Fallen Soldiers Gone But Not Forgotten Full List Of Deceased Wrestlers 03

List of Deceased Wrestlers with Photos

This List of Deceased Wrestlers & includes Photos & Some History about the Wrestler, his or her Family & Friends Comments & their Impact on the Wrestling World.

Chief Jay Strongbow – Accidental Fall

Full List of Deceased Wrestlers Part 03
Wrestling Legend Chief Jay Strongbow – Dead at 83. Photo: wwe.com 1928-2012 (age 83)
When Luke Scarpa stepped into the wrestling ring, everyone noticed. It was impossible not to, as the feathered war bonnet that he donned to play the role of Chief Jay Strongbow was easy to spot. His larger than life persona as a Native American wrestler ran from 1947 to 1985. Strongbow enjoyed a successful career and even after his retirement, remained connected to professional wrestling.
Health Problems End Chief Jay Strongbow’s Career
In 1985, Chief Jay Strongbow’s career was still going well, but Luke Scarpa’s health was on the decline. He spoke later in life about the stress of his role as a supervisor backstage at WWE events. It’s likely that the stress contributed to the health problems that would start to set the Chief Jay Strongbow death story into motion more than 20 years before he died. Chief Jay Strongbow suffered from a heart condition that required him to undergo surgery to have two heart valves replaced. When he received the news about his health, he made the decision to permanently separate from the WWF.
The Years Leading to the Chief Jay Strongbow Death Story
After retiring, Chief Jay Strongbow did his best to relax and take care of himself. He golfed and fished and lived a peaceful life on his farm in Griffin, Georgia. Still, he remained involved with wrestling. For a short period of time in 1994, he was involved with a WWF storyline that had him serving as a mentor for a Native American wrestler named Tatanka. The story line didn’t pan out, but the wrestling world didn’t forget him. In 2009, Chief Jay Strongbow was inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Texas. He was well enough to appear at the event, but he was only able to give a brief speech due to his poor health. In 2010, Scarpa attended a wrestling convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where reportedly he was tired and largely unable to interact both with friends and with fans. He was also admitted to the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011, but it seems he was not well enough to attend that event.
What’s known about the Chief Jay Strongbow Death
Only sparse details about the death of Chief Jay Strongbow have been made known to the public. Apparently, the former professional wrestler fell sometime at the end of 2011 and had to be hospitalized. While he was able to be released from the hospital, he never really recovered from the incident. On April 3, 2012, he died in his home in Griffin, Georgia. He was 83 years old at the time. Many people spoke fondly of Luke Scarpa after the news of his death was released. Friends and fans have left tributes about his time both in and out of the ring online on many websites. The former wrestler was laid to rest in Griffin, Georgia.

Chris Adams Death – Homicide

Chris Adams was shot in his Texas home in 2001. Photo: wwe.com 1955-2001 (age 46)
Chris Adams, best known to wrestling fans as “Gentleman” Chris Adams, was fatally shot on October 7, 2001, during an altercation in his friends Waxahachie, Texas home. Reported as a “drunken brawl”, the shooter was Brent “Booray” Parnell, a fellow wrestler and friend of Adams. Parnell was ultimately acquitted of the charges on self defense.
Chris Adams Early Career
Chris Adams was a three-time national judo champion in England. Many with Adams’ background in combat sports stick their nose up at professional wrestling. Chris Adams embraced it. A few months prior to his death, Adams told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that “it [professional wrestling] appealed to me — the theatrics mixed with athletic ability.” Adams wrestled briefly in England before immigrating to the States in the early 80s. By 1983, Adams was wrestling for Fritz Von Erich‘s Texas-based territory, WCCW.
Chris Adams with manager, Gary Hart. Both men no longer with us. Photo: wwe.com WCCW, the Dynamic Duo
Chris Adams had a hugely successful run with World Class throughout the 80s where he worked as both a heel and a face. Managed by the late Gary Hart, Adams would finish opponents off with his signature “superkick” – a move that was later adapted by Shawn Michaels. Fans from this era no doubt recall Chris Adams partnering with “The Handsome Half Breed” Gino Hernandez, forming The Dynamic Duo tag team. The Sportatorium crowds came in droves to witness the Von Erichs feud with the Dynamic Duo, drawing big money for WCCW in the mid 80s.
The American Airlines Incident
Signs of trouble for Chris Adams were looming well before his death. In 1986, a flight attendant claimed that Adams was belligerently drunk on a delayed American Airlines flight. After telling Adams to sit down in his seat, he told her “I make 25 times the money you do, and no one like you is going to tell me what to do.” Adams proceeded to head-butt the co-pilot and picked up an assault conviction from a federal jury. The story goes that Adams had to be physically restrained by Kevin Von Erich. Drug Overdose, Manslaughter Trial Chris Adams’ life had become a whirlwind prior to his death.
Chris Adams works the late Kerry Von Erich. Photo: wwe.com
He was awaiting trial on a manslaughter charge, stemming from an incident a year and a half prior where Adams and his girlfriend were both found unconscious in a Dallas apartment. The two were partying the night prior, and had overdosed on a mixture of GHB and alcohol. Adams would recover, his girlfriend, Linda Kaphengst, would not be so lucky. In the months following the death of Kaphengst, Adams was hospitalized for depression and undergoing counseling. Friends said that he owed the IRS over $50,000.
The grave of Chris Adams at the Oak Grove Memorial Gardens in Irving, TX. Photo: Hilda Duell Losing It All
During the height of his career, Chris Adams was on top of the world. He owned multiple properties and cars. A few months prior to his death, Adams told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “I thought it would never end. I lost it all through divorces, ignorance and mistakes.” Adams would ultimately lose his life in the drunken altercation on October 7, 2001. Chris Adams is buried at the Oak Grove Memorial Gardens in Irving, Texas. The plot is located in the Garden of Faith, Lawn Crypt A-17.

