The on-screen personas of professional wrestlers were transformed by WWE Hall of Famer and “Superstar” Billy Graham, who passed away at the age of 79, according to WWE.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham has passed away,” WWE said in a statement. “A former WWE Champion, Graham’s flashy fashion style, over-the-top interviews and bodybuilder physique created the archetype for a generation of Superstars that followed in his footsteps.”
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Graham’s Medical Problems
Eldridge Wayne Coleman was Graham’s birth name, and he struggled with his health for many years following his time as a professional wrestler. He wrote in his memoirs that he underwent a liver transplant in 2002 as a result of years of drug abuse. He had hepatic issues for the following ten years.
According to his Facebook profile, his family reported him to have spent more than four months in the hospital, losing more than 80 pounds while battling infections in his ears, head, and sinus cavities.
Graham was diagnosed with acute renal failure, dehydration, and organ failure on April 30. His wife, Valerie, said on Monday that she had denied the doctors’ request to take him off life support.
The ‘Superstar’s’ Professional Life
Prior to entering the professional wrestling world, Graham was a well-known bodybuilder and had a brief spell in the Canadian Football League. He made his debut with the organization, then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation, in 1975, and over the course of his 15-year career, won three world championships before transitioning into management and commentary.
Graham, though, rose to prominence outside of the ring and is considered one of the company’s early icons.
His captivating personality, coupled with his cocky remarks during interviews conducted outside of the ring, distinctive appearance, and multicolored facial hair, earned him a fan favorite and convinced the corporation to start creating “larger than life” personalities for its performers. The phrase “The man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour!” became synonymous with him.
Numerous WWE stars, like as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H, have credited Graham with influencing their professional lives.
“Graham was perhaps the single-most influential performer in WWE history whose interviews, fashion and physique inspired Hulk Hogan, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura and Scott Steiner,” WWE said. “Just as WWE fans flocked to see ‘Superstar’ compete in the ring, so did they love to listen to him pontificate on the microphone, even if he was bad-mouthing the competitors they held dear.”
In 2004, Graham was admitted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
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WWE veterans and stars pay homage to Graham
“After Billy Graham left his mark, Vincent Kennedy McMahon decided everyone would be a WWE Superstar. A most heartfelt RIP to the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour!” Heyman said.
The Iron Sheik, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, referred to Graham as his “brother for life,” uploading a video of Graham complimenting him at a gathering.
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