Fallen Soldiers Gone But Not Forgotten Full List Of Deceased Wrestlers 02

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.

Big Daddy V Death – Heart Attack

1971-2014 (age 43)
Big Daddy V was a true heavyweight in the world of professional wrestling. Standing at 6 feet, 9 inches and weighing roughly 500 pounds, the wrestler from Harlem had a big personality in and out of the ring. Known as Nelson Frazier, Jr., to friends and family, he achieved modest success in the WWE during the 1990s and in the late 2000s. Sadly, his career was cut short, as he passed away at the age of 43.
The Many Faces of Big Daddy V
Nelson Frazier first entered the pro wrestling scene at the age of 21 as Mabel in 1993. By 1994, he and partner Mo secured the Tag Team Championship under the moniker Men on a Mission. Although fairly cringe-worthy today, the goofy, colorful gimmick worked well with the WWF’s family-friendly image at the time. By 1995, Mabel was competing on his own, winning the King of the Ring Tournament that year. After the win, he appointed himself the nickname “King Mabel” and turned heel. Ultimately, he didn’t manage to draw a large fan base and was dropped by the WWE. He would go on to have three more major stints in the WWE, first and secondly as Viscera from 1999 to 2000. Here he partook in the “Ministry of Darkness” angle with the Undertaker, the Acolytes (Bradshaw and Farooq) and Mideon. When the faction was broken up in 1999, he was soon released from the WWF and entered the independent circuit. Fraizer returned to the WWF as Viscera from 2004 to 2007 and finally as Big Daddy V from 2007 to 2008.
How Big Daddy V Died
The full story of the death of Big Daddy V isn’t completely known, but some details have emerged. It seems that on February 18, 2014, Frazier had gone into the bathroom to take a shower and then began having chest pains. An ambulance was called to the scene, but the wrestler had suffered a massive heart attack. It’s not known whether he was pronounced dead at the scene or later at the hospital. The event happened just 4 days after he turned 43.
Cause of Big Daddy V Death
While the massive heart attack was the actual cause of the Big Daddy V death, there were some extenuating factors that apparently contributed to it. His death certificate stated that morbid obesity and heart damage due to type 2 diabetes, a common complication of obesity, were responsible for his heart attack. In addition, drugs and alcohol were present in his bloodstream at the time of his death. It’s likely that these substances increased strain on his heart and made the heart attack more likely to occur.
Saying Goodbye to Big Daddy V
Since Big Daddy V’s death came at such a young age, fellow wrestlers were obviously stunned and saddened by the news. Many of them took to social media to pay tribute to their friend. Jim Ross and Rob Van Dam were among the many personalties who Tweeted goodbye messages and well wishes for Big Daddy V’s family during the days following his death. The wrestling star was honored with a private family funeral. He was ultimately cremated. His ashes were distributed between 500 pendant necklaces, which were given to friends and family members.
Men on a Mission make their WWF debut (Superstars, July 10, 1993) Controversy after Big Daddy V Death
Sadly, paying tribute to the memory of the wrestler following Big Daddy V’s death has been overshadowed largely by litigation revolving around his passing away. While other wrestlers who have died young like Frazier have been honored with awards and receptions the year after they passed away, much of the attention has been on the details of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Cassandra Frazier.
Details of the Big Daddy V Death Lawsuit
Nelson Fraizer as “Viscera” during the WWF Attitude era. Here he partook in the Undertaker’s “Ministry of Darkness” angle. Photo: wwe.com
In the lawsuit, Cassandra Frazier and her attorney blame the WWE for being at least partially responsible for Big Daddy V’s death. She claims that the company knew that repeated blows to the head caused by wrestling increased the risk of concussions and posed a risk for traumatic encephalopathy, a dangerous swelling of the brain. The court case documentation states that Frazier had problems with short term memory and suffered painful migraines. They stated he had crippling depression due to head injuries sustained during his time with the WWE, and it blames those problems for contributing to the death of Big Daddy V.
The WWE Responds
At first, when word of the Big Daddy V death lawsuit reached the papers, the WWE kept relatively quiet about the matter. A lawyer for the WWE, Jerry McDermitt did say that it was ridiculous to blame the organization for Frazier’s death. They said he was overweight and clearly had health problems. It seems that the WWE hoped the lawsuit wouldn’t proceed further, but it has. In June 2015, the WWE followed up on their statement, releasing more information about Frazier’s medical conditions and publishing his salary information. Lawyers also revealed that Cassandra Frazier had already received $10,000 from them because she claimed financial hardship. Essentially the WWE accused her of bringing a frivolous lawsuit to try and make money from her husband’s untimely death.

Big Dick Dudley Death – Kidney Failure

Big Dick Dudley, Dead at 34. Here he is 5 years before his death in 1997. Photo: wwe.com 1968-2002 (age 34)
Alex Rizzo, known to wrestling fans as Big Dick Dudley, will best be remembered for his run with ECW throughout the 90s. Big Dick was the original Dudley, which eventually transitioned into a faction. D-Von and Bubby Ray may be the most well known Dudley’s after successfully moving over and enjoying long careers with the WWE; but Big Dick will always remain the original Dudley.
1996: Big Dick Dudley with Bubby Ray. Photo: wwe.com Big Dick Dudley died on May 16, 2002 from kidney failure.
According to Irv Munchnick’s book Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal – Big Dick’s kidney failure was brought on from the use of painkillers. He was 34 years old at the time of his death.

Big John Studd death – Liver cancer and Hodgkin’s disease

1948-1995 (age 47)
The Big John Studd death story shows another well respected star, gone before age 50. From 1982 to 1986 and from 1988 to 1989, John Minton was one of the most well known wrestlers in the WWF. Although he wrestled under the names Captain USA, Chuck O’Connor, the Executioner #2 and The Giant Stud, he is most popularly known as Big John Studd. During Studd’s heyday, he was one of the biggest rivals of both Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, Big John Studd’s death occurred much too soon at the age of 47, leaving fans and the wrestling community deeply saddened.
Big John Studd and Human Growth Hormones
The Big John Studd death story began long before the star’s date of death in 1995. Determined to be one of the biggest wrestlers in the WWF, Big John Studd began taking human growth hormones back when he was actively facing off against Andre the Giant in the ring. Because he was concerned about being a role model to kids, Big John Studd did his best to keep his drug use a secret, only admitting to close friends that he was taking substances to increase his body mass.
Studd wins the 1989 Royal Rumble in Houston. Within 6 years he would be dead. Photo: wwe.com A Bout with Cancer
Although Big John Studd was largely retired by the 1990s, he would occasionally step into the ring. In 1993, he was training to fight wrestler Killer Kowalski in a special match. The wresting star had complained that he was feeling more tired than usual, and at first chalked it up to fatigue from getting back into the ring. Then, he discovered a lump under his armpit while he was hitting the showers.
Big John Studd at WrestleMania I (1985). Photo: wwe.com
He was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Hodgkin’s disease, and a second tumor was located in his chest. The general opinion of his physicians was that the use of human growth hormone years before had led to the development of the cancer. Although the doctor gave him only a month to live, John was not willing to go down without a fight. He underwent emergency surgery and was told there was only a 7% chance that it would work. Amazingly, it did, and the wrestler’s cancer went into remission.
Big John Studd guest referees for Andre the Giant and Jake the Snake’s match at WrestleMania V. It doesn’t take long for Andre and Studd to come to blows. Photo: wwe.com
As is often the case with Hodgkin’s disease, Big John Studd’s cancer returned and spread to his liver in 1994. He went through rounds of chemotherapy and was reportedly unwilling to give up. Even when he was admitted to the hospital for the final time, he told close friend, wrestler Billy Graham, that he would be out in a few days; however, he would never be released from the hospital. Big John Studd’s death occurred on March 20, 1995.
Gone but Not Forgotten
Although the Big John Studd death is now two decades in the past, his memory lives on amongst fans and friends. In 1995, he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame, and the WWE Hall of Fame added his name to its ranks in 2004.
Big John Studd Grave
Big John Studd’s grave is located at Saxonburg Memorial Church Cemetery in Saxonburg, PA. The plot is located at New Saxonburg, Section 2 North.
Big John Studd’s grave at Saxonburg Memorial Church Cemetery in Saxonburg, PA. Photo: unknown

