One of the most influential and successful professional wrestlers in WWE history has left us with the passing of “Superstar” Billy Graham. He was 79 years old. Graham had been dealing with a myriad of health issues in recent months, most notably organ failure, and had been on life support for the last few days.
Born Wayne Coleman, Graham got into bodybuilding in the 1960s, and would train to be a pro wrestler in 1969 under Stu Hart in Calgary, Adopting the name of Billy Graham, (after his friend, Dr. Jerry Graham), he would add the more colorful moniker of “Superstar”, based on the successful play/film, Jesus Christ Superstar. Graham achieved success in San Francisco and the American Wrestling Association, he ventured east to the World Wide Wrestling Federation and it was there where he became a legend.
Graham ended the WWWF Heavyweight Title run of Bruno Sammartino in 1977, holding it for a year until he dropped it to Bob Backlund. A muscular figure when there were few, Graham had the charisma, the meanness, the size, and could have been a longer reigning champion, had Vince McMahon Sr. not kept his original plan to build up Backlund. His look and style would be copied by dozens, among them, Hulk Hogan and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
Following his World Title loss, Graham would wrestle for various promotions (including the WWF), and returned there in 1987 at the age of 44, but it was short-lived. Years of steroid abuse caught up with Graham, and his body broke down. He was used as a manager and later commentator, only to be quietly released in 1988.
Graham was a bitter man for years after, going as far to fabricate stories against Vince McMahon Jr. regarding steroids, but fences are almost always mended in wrestling, and Graham was welcomed back to the fold as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to extend our condolences to the fans, friends and family of “Superstar” Billy Graham.
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