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Travis Orndorff- Remembering "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff

It's Time to Man Up! / Nikita Koloff
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2022 1:00 am

Travis Orndorff- Remembering "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff

It's Time to Man Up! / Nikita Koloff

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September 24, 2022 1:00 am

Today, Nikita speaks with the son of late professional wrestler "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff. Listen as Travis shares memories of his father and the path that God has put him.

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This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network.

It's about to start in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Here's a beautiful Paul Orndorff with his son, Travis. What a joy to have this guest with me. Now, you may be familiar with the last name Orndorff. You may not be, but how about the nickname Mr.

Wonderful? First name Paul. Paul, Mr.

Wonderful Orndorff. Well, today it is my joy to have on the show his son, Travis. Travis, welcome to The Man Up Show. Thank you so much, Mr. Koloff. You know, I've listened to your show before, and you know, I've seen, you know, what you're doing in the community, and I love to hear the devil's nightmare. You know, we need more men like you standing up for the values and salvation and grace that Jesus Christ's bride provides all of us, so I'm so grateful to be here and excited to talk to you about, you know, my background, and I hear I get to ask you a couple questions in the end, so I'm preparing right now.

And again, it's such a pleasure to have you on, and of course, anyone who's, you know, any fan of wrestling whatsoever, your dad certainly had a storied career in professional wrestling. I don't know. I'm trying to remember. I may or may not have had a handful of matches either, you know, alongside of or against your dad.

I just can't remember. You have so many matches, it's hard to keep them all straight, but let's do this for our listeners out there. Let's give a little back story on Travis Orndorff, and perhaps where you live in, and you have some family you want to tell us about, and give us a little backdrop on Travis.

Yes, sir. So, you know, I was fortunate enough, you know, obviously dad was from Tampa, or grew up there. He was originally from Virginia, but I was born in Tampa. My dad was older, so my older brother is 10 years older. He's Paul Paul, Paulette Orndorff III. My brother, or my dad, was junior.

And so, you know, my brother was born when my dad was really young and just out of high school, and I came along 10 years later, and ironically, I always tell the story because people are like, you know, was your dad there when you were born? And I'm like, yeah, and then he went and wrestled Ernie Ladd for the NWA title. Oh, come on!

Come on! Ernie the Cat Ladd, for real! Yeah, and ironically, I know you know B. Brian Blair. Brian, you know, always tells the story of being, you know, at the, you know, in the hospital with dad, and you know, dad and him come up, and he's looking in there. And he's like, which one's mine?

And, you know, Brian's like, I think it's the one with all the hair. And, you know, so that was always the joke, because I was born with all this hair, and of course, you know, God saw fit to take it away much later in life. But, you know, growing up in, you know, growing up in the business, you know, we moved from Tampa to like six different places, you know, because the way territories were ran back in the late 70s and early 80s. I was born in 78. And so eventually, we ended up settling in Fayetteville, Georgia, so a small town just south of the Atlanta airport, and that's where I grew up. You know, I grew up in a small town with about 80,000 people, lived in a suburb, you know, we lived in the end of a cul-de-sac. It was, you know, what you would, the appearance of what I would say a normal childhood.

The only difference being that dad wasn't, you know, around a lot, and was on TV some night. So, you know, the fame and the popularity obviously started out really when I was five or six years old, because that's when he went to New York. And so, you know, I had the fortunate, you know, my dad, you know, grew up really poor, and, you know, so when he went into wrestling, it wasn't much of a choice, it was the way to get, you know, him out of the, you know, the trailer parks of, you know, Florida.

And so, you know, he went the wrestling route, and obviously that was a really tough road, and financially it was tough. Well, by the time I was coming around, you know, dad had done well, and I was, you know, fortunate to go to, you know, private schools. And so I went to a small Montesquarie school, went to Woodward, and, you know, ended up graduating from a small Christian high school in Fayetteville, Georgia in 96. You know, from there I had considered going into ministry until the calling, went to school for about a semester, and, you know, things went awry, and, you know, that's when I took a left turn in my life. I had become a Christian when I was 18, and, you know, about a year and a half later, well maybe two years later, was when, you know, I had a lot of hard things happen, and, you know, really honestly, you know, turned away from Christ at that time, was bartending, and got into what I would say is, you know, kind of the normal pattern for many kids that grew up in wrestling. You know, started out at a very young age, already dealing with addiction, just to be honest, and, you know, but was fortunate that, you know, I had a wife that supported me, and was fortunate to have two beautiful children. My oldest is at college, and plans to go to law school, and then my youngest just started out at college at Charleston in his freshman year, so I have a beautiful family. I have a miniature dachshund that's over here chewing on my bike tire pump, and I have a beautiful wife, Naima Mayu, and, you know, live up here in North Atlanta, just north of the 285 called Kennesaw, and I currently work as a vice president and a performance manager with a national bank.

