Fallen Soldiers Gone But Not Forgotten Full List Of Deceased Wrestlers 09
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.
Pink the Clown Death – Surgery Complications
Richard Trogdon, known for his short run in the WWF as Doink the Clown’s dwarf teammate Pink, has passed away after suffering from health issues related to his back. Photo: wwe.com
1973-2012 (Age 39)
Richard Trogdon may not be a household name in wrestling circles, but Ric, as he was known to friends and family, played a part in a well known storyline during the WWF’s New Generation era.
Trogdon wrestled as “Pink”.
Pink, along with Dink and Wink, was one of three dwarf wrestlers who accompanied Doink the Clown to the ring in 1994. The group took part in a comedy-driven feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler and his “Royal Family” which consisted of three dwarf sidekicks – Queasy, Sleazy, and Cheesy, respectively.
Clowns R’ Us (Pink is pictured far right) took on The Royal Family at 1994’s Survivor Series. Photo: wwe.com
1994 Survivor Series
Richard Trogdon’s portrayal of one of Doink’s sidekicks, Pink, culminated at the 1994 Survivor Series. Dubbed Clowns R’ us, the quartet consisting of Doink the Clown and his sidekicks Pink, Dink, and Wink, took on The Royal Family. The Royal Family got the win at Survivor Series, but the celebration was short lived for Lawler.
Not wanting his teammates stealing any of the glory for the victory, The King berated his team, only to have them turn on him. Pink and Wink were hiding under the ring after being eliminated, resulting in six dwarfs chasing Lawler around the ring.
A Photo dated 3/4/2005 found on Richard Trogdon’s MySpace page. Photo: myspace.com
Lawler was eventually met in the aisle by Doink, who delivered a pie to his face. The storyline was used as a comedy spot. King’s teammate Cheesy passed away in 2017.
It’s important to note that the original (heel) Doink the Clown character was portrayed by Matt Osborne who passed in 2013. The majority of Doink’s face-run (including all of 1994’s programming with Pink) was not played by Osborne, but by Ray Apollo.
The feud between Doink and Lawler continued into 1995. Here on an episode of the Action Zone, Pink and Dink take on Sleazy and Cheesy
Richard Trogdon’s Death
Sadly, Trogdon would not make it to 40, passing away on December 16, 2012 at the young age of 39. Family members have publicly stated that he suffered from “back and body issues” – presumably complications from dwarfism.
Richard Trogdon with a family member in an undated Photo. Photo: myspace.com
Though his health issues were evident prior to getting involved in professional wrestling, Trogdon’s family noted wrestling making his condition worse – no surprise given the bumps that professional wrestlers take night in and night out on the canvas.
The Cauliflower Alley Club notes that Trogdon lived with chronic pain in the final years of his life, undergoing three spinal surgeries.
Ultimately, when contemplating whether to go through with another surgery, Trogdon died from complications stemming from his prior back issues.
Richard Trogdon’s Family Life
Little is known about Trogdon’s life outside the ring. Online sources indicate he left behind at least two children.
Information about Trogdon’s wrestling career (outside his run with the WWF in the mid 90s) is also scarce, though his daughter has stated online that he worked under the ring name Mighty Doom prior to signing with the World Wrestling Federation. According to the Cauliflower Alley Club, Trogdon worked the Northeast independents, carving out a niche as a part timer. Our condolences to the friends and family of Richard Trogdon.
Professor Tanaka Death – Heart Attack
Charles Kalani Jr., known to wrestling fans as Professor Toru Tanaka, has died at age 70
1930-2000 (Age 70)
The man who entered the halls of wrestling legend as the Japanese villain “Professor” Toru Tanaka was actually a Hawaiian native. Tanaka would team with another Hawaiian-turned-Japanese villain, Mr. Fuji, terrorizing the WWWF during the 1970’s.
Tanaka was a frequent offender in the WWWF battling the promotion’s most beloved babyfaces in singles and tag team action.
Tanaka appears on set for ‘The Perfect Weapon’ (1991)
Tanaka was also a Hollywood regular, with 46 film and TV credits according to the Internet Movie Database.
Although Tanaka seemed to always play a villain, he was loved behind the scenes as one of wrestling’s kindest souls, despite a reputation as a legit tough man.
Charles Kalani was born on January 6, 1930 and began studying jiu-jitsu in 1939 (eventually earning the rank of Danzan-Ryu Black Belt). A troubled youth, Kalani reportedly turned his life around under the direction of his high school football coach, Rev. Kenneth Bray.
Kalani played football in high school and at Weber Junior College in Ogden, Utah.
Kalani was subsequently drafted into the Army and stayed there for the next ten years, earning the rank of sergeant.
Enter the Villain
After serving in the Army, Kalani entered the world of professional wrestling, taking on the identity of the villainous “Professor” Toru Tanaka, the stereotypical Japanese villain with the requisite knowledge of martial arts to torture opponents.
Tanaka employed a combination of power skills, martial arts, and his feared Japanese sleeper submission hold.
Tanaka was wrestling in Australia when World-Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) champion Bruno Sammartino saw him and took notice. Sammartino suggested WWWF owner Vince McMahon Sr. hire him and soon, Tanaka was working in the WWWF.
Tanaka challenged Sammartino for the WWWF championship and also formed a much-dreaded tag team with the late Gorilla Monsoon. However, it would be with another Hawaiian star that earned Tanaka his first piece of championship gold in the WWWF.
On June 1, 1969, “Professor” Tanaka won the short-lived WWWF International Tag Team Championship with Mitsu Arakawa (yet another Hawaiian wrestler billed from Japan), holding the belts until December 9, 1969.
Professor Tanaka and Mr. Fuji won WWWF tag team gold in 1972.
Another Hawaiian wrestler proved an even more successful teammate for Tanaka – the late Mr. Fuji.
In 1972, Mr. Fuji (aka Harry Fujiwara) joined the WWWF, teaming with Professor Tanaka under the guidance of manager The Grand Wizard.
The two heels both shared the notorious habit of throwing a handful of salt into an opponent’s eyes at the right moment; a tactic that helped both men win more than a few matches. On June 27, 1972, Fuji and Tanaka won their first WWWF Tag Team Championship, defeating Sonny King and “Chief” Jay Strongbow.
The evil duo’s eagerness to ensure their opponents got their daily recommended allowance of salt culminated in a legendary showdown. The hot summer of 1972 proved even hotter during a taping of Championship Wrestling where Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka battled WWWF World Champion Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino.
During the match, Fuji blinded both Morales and Sammartino with salt, leading to Morales and Sammartino mistaking each other for their opponents. By the time order had been restored, Morales and Sammartino wanted to fight each other, leading to the first Showdown at Shea supercard. After making amends, Morales and Sammartino challenged Fuji and Tanaka unsuccessfully for tag team gold.
Fuji and Tanaka maintained a stranglehold on the WWWF Tag Team championship, reigning for 337 days, and that was only their first reign.
After losing the belts to Haystacks Calhoun and Tony Garea, Fuji and Tanaka regained the belts. Although their second reign only lasted 64 days, they were far from finished.
Fuji and Tanaka found success in Georgia Championship Wrestling, winning the promotion’s tag team championship before returning to the WWWF in 1977. Now under the management of “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Fuji and Tanaka struck WWWF gold for a third and final time in the WWWF winning the WWWF tag straps on September 27, 1977 and holding them until March 14, 1978. The two heels exited the WWWF, but continued winning tag team championships in regional promotions before they parted ways in 1979.
