Paul Orndorff Page 2

He proceeded to lose a "lights out" match to The Junkyard Dog (the "real" one) that same night. Orndorff entered a feud with JYD, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch while keeping Bob Roop and Bob Orton (Junior) as his comrades. His younger brother Terry Orndorff was another ally. After losing a match forcing him to wear a yellow mask, Terry's mask often ended up on the head of Orton in order to trick their opponents. Paul lost his North American Title to Ted DiBiase on November 1. He then teamed up with Bob Orton and failed to win the Mid-South tag team titles from Mike George & JYD at the November Superdome event. The One Man Gang would eventually cause DiBiase to lose the belt in 1982 to Roop, who was a substitute for DiBiase. It was later revealed that Bob Roop sabotaged his "friend" Orndorff's car, costing him another shot at the Title. The betrayal briefly turned Orndorff into a hero. He tried to beat Roop in a taped fists match but did not win the belt.

In Georgia, Orndorff became popular again, and he beat Buzz Sawyer for the National Title on June 20, 1982. He vacated it that summer to concentrate on an unsuccessful World Title chase against NWA World Champion Ric Flair. Acting as a sort of Anerican patriot, Mr Wonderful feuded with Ivan Koloff while in Georgia. The vacant National Title was eventually won by The Super Destroyer (Scott Irwin) who lost it back to Orndorff in October. Orndorff also traded the National Title with The Masked Superstar. When Larry Zbyszko failed to win the title from Orndorff, he paid Killer Tim Brooks $25,000 to clobber Orndorff with a chair and win it for him - a controversial decision which did not stand.

As he would on future occasions, Paul Orndorff disappeared for a few months, only to make a big splash in the WWF. Alongside manager Roddy Piper, the now-hated Orndorff made it clear that the fans were just lucky to see Mr Wonderful in action, let alone be appreciated. He made a successful appearance in January of 1984 at Madison Square Garden by beating Salvatore Bellomo with his trademark piledriver. That night also happened to be the "birthdate of Hulkamania." Paul Orndorff remained a top star in spite of so many other famous names which entered the WWF at about the same time. He was immediately granted several title shots at WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan, but was put away by the Hulk in Hogan's first New York City title defense in February.

Alongside Piper and the dangerous David Shultz, Orndorff matched muscles with Ivan Putski, Tony Atlas, and Rocky Johnson in a six-man war at MSG. At MTV's Brawl To Settle It All, Orndorff polished off Cheif Jay Strongbow in an untelevised match. He was also a frequent challenger to Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana. Their matches were very even, but Tito remained the champ. Orndorff eventually found out that Piper needed his help dealing with the maniacal Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Orndorff's former tag championship partner. Snuka's beef with Piper dated back several months to a Piper's Pit in which Piper had smashed Snuka's head with a coconut. To further his own protection, Piper hired Cowboy Bob Orton (another former Orndorff ally) to back him up. Now that Snuka called upon the young Tonga Kid as backup, Piper and Orndorff took on the Islander duo in a series of exciting tag matches. Orndorff also did Piper a favor by injuring The Junkyard Dog just prior to JYD's scheduled appearance on Piper's Pit. Without The Dog around, Piper, Orton, and Orndorff all started to harass Salvadore Bellomo in his place. However, The Dog emerged from the back, along with bloody bandages and a steel chair. Also at around this time, Orndorff had a brief rivalry with young David Sammartino. David should have been easy pickings for Orndorff, but Piper still got involved anyway. As a result, the father and son duo of Bruno and David Sammartino beat Orndorff and Piper as punishment for their behavior.

At the end of 1984, Roddy Piper's attack upon Lou Albano and Cyndi Lauper ignited a feud which drew an unprecedented amount of celebrities towards pro-wrestling. As one of Piper's closest allies, Orndorff was drawn in as well. He defeated Tony Atlas at the famous War To Settle The Score, but his match was forgetable compared to the chaos in the main event. Hulk Hogan had just defeated Piper by disqualification, when both Orndorff and Orton ran into the ring to assist The Rowdy One in a three-on-one attack. The crowd was awestruck when 80's super-celebrity Mr T entered the ring to defend Hogan. Orton's involvement was negated earlier that evening by Jimmy Snuka, who had allegedly broke Orton's arm. Meanwhile, Hogan had been dealing with Orndorff, Piper, and Orton as individual threats to his championship belt. With Hogan, Piper, Orndorff, Mr T, Orton and Snuka all involved, the battle lines for the first Wrestlemania were finally drawn, and Orndorff was solidly entrenched on the rulebreakers' side.

The official Wrestlemania match-up pitted the tag team of Piper and Orndorff (seconded by Orton) against The Hulkster and Mr T (seconded by Snuka.) However, Piper and Orndorff spent every waking hour in psychological warfare, preparing for the battle. They battered preliminary wrestler Hollywood Brown and fitted him with a mohawk wig in honor of their movie-star foe. They spat out a litany of verbal threats at the opposition when Gene Okerlund interviewed them at a special training session. When Hogan and T hosted Saturday Night Live, Piper and Orndorff tried to rain on their parade. And, OF COURSE, Piper could not pass up the opportunity to lampoon Hogan and T at a special Piper's Pit at Madison Square Garden. Mr Wonderful had the opportunity to present Mr T with several paintings depicting the Rocky III star in casts and bandaged. Well, at least Orndorff was amused!

