Another Wrestling Legend Tarnished

Snuka iconized in action figure form now a remnant of the golden era of wrestling.
Photo Courtesy: Shaun Wong

By Connor Risenhoover

Former WWF/E wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was formally charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 1983 death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino.

The 32-year-old cold case is one of the longest of its kind to be reopened and result in formal charges.

Snuka, who is now 72, had long been murky on the details of what happened the night that Argentino died. In countless interviews and an autobiography released in 2012, Snuka had changed the story and some of the facts concerning the death of his then girlfriend.

All of these facts led to the reopening of the case and Snuka’s subsequent charges.

In a year of difficulty for wrestling, these charges come as another hit to business. Another legend whose status has been revoked by the company he helped make famous.

Known for his high-flying style in a decade dominated by bulky, immobile, giants, Snuka offered crowds a type of wrestling not seen in America in the eighties. His ability quickly garnered love from fans and caused Snuka to be a favorite throughout his career.

He had memorable matches with stars of the eighties such as the late Roddy Piper and a much younger Undertaker. The most memorable moment of his career was when he dove off of the top of a cage onto his opponent below.

Despite not winning titles in his time with the WWF, Snuka became a member of their Hall of Fame in 1996 but was removed earlier this week after the charges came out.

It has been a tough couple of months as fans have had to watch the current product reach new athletic levels while the past continues to overshadow it with the scandals from Hulk Hogan and Snuka. Other deaths like those of legends Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes have hit fans hard as well.

Even though the organization has been rocked with deaths, scandals, and steroid trials, fans have stuck by them for the individuals who get in the ring to perform nightly. Fans cheer or boo accordingly as the guys and girls that they enjoy step into the ring and give the match all that they have.

The fans don’t care if the rumors are that it’s fake or that some people think it’s dumb. They are there to be entertained and to show their pleasure or displeasure to whomever steps out into the ring.

They have made people into heroes. Men that they looked up to as childhood idols.

They have turned their favorite wrestler’s good guy persona into the person that they really are outside of the ring. For every saint that has step into the ring, there have been many more sinners.

Fans have had to come to terms with reality, a thing that wrestling plays with as its business model. Reality is malleable in a WWE ring, and what’s real and fake is an illusion put on for people in attendance.

In the last few weeks, that illusion and luster that superstars like Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Snuka have has been exposed for what they are, fake. The wrestling fans who were kids when Snuka was diving headfirst off of the top of a cage have gotten a real look at the man behind “Superfly”.

He has been shown to not be that hero that they built up in their minds, in fact, he could be a murderer. Whatever the case, the innocence and the fanaticism that wrestling fans use to defend their childhood heroes has been stripped away.

No longer is he the WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka who dove off of a cage to the mat below in a blaze of glory. He is simply defendant James Snuka, charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

The legend is gone and fans are now forced to look a Snuka for who he is. Simply a man.

Goodbye to another legend.