From Ring Villain to Screen Villain
Professor Toru Tanaka retired from the squared circle in the early 80’s, making a successful transition to Hollywood. Tanaka appeared in a number of films and TV shows including the A-Team, Missing in Action 2, The Running Man, Black Rain, Darkman, 3 Ninjas, and Last Action Hero. On August 22, 2000, Kalani died in Lake Forest, California from a heart attack at the age of 70.
5 years before his death, Professor Tanaka with fellow Hawaii native David Nuuhiwa Sr. at the Shoshin Ryu reunion (1995)
Charlie Kalani was survived by his wife Doris, daughters Cheryle Kalani and Karen Kalani-Beck, son Carl, sisters Jeanette and Charlene, Brother Robert, and six grandchildren. Per Kalani’s wishes, his ashes were scattered off the Hawaiian coast. What are your favorite memories of “Professor” Toru Tanaka? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below.
Randy Anderson Death – Cancer
1959-2002 (Age 42)
A good referee can play an important part in any wrestling match, but it’s a challenge to do so without bringing attention to oneself. WCW official Randy “Pee Wee” Anderson was one such referee, adding a subtle level of excitement to his matches, yet keeping himself in the background.
Later in life, Anderson showed tremendous personal courage during his battle with cancer.
Growing Up with a Future Wrestling Legend
Battle of the referees: Randy Anderson enters the ring on the Feb. 17, 1997 episode of Monday Nitro to take on Nick Patrick. Photo: wwe.com
Randy Anderson grew up in the small town of Rome, Georgia with a friend named Marty Lunde. Both were diehard fans of professional wrestling and joined their high school wrestling teams. At 119 pounds, Anderson went on to win the state wrestling title. Anderson and Lunde attended wrestling school together, but Randy pursued a career as a referee as he was too small to wrestle professionally. Both men got their first break working in Mid-South Wrestling.
Randy would continue refereeing and Lunde would change his name to Arn Anderson, joining the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with kayfabe relative Ole Anderson and founding the Four Horsemen.
Randy Anderson’s reputation as a good referee led to Jim Crockett Promotions hiring him. When Ted Turner bought the promotion and renamed it World Championship Wrestling, Anderson stayed on.
Randy Anderson not only was a good official but he proved capable of protecting wrestlers when fans jumped into the ring:
While wrestlers could protect themselves, they couldn’t always see a fan jumping into the ring.
Anderson would referee some of WCW’s biggest matches, including the 1996 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view where Hulk Hogan turned heel and formed the New World Order.
Anderson also participated in a memorable angle during the nWo’s battle with WCW. Anderson refused to join the nWo when they took over Monday Night Nitro. Randy Anderson defied nWo authority figure Eric Bischoff when he made the count during the Steiner Brothers vs. Outsiders match at 1997’s Souled Out pay-per-view after nWo referee Nick Patrick had been knocked out. Bischoff would force “Pee Wee” to wrestle Nick Patrick for his job, with Anderson ultimately prevailing.
Looking at Life Differently
In 1997, Randy Anderson discovered he had testicular cancer. He fought the disease courageously, enduring radiation treatment and the removal of one of his testicles.
Randy Anderson’s battle with cancer led to his reassessing his life. In a 1997 interview with Mike Mooneyham, Anderson discussed how the battle made him closer to God. He also added, “I was in cancer row. That’s an elite group of people. It (the experience) really changed my life. It woke me up. It made me feel kinder to people. It makes me look at little words like hope and makes me enjoy my kids more. I see things in a different way. Instead of walking by people, I stop and give them a couple of minutes.”
Randy Anderson Death
Randy Anderson retired from wrestling in 1999 as his testicular cancer resurfaced. On May 6, 2002, Randy Anderson died after his long bout with cancer. He was 42. Anderson was survived by his wife Kristy, and their two children – daughter Montana and son Chase. Randy is buried at Rome Memorial Park South in Rome, Georgia.
Randy Anderson’s grave in Rome, Georgia. Photo: e-jones
Randy Savage Death – Heart Disease
“Macho Man” Randy Savage dies at 58 from heart failure. Photo: wwe.com
1952-2011 (age 58)
On May 20, 2011, fans around the world mourned the loss of the charismatic “Macho Man”. Known to friends and family as simply Randy Poffo, Randy was recognized worldwide by his famous wrestling alias “Macho Man” Randy Savage. His long time valet in the ring, Miss Elizabeth passed away in 2007.
Randy Savage’s death seemed surreal. The legendary wrestler was unstoppable in his career. A career which spanned 30 years with over 20 title runs.
Savage passed away from heart failure. At the time, he was driving, his wife Lynn Payne beside him. They were traveling in his Jeep Wrangler in Seminole, FL, and community close to Tampa. Major news outlets including ABC, CBS and Fox cover the death of “Macho Man” Randy Savage
When Savage became unresponsive while behind the wheel that morning, his foot laid on the gas pedal, and the Jeep went out of control. The vehicle crossed a Florida State Route 694 raised highway median into eastbound lanes and crashed head-on into a tree. The incident occurred at about 9:25 am and happened near 113th Street North, which is in Pinellas County.
What astounded Savage’s fans, as well as his family, and friends was how young Savage was at the time he passed away. He was only 58 years old. Then again, many wrestlers never make it to 50.
Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam ’92. 80,000 fans jam packed Wembley Stadium. Photo: wwe.com
Randy Savage Cause of Death
Rumors first swirled that the cause of Randy Savage’s death was a car accident. Initial reports of his demise attributed it to the Jeep’s collision with the tree. While there was indeed a car crash, the actual cause of death was ruled to be a result of heart disease – essentially, Savage’s heart quit.
Further evidence that the cause of death was not the car accident itself was that the impact of the Jeep Wrangler colliding with the tree did not have enough force to activate the Jeep’s airbags.
Savage was rushed to Largo Medical Center, where he was ultimately pronounced dead. Physical injuries to his wife Lynn were considered minor.
Savage’s autopsy revealed traces of alcohol and Vicodin, a prescription painkiller. But his blood alcohol limit was below the legal limit and the medication was deemed to be at a non-abusive level.
Fans leave flowers and notes around the tree where Randy Savage died. Photo: bleacherreport
The autopsy concluded that Randy’s heart was the culprit. His heart stopped beating; atherosclerotic heart disease being the official cause of death.
The Pinellas-Pasco County medical examiner’s office determined that Macho Man had an enlarged heart and coronary artery disease that was in advanced stages. His arteries were 90 percent narrowed.
The famous wrestler had never been treated for heart disease, which led many people in the public to conclude that he did not know about his heart condition. It was likely undiagnosed. On that fateful morning, however, Savage had said to his wife that he was not feeling well.
Did Randy Savage Predict His Own Death?
Keith Elliot Greenberg, a wrestling writer who chronicled Macho Man’s final days, notes that Savage requested his ashes to be scattered in the same location as his dog, Hercules. The dog was given to Savage from the late Hercules Hernandez, a wrestler who passed in 2004. What comes as the biggest surprise is that Savage made this request just ten days prior to his death.
