On Friday, it was revealed that Butch Reed had passed away due to heart complications at the age of 66.
The news follows two reported heart attacks the ex-wrestler suffered earlier this year.
Reed was born on July 11, 1954, in Kansas City and came up playing football in high school and later at the University of Central Missouri.
It was through Ron Etchison that he entered the industry and got his feet wet working in Vancouver for All-Star Wrestling and the Central States territory when it was run by Bob Giegel.
Reed would venture to Florida during his early years and won the NWA International heavyweight title in June 1981 from Dory Funk Jr. Reed only held the title until August where he dropped it back to Funk. Beginning during this time, he would go on to have several big matches with Ric Flair throughout his career.
His big break occurred in 1983 when he joined Mid-South as “Hacksaw” Butch Reed and was presented as a protégé underneath the Junkyard Dog, the star babyface of the territory.
In a program reminiscent of Bruno Sammartino vs Larry Zbyszko, Reed turned on his mentor, leading to a big program between the two in 1983 that established Reed as a top heel as he feuded with JYD over the Mid-South North American heavyweight title.
Reed defeated JYD for the title on July 16, 1983, at the New Orleans Superdome. The two would headline the Superdome again on November 19th that year and then again on July 16, 1984.
From there, Reed feuded with Magnum T.A., who won the title in October. The decision was later reversed and the title returned to Reed.
While establishing himself as a top heel in Mid-South, he formed a team with Jim Neidhart in 1983, winning the tag titles on October 12 from Magnum & Jim Duggan. They had a big match on Christmas Night that year defending the titles against Magnum & Mr. Wrestling II (Johnny Walker) where Walker put his mask on the line. They prevailed and took the titles from Reed & Neidhart.
After losing the titles, Reed would feud with Neidhart and then, Terry Taylor throughout 1984. Reed and Junkyard Dog picked up where they left off, but the feud fell through as JYD left for the World Wrestling Federation. On television, Bill Watts tried to be complimentary toward JYD but insinuated that the pressure from Reed became too much for the top babyface. This hit Mid-South exceptionally hard to not only lose their top star, but one who left without notice.
Reed challenged Ric Flair for the NWA title on August 10, 1985, at the Superdome in New Orleans where Flair retained after a match that lasted a reported 44 minutes.
Reed would leave Mid-South himself in 1986 for a brief return to Central States teaming with Rufus R. Jones as The Soul Patrol before going to the World Wrestling Federation in September.
Reed was dubbed “The Natural” and given Slick (Ken Johnson) as his manager. After being established as a strong mid-card heel, he became the answer to a trivia question as the person originally tabbed to beat Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental title in June of 1987.
Steamboat had won the title from Randy Savage in their famous match at WrestleMania 3. Steamboat wanted some time off around the time of his son’s birth and the call was made to take the title off of him because it was needed in all of the towns. Years later, Reed told Kayfabe Commentaries that he did no-show some events due to burnout and it cost him the chance to be champion. Instead, it was Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris) beating Steamboat.
Reed was scheduled for a feud with “Superstar” Billy Graham but during this era, Graham was so battered from his litany of issues that he couldn’t do much and was paired with Don Muraco as a mouthpiece. Reed competed in the WWF title tournament at WrestleMania 4 losing to eventual winner Randy Savage in the opening round. Shortly after, he left the WWF.
Reed’s next stop was in Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP), working through 1992 for the group that would become World Championship Wrestling. During this era, he was part of Hiro Matsuda’s Yamasaki Corporation but is more remembered for his time working as a tag team wrestler.
At Halloween Havoc 1989, Reed and Ron Simmons were repackaged as a masked team called Doom, managed by Woman. During a great era of tag team wrestling in the company, Doom had a unique appeal with their look and brawling style that fit with teams such as The Steiner Brothers.
Doom won their only WCW tag titles on May 19, 1990, at Capitol Combat by defeating The Steiners. They would hold them until WrestleWar in February 1991 where they were defeated by Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin.
The pair split up and would have a match at SuperBrawl 1 in May 1991 where Simmons beat Reed in a Steel Cage Match.
Reed would return in 1992 for a short run before leaving WCW for good.
Reed would bounce around various regional groups including the USWA where he turned the clock back and revisited a feud with Junkyard Dog over the USWA heavyweight title. Reed won the title from JYD on October 12, 1992, but left the company right after, resulting in a reign that was only recognized as being five-days-long.
Reed worked for the Global Wrestling Federation and won their North American title in June 1994 before losing it to Chris Adams the next month.
His last title of note was the WLW heavyweight title for the Missouri-based group run by Harley Race. Reed won their title on March 31, 2001, and held it until January 2002, losing to Dennis McHawes. Reed worked for the upstart group consistently from 2000-02.
Reed continued to work throughout the 2000s for various groups in Oklahoma. His last recorded match was on May 18, 2013, for Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling as Reed teamed with Bob Orton Jr. against Flash Flanagan & Ron Powers.
We send our condolences to the family and friends of Butch Reed.