Fallen Soldiers Gone But Not Forgotten Full List Of Deceased Wrestlers 05

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.

Giant Baba Death – Cancer

Giant Baba
Japanese wrestling legend Giant Baba, Dead at 61 from liver failure – an end result to the cancer he was a battling.   1938-1999 (Age 61)
Japanese wrestling has had its share of icons, with names like Rikidozan, Antonio Inoki, Jumbo Tsuruta, and Mitsuharu Misawa immediately coming to mind. However, no list of Japanese greats is complete without mentioning Shohei “Giant” Baba. Baba would find acclaim in Japan as both a wrestler, and the co-founder of All-Japan Pro Wrestling. Baba’s accomplishments were many, up until his death from cancer at age 61.
From Pro Baseball to Pro Wrestling
Shohei Baba was born on January 23, 1938 in Japan’s Sanjo City.
Giant Baba had baseball aspirations before turning to the squared circle.  
Baba was a stand-out baseball pitcher in high school, earning a spot on the much-revered Tokyo Giants pro team after dropping out of high school in his junior year. However, Baba’s pitching record led to him being sent to the minors, then traded to another team. Whatever Baba’s future might have held in baseball ended when he slipped in his bathtub, injuring his harm so badly he could no longer play the game? Standing at nearly 6’11”, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise to see Baba’s baseball aspirations take a left turn toward professional wrestling. Japanese wrestling superstar Rikidozan saw Baba as a possible successor for him in the Japanese Wrestling Association (JWA). Baba trained under Rikidozan along with another future legend, Antonio Inoki. Billed a height of 7’3” and a weight of 300 pounds, Baba toured the United States, wrestling the World-Wide Wrestling Federation Champion, the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Champion, and the World Wrestling Association (WWA) Champion in one month, an unusual accomplishment for any wrestler, let alone a newcomer.
Giant Baba teams up with Andre the Giant to take on The Land of the Giants. All Japan Pro Wrestling, December 26, 1990.  
Baba even delivered Bruno Sammartino’s first loss in Madison Square Garden, beating him by count-out. While Baba’s tour was a financial success, his manager took most of his proceeds. Needless to say, the big man was happy to return to Japan when the opportunity arose. Little did Baba know, but he would be called upon to save professional wrestling in the JWA.
The Dawn of All-Japan Pro Wrestling
During Baba’s absence, his mentor Rikidozan had been murdered in a reputed gangland assassination. Wrestling suddenly was cast in an unfavorable eye, and there were concerns the industry might not last. Fortunately, Baba was able to create a good image for wrestling and when he returned to Japan, his career took off.
Giant Baba gets ready to take on Abdullah the Butcher. All Japan Pro Wrestling, September 10, 1989.  
Baba formed a popular tag team with Antonio Inoki, with both men working in the JWA. However, as the JWA began to weaken, both Baba and Inoki considered forming their own promotion. The JWA fired Inoki, who formed New Japan Pro Wrestling. Baba would leave JWA, founding his own promotion, All-Japan Pro Wrestling with two of Rikidozan’s sons. With wrestling friends Bruno Sammartino, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, and the Funks, Dory Jr. and Terry read to help out, Baba built All-Japan from the ground up.
Giant Baba was hugely successful, both as a wrestler and a promoter.
Baba won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and worked with some of the biggest names in the business including Andre the Giant, the Sheik, Gene Kiniski, Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Jack Brisco, and Bruno Sammartino: Baba’s size played a role in his success, but he also knew the fundamentals of wrestling, and from 1960 to 1984, Baba worked 4,000 matches without missing an appearance. Behind the scenes, Shohei Baba recognized talent, domestic and foreign, creating new stars and bringing top foreign stars to All Japan. Baba was instrumental in bringing Jumbo Tsuruta into wrestling, forming a tag team with All-Japan’s eventual ace. Baba also used foreign wrestlers as more than heels – he had Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer work alongside Japanese wrestlers, working as a babyface.
One time rivals: Giant Baba and Stan Hansen Japan’s Most Successful Promoter  
All-Japan Pro Wrestling became the number one wrestling promotion in Japan. Baba brought in the biggest names in the business to work for him, offering top pay and earning their loyalty and respect. Although All-Japan was known for more traditional matches and ring psychology, it thrived thanks to Baba’s business savvy. Baba obtained the rights to the Tiger Mask wrestling character, boosting All-Japan’s business thanks to the popular high-flying star. When the business began to change, Baba shifted gears, getting rid of disqualifications and count-outs so fans saw clean finishes. Business boomed thanks to this and Baba pushing stars such as Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada and Kenta Kobashi. More important, he was well-received by the locker room for always honoring his word. Shohei Baba was a wise businessman who invested in real estate and amassed what was rumored to be a considerable fortune. He parlayed his popularity into other money-making ventures outside the ring including commercials:
A Career Winds Down
Baba remained a beloved figure not only in wrestling, but in Japan, with some analysts comparing his popularity in Japan to that of Michael Jordan at the height of his NBA fame. As Giant Baba grew older, he began working in tag team and six-man tag matches to cope with his reduced physical abilities. Giant Baba continued wrestling, almost up until his death. His last match occurred on December 5, 1998 when he teamed with Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota, defeating Haruka Eigen, Masanobu Fuchi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi.
An unlikely duo: Giant Baba teams with Hayabusa Giant Baba Death  
Shohei Baba was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent surgery to remove the cancer and in December 1998, the Japanese legend was released from the hospital with a good prognosis. By all accounts, Baba thought he had beat cancer when doctors informed him it had spread through his body. Baba underwent a second operation in January, but it was not successful. Shohei Baba died on January 31, 1999. The cause of death was liver failure, an unfortunate end result to the cancer he was a battling. Baba was 61 years old and survived by his wife, Motoko. We’ve seen several other notable wrestlers succumb to cancer including Bobby Heenan, Ernie Ladd, Jimmy Snuka, and many more. On May 2, 1999, a retirement show was held in the Tokyo Dome, with 55,000 fans on hand to pay tribute to their hero. What are your favorite memories of Giant Baba?

