The Funeral Parlor.” His contract with the WWF ended in October 2002. He returned to the WWE in 2003, and stayed on managing the Undertaker, doing backstage work, until his death.
Moody died in March at age 58 of respiratory issues. His ashes were supposedly poured over The Undertakers head by CM Punk at Wrestlemania, much to the displeasure of this family, but the match was dedicated to Moody.