T Nation

Pro Westling Deaths

Did you guys read the story in today’s USA TODAY about pro wrestling deaths? A lot of guys have died in that game. Guys who are still young.

What’s the take on this? Are they just taking too many roids? Too many Pain killers? What are some thoughts on this?

Being an old wrestling fan, and after reading about some of my favorites taking a dirt nap, I have a few things I guess I could say.

Each case seems to be unique. I might have bad info (or mixed up facts), but I think Rick Rude died of a pain killer overdose. Adrian Adonis died in a car wreck. Davie Boy died of a heart attack (could be related to drug use). I know tons other died, some in ring accidents. One of the Hart brothers I believe fell from a suspended cage or something.

I guess it would be a combination of all of them. High drug use, heavy wear and tear on the body. Excessive travel. That is one thing I will never understand. Is how some of those guys seem to stay in great shape despite the fact they are travelling non-stop.

It’s a rough industry. We all know its “fake” but no matter how well you know how to fall, hitting the mat and/or concrete 300+ days a year takes a toll. There is alot of pain killer abuse…steriods, sometimes year-round…alcholism and party drugs. It’s a tough life. Remember, not many of the guys you see today on the WWE just popped up overnight. They spent years making almost nothing wrestling at fairs and in High School gyms before they ever got a shot at the big time. Hit the canvas damn near everynight for 10+ years and you will eventually get hurt. The travel schedule is hell, alot of time away from their families, and alot of guys turn to drugs and alchol.
They have a short shelf life, so those who either work in the compaines after they retire or the guys that saves their money are a hell of a lot better off than being 60+ and still wrestling for a few hundred bucks (guys like the Iron Sheik).

some call congress, we need to ban this now!!! For the children!!

It seems the bar is constantly raising too. Back when I was a big fan in the 80s, guys like Brock Lessnar were non-existant. I’ll admit that there were some big guys, but Brock is out of control.

Back when I watched, I thought Paul Orndorff, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger were about as big as they came. I’ll admit that Lex Luger had a great physique but his wrestling ability was pretty lame. I guess that’s why they invented that submission move for him.

Miss Elizabeth also recently died. She choked to death on food at Lex Luger’s home while she was on drugs (some seditive). Then the cops searched his home and found his considerably large stash of gear.

Definitely sad. I think it’s got to be an interplay between the gear and the simple pounding those guys take – and, in some cases, strain put on the system by compounding gear with other drugs. These guys aren’t rocket scientists – I would have no problem believing their lifestyles, in terms of drugs, were similar to those of the Venice Beach bodybuilder set.

Guys like JYD and Andre the Giant from the old school probably weren’t on gear, but they were huge guys, and took a pounding. Andre drank like a fish – there are stories of him putting away 100 beers and bottles of champagne in an evening. Not sure about the JYD and drug use. Curt Hennig had large amounts of coke in his system when he passed. Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death. Not sure what Road Warrior Hawk died of, but it it was related to an overuse of gear over a long period I would be unsurprised.

I’m sick and tired of guys I grew up idolozing passing away it seems every other month. Rest in peace boys, in that big ring up in the sky.
Everything said is true: Many of the guys who died young also had a party lifestyle, so combine drugs w/steroids w/ painkillers w/ alcohol and you’re asking for trouble. Enlarged hearts are a direct result of steroid use, and when the heart gets stressed on a regular basis…that’s it.
Plus, the 80s wrestlers were well known for living a party lifestyle. THey were making more money and doing 300+ shows a year, maybe even close to 400 if you count doubleheaders !
I don’t believe Rude was a big party guy, but I could be wrong. Meltzer’s obituary doesn’t hint at that being a big part of his life. He took painkillers though, not to mention the roids. He was enormous in the early 80s, easily 20 lbs of muscle heavier than when he joined the WWF.

Arnold had aortic valve replacement a few years ago, so many older BBers better watch out as well.

BB- I don’t think Andre would have lived much longer anyway, people w/ gigantism rarely do. He had a great run and will be immortalized. Plus he had a great time, made a lot of money, fucked a LOT of women, and was a star on every continent.

In Dave Meltzer’s obituary he says that apparently Andre died “lonely” but just cuz he wasn’t married I’m not sure that is necessarily true.

BB- One more thing. JYD wasn’t “huge”, he was normal by wrestling standards. About 6 feet tall. He played guard in college and i believed played some in the NFL- I’m too busy to go check that though. He was unfortunately a big druggie and was a crackhead towards the end of his life :frowning:

" Back when I was a big fan in the 80s, guys like Brock Lessnar were non-existant. I’ll admit that there were some big guys, but Brock is out of control."

Actually Brock is a genetic freak. He also had a headstart on lifting since he’s the son of a dairy farmer from N. Dakota and has been working on a farm since he was a child. If you ever meet a real farmer, youi’ll see what I mean. I know a 75 yr old farmer in Italy who still works outdoors 8-10 hrs a day and has an iron grip!

I posted before on what Lesnar looked like in HS. He was already in the 230 range and lean. They showed him lifting and he was intense to say the least. He already had the gorilla arms and traps, veins were bulging out everywhere,etc.

" I’ll admit that Lex Luger had a great physique but his wrestling ability was pretty lame."

Actually Luger was a very good wreslter, believe it or not, til about 92 or so. He got lazy along the way since it was so obvious he was going to be a superstar- he got huge contracts and title reigns and main event feuds, and at some point just slacked off. Maybe injuries played a part, i don’t know. He is still seen as one of the bigger disappointments ever.
CHeck out matches from 86 or so on. Classic match was him vs Brody, where he freaks out when Brody stops cooperating. He climbs over the cage and runs to the back! Hilarious…then again Brody was a scary dude who everybody was wary of.