Blackjack Mulligan Death – Undisclosed Causes

Blackjack Mulligan – Dead at 73. Here he is on a 1986 episode of Prime Time Wrestling. Photo: wwe.com 1942-2016 (age 73)
Blackjack Mulligan, real name Robert “Bob” Windham, enjoyed a storied life and career, and not just in the wrestling ring. Mulligan played football in college, and had tryouts for several NFL teams in the mid 60s. After football, Mulligan moved to wrestling, debuting in the AWA, and eventually moving over to the WWWF (now WWE) where he was managed by the late Grand Wizard. Mulligan is most remembered for his run with tag partner Blackjack Lanza, where they formed The Blackjacks.
The Blackjacks take on Tony Parisi and Louis Cerdan. Madison Square Garden, Nov. 17, 1975
The Blackjacks had an impressive run throughout the 70s with the WWWF, winning tag team gold in 1975. Mulligan’s profile would continue to shine in the upper card, feuding with Andre the Giant. In the mid 80s, Mulligan moved over to Jim Crockett Promotions, notably teaming up with Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA U.S. Tag Team Championship.
A Wrestling Family
The father of Kendall and Barry Windham, and grandfather of Bray Watt and Bo Dallas, Mulligan’s family connections to wrestling run deep. His son in law is Mike Rotunda, better known as I.R.S. during his WWF run in the early 90s. Blackjack Mulligan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for 2006’s ceremony.
Blackjack Mulligan takes on Brutus Beefcake. Photo: wwe.com
In a fairly surprising twist, less than 10 years later, Windham would end up suing the WWE for concussions he sustained while working. The suit is not unlike (and is possibly directly related to) the 2016 concussion suit against the WWE in which 50 former wrestlers are named. Blackjack Mulligan’s cause of death hasn’t been revealed, although it’s clear his health was suffering in recent years. Mulligan suffered a heart attack in June of 2015. According to PWInsider, Mulligan was set to undergo brain surgery prior to his heart attack. Blackjack Mulligan died on April 7th, 2016. He was 73. By Ryan on October 25, 2016 2010s, 2016, Undisclosed Causes

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan Death – Throat Cancer

Legendary wrestling manager and color commentator, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan – dead at 72. Photo: wwe.com 1944-2017 (Age 72)
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan has died at age 72, losing his battle with throat cancer.
WWE confirmed the news this evening.
In 2002 Heenan announced his cancer diagnosis, though in subsequent years he still made appearances, communicating to fans through his wife. WWE commentator Jim Ross first broke the news about Bobby Heenan’s death via Twitter, noting “The news of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s passing today gutted me. I loved our time together. No one ever did it better than the Wease.”
Bobby Heenan – The Wrestler, Manager
A legendary manager and color commentator, Bobby Heenan wrestled throughout the 60s and 70s, but his most recognized roles came from outside the ring. Heenan managed a long list of talent throughout the 80s and early 90s including King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, Rick Rude, Paul Orndoff, Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect, and Hercules.
Bobby Heenan celebrates as Rick Rude dismantles the Warrior. Photo: wwe.com
The Brain’s clients were collectively referred to as “The Heenan Family” – dominant heel forces in the then-WWF, taylor-made to draw heat from the crowd and feud with the Golden Era’s babyfaces.
Color Commentator
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was also a quick-witted, master heel behind the commentary table, where he often sat opposite Gorilla Monsoon. The duo called the action for many classic WWE moments, providing back and forth jabs that fans of the era still fondly remember today.
Behind the scenes, Bobby and Gorilla were good friends.
By 1994, Bobby Heenan transitioned to a color role with WCW. He stayed with the company close to their 2001 closure, though admitted in interviews that his experience with the WWF was much more positive. He compared the two companies as “night and day”. When Gorilla Monsoon died on October 6th, 1999, Heenan insisted that he briefly acknowledge his friend’s passing on the following episode of Monday Nitro – despite WCW being in the midst of a ratings war with the WWF at the time. Reportedly, WCW management was against the idea, but Heenan threatened to walk out if he wasn’t allowed to mention Gorilla’s passing on air.
Paying Tribute to the Brain
Former WWE colleague, Mean Gene Okerlund comments “Saddened by the news that arrived this afternoon from Bobby Heenans daughter Jess that he has passed. Bobby and his family have had to endure so much because of his health. Bobby Heenan was such a great friend. You don’t replace people like that. Condolences to Cyndi, Jessica, family, friends and fans. RIP Bobby.” On Twitter, Vince McMahon noted Heenan as “one of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history.” One of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history. Our thoughts are with the Heenan family.

Bobby Duncum Jr. Death – Drug Overdose

Bobby Duncum Jr. – Dead at 34 from a drug overdose. Photo: wwe.com 1965-2000 (Age 34)
Bobby Duncum Jr. cultivated an image as a tough Texan, much like his wrestling father Bob Duncum Sr. Bobby’s talents brought him to the attention of Japanese promoters as well as Extreme Championship Wrestling before he hit the national stage with WCW. There, he formed a popular team in the faction the West Texas Rednecks. During a recovery from shoulder surgery, Duncum Jr. overdosed on painkillers in January of 2000, dying at the age of 34.
Bobby Duncum Jr. with Curt Hennig – one half of the ‘West Texas Rednecks’ stable (Nitro, June 7, 1999) Photo: wwe.com A Talented Son
Bobby Duncum’s dad was the much-feared brawling cowboy, Bobby Duncum. Like his father, Duncum Jr. could portray a cowboy with ease, cultivating an image as a tough man who was not to be crossed. Given his billed size at 6’6” and 290 lbs. this wasn’t difficult to do. After being trained by former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk, Jr., Duncum Jr. debuted in Global Wrestling Federation in 1992. There, he formed a championship winning tag team with John Hawk (aka John Layfield aka Bradshaw) known as the Texas Mustangs. Duncum Jr. caught the attention of Japanese promoters at a young age, and was soon working in All-Japan Pro Wrestling, a noteworthy accomplishment. 5 years before his death, Bobby Duncum’s works in AJPW (Sep. 2, 1995) There, Duncum Jr. teamed with legendary Texan Stan Hansen. A rising star, Duncum Jr. found himself in demand, alternating between tours of Japan and appearances in the United States including ECW.
WCW and a Collection of Cowboys
WCW 1998: Bobby Duncum feuds with Chris Jericho. Photo: wwe.com
In late 1998, Duncum Jr. debuted in WCW, appearing on Nitro as a babyface. He began a program with WCW World Television Champion Chris Jericho, but was unable to win the belt. However, 1999 would be a turning point in his career as he turned heel and aligned himself with Curt Hennig, Kendall Windham, and Barry Windham as the West Texas Rednecks, a group that feuded with rappers Master P and the No Limit Soldiers. Although the Rednecks were billed as heels, the southern fans embraced them, particularly after they recorded the song and video “Rap is Crap.” The song would get airplay on some country stations. The Rednecks feuded with Master P and the Filthy Animals until a shoulder injury shelved Duncum Jr.
A Shocking Discovery In late January 2000, Bobby Duncum Jr.’s roommate found his lifeless body.
Bobby Duncum Jr. enters the ring on the November 16, 1998 episode of Nitro. Photo: wwe.com
According to a story in the New York Daily News, an autopsy determined Duncum Jr. overdosed on the painkiller fentanyl, a drug that can be 100 times more potent than morphine. Duncum Jr. reportedly did not have a prescription for the drug and was supplied it by a relative. Duncum Jr.’s body was donated to the University of Texas.

