"Superstar" Billy Graham

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"Superstar" Billy Graham
"Superstar" Billy Graham at a 2CW event in May 2008
Born(1943-06-07)June 7, 1943
Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona, U.S.
DiedMay 17, 2023(2023-05-17) (aged 79)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Wayne Coleman
Billy Graham
Billed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Billed weight275 lb (125 kg)
Billed fromParadise Valley, Arizona
Trained byStu Hart

Eldridge Wayne Coleman (June 7, 1943 – May 17, 2023) was an American professional wrestler. He was of part Arkansas Cherokee descent. Graham was best known for his highly dramatic and charismatic style of wrestling. He created the style while working with The World Wide/World Wrestling Federation under the ring name, "Superstar" Billy Graham. He was also an amateur fine artist. Graham was widely acknowledged as the person who changed modern American pro wrestling by combining it with bodybuilding.[source?] Many modern professional wrestlers have a bodybuilders' physique. Before wrestling, Graham played 5 games with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL).[1]

During the steroid allegations involving WWE owner Vince McMahon in 1992, Graham went on The Phil Donahue Show. On the program, he said that he commonly used steroids. He blamed the WWF for his addiction. The drugs were not illegal in the 1970s. This caused problems between Graham and McMahon. They lasted for over ten years.[source?]

WWE Hall of Fame[change | change source]

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by Triple H. In 2011, it was reported that he wanted his name removed from the WWE Hall of Fame after he was upset that Abdullah the Butcher was also made a member of the Hall of Fame.[2]

Death[change | change source]

Graham was hospitalized in January 2023 because of an ear and skull infection.[3] In April, he was treated for kidney, heart and lung problems.[4] Graham died on May 17, 2023 while on life-support at a Phoenix, Arizona hospital of multiple organ failure, aged 79.[5][6]

Championships[change | change source]

Graham held many championships during his professional wrestling career:

  • Championship Wrestling from Florida
    • NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (two times)
    • NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (one time) (with Ox Baker)
    • NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) (one time)
  • Continental Wrestling Association
  • International Pro Wrestling
    • IWA World Heavyweight Championship (one time)
  • NWA Big Time Wrestling
    • NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Texas version) (three times)
  • NWA Mid-Pacific Promotions
    • NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship (one time)
  • NWA San Francisco
    • NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (two times) (with Pat Patterson)
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI Most Hated Wrestler of the Year (1973)
    • PWI Match of the Year (1977) (vs. Bruno Sammartino on April 30)
    • PWI Match of the Year (1978) (vs. Bob Backlund on February 20)
    • PWI ranked him #277 of the best 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003.
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
    • Class of 2009
  • World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    • Best Pro Wrestling Book (2006) (with Keith Greenberg)
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)

References[change | change source]

  1. "Superstar Billy Graham, Model of the Buff, Blond Wrestler, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  2. ""Superstar" Billy Graham Wants Out Of The WWE Hall Of Fame; Blasts Chris Jericho". wrestlingnewsworld.com. Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  3. Currier, Joseph (May 17, 2023). "Wrestling Legend 'Superstar' Billy Graham Reportedly Dead at 79". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  4. "Doctors want to take WWE legend "Superstar" Billy Graham off life support, wife refuses". CBS News. May 15, 2023. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  5. Linder, Brian (May 18, 2023). "WWE Hall of Famer has died: reports". Penn Live. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  6. Sumner, Ben (May 18, 2023). "Wayne Coleman, wrestling's 'Superstar' Billy Graham, dies at 79". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2023.

Other websites[change | change source]