According to Greenberg, the Poffo family was gathering at Randy’s property in Largo, FL for Mothers Day. In the days prior, Randy called his mother and made an odd request. He asked his mother to bring Hercules’ urned remains. She agreed, and when the family met on Mothers Day, Randy instructed his brother, Lanny Poffo, to pour out the remains near a tree on his property. Hesitating, Lanny questioned Randy on why he should do it, noting “it’s not my dog.”
Randy responded, “I want you to do it. If anything happens, I want you to do the same thing with my ashes, the same way, and the same place. If it’s good enough for Hercules, it’s good enough for me.” Randy died ten days later. Per his request, Randy was cremated; his ashes poured in the same location as Hercules’.
Paying Tribute to Macho Man
While he had always had tense relations with Vince McMahon, the wrestler was paid tribute by McMahon following his death. McMahon said in a Time magazine article that Savage was one of the all-time greats in the wrestling world.
“Today, Randy is remembered as one of wrestling’s all-time greats. No question about it–he certainly was.” -Vince McMahon
Hall of Fame
During his lifetime, Randy “Macho Man” Savage was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Fans often remarked that Savage was “snubbed” – stemming from his personal issues with Vince McMahon.
Things finally changed in 2015.
On January 12, 2015, Savage’s family and fans around the world learned via a WWE announcement that the wrestler would be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Savage was the first inductee announced into the 2015 Hall. The official induction took place on March 28, 2015. “Macho Man” Randy Savage finally enters the Hall, albeit posthumously (2015)
Career Highlights of Randy Savage
Over several decades, Savage’s career included winning several notable titles. He was a WWF Intercontinental and two-time WWF Heavyweight Champion, and four-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
From his humble debut in 1973 as “The Spider” to his retirement in 2005, Macho Man was a major draw in the wrestling world. He had the star power to rival Hulk Hogan. Fans will remember him for not only his in-ring skills, but mostly for his charisma. Even non-wrestling fans recognize the Macho Man’s brightly colored costumes, over-sized glasses, and trademark raspy voice – notably in his infamous Slim Jim commercials. Endorsement deals stretching beyond the ring: In one of the most recognizable wrestler/product collaborations of the 90s, the Macho Man tells us to snap into a Slim Jim
We’ll miss you Savage – dig it!
Rick McGraw Death – Heart Attack
Rick Mcgraw died at the young age of 30, suffering from a heart attack believed to have been caused from steroid abuse andabusing the drug Placidyl. Photo: wwe.com
1955-1985 (Age 30)
Journeyman wrestler Rick McGraw found his career defined as much by the circumstances involving his death as his actual career. McGraw enjoyed modest success in the territories and seemed destined for a good run in the WWF as one of its top enhancement talents. However, a sudden heart attack took his life at age 30, shocking the wrestling world and leading to rampant speculation about the true circumstances of his death.
Starting Off in Florida
Born in 1955, Rick McGraw first entered the squared circle in 1976, beginning in Florida, and eventually traveling to territories such as Continental Wrestling, the World Wrestling Association, and Jim Crockett Promotions.
A memorable run in Memphis saw McGraw team with Troy Graham as “The New York Dolls,” a heel team that led to the creation of “The Fabulous Ones” when babyface Jackie Fargo claimed the Dolls had ripped off his “Fabulous Fargos” gimmick.
Rick McGraw on the receiving end in a battle against Paul Orndoff. Tuesday Night Titans, 1984. Photo: wwe.com
McGraw enjoyed success in the WWF, with legendary babyface manager Arnold Skaaland taking McGraw on as a client for a time. McGraw worked mostly as enhancement talent, but like “Special Delivery” Jones, he was “a jobber to the stars,” the best at making opponents look good. One such incident involved McGraw involved in an injury angle where monster heel Killer Khan broke his neck. McGraw’s ability to sell a beating would lead to one of wrestling’s greatest urban legends.
A Taunt Turns Tragic
In fall of 1985, McGraw participated in a high-profile angle where he confronted Roddy Piper on the set of “Piper’s Pit,” demanding to know why Piper never wrestled on television.
McGraw’s insinuation that Piper was afraid to fight was enough to provoke Piper into wrestling, but it also would have consequences in the ring. The next week, Piper wrestled McGraw (who antagonized Piper by wearing a “Hot Rod” shirt identical to Piper’s, then blew his nose in it).
McGraw showcased his abilities to make other stars look good, delivering offense to Piper to make it seem like he was a worthy opponent, then selling as Piper inflicted punishment on McGraw, including neckbreakers, suplexes, and even DDT’s. Piper pummeled McGraw, leading to a match stoppage by the referee. Piper taunted the fans, proclaiming, “Now you know why they don’t let me wrestle on television.”
Rick McGraw’s Unexpected Death Causes Controversy
Rick McGraw at Madison Square Garden, October 22, 1984. Photo: wwe.com
n November 1, 1985, not long after the match aired in WWF syndication, McGraw passed away at the young age of 30, leading some fans to speculate Roddy Piper beat McGraw to death. Keep in mind this was before Vince McMahon declared wrestling was “sports entertainment” so it’s easy to understand why fans suspected McGraw died from his beatdown.
The reality is McGraw died from a heart attack, the cause believed to have been due to steroid abuse or from abusing the drug Placidyl. Notably, Bret Hart wrote about how he saw McGraw abuse Placidyls in his book. Sadly, drug abuse linked to wrestler deaths would become even more prevalent into the 90s and 2000s.
Remembering Rick McGraw
Rick McGraw may not have been a main eventer, but his feud with Roddy Piper is still well remembered from fans of WWF’s golden era. Roddy Piper main evented a benefit show to help McGraw’s family. Rick McGraw is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Rick McGraw’s grave, located at Evergreen Cemetery in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: findagrave.com
Rick Rude Death – Heart Failure
Rick Rude dead at age 40 from heart failure. Photo: wwe.com
1958-1999 (age 40)
Cut the music!
What I’d like to have right now… is for all you fat, out of shape, no good internet trolls, to keep the noise down, while I take my robe off and show the ladies what a real sexy man looks like. *cue saxophones*
*Crowd boos profusely*
Rick Rude was a special character. Arguably, no heel since him has been able to truly piss off the crowd quite like the Ravishing One.
Rick Rude’s WWE character was of course well known for his arrogance and womanizing ways. A master of the mic, Rude was one of the most believable heels of his time.
What separated Rude from his counterparts was that his in-ring ability matched his charisma. While guys like Hogan and Warrior were as over as ever in the late 80s, they didn’t exactly have the in-ring skills of some of their midcard contemporaries. Rude had it all.
As skilled on the mic as he was in the ring. Rude cuts one of his classic promos at WrestleMania V. Photo: wwe.com
Outside of the ring, Rick was a much different man, devoted to his wife and three children. In fact, he was so committed to his family that he would cover his wedding ring up with tape while in the ring rather than remove it when playing his character.
It’s no surprise that Rick Rude’s death left the wrestling world and fans stunned. Rude was widely loved by his fellow wrestlers. Even after his untimely death, which we’ll get to below, he remains one of the most respected performers to step foot in the ring.
Rick Rude’s Early Life
Richard Rood, who would later become known by the wrestling name Rick Rude, was born in St. Peter, Minnesota, on December 7, 1958. Rick attended high school with a number of other guys who would go on to become professional wrestlers, including Curt Hennig.
