The year 2021 has been a tough one for the pro-wrestling circuit with the global pandemic forcing restrictions in the early half of the year. Apart from that, 2021 also witnessed the death of several notable wrestlers who had served the industry in the past. While some were shooting stars a few had drifted into obscurity. Let’s have a look at these superstars.
Legendary pro-wrestler Jack Lanza, aka Blackjack Lanza, passed away at the age of 86. Lanza had plied his trade for various wrestling promotions, including the WWE, NWA, and AWA. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon had expressed his condolences on social media. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Jack Lanza. He was a man’s man, respected and beloved by all. He worked for and loved WWE for many years. His loyalty and dedication will never be forgotten,” McMahon had written in a post on Twitter. Lanza into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
American wrestler Bruce Franklin Reed, whose ring name was Butch Reed, passed away at the age of 66 in February this year. He worked for various wrestling promotions, including the then-WWF and WCW. As a charismatic performer, he was able to woo the audience and was also called Hacksaw or the Natural. He won the Intercontinental Championship in WWE.
Brother of ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton and uncle of current WWE superstar Randy Orton, Barry, died in March 2021 at the age of 62. He had a stellar career in the WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling, and National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). A lot of success in-ring success also came in the tag team division where he won the championship with both his brother Hector Guerrero.
American pro-wrestler Jimmy Rave ( real name James Michael Guffey) passed away at a relatively young age of 39. The former Ring of Honor star battled drug addiction and also underwent a triple amputation. In October, Rave opened up on how he contracted MRSA, which forced the ex-Impact star to have both his legs amputated less than a year after losing his left arm. His career began in 1999 where he performed in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and then in TNA and WWE-produced “Sunday Night Heat”.
Former WWE superstar Ryan Sakoda died aged 46. Sakoda was a part of the SmackDown roster and was visible quite often during the era of Ruthless Aggression in the early 2000s. He is best known for being the henchman of former WWE superstar Tajiri. Sakoda was also among the regulars on the independent circuit in California.