Professional wrestling really took off during the 1980s, and with companies like the WWF, which is now World Wrestling Entertainment, wrestling was a lot of fun and spawned toys, cartoons, and made super stars out of men in tights. However, with all that fame came the pressure for these men in spandex to do all they could to stay in shape, and unfortunately, some of them did things that ultimately cost them their lives at an early age.
1. Ravishing Rick Rude:
Richard Erwin Rood died at the age of 40 from an overdose of many medications including possibly GHB and steroids.
2. Mr. Perfect:
Curt Hennig was only 44 years old when his dead body was found in a motel roomm in Florida. The autopsy concluded he had cocaine in his system along with several other medications.
3. Owen Hart:
Owen Hart died from a tragic accident that resulted from a stunt that he was supposed to perform during an event called Over the Edge. He was not familiar with how the harness worked, accidentally triggered it, and he fell into the ring, his chest hitting part of the turnbuckle part of the ring. Since this was a live event, the PPV went black while paramedics tried to work on Hart. The impact with the turnbuckle severed his aorta, and he was dead on arrival at the hospital. Owen Hart was 34 years old.
4. Chris Benoit:
Chris Benoit was a well-respected world class wrestler that talked about a love of wrestling and an even stronger lover for his family, which included his wife Nancy, and son, Daniel. Benoit was considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world, but on June 25,2007, all of that changed when the bodies of Chris Benoit, Nancy Benoit, and Daniel Benoit were all found in their Georgia home. Chris Benoit had hung himself on one of his weight machines, and Nancy and Daniel were found bound and strangled. The WWE held a 3 hour long tribute to Benoit, however, this was before details about what happened were known, and once they found out it was a murder-suicide, Benoit became persona non grata, and everything associated with him was removed from the WWE including their website and all merchandise. Theories conclude that either Benoit snapped due to “roid rage,” but now theories believe it was brain damage that made him commit such a horrible crime.
5. Bam Bam Bigelow:
Scott Charles Bigelow was 45 years old when his girlfriend found him dead in bed. Autopsy results state that there were many drugs in his body including cocaine, and also, there was a problem found with Bigelow’s heart that all contributed to his death.
6. Brian Pillman:
35 year-old Brian Pillman was found dead in a hotel room the night before the WWF event, In Your House: Badd Blood. Though Pillman had a drug problem in the past, his autopsy revealed a heart condition that took his life.
7. Brian Adams:
On August 13, 2007, the 43 year-old Adams was found by his wife, who called 911. Adams had an autopsy performed, but the cause of his death was unknown, and is still not known to this day, but theories include an accidental drug overdose.
8. Andre The Giant:
Andre Rene Roussimoff was only 46 when he died of congestive heart failure due to a condition that made him grow at an accelerated rate.
9. Eddie Guerrero:
Eduardo Gory Guerrero Yanez was found dead i his hotel room by fellow wrestler and nephew, Chavo Guerrero. Autopsy results revealed that Guerrero had very high levels of pain killers in his body. Guerrero was just 38 years old.
10. Johnny Grunge of Public Enemy:
Johnny Grunge was one half of the tag team, Public Enemy. At the age of 39, Grunge was found dead in his bed, and the cause of death was sleep apnea, which is a condition in which people can stop breathing in the middle of the night when they are asleep.
11. Kerry Von Erich:
The Texas Tornado, Kerry Von Erich, born Kerry Gene Adkinson, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest and driving his Jeep over an embankment. His own father, Jack, found his son’s body in some bushes on their ranch in Texas. Von Erich was facing prison that stemmed from drug charges, and it believed he killed himself because he was facing going to prison over his drug conviction.
12. Chris Candido of The Bodydonnas:
Christopher Raul Candito, also known as Chris Candido, was injured while performing a steel cage match and broke the bones in his leg. Candido had to have surgery to repair the broken bones, but was not given antibiotics, which is normal after surgery. He developed pneumonia, and was rushed to the hospital, where he died at the age of 33.
13. The British Bulldog:
The 39 year-old Davey Boy Smith was on vacation with the ex-wife of his brother-in-law Bret Hart when he had a heart attack. Smith had a history of drug abuse, and it damaged his heart.
Andrew James Robert Patrick Martin, who was also known as Test, was 33 years old when he was found dead in his home. Authorities determined he overdosed on pain medication, but he also had a problem with his brain from repeated head injuries he received during the course of his wrestling career.
Christopher Klucsaritis was only 40 years old when his brother found the former wrestler unconscious. Authorities concluded that the wrestler had overdosed on medication used to treat manic-depressive disorder and depression.
Rodney Anoa’i, also known as the big wrestler Yokozuna, was 34 years old, and over 750 pounds, when he was found dead in his hotel in England while on a wrestling tour.
17. Eddie Fatu:
Edward Smith Eki Fatu was 36 years old when he was found unconscious. Fatu was taken to the hospital where he suffered a heart attack and died. Toxicology results show that the heart attack that killed Fatu was more than likely caused by drugs found in his system including hydrocodone.
18. Junkyard Dog:
Sylvester Ritter was 45 years old when he was driving on Interstate 20 on his way back home when he got into a car accident. Authorities determined that Ritter had fallen asleep while driving, which caused him to crash.
19. The Big Boss Man:
Ray Traylor, also known as The Big Boss Man, died at the age of 41 from a heart attack.
John Anthony Tenta, also known as Earthquake, announced to the world that he had a tumor in his bladder. Tenta began treatment for the bladder cancer, but the tumor did not shrink and spread to other parts of his body including his lungs. on June 7, 2006, Tenta died of cancer at the age of 42.
21. Crash Holly:
Michael John Lockwood, also known as Crash Holly, was 32 years old when he received papers from his wife, who wanted to divorce the professional wrestler. Distraught over receiving divorce papers, Lockwood took his own life with medication and a bottle of liquor, Lockwood choked on his own vomit and died.
22. Road Warrior Hawk:
Michael James Hegstrand, also known as Road Warrior Hawk, and one half of the popular tag team the Road Warriors, was 46 years old when he and his wife moved to a new condominium in Florida. While Hegstrand and his wife were unpacking, he complained of being tired and went to lay down for a little rest. Hegstrand’s wife checked on him later onto to discover he was dead. Autopsy results showed that Hegstrand more than likely died of a heart attack in his sleep.
23. Miss Elizabeth:
Elizabeth Ann Hulette was known in the wrestling world as Miss Elizabeth. She was the manager of several wrestlers including Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Lex Luger. Elizabeth and Luger were a real life couple, and on May 1, 2003, Lex Luger found Miss Elizabeth unconscious and not breathing. Luger called for the paramedics, and emergency services tried to revive her while getting her to the nearest hospital. Miss Elizabeth was dead on arrival, and the coroner determined that her death was attributed to a deadly combination of pain killers and alcohol.
Professional wrestling became popular during the 1980s, and is still going strong today earning millions of dollars a year. The wrestlers themselves have to put their bodies through a lot including keeping them in great shape, and some of them used steroids and other performance enhancement drugs to help them stay physically fit. The physicality of wrestling, and the use of performance enhancement drugs, can really take a toll on their bodies, and a lot of them died at a young age as a result of it. There were some that died by their own hand, and one wrestler committed murder and became persona non grata due to his horrific and brutal actions that results in the death of his wife and son.
May all of these professional wrestlers rest in peace, they brought us all hours of joy, triumph, and sadness, but they will never ever be forgotten…