Giant Gonzales Death – Diabetes and Heart Issues

Giant Gonzales – Dead from complications of diabetes and heart issues. He was 44. Photo: wwe.com   1966-2010 (age 44)
While the majority of wrestlers who take to the ring are larger than life, Giant Gonzalez took that term to a whole new level. Standing at a height of 8 feet and weighing 460 pounds, he was one of the tallest men to ever enter the professional wrestling ring. Although he never achieved massive success in either the WCW or the WWF, fans continue to remember him to this day.
Health Issues Begin the Giant Gonzalez Death Story  
Like many men who are well above the average height and weight, Giant Gonzalez developed health issues at a young age. While he was able to try his skills as a professional basketball player and did wrestle from 1990 to 1995, Giant Gonzalez could not maintain the grueling pace of training and performing in the ring. His wrestling career was a fairly short lived. First billed as “El Gigante”, Gonzalez had a short career in the WCW before moving on to the WWF. He briefly feuded with the Undertaker, with one of the more well known matches taking place at WrestleMania IX at Caesar’s Palace. His final wrestling match took place on December 8, 1995, in Sendai, Japan. After retirement, Giant Gonzalez returned to his birthplace in Argentina in order to seek medical treatment for a number of problems which have not been fully disclosed.
Giant Gonzales prepares to chokeslam a jobber. Photo: wwe.com A Struggle to Afford Care
Giant Gonzalez was in a fight for his life with numerous health problems plaguing him during the 90s and 2000s. At the same time he was battling with financial problems. Because he had never achieved major success as a professional wrestler, he found himself unable to afford his mounting medical bills. In order to assist him, the Argentina Basketball Federation held fundraisers and provided him not only with medicine but also with clothing and items necessary for his home. It’s possible that due to his financial hardships, the former wrestler was unable to get quality care, which may have contributed to the Giant Gonzalez death story. Larger than Life: Giant Gonzalez makes short work of a jobber on an episode of All American Wrestling, March 14, 1993
The Details of the Giant Gonzalez Death Story  
During the 15 years after his retirement, Giant Gonzalez’s health steadily declined. He was reportedly suffering from diabetes and had very severe heart problems. Unable to walk on his own, Giant Gonzalez used a wheelchair to get around. His kidneys were failing, so he had to regularly undergo dialysis treatments. On September 22, 2010, Giant Gonzalez was admitted to the hospital in San Martin, Argentina. He would never be released. He passed away that same day at the age of 44.
Giant Gonzales towers over Undertaker at Wrestlemania IX – Ceasar’s Palace. Photo: wwe.com Reactions to the Giant Gonzalez Death News
Although Giant Gonzalez’s career was brief, he is remembered as a powerful competitor. Pro Wrestling Illustrated had previously ranked him among the top 500 singles wrestlers. WWE announcer Howard Finkel and former referee Jimmy Korderas both expressed their sadness over the loss of the wrestler and made tributes to him. Today, there are a number of tributes and social media groups dedicated to the memory of Giant Gonzalez. Like the late great Andre the Giant, Gonzales is often referred to as a “gentle giant” due to the humble, kind personality that he showed outside of the ring.