Chris Benoit Death – Suicide

Chris Benoit killed his entire family before hanging himself. Photo: wwe.com 1967-2007 (age 40)
Chris Benoit was a professional wrestler with a storied career. He was born on May 21, 1967 in Montreal, Quebec. His parents were Michael and Margaret Benoit. Chris grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. Benoit was fluent in both English and French. His career in wrestling spanned twenty-two years and he wrestled for a number of different promotions – most notably in the WCW and WWF. Over the course of his career, Benoit held a staggering twenty-two titles. It is a legacy that still stands, but it was mostly tarnished by the shocking news about his death. The Chris Benoit death story turned the wrestling world upside down. Yet again, mainstream media coverage heavily scrutinized sports entertainment. In his personal life; Chris was married twice. He and his first wife Martina had two children. He had a rocky relationship with his second wife Nancy that was marked by domestic abuse. Benoit was known to be good friends with Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. The three wrestlers were close enough to be called the “The Three Amigos”. Chris was devastated by Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 and it would be an eerie precursor to the eventual Chris Benoit death.
Following the murder/suicide, flowers and cards are left at the gates of the Benoit’s suburban Fayetteville, GA home. Photo: amateur hour podcast Early Career (1985-1995)
As a kid and a young wrestler Chris Benoit was a big admirer of Bret Hart. It isn’t surprising that Benoit began his professional career by training at Hart’s family gym. In 1985, he made his professional debut with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion. Teaming with “The Remarkable” Rick Patterson he won his first tag team match. Benoit’s first title was the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship in 1986. He feuded with Johnny Smith. During his time with Stampede Chris won four International Tag Team titles and three other British Commonwealth titles. Early in his career, two decades before his suicide: a young Chris Benoit takes on Biff Wellington for Stampede Wrestling (1987) In 1989 Stampede Wrestling went out of business. Like many other wrestlers, Benoit spent time in Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). He made his debut in Japan under his own name in 1986 but, by 1989, he started wearing a mask and calling himself The Pegasus Kid. The Pegasus Kid proved to be a reliable and exciting performer. Benoit took part in a number of well received matches against wrestlers like Jushin Thunder Liger and El Samurai in the junior heavyweight division. In August of 1990 The Pegasus Kid won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He twice won Best of the Super Juniors in 1993 and 1995. In 1994 Benoit won the Super J Cup Tournament. Chris Benoit joined World Championship Wrestling in June of 1992. Getting television time with WCW helped Benoit start to make a name for himself. He suffered a loss at Clash of the Champions XIX. In January of 1993 Chris won Clash of the Champions XXII. Then Chris lost to 2 Cold Scorpio at Superbrawl III. Benoit formed a tag team with Bobby Eaton but they lost at Slamboree. After that loss Chris spent some more time in Japan before joining Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994. During November 2 Remember, Benoit accidentally broke Sabu’s neck. While Chris was upset by the possibility that Sabu would be paralyzed, the ECW decided to take advantage of the incident and call him Crippler Benoit. By October of 1995 he was known as Canadian Crippler Benoit. Chris teamed with Dean Malenko and they won the ECW World Tag Team Championships in February of 1995. Benoit, Malenko and Shane Douglas were teamed to create the Triple Threat stable. Together they held all three of the ECW championship. Chris feuded with The Steiner Brothers before leaving the ECW when his work visa expired. He spent more time touring in Japan.
Land of the Rising Sun back to the WCW (1995-2000)  
Chris returned to Japan in 1995. He was part of a talent exchange. He advanced to the semifinals in the Super J Cup: Second Stage but lost to Gedo. Because of the ties between NJPW, Benoit was able to return to WCW in 1995. He teamed with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman in their Alliance to End Hulkamania and feuded with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Chris also feuded with WCW booker Kevin Sullivan. This feud really heated up when Benoit and Sullivan’s wife Nancy gave the appearance of having an affair. The fake affair turned real and ended the Sullivan’s marriage. It is certainly possible that this beginning to Chris and Nancy relationship played a role in the violence in that relationship and helped lead to the Chris Benoit death. In 1998 Chris and Booker T began a long feud over the WCW World Television Championship. Booker ended up winning that championship. In 1999 Chis teamed again with Dean Malenko and won the Tag Team Championship. Benoit also won the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Chris was part of The Revolution, a group of heel wrestlers, who formed their own nation. He began to be unhappy with the WCW. After a notable match against Bret Hart in October of 1999 to honor Owen Hart, Benoit ended up leaving the WCW in January of 2000.
On Top of the World Wrestling Federation (2000-2007)
Benoit joined the World Wrestling Federation in 2000. His time at the WWF was an important part of his career. He joined The Radicalz stable. Benoit beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 2000 – winning the Intercontinental Championship and beginning a long feud. Jericho defeated him in the Royal Rumble in January of 2001. Chris would go on to win the Intercontinental title three times between April of 2000 and January 2001. In 2001 Benoit left the Radicalz and teamed up with Jericho. He feuded with Kurt Angle, beating him at Backlash and stealing his Olympic Gold Medal. Angle beat Benoit at a Judgment Day PPV match. When Benoit and Jericho challenged Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H they became Tag Team Champions. They went on to challenge Austin for his world title and Chris received a neck injury that sidelined him for the year. In spite of the neck injury Benoit seemed to have a promising future with the WWF with no hint at the Chris Benoit death to come. When Chris returned to the WWF in 2002 he was billed as a heel. Chris teamed up with Kurt Angle at No Mercy on October 20, 2002 and they won the WWE Tag Team Championship. Benoit was building a storied career and no one suspected his looming death. The year of 2003 was a busy one for Benoit. He lost to Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble but received a standing ovation for the match. Chris teamed with Rhyno and Los Guerreros for WrestleMania XIX. They lost to Angle and his team. In April Benoit feuded with John Cena. Chris took part in the WWE United States Championship. He lost his final match to Guerrero at Vengeance. For personal reasons, WWE General Manager Paul Heyman kept Benoit from having a shot at the WWE title.
An emotional Chris Benoit wins the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XX in Madison Square Garden, defeating Shawn Michaels and Triple H in a triple threat match. Benoit is congratulated by best friend Eddie Guerrero. Sadly, both men would be dead in less than 4 years. Photo: wwe.com The year 2004 was one of success for Benoit. In January he won the Royal Rumble by eliminating Big Show. Chris was only the second WWE wrestler to win the Royal Rumble as the number one entrant. He also managed to use a loophole that allowed him to go from SmackDown to Raw. Benoit challenged Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He won a Triple Threat Match against Shawn Michaels and Triple H. On March 14, 2004 Chris beat Triple H at WrestleMania XX by forcing him to tap out. Benoit defended his title against Shawn Michaels at Backlash. Then he teamed with Edge and together they won the Tag Team titles. Edge and Benoit would later go on to feud. Benoit was back with SmackDown by June 9th. He defeated Eddie Guerrero at One Night Stand. In July he lost at The Great American Bash. Chris won at SummerSlam in twenty-five seconds. Benoit was devastated on November 13, 2005 when his friend Eddie Guerrero was found dead. He took part in a tribute show for Guerrero and was emotional when talking about his friend. Chris beat Triple H in a match that was a tribute to Guerrero. Guerrero’s death was an emotional blow that possibly contributed to the Chris Benoit death. In spite of his grief, Chris stayed busy in 2006. Benoit teamed up with Booker T for a “Best of Seven” series of match ups. Booker won three matches. Benoit won the fourth match at Armageddon. Booker had a groin injury and was replaced by Randy Orton. Chris beat him twice. In the final match Orton beat Benoit with help from Booker. At No Way Out Chris beat Booker. Benoit went on to beat Orton in a Smackdown match. Benoit and John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) fought two matches designed to allow JBL time off to have surgery. First Benoit kayfabe broke JBL’s hand. At WrestleMania XXII JBL won. Then JBL beat Chris in a steel cage match using illegal methods. Benoit lost to Finlay at King of the Ring. At Judgment Day he beat Finlay. Chris then received fake injuries in the ring at Smackdown that allowed him to take a real break to heal a shoulder injury. His return after that break was the beginning of the final stretch of matches before the Chris Benoit death. Benoit made his return to the ring on October 8th at No Mercy. He beat William Regal. Chris then won his fifth United States Championship from Mr. Kennedy. He then feuded with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. Benoit beat them in a title match. Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) challenged Benoit at WrestleMania XXIII and lost to him. Chris beat MVP again at Backlash. Benoit lost his title to MVP at Judgment Day. On June 11, 2007 episode of RAW Benoit teamed up with CM Punk after being drafted to ECW. They won their match. On June 19th he won his final match against Elijah Burke. After that it was only a short time until the Chris Benoit death.
Final Days and the Chris Benoit Death
After the June 19th match, Benoit missed the weekend house shows. He told WWE officials that his wife and son had food poisoning. On June 25th, 2007 the police were sent to Benoit’s home. They entered to discover the bodies of Chris and Nancy Benoit and their son Daniel. The evidence showed that Chris had murdered Nancy and Daniel. He then committed suicide. Nancy was bound and strangled. She was wrapped in a towel and there was blood under her head. A Bible was placed next to her body. Daniel was strangled in his bed. A Bible was placed next to him. These murders apparently happened over several days. Chris hung himself from a weight machine. He placed a Bible on the weight machine.
Chris’ father speaks out on Nightline:  
All three had varying levels of drugs in their system. Nancy had Xanax, hydrocodone and hydromorphone at prescribed levels in her system. Daniel had been sedated with Xanax before being killed. Chris had Xanax, hydrocodone and high levels of testosterone. The high testosterone was caused by a synthetic hormone given to him. This was given to him because of low levels of testosterone due to steroid abuse. Like many other wrestlers, Chris had taken steroids. There is no indication that the events of the Chris Benoit death were “roid rage”. Many people do believe that a combination of steroid abuse, brain damage caused by wrestling injuries, problems in his marriage and personal losses, like the death of Eddie Guerrero, were the cause of Benoit’s actions. It also seems that Nancy may have wanted a divorce because Chris was abusing her. However, there is no way to be certain about what set Chris off.
The Benoit family home was sold after the murders:
The evidence that the deaths were a murder/suicide is clear. Despite that evidence a number of conspiracy theories have cropped around the deaths. One started when the Wikipedia article on Chris was updated to say his wife had died shortly before the bodies were found. There was a lot of debate of the origins of this update. It was eventually traced to a person who was not connected to the WWE. He posted the update because of rumors about why Chris missed the weekend matches before his death. The person heard about Benoit saying his wife was ill and made the post. The tribute that the WWE ran shortly after the family was found also caused controversy. Many believe that the WWE knew what had happened in advance despite a lack of real evidence that anyone in the WWE was aware of the details of the deaths in advance. It seems that the Chris Benoit death was so shocking that people couldn’t accept that a wrestling idol like Benoit would kill his family and then himself. Chris Benoit was cremated. Presumably his ashes were given to his parents.

