Legendary WWE wrestler Paul Orndorff, billed as “Mr. Wonderful,” passed away on Monday at the age of 71. Orndorff’s son, Travis, took to Instagram to announce the news of his father’s passing, praising his old man as an amazing father. The cause of death wasn’t mentioned.
“Most of you will remember him for his physique. Many will remember his intensity. But if I could only get you to understand and see his heart,” wrote Travis. “He will always be Pop, Paw Paw, and Daddy at home. And as much as many of you hated him as a wrestler, he absolutely loved you for it. He was an amazing father that showed me more love than I ever deserved. I love you Daddy.”
Before making his living inside the squared circle, Mr. Wonderful was a college football star with NFL aspirations. Lining up at both fullback and tight end, Orndorff amassed more than 2,000 total yards at the University of Tampa. He was eventually drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1973 but failed physicals with both New Orleans and Kansas City, ending his pro career before it began.
Orndorff then made the move to professional wrestling where he quickly became one the sports’ biggest stars. He competed in the first ever WrestleMania and gained popularity by feuding with Hulk Hogan.
Upon learning of his passing, dozens of people affiliated with the wrestling business, including Hogan, took to Twitter to share their condolences.
Just got slammed with the Paul Orndorff news,RIP my brother,love you and thank you for always making me fight for everything in our matches,heaven just got even more Wonderful,love U4LifeHH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) July 12, 2021
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff has passed away at the age of 71.
WWE extends its condolences to Orndorff’s family and friends.https://t.co/dtWZHJk3x3
— WWE (@WWE) July 12, 2021
A decorated athlete, Orndorff was inducted into both the WWE (2005) and University of Tampa Hall of Fame (1986).