Most of us grow up idolizing professional wrestlers. We see them as real-life comic book characters with superpowers and finishing moves. So, seeing a professional wrestler die unexpectedly brings a jolt of surprise and sadness. Poor physical and mental health, in combination with tragic accidents, is something that has claimed many wrestlers. In this video, we’re taking a look at 15 tragic WWE deaths that shocked fans around the world.
Lance Cade was a promising young wrestler who died far too soon from heart failure, a common cause of death among professional wrestlers. He was only 30 years old when he died. He had left the WWE and was wrestling on the independent circuit and with All Japan Pro Wrestling at the time of his death. Cade had previously spoken out about his struggles with sleeping pills and painkillers. He had even visited a rehab facility in early 2010. Cade’s death came as a surprise because he appeared to be in good health up until about a week before his death.
Brian was a roughhousing wrestler with a craziness that fans adored. He won the WCW World Tag Team Championship with Stunning Steve Austin and had a memorable feud with Stone Cold in the WWE. Brian Pillman died in 1997 at the age of 35 due to an undiagnosed heart condition. He was scheduled to wrestle on the evening of his death, but when he failed to show up, his promoter Jim Cornette called the hotel where he was staying. They found his body in the hotel shortly after, where he died of a heart attack earlier in the day.
Mr. Perfect was one of the best technical wrestlers we’ve ever seen and his gum-chewing, slow walk entrance was a classic. It was no surprise that he had success in both the WCW and the WWE. Sadly, Mr. Perfect’s life was cut short in 2003 at the age of 44 due to a cocaine overdose. Just like Brian Pillman, he was scheduled to wrestle on the night of his death, and was assumed to be in good health. Wrestling fans around the world were shocked.
Davey Boy Smith
Davey Boy Smith was one of the most gifted professional wrestlers the United Kingdom has ever produced. He joined WWE in 1985 and went on to have several successful runs with the company. He’s most famous as one half of the British Bulldogs, where he teamed up with the Dynamite Kid. Sadly, Smith died of a heart attack while on vacation with his girlfriend. Steroid abuse is seen as the cause after microscopic scar tissues were discovered on his heart. Tragically, his WWE partner suffered a similar fate.
Thomas Billington was better known as the Dynamite Kid. Together with Dave Boy Smith, they formed the famous tag team, The British Bulldogs. He was considered by many to be one of wrestling’s most influential performers. His revolutionary style increased the level of athleticism that was expected of all future wrestlers. Dynamite Kid was riddled with wrestling-related injuries that all but disabled him. He died on December 5, 2018, his 60th birthday, due to multiple health issues. These were largely attributed to his high-impact style of wrestling and the damage it caused to his body over the years. A sad ending for the British Bulldogs.
Richard Reid, better known by his ring name Reid Flair, was the youngest son of wrestling legend Ric Flair. It was expected that Reid would follow in his dad’s footsteps. Unfortunately, he was involved in many altercations with the law and was known to have addiction problems. Flair wanted to sign a developmental contract with WWE, but failed two drug tests. On March 29, 2013, Reid was found dead at a Residence Inn in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was just 25 years old when he died of drug overdose.
Junkyard Dog was one of the most famous African-American professional wrestlers in history. He wrestled in both the WWE and the WCW, and was always a fan favorite. His entertaining and charismatic story was cut short in 1998 when the Junkyard Dog died at the age of 45. He was killed in a car accident after falling asleep at the wheel. He was just on his way home from his daughter LaToya’s high school graduation. Thirteen years later, the story became even more tragic when LaToya died at the age of 31.
Eddie Guerrero’s death comes as a shock because he appeared to be in the best shape of his life when died. It was even more tragic because Eddie had a well-documented struggle with alcohol and painkiller addictions. In 2001, the WWE sent him to rehab. To the joy of fans, he returned from rehab even more motivated. After dozens of triple AAA matches, he defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in 2004. Sadly, he died of acute heart failure less than two years later, at the age of 38. It was such a tragedy to see Eddie, after having beat his demons, die at such a young age.