Prior to getting into wrestling, Rick attended college and earned a degree in physical education. He would end up a pro wrestler before he would ever set foot into a classroom.
Like many professional wrestlers from his era, Rick Rude began wrestling in territories, capturing a number of titles during the early 80s. These included the Mid-South Tag Team Championships, and Florida World Heavyweight Championship.
In 1986, Rude and Manny Fernandez won the World Class Wrestling Association World Tag Team Championships, defeating the Rock ‘n Roll Express.
Arguably one of Rude’s most memorable feuds in the WWF was with the late Ultimate Warrior. Photo: wwe.com
A Move to the WWF
Managed by Bobby Heenan, Rick Rude made his WWF debut in 1987. From his very first appearance, Rick Rude captured fans’ attention by chasing the girlfriends and wives of his competitors and boasting about his skills. Rude became a heat magnet – a perfect contrast to the babyfaced stars during the Hulkamania era.
On May 2, 1989, Rude won the WWF Intercontinental Champion belt by defeating The Ultimate Warrior. The story line continued through the summer with Warrior finally reclaiming the belt by the end of August.
While Rude was on the up and up on a professional level, he was also a well known drug user, including the use of steroids. Back in the 80s, and into the 90s, this wasn’t exactly an uncommon theme in the wrestling world.
Rude Rude moves to WCW
In 1991, Rick Rude moved from the WWF to WCW, where he was a part of the Dangerous Alliance that included the likes of Stunning Steve Austin, Madusa, and Paul E. Dangerously.
6 years before his death: Rude wins the International Heavyweight title at Fall Brawl 1993, defeating Ric Flair. Rick Rude holds the record for most WCW International World Heavyweight Championships
A Career Ending Injury
Although Rick Rude was considered a success in WCW, his career was cut short due to a neck injury. He ultimately had to forfeit his title in 1994 as he was unable to return to the ring. The story line had it that Rude was found to be cheating by using his championship belt as a weapon.
In a highly controversial move, Rude appears on (a previously taped) Raw and Nitro on the same night. WWE wasn’t aware of Rude’s signing to WCW. Photo: wwe.com
No longer able to wrestle, Rude was able to collect on a Lloyd’s of London insurance policy to pay for his expenses. In the late 90s, Rick made a number of WWF and WCW appearances, but he never wrestled again. He briefly joined Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna as a bodyguard for one of the original incarnations of Degeneration X.
Long-time friend Bret Hart credits Rude as helping him make the jump over to WCW.
In 1998, it was said that Rude had been adamantly training in hopes of getting back into the ring. Sadly, that goal would never come to fruition.
Rick Rude Death
Rick Rude’s death occurred on April 20, 1999. He was only 40 years old. He was living in Alpharetta, Georgia at the time.
An autopsy was done to determine caused Rick Rude’s death. The cause of death was listed as heart failure. Because there was empty prescription bottles found in his home, it’s widely discussed that Rude’s heart failure was due to a drug overdose, though this hasn’t been confirmed publicly.
Given the stories of Rick Rude’s past drug abuse, combined with the fact that he was battling injuries and hoping to make a comeback in the ring, sadly, a drug overdose is not far fetched. Whether it was a particularly heavy amount of drugs that was taken just prior to his death has been speculated, but many note that Rick’s lifestyle simply may have caught up to him.
Rick Rude’s grave at Green Lawn Cemetery in Roswell, GA. Photo: Kent Brown
Rick Rude Grave, Family
Rick Rude’s funeral services were held on April 24, 1999 at the Roswell Funeral Home in Roswell, GA. His grave is located at Green Lawn Cemetery in Roswell, GA. A memorial bench is located next to his grave, dedicated by Rick’s three children. Sadly, Rick’s son, Colton Rood, passed away in 2016. He was killed in a motorcycle accident on September 3rd in Armuchee, GA. He was only 19 years old.
Remembering Rick Rude After His Death
A memorial bench in Rick’s honor, located next to his grave. Photo: Marietta Urton
After Rude’s death, a number of professional wrestlers spoke out about what a good person he was. His close friend Bret “Hitman” Hart spoke at length about him to the press. Hart even wrote about how much Rude had meant to him in his autobiography.
Other wrestlers, including Rick Martel and “The Mountie” Jacques Rougeau also sang Rick’s praises, saying he was an extremely fun guy to have around in the locker room… and also one of the guys that you didn’t want to mess with because he could beat your ass.
The fact that Rude was so convincing in selling his persona in the ring is proof that he wasn’t just a skilled wrestler; he was a world class entertainer. It’s clear that despite how early Rick Rude’s death occurred, the wrestling world will never forget him. R.I.P. to the Ravishing One.
WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2017
After getting snubbed for too many years to count, the WWE has finally gotten it right, with Rick Rude being posthumously inducted into the the WWE’s Class of 2017 Hall of Fame! Now, hit the music!
Road Warrior Hawk Death – Heart Attack
Road Warrior Hawk, one half of the Legion of Doom – dead at 43. Photo: wwe.com
1957-2003 (age 46)
For 20 years, Hawk was a fierce competitor in the squared circle. While most wrestling fans during the 80s and 90s knew him as one half of the Road Warriors, to friends and family he was known as Michael Hegstrand.
The Road Warriors (or “Legion of Doom” during their WWF run) were one of, if not the most successful tag team in wrestling history. Sadly, Road Warrior Hawk’s death would abruptly cut their career short – ending a very successful partnership
Wrestling Imitates Life
In 1997, The Road Warriors found themselves in the midst of controversy when one of the story lines of the WWF’s Attitude Era hit too close to home. The storyline showed Road Warrior Hawk was out of control and recklessly using drugs and alcohol to the point that he was unable to compete.
Hawk and Animal, the Road Warriors during their NWA run. Photo: wwe.com
A third member was brought into the Legion of Doom, Darren “Puke” Drozdov. Puke was essentially supposed to be the guy to keep L.O.D. from falling apart at the seams – or so the storyline went at first.
The storyline would ultimately play out with Puke pushing Road Warrior Hawk off the TitanTron, claiming that he was looking to take Hawk’s place all along. For Michael Hegstrand and Joseph Laurinaitis (“Animal”) the story was incredibly offensive, as in real life, Michael had struggled with substance abuse.
Ultimately, L.O.D. were unable to resolve their creative differences with the WWF and the pair left. Shortly after, Puke would go on to become a quadriplegic after a wrestling move went terribly wrong, but that’s a whole other story.
The Details of the Road Warrior Hawk Death Story
Road Warrior Hawk in a WWF Photo shoot from the early 90s. Photo: wwe.com
Michael and his wife, Dale, had purchased a new condo in Florida and were looking forward to moving. After packing boxes on October 19, 2003, Hegstand told his wife that he was feeling tired and wanted to turn in for the night early. Sadly, he would never wake up.
Dale found him dead in bed hours later. Hegstrand was only 46 years old at the time of his passing. An autopsy revealed he suffered a massive heart attack. Many speculated that Hegstrand’s heavy drug use during the 1980s and 1990s had weakened his heart, leading to his untimely death. Michael Hegstrand was cremated.