By the end of March, the time for talk was over, and Wrestlemania was held at Madison Square Garden. The main event was also shared by ring announcer New York Yankee Billy Martin, timekeeper Liberace, and a brief dance number by The Rockettes. It was all fun and games. However, the only non-wrestler which could have a direct impact on the match was special enforcer referee, Mohammed Ali. Led to the ring by a troupe of bagpipe players, Orndorff and Piper were greeted by a disgusted audience which exploded when the opposing team entered the ring. The match itself was surprisingly competitive, as Mr T held his own against the veteran wrestlers. Piper and Orndorff showed some good teamwork while wearing out Hulk Hogan, but they became confused and threatened when Ali protested against their tactics. Chaos broke lose minutes later when both Snuka and Orton made unexpected visits to the ring. As referee Pat Patterson ushered Snuka back to his corner, Orndorff held Hogan as the intended victim of Orton's cement cast. The Hulk broke free just in time to see Orton make contact with Mr Wonderful's forehead. As Mr T tangled with Piper, Orndorff was easy prey for the Champion. Piper showed his disgust for the result by KOing Patterson and leading Orton to the dressing room ... while Orndorff was still in the ring! Of his three enemies, only Mr T would dare to assist the abandonned Orndorff - a scenario which would be seen again, on NBC.

In May, Saturday Night Live was pre-empted for a WWF special called Saturday Night's Main Event. Orndorff's behavior had been rather sportsmanlike in the weeks following Wrestlemania. In fact, he even shook Hulk Hogan's hand after failing to defeat him in a title match in Philadelphia. All this time, however, Orndorff had no contact with his former running mates Orton and Piper, until tonight. Among the attractions of the evening would be an in-ring Piper's Pit featuring Paul Orndorff as the special guest. In his own unique fashion, Piper labeled Orndorff as "a loser" and blamed him for the Wrestlemania blunder. Orndorff was well aware that the verbal insults were all a distraction for something else. Sure enough, Orndorff caught Orton trying to attack him from behind, but he decked the Cowboy and refocused on Piper. As Orndorff attempted his piledriver, he was clocked from behind by Orton's cast. Before a two-on-one could occur, Mr T rushed to rescue Orndorff a second time.

Later that same night, Piper tried to help Orton assault Hulk Hogan. Mr T ran in to protect another friend. This time, however, the scales were tipped the other way, as Orndorff entered the battle -- on Hogan's side! Hogan and Orndorff formed a tag team that summer, and they thrashed Piper and Orton in several arenas, such as the Philadelphia Spectrum. Orndorff was also pleased to meet Bob Orton the first round of the 1985 King Of The Ring Tournament. Brawling with Orton to a double-DQ didn't matter to Orndorff, as he was more intent on sending a message to Rowdy Roddy Piper.

In July, Piper and Orndorff finally met at Madison Square Garden in what was to known as "The Match Of Honor." Rowdy Roddy mixed some very impressive wrestling with his usual bag of dirty tricks. Orndorff retaliated with some of the most enthusiastic offense of his career. Seeing his "boss" in trouble, Orton interfered to cause a disqualification. The two villains beat Orndorff to a bloody pulp until The British Bulldogs could put an end to it. Orndorff was bruised, but definitely not beaten. Just one month later, Mr Wonderful defeated former WWF Champion The Iron Sheik in front of a huge crowd at the Ohio State Fair. When it came time to return to MSG, Orndorff had a BIG surprise for Orton and Piper. Paul Orndorff contacted Andre The Giant as his tag team partner for this night. Needless to say, this new team dominated The Cowboy and The Scotsman.

While the battle between Orndorff and his former partners raged on, manager Bobby Heenan became involved. Apparently, Heenan was Orndorff's manager until shortly after Wrestlemania (although, to this day, no one can recall seeing Heenan managing Orndorff between 1984 and 1985.) In any event, Orndorff publicly fired Heenan to declare himself a free man. Embarrased, Heenan issued a $25000 bounty on the health of Paul Orndorff. When Heenan arrived at Saturday Night's Main Event in October, no one yet had injured Orndorff to collect the cash. So, Bobby Heenan announced to Jesse Ventura that he was doubling the bounty to $50000, and that the very next man to try and collect it was none other than Rowdy Roddy Piper - as if he didn't have enough inspiration to wrestle Orndorff already. The two enemies dragged each other out of the ring and into the backstage area. When Piper felt he had enough of Orndorff for the night, he decided to lock himself out of the building! Later in the year, Bruno Sammartino was installed as a special referee to keep Orndorff and Piper in the ring. Instead, Piper and Orton used the match as an opportunity to double-team Bruno! When Bruno donned the boots to team up with Orndorff, their score against Piper and Orton remained unsettled until all four men clashed in a steel cage match in Philadelphia.

