Back in the '80s, the WWE had a family of hillbilly wrestlers who were allies and friends with Hulk Hogan. According to PWInsider on Sept. 29, the wrestler formerly known as Cousin Luke passed away this morning.
While never great wrestlers, the hillbilly family, led by Hillbilly Jim, were incredibly popular to WWE fans. The angle started when Hillbilly Jim was a giant wrestling fan of Hulk Hogan's who came to his aid and Hogan helped him get a contract with the WWE.
Soon, Hillbilly Jim was very popular, even playing a large role on the WWE cartoons that aired at the time. He eventually brought in his family members, including Uncle Elmer, a giant heavyweight wrestler, then Cousin Junior and finally Cousin Luke.
Everyone but Hillbilly Jim was part of the territories before coming over. Elmer was Plowboy Frazier in Memphis, Juinior was Moondog Cujo from the USWA, and Luke was previously a traveling wrestler.
Cousin Luke worked in WCCW as part of the Mongols, in Puerto Rico as The Assassin, in Florida as Gene Lewis, and in Florida as the notorious evil Midnight Rider where he feuded with Dusty Rhodes.
After leaving the WWE, he still possessed the rights to the Cousin Luke name and used it as his wrestling persona for the rest of his career. He retired in 2000 and soon was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He had been in a long-term health care facility, where he also battled diabetes.