Sunday, July 21, 2024
Editorial100 Wrestlers Who Died Before Their Time

100 Wrestlers Who Died Before Their Time

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A few years ago, I made a large, extensive list of wrestlers who passed away before reaching old age. When the site was updated, the administrators added it without the introduction, and all attached pictures were lost. If you’ve seen this before, the first thing you’ll notice is most pictures have changed. I will also add achievements to most profiles.

I’ve listed 100, so it wouldn’t feel right to make it bigger. Some big names passed since it was created, which are included in the honourable mentions. I did not make this to be morbid or to blame the industry of wrongdoing, but rather, show the unfortunate side of the business. I kept the age limit to 59; to go with the title. I did not exclude anyone for their cause of death, nor did I add any personal feelings. Also, I filled some of the smaller profiles with additional information.

I do not wish any disrespect to family & friends. I hope this can be seen as kind of a memorial to those who filled our lives with joy, but also as a reminder, to those whose deaths make it impossible to sympathize. Avoidable incidents are learning curves, and I think it is important to remember how fragile the human body and mind can be. A depressing subject, but I believe it’s important to remember those who loved performing for our entertainment.

Honourable Mentions

Perro Aguayo Jr. (35) – Died March 2015 from cervical spine trauma in an incident during a match after Rey Mysterio used a dropkick to send him to the ring ropes.

Axl Rotten (44) – Died February 2016 from a heroin overdose. An autopsy revealed he suffered from CTE of the brain like Chris Benoit and Test.

Balls Mahoney (44) – Died April 2016 from a heart attack. An autopsy revealed he had CTE of the brain like Axl Rotten. Collectively known as The Chair Swinging Freaks.

Hayabusa (47) – Died in March 2016 from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He had recently learned how to walk again after being paralyzed for years after a botch in a match almost cost him his life.

Chyna (46) – Died in her home on April 2016 from an overdose of alcohol, combined with the anxiety drugs diazepam and nordazepam, painkillers oxycodone and oxymorphone, and sleeping aid temazepam. She was also found to have CTE, and her brain was donated to science for research.

Rosey (47) – Died in April 2017 from congestive heart failure. He was the older brother of Roman Reigns.


1. Adrian Adonis (1954-1988) – 33 Years

Worked For: AWA, WWF

Achievements: WWF World Tag Team Championship – with Dick Murdoch. AWA World Tag Team Championship – with Jesse Ventura

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.


2. Andre The Giant (1946-1993) – 46 Years

Worked For: WWF AJPW, UWA

Achievements: WWF World Heavyweight Championship. WWF Hall of Fame (Class of 1993)

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. His history is well-documented in WWE.


3. Art Barr (1966-1994) – 28 Years

Worked For: WCW, AAA

Achievements: AAA World Tag Team Championship – with Eddie Guerrero. AAA Hall of Fame (Class of 2016)

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
stream.

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. Chris Jericho states in his autiobiography, A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex, that he believed Barr’s death to be an accidental pill overdose.


4. Bam Bam Bigelow (1961-2007) – 45 Years

Worked For: CWA, WCCW, WWF, JCP, ECW, WCW

Achievements: ECW World Heavyweight Championship. IWGP Tag Team Championship – with Big Van Vader WCW. World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon

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.


5. Bastion Booger/Mike Shaw (1957-2010) – 53 Years

Worked For: WCW, WWF

Achievements: Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (3 times)

Shaw died of a pulmonary embolism on September 11, 2010 at age 53.


6. Battle Kat/Brady Boone (1958-1998) – 40 Years

Worked For: WWF, WCW

Achievements: NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Coco Samoa (1) and Ricky Santana (1). SPW Tag Team Championship – with Jerry Lynn

Despite being smaller than most wrestlers, Peters inspired several up-and-coming wrestlers with his athleticism, including Rob Van Dam. The two met while Peters was wrestling in Florida for Suncoast Pro Wrestling. Peters helped Van Dam during his early years in wrestling, and persuaded Giant Baba to allow Van Dam to tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling.

The last time Van Dam saw Peters was also the only time he wrestled him. In tribute, Van Dam uses moves that Peters himself used. On December 15, 1998, while driving home to Tampa, Florida from a WCW television taping in Orlando, he died in an automobile accident


7. Bertha Faye (1961-2001) – 40 Years

Worked For: Japan, WWF, WCW

Achievements: WWF Women’s Championship

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. Bruno Lauer disputes her cause of death in an interview with Online World of Wrestling Radio where he states that, “she took herself out.” She never married or had children.


8. Biff Wellington (1965-2007) – 42 Years

Worked For: WCW, NJPW, ECW

Achievements: Stampede International Tag Team Championship – with Chris Benoit

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. The timing was strange as his body was found on the same day Chris Benoit and his family was found.


9. Big Boss Man (1963-2004) – 41 Years

Worked For: JCP, UWF, WWF, AJPW, WCW

Achievements: WWF Hardcore Championship (4 times). WWF Tag Team Championship – with Ken Shamrock. WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2016)

Traylor died of a heart attack on September 22, 2004, aged 41 at his home in Dallas, Georgia. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016, with his wife and daughters accepting the award on his behalf.


10. Mabel / Viscera / Big Daddy V (1971-2014) – 43 Years

Worked For: WWF/E

Achievements: WWF Hardcore Championship. WWF Tag Team Championship – with Mo. King of the Ring (1995)

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.

On the one year anniversary of Frazier’s death, his widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE, alleging that the company had concealed information, misrepresented research and misinformed Frazier and other wrestlers on performance risks relating to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which the suit claimed left him with severe short-term memory loss, migraines and depression, which contributed to his death. WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt responded in an interview with the Boston Herald, explaining that the company was considering pursuing action against Cassandra Frazier’s attorney, Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in other lawsuits against WWE.

McDevitt called Frazier’s death “tragic”, but added: “It’s ridiculous that someone can … try to blame someone because a gentleman with a weight problem died of a heart attack in the shower eight years after he last performed.” The lawsuit was dismissed by US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant, who ruled that they failed to show that his death was linked to CTE.


11. Big Dick Dudley (1968-2002) – 34 Years

Worked For: ECW

Achievements: WWA Heavyweight Championship (2 times)

Alex Rizzo (back) had a reputation of being a legitimate “badass”, as tough outside the ring as inside the ring. For example, in a shoot interview with the Dudley Boyz produced by RF Video, Bubba Ray Dudley claims to have seen him beat up five people on his own in a nightclub on Long Island. He was also known to have a “dead” hand, due to nerve damage from putting it through a plate glass window. As a result, he was unable to feel any pain in the hand. On May 16, 2002, Rizzo was found dead in his apartment due to kidney failure.


12. Big John Studd (1948-1995) – 47 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: WWWF World Tag Team Championship – with Executioner #1. Royal Rumble (1989). WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)

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.


13. Billy Joe Travis (1961-2002) – 41 Years

Worked For: CWA, USWA

Achievements: USWA Heavyweight Championship. AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Jeff Jarrett (3) and Mark Starr (1). CWA Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Scott Steiner (2) and Action Jackson (1)

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.