Chris Candido Death – Pneumonia

Chris Candido, perhaps best known for his run in the WWF as “Skip” with the Bodydonnas, dies at age 33. Photo: wwe.com 1972-2005 (age 33)
Before his life was cut short, Skip Candido had an impressive wrestling career spanning several promotions. He is arguably most remembered as being “Skip” from the WWF. Alongside valet (and real-life girlfriend) Sunny – the duo were known as The Bodydonnas. The Bodydonnas gimmick portrayed Skip and Sunny as arrogant work-out freaks, continuously taunting the crowd for being fat and out of shape.
No Gimmicks Needed! Chris Candido works Balls Mahoney during an episode of ECW’s “Hardcore TV” in 1997. Sadly, both men are no longer with us. Photo: wwe.com Aside from his run with the Bodydonnas, Candido spent a brief period in the WCW. He stayed long enough to pick up a Cruiserweight title, but ultimately would head to the independents. Prior to Candido’s WCW run, he spent 1996-1999 with ECW. He had a successful run with the promotion and was given the moniker “No Gimmicks Needed” – appropriate considering the WWE had given him a pretty ridiculous gimmick with the Bodydonnas. In 1995, Wrestling Observer named Chris Candido the Most Underrated Wrestler of the Year, attesting to his impressive abilities that often went unnoticed in the highly competitive world of wrestling (having a valet like Sunny also probably isn’t going to help get you noticed – just ask Marc Mero). Sadly, we’ll never know how much Chris Candido could have accomplished in the ring. His career was suddenly cut short by his death at the age of just 33.
A Serious Injury Starts the Chris Candido Death Story
At the time of his death, Chris Candido was signed with TNA. During the taping of the “Lockdown” PPV on April 24, 2005, Chris Candido took to the ring in a tag team match with partner Lance Hoyt. In a steel cage, Chris Candido and Hoyt faced off against Apollo and Sonny Siaki. During the match, Chris broke two bones in his leg and dislocated his shoulder. The injury was severe enough to require emergency surgery. Doctors inserted titanium plates into his leg. Although he was still recovering, Chris attended a taping of Impact! Wrestling, serving as the manager to The Naturals shortly after surgery.
Skip and Sunny made their WWF debut as “The Bodydonnas” in 1995. Within 10 years, Chris “Skip” Candido would be dead. Photo: wwe.com Details of the Chris Candido Death Story  
Even though he had been up and about following his surgery, Chris was just days away from death when he was released from the hospital on April 25, 2005. On the morning of April 28, 2005, Chris complained of not feeling well but continued on with his day. Later that night he collapsed. Candido was rushed to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was treated for pneumonia, but he died shortly after reaching the hospital. There was initially some uncertainty about Candido’s cause of death. Some argued he died from a blood clot. This likely resulted from Chris’ younger brother, Johnny Candido, starting shortly after his death: “I find it only fitting you hear the truth from me about the death of my best friend, brother, and soulmate. Chris died tonight due to a blood clot brought on by complications with his surgery.” Later, Jonny clarified: “It wasn’t a blood clot that killed him. The autopsy said the cause of death was acute pneumonia. We did an autopsy and it turns out that someone, against doctor’s orders, had given him a sleep aid. They said “Here, you need to sleep. Take this.” So he took it and it slowed down his breathing, his lungs filled with fluid and he died of acute pneumonia. It’s a fucked up story. It would take me forever to even start getting into it.” Chris Candido was cremated. What was done with his ashes is not public knowledge.
Shock after the Chris Candido Death News  
The Chris Candido death news shook the entire world of professional wrestling. TNA posted a tribute to Chris on their website, expressing their sympathy for his family and saying how much he will be missed by everyone in professional wrestling.
Remembering Chris Candido after Death
Gone but not forgotten, Chris Candido was celebrated by the world of wrestling after his death. TNA honored him by holding the Chris Candido Memorial Tag Team Tournament on August 16, 2005 in Orlando, Florida. In 2009, Chris’ name was added to the ECW Hardcore Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was overseen by The Sandman, and the late wrestler’s family was on hand to receive the award.

Chris Duffy Death – Brain Aneurysm

WWF enhancement talent, Chris Duffy, dies at 35 from a brain aneurysm. Photo: wwe.com   1965-2000 (Age 35)
As we’ve seen with profiles of wrestlers such as Chase Tatum and Mike Bell, not every wrestler gets to be a main eventer, but even everyday enhancement talent have their moment of glory. Chris Duffy served as enhancement talent in the WWF for most of his career, but his career did not go by without note. Duffy would have his brief moments in the sun during his wrestling career, and help save the lives of others after he died.
Chris Duffy goes to work on Jake “The Snake” Roberts on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling (May 1, 1989). Photo: wwe.com Massachusetts Mat Man  
Christopher Duffy was born in Braintree, Massachusetts on July 7, 1965 to Sandy and Paul Duffy. Duffy was trained by wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski, working as a top star in Kowalski’s International Wrestling Federation promotion; holding the IWF Heavyweight Championship in 1986 and 1987 (future legend Triple H would hold the same belt under the moniker of Terra Ryzing in 1992). Around this time, Duffy also worked as enhancement talent in the WWF, putting over WWF Superstars. Duffy also toured in Europe, wrestling in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria. While in Europe, Duffy teamed with Johnny Rotten to form “The Suicide Blonds” tag team. Duffy could be found week after week on Wrestling Challenge, Superstars and Monday Night Raw, making his opponents look dominant. Duffy even worked in ECW as “The Bouncer”, losing against legendary Japanese star Tatsumi Fujinami in 1992. Although Duffy was enhancement talent, he was involved in memorable matches. Duffy was involved in the only televised match involving Friar Ferguson (backlash over the character led to Ferguson becoming Bastion Booger). During the Attitude Era, Duffy played Santa Claus during a segment on Raw that culminated in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin delivering a Stunner to the faux Kris Kringle.
Chris Duffy plays Santa Claus (and eventually takes a stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin) on December 22, 1997 episode of Raw. Photo: wwe.com A Hero after Death
In the late 90s, Duffy left the WWF and began working the independent circuit in the New England area. On August 24, 2000, Chris Duffy passed away from a brain aneurysm while he slept. He was 35 years old. Multiple web sources had previously noted a seizure or a heart attack as the culprit, but these are not correct. The cause of death was confirmed by Duffy’s parents in 2013 when they announced a Rose Parade in remembrance of their son. Although Duffy died at a young age, he donated his body to help others live, and in 2013, his donations were celebrated in his hometown. According to a 2013 story, Duffy’s donations helped two women to see, and helped over 45 other people. Duffy joins many other pro wrestlers who did not make it to age 50.