Giant Haystacks Death – Cancer

Martin Ruane, known to wrestling fans as Giant Haystacks and Loch Ness – Dead at 52 from lymphoma.   1946-1998 (Age 52)
Big men will always have a place in the world of professional wrestling where larger than life is seen as the norm, rather than the exception. One such wrestler was Martin Ruane, who performed as “Giant Haystacks” in Great Britain and “Loch Ness” in WCW. Although Ruane had limited exposure in North America, he enjoyed massive success in Great Britain, including brushes with the rich and famous such as Britannia’s Queen Elizabeth and Sir Paul McCartney. Sadly, Ruane succumbed to lymphoma at the age of 52.
A Natural for the Ring
Martin Ruane was born in London on October 10, 1946. His Irish parents relocated him to outside Manchester where he attended St. Thomas’ School until he was 14. At 14 years old, Ruane was close to his eventual height of 6’ 11”, making him a natural for anything involving size and strength. Ruane worked in a timber factory, drove heavy machinery, and worked as a bouncer until a friend recommended he look into professional wrestling. According to one source, Ruane maintained his power by consuming a dozen eggs and three pounds of bacon every morning.
Giant Haystacks with the Dynamite Kid  
A promoter had Ruane wrestle as “Haystacks Calhoun”, naming him after the famous American wrestler of the same name. This naturally led to confusion between Ruane and Calhoun, but eventually Ruane became known as Giant Haystacks. Ruane wrestled as a heel, crushing opponents with his big splash and enraging fans whenever he appeared on ITV’s Saturday, World of Sports. There were few men the size of Giant Haystacks, but he found a formidable opponent in Kendo Nagasaki, as well as “Big Daddy” – a former tag team partner turned arch-rival: Although Ruane achieved his greatest success in Great Britain, he traveled the world, including tours of Zimbabwe, India, and Canada. Ruane worked in Stu Hart’s Calgary Stampede Wrestling promotion as the Loch Ness Monster.
A Heel with Famous Friends
Although Ruane worked as a heel, he had a number of fans, including the Queen of England and the Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney. McCartney and Ruane became friends, something which brought great pleasure to Ruane, particularly when McCartney asked him to appear in his 1984 film, Give My Regards to Broad Street. Ruane was well-known in Great Britain, but eventually retired to become a debt-collector. After knee surgery, he returned to action, heading to WCW.
A Brief but Memorable Run in the U.S.  
In 1996, Ruane was recruited by WCW to join the Taskmaster’s (aka Kevin Sullivan) Dungeon of Doom group. At 6’ 11″ and 685 pounds, Haystacks was perfect for the monster heel Hulk Hogan liked for his opponents. Haystacks worked in WCW as “Loch Ness”, battling Hogan during the Dungeon of Doom’s quest to rid the world of Hulkamania. Sadly, his WCW run would be short lived. Ruane was diagnosed with lymphoma (a form of cancer) and passed away on November 29, 1998.
Ruane was survived by his wife Rita Boylan and three sons.
Several other notable wrestlers have died after battling cancer including Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, John “Earthquake” Tenta, and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.
Giant Haystacks Legacy  
While Ruane has been dead nearly twenty years, his legacy lives on as one of the legends of Great Britain’s Golden Age of Wrestling. In 2011, the stage play Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks was performed at the Brighton Festival Fringe, celebrating the careers and rivalry of both big men.

