Former Ring of Honor World Champion Xavier Dead at 43

Former Ring of Honor wrestler Xavier, real name John Jirus, has died at the age of 43 according to PWInsider's Mike Johnson. Xavier was born in Queens, New York and trained under former ECW wrestler Tony Devito before making his debut in 1997. He competed in the first-ever Ring of Honor show in the company's history, and eventually defeated Low-Ki to become the second man to ever hold the ROH World Championship. He first won the title in September 2002, and held it for 182 days before dropping it to a young Samoa Joe in March 2003. That kicked off Joe's 645-day reign as champion, which remains the longest world championship reign in the company's history.

Xavier would have three stints with Ring of Honor, the last of which came in 2007. He had a number of tryout matches in the WWE over the years, including appearances on Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. He had a tryout match with TNA (now Impact Wrestling) in 2010, but was not signed. He continued to work various local promotions in the northeast up until 2016. The former champ also dabbled in mixed martial arts, competing in two amateur fights.

Ring of Honor had booked Xavier for his return to the company back in March, as he was supposed to face Jay Lethal at the ROH Past vs. Present event in Las Vegas on March 14. Unfortunately, the show was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Numerous ROH fans took to Twitter after the news broke to pay their respects.