Virgil Death – Undisclosed Causes

virgil death

Virgil parlayed a supporting role into a lifetime of memories.

1962-2024 (Age 61)

Pro wrestler Virgil (aka Mike Jones) epitomized the saying “there are no small parts, just small actors.”

This applies equally to professional wrestling, where Mike Jones parlayed a supporting role as “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil into a lifetime in the spotlight.

Mike Jones’s birthday is shrouded in mystery. Like many aspects of his life, fans didn’t know what Kayfabe was and what the truth was. There are different stories about Jones’ age. While Virgil’s age was often listed as 61, wrestling historian Tom Leturgey states Virgil was actually 72.

What is known is that he was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Jones played football in high school and competed in amateur wrestling.

Breaking into the Business

From there, he began competing in bodybuilding. When WWF Superstar Tony Atlas came across Jones, he suggested he look into professional wrestling.

Jones worked in the Continental Wrestling Association, the wild promotion centered in Memphis, Tennessee. Competing as “Soul Train” Jones, he held singles and tag team gold, including a run with future WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson.

However, Memphis was just the start. When Vince McMahon selected Ted DiBiase to play the wealthy heel “The Million Dollar Man,” he chose Jones as DiBiase’s bodyguard. McMahon was less concerned with Jones’ wrestling skills and more with Jones’ intimidating look.

Playing the Strong, Silent Type

Virgil did a great job playing DiBiase’s menacing-looking henchman. Virgil rarely spoke, which added to his aura of a strong, silent type. DiBiase’s bodyguard served many roles—he would pay people off for DiBiase, take a beating in “The Million Dollar Man’s” place, and interfere in DiBiase’s matches as necessary.

He also wrestled occasional matches, teaming with DiBiase against whomever the wealthy heel was feuding with.

The Virgil character was a supporting player but he was featured in many prominent storylines. His biggest storyline was when he helped Ted DiBiase orchestrate Andre the Giant’s win over Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in 1988. Andre then gifted the title to DiBiase.

However, WWF President Jack Tunney voided the transfer. This lead to a tournament at WrestleMania IV where Randy Savage defeated DiBiase for the title, despite Virgil’s help.

Jones did it all as Virgil, never complaining. DiBiase always took Virgil for granted (after all he was paying him), but DiBiase began taking his frustrations out on his bodyguard, berating him and expecting him to do demeaning jobs.

Virgil Becomes His Own Man

Finally, Virgil had enough. DiBiase attacked Virgil during a tag team match against Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes after Virgil accidentally clobbered DiBiase with a clothesline. After the match, DiBiase yelled at Virgil.

This culminated in Virgil hitting DiBiase with “The Million Dollar Belt,” the championship DiBiase had commissioned for himself after failing to win the WWF Championship.

Fans got behind Virgil, especially when they learned he’d stuck at his job with Virgil in order to care for his sick mother. Virgil’s struggle resonated with everyone who had to work for a mean-tempered boss. This theme would be revisited with the legendary feud between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper began training Virgil on the finer points of the ring. Virgil fought DiBiase at WrestleMania VII, scoring a win by count-out. That wasn’t enough for Virgil and he persevered with another match at SummerSlam. Virgil not only defeated DiBiase there, he captured DiBiase’s Million Dollar Championship.

DiBiase would regain the championship with the help of wrestler Repo Man. Nevertheless, Virgil remained popular in the WWF, even though he was used largely to make other wrestlers look good.

A Controversial Angle

Virgil was embroiled in controversy in 1995 when he worked a match for the National Wrestling Conference (NWC). This indie promotion featured several former WWF Superstars including Honky Tonk Man and even The Ultimate Warrior.

Virgil’s opponent was “The Thug” who wrestled under a Ku Klux Klan-style hood. The Thug was accompanied by a mystery man wearing a similar hood.

As tasteless as these outfits were, they paled to what happened after the match. The Thug and his henchman (revealed as former WWF Superstar Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) beat Virgil down and prepared to hang him with a noose.

Needless, to say, this angle got the National Wrestling Conference plenty of publicity. To no one’s surprise (except perhaps the promoter) it was all negative.

Joining the New World Order

Thankfully for Mike Jones, better days lie ahead. He began appearing in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as Vincent, the director of security for the New World Order. Jones’ friend Ted DiBiase had joined the group and Virgil seemed like a good addition.

In addition to playing Vincent, Jones played Curly Bill, a member of the West Texas Rednecks. Barry Windham, Kendall Windham, Curt Hennig, and Bobby Duncum, Jr. rounded out the faction.

Jones continued working in WCW until it folded. From there, he appeared on the indie scene. Jones claims he also taught math at a Catholic school. Like many of Jones’ claims, this one has been called into question.

The Surreal Life

Virgil’s life after years in the national spotlight became surreal. Virgil’s quest for a fast buck through hawking photo opportunities and autographs became a running joke thanks to radio host Sam Roberts.

Roberts coined the phrase “Lonely Virgil” after photos surfaced online of Virgil appearing at conventions with not a customer to be found.

Fans never knew where they’d find Virgil trying to sell autographs and websites sprung up chronicling fans running into Virgil selling autographs at the most unlikely places such as subway stations.

Virgil began making media appearances, creating a character of a man who loved eating at Olive Garden and who was just trying to get ahead the only way he knew how—selling autographs.

Over time, fans learned that Page and Jian Magen had helped him turn himself into a large-than-life personality in order to help him better market himself. The two brothers had done something similar with The Iron Sheik.

While Virgil didn’t fare as well as The Iron Sheik, he remained in the public eye.  Virgil briefly appeared in the WWE to put over Ted DiBiase Jr. as the new “Million Dollar Man.” He also appeared twice in All Elite Wrestling in 2019 as “Soul Train” Mike Jones.

The Death of Virgil

Sadly, Virgil’s health began to decline. In 2022, he revealed that he was battling dementia and that he’d had two strokes. On February 28, 2024, referee Mark Charles III informed fans via Facebook of Virgil’s death:

My dear friends, it is with great sorrow that I bring news from the Jones family of the passing of our beloved Michael Jones, whom we know and loved as Virgil, Vincent, Soul Train Jones and more. Virgil passed peacefully at the hospital this morning and I ask that you pray for him and for his family.
May his memory be eternal!

Charles III described Virgil in The Observer-Reporter:

“He definitely had his own drummer,” Charles said of Jones. “It was a unique drummer. Nobody was like that guy. He’s going to leave a giant hole in a lot of people’s lives. He was an entertainer, whether he was on stage or he was off stage. He was outlandish.”

According to the news article, “Jones, who made his home in California Borough, died Tuesday in AHN Canonsburg Hospital with family and friends around him.”

Virgil’s life is a reminder of the many roles wrestlers play, not only as performers in the ring, but outside the ring.

What are your favorite memories of Virgil? Let us know in the comments below.

Other pro wrestlers who died in 2024 include Ole Anderson, Ice Train, Chris Markoff, and Paul “The Butcher” Vachon.