The Junkyard Dog

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 280 lbs

Real Name: Sylvester Ritter

DOB: 12/13/53

DOD: 6/02/98

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Other Names: Big Daddy Ritter(Stampede), Leroy Rochester, Stagger Lee(Mid-South)

Wrestler Since: 1978

Finishing Maneuver: The Thump

Previous PWI 500 Rankings: #275(1996), #219(1995), #146(1994), #132(1993), #112(1992), #158(1991)


(This history comes from The Professional Wrestling Online Museum, written by Steve Slagle. Their Ring Cronicles Hall of Fame is definitely worth checking out. BTW, they also have some great pictures of JYD, in case you're interested.)

For the entire decade of the 1980's, Sylvester Ritter (better known to the world as The Junkyard Dog) thrilled fans like few of his contemporaries. From New Orleans' Superdome to Atlanta's Omni to New York's Madison Square Garden, the 280 lb. former professional football player-turned-wrestler was easily one of the most beloved superstars in the entire sport, as well as one of its biggest draws. During the height of the WWF's popularity in the mid-1980's, JYD was one of the wrestlers that became a true "mainstream" celebrity and was known all across the country. However, JYD was a huge superstar long before he stepped foot inside a WWF ring, and his exploits (as well as his drawing power) in the NWA's Mid South, World Class and Georgia territories are legendary. In his day, JYD was truly a wrestling superstar like few others...

After a stint in pro football, Ritter began his wrestling career as "Big Daddy" Ritter during the mid-1970's in Stu Hart's Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling promotion. The talented big man quickly made the transition from pro football to pro wrestling, and on December 1, 1978 he won the areas top belt, the Stampede North American Heavyweight championship. "Big Daddy" held the North American title for nearly 6 months before he was upset by another future superstar (who was also breaking into the business through Stampede Wrestling) Jake Roberts. But after a 4-month reign by the future "Snake", Ritter regained the title from Roberts, only to be defeated by Larry Lane after just a few weeks. After learning much about his craft while wrestling in Canada, Ritter moved on to new challenges -- and unimagined fame -- in America.

As The Junkyard Dog, Ritter became one of the biggest stars the wrestling hotbed of the southern United States had ever seen. Once he traveled south, and changed his name & persona, The Junkyard Dog quickly established himself as the one of the NWA's top draws, and most popular fan favorites. One of the first men of the 1980's to use ring music, whenever fans heard the opening bass notes of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", they knew the Dog was in the house -- and exploded with cheers. On March 14, 1980 in Shreveport, LA., JYD won the Louisiana Heavyweight title by defeating one of his great enemies, "The Big Cat" Ernie Ladd. However, after winning his feud with Ladd, JYD began one of the longest, most intense feuds of his career...

On May 2, 1980 a young Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy defeated the Junk Yard Dog for his Louisiana Heavyweight title, and at the same time began a legendary feud that lasted for years -- The Junkyard Dog vs. The Fabulous Freebirds. JYD regained his Louisiana title a few weeks later (adding it to the Mississippi Heavyweight championship he won from Bull Ramos the month before) from Gordy. The Dog also fought a "team" battle against the Freebirds, enlisting the aid of both Col. Buck Robely and Terry Orndorff as tag team partners, as the Dog used every tool available to him while he feuded with Hayes & Gordy over the Mid South Tag Team title throughout 1980.

However, eventually the simultaneous Mississippi & Louisiana Heavyweight champion was forced to relinquish both of his hard-earned belts after a dramatic "sneak attack" by the young team of Gordy & Hayes, an attack that left The Junkyard Dog "blind" for several long months. After losing his sight to the bag of "abrasive powder" that was thrown in his eyes by the `Birds, JYD would eventually return (along with, later on, his "sight") and gain his revenge during an inspirational series of "blind" Dog Collar matches against his cowardly attackers. Not coincidentally, the fans rallied behind JYD, and his appearances throughout the Deep South drew enormous crowds for the NWA's Mid South wrestling promotion, crowds that often exceeded 20,000 spectators.

JYD also traveled to the NWA's other successful regional promotions, such as Dallas' World Class Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling from Florida -- becoming a top performer and loved hero everywhere he went. Far from a "ring technician", JYD had a very limited repertoire in terms of technical moves. However, the moves the Dog did possess were more than enough to overwhelm most opponents. His head-butt, football tackle, and of course, his running powerslam (called the "Thump") led to victory after victory for JYD. Sylvester Ritter was a power-wrestler, and was one of the first in a wave that would soon sweep over wrestling for several years during the 1980's. Being one of the first -- and best -- of the `80's power-wrestlers, he steamrolled over his competition. After years of being one of the NWA's most popular and successful wrestlers, a man who headlined several cards held in the cavernous New Orleans SuperDome, the WWF -- in the middle of its nationwide expansion -- convinced Ritter to leave the NWA and enter the World Wrestling Federation in 1983. From then on, Ritter's life was never the same...

