By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since the Junkyard Dog died. JYD, aka Sylvester Ritter, was killed in a car accident. He was only 45 years old. I say only because that’s my age as I write this blog.
My first memories of JYD were in World Class Championship Wrestling before he headed to the World Wrestling Federation. He engaged in a match against the Missing Link in what turned out to be a battle of the headbutts. He instantly became one of my favorites. He exuded a certain charisma that made him hard to dislike. I always wanted to be one of the kids he’d pull into the ring and dance with after a victory. Of course, he had a rich history in Midsouth prior to this. However, in my area, we didn’t get Midsouth at that time.
I saw Dog wrestle a few times in person. The first was at a House show in St. Louis. JYD battled Roddy Piper that night, beating the Rowdy one by disqualification after Cowboy Bob Orton interfered.
|Hogan and JYD|
Not sure who took this pic
I was also there the night he teamed with Hulk Hogan to beat Terry and Dory Funk, Jr. He was also a part of the Sam Mushnick Tournament in 1986 in St. Louis. He beat Hercules and Adrian Adonis before losing to the eventual victor Harley Race.
I had the LJN JYD figure. He was the first I tried to customize by panting his red tights white. That paint job didn’t last long and I eventually removed the chipping “artwork”. I also had a Junkyard Dog t-shirt, one of the few wrestling shirts I had at the time. And my only WWF ice cream bar purchase (from the ice cream man) was JYD.
|JYD vs. Harley Race|
After leaving WWE and going to WCW I still cheered for JYD. However, I didn’t think he reached that level of popularity he enjoyed up north. A couple big highlights of his career include winning the Wrestling Classic Tournament and pinning Ric Flair in a non-title WCW World Title Match. I’m glad he was inducted posthumously into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. Dog certainly earned his spot in wrestling history. RIP JYD.
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