Kevin Greene Death – Heart Attack
1962-2020 (Age 58)
Professional wrestling has seen a number of football players enter the squared circle, but NFL Hall of Famer Kevin Greene managed to make a huge impact in just a handful of appearances, a testament to his stardom as an NFL pro along with his commitment to learning his way around the ring.
Quarterback’s Worst Nightmare
Army brat Kevin Greene was born July 31, 1962 in Schenectady, New York but spent most of his youth traveling with his father who was an officer in the Army. He finally settled in Illinois, playing high school and later college football.
Greene’s drive to succeed was noted by all around him and his 5th round selection in the NFL draft was all he needed to make his presence known on the field. Greene quickly impressed his coaches and the NFL.
Kevin Greene entered the NFL, playing over 15 seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The powerful linebacker terrorized quarterbacks and according to the New York Times, “His 160 regular-season sacks rank third behind the totals of the defensive ends Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198).”
From the Gridiron to the Grappling Game
Kevin Greene debuted in WCW at 1996’s Clash of Champions XXXII, accompanying Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage to the ring when they battled Ric Flair and the Giant. Greene provided some muscle after the match when Brian Pillman and Zodiac ran in, helping the babyfaces fight off the heels. However, this was only the beginning of Greene’s foray into wrestling.
A Fateful Night
On June 16, 1996, Kevin Greene exchanged his football cleats for wrestling boots, teaming with friend and fellow NFL star Steve “Mongo” McMichael at The Great American Bash pay-per-view in a match against the Four Horsemen’s “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.
Flair had repeatedly harassed Mongo’s wife Debra, leading to McMichael demanding a match.
Despite their lack of experience, the two football stars held their own, showing they’d learned from their coach, Randy “Macho Man” Savage.
However, just when things looked grim for the Horsemen, McMichael was swayed by a briefcase full of cash and he turned on Greene, blasting him with the briefcase and joining the Horsemen. Greene worked five matches from 1996 through 1998, four of which aired on pay-per-view.
At 1997’s Slamboree, Greene teamed with Roddy Piper and Bill Goldberg, defeating the New World Order’s Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Syxx.
Greene got his revenge on Steve McMichael the next month at The Great American Bash.
The 6’3” defensive end and linebacker finally met his match when he lost to the Giant at 1998’s Bash at the Beach.
Despite his lack of experience, Greene performed surprisingly well and given more time, might have become a significant figure in the industry. However, Greene’s wrestling career ended prematurely after the NFL teams he played for inserted clauses in his contracts prohibiting him from playing during the off-season.
Greene began coaching football in the NFL following his exit from the field, working for the Green Bay Packers and later, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A Lasting Legacy on the Field and in the Ring
Kevin Greene’s football career led to a variety of awards ranging from five appearances in the Pro Bowl, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1996 (along with the NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award that same year) and a Super Bowl ring for his job as assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers at Super Bowl XLV. In 2016, Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Despite a short career in wrestling, Greene earned the respect of those around him. Following his passing, a number of wrestlers tweeted tributes and fond memories of the big man, including Ric Flair, Sean Waltman, and Eric Bischoff.
Kevin Greene was as intense an individual as I’ve ever been in the ring with. Our 6 Man match w/Kevin, Naitch, & Roddy from Slamboree ’97 is one of the highlights of my career. I’m honored to been a part of that with him. Very sad to learn he passed away today.🙏#ripkevingreene pic.twitter.com/us8WldreMQ
— Sean Waltman (@TheRealXPac) December 21, 2020
So very sad to hear about the passing of Kevin Greene. An amazing NFL Hall of Famer, a great person and a friend. RIP Kevin.
— Eric Bischoff (@EBischoff) December 21, 2020
The Sack Master Man! I’m At A Loss For Words… What Started Out As A Relationship Of Mutual Respect Resulted In A Bond Of Friendship Throughout These Years. I Have 2 Autographed Jerseys That You Inscribed “You Are Simply The Best!” Let Me Return This By Saying You Were The Best! pic.twitter.com/ExC9YR33IX
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) December 22, 2020
Kevin Greene Death
Kevin Greene died at his home on December 21, 2020 after suffering a heart attack. He was 58.
He is survived by his wife Tara and their children, Gavin and Gabrielle.
Many other names in the pro wrestling world were lost in 2020, including Brodie Lee, Kamala, Pat Patterson, Road Warrior Animal, and Rocky Johnson.
What are your favorite memories of Kevin Greene? Let us know in the comments below.