14. Bobby Duncum Jr.(1965-2000) – 34 Years

Worked For: AJPW, ECW, WCW

Achievements: GWF Tag Team Championship – with Johnny Hawk

After taking time off from WCW to recover from reconstructive rotator cuff surgery, Duncum (left) died of an accidental overdose of a prescription painkiller prescribed by his doctor, on January 24, 2000.


15. Brad Armstrong (1962-2012) – 50 Years

Worked For: NWA, WCW, USWA, SMW, WWE

Achievements: WCW Light Heavyweight Championship. WCW World Six-Man Tag Team Championship – with Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin,

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.


16. Brian Adams AKA Crush (1964-2007) – 43 Years

Worked For: WWF, WCW

Achievements:WCW World Tag Team Championship (2 times)–with Bryan Clark. WWF World Tag Team Championship – with Smash and Ax

On August 13, 2007, Adams was found unconscious in his bed by his wife at their Tampa, Florida home. She called 911, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics when they arrived. The medical examiner concluded that he died as a result of mixing painkillers (Buprenorphine) with muscle relaxants (Carisoprodol) and sedatives (Chlordiazepoxide and Alprazolam.)

While the coroner determined the drugs in his system were consistent with what is considered “therapeutic levels,” the combination impeded his respiratory system enough to kill him. There were no traces of anabolic steroids found in his system at the time of his death.


17. Brian Pillman (1962-1997) – 35 Years

Worked For: Stampede, JCP, WCW, WWF, ECW

Achievements: WCW Light Heavyweight Championship (2 times). WCW World Tag Team Championship – with Steve Austin. NWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Steve Austin

On October 5, 1997, Pillman was scheduled to wrestle Dude Love at the WWF pay-per-view Badd Blood: In Your House. As the show was getting close to bell time (7pm) and Pillman hadn’t arrived, Jim Cornette was instructed to find his whereabouts.

Cornette contacted the Budget Tel Motel in Bloomington, Minnesota where Pillman had stayed that previous night and was told by the receptionist that the maids had found Pillman dead earlier that day at 1:09 Central Time. Pillman was 35 years old. An autopsy found that a previously undetected heart condition, arteriosclerotic heart disease, had led to his death; the condition had also led to the death of his father.


18. The British Bulldog (1962-2002) – 39 Years

Worked For: WWF, Stampede, WCW

Achievements: WWF Intercontinental Championship. WWF European Championship (2 times). WWF Hardcore Championship (2 times). WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with the Dynamite Kid (1) and Owen Hart (1)

Smith died on May 18, 2002, after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Invermere, British Columbia with his girlfriend, Bruce Hart’s estranged wife Andrea Redding. An autopsy revealed that past anabolic steroid use may have played a part in his death, but no certain reason was found. It is apparent that stress, serious injuries, and the use of drugs took its toll on the wrestler. Bruce Hart claimed “Davey paid the price with steroid cocktails and human-growth hormones.”. He was cremated, and ashes were given to family and friends.


19. Bruiser Brody (1946-1988) – 42 Years

Worked For: NWA, WWWF, WWC, DSW, AWA, WCCW, NJPW, AJPW

Achievements: NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (8 times). NWA American Heavyweight Championship (4 times). NWA American Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Kerry Von Erich

On July 16, 1988, Brody was in the locker room before his match with Dan Spivey in Bayamón (a city near San Juan, Puerto Rico), when José Huertas González, a fellow wrestler and booker, asked him to go into the shower to discuss business. Brody entered the shower stall and a few minutes later a scuffle ensued, followed by two groans, loud enough for the entire locker room to hear.

Tony Atlas ran to the shower and saw Brody bent over and holding his stomach. Atlas then looked up at González and saw him holding a knife. When the paramedics arrived, Atlas carried Brody downstairs to the waiting ambulance, as, due to Brody’s enormous stature, paramedics were unable to lift him. Brody’s last words (as told to Atlas) were, “Tell my little son I love him[citation needed], and tell my wife I love her, too.”

González, who always maintained his innocence, was initially charged with first-degree murder but was later reduced and tried for involuntary homicide. Dutch Mantell received his subpoena after the trial was over and Tony Atlas, who had given a statement and said he witnessed what happened refused to return to give his version in court and without his
testimony the district attorney had no case.

Some wrestlers (the Youngbloods) were scared to death and made no declaration to the police at the time of the events. However, Atlas declared what he saw to the police and came back to Puerto Rico several years later to work with the promotion. In January 1989, González was acquitted on all counts, citing self-defense. Carlos Colón testified at the trial.


20. Buddy Rose (1952-2009) – 56 Years

Worked For: AWA, WWF

Achievements: NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship (8 times). NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (12 times) – with Jesse Ventura (2), Colonel DeBeers (4), Rip Oliver (2), Stan Stasiak (1), Brian Adias (1), Curt Hennig (1), and Avalanche (1)

On April 28, 2009, Rose was found dead in his home in Vancouver, Washington by his wife. The medical examiner attributed his death to natural causes. Rose, who had struggled with his weight since the late 1980s, was morbidly obese, leading to problems with blood sugar and diabetes.


21. Buzz Sawyer (1959-1992) – 32 Years

Worked For: NWA, JCP, WWF, WCCW

Achievements: NWA National Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Brett Sawyer. NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Brett Sawyer

Sawyer was wrestling on the independent circuit when he died from heart failure due to an overdose on February 7, 1992. Fellow wrestler Billy Jack Haynes contended that his death was a well planned hit because they were both part-time drug smugglers in the Pacific Northwest around the same time.


22. Chris Adams (1955-2001) – 46 Years

Worked For: WCCW, WCW

Achievements: NWA American Heavyweight Championship (4 times). NWA American Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Gino Hernandez. WWF Light Heavyweight Championship

In April 2000, Adams and his girlfriend of four months, Linda Kaphengst, were both found unconscious inside a friend’s apartment, the victims of an overdose of the drug GHB
and alcohol. Adams recovered, but Kaphengst died at a local hospital ten hours later.

Over a year later, Adams was indicted on a manslaughter charge, but on 7 October 2001, while awaiting trial, he was fatally shot in the chest during a drunken brawl with a friend, known as Booray AKA Brent Parnell in Waxahachie, Texas at his home. The gun owner claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges.


23. Chris Benoit (1967-2007) – 40 Years

Worked For: Stampede, NJPW, WCW, ECW, WWE

Killed his wife, son, and himself in June 2007. A suicide note was found with a notation from Benoit saying “I am preparing to leave this Earth”. Christopher Nowinski asked Benoit’s father for permission to examine Chris Benoit’s brain, and tests showed he was suffering from CTE, a mental disease caused by head injuries.

WWE acknowledged Nowinski’s research by donating money to his company, and they appointied Triple H as one of the board of directors. CTE continues to be researched as it can only be diagnosed post-death. Many athletes diagnosed with CTE (including deceased American Football players) have shown cases of erratic behaviour, murder, and eventual suicide as they grow increasingly scared and confused by the loss of memory and severe depression.