Bobo Brazil Death – Stroke

1924-1998 (Age 73)
WWE Hall of Famer Bobo Brazil began wrestling in 1951, his famous name coming after a printer misspelled his name at the time. Known for his headbutt finisher the Coco Butt, Brazil battled racial prejudice, winning over even the most biased of people.
A Typo Creates a Legend
Bobo (alongside “Classy” Freddie Blassie, and Regis Philbin) salutes the crowd at his 1994 WWE Hall of Fame induction. Photo: wwe.com
Houston Harris, the man who would become world-famous as Bobo Brazil was born on July 10, 1925 in Little Rock, Arkansas but grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. Harris trained under grappler Joe Savoldi, debuting in 1951. Harris wrestled as “Boo Boo” Brazil until a printer’s error listed him as “Bobo” Brazil. Bobo was born and the name stuck. At the time, segregation in the South normally limited African-American wrestlers to only wrestling other African-American wrestlers, but Brazil proved so popular that promoters put aside their prejudices in order to make money.
A Legendary Run
Bobo Brazil interviewed in December 1975 for NWA’s ‘Big Time Wrestling’ in Detroit
Bobo’s popularity led to high demand by promoters and fans alike, not only in North America, but around the world. However, Bobo is arguably best known for his run in Detroit’s NWA promotion “Big Time Wrestling,” where he wrestled the much-hated pioneer of hardcore wrestling, the Sheik. Bobo and the Sheik engaged in a wrestling feud that spanned decades and spilled buckets of blood. The two often battled over the promotion’s United States Championship, but the feud was about more than a mere title, with both men working in a number of arenas as they sought to end the other’s career. Bobo traveled around the United States and Canada, winning regional championship and even the NWA World Heavyweight Championship—depending on whom you believe.
Bobo with the victory
On October 18, 1962, Brazil defeated champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. The belt was awarded to Bobo after Rogers claimed he suffered a groin injury. Although Brazil refused the title, doctors found nothing wrong with Rogers and the title change was upheld. Rogers defeated Brazil in a rematch, but the NWA has not officially recognized the title change. Bobo’s list of opponents read like a Who’s Who of wrestling, with Bobo working the AWA, NWA, and WWF.
Bobo locks up Harley Race
The burly Bobo wrestled stars including Johnny Valentine, Dick the Bruiser, Abdullah the Butcher, Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Haystacks Calhoun. Although Bobo wrestled primarily as a babyface, he faced WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino in a rare face versus face series. Bobo even wrestled Andre the Giant to a draw, proving he was a force to be reckoned with, even against wrestling’s “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The Coco Butt knocked down opponents and even knocked down racial barriers. In 1970, Bobo teamed with El Mongol to take on and defeat the team of Mr. Ito & the Great Ota, the first time an African-American star had performed in a racially-mixed match in Atlanta, Georgia.
Later Years
Some wrestlers wither away as their careers begin to slow down, but not Bobo Brazil. Brazil mentored WWE Hall of Famer Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, and operated his restaurant Bobo’s Grill in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Bobo Brazil is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by longtime rival, Ernie “The Cat” Ladd” (1994). Photo: wwe.com
In 1993, the originator of the Coco Butt wrestled for the last time. In 1994, Bobo Brazil was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his longtime rival, Ernie Ladd. Brazil in turn would induct “The Big Cat” the following year.
Bobo Brazil’s Death
In January 1998, Bobo suffered a series of strokes and was hospitalized. He passed away at the Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, Michigan on January 20, 1998. His body was cremated. Bobo was 73 when he died and left behind six children. By Mike Rickard on November 1, 2017 1990s, 1998, Stroke

Brad Armstrong Death – Undisclosed Causes

Brad Armstrong – Dead at age 50 from unknown causes. Photo: wwe.com
1962-2012 (Age 50)

A member of one of wrestling’s underrated dynasties, Brad Armstrong competed alongside his father “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, breaking into the business at age 18.
A talented wrestler, Brad Armstrong worked a number of gimmicks, but never found the same success as his father, or brother. Nonetheless, Brad Armstrong was highly respected in the industry, both in and out of the ring.
NWA World Championship Wrestling: Brad Armstrong and his father, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong take on Randy Barber and Mike Jackson in tag action (April 4, 1987). Photo: wwe.com Breaking in at a Young Age
The son of WWE Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Brad broke into the business at the age of 18, working in the NWA’s Southeastern Championship Wrestling territory. Before long, Armstrong was on the nationally syndicated program World Championship Wrestling, competing alongside his famous father Bob in Georgia Championship Wrestling. Brad also teamed with Tim Horner, forming the team known as The Lightning Express. The rising young star worked the territories as well as in Japan, competing in All Japan Pro Wrestling’s World Junior Heavyweight Championship tournament.
Regional Championships
Brad Armstrong’s good looks, technical abilities, and speed in the ring made him a regional star, with him winning regional championships around the United States. Brad would win singles honors such as the Georgia National Championship, the Mid-South North American Championship, the Smoky Mountain Championship, and the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship. His team with Tim Horner proved successful as they captured Georgia’s National Tag Team Championship and the UWF Tag Team Championship. Brad’s team with his father yielded tag team gold in Georgia and Southeastern Championship Wrestling.
A Vastly Underrated Star
Brad Armstrong was no curtain-jerker as he never reached the level of success as his dad, or Brother Brian (aka The Road Dogg Jesse James). Certainly, the number of bad gimmicks WCW saddled him with in the early 1990’s didn’t help. Working as “The Candyman,” “Fantasia/Badstreet,” and the lawsuit-magnet Arachnaman did nothing for Brad’s career (although he did have the good fortune of wrestling under a mask for the latter two).
14 years before his death: Brad Armstrong makes his Monday Nitro debut (June 29, 1998). Photo: wwe.com
Still, Armstrong was highly regarded by his peers, including announcer Jim Ross who stated in his blog: “One of the greatest things someone in our business can say of any wrestler is that said wrestler could have a good match with anyone, no matter who it is. Brad Armstrong certainly fits on a rather short list of wrestlers that could literally have a good match with anyone. I’ve called 100’s of Brad Armstrong bouts, in singles and in tags, in main events and in prelims, and I never saw him having what would be perceived as a “bad match.” Not one time.” “Stone Cold” Steve Austin complimented Armstrong in his autobiography The Stone Cold Truth:
Brad Armstrong (right) appears alongside his brothers, Scott Armstrong (left) and Brian Armstrong (center) at the WWE’s 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony to induct their father, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong. Photo: wwe.com
“Brad Armstrong could work with anybody. That guy was as smooth as silk…He was like Ricky Steamboat, in a way—another guy you went out there and never had to say a word to. He knew the finish and how to get there. I knew how good he could be. I’d call all the spots in the ring and we’d just wrestle” After his in-ring career slowed down, Brad went to work in the WWE’s version of ECW as a trainer, producer, and guest commentator on a few occasions. He appeared at his father’s induction into the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame class.
Brad Armstrong’s Sudden Death
On November 1, 2012, Brad was found dead in his Kennesaw, Georgia home. He was 50 years old at the time of his passing. Armstrong had seen his physician the previous week for an undisclosed treatment, but his cause of death was never publicly disclosed. He is survived by his wife Lori and daughter Jillian.
Brad Armstrong is buried at the Kennesaw Memorial Park in Marietta, Georgia.
Brad Armstrong’s grave at Kennesaw Memorial Park in Marietta, GA. Photo: F Chambers
The Brain joins many other notable wrestling managers who have passed away over the last 15 years including WWF favorites Paul Bearer, Sensational Sherri, Miss Elizabeth, and Mr. Fuji. In 2004, Bobby Heenan was inducted into his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. The fact that The Brain was able to battle such poor health for 15 years should speak to his will to fight. Heenan leaves behind his wife Cynthia Jean and daughter Jessica.

