Death has been very busy lately in the wrestling world.
Last month, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka had passed away. Less than 2 weeks ago, Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (Chavo Classic during a brief run in WWE in 2004) left us. In the space of the last two days, two more legends have passed on.
"The Russian Bear", Ivan Koloff, two weeks after revealing he was suffering from liver cancer, lost his battle with the disease early Saturday morning at 74. Behind the image of a Russian heel was a French-Canadian who became an instant sensation when he defeated Bruno Sammartino in 1971 at Madison Square Garden to win his only World title. Following the lead of his storyline nephew, Nikita, Koloff (Oreal Parris) became a born-again Christian and an ordained minister in 1995 and turned his life around. However, the hard partying lifestyle most wrestlers had in the 70's and 80's took their toll, and God called Koloff home yesterday.
Before that, George "The Animal" Steele (William James Myers, to use his full birth name) had left us, mere days after entering hospice care, two months shy of his 80th birthday. The neanderthal brute we saw in the ring was just an alter-ego for a high school teacher & football coach from Detroit who co-opted a rival coach's name for his ring identity, with permission from the other coach. In the 80's, one assumes it was Vince McMahon, Jr. who gave Steele his first and only commercial endorsement, for Minolta, working with actor Tony Randall of "Odd Couple" fame. A devout Christian, according to his Wikipedia bio, Steele was also called home by the good Lord, who must be making plans for a battle royal in Heaven real soon.
Leave us not forget bodybuilder-turned-wrestler Nicole Bass, whom, at last report, was on life support after premature reports had her passing on February 16 at 52. Her in-ring career was short (1998-99), entirely in ECW and the then-World Wrestling Federation, but Bass became tabloid fodder in the early '00's after radio host Howard Stern mocked her on air.
Rest in peace, one and all.