Pro-wrestling is a dangerous sport proved by the fact that the wrestling ring is shrouded by countless tragedies some of which have ended in the saddest of deaths sparking controversy around the WWE itself.
Training to be the best in this highly competitive industry can result in wrestlers pushing themselves way beyond their limits to ensure they stay in the game and continue to hear the thrill of the ring surrounded by fans chanting their names but sometimes at a terrible cost.
Fizzdot takes a look at 10 of the saddest deaths in the WWE and pays homage to the stars who have now left this earth.
Chyna: Age 46
One of the most recent losses to the wrestling world was Chyna who passed away earlier this year. She was a pioneer for women in wrestling as the only woman to hold the title in the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Her role would often have her set as a force to be reckoned with and her well-honed physique made her a worthy opponent.
She was simultaneously held up as a feminist icon as a strong, powerful warrior and object of desire in her S&M style outfits. Her life began to spiral out of control in 2001 when she was released from the WWE and was banned from using the name Chyna ever again because the name itself was owned by the WWE. She gradually slipped away from her beloved career and fell into alcoholism and other substance abuses contributing to depression and ultimately contributing to her death. This recent loss in the wrestling world raised a lot of questions about the ethics of the WWE company and how the company treats its employees.
Chris Benoit: Age 40
Of course you knew Benoit would be up here! How could he not be as one of the most loved and celebrated WWE wrestlers who proved himself to be a lot more than bulk and brawn. His tears of joy after winning the match against Triple H and Shawn Michaels in WrestleMania etched Benoit into our hearts and his emotional reaction when he learnt about the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero showed us what a team player he was and how much he cared for his fellow comrades in such an aggressive and competitive business.
When the news broke that he has murdered his family before committing suicide the wrestling world went into shock. How could this legend with heart have committed such a heinous crime?
We will never truly know what happened and the circumstances surrounding the murders may never fully come to light.
Nelson Frazier Jr Age 43
Frazier Jr had many famous personas to his name including King Mabel, Big Daddy Voodoo and Viscera. In fact, he was the king of gimmicks. His colorful personality and chameleon ability to change it up made him a big hit with fans. He had a formidable career but it was not to last forever.
After recently celebrating his birthday, Frazier suffered a fatal heart attack in February 2014. His death was felt by many of his colleagues and fans with tributes to the star popping up all over the place showing what an impact he had on the sport.
Randy Savage: Age 58
Randy Savage was a WWE star whose fame was all-encompassing landing roles in movies like Spiderman. He was well known for his lavish costumes, distinctive raspy voice and in-ring charisma making him one of the most worshiped of all WWE superstars.
He had a hugely successful career before beginning to slip graciously into retirement, loved by all but it was not to be.
At 58 years old, Savage died of a sudden heart attack. His death is one of the most hardhitting in the wrestling community due to his reputation as one of the greatest stars of all time.
Bruiser Brody: Age 42
Brody had one of the most successful and longest running careers in wrestling history spanning nearly two decades. He had a keen eye for making extra money wherever possible and this often got him into trouble with his promoters.
This ultimately led to his demise when in Puerto Rico, Brody and Jose Gonzalez, one of the promoters got into a vicious fight in the locker rooms. Gonzalez was so enraged he stabbed Brody to death! It really is a cut throat business and ultimately destroyed the wrestling industry in the country because after that, no wrestler was willing to work over there.
The Von Erich Brothers
The family itself is one of the most controversial and gossiped about in wrestling history run by Fritz who was the father of three of his promotion name’s, the WCCW, stars David, Kerry and Mike.
David, the most talented of the three brothers was the first to go at the extremely young age of 25 after suffering from intestinal enteritis as a result of a massive drug overdose.
In a span of just six years, David and Kerry also died and the legacy was not to be.
The Ultimate Warrior : Age 54
He was one of the most famous wrestlers of him time even taking down Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6. He retired early but a decade later he started wrestling again and in 2014 The Ultimate Warrior became part of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014. He didn’t get a chance to celebrate this epic achievement as a few days later he died suddenly from a heart attack.
Umaga : Age 36
Umaga began his WWE career as Eddie Fatu before creating the character, Umaga who brought him the superstardom he craved in the wrestling arena. One of his ultimate successes was his pivotal role in the face-off between Donald Trump and Vince MacMohon for WrestleMania where he was the official rep for MacMahon.
Unfortunately, the fame he craved didn’t last forever and he was relegated into the intercontinental title scene so he left the company but in 2009 disaster struck and Umaga was found dead after suffering a massive heart attack. After much speculation it was revealed that Umaga had been pumping up on an array of drugs which eventually led to his untimely death.
Eddie Guerrero Age 38
Guerrero was already something of a big deal before entering the WWE due to his pioneering technical abilities in the EWC and the WCW. When he ended up with MacMahon he fit right in as one of the favorites among fans winning the WWE title and headline WrestleMania.
He had a troubled life though and battled many demons including drugs which saw his career on the edge. It seemed he had managed to overcome these problems though by fighting his way up with an epic and heartwarming comeback story that enthralled fans.
This fairytale was not to have the happy ending he deserved though because at just 38 years old, Guerrero suffered acute heart failure and died, breaking the hearts of the wrestling world forever.
Test Age 33
Test wasn’t what you call a big name in WWE but diehard fans will know his name. He struggled to make it as a main event star even though he clearly had the skills and willpower to get there. This pressure may have been what led him to take drastic measures because he started taking oxycodone.
This was to lead to his downfall when three days before his 34th Birthday, he overdosed on the drug. Shortly after, the public found out that he was suffering from chronic brain injury due to repeated blows to the head. Test went beyond the limits to get to the top but he isn’t alone in trying to achieve this kind of success…
Curt Hennig was a big name in the WWE during his day but he also suffered the demons that many others faced. He was cunning and forged a role for himself outside of the ring in management and color commentator roles.
However, his life was marred by prescription drug use and steroids although this is only speculation. In 2003 he was found dead after overdosing on cocaine but it’s likely that if he was taking a cocktail of other drugs that these also contributed to his early death. He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame and as the father of WWE star, Curtis Axel, he will always be remembered.
Brian Pillman: Age 35
Brian Pillman was one of the most likely to succeed in the world of wrestling due to his creativity as the inventor of one of the most famous gimmick’s in the WWE, the loose cannon and his well-honed charismatic character. People thought he was going to go far but beneath the surface lurked many demons which including alleged alcohol addictions and substance abuse.
Pillman never really got to reach his full potential in pro wrestling because these self destructive habits ultimately killed him at the tender age of 35. His early death also sparked massive scrutiny against Vince MacMahon because of the lax attitude the company had towards drugs citing that Pillman among others should not have died like that and the company should have been doing more to protects their stars.