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FORMER WWF STAR 'IRON' MIKE SHARPE PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2016-01-18 13:11:50
We are sad to report that former WWF star "Iron" Mike Sharpe passed away over the weekend in Hamilton, Ontario.  Sharpe, 64, was said to have been found in his apartment.  We are told that he had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years.

Sharpe, a second generation talent, was best known for his long run with the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s, where he was billed as "Canada's Greatest Athlete" and was a recurring performer for the company, losing TV and undercard matches on live events.  Working heel, Sharpe consistently wore a leather band around his forearm, which he used to batter opponents and occasionally, load and use as a foreign object to secure victories.

While he was most seen by the most eyeballs in this lower level role, Sharpe had a long career after following his father Mike and Uncle Ben into the business (where they were huge stars, especially in Japan) and was trained by the late Dewey "Missing Link" Robertson. 

After breaking in wrestling in his native Hamilton, Ontario, Sharpe began making the rounds in the territory system of the day including Stampede, San Francisco and several years in Mid-South Wrestling, where he held a number of championships and a long run.

In 1983, Sharpe migrated to the WWF as the latest in a series of villains to challenge then-champion Bob Backlund.  Sharpe, managed by Lou Albano, was built up the card beating babyfaces like Larry Sharpe, S.D. Jones, Johnny Rodz and Tony Garea as a way to give him credibility.  "The Canada's Greatest Athlete" nickname was derived from Gene Kiniski often being described that way.

Sharpe was moved into the main event picture as a headliner for secondary shows where he had a series of bouts against Backlund.  Once that series had run it's course, Sharpe settled into a mid-card role where he would win against undercard talents to maintain credibility but would lose to up and coming babyfaces to help build them up.  Sharpe would batter them with forearms and lock in his trademark bearhug before they would mount the comeback and score the win.

Around the same time, Sharpe also toured New Japan Pro Wrestling, teaming with Hulk Hogan, Bad News Allen and Jimmy Snuka against the New Japan stars of that era, including Kengo Kimura, Antonio Inoki, Tatsimi Fujinami and Riki Choshu.

Sharpe had a huge reputation within the business as a germaphobe and would often spend long periods of time taking showers after matches.  In his excellent book Bodyslams, Gary Michael Cappetta wrote of Sharpe once taking so long to shower at an event, when he returned to the locker room and dressed, he learned that not only had all the other wrestlers had left, but the venue had the lights out and he had been locked in.   Sharpe's reputation grew over the years, to the point that the USA Network series "Psych" made a random reference to it once on an episode of the comedy.

Sharpe was also well known for other eccentricities in the business.  He ran on his time, not anyone else's and while dependable in the ring, was rarely timely.  He worked out for hours on end, doing all sorts of unique (for the time) workout regimens.  Gorilla Monsoon would often remark on camera about Sharpe's testament to fitness.

When WWF expanded nationally, Sharpe remained with WWF, used regularly against the top babyfaces on TV to give them solid matches.  He made appearances for WWF TV through 1995.  It is believed his last televised appearance was a loss to the Smoking Gunns at a Raw taping that year.

Later in life, Sharpe opened up a training facility in Brick, New Jersey (right outside Asbury Park), which broke a number of stars who later worked on the national scene into the business including Chris "Crowbar" Ford, Mike "Simon Dean" Bucci,  the late Jerry "The Wall" Tuite and Mike "Ace Darling" Maraldo.

"At the young age of 16, by chance - I had learned that Mike would be opening a wrestling school in Brick, NJ," said Chris Ford. "I would inevitability end up being Mike's first student. Mike enabled me and many aspiring young wrestlers to begin their journey and live out their dream of stepping into a wrestling ring. I will always be grateful that he opened that door for me and let me into this business that to this day I love being a part of. Rest In Peace and God Bless You Mike."

Sharpe's influence was strongly felt over the next decade in the Northeast independent as well as many wrestlers, bookers and promoters who populated the 1990s Northeast independent scene, including Don "Donnie B" Bucci, Rik Ratchet, Lupus, Rowdy Bobby Piper, Big Bobby G, Helter Skelter, The Cannon, Matt Storm, and many others came out of Sharpe's school.

"Mike Sharpe undoubtedly changed my life for the better from the second I walked in there in 1991," said Mike Bucci, who Sharpe invited to join into training sessions after Bucci had been there hanging out with friends who were already training under Sharpe. "I think that would be true for everyone who went to his school."

Sharpe regularly worked the independent scene until the 1990s before retiring and pretty much disappearing and quietly returning to Hamilton.   Sharpe's disappearance was one of the great mysteries of the last few decades within the business as a number of people who had worked with him, both inside WWE and outside, including his students, had tried in vain to discover where he was and what he was up to.  In the modern day wrestling convention scene, Sharpe, with his cult undercard status, would have obviously been booked if anyone had been able to contact him.  Sharpe, who wasn't on the Internet, was pretty much unaware.

In recent years, back and leg issues were said to have required Sharpe to use a wheelchair for mobility.  We are told he had been in and out of the hospital for some time dealing with circulatory issues that had led him to be bed-ridden, including the loss of a leg.  He had been released from the hospital just a few days ago.

Sharpe had been cared for in recent years by those working for a local church in Hamilton and was well thought of in that community, often telling stories of his time in the business and giving advice on working out and bodybuilding.

Sharpe's funeral services have not yet been finalized.

PWInsider.com wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of "Iron" Mike Sharpe, who will forever be known as "Canada's Greatest Athlete."

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