Chris Kanyon Death – Suicide

Chris Kanyon suffers from mental illness, takes life. He was 40 years old. Photo: wwe.com   1970-2010 (age 40)
Most professional wrestlers gain fame for their antics in the ring, but every so often, someone in professional wrestling ends up making a name for himself or herself due to what they do out of the ring. Chris Kanyon is one such wrestler. Although Kanyon won the WCW World Tag Team Championship twice and both the WCW United States Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship once, Chris Kanyon will forever be known for his legal battles and criticisms of professional wrestling. This is the Chris Kanyon death story.
Drama and Stress Surround the Retirement of Chris Kanyon  
In 2001, Chris Kanyon suffered a leg injury that greatly impacted his career. Over the next few years, his relationship with the WWE would become rocky. First, he sued World Wrestling Entertainment, accusing the organization of trying to deny him health care benefits. After he was released from the WWE in 2006, he came out of the closet and alleged that he was fired because he was gay. Ultimately, he would back track on these claims and say that it was all a publicity stunt. Many people now look back and see the wrestler’s behaviors as signs that things weren’t completely right with him mentally, and ultimately, it would be mental illness that would lead to the Chris Kanyon death story.
An Ongoing Battle with Mental Illness
Following the Chris Kanyon death news, it was revealed that the former professional wrestler was struggling with severe mental illness during much of his life. Chris Kanyon was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that is marked by episodes of mania and depression. Reportedly, Chris Kanyon became very depressed towards the end of his life. The failure of his career and the turmoil of his personal life sent him on a downward spiral that would result in his death.
The Details of the Chris Kanyon Death Story  
A few weeks prior to the Chris Kanyon death, the former wrestler apparently told family that he wanted to kill himself. Whether or not they believed the claims is unclear, but sadly Kanyon make good on his threat. On April 2, 2010, Chris Kanyon took what was left in a bottle of antidepressants in order to end his own life at the age of just 40. His body was found by his brother Ken Klucsarits. His place of death was Sunnyside in Queens, New York City. The wrestler left behind a suicide note with an apology to his family.
A Book Reveals More about the Chris Kanyon Death Story
After Chris Kanyon died, it was revealed that he had been working on a biography of his life with writer Ryan Clark. Called “Wrestling Reality,” the book was released in 2011. In it, Chris Kanyon details how difficult it was to be a homosexual who was afraid to come out of the closet throughout his life. The book sheds more light on Chris Kanyon’s depression and the despair that led him to take his life. Chris Kanyon was cremated. It’s not public knowledge who his ashes were given to.

Chris Von Erich Death – Suicide

Chris Von Erich, the youngest of the wrestling Von Erich brothers, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 21. Photo: espn.com   1969-1991 (age 21)
Chris Von Erich, part of the infamous Von Erich wrestling family, committed suicide on September 12th, 1991 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Growing up smaller than his wrestling brothers, it’s often discussed that Chris was envious of his family’s wrestling roots. Chris Von Erich had a strong desire to be a professional wrestler, yet primarily found himself working behind the scenes. His health issues also played a role in his limited in-ring work.
Chris Von Erich with Percy Pringle. Percy would go on to become Paul Bearer with the WWE. Photo: espn.com Wrestling Career, Depression
Still, by the late 80 Chris managed to see some time in the ring, notably feuding with Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer) in the USWA promotion. Both an underdog, and a Von Erich, Chris was able to successfully get the crowds behind him despite his limitations. Teaming up with white-hot Chris Adams certainly didn’t hurt his cause. Sadly though, it wasn’t enough. Chris Von Erich was never content. He grew especially depressed after the death of his brothers, David and Mike Von Erich, both of whom had passed away in the years prior – Mike by suicide.
The Von Erich Curse  
Like his brother Mike before him, Chris Von Erich turned to suicide on September 12, 1991. He shot himself in the head. In what’s noted as the “Von Erich Curse” in wrestling circles, Kerry Von Erich would also go on to commit suicide in 1993. Kevin Von Erich remains the only surviving brother.
deceased wrestlers
Chris Von Erich’s grave at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas, TX. Photo: Susan Parker Chris Von Erich Grave
Chris Von Erich’s grave is located at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas, TX. His plot is located at the Hilltop Section, Lot 535.
Photo: espn.com  
Photo: espn.com

Chyna Death – Drug Overdose

Joanie Laurer aka Chyna – dead at 46 from a drug overdose. Photo: wwe.com   1969-2016 (age 46)
Joanie Laurer aka Chyna was found dead in her home on April 21, 2016. Reported by the Redondo Beach police, Joanie’s manager, Anthony Anzaldo grew concerned after not hearing from her for a few days. He entered Laurer’s apartment to find her in bed and not responding. Police were able to determine Laurer was dead 1-2 days prior to the caller entering the Redondo Beach apartment.
Chyna’s official website notes:  
“It is with deep sadness to inform you that we have lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world, has passed away” TMZ first reported that “prescription bottles were found in the home, but there were no illegal drugs.”
Early Reports, Speculation
Neighbors mentioned Laurer had seemed “under the influence lately” and Pro Wrestling Sheet first hinted at a suicide, noting “people close to her are worried her personal demons got the best of her.” However, TMZ followed up and disputed the suicide speculation, specifically mentioning the prescription bottles found at the scene: “Our sources described the number of bottles as 3 or 4… nothing out of the ordinary.” Reportedly, the bottles were not emptied.
Joanie Laurer, early in her career. Chyna Cause of Death  
It was learned on December 23, 2016 that Chyna’s death was in fact caused by a drug overdose, though not ruled intentional. Specifically Chyna died from a mix of alcohol and prescription medications. Her autopsy notes findings of multiple painkillers, as well as medication for anxiety, muscle relaxation, and a sleeping medication. Specifically, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Valium, Nordiazepam, and Temazepam. This was all in combination with alcohol.
A Sad History of Drug Abuse
It wasn’t uncommon to hear about Joanie’s heavy drug use from Sean Waltman and Triple H, her former cohorts in D-Generation X, and former partners outside the ring as well. In a video Chyna posted to her YouTube account just four days prior to her death, she did not look well: Toward the end of her WWE career, Chyna appeared in the November 2000 issue of Playboy. In 2001, her autobiography “If They Only Knew” reached the New York Times bestseller list.
Chyna in Adult Film industry, Reality TV  
Chris Von Erich’s grave at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas, TX. Photo: Susan Parker Chris Von Erich Grave
In 2002, Chyna briefly wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Here’s a Photo from her Japan tenure, posted from her official Twitter account just 3 days prior to her death. After her departure from the WWE in 2001, Chyna briefly wrestled in Japan, before moving to reality TV and the adult film industry. Laurer was in six adult films from 2004 through 2013, which is largely why she has been shunned from the WWE Hall of Fame. In 2012 she collapsed at a porn convention in Miami – more signs of her health deteriorating.
Chyna appeared in reality TV show The Surreal Life in 2005.  
In 2008, she appeared on Celebrity Rehab – making her struggles with addiction more public than ever.
Chyna’s Legacy in Women’s wrestling.
Sadly, Chyna’s death is likely the kick in the ass the WWE will need to finally induct her into her rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Chyna regularly competed against men, breaking the stereotype of women primarily being used as little more than eye candy to the male dominated audience. Photo: wwe.com  
Chyna was a key figure in the beloved “Attitude Era” – the edgy late 90s WWE. She was a WWE employee from 1997-2001, and would later have a short stint with TNA in 2011. She became the first woman to ever hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship and was the first woman to compete in both the King of the Ring and Royal Rumble. Chyna regularly competed against men, breaking the stereotype of women primarily being used as little more than eye candy to the male dominated audience – an especially difficult accomplishment during the Attitude Era.
Chyna Death and CTE
Neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu is said to be examining Chyna’s brain. Born in Nigeria, Omalu was portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film Concussion.
An undated Photo posted from Chyna’s official Twitter account
In the mid 2000s, Omalu brought mainstream attention to the connection between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the NFL. CTE was previously only believed to affect boxers. After his suicide in 2007, Omalu examined Chris Benoit‘s brain and concluded that the disease exists among professional wrestlers. Despite the pending examination, Chyna’s former manager, Anthony Anzaldo, says that he doesn’t believe CTE was a factor in Chyna’s health or post-wrestling struggles.
Wrestlers Dying Young  
Sadly, wrestlers dying young is nothing new. Chyna joins the ranks of several others notables including Umaga, Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude – all dead before age 50. Our condolences go out to Joanie’s loved ones.

