Don West, who was one of the most colorful personalities of the past two decades in wrestling, has died after his battle with cancer.
Long-time friend and colleague Mike Tenay relayed the news on Friday afternoon that West had passed away due to brain lymphoma.
West initially revealed his diagnosis in June 2021 with the wrestling world supporting West through a Go Fund Me campaign. Months later, it was reported that West’s cancer was in remission. Sadly, it returned in late 2021.
Professional wrestling was hardly West’s first act as a celebrity as he carved out a niche for his boisterous hosting skills with the Shop at Home network as one its lead pitchmen. His irreverent excitability became his calling card and led to West being impersonated by Will Ferrell on several episodes of Saturday Night Live in the late ‘90s.
After leaving the Shop at Home network, West got involved in sports radio and landed on Vince Russo’s radar, who became the conduit to West eventually dabbling into wrestling when NWA TNA launched in June 2002. Throughout the time period, he continued hosting a show on SportsRadio 560 in Nashville through 2008.
West was part of the initial three-man booth with Mike Tenay and Ed Ferrara, which would quickly become a two-man team with Tenay and West and was the synonymous team for the brand throughout its early years.
West was unpolished and drew mixed reviews throughout his early days in TNA but over time, his infectious personality became a hallmark of the broadcast. A famous call of an Amazing Red match saw West leap onto the broadcast booth shouting, “Go Red Go” and was a major shift in Red’s popularity in the promotion and a turning point for West among his fanbase.
Don West standing on the announce table shouting "Go Red Go!" is iconic. https://t.co/qay5WjlIxP pic.twitter.com/TpMaZXZMTx
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) December 30, 2022
Given his background of selling memorabilia, it was a natural role for West to become the show-closing pitchman to hype the following Wednesday’s pay-per-view lineup in the same way Excalibur handles the upcoming lineups on AEW broadcasts.
West was a regular partner with Tenay as TNA moved from weekly pay-per-view events to its Fox Sports Net show in 2004 and moved to Spike in October 2005 and went with monthly pay-per-views, away from the weekly format from its inception.
In 2009, TNA made the call to break up the popular broadcast team and was met with a lot of negativity with Taz taking the place of West when he left WWE and joined the company. They shot an angle with West turning heel and cutting a scathing promo on Tenay, which was excellent given West’s lack of experience shooting wrestling angles or cutting promos but it was a diminishing role for West, who was best served as a broadcaster rather than a manager.
West held various roles on and off camera in TNA until leaving the company in 2012 and taking a role with the Wenatchee Wild hockey team.
West was brought back to IMPACT in early 2017 as part of the promotion’s merchandise department and was part of the commentary team for Slammiversary that year.
West was a native of Chicago and married his wife Terri in 1992.
Don West was 59 years old and we send our condolences to Terri and all of those affected by West’s passing.