As part of the World Wrestling Federation, JYD became a household name, and although he never wore any WWF gold, he was a huge star in the promotion for several of its best years. JYD's merchandise was always a top seller, and he appeared as a "special guest star" on numerous television shows. JYD -- with his charismatic personality and good-hearted charm -- was a big hit with the WWF's large base of kid viewers, and his animated character on the WWF's Saturday morning CBS cartoon show, "Hulk Hogan's Rock `N Wrestling" was very popular. In the ring, the Dog continued his winning ways in feuds with numerous opponents, including his old Stampede rival Jake "The Snake" Roberts, the effeminate Adrian Adonis, and of course, "King" Harley Race. JYD's feud with Race over the King of the ring crown and robe was perhaps his last major feud in the WWF, as he slowly began to slide down the ladder after several years of competing in the Federation.

By the end of the decade, The JunkYard Dog moved on to new challenges, specifically a run in the NWA against World Champion Ric Flair. As part of Sting's "Dudes with Attitudes" counter-Horseman group, he created numerous headaches for Flair & Co., and competed on several NWA Clash of the Champions cards and PPV's before disappearing after the angle had run its course. However, he returned to the promotion (by then renamed WCW) and again challenged Flair. During this 2nd stint in WCW, JYD also patched up his longtime feud with "Freebird" Michael Hayes, as the two formed a fairly successful tag team. After a year in WCW, JYD again faded out of the WCW storylines. Although he was still very popular, it was clear that, after 15 years in the game, he was no longer the steamrolling wrestler he once was. However, Ritter proved on the independent circuit that he could still draw a crowd, and he ended his career as he started it -- on the independent circuit. In fact, not long after being honored by today's leader in independent wrestling -- Extreme Championship Wrestling -- tragedy struck JYD, and the entire world of wrestling. On June 1, 1998 Sylvester Ritter was killed in a tragic auto accident at the age of just 45. The world was shocked and saddened by his sudden demise, which was, of course, totally unexpected.

In his own way, JYD was a pioneer in the world of the 1980's "power wrestler", and his technique was mimicked by many that followed him. As a role model and celebrity, JYD was about as good as they got. And as a committed, reliable, and top-drawing performer, Ritter was a promoter's dream -- a true class act, by most accounts. Due to his numerous contributions to the sport, The Ring Chronicle is proud to posthumously induct Sylvester Ritter -- the world famous Junk Yard Dog -- into the TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame...

