Fall of the high-flyer

33-year-old indie-pro wrestler and coach suffered a seizure on July 18, though official cause of death remains pending

Virgil Flynn III

Virgil Flynn III

Photo by gavin mcintyre

A wrestling tribute show for Virgil Flynn III will be held on August 4. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-$42. All proceeds for tickets and merchandise benefit the Flynn family. The Colonial Theatre, 3522 Stockton Boulevard. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com.

Virgil Flynn III didn’t use a fancy ring name.

Put aside that the indie-pro wrestler’s birth title sounded royal by itself; it was no Undertaker or Ultimate Warrior. Inside the ring, Flynn was Flynn, a tiny but formidable acrobat who smashed into his opponents like an airborne freight truck and grinned with electricity. Outside, he was still Flynn, offering the same genuine smile to his students, his friends and a tight-knit family of underground wrestlers spanning the country, who are now mourning his death across social media, in the Bay Area and in Sacramento.

“You would swear he was The Rock or something,” said his wife Kathi Flynn.

The 33-year-old died on July 18 from what’s speculated as a seizure, possibly related to a knee injury he sustained in his last match. Flynn put on Sacramento wrestling shows under his Virgil Flynn III Productions, owned and taught at one of the area’s only WWE-style wrestling schools under the same name, and battled in the indie-pro circuit for underground promoters including Oakland’s HOODSLAM.

News of his death sent a ripple of grief across the indie-pro wrestling community. Dozens of comments flooded the VFIII Productions Facebook page. Elsewhere on social media, friends high and low paid respect to a Sacramento leader, who dreamed of traveling and working for World Wrestling Entertainment, which he once auditioned for, and running a wrestling school, which he did.

“We will have to raincheck it in heaven my good brother,” wrote Brian Cage, a former WWE star from Sac, noting that they had scheduled to work together soon. “I know God will be watching over your loved ones.”

Flynn’s cause of death is still pending, Kathi said. According to her, he was hanging out with friends that day. Around 3:15 p.m., they found him in the house having a seizure. He had a second one on the drive to the hospital. They called the ambulance, and paramedics performed CPR. Flynn arrived at the hospital and was pronounced dead at 4:06 p.m.

Flynn suffered a non-wrestling-related concussion months before, but it’s also possible that his injured knee may have buckled, causing him to hit the floor hard and maybe triggering the seizure, Kathi said. That, or both happened at once.

Flynn tore multiple ligaments in his knee during a Best of the West Ignition match in May. According to a YouTube video of the three-way bout, Flynn performed a moonsault from the top rope, crashing into his opponents, Chris Bey and Sheik Khan Abadi. They landed on his leg, and Flynn curled up immediately in pain. Initially, he still tried to pin his opponent, but instead crawled out of the ring to leave the match.

While memorial services are being arranged for August 7, a GoFundMe page is gaining traction. The Virgil Flynn III Family Fund raised $4,330 as of Tuesday morning. The proceeds go toward Flynn’s family: Kathi, their 12-year-old daughter Victoria and 4-year-old son Virgil IV.

Last week, a group of about seven wrestlers vowed to continue the school and the production company. In that group is Mike Hayashi, a HOODSLAM wrestler and Flynn’s best friend.

“We decided that his dream wasn’t going to die,” Hayashi said. “We’re all banding together to do the work of this one man.”

Hayashi and Flynn got their start together at the Supreme Pro Wrestling School, when they were teens. Immediately, his passion and potential were obvious.

“On the day he walked into the school, I became the second best high-flyer,” Hayashi said. Flynn’s signature moves were the cannonball and the 450 splash.

Kathi and Hayashi remember a guy who would talk wrestling shop for hours, who stayed as late as his students wanted for training, who was in love with the sport.

“We all joke around that I was his second marriage,” Kathi said. “He married wrestling first.”