Paying Tribute after the Road Warrior Hawk Death
Joseph Laurinaitis was shocked and devastated by the death of his tag partner. But rather than retire from wrestling, he became committed to continuing on. In 2005, he came back to the WWE as a solo wrestler and said he was dedicating every turn in the ring to the memory of his friend. On April 2, 2011, Dusty Rhodes inducted The Legion of Doom into their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Rocco Rock Death – Heart Attack
One half of the tag team “Public Enemy” – Rocco Rock, dead at 49. Photo: wwe.com
1953-2002 (age 49)
Public Enemy, made up of Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge, was one of the most celebrated and feared tag teams of the 1990s. Together, they won the ECW World Tag Team Championship four times, and also had a brief run as WCW Tag Team Champions. Loved by fans, former welder Teddy Petty (known to wrestling fans as “Rocco Rock”) was in the midst of a successful career in the independent circuit when the Rocco Rock death story occurred.
The Events of the Rocco Rock Death
On September 21, 2002, Rocco Rock began to have chest pains in his car. At the time, Rocco was on his way to a Pro-Pain show. He was scheduled to face off against Gary Wolfe. Tragically, he died on the New Jersey turnpike while his father and his girlfriend looked on.
Rocco Rock with tag team partner Johnny Grunge 1997 episode of Monday Nitro. Photo: wwe.com – winning the WCW Tag Team Championship against Harlem Heat
Clearing Up the Rocco Rock Death Rumors
Being that Rocco Rock was only 49 years old at the time of his death, rumors began to fly when news of his passing was released to the public. Many people looked back at the deaths of other wrestlers and concluded that Rocco Rock must have been heavily using illegal drugs at the time of his death or that he was involved with anabolic steroids that may have damaged his heart. His family maintains that Rocco Rock did not use drugs of any kind. Rather, his death has been ruled as a massive heart attack due to a congenital heart defect that apparently runs in his family.
The Sad Impact of the Rocco Rock Death Story
The death of Ted Petty was sad enough, but his passing would actually end up playing a role in another tragic death. Just four years later, Rocco Rock’s partner, Johnny Grunge, would also be dead due to heart problems. People who knew Johnny Grunge well have reported that the former wrestler was grief stricken over the news that his long-time partner and friend had passed away. People say that Johnny was never the same after that and that he let his health decline, resulting in his death.
Rocco Rock may have died at an early age, but he has never been forgotten. In 2007, he was added to the Hardcore Hall of Fame at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A banner with his name printed on it continues to fly to this day beside one with Johnny Grunge’s name. Both members of The Public Enemy were also posthumously inducted to the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010 in honor of their achievements in Tag Team wrestling.
Rocco Rock Grave
Rocco Rock’s grave is located at Lake Nelson Memorial Cemetery in Piscataway, NJ.
Lake Nelson Memorial Cemetery in Piscataway, NJ. Photo: Kat
Rockin’ Rebel Death – Murder-Suicide
Roddy Piper Death – Blood Clot / Heart Attack
Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper – dead at 61. Photo: wwe.com
1954-2015 (age 61)
Wrestling fans everywhere mourned when the Roddy Piper death story made news headlines around the world in the summer of 2015. The wrestling superstar was one of a kind in many ways. He is right up there with Randy Savage, Warrior, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan for the most iconic wrestlers of all time.
About “Rowdy” Roddy
Roderick George Toombs was his real name, but he was much better known as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. He was born April 17, 1954, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Piper first got his first taste of wrestling at the young age of 15 at a weight of 167 pounds.
A legendary personality in professional wrestling, Rowdy Roddy may be best remembered for his work on the mic, but he also had success in the ring. He won his first championship title, the NWA Americas, in 1976 in a match against Chavo Guerrero, Sr.
In 1983 he was seriously injured in a match against Greg Valentine at the first Starrcade. Piper lost 75 percent of the hearing in his left ear and suffered irreversible damage to his equilibrium. While critics said that his wrestling career was over, that was far from the truth.
Piper moved onto Vince McMahon’s WWF and by 1985 he was headlining the very first WrestleMania in a mixed tag match.
In the 90s he took part in a memorable feud with Goldust, including the infamous backlot brawl that fans still talk about today.
Piper also found time to star in several TV shows and major movies, including They Live, Buy and Cell, and Hell Comes to Frogtown. When not acting, he made sporadic WWE appearances. In 1996 Piper was the interim WWE President. By ’98, Rowdy moved over to WCW and was feuding with Randy Savage.
Piper’s Health Issues
Hot Rod’s health issues started in his early 50s. Back in 2006, WWE.com released the news that Piper had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He underwent radiation therapy and finished treatment on January 15, 2007.
He did beat cancer shortly before his passing; he released a statement in November of 2014 that stated he was cancer free. But, unfortunately, the battle likely wore down his body. He had a history of high blood pressure and hypertension, which is well-known to cause clots.
Roddy Piper Death Details
On the evening of July 30, 2015, Roddy Piper died in his sleep. He was discovered the next morning at his home in Hollywood, California. According to a coroner’s report obtained by TMZ, Roddy Piper’s died from a heart attack, brought on by a blood clot.
Ironically, Piper made a comment in 2003 during an HBO Real Sports interview that he would not make it past 65 years of age. His reasoning was his poor health. As he died at 61, sadly his prediction came true.
Remembering Roddy Piper
Hot Rod is fondly remembered for his smooth handling of the mic in the 80’s, even with rivals Hogan and Savage trying to get the attention away from him. Piper was also masterful at answering questions and cleverly asked questions back to the interviewers so that it was anything but a typical one-sided conversation. It was not a surprise when he went on to host his own podcast after wrestling.
Fans also paid respect to the way Piper helped pave the way for wrestlers to star in B-horror and action motion pictures. Rowdy Roddy was the first mainstream wrestler to pursue a presence in counterculture cinema. He became the resident mean guy in flicks, and his persona was very memorable, even beyond his death. The 1988 film They Live, likely the biggest film he starred in, has become a cult classic.
Roddy Piper was cremated. His ashes were spread at a family ranch in Gaston, Oregon. Piper has a memorial at the Crescent Grove Cemetery in Tigard, Oregon.
Roddy Piper’s grave in Tigard, Oregon. Photo: sunny / findagrave
He is survived by his wife, Kitty Toombs and four children. He and Kitty were married since 1982. Roddy’s son, Colton Baird is chasing a pro wrestling career.
Tributes to the Wrestling Superstar
Piper’s legacy includes being an excellent speaker and a popular heel. Fans cite him as being a key figure in the growth of the WWF, as well as being paramount to the success of WrestleMania.
The MMA world paid tribute to Rowdy Roddy too. On the day of his death, MMA star Rhonda Rousey dedicated her UFC 190 title match to him. She had met Piper some time before, at which point he had given her his consent to use the “Rowdy” nickname that her friends called her. Before that meeting, she had declined to use the nickname out of respect to Piper.
Roddy Piper’s death announcement was made only minutes before the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends FanFest, which takes place in Charlotte, NC. A ten-bell salute was held to pay homage to Piper. The salute followed a tribute to former pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes, who passed away in June of the same year.
Piper had an impressive 45-year career. He was a WWE icon, and one of the few who transcended wrestling into a fairly successful film career.
S.D. Jones Death – Stroke
WWF enhancement talent, S.D. Jones, dead from a stroke at age 63. Photo: wwe.com
1945-2008 (Age 63)
“Special Delivery” Jones may have counted the lights much of his career, but no one did it with such style or gave fans the hope that tonight might be his night to win.