The World Wrestling Federation decided to make its pay-per-view debut in November with an event called The Wrestling Classic, which featured a 16-man elimination tournament. Once again, Orndorff was paired off with Bob Orton. This time, however, the referee noticed Orton's illegal use of the arm cast and disqualified him. Paul Orndorff advanced to face Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana. Despite his reputation as a fair player, Orndorff grew very aggressive in the match. Both men lost their tempers - and their match, as they brawled to a double-countout. Orndorff saw some action later in the night as he rescued Hogan from a Piper-Orton double-team in the main event. Piper saw Orndorff's involvement as the one thing that kept him from beating Hogan that night. Since Piper was obviously going to employ Orton's cast as the special weapon against him, Orndorff decided to fight fire with fire by wearing HIS OWN cast! Meanwhile, Bobby Heenan aimed Big John Studd at Orndorff in New York. However, Orndorff left the match unscathed, and Heenen still had his $50000.

In February, Hulk Hogan's title defense against The Magnificent Muraco turned into a memorably brutal affair. Bobby Heenan (acting on Mr Fuji's behalf as Muraco's substitute manager) sent King Kong Bundy in the ring to damage Hogan's ribs. While Hogan wanted Bundy all to himself, Orndorff decided to punish Muraco for his involvement. Both wrestlers were well known for their use of the piledriver. They went head to head at Wrestlemania 2 only to find themselves in a disappointing double-countout.

Orndorff's unhappiness continued as he was no longer among the challengers for Hogan's championship belt. Instead, he was more often seen as The Hulk's tag team partner, and the less popular of the duo. In Roddy Piper's absence, Adorable Adrian Adonis began his Flower Shop routine as a replacement for Piper's Pit. Orndorff scoffed at Adonis' ridiculous behavior, but that only added to his shame when he lost to Adonis on Saturday Night's Main Event. Adonis certainly had Orndorff's attention now, but that was the fatal error which Adonis was looking for. Adrian belittled Orndorff by saying that he was in the shadow of Hulk Hogan. Orndorff's frustrations continued when he met Hogan's other frequent tag team partner, The Junkyard Dog, at the 1986 King Of The Ring. Again, Orndorff was on the losing end of the match. By now, Adonis was blatantly daring Orndorff to prove his close relationship with Hogan. When Orndorff demanded to speak with Hogan in a televised phone call, it seemed as though Hogan was too busy for his Wonderful friend. When Hogan and Orndorff finally reunited in a tag match against The Moondogs, Orndorff was visibly upset. In fact, he almost wrestled the entire match by himself, as if to upstage his partner.

Seeing the apparent dissension, Bobby Heenan challenged Hogan and Orndorff to meet his gigantic team of Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy. Perhaps he thought his men could soften up Hogan for a later title match, or maybe Heenan just wanted another shot at revenge against Orndorff. Although Orndorff was impressive in the early stages of the match, he was unsuccessful in trying to bodyslam the 370-pound Studd. When Hogan entered the ring, he sent Studd head over heels within seconds of their locking up. Orndorff was furious! Studd and Bundy eventually used their girth to slow Hogan down. Hogan retaliated with a headbutt, but the impact of the blow sent him backwards into his own corner. Hogan's elbow bumped Orndorff in the eye, forcing him from the apron down to the arena floor. As Studd and Bundy continued their double-team (earning a DQ for it), Orndorff was unable to get involved ... or was he? For some reason, Orndorff was staggering around, pointing to his injured (?) eye in a very dramatic fashion. Only until after their opponents had put quite a beating on Hogan did Orndorff finally return to his side. Orndorff was glad to mug for the cameras as he pulled Hogan back to his feet. He made light of their partnership as he almost laughed beside the injured Hulk. Then, like lightning, it happened. Orndorff leveled Hogan with a vicious clothesline! To everyone's shock, he proceeded to deliver a devastating piledriver. With Hogan totally destroyed, Orndorff mocked Hogan by cupping his hands to his ear to listen to the crowd's unhappy reaction. He was welcomed with open arms by Heenan, Studd, Bundy, and ... of all people ... Adrian Adonis, who kept repeating "You were WONDERFUL!"

It did't take long to establish that Hogan (seeking revenge) and Orndorff (seeking the WWF Title) wanted a confrontation as soon as possible. The feud was exported to Toronto, Canada, as these two stars collided at The Big Event. Over 60,000 fans saw Paul Orndorff walk to the ring with two new additions. First of all, he was accompanied by his new manager, Bobby Heenan. Second, he insisted that Hogan's theme music "A Real American" be played for his own entrance. Oddly enough, both wrestlers received loud ovations, as turning against Hogan did not turn the entire crowd against Paul Orndorff. Hogan used his bulk and strength to overpower Orndorff in the beginning, but Orndorff's mobility allowed him to stick and jab for the rest of the match. After about ten minutes of action, Orndorff pulled the referee in front of a Hogan shoulder block. Without an active referee, The Hulk dominated Orndorff and even imitated his behavior from their last tag team match. He executed a heavy clothesline and then tried to use Orndorff's own piledriver! Before he could do so, Heenan clobbered Hogan with a wooden stool. Orndorff covered Hogan and the referee tapped three times ... on Orndorff's shoulder. As Mr Wonderful celebrated an apparent title victory, the referee informed us all that Hogan had won the match upon a disqualification. Some Orndorff fans could argue that Orndorff should have won, but no one could deny that he came very very close.