Brian Christopher Lawler Death – Suicide

“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher. Photo: wwe.com 1972-2018 (Age 46)
Brian Christopher Lawler died on July 29, 2018. He was 46.
The news was first broken in a Dave Meltzer twitter.
Brian Christopher Lawler spent many years with the WWE, his most notable gimmick was working as “Grandmaster Sexay” in the stable “Too Cool” (alongside Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi). The group was hugely over during the height of the Attitude era in 1999. On July 7, 2018, Brian Lawler was arrested after police spotted his vehicle speeding and swerving. When police attempted to pull him over, Lawler refused to stop. When he finally did come to a stop, police said Lawler reeked of booze and had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. He was arrested and booked into a Memphis-area jail, his bond was set at $40,000. On July 28, 2018, Brian Christopher Lawler tried to hang himself in his jail cell. He was rushed to the hospital and put on life support, where he would not recover. Sadly, Lawler had his demons, as was documented with various arrests over the last decade. Just last month TMZ reported that Brian Christopher Lawler was arrested after skipping out on a hotel bill.
Early in his career: Brian Christopher in the USWA with tag partner, Jeff Jarrett. Photo: kentuckyfriedwrestling.com Early Wrestling Career
It has to be difficult following in the footsteps of a legend. Especially when you choose the same profession. And especially when said legend is still active in that profession. That was the position that Brian Christopher Lawler found himself in when trying to break into the wrestling industry in the late 80’s. As we now know, Brian Christopher (as he went by for the majority of his career) was able to find success of his own, but that outcome was far from a certainty. Lawler would get his start in USWA. He debuted wearing a mask under the name Nebula – one half of a tag team called “The Twilight Zone.” Christopher would unmask within a few months, at which point he created the moniker “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher. He would wrestle in this organization from 1988-1997 where he won their Heavyweight Championship an astounding 24 times and the World Tag Team Titles on 6 different occasions – once with Scott Anthony (Raven) and twice with Jeff Jarrett, among others.
Brian Christopher hits WWE’s Light Heavyweight Division
Upon paying his dues, Christopher was signed with the big leagues, WWE, where he was initially brought in to compete in their embryonic lightweight division, as in an attempt to compete with WCW’s cruiserweights. Christopher would lose in the finals of the lightweight heavyweight championship tournament, a belt that would first go to Taka Michinoku. The WWE’s light heavyweight division never fully developed and became an afterthought within two years.
Too Much to Too Cool
Christopher would later team with Scott Taylor to create the tandem, “Too Much.” While wrestling under this name, the team was never given much material to work with and it looked inevitable that the pairing would soon dissolve or just simply disappear from storylines. Then something remarkable happened in 1999, when Christopher and Taylor would re-debut, this time under the moniker, “Too Cool” – complete with a dancing gimmick. Scotty was nicknamed “Scotty 2 Hotty” with Christopher given the name “Grandmaster Sexay”. If you just read that outloud and asked yourself how the hell this got over, the answer is that you needed to be there.
Brian Christopher: one third of “Too Cool”. The trio were hugely over in the late 90s. Photo: wwe.com
Anyone that has watched wrestling for any length of time knows that dancing gimmicks have been prevalent for years, but rarely, if ever do they turn into anything worthwhile, let alone flourish. But, flourish Too Cool did. The duo were paired with Rikishi, and the three would go on to become one of the most popular acts on the roster. Although Rikishi was the star of the group, Christopher and Taylor would prosper as well. They successfully won the Tag Titles, and were television and PPV regulars, who would move between the mid-cards for nearly two years. The trio would be broken up near the end of 2000, when the front office decided to push Rikishi as a main event heel. Without Rikishi by their side, WWE seemed to have no plans for Too Cool. Soon after the split, Taylor would break his ankle, leaving Christopher with even less to do. He was eventually released in 2001 when he was caught illegally conveying drugs across the United States-Canada border. TNA and Indies, return to WWE Christopher wrestled in independent promotions upon his WWE release, and also moved to TNA for a few years where he feuded with Dusty Rhodes. Several times throughout the years on the independent circuit he would reunite with either Scotty 2 Hotty or Rikishi. Christopher did finally make a return to WWE in 2011, though it seemed the young PG audience barely recognized him upon his first Raw appearance in years. “Too Sexy” also appeared on the Old School edition of Raw in 2014 alongside former Too Cool members Taylor and Rikishi they would defeat 3MB. Sadly, Brian Christopher Lawler joins a long list of wrestlers who died before age 50. Wrestling legend Nikolai Volkoff also passed on the same day as Lawler. Our condolences to the friends and family of Brian Lawler Christopher.

Brian Pillman Death – Heart Attack

Brian Pillman – Dead at 35 from a heart attack. Photo: wwe.com 1962-1997 (age 35)
Brian Pillman was an underrated wrestler. Taken much too young, Pillman had runs with virtually every popular wrestling promotion in the late 80s through the mid 90s. In WCW he teamed with a young “Stunning” Steve Austin to form the Hollywood Blonds. By ’96, Pillman hit the WWF. Although his run was cut short due to his death, he was involved in some very memorable storylines, including the infamous “gun incident” in which Pillman is yielding a handgun at his home while waiting for the uninvited arrival of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. At just 35 years old, the Brian Pillman death happened much too soon, leaving the world of wrestling wondering why. This is the Brian Pillman death story. 5 years before his death: “Flyin’” Brian Pillman takes on Shane Douglas on an episode of WCW Saturday Night (October 17, 1992)
The Cost of Trying to Get Chiseled
The beginnings of the Brian Pillman death story happened well before the actual date of his death. Years after he passed away, Brian’s widow, Melanie King, spoke to news outlets regarding her husband’s time with the World Wrestling Federation. She revealed that Brian felt pressure to have a leaner, more chiseled physique. As a result, he was spending more than $1000 every month on growth hormones, chemicals that have an even more dramatic bulking effect than steroids and that are very hard on the body. Melanie also told reporters that Brian was taking pain pills that a doctor illegally prescribed for him and that he used herbal supplements that contained ephedrine to try and reduce his amount of body fat. The combination of the stimulants in the supplements, the harsh effects of the hormones and the tranquilizing effects of the pain pills no doubt put a strain on the wrestling superstar’s heart, setting him up for his untimely demise.
Pillman was involved in one of the most controversial storylines in WWF’s Attitude Era. With “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on the way to his home, the appropriately nicknamed “Loose Cannon” pulls out a firearm. Photo: wwe.com Circumstances in the Brian Pillman Death Story
Brian Pillman’s date of death was October 5, 1997. The date also happened to be that of a major WWF pay per view – Badd Blood: In Your House. Brian was set to appear in the ring against Dude Love, but he failed to arrive at the set. WWF representatives contacted the hotel where Brian was staying and received word that the hotel maids had found him dead in his room earlier that afternoon. The coroner discovered that Brian Pillman had heart disease that he did not know about and had died from a heart attack. Cocaine was found in his system and is believed to have been partially responsible for his death. Brian Pillman was cremated. Half of his ashes were given to his wife Melanie. The other half was given to Steve Austin.
Pillman’s Widow Speaks Out
The day after Brian Pillman died, his then estranged wife Melanie King gave an interview with Vince McMahon, talking about her family. Although at the time, she seemed friendly with the WWF, Melanie has since revealed that she felt pressure to give the interview in order to receive a payment from the federation to help provide for her children. During interviews in the years that followed, she has expressed a belief that the WWF was at least partially responsible for Brian’s death due to the big demands that they placed on the wrestler.
After the Brian Pillman Death Story: Remembering the Wrestler
From 1998 to 2001, Brian Pillman was remembered at the annual Brian Pillman Memorial Show, a charity event that raised proceeds for his children. Fans still remember Pillman to this day, and he has been featured in a number of wrestling video games, including the 2015 games WWE 2K16. His feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, particularly when he pulled out a gun on a 1996 episode of Raw, is often cited as marking the unofficial start of the WWF’s Attitude Era.

