Edit on December 30th 2016: Seems we lost introductions (only for articles using the old list format) when the site was updated. As this was my most viewed with over 1 million hits I felt the need to address it. This list article was a grand piece of work, and it’s meant to represent the sad reality of a business we love so much. Thank you for appreciating my efforts and the site.
Adrian Adonis (1954-1988) – 33 Years
Worked For: AWA, WWF
Adonis was killed on July 4, 1988, in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, in a minivan with fellow wrestlers William “Mike Kelly” Arko, Victor “Pat Kelly” Arko, and Dave “Wildman” McKigney. Franke, McKigney, and Victor Arko were killed when the driver, William Arko, allegedly swerved to avoid hitting a moose and, blinded by the setting sun, inadvertently drove into a lake. William Arko was the sole survivor and sustained severe leg injuries.
Andre The Giant (1946-1993) – 46 Years
Worked For: WWF AJPW, UWA
Andre died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on the night of January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room. He was in Paris to attend his father’s funeral. His body was cremated according to his wishes and his ashes were scattered at his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.
Art Barr (1966-1994) – 28 Years
Worked For: WCW, AAA
On November 23, 1994, Barr was found dead lying with his child at his home in Springfield, Oregon. Preliminary reports said that he died of an aneurysm,but later reports said that he died under unknown circumstances. Barr did not have heart problems, no aneurysm or internal bleeding, and no ring injuries. He had a mixture of alcohol and drugs in his blood
Eddie Guerrero was his best friend around this time period. Although Eddie Guerrero’s book claims that the cause of Barr’s death is still unknown to this day, Hardcore History by Scott E. Williams, criminal-justice reporter and wrestling columnist for The Galveston County Daily News, states that “Barr died in his sleep from a drug-related heart attack.”
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer recounted a discussion with Barr’s coroner who remarked that Barr’s oversized organs implied steroid use but ruled that to be unlikely because of Barr’s size.
Bam Bam Bigelow (1961-2007) – 45 Years
Worked For: CWA, WCCW, WWF, JCP, ECW, WCW
On the morning of January 19, 2007, Bigelow was found dead in his home by Remiesiewicz at approximately 10:00 a.m. EST in Hudson, Florida. The autopsy results showed that Bigelow’s death was due to multiple drugs found in his system including toxic levels of cocaine and an anti-anxiety drug. Bigelow was also suffering from a heart problem, specifically arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and had severe back problems.
Bastian Booger/Mike Shaw (1957-2010) – 53 Years
Worked For: WCW, WWF
He died of a heart attack on September 11, 2010
Battle Kat/Brady Boone (1958-1998) – 40 Years
Worked For: WWF, WCW
On December 15, 1998, while driving home to Tampa, Florida from a WCW television taping in Orlando, he died in an automobile accident
Bertha Faye (1961-2001) – 40 Years
Worked For: Japan, WWF, WCW
After leaving WCW, she took a break from wrestling. In 2001, Sing worked as a caregiver to the handicapped. On July 27, 2001, Sing died from a heart attack.
Biff Wellington (1965-2007) – 42 Years
Worked For: WCW, NJPW, ECW
His parents found his body at his home in bed on June 24, 2007, as they were concerned because they had not heard from him since June 20. Medical officials examining the body believe he had been dead for a few days, believed initially to be due to a heart attack, as he had suffered numerous strokes in 2006
Big Boss Man (1963-2004) – 41 Years
Worked For: JCP, UWF, WWF, AJPW, WCW
Died of a heart attack on September 22, 2004.
Mabel/Viscera/Big Daddy V (1971-2014) – 43 Years
Worked For: WWF/E
On February 18, 2014, Frazier died of a heart attack, four days after turning 43. He was cremated, and his widow divided the ashes into 500 pendants as gifts for his loved ones
Big Dick Dudley (1968-2002) – 34 Years
Worked For: ECW
On May 16, 2002, Rizzo was found dead in his apartment due to kidney failure.
Big John Studd (1948-1995) – 47 Years
Worked For: WWF
In October 1993, Minton became exceptionally tired after replacing Jimmy Snuka on short notice in a match for Killer Kowalski in Boston. While showering afterward, he noticed a lump in his armpit. He went to a doctor, who found the rest of a large tumour in his chest. It remitted after chemotherapy,
and he was told he might wrestle again in six months, but it returned
in 1994. When no suitable bone marrow donor was found, and he was given around a month to live, Minton underwent an autotransplantation procedure with a 7% success rate. Again, the tumour remitted and he went home. Around September 1994, in addition to recurring nausea and fever, Minton’s lungs collapsed and he went back to hospital. During this
stint, he ran a temperature of 108.5 degrees. He eventually stabilized and went home again.
In February 1995, Minton returned for another round of chemotherapy. Though he believed it would be a short stay, the tumour had spread widely through his body. He died from liver cancer and Hodgkin’s disease on March 20, 1995. He was survived by his son John Minton, Jr., who accepted his plaque upon his posthumous inductions to both the WCW Hall of Fame in 1995 and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. Minton, Jr. also participated in the fourth season of WWE Tough Enough.
According to Superstar Billy Graham, a long-time friend who spoke to Minton throughout his failing health, doctors had told him his excessive use of human growth hormone, which had reshaped his skeleton as well as his muscles, may have sparked his tumours
Billy Travis (1961-2002) – 41 Years
Worked For: CWA, USWA
Travis passed away on 11/23 from an apparent heart attack. He suffered the attack shortly after arriving at his mother’s home in Kentucky; attempts by paramedics to revive him were unsuccessful.
Bobby Duncum Jr.(1965-2000) – 34 Years
Worked For: AJPW, ECW, WCW
After taking time off from WCW to recover from reconstructive rotator cuff surgery, Duncum died of an accidental overdose of a prescription painkiller prescribed by his doctor, on January 24, 2000
Brad Armstrong (1962-2012) – 50 Years
Worked For: NWA, WCW, USWA, SMW, WWE
On November 1, 2012, Armstrong was found dead in his Kennesaw, Georgia home, after seeing his physician the previous week for an undisclosed medical issue. His former tag team partner and best friend Tim Horner speculated that Armstrong died from a heart attack.
Brian Adams/Crush (1964-2007) – 43 Years
Worked For: WWF, WCW