Looking at Jimmy Snuka and Nancy Argentino’s Death

Dark Side of The Ring


James Reihner Snuka aka Jimmy” Superfly” Snuka was born on May 18, 1943. He wrestled from the 1970s until around 2010. His most memorable wrestling run was his time in the WWF (now WWE) in the 1980s. He was known for his high-flying style of wrestling. Jimmy was also credited for bringing this style to WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also the inaugural ECW World Heavyweight champion.

Jimmy also had 4 children with his second wife Sharon, two of which happen to be professional wrestlers. They are James aka Deuce and Sarona aka Tamina, both with WWE.

Dark Side of the Ring

Wrestling is known for its backstage politics, drug use, and things that are considered less than salubrious. This is a lifestyle that has been engaged in and shared by wrestlers for years. Dark Side of the Ring has made exploring this world its raison d’etre.

This episode of Dark Side of the Ring was the fifth show of Season 2. It aired on April 14, 2020. The episode started by talking about how Jimmy Snuka had a larger-than-life persona and how he was known for his high flying skills, something I’ve seen for myself watching matches of his from previous years.

The episode talked right away about Nancy Argentino being a 22-year-old woman who met Jimmy Snuka at a wrestling show. The first time Louise Argentino Upham (Nancy’s sister) met Jimmy, she didn’t like him. He got angry for no reason and grabbed Nancy’s throat. Louise told Nancy to leave him then. Jimmy apologized to her and offered her (Louise) some cocaine, which was odd to way of saying sorry. 

Other Abuse Allegations

There was a scene from the documentary that explained an incident at a hotel room where the cops were called because a man was beating on a woman. When the cops arrived, they saw Jimmy dragging a woman across the room. He fought cops and even police dogs. This was reported in a newspaper where they made light of the situation, comparing it to like some wrestling match. 

So I told her to come on out and she ran past him. As she did, I moved in front of the doorway and the male ran towards me and struck me in the chest area with his left forearm, and pushed me against the wall. Recovering from that, I observed that the male had grabbed the female by her hair and was dragging her face along the wall (north) of the building

Sergeant Peter Bronstad (as reported in “Who Failed Nancy Argentino?” in Mel Magazine. 

I feel it is important to mention that in that same affidavit, Bronstad said that Vince was the one who convinced Nancy not to press charges. The next morning, Nancy did in fact decline to press charges.  It also came out that Jimmy also had charges for abusing his ex-wife Sharon in the same year after Nancy’s death.

Several months after on May 10, 1983, Jimmy was filming for the WWF. He returned to his motel room after being gone for about 8 to 9 hours in Whitehall Township. There he found Nancy with mucus coming from her mouth and nose. She was struggling to breathe. Nancy would die the following morning at 1:50 am. 

Many people, including Sam Fatu and Don Muraco, said they saw police and that Jimmy looked scared. This is where his story changed as he told different people that he was playing with Nancy and she hit her head. He said she was tired and he left her and returned to find her in that manner.

Later on, he would say Nancy hit her head on a highway somewhere in Pennsylvania after she needed to use the bathroom badly. Two very different stories. 

It had been stated in the autopsy report (that was only made available by Nancy’s family suing Jimmy for negligence in her death) that homicide was possible and that Nancy had many cuts, bruises, and abrasions. 

Things are Amiss

Jimmy was questioned about his inconsistent stories, but it didn’t seem the police or the district attorney pursued anything.  

It was also odd that Jimmy, after going to the wake and crying, told her stepfather that she looked bad as if she was supposed to look good in her death. He never came to the funeral either.

Another point that seemed odd was that the now-retired investigating police officer, Frederic Conjour, seemed to be very hushed about things and evasive. He was asked by a Dark Side producer if there might have been another person in the car, to which he nods ‘yes’, but seems to not be sure if it was Sam Fatu after the producer said it was.

The producers also asked Frederic about “this meeting” that happened after Nancy’s death and he said he had no idea what happened. This meeting supposedly took place on June 1, 1983. This was first reported in The Morning Call.

Jimmy also hinted that Vince may have had something to do with covering things up in his autobiography.

At one point, I went with Vince McMahon Jr. to either a court or a law office, I don’t remember which because I was still in shock. All I remember is he had a briefcase with him. I don’t know what happened. I think Vince Jr. picked me up from the hotel and took me there. He didn’t say anything to me. I don’t know if he gave Nancy’s family money or anything. The only thing I know for sure is that I didn’t hurt Nancy.”

Jimmy Snuka: “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story”

Final Thoughts

For the most part, much of the information in the documentary was information I was already aware of. I also think the point of a documentary is not only to revisit information that is known but to bring information that isn’t known. I would say, as I previously mentioned, that Sam Fatu’s account of the driving trip with Jimmy and Nancy paints a different picture of what Jimmy said on different accounts of how Nancy got the head injury.

Sam Fatu seemed slightly confused in some of his interviews as he didn’t seem to know Nancy’s name. How could you be in a car with a woman you said that Jimmy loved deeply, but not remember her name? It was odd. Could Jimmy Snuka have been the cause of Nancy’s death because of domestic violence incidents that went too far? Quite possibly.

Did Vince McMahon help cover this up? Also quite possibly. Money talks, but also this is mere speculation and it must be stated clearly that there is nothing concrete to prove this.

However, if you engage in domestic violence to a loved one, there is a strong possibility a person could be seriously hurt or the abuse can result in the victim’s death. As a person who unfortunately was in an abusive relationship when I was young and dumb, I can very well understand Nancy trying to cover for Jimmy. It takes time to get to a place of knowing you need to get out of it.

I can’t say for certain how a man who was as big as Jimmy was could say he was play wrestling with Nancy and he pushed too hard and she hit her head. Did he think she was his size? There’s too much confusion about this whole scenario.

This episode of Dark Side of the Ring, outside of putting the case back into the limelight again, did nothing that seemed significant. It was nice to see Nancy’s family share their thoughts about Jimmy and that they wanted Nancy out of the relationship. It is unfortunate that if Nancy’s death was truly on purpose, she will never get any actual justice as Jimmy is deceased.

I would like to end this by saying that if anyone, regardless of gender, happens to be in a domestic violence-type of relationship then please seek help if you’re able to. People are willing to help you. Resources are more available than they were in 1983. Nobody should have to be abused in any way, shape, or form.


You might also enjoy:

Brawl For All: The Worst Idea In Wrestling

Dark Side of the Ring: The Life and Crimes of New Jack

Dark Side of the Ring S3E1&2: Brian Pillman

Written by Katrina

Katrina, who is from New York goes by the name Katrina Storm in the wrestling world. Outside of being a mom, Katrina is a writer, podcaster, ring announcer, an interviewer, color commentator, and a backstage and media correspondent.

Katrina, who holds degrees in both legal studies and developmental psychology, changed careers and began ghostwriting blog posts, articles, stories, and other projects. She also writes articles about different topics in wrestling and horror for various websites.

In 2017, Katrina started the brand Bookish Brown Girls @bookishbrowngirls, which promotes the work of authors who are WOC. She also writes romance and young adult fiction under the name Kay Blake (@authorkayblake).

In 2020, Katrina created her YouTube channel “In Kat We Trust.” Her channel is dedicated to nerdy content, including anime, movies, and wrestling. She created a panel called Behind the Magic: WOC in Wrestling to highlight WOC in the wrestling industry. This panel has been featured at New York Comic Con, MCM Birmingham Comic Con, LA Comic Con, C2E2, and Florida’s SuperCon.

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