Although he wrestled most of his career as enhancement talent, S.D. Jones is fondly remembered by fans who watched him in the WWF, and saw “Special Delivery” share the spotlight in some of the WWF’s biggest moments.
A Dream Comes True
Antigua native Conrad Efraim, the man who would become known as “Special Delivery” trained under WWF Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz.
S.D. Jones intimidates the late Moondog Spot on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling (1986). Photo: wwe.com
According to Jones’ widow Kathlyn, “He never thought in his wildest dreams that he would have become a wrestler – when he was in Antigua, his friends told me that he used to box and lift weights and then when he went to the Virgin Islands he was lifting weights until one day there was a wrestler by the name of Johnny Rodz who met him at the gym and said to him, Conrad I see you can do more than just lift weight and I am going to take you to someone. He took him to Vince McMahon Sr., of the WWF and that’s where he got his name ‘Special Delivery’ Jones.” Efraim left his job working for the phone company and entered wrestling history.
S.D. Finds His Wrestling Home
Like most wrestlers of the territory era, S.D. worked a number of promotions, including a tour of Japan. S.D. first worked in the WWWF in 1974, eventually becoming a regular.
Jones found championship gold when he worked in the National Wrestling Alliance’s (NWA) Los Angeles territory, winning the NWA Americas Tag Team titles with partner Porkchop Cash in 1975, and in 1977 with Tom Jones. Jones also worked in Jim Crockett Promotions, teaming with Rufus R. Jones, with conflicting reports as to whether they were billed as cousins.
S.D. Jones takes on Swede Hanson at the Philadelphia Spectrum (Feb. 19, 1983). Photo: wwe.com
The WWF would be Jones’ home for most of his career. There, he scored a number of wins over preliminary wrestlers, but usually fell short against mid-card stars and better. Jones excelled at the art of making his opponents look good, giving them a fight, but allowing them to inevitably get the win and demonstrating why they were someone to be taken seriously.
S.D. helped put over Greg “The Hammer” Valentine at a 1979 TV taping when Valentine locked in his figure-four leglock and refused to let go, leading to Jones doing a stretcher job and subsequently appearing in Madison Square Garden with his leg in a cast.
More than Enhancement Talent
For a wrestler used to put others over, Jones got his fair share of the spotlight. In 1984, Jones served as Andre the Giant’s partner in the infamous “Haircut Match” which culminated in Ken Patera, Bobby Heenan, and John Studd cutting Andre’s hair.
At the first WrestleMania, Jones did the job in under 30, allowing “King Kong” Bundy to set a Madison Square Garden record for the fastest win. Special Delivery also had the honor of having not one, but two LJN action figures made of him. Eventually, S.D. retired from wrestling and took a job with The New York Daily News before retiring in 2007 and returning to Antigua.
Struck Down by a Stroke
Special Delivery Jones takes on a young Curt Hennig at the LA Sports Arena (August 13, 1988). Photo: wwe.com
Jones’ wife recalled the circumstances leading up to his passing on October 26, 2008: “On Wednesday, he was laughing and singing and all of that… He went to feed the dogs, and when he came back, he called my name. He said, ‘Kay.’ He showed me his fingers, and the next thing I know, his body went limp. We went to the doctor’s, and he had three-quarters of his brain bleeding, covered with blood.” Days later, S.D. Jones passed away. He was survived by his wife Kathlyn Efraim, daughters Donna and Carol, and son Jermaine.
Juanita “Sapphire” Wright Death – Heart Attack
Best known as “Sweet Sapphire” in the WWF, Juanita Wright died from a heart attack in 1996. Photo: wwe.com
1934-1996 (age 61)
Best known as the valet for Dusty Rhodes, Sapphire worked WWF programming throughout the late 80s and early 90s.
She was commonly referred to as “Sweet Sapphire” and wore yellow polka-dotted attire to match that of Dusty’s.
Sapphire’s fun loving attitude and dance moves helped compliment Dusty’s gimmick, and helped get her over with the crowd.
Despite a relatively short run with the WWF, she appeared at all of the “big 4” pay per views, including WrestleMania VI, and 1990’s SummerSlam where she sold out to the Million Dollar Man.
Sapphire and Sherri, WrestleMania VI. Photo: wwe.com
According to a 2004 interview with Sherri, Vince McMahon called upon Sherri to help train Sapphire. Sherri recalled one instance in training where Sapphire accidentally smashed her in the nose, to which Sherri proceeded to make her cry.
Sherri went on to say that she felt bad after the incident, and admitted that Sapphire and Dusty Rhodes worked well together.
Sapphire with Dusty Rhodes. Photo: wwe.com
Little is known about Sapphire’s personal life, or her life after leaving the wrestling business. The rumor mill has always suggested that Wright was devastated after being let go from the WWF.
Sherri stated in an interview that Sapphire had an affection for Dusty Rhodes, not just in her storyline, but in real life. Supposedly Sapphire was very unhappy with her transition to a heel, a storyline that involved her betraying Dusty after being “bought” by the Million Dollar Man. During the initial heel turn segment at 1990’s SummerSlam, it does appear Sapphire looked extremely uncomfortable with the angle – that, or she was just one of the world’s greatest actresses.
Soon after her heel turn, Sapphire was no longer appearing on WWF programming, and no explanation was given to viewers. Sadly, Wright would die a few short years later. Juanita “Sapphire” Wright died in 1996 from a heart attack. She passed away in St. Louis, the same city in which she was born.
Juanita Wright Grave
According to findagrave.com, Wright was buried at the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.
Juanita “Sapphire” Wright’s grave is located at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN. Photo: cw
Sean O’Haire Death – Suicide
Sean O’Haire – Dead at 43. Photo: wwe.com
1971-2014 (age 43)
Sean Haire was a South Carolina native, best known by his ring name Sean O’Haire. O’Haire had runs with WCW, WWE, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. After exiting the wrestling world, Haire briefly tested the waters with MMA.
Sean O’Haire in WCW, WWE
O’Haire first signed with WCW. He saw success with the company, wrestling as part of “The Natural Born Thrillers” faction – enforcers to figureheads Eric Bishoff and Vince Russo.
Sean O’Haire during his feud with APA. Smackdown, 2001. Photo: wwe.com
When WCW was acquired by WWE in 2001, so was O’Haire’s contract. O’Haire was packaged with Chuck Palumbo, a tag partner from his WCW days. The two quickly began programs with The Hardy Boys, and the APA.
Early in 2002, O’Haire had rather abruptly disappeared from WWE programming. He was sent to OVW in Louisville, one of the WWE’s developmental territories at the time.
O’Haire made another WWE run in 2003. He began working an angle where he was being mentored by the late Roddy Piper under the Smackdown brand.
His gimmick portrayed him in a dark light. Dressed in a black trench coat and obsessed with spiders, his character urged his contemporaries to give in to adultery, not to trust religion, and not pay taxes, claiming “I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know.”
Sean O’Haire’s Life outside the Ring
O’Haire seemed to have a lot of potential – an impressive physique, and a guy who knew how to work in the ring.
Sadly, like many young wrestlers before him, O’Haire battled personal demons outside the squared circle and life after wrestling did not bode well for him.
