It was 35 years ago next month that I stood about 12 rows from ringside at Toronto's CNE Stadium for The Big Event (a/k/a Wrestling Hulkamania Night), thinking that "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff had done the unthinkable and ended Hulkamania. Sadly, it was a Dusty Finish and Hogan retained the gold, but that had to be Paul Orndorff's crowning career achievement.
His rivalry with Hulk Hogan was an all-time classic (in fact, we posted an article about it just last Friday as part of Rivalries Month), because it felt real. Here's a huge bodybuilder whose popularity rivaled The Hulkster's, yet he grew tired of living in his shadow and went back to his ex... in this case, his ex-manager Bobby The Brain Heenan. A heel turn for the ages was born, and it led to one of the most exciting rivalries in wrestling history.
Prior to the heel turn, Orndorff participated in the main event of the very first WrestleMania, and he competed as a football player and wrestled in the territories before that. He was a solid competitor with a great look (as the two beat-up LJN figures at the top of this article will back me up on). His stints in WCW as part of The Dudes With Attitude and as part of the Pretty Wonderful tag team won't be forgotten.
We also named Orndorff to our (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame a couple of years back.
The last 15 years or so weren't particularly kind to Orndorff, between dealing with cancer and some recent very scary videos around his health. It was an incredibly unfortunate end to one of the most solid heels of the 1980s.
RIP Mr. Wonderful.