Former WWE star ‘King Kong Bundy’ died at age 61, the company announced on Tuesday morning.
Bundy’s friend David Herro initially revealed the heartbreaking news on Twitter early Tuesday. No cause of death or further details were immediately available.
— David Herro (@DavidHerro) March 5, 2019
Bundy, whose real name was Christopher Paillies, debuted in WWE in the 1980s, gaining notoriety for his massive size and overwhelming strength. Bundy’s character often played the heel -- or villain -- role during his time with the company.
The 6-foot-4, 458-pound behemoth’s biggest moment came in WrestleMania 2 in 1986, where he faced off against Hulk Hogan in a main-event, steel-cage match for the World Wrestling Federation’s heavyweight championship.
Bundy’s rise in popularity led to several acting roles for the Atlantic City, N.J., native. Bundy made cameo appearances on two episodes of “Married With Children,” as well as “Boy Meets World” and a small role in Richard Pryor’s 1988 film, “Moving.”
Bundy would step away from professional wrestling for a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s before returning to WWE in 1994. Bundy wrestled against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XI in 1995 before being released by the company later that year.
In the years that followed, Bundy would make appearances on the independent wrestling circuit.
After news of Bundy’s death broke, tributes from around the wrestling community came pouring in.
— WWE (@WWE) March 5, 2019
Saddened to hear of King Kong Bundy's passing. A WrestleMania attraction, a true big man and a fan-favorite of the @WWE Universe. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/w8NGxRL9lk
— Triple H (@TripleH) March 5, 2019
Rest In Peace to the true master of the Five Count. Condolences to his loved ones. #KingKongBundy
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) March 5, 2019
When I was a little kid, I used to “King Kong Bundy” my mom while she was doing the dishes. I’d run from the other end of the kitchen and splash her like he used to do to his opponents on the turnbuckle. Ultimate heel. Mania 2 vs Hogan was great. Those poor ribs. RIP, big man 😔 https://t.co/7rL6vIHXvx
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 5, 2019
Hate to hear about the passing of King Kong Bundy. He was so cool to me when I walked in that @WWE dressing room as an absolute nobody in 1986.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) March 5, 2019
Overwhelmed by King Kong Bundy’s passing, only great memories,R.I.P. big man until we meet again. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 5, 2019