So, doing very well, very grateful, and, you know, have been very blessed, very blessed. Well, it absolutely sounds like it, and so we're going to break some of that down, some of what you just shared there. Let's start with, before we dive into, you know, a little bit more about, you know, your personal life story and that journey. Let's go back for a moment to, you know, you talked about wrestling, and a lot of fans know, and some don't, don't realize that wrestling was very territorial back in the day, before, you know, the explosion of pay-per-view, and even closed-circuit television, and the NWA, eventually WCW, WWF becomes WWE, and all of that happens. And so, yeah, for those who don't know, you know, you mentioned your dad traveling around to different, different territories, and if anyone knew or were familiar with territories, it was mainly through magazines, like Pro Wrestling Illustrated with Bill Aptor, and, you know, a lot of fans would tell me they used to, couldn't wait to go down to the 7-Eleven to get that magazine to see who was in the top 10, or, you know, who was the champion for XYZ territory.

And it's so much fun to hear those stories. Share with our listeners, Travis, what's maybe a couple of stories, have you got a couple short stories that wrestling-related that maybe you remember? I mean, did you go, did you go to matches with your dad? Did you, did you not? Or do you remember, I mean, you mentioned the match against Ernie the Cat Lad, but what do you remember most about your dad's career?

So, you know, so I have a little small podcast that we do on the side called Some Kind of Wonderful. And, you know, after my dad passed, I really wanted to put in perspective what it really was like to grow up as a child with a father in a very niche field, right? And also the fame and, you know, people understood when they watched a movie and somebody killed somebody else, that it was fake. But with wrestling, they believed it. Everything had a different perspective because in the personas that they built, you know, when my dad left the ring, he was Paul Orndorff, but not too fan.

You know, Brad Pitt leaves the movie, he's Brad Pitt. So I was very fortunate that my dad was a little bit older, you know, when he went to New York, he was 32. And I can tell you, I was, my dad was, first of all, my dad and I were best friends.

And I probably spent at least four to six weeks with, four to six weeks, maybe two to four weeks, some, some years, but at least four to six weeks, most years with him on the road. So, you know, back in, back in the territory days, I wouldn't have been able to do that. I know that we lived in, before I was, before we moved to Fayetteville, we'd lived in like, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina, Louisiana down in Shreveport, and, you know, then Atlanta. So, you know, he finally settled when he was in New York. So, you know, traveling him with, with, with a little bit easier. But I can tell you, we lived in Fayetteville and the Delta Red Coast, you know, back in the day.

Do you remember them? They would come and, you know, escort you if you were a, you know, dad had a million sky miles, which was unheard of in the eighties. And, uh, you know, they would come pick me up and take me to the, you know, the airport and check me in on a plane and dad or somebody would be there to pick me up. He would come pick me up at the house.

Nothing, nothing you would think of it. I promise I didn't fly coach until I started working for Best Buy, like in the, you know, when I was working for them as a manager and they were traveling, I'm like, this is horrible. Like everywhere I went, we had the sky miles, we'd get upgraded. We sat in the top of the bus of the year. We went to Australia for a month when I was 13 and, you know, we were in the, you know, the, the, the upper deck of the airplane. So I very much got to travel and was spoiled and didn't realize it till much later. But, but, you know, the, the, the times and the, and all the things that, that I got to do with my dad were absolutely amazing.

Every, every one of those. But I think the ones I would share the most and is, um, it was during, um, I was, you know, during the, I would say mid eighties, 85, 86. It was during the Hogan, uh, he'll run. And, uh, we were up north and in, you know, I was there at Madison square garden for several of the big matches, but what people don't understand is I never once saw one of my dad's wrestling matches.

So I was like 17. I mean, I saw WrestleMania at on closed circuit at the Omni when I was like six, but you know, we didn't sit around, watch matches. And when I was on the road with him, I was in the, I was in the, uh, the dressing room. Right. And even until I was, I remember when we were in, uh, we were down for WCW down in Orlando and we would get a cabana for like, you know, two months while they were filming at MGM studios. Right.

