The Death of Tommy Lister

Title: Remembering Tommy “Tiny” Lister: A Wrestling Career and Tragic Departure


The world of professional wrestling is a realm where larger-than-life personalities captivate audiences with their charisma, athleticism, and theatrical performances. One such personality who left an indelible mark on both the wrestling ring and the silver screen was Tommy “Tiny” Lister. Known for his imposing stature and commanding presence, Lister’s wrestling career and untimely death are stories that continue to resonate with fans worldwide.

The Rise of Zeus

Before stepping into the wrestling ring, Tommy Lister had already made a name for himself in Hollywood. His breakout role as Zeus in the 1989 film “No Holds Barred” catapulted him into the public eye. The character of Zeus was a formidable antagonist, pitted against wrestling icon Hulk Hogan. Lister’s portrayal of the larger-than-life villain showcased his ability to command attention and create a sense of menace that translated seamlessly from the silver screen to the wrestling arena.

A Transition to the Squared Circle

Drawing on his on-screen persona as Zeus, Tommy Lister transitioned from the world of acting to the world of professional wrestling. Under the ring name “Zeus,” Lister made his debut in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1989. His involvement in the wrestling industry was not limited to scripted performances; he became an active participant in the sport, further blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

The most memorable feud of Lister’s wrestling career was his rivalry with Hulk Hogan. The seeds for this feud were planted in “No Holds Barred,” and the narrative was seamlessly continued in the wrestling ring. The culmination of their storyline took place at the WWF SummerSlam event in 1989, where Lister faced Hogan in a tag team match, teaming with Randy Savage. This event showcased Lister’s dedication to his wrestling career, as he went beyond the role of a cinematic villain and embraced the physical demands of the sport.

Lister’s persona as Zeus added a layer of spectacle to professional wrestling, capitalizing on the crossover appeal between the entertainment and wrestling worlds. His presence in the ring resonated with fans who had grown accustomed to his imposing image on the big screen. The fusion of Hollywood theatrics and athletic prowess contributed to Lister’s lasting impact on the wrestling industry.

Tragic Departure

Police were summoned to Tommy Lister’s residence in Marina del Rey, California on December 10, 2020, where they discovered his lifeless body. Lister, who was 62 years old at the time, had passed away in his home. The coroner’s office undertook an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his demise. Initially, there were suspicions that his death might have been linked to complications arising from COVID-19. However, the conclusive findings from the autopsy report established that the actual causes of his passing were hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Legendary NWA rapper Ice Cube had this tweet to share after the passing.

Legacy and Remembrance

Tommy “Tiny” Lister’s legacy lives on in the hearts of fans who were captivated by his performances on screen and in the wrestling ring. His ability to seamlessly transition between the worlds of entertainment and wrestling demonstrated his versatility as a performer. The impact he made during his wrestling career, despite its relatively short duration, is a testament to his dedication and charisma.

Lister’s portrayal of Zeus remains a unique fusion of athleticism and showmanship, underscoring the influence of wrestling on popular culture. His larger-than-life presence in both realms created a bridge between Hollywood and the squared circle, paving the way for other actors to venture into the world of professional wrestling.


The story of Tommy “Tiny” Lister is one of a man who defied conventions and carved a niche for himself in two demanding industries. From his role as the menacing Zeus on screen to his actual presence in the wrestling ring, Lister’s impact was profound and lasting. His untimely death serves as a poignant reminder of the fragile nature of life, even for those who seem invincible.

As fans continue to remember and celebrate his contributions, Tommy Lister’s legacy endures through the countless hours of entertainment he provided and the memories he created. In the annals of both Hollywood and professional wrestling, his name remains etched, a symbol of the power of performance and the lasting impact of a charismatic personality.

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