While thousands had witnessed their Toronto match, their next big match up was watched by millions on Saturday Night's Main Event. Both men gave confident pre-match interviews, and Hogan declared that Orndorff would meet his punishment tonight for betraying him. From ringside, Heenan again tried to get involved in the match. This time, however, the referee noticed, and Heenan was expelled from the arena! Paul Orndorff then relied on another new friend in the form of Adrian Adonis. As he had attempted before, Hogan began to set up for the piledriver. Just then, Adonis, (wearing a very large dress!) entered the ring from the audience. As if that wasn't surprising enough, Roddy Piper, hobbling on a crutch, got involved by striking both Orndorff and Adonis. Without thinking, Piper even took a swing at Hogan, a man who he had just rescued, even if by accident.

The reasons for Piper's crutch came as a result of a confrontation between Rowdy Roddy and Adorable Adrian. After Adonis' "Flower Shop" had replaced "Piper's Pit" in the summer of 1986, Piper returned in order to reclaim his spot. Not only was Adrian unwilling to give it up, but he enlisted the aid of two of Piper's old allies, namely Muraco and Orton. When both men tried to present their own shows at the same time, a huge brawl broke out involving all four men. They ganged up on Piper, destroyed the Pit, and injured his knee with a chair.

Although Orndorff was not directly involved in this affair, it was poetic justice that Orndorff would once again be a guest on Piper's Pit, held once again at Madison Square Garden. The odd thing was that their respective relationships with Hulk Hogan had both been turned around. Hogan's former partner Orndorff was now his enemy, while longtime anti-Hogan loudmouth Piper was the man who saved The Hulk from a beating on national TV. Piper took the opportunity to blast Orndorff for being the least trustworthy wrestler in the WWF. According to Piper, no one would ever team up with Orndorff after the ordeal with Hogan. After a conference with Orndorff, Bobby Heenan announced that Orndorff could count on "The King" Harley Race, another member of Heenan's Family. Furthermore, Heenan reminded everyone that Piper was not the most honorable man in wrestling. Who would ever team up with him? Piper then decided to talk to his "manager" - who turned out to be a fan sitting in the front row. "Who should be my partner?" asked Piper. The fan was quick to respond "Hulk Hogan!"

So, on November 24, 1986, the most famous arch-rivals in WWF history, Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan, were matched up against the team of Paul Orndorff and Harley Race. Notwithstanding the talents of Race and Orndorff, everyone's attention was focused on the shaky relationship between Hogan and Piper. In fact, they had a brief but intense staredown before each tag! At one point, Hogan connected with his famous legdrop, but no count was made because all four men got involved. Race held up Piper for an Orndorff clothesline, but Heenan's men collided. Piper pinned Race and stormed out of the ring, leaving Hogan to battle off Heenan, Race, and Orndorff.

The tag team match was a failure. The singles matches were inconclusive. Paul Orndorff demanded the one option that would yield a clear-cut winner in his feud with Hulk Hogan. With Saturday Night's Main Event being taped in Hartford, Orndorff challenged Hogan to defend the title inside a steel cage. Although the cage match is designed to bring about a clear-cut decision, Orndorff and Heenan decided to introduce an extra card into the deck. They ushered referee Danny Davis to the ring. Davis had a reputation for blatantly supporting his favorite wrestlers - and Hogan was not one of his favorites. Davis wasted no time getting into an argument with another referee, Joey Marella. The match began with Orndorff immediately trying to escape through the cage door several times. Once Hogan gained the advantage, he was kept from leaving when Heenan locked the door. As the battle continued, both men started climbing out of the cage from opposite sides. They reached the top at the same time and began descending to the floor. With the referees focused on one man each, Marella declared Hogan the winner, while Davis tried to give the match and title to Orndorff. Hogan rushed to attack Orndorff again, and he wiped out Davis in the process. Marella decided that, in fairness, the match must be restarted. This time, Hogan endured all of Orndorff's offense and delivered his legdrop to virtually finish the match. Even after Heenen entered the cage, Hogan managed to thwart both foes and leave the cage as the reigning WWF Champion.

After this utter defeat, Orndorff became less visible in the WWF. He put away George "The Animal" Steele in his next New York appearance, but there were no more title matches with Hogan. Instead, Bobby Heenan had introduced Andre The Giant as his next weapon against Hogan. Orndorff, Hogan, and Andre all participated in a battle royal held on Saturday Night's Main Event, but all eyes were on Hogan and Andre. The eventual winner was yet another Heenan Family member, The Mighty Hercules. In a decision which could never be explained, Paul Orndorff was not invited to wrestle at Wrestlemania 3, which boasted an indoor attendance record of over 93,000. Instead, Orndorff's next notable appearance was at the Frank Tunney Tag Team Tournament, in which he teamed with King Kong Bundy in quest of a tag team championship match against The Hart Foundation. After defeating Muraco and Orton, Bundy and Orndorff lost to the eventual winners, The Killer Bees, who would proceed to an unsuccessful title match against the Harts.

