Hello everyone. Today, I am bringing you the first half of an extensive list in commemoration of the wrestlers and personalities who passed away in 2020. It was a terrible year for many reasons, but most of all, the pandemic will always ensure those who experienced it will never forget it.
I believe it is important to mention as many names as possible, because it is only fair to the worldwide wrestling community. We have seen how the business comes together in time of need, and how sad it is when we lose someone dear. I may share some of the descriptions accompanying the pictures from elsewhere, so in those instances I shall link to the source they came from. Condolences to all the families and friends of those we lost in 2020*.
The second part can be found here: Remembering Wrestlers & Personalities Who Passed Away in 2020 (2/2)
Ralphus was known for his time as Chris Jericho’s personal security in WCW. His passing in 2019 was not common knowledge til September 2020 when Chris Jericho posted the following tweet: “I just found out he passed away like last year. God bless John Riker, that was his real name.”
From their Facebook page: “The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive news that Vivacious Viv Martell passed away in the early hours (of) Saturday morning. Vivs good friend and former colleague Leather Lena visited Viv on Friday afternoon and shared some great stories about the good old days they had together.”
He competed in Southeastern regional promotions such as Mid-South Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Florida Championship Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance during the 1970s and 1980s. His biggest win was over Dory Funk Jr for the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship.
He was known as the long-time ring announcer for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. From Socal Uncensored: Ian had battled health issues through the years, having taken a lengthy absence from wrestling in 2006, then suffering two heart failures in 2015 that left him in a coma for three-and-a-half weeks. No cause of death was given.
After news of Ian’s death came out, people throughout the wrestling community, from every major promotion offered condolences and paid tribute to him. Kevin Owens tweeted “I am so saddened to hear about the passing of former PWG ring announcer Jon Ian. A great guy taken way too soon. The wrestling world was a better place with him in it.”
Peter Avalon, who worked with Ian at Mach-1, PWG, and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, wrote “Jon Ian was a patient and generous man who helped me immensely in my early days as a wrestler. He helped me understand a lot of what it means to be a professional in an industry I had no idea about. His weekly Friday night Mach-1 shows helped mold so many of us as wrestlers and performers in Southern California. Those shows were an escape for so many of us young wrestlers to come and make ourselves better in a warm, welcoming learning environment. It’s where we learned how to be on TV before CWFH. It’s where I had an opportunity to be ‘Pretty.’”
He was an Argentinian who gained American Citizenship in 1965. Along with winning many NWA titles, Firpo was an early pioneer of hardcore wrestling. One of his biggest influences on the business is that he introduced the catchphrase “Ohhh Yeah!”, which would be later used by ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. In a career spanning almost three decades, Firpo worked 8,882 matches.
From ProWrestlingWiki: He was best known, under various monikers, for his work in Stampede Wrestling, National Wrestling Alliance, and World Championship Wrestling. Sakurada was also highly regarded by Bret Hart as one of his most significant trainers alongside Katsui Adachi (a.k.a. Mr. Hito), who he taught with extensively in Stu Hart’s “Dungeon.”
The original Peter Thornley character inspired the “Kendo Nagasaki” gimmick made famous in the British wrestling scene, but the similarities between them end with the name. Sakurada did not adopt a mask or anything else from Peter Thornley, instead choosing to use the “Mist” and Kendo Sticks as weapons.
From Wikipedia: During a Kaoz show on October 21, 2019, La Parka dove out of the ring to the floor, missed his opponent Rush, and hit the steel barrier and concrete floor head first. The impact paralyzed La Parka, and he was immediately taken to Monterrey’s OCA hospital. While in the hospital, he started to regain feeling to his extremities.
Early the next morning, he underwent surgery for his neck and cervical fractures, as well as to relieve pressure to parts of his upper body. It was reported that not only did the injury threaten La Parka’s career, but could have been fatal. The following day a fake press release was circulated stating that La Parka had died, which was identified as false by AAA hours later. However, Huerta died on January 11, 2020, as a result of the injuries he suffered during the match.
La Parka was regarded as one of Lucha Libre’s biggest stars, with Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter describing him as being “a key part of the AAA presentation.” On January 29, 2020, La Parka (Escoboza) was posthumously inducted into the AAA Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class. Following Parka’s death, numerous wrestlers and wrestling promotions sent their condolences, including Parka’s long-time storyline enemy L.A. Park and AAA’s rival promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. On January 19, 2020, Deportivo Toluca F.C. paid tribute to Parka during their first Clausura 2020 home game.
Bobby Kay was the youngest brother of the famous Cormier wrestling family of Canada. Together, they helped to build the business in the country by wrestling, promoting and training. He was the third of the brothers to pass away, leaving Leo Burke (left) as the remaining member; who is known to have trained wrestlers Ken Shamrock, Mark Henry, Edge, Christian and Test.
Rudy Kay (middle) helped to launch Rick Martel’s career with his ESA promotion. Yvon Cormier (top), known as ‘The Beast’ was the strongest and most travelled. They were to New Brunswick what the Hart family was to Calgary. Most of Bobby’s accolades were tag team titles, teaming with Leo or The Beast.