Luger had 4-5 star matches with Flair, Sting, etc. I just saw a match from 1990 where he fought Flair and he was great. He really worked hard and it showed.

Read the story if you can. It mentions lots of cardiac problems such as enlarged hearts. Very interesting

you know left ventricular hypertrophy happens alot of different ways. for high endurance trainers, it happens as a training adaptation (take a look at the size of lance armstrong’s heart). for lifters (folks that work with max and near max weights) the ventricular walls actually increase in thickness, which isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world…and then there’s CVD that causes it as well.

Yeah, I’ve seen highschool and college pics of Lesnar. But lets face it, he’s a beast! I actually think he may have been referenced in the T-Mag dead pool.

I was really trying to point out that the standards are being constantly raised in the pro wrestling community. So the pressure to remain competitive probably draws them to push the limits.

Yeah, Andre was a bad ass. I agree, his rare disorder was probably the ultimate cause of his death (I actually don’t know).

As for Lex, ya he was a bad ass too. I don’t agree that he had a great ability to wrestle. There were definitely better wrestlers than Lex (more acrobatic, aerial, etc), however his physique was surely his ticket into pro wrestling. Back in the day, his physique was awesome.

Nobody EVER accused Lex Luger of being a good wrestler. His decent matches with Flair and Sting were because those guys carried Luger to decent matches.

Flair, in his prime, could carry a broomstick to a *** match. Luger was a body, that is all.

As for the Brody incident, Luger ran like a bitch because Brody worked too stiff against him on purpose. Seems Brody resented the push Luger’s no talent ass was getting.

Miss Elizabeth died of acute toxicity. There was no mention of choking in the autopsy. She was on numerous pills, and her blood alcohol level at the time of death was .299. Lawrence Pfohl (Lex Luger) was indeed charged with possession of numerous steroids when police investigated.

Ah, thanks for the update Plowman.

Last I heard that there was speculation that she choked to death. I think I read that on The Smoking Gun.

Man I almost cried when Road Warrior Hawk died, he was the guy who was my inspiration as a boy to start lifting weights. He had the biggest traps I had seen 'till that point and it was always cool when he would flex his neck and his collar would fly off (that’s going back some days, eh?). Now I hear Hercules Hernandez has passed away, that whole business does not make sense to me, I hope the current generation of wrestlers takes a serious note as well as better care of themselves than did the kings of the eighties.

And Brock is certainly a monster, but there were huge guys twenty years ago too, anyone remember the first couple of years of Nord the Barbarian, or how about the Warlord, Vladimer Petrov or even Jeep Swenson when he was around?

Oh and I had heard of the legendary match between Luger and Brody, but I didn’t know it was a cage match and Luger high-tailed it out of there! What I wouldn’t give to see that match, lol!! Brody was bit of a monster too, wasn’t he billed as being 6’6" and around 300-320lbs?

what about british bulldog and ultimate warrior? didn’t they die too?

andre was great in the princess bride, rip fezzik

“Nobody EVER accused Lex Luger of being a good wrestler. His decent matches with Flair and Sting were because those guys carried Luger to decent matches.
Flair, in his prime, could carry a broomstick to a *** match. Luger was a body, that is all.”

From some of your terminology, it looks like you read either the Observer or a lot of Scott keith’s reviews. If so, its their opinion as well as mine that Luger early on was a really good wrestler. I really don’t think its even in question. He was coordinated, sold well, made great comebacks, and was really comfortable in the ring. Really solid in ring psychology as well. Combine that with his look , his decent charisma (which top guys always have) and the huge pops he was getting in late 80s early 90s, and he really should have been much much better than he ended up being. At least equal w/ Sting.

Want proof of great matches? FInd some matches w/ him and Sting vs the Steiners awa vs some Japanese teams when they wrestled overseas. One in particular was against Muta and someone else, and I think Keith gave it ****.5 or *****stars.

“As for the Brody incident, Luger ran like a bitch because Brody worked too stiff against him on purpose. Seems Brody resented the push Luger’s no talent ass was getting.”

Yup, and Brody was a guy who had his own agenda and listened to nobody. Couple of weeks ago-though you prob know this- Harley Race said Brody would still be alive today if he had behaved better in the locker room. THat is flat-out vicious and brutal honesty. Brody made life tougher for everybody.

Galvatron: Re Bigger guys in the 80s, I agree that Warlord was one of the most massive “not fat” guys ever. I think Batista and Luger in 2000-01 are right up there as well. Jeep Swenson was huge but fat and a hideous wrestler, as was (JU)Ice Train, who wrestled on and off for WCW in the 90s.

Warrior is still alive and working as a public speaker -on those few occasions he gets work. He publishes rambling, incoherent political comentary on his website if you want a laugh.

Hi Brent. Yes, they’ve got the full autopsy posted now at smokinggun. I hadn’t known she died until I read your post. So very sad.

This niche can distill the worst of show business and professional athletics. The former brings blind ambition, evanescent fame, and false promise; the latter brings physical wear and abuse of performance enhancers. We can only hope there are those who accept the career they have had and get out unscathed.

As a writer, I’ve worked with a peer who went on to develop storylines for Vince McMahon. He also befriended the Hart brother who fell to his death. For my friend, it was a deep, difficult loss, a knifing reality in a world of hype.

Hart’s death was macabre because the ring announcer (I remember it being Mean Gene, but I could be wrong) kept shouting, “This is not in the script! This is not in the script!” And the more he shouted it, the more you assumed it was in the script.

Are British Bulldog and Ultimate Warrior really dead? Anecdotally, at least, it would seem that 80’s and early 90’s bodybuilders are faring better than wrestlers.