Brickhouse Brown Death – Cancer

1960-2018 (Age 57)
Brickhouse Brown died on July 29th, 2018. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer in April of 2017. The territory worker was mostly known for his work in the 80s.
Brickhouse Brown False Death Report
It appeared to be a false finish for Frederick Seawright, better known as territory worker, Brickhouse Brown. The 57 year old flatlined while in hospice care in Mississippi on July 20th, 2018.
Brickhouse Brown was first given a cancer diagnosis in April of 2017
Brian Blair, President of the Cauliflower Alley Club first reported Brown’s death, and as expected, the social media tributes poured in. Blair had grown close to Brickhouse Brown, the Cauliflower Alley Club had been helping Brown pay his rent after his cancer diagnosis in 2017.
That’s when Brickhouse decided it wasn’t quite time to go.
Victoria Timmins, Seawright’s mother, said that she slept next to her deceased son awaiting the coroner, when she miraculously heard her son speak. “Mom, I’m hungry”, he first said. The two continued to speak.
Brickhouse would fight an additional nine days.
Indie wrestler Matt Riviera visited Brown on July 27th, noting on Twitter “will never forget the testimony he shared about dying and coming back. He is a miracle in the flesh.”
On July 29th, 2018 at 9:45am, Brickhouse Brown was officially pronounced dead.
Brickhouse Brown enters the ring to take on Dutch Mantel. Brickhouse Brown Wrestling Career
Trained by Terry Funk (with whom he would later feud) Brickhouse Brown made his debut back in 1982, boasting a career that lasted three and a half decades. Brickhouse would work multiple territories in the 80s and 90s, mostly in the south east including the AWA, USWA, CWA, and WCCW.
In July of ’87, Brown won the AWA Southern Championship – defeating Jerry Lawler.
Brickhouse Brown briefly worked for the WWF as enhancement talent in 1995, including a match against a relatively unknown Hunter Hearst Helmsley aka Triple H on an episode of Superstars.
Brown worked the Indies in the 2000s, all the way up until his cancer diagnosis in April 2017.  
Brickhouse Brown sits down for a shoot interview in 2009. Photo: highspots
Brickhouse Brown Health Issues
According to Dave Meltzer, Brown’s cancer diagnosis was only stage 2 when first diagnosed: “The heartbreak of his story is that the cancer was only stage 2 when diagnosed, but he had no insurance and was only treated with pain killers.” In April of 2018, Brickhouse Brown was honored with the first ever ‘courage award’ from the Cauliflower Alley Club. He received the honor in tears. During his speech, he noted that his cancer was terminal and that he had less than six months to live. Over the spring and summer of 2018, Brown’s health deteriorated quickly, the cancer spreading to his brain. His eyesight was poor, and his bones were weakened from cancer, effectively breaking both of his legs. Brown’s weight was down to 150 pounds. Frederick Seawright was pronounced dead on July 29th, 2018 – nine days after he was first reported to have died. Strangely, two other wrestling stars died on July 29th, 2018 – Nikolai Volkoff, and Attitude-era star Brian Christopher Lawler, who was only 46. The death of three wrestlers in a single day made national news.

Bruiser Brody Death – Murdered

Bruiser Brody, murdered in a backstage locker room in Puerto Rico. Photo: wwe.com 1946-1988 (age 42)
Frank Goodish, best known to wrestling fans as Bruiser Brody, enjoyed a successful run in the professional wrestling world throughout the 80s… before his untimely murder. Brody was in innovator with hardcore-style matches, often leading to blood from him or his opponent, and occasionally moving the action from the ring to the middle of the audience. This was of course during a time that was well before the existence of ECW, so the crowds were fascinated by Brody’s rough style.
WCCW 1987: Bruiser Brody in one of many feuds with Abdullah the Butcher. Photo: wwe.com
Trained by the legendary Fritz Von Erich, Bruiser Brody spent time with dozens of organizations, including the NWA, WWWF, and of course Fritz’ Texas-based, WCCW. Bruiser Brody’s chaotic feud with Abdullah the Butcher is the stuff of wrestling legend. Here they are in the video below in an outdoor brawl for NWF. There can’t be more than a couple hundred people in attendance, but Bruiser and Abdullah put on a show like they’re wrestling in a sold out Madison Square Garden – true lovers of their craft:
Bruiser Brody Murder Aside from the Benoit murders, Bruiser Brody’s death remains one of the most controversial in wrestling history.
No holds barred! Brody goes to work on his unfortunate opponent. Photo: wwe.com
What’s known is that Brody was stabbed to death backstage during a show in Puerto Rico in 1988. No one was charged with Brody’s murder, and it’s speculated why he was stabbed to begin with. The story goes that Brody was lured backstage “to discuss business” with José González, a Puerto Rican wrestler known as “Invader 1”. An altercation occurred, with Brody ending up dead from stab wounds. José González claimed self defense, and was acquitted in 1989. The knife used to stab Brody was never recovered. For reasons that are unclear, Tony Atlas, who claims to have witnessed the stabbing, was never called to testify at González’ murder trial. José González house caught on fire in 2014, destroying part of his home, a car, and a motorcycle. The damages were estimated to be $75,000. Bruiser Brody was cremated. What was done with his ashes is not public knowledge.

Bruno Sammartino Death – Heart Complications

Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino, dead at 82. 1935-2018 (Age 82)
Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino has died at age 82. Sammartino was a huge star throughout the 60s and 70s. In 1963 he defeated Buddy Rogers to become the second ever WWE (then, WWWF) champion. Bruno would go on to hold the title for over 7 years, a record that still stands today.
Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers to capture the WWWF championship at Madison Square Garden (1963). Photo: pro wrestling illustrated
The length of Bruno’s title run speaks loudly for his drawing power. WWE gave Madison Square Garden the moniker “the house that Bruno built” – they credit Sammartino for selling out the arena 187 times throughout the 60s and 70s (though some wrestling historians dispute this). Bruno eventually lost the title to Canadian turned Russian heel Ivan Koloff. According to wrestling lore, grown men in the sold out Madison Square Garden were seen weeping when a baby faced Sammartino gave up the strap to Koloff.
Life after Wrestling  
Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino reconcile in 2013. Photo: wwe.com  
A purveyor of the old school, Sammartino was one of Vince McMahon Jr’s most prominent critics after he left the WWF in the late 80s. Bruno was unhappy with the direction that professional wrestling was going, and was outspoken about the drug culture surrounding the business. Sammartino was featured on various national media outlets in opposition of McMahon, including appearances on CNN, The Phil Donahue Show, and Geraldo.
But as any seasoned fan knows, you never say never in the wrestling business.
Eventually, Bruno Sammartino and Vince McMahon reconciled. In 2013, Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Bruno Sammartino Death  
CBS Pittsburgh reported that Sammartino “died peacefully after battling health issues for the last two months.” Dave Meltzer later reported in his newsletter that Bruno died from “multiple organ failures” caused by heart issues.
Bruno Sammartino’s Legacy
In what should come as no surprise, when Bruno Sammartino’s death was announced by WWE, tributes began flooding in from social media.
Bruno leaves behind his wife (of 59 years) Carol, and three children. His wife and two fraternal sons, Darryl and Daniel were by his side at home when he passed. Our condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Sammartino.

Buddy Landel Death – Car Accident

Buddy Landel, Dead at 53. He was involved in a car accident the day prior to his death, and reportedly left the hospital against doctor’s wishes. Photo: wwe.com 1961-2015 (Age 53)
William Ansor was born on August 14, 1961, but would later change his name to that of his wrestling persona, Buddy Landel. A talented and charismatic wrestler, the Knoxville, Tennessee native hit the big time in 1985, working in Jim Crockett Promotions. With a “Battle of the Nature Boys” feud on the horizon, big things lie ahead, but Landel’s personal demons led to an abrupt dismissal, and unfortunately his career never bounced back. A Friendship Leads to a Wrestling Career William Ansor’s sister was dating Barry Orton (brother of “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr.) and knew of Ansor’s interest in wrestling. This led to an introduction to wrestler Boris Malenko, who began training Ansor. With the help of “Cowboy” Bill Watts and Bob Roop, Ansor entered the wrestling business.
Buddy Landel shows off the NWA Heavyweight strap.  
Ansor debuted in 1979, and worked his first match with “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. He adopted the name Buddy Roop and spent time in Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling before an international phone call changed his life.

