Ryan Pollard, who was known in Western Canadian rings as manager “The Infallible” Vinnie Valentine, has died of COVID-19. He was 55.
His primary promotion has been Pure Power Wrestling, based in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Pollard’s spouse, Jerri-Lynn Wilson, confirmed the news on Facebook early on October 24, 2021: “I know many if you were praying for Ryan. I am sorry to tell you all that this evening Ryan lost his fight against COVID. He went peacefully surrounded by family and so much love. Thank you all for the prayers and good wishes… it has truly helped.” He had been on a ventilator for over a week.
Born September 2, 1966, and originally from Richmond, British Columbia, until recently Pollard ran V’s Cheese Food Truck in Lethbridge.
Initially, Pollard was a ring announcer for Pure Power Wrestling (PPW), and transitioned to a heel manager around 2015, said PPW co-owner Richard Rainey aka Bulldog McBain. “His passion for entertaining was unmatched. His eagerness to do anything for that passion exceeded his naturally ability, but he would do it anyway,” said Rainey in an email to SlamWrestling.net. “He meant the world to PPW. Commitment, passion, humility, he had principles. He was a very good person behind the scenes. Always giving, always happy to just be one of the boys.”
Vinnie Valentine managed three different wrestlers to the PPW Cruiserweight Title: Kato, Cyanide and the reigning champion Tyler Knox.
Kevin Farrell, who wrestles as Sydney Steele, is another of PPW’s promoters. He shared his memories with SlamWrestling.net:
He was a manager that fans loved to hate. And that always made him so happy.
Behind the scenes, he was someone who would do whatever was asked of him with batting an eye. He was more fearless than most wrestlers, would take any bump that the story or match needed and loved when he’d have the opportunity to get into a match himself.
Chris Perish was one of those wrestlers in the back, hanging out with Pollard. “My heart is broken after I heard the news of the passing of Vinnie Valentine. Loved our hockey talks backstage and just getting to know him on a personal level was truly a blessing,” Perish wrote on Facebook. “I hope his family and his friends can find the strength that’s needed through this. I’m truly saddened by this news but forever grateful for the times we shared — you’re going to be missed and you are forever loved.”
Kyle Sebastian, in an email, has fond memories of both sides of Pollard. “He was hated as a manager, he had no problem getting under the skin of the audience. He always had something to say and had no problem pissing people off, but as soon as the show was over he was back to Ryan, selfless and caring a pleasure to have in the locker room.”
For as villainous as “The Black Heart” Vinnie Valentine might have been, the Lethbridge Herald‘s J.W. Schnarr did a story on him in 2018, showing a far different side.
Vinnie Valentine is the larger-than-life wrestling persona of local resident Ryan Pollard. And the two couldn’t be less alike. Valentine is a loudmouthed, rude, egotistical jerk who delights in screaming at PPW audiences to “SHUT UP!” Ryan, on the other hand, is a quiet, humble, gentle person who was raised to always try to do right by family and friends.
In August, Pollard will be stepping away from PPW for a few months in order to donate a kidney to his son, Ryley.