After getting a win over The Junkyard Dog in June, Paul Orndorff took some time off in 1987. In his absence, Bobby Heenan introduced a new man to the family. It was "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who had just left Jim Crockett's NWA in the midst of a tag team championship reign. The only problem was that Rude was even more vain than Orndorff. When asked to compare the physiques of his wrestlers, Heenan went on record stating that Rude's body was the very best ... but that Orndorff was "pretty good" himself. There is quite a difference between "Wonderful" and "pretty good", as Heenan soon found out. Orndorff returned to wrestling specifically to challenge Heenan to make that statement to his face. As Heenan sputtered nervously, Orndorff was glad to announce that The Brain was fired for a second time! Moments later, Paul Orndorff introduced his new manager, the popular Oliver Humperdink, who was a sworn enemy of Bobby Heenan.

By virtue of Heenen being fired, Orndorff and Rude were sudden arch-rivals. Their egos added fuel to the fire, and it sometimes seemed as though they were more intent on proving muscular superiority rather than who was the better wrestler. When Orndorff wrestled on TV, Rude tried to upstage him by performing a posedown on the interview stage. When it was time for Rude's match, Orndorff was glad to return the favor. Before sacrificing Rude, Bobby Heenan decided to soften up Mr Wonderful by putting him in the ring against King Kong Bundy on Saturday Night's Main Event. His plan worked. With Orndorff struggling to knock Bundy off his feet, Andre dragged Orndorff towards the corner by his trunks. Once in position, Orndorff was a perfect target for Bundy's "Avalanche" maneuver. With a loss behind him, Orndorff was defeated by Rude in two consecutive matches at Madison Square Garden.

With Orndorff on the other side of Heenan's fence, Hulk Hogan actually requested Mr Wonderful as one of his partners at the first-ever Survivor Series held on Thanksgiving Night. The main event was a ten-man elimination tag team match. Orndorff and Hogan would be joined by Ken Patera (another former Heenan charge), newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow, and Don Muraco, who was now somewhat of a reformed citizen, replacing the injured Superstar Billy Graham. On the other side of the ring was a five-man team which outweighed them by about 500 pounds! The combination was Andre The Giant, King Kong Bundy, The One Man Gang, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. Reed was the first one to go, courtesy of a Hogan legdrop. The Gang used his weight to put away Patera. After dealing with Bundy for a while, Orndorff finally got his hands on Rude. He stunned Rude with a series of elbows and gave the signal for the piledriver. Just then, Bundy illegally entered the ring to attack Orndorff from behind. As Paul turned around, Rude grabbed a handful of tights to get a cheap pinfall on Orndorff. His team would eventually lose, as Andre emerged as the sole survivor. Disgusted with Rude's trickery, Orndorff disappeared to tend to some nagging injuries.

Over the next two years, rumors were circulating that Orndorff had passed away. His demise was even documented in a newspaper. In reality, Paul was quietly tending to his own bowling alley near Atlanta. One can only imagine how he chuckled upon reading his own obituary. A neck injury had been making wrestling very uncomfortable for Orndorff, but he returned to the ring sporting pretty much the same amazing physique, although his right arm now looked unusually smaller than the other. If there was a weakness, then it was only an aesthetic one. By 1990, Paul Orndorff was wrestling in some lesser-known promotions. However, during that time, he took on the popular Kerry Von Erich. Holding his own against this former NWA World Champion, Orndorff knew that he was ready to make a grand reappearance.

In the summer of 1990, The Four Horsemen were the most powerful force in the NWA. World Champion Ric Flair was surrounded by Arn Anderson, Sid Vicious, and Barry Windham, while Ole Anderson acted as the group's manager and spokesman. The most likely man to dethrone Flair at this time was Sting, but he had suffered a severe knee injury in February. If nothing else, he was a prime candidate for one of the Horsemen's trademark beatings. One illicit shot to Sting's bad knee would knock him out of contention. The Stinger decided that protection was a smart idea, so he introduced the world to "The Dudes With Attitudes" - a childish name for a group of anti-Horsemen. The group consisted of The Steiner Brothers, Lex Luger, The Junkyard Dog, and the returning Paul Orndorff.

Whenever members of the Four Horsemen got out of line, a couple of the Dudes always showed up to straighten things out. When TV Champion Arn Anderson agreed to meet up with Orndorff in a singles match at the "Costal Crunch" Clash Of Champions event, he made sure that it was a non-title affair. A good thing he did, as Orndorff walked away with a pinfall victory. At The Great American Bash, the site for Sting's match against Flair, the other three Horsemen tried to unite against their foes. This did not work out to well either, as Arn, Windham, and big Sid were disqualified against the trio of Paul Orndorff, JYD, and the massive El Gigante. With this momentum, Sting did beat Flair for the World Title, but Orndorff disappeared from the NWA.

In 1991, Paul Orndorff was one of the many famous wrestlers to participate in Herb Abrams' UWF promotion. In some of his first appearances there, he began an intense rivalry with Steve Williams. First, Williams blindsided Orndorff on a televised match. They then tried to settle their differences in a lumberjack match, but that didn't work out either. When they opted for a steel cage match, Terry Gordy got involved, and Orndorff suffered a beating. Bob Orton also arrived in the area, and Orndorff continued his battles with Cowboy Bob. Mr Wonderful met and defeated Colonel DeBeers in a strap match at Beach Brawl. Orndorff would periodically show up in the UWF over the course of the early 1990's. At around the same time, he also wrestled for the NWF, which operated in what used to be the old Mid-South area. Orndorff was an occasional tag team partner of Chris Adams, as they battled the likes of Bob Orton and Buddy Landel.