24. Chris Candido (1972-2005) – 33 Years

Worked For: ECW, SMW, WWF, WCW, NJPW, TNA

Achievements: ECW (World) Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Johnny Hotbody and Chris Michaels (2) and Lance Storm (1). WCW Cruiserweight Championship. WWF World Tag Team Championship – with Zip

At Lockdown on April 24, 2005, Candido (right) fractured both his tibia and fibula and dislocated his ankle during a steel cage match with Lance Hoyt against Apolo and Sonny Siaki. He underwent surgery the next day to have titanium plates and screws inserted into his leg. He was at the following Impact! tapings managing The Naturals to defeat America’s Most Wanted to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

On April 28, 2005, Candido felt ill and his condition worsened during the day. He collapsed in the evening and was rushed to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. Doctors drained his lungs, but Candido died soon afterwards. He was 33 years old. According to his brother Johnny, Candido died due to a blood clot, a complication from surgery.


25. Chris Duffy (1965-2000) – 35 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: IWF Heavyweight Championship (2 times)

Died of a seizure in 2000, shortly before a scheduled match at an independent show.


26. Chris Kanyon (1970-2010) – 40 Years

Worked For: WCW. WWF

Achievements: WCW World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow. WCW United States Championship. WWF Tag Team Championship – with Diamond Dallas Page

Kanyon had been suffering from bipolar disorder and he threatened suicide in the weeks prior to his death. On April 2, 2010, his brother Ken Klucsarits found him dead in his Sunnyside, Queens, New York apartment with an empty bottle of antidepressants. He left behind a note of apology for his family.


27. Crash Holly (1971-2003) – 34 Years

Worked For: WWE. TNA

Achievements: WWF/E Hardcore Championship (22 times). WWF European Championship. WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. WWF Tag Team Championship – with Hardcore Holly

Lockwood died on November 6, 2003, at his friend and fellow wrestler Stevie Richards’ home in Florida. He was found partially clothed with a pool of vomit around his face. Empty bottles of the prescription drug Carisoprodol and a partially consumed bottle of alcohol were found nearby.

He had recently received divorce papers from his wife. His death, caused by choking on his own vomit, was officially ruled a suicide. He was buried in China Grove in Rowan County, North Carolina.


28. D.J. Peterson (1959-1993) – 33 Years

Worked For: AWA

Achievements: AWA World Tag Team Championship – with The Trooper

He died from a motorcycle crash on May 25, 1993.


29. David Von Erich (1958-1984) – 25 Years

Worked For: WCCW

Achievements: NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (8 times). NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Kevin Von Erich

David died during a tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling on February 10, 1984, before he was going to, among other matches, defend the United National championship belt he had won in Texas seven days earlier.

Many theories about what caused his death were proposed for many years after. The most popular theory suggests that David died of a drug overdose, as Ric Flair had mentioned this theory in his autobiography, claiming that Bruiser Brody (Von Erich’s long-time friend) removed the evidence.

However Bill Irwin who was on that tour with David would say it was not drug related at all. The Von Erichs however claimed that David’s death was a heart attack, caused by ruptured intestines resulting from acute enteritis.


30. Dean Hart (1954-1990) – 36 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship – with Steve Strong

He suffered serious injuries when struck by a city bus. Diagnosed with Bright’s disease during the late 1980s, he eventually died of kidney disease on November 21, 1990 at the Hart family mansion. His death was the day before the WWF Survivor Series that year, and commentator Roddy Piper stated that Bret dedicated his match to Dean.


31. Dick Murdoch (1946-1996) – 49 Years

Worked For: NWA, Mid-South, WWF

Over the years, several within professional wrestling who knew Murdoch have said he was racist and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. In a shoot interview, Bad News Brown accused him of being a member of the Klan. This was also mentioned by Tito Santana in his autobiography, Tales From The Ring. Former WWE SmackDown head writer Alex Greenfield also related a story told to him by Dusty Rhodes about Murdoch driving him to a Klan party without telling him it was a KKK party beforehand.

Most recently, former wrestling star Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, claims Murdoch was a member of the Klan and that he once knocked him unconscious during a match stating during an interview, “Because he was KKK and didn’t like blacks, he kept kicking me hard and punching me. I said, ‘you hit me one more time, I’m hitting you back.’ He hit me, and I knocked him out.” Jim Ross also stated in his autobiography that Murdoch showed him his Klan membership card when they were on the road together. He died of a heart attack on June 15, 1996.


32. Dino Bravo (1948-1993) – 44 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: WWF Canadian Championship (inaugural and final). WWWF World Tag Team Championship – with Dominic DeNucci

On March 10, 1993, Bresciano was found shot dead. He was 44 years old. He was hit by 17 bullets, 7 to the head and 10 to the torso, while watching hockey in his Vimont, Laval, Quebec home. His alleged role in illegal cigarette smuggling in Canada is popularly believed to have led to his officially unsolved murder.


33. Doink The Clown (1957-2013) – 55 Years

Worked For: NWA, WWF, WCCW, WCW, ECW

Achievements: IWA United States Heavyweight Championship. NWA Southwest Television Championship

Osborne was found dead on June 28, 2013, in the Plano, Texas apartment he shared with his girlfriend. Though no weapons were found near his body, and police have said the death appeared accidental, they launched a precautionary homicide investigation.

The cause of death was later determined to be an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone. He also suffered from heart disease, which had been a contributing factor in his death.


34. Doug Furnas (1959-2012) – 52 Years

Worked For: AJPW, WCW, ECW

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship – with Phil Lafond. AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Dan Kroffat

Doug (right) was part of  The Can-Am Express tag team with Phil LaFon. Furnas’ body was discovered on March 3, 2012 at his home in Tucson, Arizona; the precise date of his death could not be estimated by the medical examiner because of decomposition, but is presumed to have been sometime in February. he was 52 years old. The official cause of death was atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. He had been battling Parkinson’s Disease for many years prior to his death.


35. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (1960-2009) – 49 Years

Worked For: NWA, AJPW, ECW, WWF

Achievements:WCW World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Mike Rotunda (1) and Terry Gordy (1). AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. AJPW World Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Terry Gordy (5), Gary Albright (1), Vader (1) and Johnny Ace (1).

The throat cancer eventually returned and Williams’s health gradually worsened. His last public appearance was at the K&S Wrestlefest Wrestling Convention on December 12, 2009, in Carteret, New Jersey. On December 29, 2009, Williams died at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver from throat cancer.


36. Earthquake (1963-2006) – 42 Years

Worked For: AJPW, WWF WCW

Achievements: WWF Tag Team Championship – with Typhoon

Tenta retired from wrestling in 2004 after it was revealed that he had developed bladder cancer, in which he was given a 20% chance to live, assuming he continued with his chemotherapy treatments.

During his November 18, 2005 interview on WrestleCrap Radio, Tenta announced that a recent radiation dosage did not go as planned, and had no effect on the tumor. He also announced that multiple tumors had spread to his lungs.

The first public notice of Tenta’s death was posted on WWE.com on June 7, 2006. On the June 9, 2006 edition of SmackDown, and the June 12, 2006 edition of Raw, WWE showed a bumper that read “RIP ‘Earthquake’ John Tenta” before each show began.


37. Ed Gantner (1959-1990) – 31 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship

In 1988, Gantner’s health began to go downhill after years of steroid use. His kidneys were the first to start failing, causing him to undergo kidney dialysis, forced him to be hooked up several hours a week to a machine to survive.

