Mike Graham Death – Suicide
1951-2012 (Age 61)
Second-generation wrestler Mike Graham (aka Michael Gossett) worked during the height of the territory era including a long run in his father Eddie Graham’s (aka Edward Gossett) Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion.
A skilled amateur wrestler, Mike would later work behind the scenes before ending his life at the age of 61.
Sunshine State Superstar
Mike Graham was born on September 22, 1951 in Tampa, Florida. The son of wrestler and promoter Eddie Graham, he excelled at amateur wrestling, winning three AAU Championships.
Although he was only 5’7”, Mike didn’t let that stop himself from striving for success in the pro ranks.
Following in His Famous Father’s Footsteps
Mike Graham entered the pro ranks in 1972, winning Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Rookie of the Year” award that year. Graham teamed with his father as well as Kevin Sullivan, quickly establishing himself as a potential star.
Although the majority of Mike’s championship success was in his father’s Florida promotion, he also competed in the American Wrestling Association, Georgia Championship Wrestling, NWA Mid-America, and Southeastern Championship Wrestling, earning gold in each promotion.
One of the biggest moments in Mike’s career was when he teamed up with his dad against Pak Song and Dusty Rhodes (who was a heel at the time), a match that led to Rhodes’ historic babyface turn. Although Mike Graham wasn’t a major star, he was a strong supporting player in the territory era.
As the WWF and Jim Crockett Promotions raided Florida’s top talent, business began to slow for Eddie Graham.
In January 1985, Eddie Graham committed suicide and business worsened. In 1987, the Florida promotion merged with Jim Crockett Promotions, ending its storied history.
Working Behind the Scenes
While Mike Graham wrestled occasionally, his career eventually shifted to a front office position. He worked in World Championship Wrestling as a road agent for several years.
Later, Mike shared his insights and memories of Championship Wrestling from Florida on WWE DVD’s and episodes of WWE Network programming.
Mike also appeared at several wrestling conventions such as WrestleReunion and shows on the indie circuit. In 2008, Mike accepted his father’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Consumed by Grief and Guilt?
The death of his father devastated Mike Graham and things must only have got worse when Mike’s son Stephen took his life on December 15, 2010 at age 37. According to Mike’s widow Diane:
“When Stephen took his life Mike said, ‘I must’ve been a bad son for my dad to do this and I must’ve been a bad father for my son to do this.’ And he took it so personal that he felt guilty that he didn’t do it,”
The Death of Mike Graham – A Tragic End
On October 19, 2012, tragedy struck the Graham family again.
This time, Mike ended his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His wife discovered his body. Graham was 61.
According to an article at The Post and Courier, Graham’s widow said:
“I know in my heart it was just a spur of the moment decision, and if he could’ve turned around and looked at himself and saw what he did, that he would’ve said, ‘Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.’”
The news story provided further information on Mike Graham’s death, with his wife stating she’d left their home after having a fight. Furthermore:
The incident report, however, stated that, according to his wife, Graham “had threatened to commit suicide frequently ever since (his) son committed suicide two years prior during Biketoberfest.”
Sadly, many other notable wrestlers have died from suicide.
Other wrestlers to pass in 2012 include Brad Armstrong, Buddy Roberts, Cheif Jay Strongbow, and Doug Furnas.