Pay-Per-View/Show Summary: (57 - 20, 4 DDQs)
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (August 2, '80) = The Junkyard Dog won a "Steel Cage Dog Collar" Match over Michael Hayes.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (November 27, '80) = The Junkyard Dog & Bill Watts took down Ernie Ladd & Leroy Brown.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (April 18, '81) = The Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch beat Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy and Ernie Ladd & Leroy Brown, before falling to the Grappler & Super Destroyer, who won the vacated Mid-South Tag Titles.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (July 4, '81) = The Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch stayed the Mid-South Tag Champs, winning over the Wild Samoans. Later on, the Junkyard Dog won a "Lights Out" Match over Paul Orndorff.
- WCCW Wrestling Star Wars (October 25, '81) = The Junkyard Dog pinned Armand Hussein.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (November 26, '81) = The Junkyard Dog & Mike George kept the Mid-South Tag-Team Titles, defeating Paul Orndorff & Bob Orton Jr.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (May 1, '82) = The Junkyard Dog & Mr. Olympia fought in a "Lights Out" Match against the Wild Samoans. No word on how the match ended.
- Mid-South Louisiana Title Tournament (July 6, '82) = The Junkyard Dog defeated Bob Roop, the Grappler and the Masked Assassin, before losing in the finals to Killer Khan.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (July 7, '82) = The Junkyard Dog fought to a Double Disqualification against the Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champ, Ted DiBiase. Later that night, the Junkyard Dog & Mr. Olympia retained the Mid-South Tag Titles, beating John Studd & Super Destroyer.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (November 25, '82) = Stagger Lee won the Mid-South North American Heavyweight Title from Ted DiBiase.
- Mid-South North American Title Tournament (March 21, '83) = The Junkyard Dog won over Ted DiBiase and Kendo Nagasaki, then fell in the finals to Mr. Olympia.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (April 16, '83) = The Junkyard Dog won the vacated North American Heavyweight Title, by winning a "Steel Cage" Match over Mr. Olympia.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (July 16, '83) = The Junkyard Dog lost the North American Heavyweight Title in a "Three Falls" Match to Butch Reed.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (November 19, '83) = The Junkyard Dog retained the North American Heavyweight Championship, beating Butch Reed.
- WCCW Thanksgiving Star Wars (November 24, '83) = The Junkyard Dog & Iceman Parsons fought to a Double Disqualification with the WCCW American Tag Champs, the Super Destroyers.
- WCCW Wrestling Star Wars (January 30, '84) = The Junkyard Dog won, via DQ, over Kimala.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (April 7, '84) = The Junkyard Dog & Bill Watts fought the Midnight Express in a "Lights Out" Match. The ending of this match is unknown.
- Mid-South TV Title Tournament (April '84) = The Junkyard Dog beat Nikolai Volkoff, then lost to the eventual winner, Krusher Kruschev.
- 1st Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions (May 6, '84) = The Junkyard Dog won, via DQ, over the Missing Link.
- Georgia National Tag Team Title Tournament (May 20, '84) = The Junkyard Dog & Sweet Brown Sugar defeated Tully Blanchard & Tommy Rogers and Ted DiBiase & the Spoiler, then lost in the finals to the Road Warriors.
- Mid-South Superdome Extravaganza (June 16, '84) = The Junkyard Dog won a "Ghetto Street Fight" Match over Butch Reed.
- WWF Wrestlemania I (March 31, '85) = The Junkyard Dog won, via countout, over the Intercontinental Champion, Greg Valentine.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #1 (May 10, '85) = The Junkyard Dog beat Pete Dougherty.
- WWF King of the Ring '85 (July 8) = The Junkyard Dog lost in the first round to Don Muraco, who eventually won the tournament.
- WWF Ohio State Fair Show (August 13, '85) = The Junkyard Dog beat Les Thorton.
- WWF Michigan State Fair (August 28, '85) = The Junkyard Dog defeated Bob Orton Jr.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #3 (October 31, '85) = The Junkyard Dog was pinned by Terry Funk.
- WWF The Wrestling Classic (November 7, '85) = The Junkyard Dog defeated the Iron Sheik, Moondog Spot and Randy Savage to win the tournament.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #4 (December 19, '85) = The Junkyard Dog & Ricky Steamboat won over Don Muraco & Mr. Fuji.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #5 (February 15, '86) = The Junkyard Dog pinned Adrian Adonis.
- WWF Wrestlemania II (April 5, '86) = The Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana fell to Terry & Dory Funk.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #6 (May 1, '86) = The Junkyard Dog & Hulk Hogan defeated Terry & Dory Funk.
- WWF King of the Ring '86 (July 14) = The Junkyard Dog took down Paul Orndorff, then fell to Nikolai Volkoff. Harley Race won the tournament.
- WWF The Big Event (August 28, '86) = The Junkyard Dog won, via countout, over Adrian Adonis.
- WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #9 (December 14, '86) = The Junkyard Dog won, via DQ, over Harley Race.
- WWF Wrestlemania III (March 29, '87) = The Junkyard Dog lost a "Loser Must Bow & Kneel" Match to King Harley Race.
- WWF Paul Boesch Retirement Show (August 28, '87) = The Junkyard Dog & Tony Atlas took down Sika & Kamala.
- WWF Sam Muchnik Tournament (August 29, '87) = The Junkyard Dog defeated Hercules Hernandez and Adrian Adonis, then fell to the eventual winner, Harley Race.
- WWF King of the Ring '87 (September 4) = The Junkyard Dog won over Islander Tama, then was beaten by Danny Davis. Randy Savage won the tournament.
- WWF Legends Battle Royal (November 16, '87) = The Junkyard Dog & Brutus Beefcake lost to Dino Bravo & Greg Valentine.
- WWF Royal Rumble '88 (January 24) = The Junkyard Dog competed in the Royal Rumble, which was won by Jim Duggan.
- WWF Wrestlemania IV (March 27, '88) = The Junkyard Dog competed in a "Battle Royal", which was won by Bad News Brown.
- WWF Summerslam '88 (August 29, '88) = The Junkyard Dog lost, via DQ, to Rick Rude.
- WCW Starrcade '88 (December 26) = The Junkyard Dog & Ivan Koloff lost to the Russian Assassins. Later on, after the show went off the air, the Junkyard Dog won a "Bunkhouse Stampede" Match.
- WCW Clash of the Champions IV (April 2, '89) = The Junkyard Dog pinned Butch Reed.
- Tri-State Winter Challenge (January 27, '90) = The Junkyard Dog won a "Dog Collar" Match over Paul Jones.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XI (June 13, '90) = The Junkyard Dog won, via DQ, over the NWA World Champion Ric Flair.
- WCW Great American Bash '90 (July 7) = The Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff & El Gigante won, via DQ, over Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & Sid Vicious.
- WCW Halloween Havoc '90 (October 27) = The Junkyard Dog took down Moondog Rex.
- WCW Omni Show (February 17, '91) = The Junkyard Dog, Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich won the WCW 6-Man Tag-Team Championship, beating Dutch Mantell, Buddy Landell & Dr. X.
- WCW Wrestlewar '91 (February 24) = The Junkyard Dog, Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich retained the WCW 6-Man Tag Titles, winning over James Earl Wright, Buddy Lee Parker & the Big Cat.
- WCW Great American Bash '91 (July 14) = In a dark match, the Junkyard Dog pinned Black Bart.
- Mid-South Coliseum (February 24, '92) = The Junkyard Dog, Jeff Jarrett & Jerry Lawler defeated the Big Black Dog & Moondogs Spot & Spike.
- WCW Omni Show (April 12, '92) = The Junkyard Dog & Barry Windham won a "Bunkhouse" Match over Steve Austin & Larry Zbysko.
- WCW Omni Show (May 10, '92) = The Junkyard Dog & Ron Simmons fought to a Double Disqualification with Cactus Jack & Abdullah the Butcher.
- WCW Beach Blast '92 (June 20) = In a dark match, the Junkyard Dog, Tom Zenk & Big Josh beat Tracey Smothers, Ricky Morton & Diamond Dallas Page.
- Mid-South Coliseum (September 7, '92) = The Junkyard Dog & Bill Dundee fell to Tommy Rich & Buddy Landell.
- Mid-South Coliseum (September 14, '92) = The Junkyard Dog won, via DQ, over Moondog Cujo. Later on, the Junkyard Dog & Bill Dundee won a "First Blood" Match over Tommy Rich & Billy Travis.
- Mid-South Coliseum (September 21, '92) = The Junkyard Dog won the USWA Unified Title, taking down Eddie Gilbert.
- Mid-South Coliseum (October 5, '92) = The Junkyard Dog & Jim Duggan fought to a Double Disqualification with the Blackhearts.
- Mid-South Coliseum (October 12, '92) = The Junkyard Dog lost the USWA Unified Championship to Butch Reed.
- Mid-South Coliseum (October 19, '92) = The Junkyard Dog, Jeff Jarrett & Jerry Lawler won over the King Killer & Moondogs Spot & Spike.
- ECW Kenwood High School Show (November 14, '93) = The Junkyard Dog pinned Kevin Sullivan.