I didn't watch a match. I was sitting there hanging out with my dad. And when I was even younger and so like JYD was around and Nick Bachwinkle, I mean, those guys taught me how to play guitar while I was sitting in the back for four or five hours before a match, you know, JYD would sit there and play poker with me.

Like that's where I learned, learned happy skills at eight or nine years old. Okay. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Time out.

Time out. So junkyard dog and Nick Bachwinkle taught you how to play guitar and taught you how to play poker. Yes.

Yes. Now Nick was later. I was probably 14, 15. He got me into it.

I ended up buying a guitar and go and get lessons. Come on. Yeah, but we were with JYD all the time, right? So these guys, you know, when I would go out with him for two or three weeks, even though USA was playing once a week, they were hitting different towns and wrestling the same match four or five different places. Right.

And you just may only see it that Saturday. That's right. So we would be with like, if dad was wrestling Tito, we went from town to town to town with Tito riding together.

You know, my dad always said, you know, Republicans and Democrats come out of different ends of the aisle, but make no mistake, they meet up in the back, you know, same thing with wrestling. Oh, truth bomb. Come on right there. That's good, Travis. That's good. Thank you.

Keep going. The story I'll really kind of come back to cause it was, you know, when I got older people knew, you know, by 87 it was sports entertainment. So there was an 87 to 92 where there was hostility about even talking about wrestling because either you loved it or you just decided it was complete crap and you were mad at the world because of conspiracy theory. Right. So that period of time is really when you can understand when my dad was really famous, the only people who would have talked to me about wrestling would have been the teachers, not the students. They were six years old. They didn't watch wrestling.

Right. You know, and so it wasn't till later in life, like I was 21 and this guy named Sammy came up to me and he started apologizing and I'm like, what are you apologizing for? He's like, man, I was mad at you for years. And I knew he quit talking to me when we were like seven when we played T-ball and we didn't talk till we were like 19. He finally was like, yeah, I was mad at you. Your dad turned on Hogan and it just made me so mad that I just hated you. He's like, it took me 15 years to realize that's why I was mad at you. He's like, I kept hanging out with you. I was like, he's not that bad. He's like, I realized I was mad at you because of your dad. Oh my goodness. And so there would be these weird little elements that didn't happen at the time, but I realized the impact they had later. But dad and I were out on the road and as usual, the heat was outraged, right?

And obviously this is during when everybody believed it. Dad, you know, had a problem driving to Hogan. He gets out of the ring. He puts the towel over his head. He throws on some shorts.

I don't even think he took his tights off. And we get in the back of an ambulance because they're driving us down to our car so that we can go drive to the next town and do the same thing over and over again. Well, somebody tipped off the van.

So we get down to our car and we're in a Cadillac and we start to pull out and all the fans bum rush the car. You're listening to the truth network and Be the number one dot com because you are number one. I, Nikita Kolov, be sure to check out the man up show now available on television, broadcast and podcast. Go to or the Truth Radio Network.

Check out your local listings or better yet, download the Truth Network app today. If you would like to support Kolov for Christ Ministries for a gift of twenty five dollars, Nikita will send you his two CDs, Adoration and Declaration for a gift of fifty dollars. Nikita will include his book, Wrestling with Success, and for a gift of one hundred dollars or more. Nikita will include a signed copy of his newly updated life story, A Tale of the Ring and Redemption.

Go to and donate today. You're listening to the Truth Network and And that is throwing me into the floorboard and you got my hand down on the back of my head, keeping me in the floorboard while he's trying to drive through this crowd of people as they're trying to tilt the car over until the police came out and, you know, pushed him off. And we got out of town. But, you know, it was so funny. I threw to a cracker barrel with him.

We were on the road and everybody would come up and ask for an autograph. But if we were leaving the stadium, there was a safety issue. Different story. Yeah. And I can, Travis, and I can so relate to that.

I know you can. As the Russian nightmare. When I was in the 80s in the Reagan administration, people do not understand how volatile that, your gimmick was.

It was crazy. The villain I was and Uncle Ivan Kolov and, you know, and the death threats and all of that. So, some amazing, listen, those are some amazing insights that you just shared and I appreciate that. And you had shared something with me before we came on air that really piqued my interest and I think the fans would love to hear as well. You know, you talked about your personal journey. I want to transition a little bit here, get more into your personal journey here on the last part of the show here.

So we can cover that because I think it's important for the people to hear that side of it as well. You mentioned your family, your children, your lovely wife, and how you had come to Christ but then kind of turned away. But you had mentioned about your dad. You were there, witnessed your dad surrender his life to Christ as well?