A New Identity Leads to Success

 

Ansor received a phone call from booker Tom Renesto, Sr. who was setting up matches in Puerto Rico. Renesto asked Ansor if he would dye his hair blonde and work as a heel. Ansor agreed, and before long, he was a star in Puerto Rico, performing as Buddy Landel. When Landel returned to America, he adopted the nickname “Nature Boy” in Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s Memphis territory. Landel’s star was on the rise and soon, he was working in Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling, achieving more success. At the age of 23, Landel had a bright future ahead with promoters taking note of the charismatic star who knew how to draw heat and get fans to pony up money to see him get his comeuppance. Landel caught the attention of Jim Crockett Promotions, which was expanding into a national promotion. Landel was brought into the organization with big plans for him.
Too Much, Too Soon
Landel was paired with manager James J. Dillon and put into a program with NWA World Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The program became a sensation with a main event in Raleigh’s Dorton Arena breaking an attendance record previously set by Elvis Presley. Life was good for Landel. He was making money and wrestling legend has it Landel was being groomed for a run with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship – on the contrary, Ric Flair said in a shoot interview that he had no knowledge of Landel being considered for a run with the belt. By his own admission, Buddy Landel had been given too much, too soon, and he was unable to deal with the enormous pressure thrust upon him. In a 2011 interview with The Post and Courier, Landel recalls oversleeping a TV taping due to heavy drug use the night before. When booker Dusty Rhodes and Jim Crockett Jr. called Landel, he hung up on them and told them not to call him again. Eventually, Landel reported to work, and Dusty fired him immediately. Landel, only 23 years old at the time, ended what could have been one of wrestling’s greatest programs.
Buddy Landel takes on Bob “Spark Plug” Holly (or was it “Thurman Sparky Plugg” at the time?) during his short WWF run in 1995. Photo: wwe.com
Landel’s drug use plagued him wherever he went, and a promising future turned into a series of appearances for a promotion before an exit and an arrival somewhere else. Buddy Landel had his moments of success, including a run in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but he never found the main event success that had once seemed inevitable. Landel caught a break in 1995 when the WWF brought him in, with company officials enthusiastic about him. However, Buddy suffered a severe knee injury when he slipped on some ice and the WWF let him go. Despite his struggles, Buddy overcame his personal demons and maintained a presence on the indie circuit and at wrestling conventions.
Buddy Landel Death  
On June 21, 2015, Buddy was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Landel was hospitalized, but checked himself out, reportedly against his doctor’s wishes. Landel told his wife he felt ill before going to bed.
The next day, Landel’s wife found him unresponsive.
Buddy Landel died on June 22, 2015 at the age of 53. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. With no off-season and a brutal touring schedule, it’s not a shock that other wrestlers have died after suffering injuries from car accidents. That list includes Adrian Adonis who passed away in 1988 along with two of his colleagues. WWF Referree Joey Marella met a similar fate in 1994. Junk Yard Dog passed from a car accident in ’98, though he was long retired from the ring at the time of the accident.

Buddy Roberts Death – Pneumonia

Buddy Roberts, best known for his run with The Fabulous Freebirds – dead at age 65. Photo: wwe.com 1947-2012 (age 65)
Dale Hey, or “Buddy Roberts”, as he was known to wrestling fans, rose to fame in the 80s with the Fabulous Freebirds. Prior to his run with the ‘Birds, Buddy was part of the original Hollywood Blondes, alongside Jerry Brown. Though the Hollywood Blondes name is more commonly linked to Steve Austin and the late Brian Pillman, the original incarnation is not to be overlooked. In 2012, Jim Ross noted “the original Hollywood Blondes of Roberts and Brown were one of the most underrated tag teams ever in the business.”
The Fabulous Freebirds  
WCCW: Buddy Roberts working David Von Erich. Photo: wwe.com
Alongside his Freebird cohorts, Michael “PS” Hayes and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, Buddy Roberts and the Freebirds were a fixture of 1980s professional wrestling. Perhaps their most notable feud taking place against the Von Erichs in WCCW. The Von Erich’s were the baby faces of WCCW, a promotion which was owned by their father, Fritz Von Erich. The attitude of the Fabulous Freebirds made them the perfect heel rivals to challenge the beloved Von Erichs.
January 30, 1984 Fort Worth, TX
NWA 1987: Buddy Roberts and the Freebirds. Photo: wwe.com
Terry Gordy would best be described as the enforcer for the Fabulous Freebirds, while P.S. Hayes was the flamboyant mouthpiece. Where does this leave Buddy Roberts? Buddy was the no-frills, take-no-shit guy. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s said that Buddy’s in ring persona matched his demeanor outside the squared circle.
Buddy Roberts death
Jim Ross noted that Buddy had been doing construction work in the Chicago area prior to his death. It’s also well known that Roberts was diagnosed with throat cancer in the early 2000s – attributed to years of smoking cigarettes. While Buddy had previously seemed to win his bout with cancer, ultimately pneumonia entered both lungs, taking his life on November 29, 2012. In 2015, Buddy Roberts and the Fabulous Freebirds were posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Buddy Rogers Death – Stroke