In 1992, Smokey Mountain Wrestling opened its doors and held a tournament for its heavyweight title. The Dirty White Boy (Tony Anthony), Buddy Landel, and "Prime Time" Brian Lee were all invited to participate. Orndorff's name was there too, but as "an alternate!" This insult was enough to swing the pendulum of Orndorff's mood in a nasty direction. Orndorff started ranting about having had victories over Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. He then destroyed Hector Guerrero ... and anyone else who dared to step in the ring. When it came time for the tournament , which was held at the Volunteer Slam event, Orndorff steamrolled through Tim Horner and Robert Gibson to meet Brian Lee in the finals. The pot got sweeter, as SMW Commissioner Bob Armstrong tried to award the title to Orndorff due an injury Lee had suffered earlier on. Instead, Lee demanded the match, Orndorff's temper erupted, and Lee became the new champion on account of a disqualification!

Paul Orndorff started an alliance with The Dirty White Boy, and they relished in attacking Lee at will. In one incident, Orndorff used a suitcase to bash Lee in the face, while "DWB" hung Hector Guererro by his necktie. Lee responded by acquiring Ronnie Garvin as his tag team partner against Orndorff and DWB. In August, Garvin pulled off a major upset by defeating Paul Orndorff in a special "Piledriver Match" at Fire On The Mountain.

For revenge, Orndorff decided to insult Garvin by using Garvin's own trademark towel as a hangman's noose. When Orndorff had a match against Danny Davis (not the WWF referee), Garvin made an appearance and took Orndorff's robe. The distraction caused Orndorff to lose to Davis. In another match, Orndorff was counted out against Dixie Dynamite as Garvin taunted him with the robe. Finally, Orndorff stole what he thought was a bag containing his robe. It turned out to be a ladies' negligee. After all of these incidents, Orndorff demanded a match against both Garvin and Danny Davis. At Thanksgiving Thunder, Orndorff was disqualified in the handicap match, but he did manage to leave both men lying in the ring thanks to the piledriver. On the same night, he also aided his friend Dirty White Boy (now the new SMW Champion) in a defense against Tim Horner. After losing a match to Tracey Smothers, Orndorff decided to deliver one more piledriver -- to the referee! This incident caused him to be evicted from Smokey Mountain. However, Orndorff had learned of another opportunity.

A "Thunderdome" cage match was scheduled for WCW's Clash Of The Champions. It was intended to be Sting, Ron Simmons, Dustin Rhodes, and Van Hammer versus Rick Rude, Vader, Barry Windham, and The Barbarian. A neck injury kept Rude from wrestling for that show. In order to find a substitute, manager Harley Race decided to hold a special "tough man's" match between Cactus Jack and Paul Orndorff. For some reason, Race tried to assist Orndorff, which Cactus did not appreciate. Cactus Jack belted Race from the ring apron, but that was immediately halted when Vader and Orndorff double-teamed him. Race held an interview to announce Orndorff as his selection, but that was interrupted when Cactus Jack returned, wielding a snow shovel which he used to wipe out all of his foes.

Injuries and betrayals continued to affect the match. By the time the match was held at The Clash, Simmons, Hammer, and The Barbarian were all out of the picture. Sting and Rhodes entered the match against Vader, Windham, and Orndorff. Although it was a cage match, that did not stop Cactus Jack from entering the fray. Although he wasn't supposed to be a contestant at all, Cactus Jack gained the winning pinfall on Orndorff! Jack continued to make life difficult for Orndorff by beating him in a "falls count anywhere" match at SuperBrawl III. Once again, Jack made use of that trusty snow shovel.

Over the next several weeks, Paul Orndorff's luck started to change. He entered a 16-man tournament to crown a new WCW TV Champion. In this order, Too Cold Scorpio, Cactus Jack, Johnny B Badd, and Erik Watts all fell to the abilities of Mr Wonderful. Paul Orndorff finally held a major title again. Not only did his career change, but so did his choice in friends. He and Rick Rude somehow put their past behind them. Orndorff and Rude teamed up to defeat Dustin Rhodes and Kensuke Sasaki at Slamboree 93.

Next in line for Orndorff was former WCW World Champion Ron Simmons. He was scheduled to challenge for Orndorff's TV Title at a Clash in June, but a hamstring injury resulted in Paul Orndorff watching helplessly as Simmons disposed of Dick Slater. Orndorff recovered in time to match up against Simmons at Beach Blast 93. In order to save the title, Orndorff tossed Simmons over the top rope to end the match with a DQ loss. In August, though, Orndorff was not "Wonderful" enough, as Ricky Steamboat pinned him for the TV Title at another Clash of Champions event. Orndorff made another bad decision by selecting the unpredictable Equalizer as his partner against Marcus Bagwell and Too Cold Scorpio at Fall Brawl. A miscommunication caused Equalizer to be pinned.

