Former Olympic judo bronze medalist Allen Coage — better known to wrestling fans as Bad News Allen and Bad News Brown — has died suddenly. He was 63.
Coage died early Tuesday morning in Calgary at Foothills Hospital, having been rushed to the hospital, complaining of chest pains.
Three weeks ago, Coage underwent hip replacement surgery and had been making progress on his recovery. Monday night, he was home and complained of chest pains. He got to the hospital, where he died about 5:30 a.m. MT Tuesday morning.
The Brooklyn-born Coage represented the United States at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He broke into professional wrestling through the New Japan Pro Wrestling organization, training in Japan and spending the first few years after there, where he wrestled as Buffalo Coage.
In the Calgary Stampede promotion, he was a star as Bad News Allen, having bloody feuds with the likes of The Dynamite Kid, Archie ‘The Stomper’ Gouldie, Bret Hart and others.
“Bad News Allen was one of those four or five wrestlers who I considered to be the hardest men in wrestling,” Tom ‘Dynamite Kid’ Billington wrote in his autobiography. “He was definitely bad news. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good friend, but once he got you in the ring, it was as if he didn’t know you. I’ve had a lot of hard matches in my career, most of them in Japan, because that’s how they like their wrestling, but the matches I had with Bad News were something else.”
Speaking to the Calgary Sun‘s T.J. Madigan, Ross Hart spoke fondly of the man he knew simply as “Bad News.”
“He was absolutely one of the most famous wrestlers this city has ever seen,” Hart said.
Besides Calgary, Coage had a run in Los Angeles, was in the WWWF briefly in the late 1970s, and worked in Florida.
In the WWF of the late 1980s, he was known as Bad News Brown, and feuded with Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper.
Coage often complained about his WWF run, which followed the closure of Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion. “I made a lot of money up here with Stu. He enjoyed me because I put asses in the seats,” Coage recalled in July 2006, leading into a typical straightforward explanation on his WWF days. “They handcuffed me. They pretty much didn’t let me do what I should have done.
“They really held me down … you’ve got your head guys, and Randy [Savage] called all the shots, so he was the one. I figured the object is to make money, and if this guy can make some money for you, you let him go, let him do his thing. I guess there was a lot of jealousy there, or whatever. I don’t know his reason or whatever, but he was the one because he called all the shots.”
Jake Roberts recalled Bad News. “He was good, very good,” said The Snake. Was Coage hard to work with “No, he was fucking easy.” Even the judo stuff? “I had no problem at all working with him. We had a great time.”
With his mean-looking face and a constant scowl, Coage delivered many memorable interviews. He is best known for slagging all the “beer-bellied sharecroppers” that watched Stampede, and his verbal duels with announcer Ed Whalen.
When Stampede Wrestling re-started on TV in 1999, Coage was tapped to be a colour commentator, alongside Mauro Ranallo.
He had been working the last number of years as a security guard at a mall; “Teenagers are a pain in the ass. You always have to run them off,” Coage said. Apparently they didn’t know who they were messing with. “It don’t matter to them, they’re tough.”
Coage is survived by his wife Helen and their children.
PREVIOUS BAD NEWS ALLEN STORIES
- April 9, 2007: Guest column: Allen Coage, my hero, our hero
- March 13, 2007: Family and friends bid farewell to Bad News
- September 20, 2000: Bad News on his judo bronze medal
- July 13, 2000: Delivering the Bad News to Stampede
- May 1, 1998: Bad News Allen Q & A
- Mar. 22, 1998: Coage still actively delivering Bad News