Yeah, so I'll tell you the story. Dad, you know, again, we were living in Fayetteville, Georgia. And best I understand, there was this newer pastor, and I say newer pastor if you could see me right now. Dad always said I had a face for radio.

But he didn't realize I had hand gestures that conflict with that. So I'm putting quotes around this because it was Dr. Ike Breichert. I know Dr. Ike, I do.

I knew you would. So this new pastor started out in this little church called New Hope Baptist in Fayetteville, Georgia. And Dr. Ike actually was able to do my dad's funeral last year, so it was such a blessing to see that journey. So Dad was working out as usual in Fayetteville, and Dr. Ike, I can't believe he did this, walks up to him and just goes. And people never understand this because everybody at the gym wears headphones now, but back in the day we used to communicate. Yeah, you used to actually talk to each other in the gym. Yeah. Yeah, and spot each other and stuff like that.

So Dr. Ike walks up to him and goes, I just don't think this gym is big enough for the both of us. I remember. He shared some of this at the funeral, didn't he? He did, he did. Yeah, I remember now. I remember him sharing that at the funeral.

Yes, okay. So the story is, and this is the part that, there's two parts that I remember, was we go to church that Sunday, you know, it might have been a few weeks later, but you know, Dr. Ike invited him to church. And to my knowledge and memory, I had never gone to church. And we went in and I remember standing next to Dad, and I don't remember it as detailed as Ike and my mom do, but you know, I remember being there. And you know, Dad really probably one of the first times had been in church and he broke into a sweat, like, and my dad was a sweater.

We kept the house at 66. You could keep, you could pay meat in my house is what most of my friends, my friends would come over with like sweaters in the middle of the house. A meat locker, yeah, it was a meat locker.

Yeah, yeah. So Dad is pouring sweat. And anyway, he leaves, Dad leaves that day and like that night or the next morning, he's calling Ike and he's like, we need to talk. And Ike's like, oh no. What'd you do to me? What'd you do to me? Plant a seed.

Plant a seed. So Ike, Dad comes in and he goes, what happened? And Ike says, this is Christ. And so my mentor and one of my best friends to this day, Hugh Kirby, who's the intergenerational minister down in, at New Oakland and Fayetteville still, you know, Dad gave his life to Christ. And you know, I can remember at that moment, and you got to know Dad had a, you know, kind of a volatile temper, you know, whether it be his sleep was disrupted, he was on the road or everything under the sun you can fathom. Just, you know, all the inner turmoils and stuff that comes from the road and all that.

Sounds like Moses, but okay. And so Dad, when I tell you Dad had an immediate change in conscience, I can tell you, and I can't speak for my brother because my brother has different stories, but I can tell you from the time that I can remember, I literally don't remember my father using profanity more than a handful of times. Now, I have been on the road with the boy, and the F word is the most used word in the language. It literally is a filler between words. Right, it's part of their vocabulary, right.

It's just part of it, right? So seeing Dad have this verbal transformation, and then going to Bible studies, or me walking into his room reading the Bible, and Dad would tell me, look, I got to read this thing chapter five times. But he was consistent with his effort, and you could see his desire to pursue Christ. So it wasn't a coincidence.

About six months later, you know, he's speaking, and he's giving his testimony at New Hope, and obviously that carried out, and he gave his testimony at several churches over the years. But that's when Dad left WWF. Gotcha. I think he was hurt, but I think he had a conscience against, obviously, what happens on the road. And again, you go back to the fact that these guys had rough childhoods in most cases. You know, not many parental figures.

You put them on the road with three channels, and you leave them on the road away from their families for weeks at a time without any real companionship or something, other than guys that are encouraging the same behavior. So to see Dad want to walk away from that, I didn't understand at the time. It was a big deal.

He just wouldn't let me go into acting. Yeah. That was a big deal. Yeah. It was a big deal. So then, for sure, and then from there, Dad left WWF, and he started a bowling center in Fayetteville called Mr.

Wonderful's Fayetteville Bowling Center. And to my knowledge, and granted, it didn't work out, but Dad opened it, and he wouldn't sell alcohol. Okay. He was like, I'm not going to be a part of that. He was committed. He was committed. He was like, I don't want to be part of this. So he opened the bowling center.