Gino Hernandez Death – Drug Overdose

Gino Hernandez – Dead from a drug overdose at age 28. Photo: wwe.com   1957-1986 (age 28)
Charles Wolfe, best known to wrestling fans as “The Handsome Half Breed” Gino Hernandez, wrestled in the Southern territories throughout the late 70s and early 80s. Considered one of the best heels in the business, Gino is well remembered for his run with WCCW in Dallas, a promotion operated by the late Fritz Von Erich. Dubbed the “Dynamic Duo”, Hernandez teamed with “Gentleman” Chris Adams for a very memorable program with the baby faced Von Erich brothers. The Sportatorium crowds ate up the feud, drawing huge money for WCCW in the mid 80s.
Gino Hernandez Death, Murder Rumors  
Friends became concerned for Gino’s well being when he was missing shows and not returning phone calls. Ultimately law enforcement and a group of Gino’s friends broke into his apartment on February 2, 1986. Sadly, they would find Gino’s lifeless body. He was only 28 years old.
The Dynamic Duo: Gino Hernandez and “Gentleman” Chris Adams. Photo: youtube.com  
Autopsy reports indicate that Gino Hernandez died from a cocaine overdose, however, some dispute this and believe that Gino was murdered. Although Gino had a cocaine habit, notable wrestlers, including Michael P.S. Hayes and Jake “The Snake” Roberts have gone on record to state that Gino ran with the wrong crowd and had a lot of enemies – seemingly drug dealers as his heavy cocaine use was not a secret. In a 2016 interview, Tully Blanchard was asked about Gino’s possible murder. Blanchard didn’t dismiss the theories, pointing out that Gino had a gambling problem, and stating that the murder theories were “certainly a possibility.”
What Could Have Been?
With a flamboyant personality, and huge charisma, Gino Hernandez can perhaps best be compared to Ric Flair. Looking back at Gino’s work, both in the ring, and on the mic, it’s difficult not to imagine the career that he could have enjoyed through the 90s, and possibly even the 2000s, had his demons not gotten the best of him.
Gino wins in his Mid-South debut, defeating Jesse Barr (10-30-1982). Photo: youtube.com
Hernandez died before his 30th birthday, leaving a big question mark on what his future could have held. Watching old footage of guys like Gino Hernandez, and his tag partner “Gentleman” Chris Adams, it’s clear to see the influence they have on more modern wrestlers – guys like Dolph Ziggler and Shawn Michaels in particular.
Gino Hernandez Funeral  
Not even able to avoid controversy after his passing, according to Bruce Prichard (on his fantastic Something to Wrestle podcast), one of the FBI’s most wanted at the time, a king pin cocaine dealer gave a eulogy at Gino’s funeral.
Photo: wwe.com  
Gino was buried in a platinum casket, with pictures of his kids in his pockets and his American Express platinum card. According to Prichard, those in attendance at Gino’s funeral put bottles of Dom Perignon on each corner, drinking champagne and breaking glasses of champagne on his casket as they lowered him into the ground. Gino Hernandez’ grave is located at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston, TX. The plot is located in Section 212, Lot 165 2c.
Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston, TX. Photo: decal

