John Rodriguez, a pro-wrestler from New York City, who fought legendary wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, faced an unexpected opponent when he found himself fighting for his life due to heart problems outside the arena. Nicknamed “The Unpredictable,” Rodriguez had a successful career spanning almost 40 years, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. He has also trained many wrestlers, including Cowboy Bad Billy Walker, Damien Demento, D-von Dudley, Tazz, and Tommy Dreamer, at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.
However, in late 2021, while visiting an Ohio rest stop during a family road trip, Rodriguez suffered a silent heart attack, along with class four congestive heart failure, leaving him with a heart function of only 15%. As an athlete, Rodriguez had an advantage, but he also had a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and was an ex-smoker. Additional coronary stents were not an option, and the 81-year-old opted for a triple bypass surgery, which was performed by Dr. Rohit Shahani, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Staten Island University Hospital.
Following the successful surgery, Rodriguez made an incredible recovery, with his heart function doubling. He is still working at his corner office at Gleason’s Gym and credits Dr. Shahani for bringing him back to life.
“All of a sudden, I got this feeling about breathing that – wow – I could not breathe.
“The fact that he was an athlete and had done so much physical work in his life, gave him a bit of an advantage, at least in some part. But he had a history of high blood pressure and history of diabetes. He was an ex-smoker.
You stop the heart and you bypass the blockages. You’ve got blocked pipes, which bring blood to your heart by coronary arteries. We bring new blood supply, fancy plumbing
The guy [Dr. Shahani] beat the hell outta me, but I’m never gonna forget him because you know what? Not everybody can take a broken-down person who should have died already and bring him back to life