Doctors also forced Gantner to lose 100 lbs, as he nearly weighed 300 lbs. He complied by giving up red meat and starting a holistic diet, making his own watermelon tea. Despite the changes, he could not stop using steroids and had started using cocaine. He was rushed to the hospital for heart failure four times within two months. At that point, he started asking around for a firearm.

By the fall of 1989, his heart and kidneys were failing, after refusing doctors’ orders to lose weight and alter his exercise regimen. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1989, Gantner received a kidney transplant, as his sister donated her kidney. His family thought the worst was over. However, five days after the transplant, he asked that weights be brought to his room, as he went back to using steroids.

The strain of recovering from the transplant caused Gantner to lose weight, but he had still an imposing figure. Despite this, when he looked into a mirror, he saw a defective, distorted image. Self-conscious about his physique, he would wear shorts under his jeans to look bigger. While in the gym, he would wear an extra pair of socks to bulk up his calves. Over the next six months, he would go back to the hospital five times, because of complications. He would also move from Orlando, to St. Augustine, to West Palm Beach, working as a salesman.

Early in the fall of 1990, Gantner’s mental health began to falter, as he started calling his parents late at night. He would get dressed for work, make it to his car, and sit there for a half-hour with the keys in the ignition, before going back in his house. When his mother finally decided to bring him home in Orlando, she found him in a dark room, sitting down, rocking on his bed.

Back home with his parents in Orlando, Gantner would not eat, sleep, or work out. He would shower constantly and pace all night long. When his mother tried to take him for a haircut, he made her drive all over town, and at each stop, he refused to leave the car.

By November 1990, Gantner was placed in a psychiatric ward at a Florida hospital, where he stayed until after Christmas. During this time, he began casting about for solutions and new truths—meditation, vitamins, even faith healing with Rev. Benny Hinn.

Feeling defeated, on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1990, Ed Gantner committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in the kitchen of his parents’ home in Orlando, Florida. He was 31 years old.


38. Eddie Gilbert (1961-1995) – 33 Years

Worked For: WWF, Mid-South, JCP, WCW

Achievements: USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (4 times). NWA Tri-State Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Ricky Morton (1), and Tommy Gilbert (2). ECW Tag Team Championship – with Dark Patriot. AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Tommy Gilbert (2), Tommy Rich (1), and Ricky Morton (1)

On February 18, 1995, Gilbert (left) died of a heart attack. His father, Tommy Gilbert, stated that injuries to Eddie’s chest and heart muscle had occurred in a serious car crash in 1983 and could have been a factor; Eddie’s alleged use of painkillers since the accident could also have contributed to his heart condition.


39. Eddie Guerrero (1967-2005) – 38 Years

Worked For: AAA, NJPW, ECW, WCW, WWE

Achievements: WWE Championship. Eleventh WWE Triple Crown Champion. Sixth WWE Grand Slam Champion. AAA World Tag Team Championship – with Art Barr. WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2006)

On November 13, 2005, Guerrero was found unconscious in his motel room at The Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by his nephew, Chavo. Chavo attempted CPR, but Guerrero was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene. He was 38 years old. An autopsy revealed that Guerrero died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Guerrero’s wife Vickie Guerrero claimed that he had been unwell in the week preceding his death. On the November 30 episode of WWE Byte This!, Chavo said that Guerrero had been working hard and was at peak physical fitness as a result, doing cardiovascular and weight training exercises every day.


40. Emory Hale / Big Hail (1969-2006) – 36 Years

Worked For: WCW

In 2003, Hale received a kidney transplant. By October 2003 he developed pneumonia. He was hospitalized in ICU of Tampa General Hospital. On January 28, 2006 Hale died of kidney failure at the age of 36. He had been hospitalized for a few years.


41. Gary Albright (1963-2000) – 36 Years

Worked For: Stampede, AJPW

Achievements: World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Stan Hansen (1) and Steve Williams (1)

On January 7, 2000, Albright wrestled at a World Xtreme Wrestling show in Hazleton, Pennsylvania against Lucifer Grimm (real name Bill Owens). After being hit with a three-quarter facelock bulldog, Albright collapsed to the canvas. A worried Grimm rolled Albright on top of himself to finish the match after which concerned wrestlers and ring crew tried to resuscitate him. Albright was pronounced dead shortly after being removed from the ring.

The official cause of death is listed as a heart attack. The medical examiners also found that Albright suffered from diabetes, had an enlarged heart, and blockage of several coronary arteries. Because it was determined that Albright died of natural causes, the police were never involved in the matter.


42. Giant Gonzales (1966-2010) – 44 Years

Worked For: WCW, WWF, Japan

Achievements: Wrestling Observer Newsletter Worst Feud of the Year (1993) vs. The Undertaker

In 1995, González officially retired from wrestling due to serious health issues. He returned home to Argentina permanently. González lived on a ranch in Argentina in his later years. By October 2009, he was confined to a wheelchair, and had to use a dialysis machine due to his failing kidneys. He was unmarried and did not have any children.

On 22 September 2010, Gonzalez died due to complications of diabetes and severe heart issues, in his hometown of San Martin, Argentina.


43. Gino Hernandez (1957-1986) – 28 Years

Worked For: WCCW

Achievements:NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (6 times). SCW Southwest Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Tully Blanchard. NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Jimmy Snuka (1), Pak Song (1), and Bruiser Brody (1)

On February 4, concerned with Hernandez’s well-being, two World Class officials, David Manning and Rick Hazzard, and several local law enforcement officers broke into his Highland Park apartment and found Hernandez dead. He had been dead for approximately two to three days.

Initially, Hernandez’s death was ruled a homicide case, but following autopsy reports, his death was ruled as a result of an overdose of cocaine. Many people believe Gino was murdered in a drug related incident.

According to Manning, he said that Hernandez had three times the amount of cocaine in his system that would have resulted in a fatality, and he and Kevin Von Erich stated that Gino also had cocaine in his stomach. Manning also suspected foul play due to the fact that Hernandez’s dead bolt on his door was not locked, as he made it a habit in the past to lock the dead bolt at all times.

His cocaine addiction nonetheless was not a secret to many World Class mainstays, including manager Gary Hart, who tried to encourage him many times to drop the habit. On the DVD documentary The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling, Hart said that he had pictures of all of the wrestlers he managed except for Hernandez, because it made him too upset to see a picture of Gino.


44. Gorgeous George (1915-1963) – 48 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2010)

In 1962, Wagner was diagnosed with a serious liver condition. On advice of his doctors, he retired. This, combined with failed finances (due to bad investments) worsened his health. He suffered a heart attack on December 24, 1963, and died two days later.


45. Road Warrior Hawk (1957-2003) – 46 Years

Worked For: NWA, WWF, Japan, WCW

Achievements: WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Road Warrior Animal. WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2011). IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Power Warrior. AWA World Tag Team Championship – with Road Warrior Animal. NWA National Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Road Warrior Animal

He died on October 19, 2003 in the early morning in his home in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. He was 46 years old. His friends said that he and his wife Dale had recently bought a condominium near their current home and were packing their boxes the night before. Hegstrand said that he felt tired and went to take a nap. When his wife checked on him at about 1 a.m., he had died of a sudden heart attack.