Title Summary:
- Calgary Stampede North American Heavyweight Champion (12/01/78 - 4/79)
- Calgary Stampede North American Heavyweight Champion(2) (8/79)
- Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Champion (3/14/80 - 5/02/80)
- Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Champion(2) (1980)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion w/ Buck Robley (4/06/80 - 6/09/80)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(2) w/ Terry Orndorff (9/80 - 11/80)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(3) w/ Killer Karl Kox (1/29/81 - 2/01/81)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(4) w/ Dick Murdoch (3/30/81)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(5) w/ Dick Murdoch (4/27/81 - 6/81)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(6) w/ Dick Murdoch (7/81 - 81)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(7) w/ Mike George (10/15/81 - 1/82)
- Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Champion(3) (12/07/81 - 6/82)
- Mid-South Tag-Team Champion(8) w/ Mr. Olympia (5/05/82 - 10/27/82)
- Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion (6/21/82 - 6/23/82)
- Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion(2) (11/25/82 - 2/83)
- Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion(3) (4/16/83 - 7/16/83)
- Mid-South North American Heavyweight Champion(4) (10/26/83 - 3/12/84)
- WCW World Six Man Tag-Team Champion w/ Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich (2/17/91 - 6/03/91)
- USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion (9/21/92 - 10/12/92)

PWI Achievement Awards: (1 win, 0 1st RUs, 0 2nd RUs, 2 3rd RUs)
- 1980 Most Inspirational Wrestler
- 1983 Most Popular Wrestler, 3rd Runner-Up
- 1992 Comeback of the Year, 3rd Runner-Up