The “Macho Man” was one of the most iconic wrestlers in history. His trademark “Ohhh yeah!” was mimicked by millions. With a 32-year career that included success in the WWF and WCW, he was one of the greats of the wrestling industry. He also appeared as Bone Saw in the 2002 Spider-Man movie. On May 20, 2011, while driving his jeep, Savage suffered a heart attack, became unresponsive, and crashed into a tree. He had been suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition, according to an autopsy. The sudden death of this legend saddened the entire wrestling world.
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Chris Candido made a name for himself in WWE as Hardcore Holly. The hard-hitting wrestler had just made his TNA debut when disaster struck. In a tag team cage match, he broke his tibia and fibula. This required surgery to repair, and doctors used titanium plates and screws to fuse the bones together. Everything seemed to go smoothly, but two days later he became ill. He was rushed to the hospital, where he soon died from a blood clot caused by surgery complications. He was wrestling less than a week before his death.
Michael John Lockwood
Michael John Lockwood made his pro wrestling debut in 1989. In 1999, he debuted in WWE as Crash Holly and he formed a tag team with Hardcore Holly. Together they won the WWF World Tag Team Championship. Sadly, Michael died on November 6, 2003, at the home of his friend and fellow wrestler Stevie Richards. He was just 32 years old. There were empty bottles of prescription drugs and a bottle of alcohol. His death, caused by choking on his own vomit, was officially ruled a suicide. A sad death to such a joyful character.
A two-time world champion and a member of the Anoaʻi wrestling family, which includes names like Roman Reigns, Rikishi, Umaga, The Usos, and The Rock, Yokozuna was a super heavyweight wrestler that took the business by storm. After his WWE career ended, he performed for various independent promotions. The last major appearance for Yokozuna was at October 1999’s Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view, where he weighed in at an incredible 760 pounds. On October 23, 2000, Yokozuna died from pulmonary edema in his hotel room in Europe. It was reported that his lungs showed severe signs of blockage due to fluid. One can’t help but assume that his weight issues played a role in his untimely death.
The Ultimate Warrior
His trademark entrance music and his hyperactive run to the ring drove fans to a frenzy. On April 5th, 2014, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The next day he made his first appearance on Raw in nearly two decades. And in a sad twist, he died the next night after suffering a heart attack. His death was made more tragic because in his speech, he uttered these cryptic messages: “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat.” and “The spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”
Owen Hart’s tragic death in 1999 is widely regarded as the saddest night in WWE history. Wrestling as his Blue Blazer character, Owen was going to be lowered from the rafters into the ring. Unfortunately, the harness broke while he was still about 80 feet in the air. He fell and he hit the metal-enhanced ring ropes, and was then thrown into the ring. The live audience was in shock and many thought it was part of the show. Sadly, this tragic accident caused Owen to die in the ring that night, due to internal injuries. He was just 34 years old.
The death of Chris Benoit rocked the wrestling world to its core. His death alone would have been tragic enough, but the details surrounding his death are what truly shocked fans. In 2007, he took the lives of his wife and 7-year-old son. The next day, he took his own life. To this day, it’s still unclear why Benoit made these decisions. Some speculate that it was because he had severe brain damage from his signature wrestling move, the diving headbutt. An autopsy revealed that his brain was similar to that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, which suggests serious damage. Others say that he never healed from the death of fellow wrestler Eddie Guerrero, who was a close friend of his. The only silver lining to this death is that the WWE made substantial changes to their sport. After distancing themselves from Benoit, the WWE updated their policies, banned moves that targeted the neck and head region, and began taking concussions and head injuries much more seriously.
And there you have it. The top 15 Tragic WWE Deaths We Never Saw Coming. From fan favorites like Eddie Guerrero, to legends like The Ultimate Warrior and the Macho Man. These WWE Deaths have surprised and brought sadness to fans worldwide.
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