46. Héctor Garza (1969-2013) – 43 Years

Worked For: AAA, CMLL, WCW, WWF, TNA

Achievements: CMLL World Heavyweight Championship. CMLL World Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Místico (2) and Mr. Águila (1). CMLL World Trios Championship (5 times) – with La Fiera and Dos Caras (1), Tarzan Boy and El Terrible (1), Mr. Águila and Perro Aguayo, Jr. (1), and El Hijo del Fantasma and La Mascara (2)

On October 15, 2012, a press release revealed that Garza had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He retired from active competition to undergo chemotherapy and additional treatment. Garza died on May 26, 2013.

He was the reigning Mexican National Heavyweight Champion when he died. As a result of his death, the “Comisión de Box y Lucha Libre Mexico D.F.” (the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling Commission) deemed the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship inactive, which has since remained inactive.


47. Hercules Hernandez (1956-2004) – 47 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: IWGP Tag Team Championship – with Scott Norton, Slammy Award: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan Scholarship Award (1987) with Haku, Tama, André the Giant, King Kong Bundy, and Harley Race

Fernandez died in his sleep in his home on March 6, 2004. The cause of death was attributed to heart disease according to his wife.


48. Jay Youngblood (1955-1985) – 30 Years

Worked For: JCP, FCW, AWA

Achievements: NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (5 times) – with Ricky Steamboat, NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Porkchop Cash (1), Jake Roberts (1), Johnny Weaver (1) and Ricky Steamboat, NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship (4 times)

On September 2, 1985, Youngblood died in Melbourne, Australia, while touring in the South Pacific. He may have ruptured his spleen in a match and had a series of heart attacks when rushed to the back. Pictured (right) with Ricky Steamboat & Ric Flair.


49. Jerry Blackwell (1949-1995) – 45 Years

Worked For: AWA

Achievements: AWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ken Patera

Jerry Blackwell died on January 22, 1995 due to complications from injuries sustained in a December 1994 automobile accident.


50. Jerry Tuite (1966-2003) – 36 Years

Worked For: WCW, TNA

Achievements: PCW Heavyweight Championship

On December 6, 2003, Tuite was found unconscious in his hotel room by All Japan Pro Wrestling management and several wrestlers, including NOSAWA and La Parka. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The cause of death was later identified as an apparent heart attack.Although no drugs were found in his hotel room and there was no evidence of drug use by physical examination, his history of drug use is thought to have been a contributing factor in his death.


51. Joey Marella (1963-1994) – 31 Years

Worked For: WWF

He died on July 4, 1994, after he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed while driving home on the NJ Turnpike after a night of refereeing WWF matches in Ocean City, Maryland. Bruno Lauer, better known by his ring name Harvey Wippleman, was with him at the time and was critically injured. Lauer was wearing a seatbelt, while Marella was not.

Marella is interred next to his father Gorilla Monsoon (1937-1999) at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnamonson, New Jersey. Images of a Baseball Player and a Golfer were placed on his headstone due to his love of the two sports. As a tribute, WWE ring announcer Tony Chimel named one of his sons after Marella. Marella’s sister Valerie also named a son after her brother.


52. John Kronus (1969-2007) – 38 Years

Worked For: ECW, USWA, XPW

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with New Jack (1) and Perry Saturn (3). USWA World Tag Team Championship – with Perry Saturn

George Caiazzo (right) was found dead in his fiancée Brandy Laundry’s home in Laconia, New Hampshire on July 18, 2007, several days after he had undergone knee surgery. He was 38 years old. Caiazzo died in his sleep, with his death subsequently attributed to heart failure resulting from an enlarged heart.


53. Johnny Grunge (1966-2006) – 39 Years

Worked For: WCW, ECW, WWF

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Rocco Rock. WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Rocco Rock

Michael Durham (left) was a neighbor of Chris Benoit and regularly helped him cope with Eddie Guerrero’s death in November 2005. He died at the age of 39 on February 16, 2006 in his residence in Peachtree City, Georgia as a result of sleep apnea complications.


54. Jumbo Tsuruta (1951-2000) – 49 Years

Worked For: AJPW

Achievements: AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (3 times). NWA International Tag Team Championship (9 times) – Giant Baba (6), Genichiro Tenryu (2), and Yoshiaki Yatsu (1). AJPW World Tag Team Championship (7 times) – Yoshiaki Yatsu (5), The Great Kabuki (1), and Akira Taue (1). NWA United National Championship (5 times)

Four days after Tsuruta’s retirement, he and his family moved to the United States to be a visiting researcher at the University of Portland in Oregon.Tsuruta had a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned a master’s degree in coaching in 1997, later becoming a part-time instructor in physical training at his old University.

His health deteriorated, however, as he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, which eventually spread to his liver, and by the end of the year he was back in Japan. In April 2000, he left for Australia, where he had an operation to remove the cancer, while there a kidney donor was found in Manila. Tsuruta died in the National Kidney Institute in the Philippines on May 13, 2000, from complications of the kidney transplant.


55. Junkyard Dog (1952-1998) – 45 Years

Worked For: Mid-South, WWF

Achievements: Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (2 times). USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship. Mid-South Louisiana Championship (3 times). Mid-South North American Heavyweight Championship (4 times). Mid-South Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Buck Robley (1), Terry Orndorff (1), Killer Karl Kox (1), Dick Murdoch (3), Mike George (1), and Mr. Olympia (1). WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)

He died on June 2, 1998, in a single-car accident on Interstate 20 near Forest, Mississippi, as he was returning home from his daughter LaToya’s high school graduation in Wadesboro, North Carolina.

The apparent cause was falling asleep at the wheel. Ritter’s body was laid in an unmarked grave at Westview Memorial Park in Wadesboro, North Carolina, however a marker was placed at his grave by November 2012.


56. Kerry Von Erich (1960-1993) – 33 Years

Worked For: WCCW, WWF

Achievements: WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2009). NWA American Heavyweight Championship (5 times). NWA American Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Bruiser Brody (3), Kevin Von Erich (2), and Al Madril (1)

After the amputation of his foot, Kerry became addicted to pain killers, followed by several drug problems. Among the many of them were two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. One day after being indicted for the second charge, which likely would have resulted in extensive jail time (being a violation of his probation), Kerry committed suicide by a shot to the heart on February 18, 1993 on his father’s ranch in Denton County, Texas.

Bret Hart states in his biography (“My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling”) that Kerry had told him months before about his plans, that he had wanted to follow his four late brothers (two of whom had committed suicide), and that they were calling him. His marriage had fallen apart as well and according to Hart, Von Erich believed his death was inevitable.


57. Lance Cade (1981-2010) – 29 Years

Worked For: Japan, OVW, WWE

Achievements: WWE World Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Trevor Murdoch

He died on August 13, 2010 at the age of 29 of apparent heart failure in San Antonio, Texas. His wife Tanya had noticed that Lance was not looking well in the week prior to his death, and he was taken to a hospital on August 10 with difficulty breathing, but discharged himself the next day.

