A few months after Scott Hall’s 1996 departure from WWE to join World Championship Wrestling, officials of the Stamford, Connecticut-based organization sought a wrestler to portray Hall’s former character, Razor Ramon. The Calgary, Alberta native, who had been wrestling all over the globe since 1989, was offered a chance to tryout for the role.
“Rick, I hear you do a great Razor Ramon,” company chief Vince McMahon told him over the phone. “I own the trademark to the name, the costume and the character. Rick, I want you to be my new Razor Ramon.”
On September 23, 1996, in one of the strangest segments in Raw history, a disgruntled Jim Ross re-introduced the world to Razor Ramon and Diesel—Bognar as Razor Ramon and Glenn “Kane” Jacobs as Diesel. J.R.’s heel turn proved unpopular and was dropped almost immediately, and the impostor wrestlers disappeared from television by January—Bogner was the first wrestler to be eliminated from the 1997 Royal Rumble Match.
When Bognar’s contract with WWE expired, he placed a call to Vince McMahon to discuss renewing it. Bognar had hardly gotten a sentence out when the Chairman interrupted.
“Rick, please don’t call me at this number again,” McMahon said before promptly hanging up.
Bognar’s problems worsened as he became addicted to Oxycontin and Percocet to ease his ailing joints.
“I’d try to get to sleep without taking a sleeping pill, and I’d lay there all night just rolling back and forth, aching and breaking into a sweat,” Bognar said. “After time, it takes two, then it takes three.”
He has since recovered from his pain pill addiction and admits, “I look back at it now, and I can’t believe I didn’t die.”
While competing for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1998, Bognar suffered a serious neck during a match against Shinya Hashimoto at Nippon Budokan Hall.
“I knew something was really, really wrong, but at that time I was taking a bunch of heavy painkillers so I ignored it,” Bognar recalled, who retired in 1999. “I went on my last wrestling tour with a broken neck.”
Bognar was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his C5 and C6 vertebrae, and was informed that if it wasn’t for all the muscle in his neck, he could have been paralyzed or even died.
Following retirement, Bognar, moved back to Calgary, and began researching literature on spiritual practices such as Buddhism, Daoism and Hinduism. He now appears as a public speaker using examples from his past to help teach others about anger, aversion and acceptance. The 43-year-old also visits schools around Calgary to talk to kids about drugs, bullying and overcoming adversity.
“Letting go of wrestling was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my entire life,” Bognar said. “If I can overcome something that extreme—losing my dream, my universe—if I can let go of that, then I can teach someone else to do the same.”
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