Crash Holly Death – Suicide

Crash Holly – Dead at 32 from an apparent suicide. Photo: wwe.com 1971-2003 (age 32)
During his time in the WWF, Crash Holly both enraged and engaged fans. Primarily used as comic relief, Crash Holly became somewhat of a legend during his relatively short career in the WWF. While many hoped that he would have a comeback, the eventual Crash Holly death came not long after his final WWF appearance. As the wrestler was only 32 years old, Crash Holly’s death shocked and saddened fans around the world and fellow wrestlers alike. 4 years prior to his death: Crash Holly makes his WWF debut (Raw, August 16, 1999)
Early Career
Michael Lockwood or Crash Holly as he would later become known was born on August 25, 1971 in Anaheim, California. By 1989, he was involved in wrestling, competing under a variety of aliases. Some of them included Johnny Pearson and Erin O’Grady “The Leprechaun.” After nearly 9 years in small organizations, he had the chance to audition for the WWF. He squared off against wrestler Vic Grimes. Ultimately, both received contracts and were admitted to the Power Pro Wrestling training program to prepare for entry into the WWF.
Mostly utilized for comic relief, Crash Holly played the small-in-stature but big-in-his-mind cousin of Hardcore Holly. Photo: wwe.com Time with the WWF
Michael Lockwood debuted as Crash Holly in the WWF in 1999 as the supposed cousin of Bob Hardcore Holly. From the start, Crash Holly brought fun to the ring. Although he only weighed 212 pounds and was just 5 foot 11 inches tall, he was announced as weighing well over 400 pounds when he would come to the ring. As a part of the gag, Crash would take a scale into the ring with him to try and prove that he could qualify to wrestle as a heavyweight. Although it was primarily intended for comic relief, the character still seemed to be over. Along with Hardcore Holly, Crash won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1999. Their partnership would prove to be short-lived. Soon, the pretend family members were bitter enemies. During his 4 years with the WWF, Crash won the WWF Hardcore Champion belt 22 times.
The End of a Career
Although Crash Holly had fans in the WWF, 2003 saw a number of new wrestlers entering the line-up. Interest in some of the newer wrestlers took off, and Michael Lockwood lost his place in the story lines. The problem was compounded by the WWF’s acquisition of the WCW. The acquisition brought many big name WCW wrestlers to the WWF and basically eliminated Crash Holly’s hopes of returning to the spotlight. In June, the newly formed WWE ended his contract. Crash Holly wrestled under the name “Mad Mikey” and made brief appearances in NWA Total Non-Stop Action (now known simply as TNA) and the Heartland Wrestling Association. Crash Holly defeats Test for the Hardcore Championship on the February 24, 2000 episode of SmackDown. Sadly, both men would be dead before 2010.
Circumstances Surrounding Crash Holly Death
The Crash Holly death occurred shortly after his final wrestling appearance with the Heartland Wrestling Association. His date of death was November 6, 2003. On the night of his death, Crash Holly was staying at the home of his dear friend, professional wrestler Stevie Richards. The house was located in Navarre, Florida. He was found dead, lying among empty bottles of pills and an empty bottle of alcohol in a pool of vomit. Police were called, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
On April 27, 2000 Crash Holly uses a trash can to help him win the Hardcore Championship and (literally) runs away with the belt on SmackDown! He would be dead 3 short years later. Photo: wwe.com The Cause of Crash Holly’s Death
After the Crash Holly death, a full investigation was launched. An autopsy was performed on the professional wrestler. It was determined that the Crash Holly death was caused by suicide with a deliberate overdose of more than one bottle of the muscle relaxant Carisoprodol and alcohol. There is no certain answer as to why the wrestling star chose to take his own life; however, his wife, N’keigh Wheeler, had recently filed for a divorce. Many believe the pending divorce and his failing career drove him to the act. Officially, the cause of death on the autopsy was listed as asphyxiation. This was because the Crash Holly death was technically caused by choking on vomit.
Celebrating and Honoring Crash Holly
Crash Holly’s family laid him to rest in China Grove in West Central, North Carolina. Although the Crash Holly death occurred before he could become a huge name in wrestling, his legacy lives on, and he remains well known among many fans of professional wrestling who remember his antics in the ring. A number of tributes have been paid to Lockwood. Fellow wrestling personality Nora Greenwald donated a portion of the profits from her 2005 autobiography CD to a fund established to pay for Crash Holly’s daughter’s education. The New Breed Wrestling Association held a wrestling tournament in his honor called the Mike Lockwood Memorial Tournament that same year. The Crash Holly death was among a number that was memorialized by a film clip reel that aired at ECW One Night Stand, held on June 12, 2005.
Crash Holly Grave Crash Holly’s grave is located at West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove, NC.
Crash Holly’s grave at West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove, NC. Photo: Garry Matthew Justice

Crush Death – Drug Overdose

Brian Adams aka Crush dies from a drug overdose at the age of 43. Photo: wwe.com 1964-2007 (age 43)
It’s not uncommon for wrestlers to reinvent themselves during the course of their careers, and Hawaiian born Brian Adams was no exception. With the WWF he was part of Demolition, the Disciples of Apocalypse stable, and possibly most remembered for his “Kona Crush” gimmick – the laid back surfer dude who feuded with Doink the Clown in the early 90s. Adams also spent time with WCW. Although he never saw huge success, Crush was a tag team championship winner with both World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. He had plans of retiring and leading a quiet life, but sadly he passed away at the young age of 43.
Crush’s Attitude-era gimmick as a member of the biker stable, The Disciples of Apocalypse. Photo: wwe.com A Shocking Prelude to the Crush Death Story
The news of Brian “Crush” Adam’s death would end up becoming a major news story in the world of sports but not because of Brian Adams’ level of fame. Less than 2 months before Crush passed away, wrestler Chris Benoit shocked the world by murdering his wife and his son and then killing himself in a rage first believed to be fueled by the use of anabolic steroids. In the wake of Chris Benoit’s death, the world of professional wrestling was being heavily scrutinized, setting the stage for further intrigue when Crush died shortly thereafter. Crush joins Demolition (June, 1990)
The Events of the Crush Death Story
Crush was forced to retire in 2003 after an injury. He collected on a Lloyds of London insurance policy and was working to open a gym to train professional wrestlers. In the years since Crush passed away, information has been shared about just what happened on the day of the wrestler’s death. Apparently, his wife awoke on August 13, 2007, to find Adams completely unconscious in bed. Frantic, she called for help, but paramedics were unable to revive him. Brian Adams was declared dead at his home in Tampa, Florida, at the age of 43.
Speculation Starts after the Crush Death News
Because Brian “Crush” Adams had seemingly been in good health, rumors started flying after he passed away. The news media has widely covered the case of Chris Benoit’s death and right away began making speculations about how Crush died. Many reporters either insinuated or outright stated that his death was potentially linked to anabolic steroid use. People began criticizing the world of professional wrestling. Many concluded that the WWE promoted drug use and did little or nothing to keep wrestlers from abusing drugs to bulk up.
The Cause of the Crush Death Story Revealed
Ultimately, the rumors about Crush’s death being tied to drug use were false. An autopsy performed by the coroner of Hillsborough County found that there were no signs that Crush had abused anabolic steroids on the day of his death or prior to his death. This is an interesting note, considering that in 1995 Adams served jail time for purchasing steroids. In the same arrest he was also charged with carrying an illegal firearm.
Crush’s heel gimmick in the mid 90s. It was around this time that he feuded with the late Randy Savage. Photo: wwe.com
The autopsy did find that Brian had the pain reliever buprenorphine in his system as well as the muscle relaxant carisoprodol and the sedatives alprazolam and chlordiazepoxide. In his report, the coroner stated that the doses of each drug were therapeutic and within dosing guidelines; however, the medications should not have been taken all at one time. Apparently, the cocktail of drugs suppressed Adam’s respiratory system.