Nature Boy Buddy Rogers – Dead at 92 after suffering a series of strokes   1921-1992 (Age 71)
Police officer turned wrestler Buddy Rogers achieved national renown as “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, the top-drawing heel during his run. Rogers would become the first man to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship. Rogers’ career and style would inspire many wrestlers, most of all Ric Flair, who emulated Rogers and even battled him for the title “Nature Boy.”
Christmas night 1960, Washington DC: Nature Boy Buddy Rogers locks up Johnny Valentine A Talented Athlete
Born Herman Rohde, Jr., the man who would legally changed his name to Buddy Rogers was a talented athlete who learned how to wrestle at the local YMCA. Rogers was an all-around athlete, thriving in football, boxing, track, and swimming during his youth in Camden, New Jersey. Rohde won YMCA championships in wrestling and swimming, the beginning of a lifetime of championships.
Marketing Himself to the Top
Rohde began wrestling under the name Dutch Rohde, but adopted a new persona when he worked in Texas – that of bleached blonde self-proclaimed “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Inspired by the spectacular success of “Gorgeous” George Wagner who’d innovated the bleached blonde heel wrestler character, Rogers took things even further, becoming a box office draw and sure way for a promoter to revive a dying territory. Rohde took his stage name from Buddy Rogers, a popular silent film star during the 1920’s and his nickname “Nature Boy” from a 1948 hit record by Nat “King” Cole (later covered by Frank Sinatra). With his arrogant attitude, undeniable showmanship, and trademark submission hold, the figure-four leglock, Rogers became the most hated wrestler in America. Like “Gorgeous” George, Rogers’ popularity was fueled by the popularity of wrestling in the new medium known as television.
The Match of the Century  
On June 30, 1961, Buddy Rogers faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Pat O’Connor in the biggest match in wrestling at the time. Chicago’s Comiskey Park was the site of the main event billed as “The Match of the Century,” with a reported 38,622 fans on hand to witness the event. The card sold $148,000 worth of tickets, a wrestling record that stood for almost 20 years. The exciting match-up saw Rogers defeat O’Connor for the belt in a two-out-of-three falls bout. After winning the belt, Rogers drew the fans’ ire by proclaiming, “To a nicer guy it couldn’t happen.”
Now, NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Rogers was more in demand than ever.
Unlike traditional world champions, Rogers wasn’t a shooter, but he was a top draw and a showman second-to-none. Promoter Vince McMahon Sr. took notice and booked Rogers extensively in his Capitol Wrestling promotion, drawing protests from other NWA territories that complained they weren’t getting Rogers enough for their shows.
Nature Boy Buddy Rogers with the late Gorilla Monsoon  
Rogers, who made more money in bigger markets, had no problem ignoring the smaller territories, even though the concept of the NWA was to have a touring world champion who appeared everywhere, helping boost business for every NWA member. Eventually, McMahon decided to establish his own champion. Buddy Rogers dropped the NWA title to Lou Thesz in a one-fall match, but McMahon and allied promoters claimed Rogers was still champion as the match wasn’t a two-out-of-three falls contest. Thus, McMahon recognized Rogers as the champion of the organization that eventually became known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
An Abrupt Retirement  
There are differing stories as to why McMahon took the belt off Buddy Rogers. In his autobiography, Bruno Sammartino claims Rogers was no longer drawing and McMahon needed someone new, but by most accounts, Rogers’ health was an issue. Buddy Rogers is believed to have suffered a heart attack before his WWWF title defense against Bruno Sammartino. By most accounts, Rogers hid his condition by working in tag team matches, setting up the match with Sammartino. The match with Sammartino went less than a minute, with Bruno delivering a backbreaker to Rogers and scoring the victory. Rogers soon faded from action, lending credence to the theory he was unable to compete.
Buddy Rogers interviews Mr. Fuji with Lou Albano Life after the Ring
Buddy Rogers was all but retired from in-ring competition, but he appeared in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1978, working as a heel manager for wrestlers such as Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Ken Patera. During this time, Rogers clashed with Ric Flair, who had adopted Roger’s “Nature Boy” moniker. The two battled in a short, but highly-regarded series with Flair defeating Rogers, establishing himself as the new “Nature Boy.” Rogers resurfaced in the WWF, this time hosting a talk segment called “Rogers Corner.” The segment was used to get angles over, and facilitated Jimmy Snuka’s face turn, with Rogers informing Snuka that “The Superfly’s” manager, Lou Albano, had cheated him out of his earnings. Rogers even teamed with Snuka in a few matches to battle Ray Stevens and Lou Albano. Unfortunately, Rogers broke a hip during one of these matches and ended up suing the WWF, ending their business relationship.
Following his departure from wrestling, Buddy Rogers worked as a casino manager at the Playboy Casino.  
Rogers’ age didn’t bother him as he kept fit with weight-lifting and swimming. Neither did heart problems as he underwent a quadruple by-pass, getting back into action, both literally and figuratively.
“I’m Only 68 — that’s Not So Old”
Buddy was enjoying a turkey sandwich at a Florida sub shop when a 6’2” 230-pound man in his late 20’s began verbally abusing two female employees. Rogers asked the man to quiet down, only for the ruffian to call him an old man and challenge him to fight. Rogers shoved the man into a wall, leading to the man throwing a chair at the former champion. Rogers unloaded on the would-be tough guy, leading to the much-younger man begging Rogers to stop, before he fled the sub shop. Rogers told a reporter the worst part of the incident was being called old. Rogers said, “I’m only 68 – that’s not so old.” At age 70, he was reportedly scheduled to battle “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel in a “Battle of the Nature Boys” for Joel Goodhart’s Tri-State Wrestling Alliance promotion. However, the promotion went out of business before the event.
Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in his later years A Picture of Health
Rogers seemed to be in remarkable shape and was enjoying retirement in Florida when he slipped in a supermarket, breaking his arm in three places. According to Dave Meltzer’s 2001 book Tributes, Rogers “suffered three strokes over two weeks prior to his death. The first was a mild one. The second and third, both on Monday June 22, left him blind and paralyzed on one side of the body. He lapsed into a coma and was on life support systems by Wednesday of that week and officially passed away that Friday night.” On June 26, 1992, the legendary grappler slipped the mortal coil. He was 71 years old. Buddy Rogers was survived by his wife, Debbie; a son, David; and a brother, John Rhode. Several other notable wrestlers passed away in the 90s including Andre the Giant, Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and Junkyard Dog.
Buddy Roger’s Grave, Posthumous Inductions  
Buddy Rogers grave in Pompano Beach, Florida. Photo: Jeffrey Tate
Buddy Rogers grave can be found in Pompano Beach, Florida at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens North. His plot is located at the Main Mausoleum, East Wing Addition (Section V East-Level 3, Crypt 94 D). Buddy Rogers was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994 and was honored with inductions in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, and the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Buddy Rose Death – Natural Causes

“Playboy” Buddy Rose – Dead at 56. Photo: wwe.com   1952-2009 (age 56)
Paul Perschmann, best known to wrestling fans as “Playboy” Buddy Rose, started his wrestling career in the early 70s, working all the way into the early 90s. Buddy Rose wrestled for Pacific Northwest Wrestling, the AWA, as well as two brief runs with the WWF in both 1982-1983 and 1990-1991. Rose primarily worked as a heel, although in June of 1983 he made one of the biggest face turns in Portland wrestling history:
NWA Pacific Northwest: Buddy Rose with his manager, the Grand Wizard, interviewed by a young Vince McMahon. 10/9/82. Photo: youtube.com Buddy Rose and the WWF  
Buddy’s first run with the WWF was the more successful of the two stints – he was managed by the Grand Wizard and was an upper carder. Rose also holds the distinction of wrestling in the very first match of the very first WrestleMania – working under the moniker of “The Executioner” against Tito Santana.
Buddy’s second WWF run in the early 90s would prove disappointing.  
Saturday Night’s Main Event, 1990: Buddy Rose takes on the Texas Tornado (his WWF TV debut). Photo: wwe.com
He was essentially used as a comedy character, mocking his newly found weight gain from the late 80s. Buddy would routinely “correct” the announcer of his “slim, trim 217 pounds” – not the 271 pounds that he was billed.
Buddy Rose Death
Buddy Rose died in his Vancouver home on April 28, 2009. According to the medical examiner, it was due to natural causes, although Rose had been suffering from diabetes. Buddy Rose was cremated. His ashes were given to his wife.

Buzz Sawyer Death – Drug Overdose

“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer – Dead at 32. Photo: wwe.com   1959-1992 (age 32)
Bruce Woyan, best known to wrestling fans as “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, was a fixture in 1980s professional wrestling. Buzz Sawyer spent time with various territories, including NWA, UWF, Mid-South, WCCW, WCW, among others. He spent a short stint with the WWF in 1984, managed by the late Captain Lou Albano.
Last Battle of Atlanta  
In the early 80s, Buzz had a bloody feud with “Wildfire” Tommy Rich, including the legendary 1983 match inside an enclosed cage – the first match of its kind, dubbed the “Last Battle of Atlanta”.
Shawn Michaels notes the “Last Battle of Atlanta” as the inspiration for the WWE’s “Hell in a Cell” – a PPV that’s still prevalent today.
WCCW 1986: “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne take on the U.S. Express. Photo: wwe.com
Arguably, Buzz Sawyer saw the most success while working for Fritz Von Erich‘s Texas-based WCCW. In 1986, he won WCCW tag team gold alongside the late Matt Osborne (who would go on to become Doink the Clown with the WWF), as well as winning the Television Championship and on the Fourth of July in 1986, the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship. The title would ultimately become vacated after Sawyer abruptly left the promotion in January of ’87.
Wrestling Scams
Apparently Sawyer’s mean streak inside the ring was not far off from his demeanor outside the ring. Sawyer was well known for his drug addiction, and there are many infamous stories surrounding his money scams. Sawyer would jump from territory to territory, offering to “train” young aspiring wrestlers. He would take their money and skip town… or occasionally beat them senseless.
Buzz Sawyer rips off the Undertaker  
Never trust a heel! Buzz Sawyer offers a handshake to Terry Taylor. Mid-South, 1986. Photo: youtube.com  
One such encounter that’s been well documented is when Buzz Sawyer pulled one over on Mark Calaway aka The Undertaker. Calaway, a teenager at the time, paid for Sawyer’s training services but Sawyer skipped town the following day…
As luck would have it, Buzz Sawyer and Mark Calaway would both wind up in WCW in 1990.  
Gary Michael Cappetta’s book Bodyslams! Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman confirms the story, noting that Calaway borrowed two thousand dollars from his brother to pay for the training session from Sawyer. The Undertaker told Cappetta that he had “an old score to settle” and noted “I’m going to beat the shit out of him.”
WCCW 1986: “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne take on the U.S. Express. Photo: youtube.com
Apparently ‘Taker was talked out of it, supposedly to protect his reputation in the industry – one in which he was just beginning to wet his feet. It appears to have been a wise decision for The Undertaker as he has had one of the longest running and most marketable wrestling careers in history.
Buzz Sawyer Death  
On February 7, 1992, Buzz Sawyer died from heart failure due to a drug overdose. He was 32 years old and living in Sacramento at the time.

