Former champion and WWE Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham was hospitalized Thursday and may be beginning heart failure.
Wrestling, Inc. has reported Graham was taken to the hospital after coming down with double pneumonia.
Double pneumonia is when the tissues inside the lungs fill with fluid and then become infected. Graham, who is 69, has Hepatitis C and diabetes, which makes this a dangerous situation.
Additionally, according to NetNewsLedger.com, Graham’s liver is in the cirrhosis stage.
What this means is his liver can no longer heal itself. And this can lead to liver cancer. A healthy liver will fight infections in the body and help clean the blood.
If this weren’t bad enough, his heart has been giving him problems as well. Wrestling, Inc. posted these comments from Amy George of the North Phoenix Heart Center:
"Atrial fibrillation is an electrical problem with the heart where ectopic electric pathways are formed making the top of the heart fibrillate instead of contract. It can go up to 400 beats per minute. Lucky the heart is smart and it only sends some of the signals to the bottom of the heart. Patient's usually present with a heart rate in the 120-140 range. Eldridge goes in and out of this rhythm. He has occasional episodes where his heart rate will become irregular and fast. This can cause shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheartedness and sometimes even chest pain. I placed Eldridge on two rate control medications so that he can go in and out of the rhythm and not have the fast rates. He is also on aspirin as a mild blood thinner. His has no coronary artery disease and his heart muscle is strong. Once again, this is purely a rhythm problem that the incidence increases with age. If he fails rate control medications or is unable to tolerate medications, atrial fibrillation ablation is an option."
Graham made headlines recently for his verbal sparring with fellow former WWE star Chris Jericho. He commented on CM Punk’s promo where Punk said Bruno Sammartino had it easy compared to what the WWE champion does today.
Graham responded by berating Punk on Facebook. Jericho in turn replied to Graham, which prompted him to respond Jericho. It was a childish back and forth and had no place in the public eye.
Sadly, the badmouthing between him and Jericho may be the only thing modern fans know of the self-proclaimed “man of the hour.”
Graham was a hugely influential superstar in the WWE. His colorful, over-the-top style set him apart.
WWE.com notes fans came to hear him talk as much as they came to see him wrestle.
He debuted in the WWE in 1975 with The Grand Wizard as his manager. It didn’t take him long to climb to the top, as he defeated Sammartino for the world title on April 30, 1977.
He held that title for nearly 10 months before he dropped it to Bob Backlund on Feb. 20, 1978.
It’s a shame the last few years of Graham’s life have taken a negative turn toward the WWE. His thoughts on the death of Chris Benoit, which inspired his feud with Jericho, and his wish to leave the Hall of Fame, have tarnished his image.
The man who beat Sammartino and was one of the best heels in the sport has turned into a man who is ashamed of his past and is embarrassed by the company that made him.
Graham seems to have forgotten what wrestling is about: the entertainment. Even before all the glitz and lights of today, the bare bones, straightforward style of the '70s was still about entertaining people.
He may not like that Abdullah the Butcher was inducted, or how he performed in the ring, but it doesn’t matter. The legends of the ring are legends because they go beyond what others do to entertain the fans.
Hopefully Graham’s legacy won’t be tarnished by the last years of his life.