Two months later on October 13, the medical examiner in San Antonio ruled his death as “accidental,” stating that intoxication from mixed drugs complicated a cardiomyopathy and caused his death.


58. Larry Cameron (1952-1993) – 41 Years

Worked For: NWA, AWA, Stampede, NJPW, WCW

Achievements: Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship

On December 13, 1993, during his match with Tony St. Clair in Bremen, Germany, Cameron suffered a heart attack. The referee stopped the fight, awarded the match to St. Clair, and tried desperately to revive Cameron, but he had already died in the ring.


59. “Bad Bad” Leroy Brown (1950-1988) – 37 Years

Worked For: NWA, Mid-South, JCP

Achievements: NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. Mid-South Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Ernie Ladd

Roland Daniels died on September 6, 1988 as the result of a stroke and subsequent heart attack, caused by severe cirrhosis at a hospital in Savannah, Georgia.


60. Louie Spicolli (1971-1998) – 27 Years

Worked For: WWF, ECW, WCW

Achievements: WWA World Trios Championship (2 times) – with Bill Anderson and Tim Patterson

Spicolli had stopped taking drugs after renewed fears for his health, but the news that his mother was terminally ill with cancer led to a relapse. On February 15, 1998, Spicolli died at the age of 27 after overdosing on Soma and wine, choking on his own vomit in his sleep.

Investigators found an empty vial of the male hormone testosterone, pain pills and an anxiety-reducing drug. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined the drugs might have contributed to his heart condition.


61. Ludvig Borga (1963-2010) – 47 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: IWGP Tag Team Championship – with Scott Norton

On January 8, 2010, Halme died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, from an unlicensed handgun. His body was found two days later. Following Halme’s death, Jim Ross stated: “I won’t speak at length about those that have passed away but Tony obviously had issues and was not a great guy to be around. Perhaps others have a different view of this man but I personally found him to be somewhat obnoxious and he could be a bully if allowed to be such. Guys like Halme don’t mix well in any locker room and need to be removed from the ‘team’ sooner rather than later. I still feel badly about the last years of Tony’s life as things really unraveled for him seemingly due to alcohol and drug issues.


62. Luna Vachon (1962-2010) – 48 Years

Worked For: WWF, ECW, WCW

Achievements: USWA Women’s Championship, WSU Hall of Fame (Class of 2011)

On the morning of August 27, 2010, she was found dead at her Florida home, when her mother called on her. She was 48 years old. According to the District Six Medical Examiner’s Office in Florida, she died from an “overdose of oxycodone and benzodiazepine”.

Investigators previously found crushed pill residue and snorting straws at multiple locations inside Luna’s house. Luna became addicted to medication at some point and underwent rehabilition, paid for by WWE, which she completed in June 2009.


63. Marianna Komlos (1969-2004) – 35 Years

Worked For: WWF

She was known for her stint as “Mrs. Cleavage”, manager (& mother) of a wrestler named Beaver Cleavage. She died on September 26, 2004 from breast cancer.


64. Brian Hildebrand / Mark Curtis (1962-1999) – 37 Years

Worked For: SMW, ECW, WCW

Hildebrand (right) was diagnosed with stomach and bowel cancer in October 1997. After having surgery in attempt to remove it, he continued refereeing for WCW throughout the following months. During the final stage of his disease in 1999, a Curtis Goes Home benefit was held in his hometown of Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania. Cody Michaels developed and promoted the event, which is viewed by wrestling insiders and experts as one of the truly memorable events in history that actually brought together the major companies at the time, World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling, in support for one of the most genuinely loved workers in the industry.

The major stars that worked and provided support that night included Mick Foley, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shane Douglas, Bruno Sammartino, Dominic DeNucci, Terry Taylor, D’Lo Brown, Al Snow, Hugh Morrus, Les Thatcher, Billy Kidman, Chris Candido, and many others. Hildebrand died from the disease on September 8, 1999.


65. Michael Von Erich (1964-1987) – 23 Years

Worked For: WCCW

Achievements: NWA American Heavyweight Championship, NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Kerry and Kevin Von Erich (3), Kevin and Lance Von Erich (1), WCCW Middle Eastern Championship, WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2009)

A few days before his death, Mike (far right) was arrested on drunk driving and drug charges. On April 12, 1987, he left a suicide note for his family, then went to Lake Dallas, where he overdosed on the sleeping pill Placidyl and alcohol. He was found dead four days later and buried at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.


66. Mike Awesome (1965-2007) – 42 Years

Worked For: ECW, WCW, WWE, AJPW

Achievements: ECW World Heavyweight Championship (2 times), ECW World Tag Team Championship – with Raven, WWF Hardcore Championship

On February 17, 2007, at around 10:30 p.m, a group of Awesome’s friends found him hanged inside his Tampa home. He was 42 years old. WWE recognized Awesome’s death on-air by displaying an “In Memory…” graphic at the beginning of the February 20, 2007 edition of ECW on Sci Fi, and an article about his death was posted on WWE.com, saying that Awesome was found dead but omitting the cause of death.


67. Mike Davis (1956-2001) – 45 Years

Worked For: WCCW, CWA, WCW

Achievements: AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Tommy Lane, CWA Tag Team Championship – with Tommy Lane, CWF Tag Team Championship – with Masahiro Chono

Davis (right) died on December 25, 2001 from a massive heart attack in Granbury, Texas, at the age of 45. He was the third World Class wrestler to die in six months (following the deaths of Terry Gordy and Chris Adams in July and October respectively).


68. Miss Elizabeth (1960-2003) – 42 Years

Worked For: WWF, WCW

Achievements: Slammy Award for Woman of the Year (1987)

On May 1, 2003, in Marietta, Georgia, Luger called 9-1-1 to report that Hulette was not breathing. She did not respond to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and paramedics rushed her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A medical examiner listed the cause of death as “acute toxicity”, brought on by a mix of painkillers and vodka.


69. Mitsuharu Misawa (1962-2009) – 46 Years

Worked For: AJPW, NJPW, NOAH

Achievements: AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (5 times), World Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Toshiaki Kawada (2), Kenta Kobashi (2), Jun Akiyama (1) and Yoshinari Ogawa (1), GHC Heavyweight Championship (3 times)

On June 13, 2009, Misawa teamed with Go Shiozaki against GHC Tag Team Champions Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith in a title match at Hiroshima Green Arena. After taking a belly to back suplex from Saito, Misawa lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. He was pronounced dead in the hospital at 10:10pm JST.

The cause of death was later speculated in the official police report to have been a cervical spinal cord injury that caused cardiac arrest; however, Misawa’s family invoked a Japanese law that requested the police not publicly release the official cause of death. Misawa’s death has caused several wrestling promotions to work toward a stronger approach to regulating professional wrestling in the country.


70. Moondog Spot (1952-2003) – 51 Years

Worked For: WWF, TNA

Achievements: WWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Moondog Rex, USWA World Tag Team Championship (13 times) – with Moondog Spike (3), Moondog Cujo (2), Moondog Splat (4), Moondog Rex (3), and Moondog Rover (1), AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Wayne Farris (3), Bill Irwin (1) and Moondog Rex (1), NWA Mid-America Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Wayne Farris, CWA Heavyweight Championship (3 times)

Latham died of a heart attack in the ring during Jerry Lawler’s “birthday bash” show on November 29, 2003 in Memphis, Tennessee.