He ended up losing it, and the owners that bought it ended up putting alcohol in it, and it's still open today. But Dad just couldn't do it. And unfortunately, after that, obviously, he went back to WCW, but Dad's faith in Christ, you know, from what I remember, you know, from the time that I saw him give his life to Christ, to his, you know, last real time where he could communicate, which was several years ago, you know, when his mind was really still there, if there's one thing that he never doubted. Now, he doubted his own shame, and I think there was some mental health things that he never really, you know, got over from his childhood, but his faith in Christ never wavered.

Amen. He knew exactly where he was headed when he passed. He knew he was forgiven. He knew that Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins. And when I tell you that's something he was never ashamed of, from the time I saw him become a Christian to the time he couldn't communicate, that is something when people ask me, what do you want your people to know about your dad's legacy?

My dad thought Jesus was Mr. Wonderful. That's good, Travis. That's good. Well, listen, we've only got a few minutes left, believe it or not.

I mean, the time just flies on the show. Yeah, because I talk so much. I apologize. Well, I mean, you shared what you, you know, you felt led to share, so it's okay.

It just means, you know, we have to do another show another time with more of your story, but I do want to get to this before we run out of time. You know, you talked about substance abuse, addiction, and substance abuse, and we've literally, give me like 60 seconds about Cherokee County and the Paramore Pathlight Counseling, as you have found your way back to Christ, overcome the addictions, and now you're working. I need 60 seconds of what you're doing to help others overcome addiction.

Absolutely. And the short version is, and I'm going to share with anybody, don't be afraid. All of us have sinned in a way that keeps us from God, but God's righteousness and the blood of Jesus Christ is what makes us righteous. So it's not on what we do, but what he's done for us. And, you know, I struggle with alcohol addiction.

I'll be completely transparent. Drugs were involved at different points in time, and I was abused when I was a kid. And several years ago, I started a program, you know, worked with a program through a church at Johnson Ferry, and that, you know, about six years ago when God hit me upside the head with a 4x4, put me on that path.

And since then, it's not a journey where you just get over addiction. I'm still involved in counseling. You know, I currently work with a group called Pathlight Counseling out of Woodstock and Brick Paramore, who's a counselor there.

And whether you use him or anybody else, I would just hope that you reach out because there is so much support nowadays. And cognitive behavioral therapy is great, but there's positive psychology and really grounding yourself in God's truths so that you can live a life of freedom that God gave us one expectation, to enjoy life as much as possible. And that's what he wants for that light to shine on top of a hill for other people to see so that people know where fulfillment comes. So Pathlight Counseling, there's a drug summit coming to Cherokee County, and we're looking for people to participate and bring awareness, especially around the youth today. You just don't understand how, you know, people are exposed to meth and cocaine and things at ages that we can't fathom, like in the early teens.

It's so rampant and available. So this is awareness piece and really trying to destigmatize addiction so that we can get people the support, the love, and the grace they deserve. Well, you have an amazing story, Travis. And I think really for all of our listeners out there today, really what you illustrate is even when we surrender our life to Christ, it's not necessarily, you might say, a guarantee that we're going to set free of anything and everything. Now, we can. I've seen that happen. When Uncle Ivan came to Christ, he was set free of drug addiction, alcohol, tobacco addiction.

I think, like your dad, I don't know another cuss word ever came out of Ivan's mouth again after surrendering his life to Christ. And yet the flip side of that is there are still challenges. We're all faced with different challenges in life, right? Whether it's early on addictions, but we know at the end of the day, it's all about the heart.

God looks at the heart and the heart of a man, the heart of a woman. Travis, thank you for being on the Man Up show today and sharing some of these stories. Hey, thank you so much. I look forward to another opportunity. Thanks for tuning in. God bless you and catch you again on another episode. This podcast is made possible by the grace of God and your faithful prayers, support and generous gifts. May God bless you for your continual contributions.

Go to and donate today. Nikita Koloff here and I am excited. Did you hear the huge announcement, the big announcement?

Well, maybe it's a minor announcement. Anyway, Facebook. Go look up my new fan page, Nikita Koloff Fans, and like it and follow today. All feet agree. Clements carpet is where you need to be with carpet, vinyl, tile and hardwood from the top brands. Clements carpet does it right from beginning to install. Voted number one by you in the Reader's Choice Awards. Doug, Chad, Benny, Kiwi and the team at Clements carpet look forward to seeing and serving you soon. This is Nikita Koloff and I want to thank Clements carpet for supporting my new show, Man Up. Saturday afternoon at twelve thirty on the Truth Network. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 07:37:24 / 2023-01-09 07:49:49 / 12

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