Gordon Solie Death – Throat Cancer

Legendary wrestling announcer, Gordon Solie – Dead at 71 from throat cancer   1929-2000 (Age 71)
Still considered by many as the greatest wrestling announcer of all time, Gordon Solie became a legendary figure wherever he worked, including notable tenures in Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling. Nicknamed “The Walter Cronkite of Professional Wrestling” because of his world class talent and demeanor, Solie added sophistication and prestige to any match he called.
From Snow to the Sunshine State
Minnesota native Gordon Solie’s career in wrestling dates back to the fabulous 50’s when he worked as a ring announcer in Tampa, Florida for five dollars a night. By 1960, he was calling the action in the ring, working for Championship Wrestling from Florida.
Gordon Solie interviews Barry Windham
Solie took his job seriously, projecting an air of professionalism as he called the matches like any other sport. Wrestling lore has it Solie had wrestlers place him in holds so he could understand them better and call them more realistically. Solie called matches at a time when fans were uncertain whether matches were predetermined or not and helped maintain this illusion thanks to his style of announcing that rose to the level of art. Gordon Solie is credited with the term “Pier Six Brawl” and made “A Crimson Mask” a part of wrestlings lexicon. He added subtle touches such as calling the suplex the su-play, and knew how to build up angles without over-the-top hyperbole. Its little wonder fans likened Solie to prestigious news anchor Walter Cronkite by calling Solie “The Walter Cronkite of Wrestling.”
More than Just an Announcer  
By the 1980’s, Solie had entered the realm of wrestling myth, a figure so much in demand he worked for Championship Wrestling from Florida and the nationally televised Georgia Championship Wrestling. Always in demand, he would be recruited into other southern promotions over time.
Championship Wrestling from Florida: Gordon Solie interviews Harley Race  
Unlike today where wrestling announcers are routinely manhandled, Solie stayed out of angles, but when he did participate in them, they became historic. One such angle was in Georgia when the Magnificent Muraco confronted Solie, threatening to hurt him. Solie’s broadcast partner Roddy Piper saved Solie, turning babyface in the process. None of this would have happened without Solie’s involvement as the catalyst.
A Changing Business, an Unchanging Man
Gordon Solie was an icon of the territory era when kayfabe was king and southern wrestling was typically built on a foundation of athleticism rather than showmanship. As the territories went out of business or merged into national promotions, the business changed. Gordon Solie found himself in demand, but he was unhappy with wrestling’s new direction. The WWF reportedly courted Solie, but he drew the line when they asked him to wear a tuxedo. Although Solie worked in WCW, he clashed with Eric Bischoff, ultimately leaving the promotion.
Recognizing a Legend  
Ask anyone who the greatest announcer of all time is and there’s a good chance they’ll say Jim Ross. Ask Jim Ross who the greatest wrestling announcer is and he’ll tell you Gordon Solie. Solie’s accomplishments were recognized by his posthumous induction into 2008’s class of the WWE Hall of Fame. Gordon Solie’s contributions to the industry were also recognized by his induction into the WCW Hall of Fame (1995), Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame (1996), the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (2004), and the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame (2005).
Gordon Solie’s Death
On July 27, 2000, Gordon Solie passed away at the age of 71 from throat cancer. Solie had his larynx removed in late 1999, due to cancer resulting from years of smoking. Solie was survived by his five children Pam, Jonard, Denise, Greg, and Eric. Gordon Solie is buried at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Tampa, Florida.
Gordon Solie’s grave inside a mausoleum at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Tampa, Florida
Several other notable wrestling personalities who made their names from outside the ring have passed away over the last couple of decades. Legendary managers like Paul Bearer, Miss Elizabeth, or most recently Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. We’ve compiled these names onto our deceased wrestling managers / personalities list.