Sean O’Haire and Roddy Piper during Sean’s final run with the WWE. Backlash, 2003. Photo: wwe.comAfter leaving the WWE in 2004, Haire was arrested numerous times for violent altercations and was said to have an addiction to alcohol, as well as suffering from depression. In 2007 he was involved in an assault that left him with a fractured skull and impaired vision in his left eye.
2009 saw Haire arrested for choking his girlfriend. The charges were dropped, but he was arrested 2 years later on battery charges in November of 2011. O’Haire entered rehab on six different occasions in the years prior to his death. The sessions were sponsored by his former employer, WWE.
Sean O’Haire Death
On September 9, 2014, Sean O’Haire was discovered dead in his Spartanburg, South Carolina home by his father. He had hung himself from a bedpost. The news was broken via Twitter by WCW alum, Scotty Riggs.
Paying Tribute to Sean O’Haire
Here’s an excellent tribute to the late Sean O’Haire via YouTube, showcasing 50 of his top moves. It’s clear the guy could work, especially impressive given his size – something that generally limits a wrestler’s arsenal. Sean’s wrestling career, although brief, is remembered fondly by fans. In wrestling circles he’s remembered as an underrated talent who was held back by his personal demons.
Sherri Martel Death – Drug Overdose
“Sensational” Sherri Martel – dead from a drug overdose. She was 49. Photo: wwe.com
1958-2007 (age 49)
As a professional wrestler and manager, Sherri Martel was no stranger to controversy. Known to family and friends as Sherri Schrull, she was involved with many dramatic story lines during her time the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, and even a brief stint in ECW. Most notably, Sherri managed Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Ted DiBase, and Shawn Michaels.
A Reported History of Drug Abuse
Sherri Martel’s career hit a number of bumps despite the fact that she won several women’s wrestling championships and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Most notably, she was released from the WWF in 1993 and was fired from the WCW. There are some reports that to cope with her difficulties in life, Sherri abused drugs and that at one point she was admitted to a 21-day in-patient rehab program to overcome her addiction.
Details of the Sherri Martel Death Story
Details into the exact events of Sherri Martel’s death are scarce. It has been confirmed that the former professional wrestler died in the house of her mother. Her date of death was June 15, 2007, and she was 49 years old at the time that she died. Because she was in good health, her death baffled local investigators who said shortly after the discovery of her body that her death was likely not of natural causes.
Rumors Fly after the Sherri Martel Death News
Sherri Martel’s death came at a very dark time for the world of professional wrestling. She died just 7 days before professional wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy, and their son and then killed himself.
The sudden death of Sherri Martel made people suspicious, and people began looking for connections that could link Sherri to the Benoits. It was discovered that a close friend of Sherri’s, Kevin Sullivan, had been married to Nancy Benoit before she left him in 2000 for Chris. Some wrestling websites insinuated that somehow Sherry Martel’s death was linked to the Benoit murder-suicide, suggesting that somehow she was murdered along with Nancy and her son.
The Conclusion of the Sherri Martel Death Investigation
After all of the speculation and conspiracy theories regarding Sherri Martel’s death, her cause of death was ultimately ruled an accident. In a report that was released on September 11, 2007, it was revealed that Sherri had taken a number of drugs, including an excessive amount of the narcotic pain reliever oxycodone.
There was no evidence that Sherri Martel had intentionally overdosed in an attempt to take her own life, and there was also no evidence that anyone had been with her at the time that she died. Her death appears to have just been a tragic case of a life lost to addiction. Sherri was cremated. What was done with her ashes is not public knowledge.
Silver King Death – Heart Attack
Lucha Libre legend and WCW alum Silver King dies after suffering from a heart attack in the ring. He was 51. Photo: wwe.com
1968-2019 (Age 51)
Lucha star and WCW alum, Silver King (real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón) has died at age 51. On May 11, 2019, Silver King suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the ring after facing Juventud Guerrera in a match in London.
In the late 90s, González made a name for himself with WCW, appearing in their cruiserweight division. He received his fair share of TV time, mostly in mixed tag matches, and appeared at a half dozen pay-per-views. González was released from WCW in late 2000, a few months prior to the company being bought out by Vince McMahon.
Aside from his run in WCW’s cruiserweight division, González gained notoriety after appearing opposite Jack Black in the 2006 film, Nacho Libre. González played “Ramses” in the film – a top villain donning a yellow mask.
Silver King Death
On May 11, 2019, Silver King collapsed in the ring while facing opponent Juventud Guerrera at an independent wrestling event in London.
Silver King enters the ring for WCW’s Fall Brawl (1998).
Footage of the incident has surfaced on YouTube, and while I’m not comfortable linking to that footage, it appears to show both the referee as well as Juventud Guerrera unaware of the seriousness of Silver King’s condition. It took several minutes for paramedics to tend to King, who was ultimately pronounced dead after suffering from a heart attack.
The promotion running the event, Lucha Libre World, issued the following statement on Twitter: Several other wrestlers have died in 2019 including King Kong Bundy, Pedro Morales and announcer Mean Gene Okerlund. Our condolences to the friends and family of González.
Sir Oliver Humperdink – Complications from Pneumonia and Bladder Cancer
Sir Oliver Humperdink – Dead at 62. Photo: wwe.com
1949-2011 (age 62)
John Sutton, known to wrestling fans as Sir Oliver Humperdink, was a manager with a career spanning three decades.
Perhaps best known as the manager for the original Hollywood Blonds, Sir Oliver also managed several other notable talent including Greg Valentine, and One Man Gang early in their careers.
1980: Sir Oliver with the late Lord Alfred Hayes
NWA 1998: Sir Oliver Humperdink with his client, Bam Bam Bigelow. Photo: wwe.com
Sir Oliver and Bam Bam
After spending considerable time with FCW (Florida), Sir Oliver transitioned to the WWF (now WWE) in 1987. He managed Bam Bam Bigelow, notably making an appearance at WrestleMania IV.
The duo would move to NWA in 1988.
By the early 90s, Humperdink was with WCW under the unfortunate moniker of “Big Daddy Dink”. Notably during his WCW Run, Humperdink managed one of the last incarnations of the Freebirds.
Sir Oliver Humperdink Death
Sir Oliver Humperdink at a wrestling convention in 2006. Photo: youtube.com
Slam reports that Humperdink had been fighting bladder cancer, and in 2008 was fighting pneumonia.
On Twitter, Jim Ross mentioned that Humperdink was “refusing chemo” and at peace with “whatever happens”. This came as a surprise to some, as Humperdink was only 62. Ross also noted Sir Oliver as an underrated manager.
Sir Oliver Humperdink died on March 20, 2011.
Skandor Akbar Death – Prostate Cancer
Skandor Akbar – Dead at 75. Photo: wwe.com
1934-2010 (age 75)
Jim Wehba, known to wrestling fans as the cigar-smoking Skandor Akbar, was a heel manager for WCCW throughout the 80s. Akbar’s stable, “Devestation, Inc” helped draw huge money for Fritz Von Erich‘s Texas-based WCCW – taking part in memorable programs with the baby faced Von Erich brothers. Prior to managing, Akbar briefly wrestled throughout the 70s, including a run with the WWWF (now WWE) where he was managed by the late Classy Freddie Blassie.