In October, Orndorff gained a small measure of revenge. Yoshi Kwan's injuries kept him from competing against Ricky Steamboat at Halloween Havoc. Paul Orndorff was the substitute, and he acquired a victory via countout. Next on his plate was a chance to win the United States title. Back at Slamboree, Dusty Rhodes was in an altercation with The Assassin. Dusty's son Dustin was the reigning US Champion, so The Assassin was looking for someone to take the gold from the Rhodes family. Orndorff became The Assassin's student, and he had himself a US Title match at the 25th Clash. Dusty and The Assassin were at ringside. Orndorff had things going his way by working on the youngster's arm. However, Dustin somehow pulled out a surprise small package and pinned Mr Wonderful.

Next in the cards was an appearance in the "Lethal Lottery" of tag team matches held at BattleBowl. Thanks to the random drawing, it was Paul Orndorff and The Shockmaster versus Ricky Steamboat and Lord Steven Regal. Orndorff's team benefited from dissension between Regal and Steamboat. As a result, Orndorff and Shockmater won the match and admission into the final battle royal. That match, however, was expectedly won by the huge Vader. At around the same time, Orndorff was a part-time tag partner of Stunning Steve Austin. On WCW Saturday Night, this pair matched up against two of the Horsemen, Arn Anderson and Paul Roma. For some reason, Roma behaved irrationally and did not seem too concerned about his partner's welfare. Roma then adopted Erik Watts as a partner against Orndorff and Austin. This time, Roma blatantly turned against Watts and announced a new partnership -- with Paul Orndorff!

The new team of Paul Orndorff and "Pretty" Paul Roma, along with The Assassin, made their way to Starrcade 93 to take on Marcus Bagwell and Too Cold Scorpio. This new partnership fit like a glove, as Orndorff pinned Scorpio to end the match. However, when they had a rematch at Clash of The Champions 26, it was Too Cold and Marcus with the victory. Paul Orndorff put his tag team on hold for a while in order to team up with Austin and Rude for a special 6-man "Thunderdome" match at SuperBrawl IV. They were opposed by the trio of Sting, Dustin Rhodes, and Brian Pillman. Although Pillman scored the winning pinfall, Rude still managed to give a post-match beating to The Stinger. Later, in March, WCW went on a tour of Europe. Orndorff tried his hand in the first-ever European Cup Tournament, but he was put away by Cactus Jack.

After that, Orndorff resumed his partnership with Paul Roma. They let go of The Assassin and named their team "Pretty Wonderful." They won a little-known untelevised match against Brian and Brad Armstrong at Slamboree 94, and dominated the tag team scene thereafter. The reigning WCW Tag Team Champions were the oddball team of Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan, who were accompanied by the crippled Dave Sullivan. They had one last defense against former champions The Nasty Boys - Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags. As the match degenerated into a brawl, Pretty Wonderful used David's crutch to attack Jack and Sullivan. Before leaving the ring, they even administered a few shots to The Nasty Boys as well.

Pretty Wonderful had their opportunity in Orlando when WCW presented its Bash At The Beach event. Thanks in part to the previous attack, the champions were already injured going in. The challengers' blend of youth and experience covered all the bases, and the team of Orndorff and Roma captured the WCW World Tag Team Titles. However, The Nasty Boys had not forgotten the ambush either. Knobbs and Sags met the new champs in a non-title match at Clash of The Champions 28. The Nasties won via pinfall, but they failed to beat Pretty Wonderful in a title match.

Meanwhile, Marcus Bagwell's partner Too Cold Scorpio had left WCW. Taking his place was a left-handed powerhouse known as The Patriot (Del Wilkes). The two men donned red, white, and blue outfits and called their team Stars And Stripes. At Fall Brawl, they had a title match against Pretty Wonderful. At the end of about 13 minutes of action, Paul Roma gained a pinfall on Bagwell to end the match, and the further challenge of Stars And Stripes (or so they thought.) Just a week later, Bagwell and The Patriot beat Pretty Wonderful for the tag team titles. Now it was Orndorff and Roma who re-entered the tag team scene as challengers.

It was like deja vu for Marcus Bagwell when he strolled into Halloween Havoc with tag team gold. One year ago, he and Scorpio were the Cinderella team, having pulled off an upset title win over the experienced Nasty Boys. One year ago, these new champions lost the belts back to the Nasty Boys. Likewise, in 1994, the title reign of Stars And Stripes was cut short by the former champions. As Bagwell locked Orndorff into a cradle suplex, Paul Roma delivered a tremendous flying elbow to give the belts back to Pretty Wonderful. However, history would not entirely repeat itself.

One last chapter was added to this story when Pretty Wonderful awarded one last title shot to Stars And Stripes at the 29th Clash. They also required the special ruling that, if Stars And Stripes failed to win the belts, The Patriot must unmask on national television. And so, with their backs up against the wall, Bagwell and The Patriot gave it one last shot in Jacksonville, Florida. The finish was controversial, as all four men were in the ring, and there were two simultaneous pinfalls. The referee decided which pin was legal, and gave the belts to Stars And Stripes once again.

Putting the hectic schedule of title matches behind them, Pretty Wonderful took some time off. They returned to singles action at SuperBrawl 5. In an untelevised match, Orndorff defeated Brad Armstrong, He also came to ringside to watch when Roma tangled with Alex Wright. Even his Wonderful encouragement couldn't stop the young German from pinning his partner. There was some more mixed success as Orndorff entered a tournament for the United States Title in March. He did get past Johnny B Badd, but he lost his second-round match to Sting, the eventual champion. Paul Roma left WCW at around this time, so Orndorff refocused on singles matches.

