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“Rest in Peace”: 57-Year-Old Star & Dwayne Johnson’s First Tag Team Championship Partner Passes Away

Published 09/22/2023, 4:24 PM EDT

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The wrestling world has been in mourning over the past month. Several notable figures from the industry, like Bray Wyatt and Terry Funk, bid farewell. Now there has been another loss, as a former tag team champion has passed away at the age of 57. The cause of death is unclear at the moment. The wrestler had the distinction of being Dwayne Johnson‘s first tag team championship partner. 

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The news of Steven Stewart passing, also known as ‘Smart’ Bart Sawyer, came to the attention of fans through a tweet from Roddy Piper.

Stewart based his persona on Bart Simpson from ‘The Simpsons’


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Stewart entered the world of pro wrestling under the tutelage of Bob Geigel, a promoter and pro wrestler based in Kansas City. He would go on to be a part of numerous wrestling promotions from 1988 to 2004. However, he became known for his iconic persona of Bart Sawyer, based on a beloved character from a popular animated series.

Bart Sawyer, renowned for his Bart Simpson-inspired wrestling persona, graced WWF and WCW with his presence until his retirement in late 2004 due to health concerns following a minor stroke. The Bart Sawyer persona cleverly played off the animated character Bart Simpson from ‘The Simpsons’, capitalizing on the show’s immense popularity at the time.


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His distinctive character, known as ‘The Bartman’, featured spiky hair that evoked the animated character. Despite not achieving the widespread fame of his peers, Sawyer made a lasting impact on wrestling. A tweet from PWInsider stated, “#USWA & #PORTLAND STAR BART SAWYER, @THEROCK’S FIRST TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP PARTNER, PASSES AWAY”. The wrestling community, including ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s family, offered their condolences. Piper’s Twitter account is run by his family after he passed away in 2015.

Sawyer’s passing is sure to be a sad day for many. Dwayne Johnson, however, will be saying goodbye to someone who was part of a significant milestone in his wrestling career. His history with Sawyer goes back to a time when he wasn’t known as ‘The Rock’.

When Bart Sawyer and Johnson held the USWA Tag Team Championship

Sawyer’s historical connection to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has to do with their partnership with the United States Wrestling Association (USWA). At the time, Johnson went by the ring name Flex Kavana. Together, they held the USWA Tag Team Championship after defeating Reggie B. Fine and Brickhouse Brown. This victory marked Dwayne Johnson’s first tag team championship win. 


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It was also Johnson’s first title win in his pro wrestling career.

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Their tag team engaged in memorable feuds, including clashes with wrestling legends, Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee. Their journey culminated in a title match where Kavana/Rock pledged to shave his head if they failed to recapture the belts.


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He was forced to retire in November 2004 due to a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on his left side. While he recovered eventually, he called it quits in the ring. His impact on professional wrestling and his historic partnership with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will always be remembered.

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Written by:

Sheron Singh


One take at a time

Sheron Singh is a WWE writer at Essentially Sports. She started watching and following the WWE when her father introduced it to her at the age of 6. Sheron has since been an avid fan and devotedly follows the sport.
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Edited by:

Anuj Jacob