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WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk Dead at Age 79

The Hardcore Icon, Terry Funk, had a career like no other.

By Chris Phelan
Wrestler Terry Funk looks on in the hallway.

The professional wrestling world just lost one of the all-time greats. Terry Funk, the pioneering WWE Hall of Famer, died Wednesday at the age of 79.

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As one of the only Superstars to make an impact not only around the world but in vastly different wrestling promotions along the way, Terry Funk will forever live on in the hearts of his family and fans. Often cited as the toughest Superstar to ever lace up a pair of boots, long-time wrestling fans are keenly aware of his influence on some of the greatest Superstars of the modern era. The "Hardcore Icon" will be missed. 

Who Was Terry Funk?

From his humble beginnings as a tag team specialist in the 1960s alongside his brother, Dory Funk, Jr., to his final WWE match at One Night Stand 2006, Terry Funk was not only one-of-a-kind but the list of athletes he shared the ring with throughout his career is unrivaled. Bruno Sammartino, Lou Thesz, Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Raven, Bret Hart, Edge, and Lita are just a few of the famous names to compete with or against Funk – a transcendent roster of Superstars spanning multiple generations. Not many people can say they have been in the ring with Bruno Sammartino and Lita, but Terry Funk can. Funk proved throughout his career that age was just a number – his charisma, passion, and respect for the wrestling business gave him the longevity that many of his peers envy.

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Terry Funk was a Texas cowboy through and through, and his persona in the ring reflected that. He perfected the "arrogant and tough Texan" demeanor long before Stone Cold Steve Austin, leading him to capture the top championships in every promotion he stepped foot in. Over his career, he captured the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, ECW World Championship, WCW United States Title, and the WWE Tag Team Championships.

Did Terry Funk Compete in WWE?

Terry Funk with his arms up during the WWE 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony

Long-time members of the WWE Universe most likely remember Terry Funk competing in WWE during the Attitude Era, where he wrestled under the "Chainsaw Charlie" persona alongside Cactus Jack, one of the many "Faces of Foley." In retrospect, the Monday Night RAW debut of Chainsaw Charlie was jaw-dropping. Funk appeared to be wielding an actual live chainsaw, something that no fan would see today. Long before the Attitude Era, he also had a short stint in WWE alongside his brother and competed at WrestleMania 2.

Known as "The Hardcore Icon" due to pioneering Japanese death match wrestling in the mid-90s alongside Foley, Terry Funk had a career rejuvenation that led him to capture the ECW World Championship in the promotion's first-ever pay-per-view event, Barely Legal. Later in his career, wrestling announcers gave Funk the nickname "Middle-Aged and Crazy," an apt description of the larger-than-life Superstar who managed to reinvent himself over the years. Funk's career accomplishments are varied – from defeating Jack Brisco in 1975 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 to wrestling consistently into his 70s, Funk gave fans worldwide decades of unforgettable moments.

Terry Funk Was Beloved By His Wrestling Peers

Countless WWE Superstars took to their social media accounts to offer their condolences as it became clear to the WWE Universe that Terry Funk had a considerable influence on nearly every professional wrestler he encountered. Ric Flair held nothing back as he declared his admiration and respect for one of his greatest opponents:

Funk's final WWE on-screen appearance came on an episode of Monday Night RAW in 2016 when he offered a young Dean Ambrose iconic advice ahead of Ambrose's WrestleMania clash against Brock Lesnar. In true Funk fashion, he gifted Ambrose one of his favorite weapons: A chainsaw. 

As one of the most beloved athletes to ever compete in the squared circle, the legacy of Terry Funk will undoubtedly live on in future generations of WWE Superstars. USA Insider passes along our sincere condolences to Terry Funk's family, friends, and fans. He will be missed but not forgotten.

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Payback on September 2. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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