WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race died Thursday at age 76. The news was announced on his Twitter account:
WWE issued a statement confirming Race died as a result of "complications from lung cancer."
Race is a legend of the sport, winning the NWA World Championship on eight occasions. He memorably feuded with Ric Flair ahead of Starrcade 1983, effectively passing the torch to Flair to become the face of the NWA through the 1980s.
That loss signaled the end of Race's run at the top of the sport, though he enjoyed a run with the then-WWF from 1986 to 1989. He won the King of the Ring tournament in 1986, defeating Pedro Morales in the final.
Race remained an on-screen fixture in WCW following his retirement in 1990. He managed Lex Luger briefly before moving on to Vader. Race and Flair rekindled their rivalry in 1993 when Flair challenged Vader for the WCW world title at Starrcade.
Nobody questions Race's place in wrestling, but he could've been an even bigger star if he had come along five or 10 years later.
His time in the NWA wound down just as the promotion was capitalizing on national closed-circuit broadcasts, with Flair and Dusty Rhodes in particular riding the wave created by the annual Starrcade pay-per-views. Then when Race made the jump to the WWF, he clearly was no longer his old self.
As more archival footage of older NWA shows becomes available, though, fans are able to better appreciate Race's work and understand what made him so great.