Gorilla Monsoon Death – Heart Failure

Wrestling legend, Gorilla Monsoon passes away at age 62. Photo: wwe.com
1937-1999 (age 62)

Although the Gorilla Monsoon death news broke back in 1999, wrestling fans still fondly remember both the voice and wrestling persona of the 6 foot, 5 inch tall, 401 pound giant. Born Robert Marella, Gorilla Monsoon won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship title twice over the course of his career. After he retired in 1981, Gorilla Monsoon became a road manager for the WWD and was an on-air commentator for matches. He even briefly served as the on-screen president of the WWF during the 1990s

5 years prior to his death, Gorilla loses his son, WWF referee, Joey Marella. Photo: wwe.com
Tragedy in the Marella Family

The 1990s proved to be a very difficult time for the Marella family. On June 9, 1994, Gorilla Monsoon was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by friend Killer Kowalski, but soon after, tragedy struck his family. On July 4, 1994, Robert’s son, Joey, was killed in a tragic auto accident. Joey served as a WWF referee throughout the 80s and early 90s. The collision occurred when Joey Marella was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike and fell asleep at the wheel.
While it would be several years before the Gorilla Monsoon death, many people speculate that grief and stress over losing his son contributed to the wrestler’s eventual death.

Jim Ross remembers Gorilla Monsoon

Perhaps the most legendary commentary duo in wrestling history: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
The Last Days of Gorilla Monsoon

In 1999 just months before Gorilla Monsoon death, the retired wrestler served as a judge at WrestleMania XV’s Brawl for All. Fans were shocked at the appearance of the former wrestling superstar. Gorilla had been largely out of the spotlight since health concerns required him to give up wrestling commentating in 1997. Gorilla Monsoon was suffering from diabetes and had become very frail.

On September 19, 1999, Gorilla had a massive heart attack and was hospitalized. He was placed on kidney dialysis and treated for heart failure, but ultimately, these treatments could not prevent Gorilla Monsoon’s death. His family made the decision to discontinue his dialysis. Robert Marella peacefully passed away in his own home in Willingboro, New Jersey, on October 6, 1999. He was only 62 years old.

The Best of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Friends Remember Gorilla Monsoon

Arguably the greatest announcer duo in wrestling history: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura were calling virtually every big time match in the 80s wrestling explosion. Photo: wwe.com
The Legacy after the Gorilla Monsoon Death Story

Even years after the death of Gorilla Monsoon, the wrestling community continues to remember him. When Bobby Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, 10 years after Marella was given the same honor, he said sadly that he wished his friend could be present to witness the important occasion. In 2007, wrestler Anthony Carrelli paid tribute to Gorilla Monsoon by selecting the name Santino Marella

Gorilla Monsoon Grave

Gorilla Monsoon’s grave is located at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, NJ.

Gorilla Monsoon’s grave at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, NJ. Photo: Donald W. Timony

Harley Race Death – Lung Cancer

Wrestling legend Harley Race, dead at 76.
1943-2019 (Age 76)

Harley Race, a familiar face to wrestling fans for decades, an icon in the wrestling world, a record-setting National Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, and one of the toughest and most respected figures in professional wrestling.
Race battled adversity numerous times in his life, stared down death more than once, and was the last of the wrestling world’s shooters, a champion who could defend the belt for real should his opponent try and pull a double-cross.
Missouri native Harley Race was never one to let someone tell him what to do, defying authority throughout his life. At 15, Race was expelled from school for punching out his principal. Given the option to apologize and return, Race opted to leave school and devoted his free time to fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
Race worked as a farm hand and in an amazing instance of happenstance, the farm was owned by Stanislaus Zbyszko, a legendary wrestler from the early 20th century. Zbyszko took Race under his wing and taught him the basics before Harley met promoter Gus Karras, who operated wrestling shows at carnivals.
Race worked these carnivals, further learning the trade and how to protect himself in the ring. These carnivals required tough performers because a wrestler never knew who was going to step into the ring. During the shows, a wrestler would challenge someone from the audience, offering a cash prize to anyone who could beat him. Race started off by posing as an ordinary Joe who would take up the wrestler’s challenge. Later on, he would graduate to being the wrestler who took on the plant in the audience. As easy as this gig seemed, it didn’t always go according to plan and sometimes a real contestant made it to the ring before the plant. This meant Race could face anyone from an ornery farmer to the local barroom brawler looking to get their hands on the prize money.

