WWE Hall Of Famer, “Superstar” Billy Graham Is Dead
WWE Hall of Famer “Superstar” Billy Graham, whose real name was Eldridge Wayne Coleman, has passed away at the age of 79.
In an official statement, WWE expressed their sadness about the death of “Superstar” Billy Graham, whose larger-than-life ring persona and charismatic style was hugely influential on the likes of Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Jesse Ventura and Ric Flair.
Confirming his death via his Twitter page, Flair wrote: “The Superstar Billy Graham just left us. Thank you for all your influence on my career!”
Although no specific cause of death was provided, Graham had been battling various health issues for several years and was hospitalized in February.
Born as Eldridge Wayne Coleman in 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona, Graham’s journey began in the world of bodybuilding at a young age.
After exploring boxing and professional football, he gained recognition when he was featured alongside fellow bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in a spread for Muscle and Fitness magazine.
In 1969, Graham decided to venture into professional wrestling and adopted the ring name Billy Graham as a tribute to the renowned evangelist of the same name.
He initially worked with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion and later, in 1972, embraced the moniker “Superstar” when he joined Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association.
With his imposing bodybuilder physique, extravagant fashion sense, dyed hair and beard, and magnetic charisma on the microphone, Graham quickly became a standout talent.
Drawing inspiration from Muhammad Ali’s quick-witted style, Graham captivated audiences not only with his in-ring performances but also with his captivating interviews and promos.
By the late 1970s, Graham had emerged as one of the leading names in wrestling. His crowning achievement came in 1977 when he defeated Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship under Vince McMahon Sr’s promotion.
Graham held the title for an impressive nine and a half months, successfully defending it against notable wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Gorilla Monsoon, and “High Chief” Peter Maivia, who is the grandfather of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He eventually lost the title to Bob Backlund.
As the 1980s rolled in, Graham’s star began to fade with the rise of a new generation of wrestlers who drew inspiration from his style, persona, and microphone skills.
In 1987, he retired from wrestling and transitioned to become a color commentator and manager in Vince McMahon Jr’s WWF.
In recognition of his contributions to the industry, Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. Triple H, one of the many wrestlers who found inspiration in Graham’s legacy, had the honor of inducting him.
The legacy of “Superstar” Billy Graham will forever be etched in the history of professional wrestling, and his impact on the sport will continue to inspire generations of wrestlers to come.
This comes one year after wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer, Scott Hall, who is professionally known as Razor Ramon, died after being taken off life support.