Joe Franciosi, better known to many as Joe Schmo, passed away Friday at the age of 44. Franciosi was a former member of the WWE creative team in 2010. He also departed WWE in 2010.
According to a report from PWInsider, Franciosi passed tragically due to a heart attack. Though several years removed from his time on staff at WWE, Franciosi remained involved with professional wrestling. He had most recently been employed by Championship Wrestling with Hollywood, and he remained a very visible name within the California professional wrestling circuit.
Spending several years of his life in the wrestling business, Franciosi developed many lifelong friendships. Some of those friends and acquaintances took to Twitter to express their sympathy and thoughts toward his passing.
As a member of the creative team at WWE, one segment that Franciosi pitched that received a lot of attention was the storyline where William Shatner performed his own versions of WWE theme songs while guest host of RAW. This occurred in early 2010.
Franciosi didn’t only work behind the scenes, though. At one point during his WWE tenure in 2010, Joe took part in an on-air segment with Ted DiBiase where he pretended to take out a fake eye, as Dibiase supposedly wanted to purchase his eye. This occurred during a “Talent Show” with Jon Lovitz where Franciosi was a plant in the crowd. Francioso recalled this segment during a 2011 internet radio podcast with David Lagana (also a former WWE creative member), describing all of the rehearsal that went into the eye segment. Franciosi recalled a humorous story of rehearing the segment prior to the show and horrifying Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s children in the process.
Franciosi started his career in professional wrestling while working for Rick Bassman’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) in California. UPW was one of the top independent promotions in California for years, and it was where such superstars as John Cena and Samoa Joe got their starts in professional wrestling. In addition to UPW, Franciosi also worked at the Inoki Dojo in California, where NJPW’s Shinsuke Namamura once trained, as did Samoa Joe. At the Inoki Dojo, Franciosi met Dave Marquez. That relationship eventually lead to Franciosi later working with the National Wrestling Alliance on several projects, a relationship that Francioso continued for the remainder of his life.
Franciosi also took part in a lengthy interview with Adam Martin and Trey Stone on the Trey and Adam Show in November, 2010, discussing his time in WWE, as well as a comedy tour he once put together involving Colt Cabana, Mick Foley, and other former professional wrestlers.
[Image via SuperLuchas.com]