These encounters taught Race how to defend himself in just about every conceivable situation in the ring, a talent Race sometimes relied on when fans jumped into the ring or attacked him on his way in or out of the ring.
Race continued honing his skills until it seemed the world was his for the taking. However, like fellow legend Ric Flair, an accident nearly ended both Race’s career and his life. A horrific car crash killed Race’s pregnant wife and Race himself was so severely injured that medical personnel told him one of his legs had to be amputated. Harley’s friend and promoter, Gus Karras sent Race to a bone specialist and the leg was saved. Nonetheless, Race was told he’d be lucky if he ever walked again, let alone wrestle.
For the next two years, Race endured a painful rehabilitation process that paid off and he returned to the squared circle.
The gutsy grappler worked in several territories before settling in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he formed a lengthy tag team partnership with Larry Hennig. The roughhouse duo won AWA Tag Team Titles several times, feuding with popular AWA stars including the Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, and Verne Gagne.
“Handsome” Harley’s work caught the eye of Japanese promoters who invited him to wrestle for him, a rare honor for Americans.
In the early 1970’s Race shifted his attention to wrestling’s top prize—the world heavyweight championship. Never one to rest on his laurels, the would-be champion learned new skills in the ring and also learned about the sport’s day-to-day operations, becoming a booker and later investing in the promotion, Heart of America Wrestling.

His years of hard work paid off in 1973 when the NWA Board of Directors chose him as their next NWA World Champion. Race was only a transitional champion on this occasion because the NWA had chosen Jack Brisco to win the belt but current champion Dory Funk Jr. refused to drop the title to Brisco. Thus, belt went from Funk to Race to Brisco, but in the end, wrestling’s top belt was around Race’s waist. Despite a short title reign, Harley Race would hold the belt another seven times, breaking Lou Thesz’ record of six NWA World Championships. Like any champion from his era, Race defended the title every night of the week, traveling the globe as he did so. The strain on his family was intense but Race did the best he could to be in his kids’ lives. When summer vacation rolled around, Race would take his family with him on the road. Although it was difficult, Race tried to play a part in their lives despite his hectic road schedule. For example, he flew 4,000 miles to make sure he saw his son wrestle in the state wrestling finals. During his eight reigns as champion, Race battled a who’s who of opponents from around the world including Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Jack Brisco, and Giant Baba. Race also competed in title vs. title matches including historic NWA vs. WWWF Championship Unification bouts against WWWF Champions “Superstar” Billy Graham and later, Bob Backlund. In 1983, Jim Crockett Promotions (the strongest promotion in the NWA) ran its closed-circuit extravaganza Starrcade, with NWA World Champion Harley Race defending the belt against the previous champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair in a steel cage match. It was arguably the biggest night in Jim Crockett Promotions’ history and Race played a pivotal role as the villain looking to keep the hero from regaining the belt.
Outside the ring, another villain was looking to sabotage Starrcade.
Promoter Vince McMahon Jr. saw an opportunity to sandbag one of his biggest competitors and two days before Starrcade, McMahon flew Harley Race in to meet him for dinner and to discuss business. Race was beginning to grow tired of wrestling as his hectic travel schedule was taking its toll on his loved ones, despite his best efforts to see them. Race was also close to losing his $500,000.00 investment in Heart of America Wrestling During their dinner, McMahon reportedly offered Race $250,000 to jump to the WWF. The NWA Champion knew McMahon would score a coup if he acquired Race’s services and this would sink Starrcade’s main event. McMahon demanded an immediate answer and despite the financial incentive, Race refused to betray the NWA, an organization that had given him so much—nor would he betray his promise to drop the title to Ric Flair as promised. Race told McMahon no, unaware that by now, McMahon was used to getting what he wanted. After the dinner, an irate McMahon launched himself at Race only to find himself caught in a crossface. In his memoir, Harley Race discusses how he was ready to snap McMahon’s neck but came to his senses. The champion’s honor stayed intact as he appeared at Starrcade, dropping the belt to Flair. After a much-deserved vacation, he returned to the ring, only to see NWA promoters unable to cooperate against Vince McMahon’s efforts to expand the WWF. Race saw the proverbial writing on the wall and ultimately went to the WWF, but on his own terms as his career came to an end. Race enjoyed his last few years of active competition in the WWF as “The King of Professional Wrestling” before injuries forced him to retire. Harley Race continued working in wrestling, this time serving as a manager in WCW, including a memorable tenure as Vader’s manager and adviser. Sadly, a second car accident shelved Race from wrestling entirely but he continued making appearances in the WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Race eventually launched his own wrestling school, the Harley Race Wrestling Academy, and ran his own promotion for his students to work in.
In later years, Race suffered a number of medical issues but always stood tall, impressing his fans and fellow wrestlers with his tenacity.
In early 2019 Harley Race was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away on August 1, 2019. He was 76.
Harley Race is survived by his 3 children.