Skandor Akbar Death
Skandor Akbar Legacy, Influence
Skandor escorts Kamala to the squared circle. AWA Wrestlerock, 1986. Photo: youtube.com
Just 11 days prior to Wehba’s death, Jim Ross speaks fondly of him in a blog post, noting that Wehba is the one who taught him how to save money.
In the same blog post, Jim Ross makes it a point to credit Wehba with helping steer Steve Austin in the right direction early in his career – a move that apparently paid off for Stone Cold given he had one of the most marketable and memorable runs in modern wrestling history.
Stan Stasiak Death – Heart Failure
Stan Stasiak – Dead at 60 from heart failure. Photo: wwe.com
1937-1997 (Age 60)
Once upon a time, a world championship was an honor granted to few individuals. To hold the belt meant something – even if the title reign was transitionary. While Stan Stasiak’s World-Wide Wrestling Federation Championship reign was brief, it was in recognition of his contributions to the industry and a reflection of an overall excellent career. Stan Stasiak was a wrestler who symbolized the travel and glory of the territory era.
Stan Stasiak with his manager, The Grand Wizard of Wrestling. Madison Square Garden, January 17, 1977. Photo: wwe.com
A Fiery Temper Leads to the Ring
George Stipich was born on April 13, 1937 in Quebec, Canada. As a young man, he played hockey, including time in the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association. Stipich was an aggressive player, incurring penalty after penalty until his coach reportedly suggested he try his hand at professional wrestling.
Stipich agreed, debuting in the late 1950’s with the nickname “The Crusher.”
Eventually, he became known as Stan “The Man” Stasiak, a rugged competitor who hailed from Buzzard Creek, Oregon. Stasiak was once billed as the son of grappler Stan Stasiak, but this was just a promotional tactic. Stasiak began using a finisher known as the heart punch, a move billed as capable of finishing any opponent unlucky enough to be on the receiving end.
Stasiak worked a number of territories in Canada and the United States, winning numerous singles and tag team championships. Stasiak worked overseas as well, competing in Australia and winning Australia’s International Wrestling Alliance’s (IWA) World Heavyweight Championship in 1970.
Stan’s Night of Glory
Stan Stasiak was no stranger to the WWWF, having worked the northeastern promotion before.
1977: Stan Stasiak takes on Bobo Brazil while working for the WWWF. Photo: wwe.com
Typically, Stasiak worked TV and house shows, thus being established as a top contender against the WWWF champion. Stasiak had been challenging WWWF champion Pedro Morales, failing to walk away with the belt. However, things were different on December 1, 1973 in Philadelphia because that night, the road agent informed Stan he was going to win the title. Morales would go for a belly-to-back suplex, covering Stasiak. However, Stasiak would lift his right shoulder, winning the title.
The WWWF wanted Stan to become a transition champion, allowing Bruno Sammartino to regain the WWWF championship without defeating fellow babyface Morales. Stasiak did as instructed and entered wrestling history. Nine days later in Madison Square Garden, Stasiak returned the favor for Bruno Sammartino:
Stan “The Man’s” title reign only lasted nine days, but his career was far from over. Stasiak received title shots against the AWA, NWA, and WWWF champions, showing he was still considered a top-ranked competitor. Stasiak continued working until the 80’s when he retired from the ring and became a security guard. Stan Stasiak’s manager while with the WWWF, The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, passed in 1983 after suffering from a heart attack.
Stan Stasiak’s Death: Passing the Torch to a Second Generation
On June 19, 1997 Sean Stasiak died from heart failure. He was 60 years old and survived by his wife Jill and his two children Brittany and Shawn. In 1997 we also saw the losses of Fritz Von Erich and Brian Pillman.
2001: Accompanied by Stacy Keibler, Stan Stasiak’s son, Shawn, enters the ring while working for the WWF. Photo: wwe.com
Stan Stasiak’s son Shawn would enter the business in the 90s, first working for the WWF during the Attitude Era under the moniker “Meat”. Shawn Stasiak later spent time with WCW, winning tag team gold with Chuck Palumbo on three separate occasions before the company was absorbed by the WWF in 2001. Shawn transitioned back to the WWF, managed by Stacy Keibler. He now works as a chiropractor in Plano, Texas.
Ryan O’Connor contributed to this article.
Steve Williams Death – Throat Cancer
“Dr Death” Steve Williams – dead at 49. Photo: wwe.com
1960-2009 (age 49)
While he was best known for his achievements in the ring as a wrestler, Steve Williams was a talented athlete who excelled on the football field playing for the University of Oklahoma.
From 1982 to 2009, he was known as “Dr. Death’ and by his given name, as he battled for and won multiple titles, including the UWF World Heavyweight Championship, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (Japan) and a run as a tag team champion alongside Terry Gordy in WCW.
Not only was Williams a fierce competitor, but he was also an inspiration to people everywhere, as the details of the Steve Williams death story show.“Dr. Death” and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy win the NWA Tag Team Titles in 1992.
A Prelude to the Steve Williams Death Story
Early in their careers: Steve Williams and Ted Dibiase. Photo: youtube.com
In 2003, Steve Williams was enjoying a storied career in wrestling. He earned a name for himself in the Japanese wrestling scene, World Championship Wrestling and a brief run in the WWF being managed by fellow Oklahoman, Jim Ross.
In the WWF he most notably competed in the Brawl for all – who could forget the Brawl for all?! Oh right, he was knocked out early and it pretty much ended his tough guy gimmick in its tracks.
Suddenly, though, Williams’ focus had to shift to a whole different fight – one against throat cancer. Steve was diagnosed with the condition in 2003 and only given 6 months to live. Amazingly, surgery on the cancer proved successful in 2004, and he was able to rebound from the disease.
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams with partner, Terry Gordy. In WCW They would go on take the tag team belts from the Steiner Brothers. Photo: wwe.com
Retiring from Wresting
Following his recovery from throat cancer, Steve Williams didn’t hesitate to return to the world of wrestling. He used his struggles as a way to inspire other people, speaking openly about his religious faith. In interviews, he said that God had been his tag team partner, and that he was adopting a new name, “Dr. Life” instead of “Dr. Death.”
While he wasn’t able to wrestle full time, Steve did make appearances at WWE events and on the independent circuit. After the death of a close friend from the world of Japanese wrestling, Steve Williams finally retired, partaking in his final match on August 15, 2009.
Details of the Steve Williams Death Story
In late 2009 while he was putting the final chapter on the story of his career, Steve Williams learned that his throat cancer had returned. Still, he remained in the public eye and appeared at a wrestling convention on December 12, 2009. After that, his health deteriorated very quickly, and Steve had to be admitted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Williams passed away on December 29, 2009, at the age of 49.
Remembering Steve Williams
After news about Steve Williams death broke, many personalities from the wrestling community were eager to tell stories about their friend. Wrestler and promoter Bill Watts talked about how much courage and strength his long-time friend had. Many others from the wrestling community posted tributes to him online.
In 2011, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter added Steve Williams to its Newsletter Hall of Fame. Today, his autobiography “How Dr. Death Became Dr. Life” is still available for purchase, and there are many tributes to the wrestler from fans on social media, forums and wrestling blogs.
Steve Williams was cremated. What was done with his ashes is not public knowledge, although it’s been documented that Williams wished to have his ashes scattered in the Rocky Mountains.