71. Mr. Perfect (1958-2003) – 44 Years

Worked For: AWA, WCW, WWF, TNA

Achievements: WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times), WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2007, AWA World Heavyweight Championship, AWA World Tag Team Championship – with Scott Hall

On February 10, 2003, Hennig was found dead in a Florida hotel room. He was 44 years old. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office declared acute cocaine intoxication to be the cause of his death. His father said that steroids and painkillers also contributed to his death.


72. Nancy Benoit (1964-2007) – 43 Years

Worked For: ECW, WCW

She managed many wrestlers in WCW and ECW. Murdered by her husband, along with her son, in their home on June 22nd, 2007.


73. Owen Hart (1965-1999) – 34 Years

Worked For: Stampede, NJPW, WCW, WWF

Achievements: WWF European Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times), WWF Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Yokozuna (2), The British Bulldog (1) and Jeff Jarrett (1), King of the Ring (1994)

On May 23, 1999, Hart fell to his death in Kansas City, Missouri during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event, Hart was in the process of being lowered via harness and grapple line into the ring from the rafters of Kemper Arena for a booked Intercontinental Championship match against The Godfather.In keeping with the Blazer’s new “buffoonish superhero” character, he was to begin a dramatic entrance, being lowered to just above ring level, at which time he would act “entangled”, then release himself from the safety harness and fall flat on his face for comedic effect—this necessitated the use of a quick release mechanism.

It was an elaboration on a Blue Blazer stunt done previously on the Sunday Night Heat before Survivor Series in 1998. While being lowered into the ring, Hart fell 78 feet (24 m), landing chest-first on the top rope (approximately a foot from the nearest turnbuckle), throwing him into the ring.


74. Paul Bearer (1954-2013) – 58 Years

Worked For: NWA, WCCW, WWF/E, TNA

Achievements: PWI Manager of the Year (1998), WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2014)

On March 2, 2013, he attended the annual Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion in Mobile, AL. According to club board member “Cowboy” Bob Kelly, Moody was having breathing difficulties at the event, was coughing, and told friends he was going to seek treatment for respiratory problems.

Kelly said that Moody was treated for a blood clot after the reunion. On March 5, 2013, Moody died in Mobile, Alabama at the age of 58 due to a heart attack. The cause of the heart attack was Supraventricular tachycardia, which causes a dangerously high heart rate.


75. Peter Maivia (1937-1982) – 45 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2008)

He is the maternal grandfather of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, part of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family, and was a promoter for the National Wrestling Alliance in Hawaii. In the 2016 Disney animated film, Moana, the character design of Maui was derived from photographs of Peter Maivia, according to interviews with his grandson. In 1981, Maivia was diagnosed with cancer. He died on June 12, 1982.


76. Pitbull #2 (1967-2003) – 36 Years

Worked For: WWF, ECW, JAPW

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship – with Pitbull #1, ECW World Television Championship

Anthony Durante (right) died on September 25, 2003 along with his girlfriend, Dianna Hulsey, both from drug overdose of fentanyl. He and his girlfriend were found after lying in their home dead for days, all while their two small children, a 21-month-old boy and 8-month-old girl, were apparently alone in the house among the bodies.


77. Randy Anderson (1959-2002) – 42 Years

Worked For: JCP, WCW

Anderson was an amateur wrestler in high school, winning a state championship in the 119-lb class. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 36. He was diagnosed after recognizing his symptoms while reading a medical magazine. Because of a malignant tumor, he had to have his left testicle removed. Anderson died on May 5, 2002 as a result of the testicular cancer.


78. Randy Savage (1952-2011) – 58 Years

Worked For: WWF, WCW, TNA

Achievements: WWF World Heavyweight Championship (2 times), WWF Intercontinental Championship, WCW World Heavyweight Championship (4 times), WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2015)

On the morning of May 20, 2011, Savage died after suffering a sudden heart attack while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida, a town on the Pinellas County side of the Tampa Bay area. He was 58 years old. Savage became unresponsive and lost control of his Jeep Wrangler, crashing into a tree.


79. Ray Candy (1951-1994) – 42 Years

Worked For: JCP

Achievements: AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Elijah Akeem, many other tag team championships.

After his retirement from professional wrestling in 1990, Canty returned to Decatur to work as a dispatcher and supervisor for a local transport firm. He was also responsible for training New Jack. Died of a heart attack in 1994.


80. Reid Flair (1988-2013) – 25 Years

Worked For: WCW, AJPW

Achievements: The Anderson Brothers Classic 4 Tournament – with George South Jr., NWA Mid-Atlantic Heritage Championship, XWW United States Heavyweight Championship (2 times)

On March 29, 2013, Fleir was found dead in bed at a Residence Inn in the SouthPark hotel room in Charlotte, North Carolina. In June 2013, Fliehr’s autopsy revealed he had died from an accidental overdose of heroin and the prescription drugs clonazepam and alprazolam.


81. The Renegade (1965-1999)

Worked For: WCW

Achievements: WCW World Television Championship

On February 23, 1999, severely depressed about his release from his WCW contract and no other companies showing much interest in hiring him, Wilson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 33 years old.


82. Rick McGraw (1955-1985) – 30 Years

Worked For: NWA

Achievements: WWA World Tag Team Championship – with Troy Graham

McGraw died of a heart attack on November 1, 1985. Shortly after, Roddy Piper headlined a show held to benefit McGraw’s family. Fellow professional wrestler Bret Hart noted in his autobiography that McGraw regularly consumed Placidyl and suggested this resulted in his heart failing.


83. Rick Rude (1958-1999) – 40 Years

Worked For: WCW, WWF, ECW

Achievements: WWF Intercontinental Championship, WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2017), WCW International World Heavyweight Championship (3 times), WCW United States Heavyweight Championship

Rood was found unconscious by his wife and died on the morning of April 20, 1999, at the age of 40 when he suffered from heart failure. He was survived by his wife, Michelle, and their three children. An autopsy report showed he died from an overdose of “mixed medications”. At the time of his death, Rood was in training for a return to the ring.


84. Rikidozan (1924-1963) – 39 Years

Worked For: Japan

Achievements: NWA International Heavyweight Championship, Japanese Heavyweight Championship

On December 8, 1963, while partying in a Tokyo nightclub, Rikidozan was stabbed with a urine-soaked blade by a man named Katsuji Murata who belonged to the ninkyo dantai (Yakuza) Sumiyoshi-ikka. Reportedly, Rikidozan threw Murata out of the club and continued to party, refusing to seek medical help. Another report states that Rikidozan did indeed see his physician shortly after the incident, and was told the wound was not serious.

He died a week later of peritonitis on December 15. It is rumored by Kimura that his murder was in retaliation for when Rikidozan attacked Kimura during a wrestling match, after Kimura delivered an errant kick to Rikidozan’s groin, ignoring a pre-match arrangement and attacking Kimura for real.


