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FORMER RING OF HONOR CHAMPION JOHN 'XAVIER' BEDOYA PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2020-08-16 19:43:00

PWInsider.com is extremely saddened to report the passing of former Ring of Honor World Champion John Bedoya, who wrestled as Xavier, at the age of 42.  There is no word on the circumstances of his passing but members of his family have confirmed it with Bedoya's closest friends in the New York City wrestling scene.    He had been in contact with family members overnight and all signs are this was a sudden, unexpected passing as family members began to get word around 10 AM this morning.

Xavier was born and raised in the New York City area and was trained by former ECW star Tony Devito and quickly became a top star in the New York City independent scene, working the earlier events for Mike Lombardi's Northeast Wrestling, where he was a young, athletic performer with a great looking 450 splash. 

Within the confines of NYC, Xavier headlined, as a heel, for Jac Sabboth's ICW and USA Pro Wrestling.  Billed as "The All Around Best", Bedoya and Low Ki had a classic feud for those promotions that culminated in an incredible ICW Championhip Ladder match in June 2001 that, at the time, headlined was scheduled to be the final ever event at the Elks Lodge aka "Madhouse of Extreme" that was so good, StrictlyECW.com head Tony Lewis declared the match "was the spirit of ECW" just a few months after that promotion died.    In USA Pro, he was also tasked as Champion, regularly working 30-45 minute or longer main event matches, including a great 45 minute match with Balls Mahoney.

During that time period, the consensus was that the top NYC independent wrestlers were Low Ki, The Amazing Red and Xavier and all three were imported into Ring of Honor.  The Xavier vs. Low Ki feud, in fact, was so good that Gabe Sapolsky began planning for it from the beginning of ROH and credited the ICW Ladder Match with being one of the inspirations for the birth of Ring of Honor as a promotion. 

Both Xavier and Ki debuted on the first ROH event in February 2002 and eventually, Xavier shocked ROH fans by winning the belt from Low Ki shortly after Ki became the first champion at ROH Unscripted.  With that very physical title win (I remember after the match, Ki told me he made Bedoya "earn it" in the ring), Xavier joined Christopher Daniels' Prophecy and was the heel champion that multiple babyfaces, including Paul London, AJ Styles and Jay Briscoe chased.  Bedoya, as Xavier, held the belt for months before finally losing it to Samoa Joe in March 2003, kicking off Joe's legendary reign as ROH Champion.  In that time period as champion, Xavier played the classic heel champion always on the brink of losing but somehow eking out a victory.  He was an excellent and extremely underrated performer at the time, who's work in helping to build the foundation of Ring of Honor has never truly been properly acknowledged or celebrated.

Beyond ROH. Xavier was used regularly by WWF/WWE for enhancement work in the New York City area, billed as John Jirius, so he didn't lose under the Xavier ring name.   Bedoya was so highly thought of at the time that there would be occasions he would be booked to lose quickly, only to be pulled from the matches as those in talent relations at the time felt WWE might be able to do something with him down the line and they didn't want to job him out on TV immediately.  For whatever reason, however, he was never signed, last working a date for WWE back in 2007.  Xavier always credited not being signed to being lost in the shuffle when there were changes in the talent relations office, leading to him being back to square one, as opposed to being seen as someone the company saw momentum in.

After his ROH title loss, Xavier took time off but returned to the promotion to break off from The Prophecy, joining Prince Nana's Embassy, where he feuded with John Walter (including an off the charts "Fight Without Honor" match to blow off the feud), leaving after he suffered a shoulder injury.  Bedoya would make a number of other appearances, including challenging Bryan Danielson for the ROH title but was never a consistent regular for the company after 2006.   He was slated to return to ROH earlier this year to face Jay Lethal at the Past vs. Present ROH TV taping in Las Vegas, an event that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  He would be the first ROH World Champion to pass away.

While he continued working in professional wrestling for just about every independent promotion one could name and also had a tryout for Impact Wrestling in 2010.   

Outside of pro wrestling, Xavier had been training heavily in MMA, believing that once it was made legal in New York State, it was going to take off in a massive way and that he wanted to be in front of the wave.  He debuted in MMA in 2009, competing as John Xavier, winning his first fight via KO in 14 seconds in the first round.   He lost the second fight via decision and continued to train and compete.   He very much used his frustrations over his stalling pro wrestling career as fire to fuel his push and training in the MMA world and in fact, his interest in MMA led to Xavier waning towards performing in professional wrestling circles.  He last regularly wrestled in 2011 for Sabboth's ICW promotion in New York.  His last match, that I am aware of, was for ICW in 2016, defeating Indigo Child (aka Deranged).

Beyond combat sports, Xavier had worked the door at a number of NYC clubs.

On behalf of everyone associated with PWInsider.com, I'd like to express my deepest condolences to Xavier's friends, family and fans.  In all my interactions with him, he was a truly great person who loved two things - his family and performing in professional wrestling.  He leaves behind a son, who he loved very much and I am especially saddened for him and the rest of John's family.

This is a developing story and will be updated as needed.  A special thank you to Billy Krotchsen for all his help.

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