Rick Bognar Death – Undisclosed Causes
1970-2019 (Age 49)
Say the words “Fake Razor Ramon” and wrestling fans know you’re talking about Canadian grappler Rick Bognar, who received a huge break in 1996 when he was invited to work for the WWF. But like many other wrestlers who have come and gone, the gimmick Bognar was given made failure inevitable.
Nevertheless, he made the best of his opportunity and found success later in life as a motivational speaker. While his in-ring accomplishments were not well-known, Bognar was respected by his peers and others who knew him personally.
Another Canadian-born Wrestler
Canadian native Rick Bognar was born on January 16, 1970 and was determined to become a professional wrestler. At 6’5” he had the big-man size that was popular at the time and debuted at the young age of 18, working in a number of independent promotions as well as Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling, based in Calgary.
After honing his craft, Bognar found success in Japan’s hard-hitting Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) as Titan, including a memorable team with The Gladiator (the late Mike Awesome).
Bognar worked in other Japanese promotions including Catch Wrestling and WAR, but it would be his FMW campaign he found the greatest success in.
Opportunity or Curse?
When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left the WWF for WCW, Vince McMahon lost two of his biggest stars, the men who respectively portrayed Razor Ramon and “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel. In one of the most desperate moves ever, McMahon (who owned the rights to the two characters) decided to recast two wrestlers as the new Razor Ramon and Diesel. McMahon had heard of Bognar’s spot-on impersonation of Razor Ramon and contacted him, telling him he wanted him to be the new Razor Ramon.
In a 2017 interview with ESPN.com, Bognar remembered the circumstances of his entry into the WWF:
“Vince McMahon called me and asked me to call him back,” Titan said. “I was pretty excited about it, and then I got on the phone with him. He says, ‘The people want Razor Ramon back, and I want you to be my new Razor Ramon.'”
While Bognar knew the opportunity was a potential disaster, he knew it might be his only shot in the WWE. He told ESPN in 2017:
“I tried to fill those boots, fill those shoes, that Scott Hall had built such a huge reputation on,” said Titan. “I thought it wasn’t going to fly that well, but it was my chance to get to work in the States after I’d been going to Japan for quite a while. I was frustrated and let down, but I know they had their plans and their bigger picture. For me, now, it’s one of those things I let go of.”
To no one’s surprise, the new Razor Ramon and Diesel angle bombed.
While Glen Jacobs (who played the fake Diesel and who had previously portrayed Isaac Yankem, DDS) would find incredible fame when he was repackaged as the Undertaker’s brother Kane, Bognar was sent to the United States Wrestling Association and released after his one-year contract expired.
Bognar continued wrestling, working in Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Stampede Wrestling.
A New Path
Bognar knew his career was winding down, but his life was about to take an interesting turn. One night, Bognar stumbled across a book about Buddha and began reading it. Fascinated, he began studying Eastern religions, beginning a journey of self-discovery:
“At the end of it all, I was about 30 years old and I thought, ‘Jeez, what am I going to do with my life?’ I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back,” said Titan. “Eventually I studied with a Buddhist monk for about four years, a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He taught me a lot, on meditation, on how to calm the mind, on how to de-stress.”
Bognar started a new career, working as a motivational speaker (or as he put it, a transformational speaker).
A Young Death
Fans and wrestlers alike were shocked when Rick Bognar’s brother Ken released the following message on Facebook:
“It is with great sadness that I share some news with Rick’s Facebook friends. On September 20th Rick passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the young age of 49. It is tough to comprehend and will likely never sink in fully. Rick left behind a great legacy and I know he will be remembered and missed by all of us.”
Loved and Respected
While Bognar’s in-ring career was met with limited success, he was loved and praised by his fellow wrestlers and others who knew him.
Following his passing, a number of Bognar’s companions took to social media praising him and sharing memories, including Chris Jericho:
NOW on @TalkIsJericho– @CyrusOverHuge & @MaulerMMA reflect & remember the life and times of #RickBognar! His career as #BigTitan in Japan, his turn as the “Fake” #RazorRamon, his amazing charisma, #PhiloshavePhil, growing up in the biz together in #Calgary & more! @WestwoodOne
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) October 16, 2019