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WWE Hall of Famer 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff dies at 71

A Tampa Bay area native, Orndorff was born in Brandon and played running back at the University of Tampa.
Credit: WWE

WWE Hall of Famer 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff has died at the age of 71, the company announced on Monday.

Orndorff is a Tampa Bay area native who was born in Brandon. He later played running back at the University of Tampa before getting his start in pro-wrestling when he joined Mid-Southern Wrestling in 1976. 

While in Memphis, he tussled with other legends like a young Jerry 'The King' Lawler who he'd pin to become NWA World Champion the following year. 

Orndorff officially joined the WWE - then WWF - in 1983 with his 'Mr. Wonderful' nickname and then-manager "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. His biggest claim to fame during that period was fighting alongside Piper against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the main event of the very first Wrestlemania. 

His feud with Hogan led to an iconic match at The Big Event in Toronto, which drew more than 75,000 fans. Their blow-off fight was a hugely successful steel cage match on Saturday Night's Main Event.

Orndorff would leave WWE in the early 90s to wrestle for rival promotion WCW. 

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. 

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