Curt Hennig Death – Drug Overdose

Dead at 44 – Curt Hennig, known to wrestling fans as “Mr. Perfect” died from an accidental overdose of cocaine. Photo: wwe.com 1958-2003 (age 44)
Curt Hennig was undoubtedly one of the most beloved wrestling personalities in and out of the ring during his time with the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. The son of Larry “The Axe” Hennig, Curt came from Minnesota – a wrestling territory that also gave us greats like the late Rick Rude.
Curt Hennig before the “Mr. Perfect” gimmick. Here he takes on the late S.D. Jones at the LA Sports Arena (August 13, 1988). Photo: wwe.com
Over the course of his more than 20-year career, Curt won numerous titles, including the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. But it was the WWF where he would hit the national stage. Curt went on to win the Intercontinental Championship with the WWF, working under the gimmick that wrestling fans still fondly remember today as “Mr. Perfect”. Many people believed Hennig would wrestle long into his 50s, but ultimately, the Mr. Perfect death story would cut his career and his life tragically short.
The Events of the Mr. Perfect Death Story
In the early 2000s, Perfect signed with TNA and was making public appearances across the country. On the day of his death, February 10, 2003, he was set to face off against “The Iron Brit” Ian Harrison, at the Florida State Fair. Sadly, Hennig was discovered dead in his hotel room at 1:00 in the afternoon by a hotel housekeeper who came in to clean the room. The announcement left fans at the state fair and around the world shocked and saddened. 12 years before his death: Mr. Perfect takes on Tugboat for the IC Championship (May 4, 1991)
The Mr. Perfect Death Investigation
Being that Mr. Perfect was only 44 years old at the time of his death and was not known to have any health problems, suspicions and theories about how he died quickly arose after news of his death. An autopsy was ordered to determine the cause, and Mr. Perfect’s cause of death was ultimately ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine.
Curt Hennig at the LA Sports Arena (August 13, 1988). Photo: wwe.com
During the months that followed the conclusion of the death investigation, Mr. Perfect’s father, Larry Hennig, shared that his son was also abusing prescription painkillers and using steroids to add bulk to his 257-pound frame. Larry himself was a professional wrestler and appeared under the name Larry “The Axe” Hennig from 1956 to 1985.
Tributes to Curt Hennig after His Death
In the weeks following Mr. Perfect’s death, many of his friends like Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Ric Flair spoke to the press about Curt, saying what a good person he was. The WWE showed a video tribute with quotes from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on an episode of RAW, while TNA showed his singlet and a Photo of him during several match-ups. Macho Man Randy Savage wrote a song about Mr. Perfect and recorded it on his 2003 album “Be a Man.”
Carrying on the Hennig Legacy
Throughout the years, love for Mr. Perfect has never waned. Hennig was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in March 2007, and a DVD set about his life and career was issued by the WWE in September 2008. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame added Curt to their ranks in 2015. Carrying on Curt’s legacy as a top wrestler today are his two children, Joe and Amy, who both compete as professional wrestlers. Joe wrestles under the name Curtis Axel, combining the names of his father and his grandfather.
Curt Hennig Grave
Curt Hennig’s grave is located at Gethsemane Cemetery in New Hope, MN.
Curt Hennig’s grave at Gethsemane Cemetery in New Hope, MN. Photo: Stew Thornley

Davey Boy Smith – Heart Attack

“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith – Dead at 39 from a heart attack. Photo: wwe.com 1962-2002 (age 39)
Known as The British Bulldog and Davey Boy Smith in the ring, British wrestler David Smith made a name for himself as both an individual and tag team wrestler. He won the NWA Stampede International Tag Team Championship twice with Bruce Hart, the WWF European Championship twice, the WWF Hardcore Championship twice and many other titles over the course of his career. After his personal life spiraled out of control, the wrestler was forced into retirement. Although he had hoped to stage a comeback, Davey Boy Smith death would occur before he’d ever get the chance.
Drug Abuse Starts Davey Boy Smith Death Story
Long before the actual events of Davey Boy Smith death took place, David was already on the path to die at an early age. In order to add bulk to his 256-pound, 5-foot, 11-inch frame, the wrestler relied on anabolic steroids, which increased levels of testosterone in his body and likely placed a strain on his heart. In addition, he became addicted to painkillers in the late 90s. His addiction would end up costing him his marriage and forcing him to retire from the World Wrestling Federation to check himself into rehab in 2000. 10 years before his death: Bulldog takes on brother-in-law, Bret “Hitman” Hart for the Intercontinental Title. SummerSlam 1992, Wembley Stadium
The Death of Davey Boy Smith
Davey Boy Smith death story is particularly sad because it seems that David Smith was able to get his life back on track after rehab. While many other wrestlers who are addicted to drugs end up dying soon after they retire, David bounced back and reportedly had stopped using drugs. He began a relationship with Bruce Hart’s former wife Andrea Redding, and the two of them decided to take a vacation to Invermere in British Columbia, Canada, in May 2002. Sadly, on May 18th, Andrea woke up in the morning to find David dead beside her in bed. Although paramedics were called, it was too late to revive him. The former wrestler was just 39 years old.
Questioning Davey Boy Smith Death Story
Any time that a wrestler dies at a young age, the wrestling community is shocked, but fellow wrestlers and Davey’s family were particularly shocked at Davey Boy Smith death news. Not only had the former wrestler managed to get off drugs, but he was also working hard to get in shape for a comeback with the WWF. As soon as the news of his death broke, Davey’s father began calling for an autopsy, saying that his son was in good health and shouldn’t have died.
What the Autopsy Revealed
The coroner concluded that Davey Boy Smith suffered a major heart attack but found that he was not intoxicated with any substances at the time. The report did find evidence of past painkiller and anabolic steroid use, which led the coroner to conclude that prior drug use and stress played a role in his death. Even a year after the coroner’s report was released, Davey’s father was certain that his son had been murdered. No proof of foul play has ever surfaced. Davey Boy Smith was cremated. It’s not public knowledge who his ashes were given to.

