Blackjack Lanza, WWE Hall of Famer, Dead at 86

"Blackjack" Jack Lanza, WWE legend who was one half of the tag team duo The Blackjacks, died on Wednesday. He was 86 years old. Former WWE and current AEW announcer Jim Ross first shared the news on social media. The cause of death was not announced, but according to SlamWrestling.Net, Lanza had been in poor health.

"Just heard from old, Winnipeg friend Bob Holliday that Jack Lanza has passed away at the age of 86," Ross wrote on Twitter. "Jack was our lead agent during the Attitude Era. Helluva hand." WWE also released a statement on the passing of Lanza. 

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Lanza," WWE wrote. Jack Lanza was a man's man, respected and beloved by all. He loved and worked for WWE for many years. His loyalty and dedication will never be forgotten. Lanza made his pro wrestling debut in 1961. As Ross mentioned, Lanza worked for WWE as a road agent and producer but is also known for competing with his tag team partner, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Mulligan. The Blackjacks had a lot of success,  winning the NWA American Tag Team Championship and the WWWF Tag Team Championship. As a singles competitor, Lanza won the NWA American Heavyweight Championship and the WWA World Heavyweight Championship. 

When Lanza was an agent WWE launched The New Blackjacks, which featured Barry Windam and John Bradshaw Layfield. Last year, Layfield appeared on the After the Bell podcast and said Lanza was a fan of the move. "Lanza was all for it," Layfield said per "Lanza did the promos for us. They asked Lanza to be our manager and he refused. He didn't want to be on the road. He didn't want to be in the ring anymore or on television. He just enjoyed being backstage. I had a lot of trepidation especially because I didn't want to insult Lanza."  

Both Lanza and Mulligan were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. They were then inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016. "I'm very saddened to hear of the passing of Jack "Blackjack" Lanza," WWE personality William Regal wrote on Twitter. "Jack was a great Pro in his time, top rate producer, kind, incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and wise in his advise to me for many years. My deepest condolences to his family."