Captain Lou Albano Death – Heart Attack

Captain Lou Albano – dead at 76. Photo: wwe.com   1933-2009 (age 76)
With a wardrobe of colorful Hawaiian shirts, facial piercings finished with rubber bands, and unruly hair with a beard to match – Captain Lou Albano was a man you couldn’t help but notice. Known to friends and family as Louis Albano, during the 1970s and 80s, the larger-than-life personality brought drama and fun to the world of professional wrestling. Albano managed numerous top name competitors. Through collaborations with pop star Cyndi Lauper, he helped bring mainstream attention to wrestling during the 1980s. Even though the Captain Lou Albano death story occurred years ago, he is still fondly remembered to this day by wrestling fans.
A Decade of Health Problems Precede the Captain Lou Albano Death Story
In 1986, Captain Lou Albano left the World Wrestling Federation to pursue other interests, but he still occasionally made appearances at ringside. Sadly, his ability to continue his career in entertainment was greatly limited during the 1990s. While information has not been shared as to exactly what transpired, it’s known that Captain Lou Albano had a serious health problem during the early 1990s. Over the course of the decade, he would lose more than 150 pounds and by 2000 he did seem to have considerably improved his health.
More Health Struggles Bring About the Captain Lou Albano Death Story  
While Captain Lou Albano was able to lose weight and get on the path to a healthier life, he wasn’t able to completely avoid health problems. He had a heart attack in May 2005. His health again took a sharp decline in 2009. He was left on hospice care. Sadly, a second heart attack would claim his life on October 14th. He died at home in Westchester County, New York. He was 76.
The Wrestling Community Saddened by the Captain Lou Albano Death News
Even though Captain Lou Albano’s health had been rocky for years, the wrestling community was shocked by his passing. Many professional wrestlers made tributes to the former wrestling manager, and many major publications and websites, including MTV.com and New York Times, ran his obituary.
Lou Albano managing the tag team champion U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) at WrestleMania I (1985). Photo: wwe.com
In 2009, Captain Lou Albano was added to the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Texas. The New England Wrestling Alliance added his name to their roster in 2011. In 2012, Wrestling Observer Newsletter honored Lou Albano with a place in their Hall of Fame as well.
Remembering Lou Albano  
Today, people don’t just remember Captain Lou Albano for his work in professional wrestling. He is also remembered for his appearances in Cyndi Lauper’s music videos, particularly “Girls Just Want to Have Fun“. The video has been played over 180 million times on YouTube. Fans continue to watch Captain Lou in the movies that he appeared in during his lifetime, including “Body Slam” and in reruns of Miami Vice and The Super Mario Bros Super Show.

Chase Tatum Death – Drug Overdose

Chase Tatum – Dead at 34 from a drug overdose. Photo: wwe.com 1973-2008 (Age 34)
Chase Tatum had a short career in WCW. Along his brief run he was injured, resulting in a battle with painkillers. After leaving wrestling, Tatum worked in the entertainment industry, appearing in music videos and films; and working for the band Outkast.
Like many of his contemporaries, Tatum succumbed to personal demons, dying at the young age of 34.
Jan. 9, 1999: Chase Tatum looks on at The Gambler (WCW Saturday Night). Photo: wwe.com Big Man and a Bodybuilder
Born in Kennesaw, Georgia on November 3, 1973, William Chase Tatum found success as a bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Georgia bodybuilding competition when he was 19. Tatum worked as a personal trainer, a job he would keep throughout his life. At 6’3” and 265 pounds, he had the look WCW was looking for, and a WCW personality reportedly encouraged Tatum to try out. After a brief period of training, Chase debuted in 1999, working for WCW as enhancement talent. However, Tatum found a modicum of success when he joined Master P and No Limit Soldiers stable during the rap group’s run in WCW, feuding with the West Texas Outlaws.
Life after Wrestling
Chase Tatum worked less than two years in wrestling, but sustained enough injuries to require back surgery. Without health insurance, he reportedly relied on painkillers to get through the day.
Scott Steiner goes to work on Chase Tatum. Photo: wwe.com  
Tatum worked in the hip-hop industry, acting as personal assistant and road manager for the band Outkast. He also appeared in music videos. Tatum appeared in the films Unshackled and who’s Your Caddy? Enjoying a substantial role in the latter film with Outkast member Big Boi. According to Tatum’s father, “He loved working with them, [Outkast]… He got to see Paris, Germany and Japan.” Plagued by Painkillers
Chase Tatum struggled to get through the pain caused by his wrestling-related injuries.  
Chase Tatum enters the ring on an episode of WCW Saturday Night. Photo: wwe.com
Shortly before his death, Tatum was finally able to get back surgery to repair a degenerative disc. According to his father Roy Tatum, “”He was in the process of getting his life back together…He was confident he was going to turn things around, to live a normal life again without those painkillers.” However, Tatum’s path took a different course and he did not get the help he needed in time. On March 23, 2008, Chase Tatum was found dead in his Buckhead, Georgia home. Tatum died from an accidental drug overdose. He was 34. Several other notable wrestlers have died before age 50, which we’ve profiled on this page. Other wrestlers to pass in 2008 include Mike Bell, S.D. Jones, Gary Hart, and Killer Kowalwski.

Chavo Guerrero Sr. Death – Liver Cancer

Chavo Guerrero Sr. – Dead at 68 1949-2017 (age 68)
WWE has confirmed the death of Chavo Guerrero Sr. He was 68 years old. Slam is reporting that his cause of death was due to liver cancer.
The Guerrero Legacy
The last name Guerrero is synonymous with professional wrestling. Chavo Sr. was the son of Gory Gurrero, and older brother to Eddie Guerrero. Chavo Sr’s son, Chavo Jr., spent time with WWE, WCW, TNA, and most recently, a run in Lucha Underground. Chavo Sr. was a well known worker throughout the 70s and 80s, having spent time in Japan as well as the AWA.
Family Feud
Younger fans will likely recognize Chavo as “Chavo Classic” from his WWE run in 2004. Chavo was part of a memorable program with his son, Chavo Jr., where the pair feuded with Eddie Guerrero.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion
During his 2004 WWE tenure, Chavo Sr. became the oldest to ever win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, capturing the gold on the May 20th edition of SmackDown! He was 55 years old at the time. The Wrestling World Reacts Here’s some tweets from around the wrestling world, paying respect to the late Chavo Sr: WWE ✔@WWE WWE is saddened to learn that Chavo Guerrero Sr. has passed away. http://wwe.me/Lc3Toa
My heart & condolences to the entire Guerrero family on the passing of Chavo Guerrero Sr. A one of a kind person who was a pleasure to know Chris Jericho ✔@IAmJericho RIP #ChavoGuerrero… a true pioneer and legend in this business. It was a pleasure to know him,… https://www.instagram.com/p/BQYe2L9jf8J/ Triple H ✔@TripleH Chavo Sr. was one of a kind. He did things his own way & entertained fans for 20+ years. My thoughts are with the entire Guerrero family. pic.twitter.com/fn1bk6WXLF Chavo Guerrero jr. ✔@mexwarrior Today the world lost a true rebel. He did things “HIS” way. Not always right, not always wrong,… Our condolences to the friends and family of Chavo Sr. By Ryan on February 11, 2017 2010s, 2017, Cancer, Most Popular