Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff
Class of 2005
Hall of Fame Rating
6 out of 10
Orndorff almost had the WWF Championship multiple times. He never actually got due to well-known illness of being a heel against Hulk Hogan in the 1980s.
Why is he Hall of Fame Worthy?
Talent. Orndorff was good. He was a good wrestler and a good heel. He was an amalgamation of the bruiser stylings of Greg Valentine and the cunning wrestler in Ric Flair. He was, after all ,a throw back to the decade he learned in; a 197os style wrestler who was able to showcase his personality giving him a very 80sfeel. Plus he was good at comedy, making him a strong player in 1980s WWF.
The 1980s was the decade that solidified the cool heel. Previously, heels had generally fit into two categories: bullies, those who cheated and tried to take their opponents out ahead of time, or would use brass knuckles and monsters, controlled by a manager. You know the type, the ones who kept Captain Lou Albano employed.
The 80s gave us the brash upstart of a heel who claimed to be better than all and more specifically believed he was more of a man, especially in the looks and sex department. Ric Flair built a career out of this position. Gino Hernandez flourished with it in WCCW and Paul Orndorff personified it in mid 80s WWF.
Orndorff’s WWE character morphed into a real first for the organization. He was a talented wrestler, who could speak and could garner a response from the crowd, but he wasn’t necessarily evil. He was just insanely cocky. And he was just what the WWE needed as the first real world title feud of Hulk Hogan’s career. After Roddy Piper (whom Hogan never scored a pinfall victory over), Hogan needed another major foe (who wasn’t big and bulky and boring)
Cut to the most predictable turn in WWF from a modern point of view. The crowds of 1986 however, ate this stuff up. And a lot of that is due to the testament of Paul Orndorff. His story was then mimicked in the Andre The Giant/Hulk Hogan story of 1987 and the Randy Savage feud in 1989. All of Hulk Hogan’s friends turned on him in the 80s. Must have been something he said.
His multiple Saturday Night’s Main Event appearances against Hogan gave the Hulkster a real adversary who not only might cheat to win but could very possibly out wrestle the champion. Paul Orndorff’s success helped pave the way for Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels and many more. He proved that a villain could be a really good wrestler in the WWF and yet still be the villain.
If Orndorff existed today instead of the 1980s, he would be a multiple time world champion. His style, hard-nosed and nuanced as it was, is similar to Randy Orton. The list of WWF heels who deserved a run with the title is long: Piper, Perfect, Rude, & Dibiase all proved their ability to hold the title, but most didn’t get as close as Orndorff.
After 1987, WWF turned Orndorff face again (a face named Mr. Wonderful?) and he disappeared due to injury. This is the major reason for Wonderful’s stilted success. Orndorff had a serious arm injury and arm atrophy in 1987/1988 and he was forced to retire. As most wrestlers, it only kept him out the game for a few years (no one is ever retired until they are dead)
Orndorff returned a little forgotten and a little rusty to WCW in 1995.
Unfortunately for him, he real didn’t strike the cord in the southern wrestling promotion.
He did however have one of the greatest (see Weirdest Moment below) vignette’s in WCW’s history. It literally made no sense whatsoever and yet it strikingly watchable. It’s the Room of Pro Wrestling
Orndorff retired when in 1999, he injured himself doing his own move. See Orndorff was injuring himself in silly ways long before Kevin Nash. A real trailblazer.
I kid Mr. Wonderful. Anyone who can have this music is someone who will be remembered.
This is both a catastrophe and amazing at the same time.
After the Hall of Fame was reestablished in 2004, the next logical way class was a focus on Wrestlemania 1(excluding Mr. T). Orndorff’s role in the main event of that program means that he will always be part of the WWE lore. 2005 was the perfect time for his induction.
Opens Door For?
The late 80s WWF midcard. Many of his contemporaries went in during the same class.
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Kinda looked like a high school gym teacher at time of induction.