Rip Oliver passes away

Mar 5, 2020 - by Steve Gerweck

Rip Oliver, a Pacific Northwest wrestling legend who held that area’s Heavyweight title more times than anyone in history, passed away today at the age of 67.

Born Lawrence Richard Oliver on October 6, 1952, he had entered hospice care due to heart failure more than a week ago and had been in weakened health for some time after multiple heart attacks.

Oliver came from Florida, and worked as a prelim wrestler before arriving in Oregon in August 1980 as Rip “The Crippler” Oliver. He and Buddy Rose were the area’s top heels until Rose turned babyface after being turned on by The Clan, which at the time was Oliver, Dynamite Kid, and The Assassin (Dave Sierra).

As the head of the heel clan, Oliver carried the territory as its top star through 1987, although he did work in Texas for a period in 1984-85, as well as doing tours of Japan under a mask as The Gestapo.

He held the Pacific Northwest singles title a record 12 times, along with 18 reigns as tag team champion during his heyday, which ended when going to the WWF in 1987. He was not pushed and quit the promotion after only a few months, but in being portrayed as a jobber on WWF television, which aired in Oregon and Washington, it made it impossible for him to be pushed as a top guy in the Northwest, with Lynn “The Grappler” Denton taking over as booker and top heel.

During his short WWF run, Oliver, under a mask as Super Black Ninja, lost a quick squash to The Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental title on a Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Oliver worked in the logging industry in the Northwest after his career ended in 1991 when Don Owen closed the promotion. His son, Larry Oliver Jr. started wrestling in the Northwest in 1990.

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