At Slamboree in May, he obtained a match against The Great Muta for Japan's IWGP Heavyweight Title. The match was a disappointment to Orndorff, who lost this rare chance at instantaneous international fame. In June, Orndorff competed in a special mini-tournament for a TV Title match. He pinned Brian Pillman in a wild match which, for some sort of promotional reason, was held outdoors beside a new truck (whose hood was used as a weapon by both men.) The then moved on to the title match at Bash At The Beach, where he went head to head against The Renegade, arguably the least-talented TV Champion of all time. The official decision was that Paul Orndorff lost this match on a pinfall, but the replay clearly showed that Renegade had lifted Orndorff's shoulder off of the mat before the three count. Flaunting this controversy, Orndorff gained another shot at the TV Champ. Unfortunately, The Renegade conclusively pinned Orndorff in just under four minutes. In his next significant televised match, Paul Orndorff was soundly trounced by Randy Savage. He felt he had hit rock bottom.

After that match, there was a mysterious visitor to Orndorff's dressing room. He wore silver sequined jacket and a head of hair which probably didn't belong to him. He was named Gary Spivey, and he sounded like one of those "telephone psychics" whose commercials fill late-night TV. However, instead of charging Orndorff "$3.99 the first minute, 99 cents each additional minute", he immediately flooded Orndorff with positive encouragement. With the help of a mirror and an endless trail of compliments, Gary Spivey reminded Paul Orndorff that he was, in fact, Mr Wonderful.

The transformation was amazing. When Orndorff met The Renegade (who had already lost the TV Title) at a match held just prior to the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, he demolished Renegade in less than two minutes. In addition to his winning matches, Orndorff's positive attitude was overflowing. Beaming with confidence, he tested his skills against dozens of opponents in the 60-man battle royal held at World War Three. He outlasted more than half of the others, and it took no bigger a star than Hulk Hogan to backdrop Orndorff out of the match. No longer was he the serious, all-business disgruntled Paul Orndorff. He was now simply known as "Mr Wonderful."

Sadly, all of this momentum came to a grinding halt on December 11, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He just finished wiping out The Disco Inferno on an edition of Monday Nitro. As he walked back to the dressing room, The Four Horsemen were giving an interview. Brian Pillman, who had become the Horsemen's most unpredictable member, was going on a verbal tirade against anyone he could think of. Upon seeing Orndorff, he decided to poke fun at the services of Gary Spivey. Orndorff warned Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to discipline Pillman before he gets hurt. Instead, it was the Horsemen who severely hurt Orndorff. Using the interview stage for added height, Anderson and Flair executed a spiked piledriver on Paul Orndorff. Even Bobby Heenan, whose relationship with Orndorff was always rocky, showed great concern for Orndorff's health.

Sporting a neckbrace, Orndorff did make a few non-wrestling appearances in the next few months. When Flair challenged Randy Savage for the WCW Title at Starrcade 95, Orndorff made a silent march towards the ring, but did not get involved. In an interview which aired during the 32nd Clash, Orndorff divulged into some of the details of his injuries. Then, at a Nitro show on February 5, Brian Pillman & Arn Anderson had a brawl with Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morrus. As they fought towards the backstage area, Pillman was struck from behind by a broom handle! Moments later, Orndorff made a brief appearance at the announcers' booth, carrying a broken broom handle.

Over the course of the next four years, Orndorff spent much of his time working at WCW's Power Plant training facility. Several Y2K WCW stars were his students, including Sean O'Haire and Mark Jindrak. In 1999, though, his most notable student was a female wrestler who went by the name of Midnight. With her help, Harlem Heat was able to consistently thwart the plans of The Powers That Be. Instead of punishing her, The Powers decided to punish Orndorff for being such a successful teacher. They demanded that he come out of retirement and wrestle in a handicap match against Creative Control, otherwise known as Ron & Don Harris. To everyone's surprise, Orndorff was assisted in this match by Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko. A second referee disqualified Orndorff for the interference of his old friends.

On January 10, 2000, more of Orndorff's connections to his past came into play. At the request of Chris Benoit, Orndorff and Arn Anderson recruited three stars from the 1980's to have their way with Jeff Jarrett in three matches - all in the same night. They managed to bring in Tito Santana, George "The Animal" Steele, and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. In the Snuka-Jarrett match, Orndorff himself became physically involved, delivering some elbows to Jarrett's skull.

The January incident probably caused the "wrestling bug" to bite Orndorff again. The poor sportsmanship displayed by his pupils was inspiration for him to return to the ring in a pay-per-view match. At Fall Brawl, he teamed up with The Filthy Animals to battle some of his ex-students, now calling themselves The Natural Born Thrillers. After using his piledriver to pin Johnnie The Bull, Orndorff was in visible agony. The match was halted, and some feared that Orndorff had suffered a serious (legitimate) injury. Luckily, it only turned out to be a temporary nerve injury (called a "stinger") which, although very painful, was remedied by some hospitalization.

As of this writing, Paul Orndorff has yet to return to the ring. Although he would certainly be welcomed by his fans, they can just as easily rest assured that his twenty-two WONDERFUL years were more than any fan could ask for.

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