A Tragic Tale: The WCW Referees

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Brian Damage

One of the most under appreciated jobs in pro wrestling is the job of the referee. A great referee can help move a match along and pace it properly. World Championship Wrestling had some of the very best in the business.

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Starting with senior official Tommy Young, who in my opinion was one of the very best at his craft. Tommy, officiated some of the biggest matches in NWA/WCW history. In 1989, in a TV taping match between Tommy Rich and Mike Rotunda, Tommy Young was legitimately hurt so severely, he nearly became a quadriplegic.

That injury ended Tommy’s full time refereeing career and kept him away from the ring for years to come.

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Charles Robinson is a truly gifted official for both WCW and now for the WWE. As an official for WCW a couple of tragic incidents occurred. First, his wife Amy of two years passed away from cancer. Secondly, in 1999, Charles Robinson turned heel and aligned himself with Ric Flair. He became known as “Lil’ Naitch.” In a match on Nitro, Flair and Robinson faced off against Madusa and Randy Savage. At the end of the match, Savage botched his patented elbow drop on Robinson and nearly killed the smaller Robinson. He suffered several cracked vertebrae and a collapsed lung.

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Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand) was a small, diminutive referee for WCW, but make no mistake about it…Curtis was one of the toughest men in the WCW locker room. He was nicknamed “The Shooter” and for good reason, he knew how to take down people…as this fan sorely found out…

Mark Curtis was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and like the true shooter he was, took the disease down for 2 years. In 1999, however, he finally succumbed to cancer and died at the age of 37.

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Randy_Anderson

Randy Anderson was another top flight official for WCW during their heyday. As was the case with Mark Curtis, Anderson was diagnosed with cancer and seemingly beat it. WCW even turned Anderson’s unfortunate health crisis into a storyline.

2 years after this segment, Randy’s conditioned worsened and was forced to retire. He died at age 42 in 2002.

One other note, former WCW referee Mickey Jay AKA Mickie Henson was diagnosed with cancer while employed by the WWE. He beat the cancer and is currently retired.

mickey

3 thoughts on “A Tragic Tale: The WCW Referees

  1. I have always had great respect for refs of any federation, but the NWA/WCW had some of my personal favorates. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Hildebrand, Young, and Anderson at various times in my life, and I have the warmest affection for them. Many fans don’t bother to notice them, unless they screw up or are in angles themselves (Nick Patrick fits both criteria), and that is a real shame. These men do not get paid nearly as well, but are on the road as many as 340 nights a year (Anderson told me this in 1997), and go through the same hassles as the wrestlers themselves. I have always believes that they should get a pension for all that they do.

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  2. wow, I had no idea Randy Anderson died, been watching some mid 90’s WCW stuff (beginning of NWO era, just watched the bash at the beach from 96 actually) and seen him around and had no idea…had seen that storyline you spoke of (specifically the night he was insulted in front of his family on Nitro) mentioned in a video about Bischoff’s most controversial moments on WWE Network too and didn’t know that was why they did it….that’s really sad…..between him and Mark Curtis some guys that left us far too soon……RIP to them both.

    As a sidenote on a lighter note, I find the differences between the WCW refs and the WWF ones interesting (stumbled here actually looking to see if anyone else did) the cadence of the counts, and the overall positioning when they go down for them are/were very different. Tend to prefer the WWF ones actually, they seemed smoother (no disrespect meant course to the WCW guys), but then I may be biased too being used to watching them more in that era than I did WCW outside of PPVs on tapes and some Worldwide (I do remember watching the very last Clash of Champions live though), but either way it is just interesting to me to see how different they were.

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  3. Pingback: Top Five Greatest Referees of All Time | Ring the Damn Bell

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