85. Robert “Jeep” Swenson (1957-1997) – 40 Years

Worked For: WCCW, WCW

Swenson also had a boxing, and acting career. He got the role of Bane in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin. On August 18, 1997, Swenson died of heart failure at the UCLA Medical Center. He was 40 years old. Hulk Hogan, Davey Boy Smith, and James Caan gave eulogies at Swenson’s funeral, which was followed by cremation.


86. Rocco Rock (1953-2002) – 49 Years

Worked For: NWA, ECW, WWF, WCW

Achievements: ECW World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Johnny Grunge, WCW World Tag Team Championship – with Johnny Grunge

Ted Petty (right) died of a heart attack on September 21, 2002, at the age of 49, while en route to a Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling show where he was scheduled to wrestle against Gary Wolfe in a match for the promotion’s heavyweight title.


87. Russ Haas (1974-2001) – 27 Years

Worked For: JAPW, CZW, ECWA, WWF, MCW, HWA

Achievements: CZW Tag Team Championship – with Charlie Haas, ECWA Tag Team Championship – with Charlie Haas, ECWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2004), JAPW Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Charlie Haas, JAPW Hall of Fame (Class of 2007), MCW Southern Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Charlie Haas

On September 24, 2001, Russ Haas (left) suffered a heart attack. On December 15, 2001, Haas suffered a second, fatal heart attack in his sleep at the age of 27. He was found dead by his wife, Deedra, shortly after his brother Charlie had left for the night. Haas was buried at Memorial Oaks Cemetery, in Houston, Texas.


88. Sean O’Haire (1971-2014) – 43 Years

Worked For: WCW, WWF/E, NJPW

Achievements: WCW World Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Mark Jindrak (2) and Chuck Palumbo (1)

On September 9, 2014, O’Haire’s body was found by his father, hanged from a bedpost in his Spartanburg, South Carolina, home. He had apparently committed suicide the day prior. O’Haire had been reportedly suffering from depression and alcohol addiction prior to his death. It had been reported that O’Haire had been to WWE sponsored rehab multiple times.


89. Sherri Martel (1958-2007) – 49 Years

Worked For: AWA, WWF, ECW, WCW

Achievements: WWF Women’s Championship, WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2006)

On the morning of June 15, 2007, Martel died at her mother’s residence in McCalla, Alabama, near Birmingham. She was 49 years old. On September 11, 2007, homicide investigators in Tuscaloosa, Alabama released the toxicology report stating that she died of an overdose with multiple drugs in her system, including high amounts of oxycodone.


90. Shawn Osborne (1976-2011) – 34 Years

Worked For: WWE, HWA

Achievements:HWA Heavyweight Championship, HWA Tag Team Championship – with Benjamin Kimera

McGrath died on January 26, 2011, due to an apparent suicide. He sent a suicide note to several friends, detailing his reasons for committing suicide.


91. Steven Dunn (1960-2009) – 48 Years

Worked For: UWF, WWF, USWA

Achievements: USWA Heavyweight Championship, USWA World Tag Team Championship (8 times) – with Rex King (5), Flash Flanagan (2), and Paul Diamond (1)

On March 22, 2009, Steve Doll (right) died after a blood clot from his lung reached his heart.


92. Terry Gordy (1961-2001) – 40 Years

Worked For: JCP, UWF, WCW, AJPW, ECW, WWF

Achievements: WCW World Tag Team Championship – with Steve Williams, NWA World Tag Team Championship – with Steve Williams, AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (2 times), World Tag Team Championship (7 times) – with Stan Hansen (2) and Steve Williams (5)

Gordy died of a heart attack caused by a blood clot on July 16, 2001. He was inducted in to the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2016.


93. Test (1975-2009) – 33 Years

Worked For: WWF/E, TNA

Achievements: WWF Hardcore Championship (2 times), WWF European Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship, WWF Tag Team Championship – with Booker T, WCW Tag Team Championship – with Booker T

Andrew Martin was found dead in his Tampa, Florida home on March 13, 2009, just 4 days before his 34th birthday. Police were called in after a concerned neighbor reported Martin appearing motionless for several hours through a window outside his condominium. Police retrieved the body after scaling the apartment balcony. He is believed to have died the previous day. His death was ruled an accidental overdose of oxycodone. He was cremated and his remains were flown to his family at his hometown of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.


94. Toni Adams (1964-2010) – 45 Years

Worked For: UWF, USWA, WCCW

Adams, now known as Toni Gant, was hospitalized in June 2010 due to an abscess in her abdomen. She was hospitalized again in full cardiac arrest in late June, and died on June 24, 2010.


95. Trent Acid (1980-2010) – 29 Years

Worked For: CZW, ROH, JCW

Achievements: ROH Tag Team Championship – with Johnny Kashmere, CZW Iron Man Championship, CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship (3 times), CZW Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Johnny Kashmere

On the morning of June 18, 2010, Verdi was found dead at his Philadelphia home by his mother. It was later determined that he had died because of a drug overdose.


96. The Ultimate Warrior (1959-2014) – 54 Years

Worked For: WWF, WCW

Achievements: WWF World Heavyweight Championship, WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (2 times), WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2014)

Warrior died on April 8, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 5, appeared at WrestleMania XXX on April 6, and made his first Raw appearance in almost 18 years on April 7, the day before his death.

According to reports, Warrior clutched his chest and collapsed at 5:50 p.m. while walking to his car with his wife outside of their hotel in Arizona. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at age 54. Warrior’s colleagues said Warrior appeared frail during WrestleMania weekend, and said that he was sweating profusely and breathing heavily backstage. An autopsy revealed Warrior died when suffering a heart attack caused by atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. WWE honors his memory by giving one child the Warrior Award each year for overcoming the odds.


97. Umaga (1973-2009) – 36 Years

Worked For: WWF/E, AJPW

Achievements: WWE Intercontinental Championship (2 times)

On December 4, 2009, Fatu was found unresponsive with blood coming from his nose, and was rushed to the hospital. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was pronounced dead at around 5:00 pm Central Time.


98. Uncle Elmer (1937-1992) – 54 Years

Worked For: WWF

Achievements: AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Terry Sawyer (1), Jerry Lawler (2), and Cousin Junior (1), CWA Super Heavyweight Championship (2 times)

He suffered from diabetes and poor health as a result of his weight. These problems led to kidney failure, from which he died on July 1, 1992.


99. Vivian Vachon (1951-1991) – 40 Years

Worked For: AWA

Achievements: AWA World Women’s Championship

Vachon and her nine-year-old daughter Julie died in a car accident on August 24, 1991. They were hit by a drunk driver who had run a stop sign near St. Jean, Quebec.


100. Yokozuna (1966-2000) – 34 Years

Worked For: AWA. WWF

Achievements: WWF World Heavyweight Championship (2 times) WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Owen Hart, Royal Rumble (1993), WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2012)

On October 23, 2000, Anoaʻi died from pulmonary edema in his room at the Moat House Hotel in Liverpool, England while on an independent wrestling tour in Europe. At the time, it was widely reported that he died of heart failure or a heart attack, but this was later found to be incorrect due to his lungs showing severe signs of blockage due to fluid. Anoaʻi’s weight at the time of his death was 580 lb (260 kg).

R.I.P to all.

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