The tragic death of the fighter known as Junkyard Dog, explained

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  • Junkyard Dog’s rise to the top of professional wrestling
  • The tragic death of Junkyard Dog

At one point, there wasn’t a fighter in the world that was as finished as The Junkyard Dog. JYD got his big break with Cowboy Bill Watts in Mid-South Wrestling, quickly jumping up the rankings as the best wrestler in the territory. There may not be anyone bigger in the state of Louisiana than JYD was at the height of his popularity.

As soon as Junkyard Dog was more popular, it jumped to WWE and became an even bigger star thanks to the national stage. Although he never worked as a champion again when he went to work for Vince McMahon, he remained one of the company’s biggest stars. Anyone thinking of JYD now thinks not of their Mid-South title reigns and fights, but of their chains in the ring to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” barking like a dog and singing “Grab Them Cakes.” “. “Then, sadly, in 1998, Junkyard Dog died following a tragic car accident.


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Junkyard Dog’s rise to the top of professional wrestling

Junkyard Dog makes his entrance into WWE.

Sylvester Ritter was born in 1952, and after playing college football for Fayetteville State University, he moved into the world of professional wrestling. His rise to the top was swift. After working briefly in Memphis for Jerry Jarrett and then in Stu Hart’s Calgary Wrestling, using the name Big Daddy Ritter, he moved south and worked for Cowboy Bill Watts. It was Watts who came up with the Junkyard Dog name and gimmick, and he pushed him to the moon.

Thanks to a feud in which he was blindsided by the Freebirds, and later working with Ted DiBiase, Junkyard Dog became the biggest name in Mid-South Wrestling. Watts said that all it took to sell an arena in Louisiana at the time was to have Junkyard Dog on the card. It became a gold mine for Watts and he quickly won the territory’s biggest title, the North American Championship. His feuds with DiBiase and Butch Reed in the Mid-South headlined most shows in that era. However, this success caught the eye of Vince McMahon, and he paid to lure JYD into WWE.

“He had charisma coming out of his ears,” Ted DiBiase said of Junkyard Dog in his book, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes and Icons. DiBiase mentioned that Junkyard Dog wasn’t that good of a fighter in the ring, but he didn’t need to be. “He became a phenomenon here in the Deep South. He drew everyone…he drew blacks, he drew whites. At one point, there was a poll in New Orleans, and JYD was chosen as the famous person who I’d like to know more. He was that attractive.”

In 1984, Junkyard Dog joined WWE and became one of the company’s most popular babyfaces. Like the guys that came after, like Hacksaw Jim Duggan (who also broke out in Mid-South), JYD didn’t need a title to finish and never got one as a result. As popular as JYD was, it seems almost hard to believe that his time in WWE only lasted four years before he left in 1988. After this, he spent time in WCW and NWA until 1998. He even appeared for ECW at Wrestlepalooza in May 1998. Less than a month later, Junkyard Dog died.

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The tragic death of Junkyard Dog

Promotional photo of Junkyard Dog in WWE.

Junkyard Dog’s death was even more tragic, considering what he was doing at the time of his death. Ted DiBiase said that Junkyard Dog had developed a drug problem over the years, but that he had worked hard to overcome it. He even started going back to the boot camp-style rehab center to help other kids. However, his addictions had made him lose his family. His death occurred after he drove to North Carolina to see his daughter LaToya graduate from high school. On his way back to his home in Magee, Mississippi, he was in a single car accident and died. He was 45 years old.

When asked about the incident, promoter Guy Walters said that JYD asked for the weekend off because he didn’t want to miss his daughter’s graduation. Although her death was at a young age, he was there for her daughter at her graduation, fulfilling this promise. The tragedy of her death was repeated years later. In 2004, WWE inducted Junkyard Dog into the WWE Hall of Fame and his daughter LaToya was there to represent him at the induction ceremony. Seven years later, LaToya also died. She was 31 years old. Despite her young age, she died after suffering a heart attack while talking to her friend on the phone.

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