David Von Erich Death – Unknown Causes

WCCW 1983: David Von Erich at the top of his game. He would be dead within 1 year. Photo: wwe.com 1958-1984 (age 25)
David Von Erich, the “Yellow Rose of Texas” was the first wrestler to pass away from the legendary Von Erich family. Throughout the early 80s, David was a regular main eventer in his father’s Texas-based promotion, WCCW. As as a singles competitor, David took part in notable feuds with Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin, and Ric Flair. Alongside his brothers, he was a fixture in the infamous Von Erich/Freebirds rivalry. David’s wrestling career seemed to be on the up and up. His skills in the ring were evident, as was his charisma. David received huge pops from the Sportatorium crowds, becoming a fan favorite.
David Von Erich Death
On February 10, 1984, David died while working in Japan. A star of WCCW, David Von Erich’s death has been widely speculated amongst fans and wrestling historians.
David Von Erich works Buddy Roberts. WCCW, 1983. Photo: wwe.com  
It was originally reported that David Von Erich died from a move gone wrong – particularly, a kick to the stomach. But it’s been rumored in wrestling circles that David’s death was actually the result of a drug overdose. Allegedly fellow wrestlers on the Japan trip didn’t want David’s family to learn about his drug overdose – especially worried about it upsetting David’s mother. It’s said that they used the move-gone-wrong story as a cover up for the drug overdose. Ric Flair backed up the drug overdose theory in his book, “To Be the Man”, released in 2004.
David Von Erich’s death is announced, followed by a 10 bell salute
Others have speculated that David died from a heart attack. On the surface, this theory seems unusual given David was only 25 years old at the time of his death. However, two weeks prior to his death, David entered a Corpus Christi emergency room after experiencing flu symptoms including dizziness. Following David Von Erich’s death, an eerily similar fate would play out over the years to follow for three more of the brothers – Mike, Chris, and Kerry respectively. All three committed suicide, prompting whispers of “the Von Erich Curse”.
Kevin Von Erich is the last surviving member of the Von Erich brothers.
David Von Erich’s grave at Grove Hill Memorial

Dick Murdoch Death – Heart Attack

Dick Murdoch – Dead at 49 from a heart attack. Photo: wwe.com 1947-1996 (Age 49)
Texas native Dick Murdoch was a top star during the territory era along with the national expansion era. Successful in both timeframes, Murdoch combined a mix of brawling and charisma, as a larger than life character that earned him the nickname “Captain Redneck” and “Dirty” Dick Murdoch.
Effective as a heel or a babyface, Murdoch was able to draw crowds wherever he worked.
On February 10, 1984, David died while working in Japan. A star of WCCW, David Von Erich’s death has been widely speculated amongst fans and wrestling historians.
Tag team partners: Dick Murdoch and Dusty Rhodes Texas Tough
Dick Murdoch was born on August 16, 1946. The son of wrestler Frankie Hill Murdoch, he grew up watching his father battle some of wrestling’s biggest names at the time including Dory Funk Sr. Murdoch grew up in Waxahachie, Texas, and like many wrestlers of his era, Murdoch was an exceptional high school athlete. Murdoch’s athletics skills found him courted by the University of Texas. However, Murdoch’s grades kept him from getting in so he played at West Texas State, a school where later wrestlers such as Bruiser Brody, Tito Santana, Tully Blanchard, Dory Funk Jr., and Terry Funk played at different times. Texas is also where Murdoch met Virgil Runnels, Jr., a future wrestling star and a man he would become famous with.
From Marine to Wrestler Dick Murdoch served in the Marines, returning home to become a professional wrestler.
Murdoch taught his friend Virgil Runnels, Jr. was in wrestling, working under the name Dusty Rhodes. The two formed a formidable tag team known as The Texas Outlaws, working as “Dirty” Dusty Rhodes and “Dirty” Dick Murdoch. The two became good friends and after a nine-year partnership in the ring, went their separate ways in wrestling, but remained lifelong friends. Murdoch used the brainbuster, a move reportedly taught to him by grappler “Killer” Karl Kox, and a move Murdoch perfected to become his most effective weapon in the ring. Murdoch’s brainbuster would become part of several historic angles, including the time he delivered a brainbuster to Ted DiBiase on the concrete floor after DiBiase earned what Murdoch felt should have been his title shot against NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. Another instance occurred when Murdoch hit the brainbuster (again on the concrete) on Nikita Koloff, injuring Koloff’s neck. Murdoch knew how to generate heel heat, but also how to portray a rough-around-the-edges hero when needed. Dick Murdoch worked a number of territories and toured overseas, including campaigns in Australia and Japan. “Captain Redneck” appeared in several films, including the 1974 version of The Wrestler, Paradise Alley, Grunt! The Wrestling Movie, and Manhattan Merengue. “Captain Redneck” worked a number of territories, building up a trophy room’s worth of championship gold and other honors. Murdoch competed in singles action in the WWF, battling champion Bob Backlund for the WWF’s top prize. While unsuccessful against Backlund, Murdoch teamed with Adrian Adonis to form “The North-South Connection”.
The duo eventually captured the WWF Tag Team Titles from Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas.
Murdoch was a top star in the territories, and as promotions such as the WWF and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) expanded to a national level, Murdoch was still a highly-sought after star. He also remained in demand overseas, touring in Japanese promotions.
Ties to the Ku Klux Klan?
Dick Murdoch was believed to be either affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan or an actual member of the white supremacist organization. Wrestling legend has it Murdoch once took Dusty Rhodes to a party, only for Rhodes to realize it was a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. In a 2014 interview, African-Canadian wrestler Rocky Johnson recalled, “”Because he [Murdoch] was KKK and didn’t like blacks, he kept kicking me hard and punching me,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘you hit me one more time, I’m hitting you back.’ He hit me, and I knocked him out.”
Dick Murdoch works the late Dr. Death Steve Williams
Regardless of where Murdoch’s beliefs may have landed, he worked with many African-American wrestlers and was booked in Mid-South Wrestling by African-American legend Ernie “The Cat” Ladd. Murdoch had a popular team with the Junkyard Dog in Mid-South as well. Some have claimed Murdoch’s beliefs were not hatred towards other ethnicities, but a belief in separation of them i.e. supporting anti-miscegenation laws. While some may say it was a matter of being “a different time and place back then,” I think it’s safe to say the KKK rumors tainted Murdoch’s legacy.
Always Busy  
Even as his wrestling career slowed down, Murdoch kept busy, keeping active in rodeo events and running his own bar, “Dirty” Dick’s Dive. Murdoch participated in anti-drug campaigns for the Elks’ Lodge clubs in Texas. He would also make occasional wrestling appearances, including the 1995 Royal Rumble and a “Legends Match” at that year’s Slamboree. Dick Murdoch had just worked a rodeo when he suffered a massive heart attack, dying at age 49 on June 15, 1996. He was survived by one child and his cousin, wrestler Tim Brooks. Dick Murdoch is buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Amarillo, Texas.

