A tribute to Terry Funk, an unsung wrestling god

For 50 years, Funk personified all that was great about the WWE and WCW

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Wrestling legend Terry Funk died this week. He was 79.
Wrestling legend Terry Funk died this week. He was 79.
Screenshot: WWE

Legendary wrestler Terry Funk died yesterday. He was 79. I am certainly nowhere near a talented enough writer to eulogize him properly. Nor have I been a fan long enough or deeply enough for long enough to try and encompass his whole career. The thing is, no one is, so it’s not a personal failing. Funk is just that immense.

Funk’s career lasted 50 years, and not in a Ric Flair, dragging it out way past the point it was sad or weird way. And Funk was so good, so thorough, so necessary that he isn’t identified with WWE or WCW or any company really. Sure, he wrestled for both, along with just about everyone else, but he’s not nor ever was WWE legend or WCW legend Terry Funk. He was just Terry Funk, and those two companies were blessed to have him for whatever length of time he was there.

WWE Remembers WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk

There isn’t an area of wrestling Funk doesn’t touch. From the Double Cross Ranch to Japan, he literally did it all. Technical prowess to death match insanity to the best promo in the business to feuds that will live forever and all the silly, barely explicable shit in between that makes wrestling wrestling. Southern pathos with Flair or Dusty and then blood pouring out of him like a waterfall in Japan, there’s nothing he didn’t do nor facet he not only touched, but either invented or made relevant to a whole new audience.


A list of things you should look up would take a week. His “I Quit” match with Flair is obviously on there, as well as the match with Ricky Steamboat on the path to that. There’s probably a half-dozen from Japan. There’s 25 more from anywhere to look up, and you can walk your own path. For some reason, this is the promo I find myself quoting all the time:

Terry Funk’s Beautiful Dream

While Funk certainly had the best wrestling brain in history and knew everything it should be about, the barely contained lunacy that he conveyed at all times is why anyone watches wrestling. Whether that was his matches going off the hook, or his promos bordering into ravings, or just the threat of that happening while he remained in control, or just the outright silliness if you even take a second to really think about it always bubbling right beneath the surface, Funk carried it all at every moment. Which is why he lasted so long. Every other wrestler who has a career that spans decades has to reinvent themselves every so often, come up with a new shade of character or style or presentation. Funk never did. He was just Terry Funk. He already contained all those gear shifts. It just felt like him doing another part of an industry he already got better than everyone.


Sometimes I struggle with the phrase “rest in peace.” There are people who wouldn’t be happy resting, even if Funk has earned one more than just about anyone. Still think he’d be happiest, wherever he is now, doing what he always did. Which was definitely not at rest.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @Felsgate.bsky.social