John Mair, who entertained Long Island pro wrestling fans and helped teach the ropes to several would-be WWE stars, died unexpectedly Jan. 23 in his Elmont home, according to his wife.
Mair, who worked as a retail food specialist but was better known by many as the imposing “Crusher Doogan,” was 49.
He grew up in Elmont an avid wrestling fan — often forgoing Saturday date nights with his future wife so he could watch Georgia Championship Wrestling on WTBS.
“He was an incredibly passionate fan already when I met him. He loved wrestling since he was a kid,” said his wife, Jennifer, who began dating Mair when the two were in high school. “It was so cute. When I met him, he was a beanpole. And he was trying to gain weight like crazy, because he wanted to be a wrestler.”
After graduating from Elmont Memorial High School in 1988, Mair began pursuing his dream. In the early 1990s, he moved with his wife to Tampa Bay to train under the famed Malenko wrestling family.
Before long, Mair was helping train other students at the school. And despite offers to tour Japan performing on wrestling shows there, Mair opted to stay home to raise his family and put aside his own dream of stardom in order to help teach other aspiring pro wrestlers.
“John was good at learning the moves and the structure of a match and the psychology of keeping everything together,” said Dean Malenko, a trainer at the school and a former champion in World Championship Wrestling and in WWE. “John was one of those guys who didn’t mind going the extra mile to learn and understand the business and try to get as much knowledge as he could.”
After returning to Elmont, Mair became involved with the New York Wrestling Connection — a Deer Park-based independent wrestling outfit and training academy. As the imposing “Crusher Doogan,” at 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 245 pounds, he became a fixture at NYWC, both performing on live shows and helping train students.
Mair used his connections in the wrestling business to create opportunities for several NYWC alumni, including WWE mainstays Zack Ryder of Merrick, Curt Hawkins of Glen Cove, and Tony Nese of Ridge, who called Mair “one of the most reliable and dedicated trainers we had.”
“I owe a lot of my early training to him. His excitement and love for the business was infectious, and he would always go out of his way to help every single student,” Nese said. “Losing him was like losing a big part of why I am where I am today.”
In more recent years, Mair slowed down his wrestling schedule, and in 2018 he was inducted into the NYWC Hall of Fame. His wife said his cause of death remains unclear, but he struggled with pain in recent years from several accumulated injuries.
Despite the physical toll of nearly 30 years in the ring, Mair remained an active and doting husband and dad, his wife said.
“He was the most loving father. We were always his absolute priority,” his wife said. “We weren’t just a couple. I thought we were just this entity. I really just didn’t know where I stopped and he started.”
In addition to his wife, Mair is survived by his children, John, 25, and Jessica, 23 — both of Elmont. The Mair family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover expenses.
Mair’s remains were cremated.