Dick Murdoch’s grave in Amarillo, Texas

 

Dick Slater Death – Unknown Causes

Dick Slater – Dead at 67. 1951-2018 (Age 67)
Long before there was “The Lunatic Fringe,” there was “Dirty” Dick Slater, a roughhouse redneck who brawled in and out of the ring; proving he didn’t live his gimmick – he was his gimmick. Slater established himself as one of the baddest men in wrestling during his heyday in the territories in the 1970s and 1980s, eventually retiring due to a back injury in 1996. However, Slater’s wild ways continued long after he left the ring, with some surprised he made it to the age of 67.
A Common Beginning for an Uncommon Man  
Florida native Richard Van Slater showed his toughness wrestling and playing football at the University of Tampa, playing alongside future grappling great Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff. Recruited by wrestler Mike Graham, Slater (like many athletes) heard the siren call of quick cash and entered the squared circle. Before he knew it, he was teaming with stars such as Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Dick Murdoch, Jimmy Golden, and Greg Valentine working in promotions such as Championship Wrestling from Florida, Jim Crockett Promotions, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and Mid-South Wrestling. Dick Slater continued working as territories went national, campaigning briefly in the WWF as “The Rebel” and on multiple occasions in Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) and WCW.
A Different Age
Professional wrestling has always lived in its own world and Dick Slater worked at a time when public sensibilities were much different than now. Proud to be a Southerner, Slater used his Southern heritage as part of his gimmick, including the Confederate flag. A talented worker, he proved equally talented at brawling as well as technical wrestling. Slater was involved in many high-profile angles, including one in JCP where he collected NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race’s bounty on challenger “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Slater would team with “Cowboy” Bob Orton to kayfabe break “Slick” Ric’s neck with a devastating spike piledriver, just one of many heinous acts on Slater’s resume as a heel.
Dick Slater battles Ric Flair. NWA – July 10, 1989.  
“Dirty Dick’s” life included some bizarre wrestling-related incidents. Slater was accidentally shot by colleague Wahoo McDaniel after the Native American legend pistol-whipped a fan who’d drawn a knife on wrestler Tommy Rich. Unfortunately for Slater, McDaniel’s gun accidentally discharged, hitting Slater. Dick Slater was also known for his brutality outside the ring. According to one account, Slater was working with Sting in Bill Watt’s Mid-South Wrestling when he punched out a young Sting, dunking Sting’s head into a toilet for Sting’s alleged alliance with Dark Journey. Unfortunately, this would pale in comparison to Slater’s most notorious incident out of the ring. In December 2003, Slater was accused of stabbing his girlfriend Theresa Halbert with a butcher’s knife. Slater was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to one year of house arrest, two years’ probation, ordered to stay away from Halbert, and assessed with $18,000 in restitution.
Dick Slater Death  
Despite a wild life, Dick Slater lived to the age of 67, passing away on October 18, 2018. Health problems plagued Slater during the later years of his life and he was confined to a wheelchair. Nonetheless, he didn’t regret his wrestling career, often speaking fondly of his time in the ring. Slater had several brothers and sisters and one daughter.

Dick the Bruiser Death – Internal Bleeding

Dick the Bruiser (left) – Dead at 62 after suffering internal bleeding. 1929-1991 (Age 62)
Richard Afflis earned his nickname “The Bruiser” while playing professional football, but he would become better known in the world of professional wrestling as “Dick the Bruiser,” a gravely-voiced fire hydrant who well, bruised his opponents. Dick the Bruiser was a regular star in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) as well as his own promotion, the World Wrestling Association (WWA). Long before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin entertained fans with his beer-drinking and brawling, there was Dick the Bruiser, a cigar-smoking, beer-drinking roughneck. Whether he wrestled in singles action, or in his famous team with the Crusher, Dick the Bruiser entertained wrestling fans wherever he laced up a pair of boots.
From Green Bay Packer to Midwest Mauler
Dick the Bruiser and his tag team partner Crusher Lisowski Richard Afflis was born on June 27, 1929 in Lafayette, Indiana.
The future wrestling legend developed a reputation for roughing up opponents on the gridiron, playing college football for Purdue and Nevada. During the early 1950’s, Afflis played as an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers where his propensity for punishing opponents earned him the nickname, “The Bruiser.” Afflis injured his esophagus during his football career, resulting in his trademark gravelly voice. Afflis eventually jumped to wrestling. The move paid off both figuratively and literally. Afflis became a wrestling sensation, rivaling Buddy Rogers as wrestling’s top heel. Dick the Bruiser was known for his toughness and brawling style, along with his determination to steamroll over all opponents. Bruiser won the National Wrestling Alliance’s Detroit version of the United States Championship on multiple occasions. Although he wrestled as a heel, Bruiser had his share of fans. Similar to how Steve Austin got himself over in the late 90s, some wrestling fans couldn’t help but admire the one-of-a-kind no-nonsense brawler. Over time, the Bruiser became a celebrity in the Midwest.
A heel who was rivaled by very few: Dick the Bruiser A One-Man Army
Dick the Bruiser was a natural heel with his gravely voice, burly body, and ability to administer and receive tremendous amounts of punishment. Unfortunately, the Bruiser’s temper and lack of restraint got him into trouble from time to time. One such incident occurred in Capitol Wrestling (the precursor to the WWWF) at Madison Square Garden. On November 20, 1957, Dick the Bruiser teamed with Dr. Jerry Graham to take on the beloved babyface duo of Antonino Rocca and Edouard Carpentier. The two heels (particularly the Bruiser) enraged the Garden fans by beating the babyfaces mercilessly. Finally, the fans could stand no more and a full-scale riot broke out. Reportedly, over 300 people were hurt, including law enforcement. Needless to say, the New York State Athletic Commission was upset and Capitol Wrestling nearly got kicked out of the Garden. The Commission imposed several punishments, one of which was banning Dick the Bruiser from New York indefinitely. Undaunted, Bruiser became involved in another infamous incident several years later.
One of Dick the Bruiser’s regular opponents, Dusty Rhodes.
Back when kayfabe was king, and wrestlers protected the business’ worked nature like atomic secrets, it was difficult to determine fact from fiction. In 1963, Dick the Bruiser was involved in an angle with NFL star Alex Karras to set up a match between the two. Dick the Bruiser was supposed to brawl with Karras at Lindell’s bar, a drinking establishment co-owned by Karras and the Butsicaris brothers. What was supposed to be a worked shoot turned into a real-life donnybrook when one of the Butsicaris boys’ uncles attacked Dick the Bruiser, unaware the event was staged? Dick the Bruiser proceeded to destroy the bar as well a number of police officers who showed up to the melee. In the end, eight officers subdued Dick the Bruiser. The Bruiser/Karras match was held with Dick the Bruiser prevailing. Unfortunately for the Bruiser, whatever profits he made from the match had to cover the $50,000 in damages for the two policemen he injured.
Singles and Tag Team Success
In 1964 Dick the Bruiser and Wilbur Snyder purchased the NWA’s Indianapolis promotion, renaming it the World Wrestling Association (WWA). The WWA shared talent with Verne Gagne’s AWA and the WWA continued operations until 1989. The WWA featured a number of wrestling’s top stars as well as future stars such as Scott Steiner and Al Snow. Dick the Bruiser worked in the AWA, battling the promotion’s Verne Gagne as well as a variety of other babyfaces. The Bruiser won the promotion’s World Heavyweight Championship, defeating “Mad Dog” Vachon on November 12, 1966 for a seven-day reign before dropping the title back to “Mad Dog.”
Dick the Bruiser formed a rugged team with his brawling doppelganger, the Crusher.
The two battled some of the AWA’s toughest and craftiest teams, including the Texas Outlaws (Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdoch). The duo also routinely battled Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwinkel, Blackjack Lanza and Bobby Duncum, and Larry “The Ax” Hennig and Harley Race. Dick the Bruiser and the Crusher would hold the AWA World Tag Team Championship five times, for a combined reign of 1,325 days.
A Fitness Fanatic to the End
Although Dick the Bruiser retired from wrestling, he maintained a robust workout regimen, lifting weights and performing calisthenics. Sadly, a workout is believed to have caused his death after he ruptured a blood vessel in his esophagus while weightlifting, subsequently bleeding to death on November 10, 1991. Mr. Afflis was 62 years old at the time of his passing. He is buried at the Washington Park North Cemetery in its Garden of Resurrection Mausoleum in Indianapolis, Indiana. After the loss of Bruiser, several other notable wrestling stars passed away in the 90s including Art Barr, Buddy Rogers, Bobo Brazil, Dick Murdoch, Eddie Gilbert and Kerry Von Erich.
Dick the Bruiser’s grave in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo: Chrystal Anders