Former professional wrestler and WWE hall of famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died on Sunday at age 73.
The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. confirmed Snuka’s death on its website on Sunday. The company paid homage to Snuka and his signature move, “the Superfly Splash.”
“Snuka is regarded by many as the pioneer of high-flying offense because of his Superfly Splash from the top turnbuckle,” the WWE statement said.
The move consists of Snuka leaping off the top rope and slamming down on an opponent who lay prone on the floor. Snuka’s offensive style and signature move launched him to fame with the World Wrestling Federation—now the WWE—in the 1980s.
Actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced Snuka’s death on Twitter on behalf of his family.
Actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced Snuka’s death on behalf of his family, who did not immediately release the cause of his death.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 15, 2017
Stephanie McMahon—WWE chief brand officer—said that Snuka was “one of the greatest icons in the history of our business.”
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) January 15, 2017
Other wrestling stars from Snuka’s era expressed their condolences on Twitter.
RIP Superfly. Only love HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 15, 2017
GOD BLESS JIMMY SNUKA. HE WILL FLY ALL THE WAY TO HEAVEN. WHAT A SWEET MAN. LOVE YOU BROTHER!!!!
— JakeSnakeDDT (@JakeSnakeDDT) January 15, 2017
Just 12 days before Snuka’s death, a judge in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania dropped charges against Snuka for third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the cold case of Nancy Argentino—Snuka’s ex-girlfriend who died in 1983.
Argentino died on May 10, 1983 after being found unresponsive in a room at the George Washington Motor Lodge in Allentown, Pennsylvania where WWF taped matches. Snuka called the paramedics but had left once help arrived. Argentino was pronounced dead a few hours later.
Snuka lost a wrongful death suit against her family in 1985, but was not charged for her death. He was later charged in 2015 after Argentino’s family asked Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin to examine Snuka’s 2012 memoir, “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story.”
Prior to the charges from Lehigh County, Snuka underwent extensive surgeries in his battle with stomach cancer.
He had also been diagnosed with dementia and was suspected to be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma.
Snuka was placed in home hospice care in October and moved to in-hospital hospice care at Broward Medical North in Florida on December 17.
Snuka was as one of 50 former wrestlers who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against WWE for long-term brain damage sustained during their time with the company.