I’ve been asked by more than a few people why a website about dead wrestlers was created. The short answer is that this website is a tribute to dead wrestlers. Since I grew up in the 90s, it primarily features WWE deaths, although I hope to expand in the future.
Unlike other major sports, it wasn’t until recently that wrestler deaths were even acknowledged by mainstream media. Another wrestler dies and the news would practically be swept under the rug. WWE deaths were not looked at in the same light as those in the NFL or MLB.
Most major media attention surrounding wrestler deaths was overwhelmingly negative. When a wrestler dies, the headlines too often seem to include steroids, drug abuse, early heart attacks, or worse. But are these headlines surrounding dead wrestlers warranted?
We can’t simply blame the mainstream media for only reporting on the dark side of wrestling. A dark side of wrestling surely exists, or at least existed, and every year we’re seeing the aftermath with more and more WWE deaths. Many wrestlers dead before age 50.
Another wrestler dies. But wrestling is fake, right? The rough life inside and outside the ring
A novice is quick to dismiss wrestling with the ever so popular claim that makes wrestling fans everywhere cringe: “but it’s fake!” Choreographed with pre-determined outcomes, sure, but “fake” tends to dismiss the unbelievable bumps that can end in real-life injuries or occasionally, wrestler deaths.
What happens when you’re an injured wrestler and can’t perform? You risk “losing your spot” – industry jargon for your storyline being scrapped by the creative team. This can often be the decline, or end of a career. The end or decline of a wrestler’s livelihood. The solution?
Wrestle through injuries. Take steroids to become bigger and stronger. Numb injuries with drugs and alcohol. While this was obviously not the unfortunate formula that took all dead wrestlers away from us, it’s still a pretty alarmingly consistent precursor when a professional wrestler dies.
It’s a deadly formula that continues to contribute to WWE deaths to this day. I’m referring to guys like Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig – dead at 44. The Big Boss Man – dead at 42. Ravishing Rick Rude – dead at 41. Substance abuse, often leading to heart issues, being a major contributing factor in all three of those wrestler deaths alone.
The fact is that professional wrestlers don’t have an easy job in the ring, or a forgiving lifestyle outside of it. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NBA have the luxury of an off-season. Wrestlers work year round. Their livelihood depends on it.
Steroid scandals and their contribution to dead wrestlers
If we take a look back to the early 90s, WWE figurehead Vince McMahon stood trial for distributing steroids to his talent. He was eventually acquitted, although many of the surviving wrestlers from the 80’s and 90’s eras admit to taking steroids by their own willingness, including top billed talent like Hulk Hogan.
It’s still debated what type of role steroids may contribute to WWE deaths, but today, the company seems to be cleaning up their act. As a publicly traded billion dollar conglomerate, they can’t risk the scandals of yesteryear.
If the wellness policy was simply a PR move to cover their asses when the next wrestler dies is still up for debate. To the WWE’s credit, today, the wrestlers do appear much less “larger than life”. It no longer takes an Incredible Hulk physique for a guy to be passed the torch to main event status – guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are prime examples of this.
Whether it was steroids or other substance abuse, it’s sad to look back before the explosion of social media, when most dead wrestlers were not being reported in the mainstream media. Many WWE deaths were not even acknowledged by the company. Some of them still aren’t. Another wrestler dies and it would practically go unnoticed.
Why a website about WWE deaths exists?
I couldn’t find any other sites that we’re strictly profiling dead wrestlers (well I found one, but there was little, if any, information about their careers) so I decided to start my own dead wrestlers tribute website. When a wrestler dies it will be added to the archive along with highlights from their career, photos, and videos.
It bothered me, and still does, that wrestlers weren’t getting proper respect shown. This website is my small part to give back to those who entertained for a living and paid the ultimate price.
I hope this website also raises awareness to WWE deaths in general – highlighting the common harsh reality behind the curtain when a wrestler dies. This website is a tribute and archive to those who will probably never be as publicly respected as baseball and football players, yet took even bigger physical risks, often for a much smaller paycheck.
Have any suggestions or corrections? Feel free shoot me an email.