Hayabusa Death – Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Legendary Japanese wrestler, Hayabusa, dead at 47 from a subarachnoid hemorrhage
1968-2016 (Age 47)

1968-2016 (Age 47)
Eiji Ezaki gained fame in professional wrestling as Hayabusa, a hard-hitting junior heavyweight who became the heart and soul of Japan’s Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW).
Hayabusa pioneered high-flying moves in wrestling, but sadly, saw his wrestling career cut short due to a high-flying move gone wrong.

  A Boy with Many Dreams

Eiji Ezaki was born in Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan on November 29, 1968.

He began watching wrestling as a young boy and was intrigued by masked wrestler Mil Mascaras. However, like many kids, his interests changed like the weather. Ezaki sought to become a baseball player, but found himself lacking on the diamond. Baseball was then replaced by a pursuement into judo. Along the way, he began weight-training, adding muscle to his body. With a bigger frame, Ezaki began to consider the life of a professional wrestler, and it wasn’t long before he would hit the squared circle.

Hayabusa hits a springboard moonsault – the same move that would leave him paralyzed in the years ahead.

On November 2, 1987, Ezaki worked his first match, competing in Kumamoto with a group of aspiring wrestlers. From there, he hit Japan’s indie circuit, hoping to catch a break into the big leagues.

Eventually, Ezaki was given a try-out at Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling’s FMW Dojo.

Ezaki competed with 40 other would-be wrestlers, becoming one of two who were accepted into the dojo. Ezaki began a grueling process training in FMW. FMW would become known for its brutally violent stipulation matches such as the No Ropes Exploding Barbwire Deathmatch and the No Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Time Bomb Cage Deathmatch.
Ezaki survived the FMW Dojo, but his career had a long way to go before he established himself as a star.
In 1991, Ezaki made his rookie debut in FMW, and like most rookies, spent the majority of his matches putting over opponents.
In 1993, FMW’s founder Atsushi Onita sent him to Mexico to learn the lucha libre style. There, he developed his Hayabusa (which means “Falcon”) character, traveling in 1994 for the Super J Cup tournament, but returning to Mexico for further seasoning.

The Heart and Soul of Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling

In 1995, Hayabusa returned to FMW where the promotion began grooming him to become its franchise player.
While fans were reluctant to get behind Hayabusa, he won them over with his heart and his Phoenix Splash, eventually becoming the company’s ace. His finisher the Falcon’s Arrow helped him get over even more, and Hayabusa gained an international reputation among his peers as one of the most incredible performers.
Hayabusa’s appearance in Extreme Championship Wrestling in late ’98 gave U.S. fans a chance to witness his excellence:
The combination of FMW’s brutal matches and Hayabusa’s high-risk maneuvers led to him having to change his in-ring style to more of a mat-based game. Consequently, he retired his Hayabusa character, transforming into “H”. He also developed another character known as “Darkside of H” entertaining fans in any identity. Eventually, Ezaki returned to his Hayabusa character.
Hayabusa was at the top of his game when he suffered an in-ring accident on October 22, 2001 that left him paralyzed during a main event match at Tokyo’s Korakeun Hall. Hayabusa was going for a quebrada (better known to WWE fans as Chris Jericho’s “Lionsault”) when he slipped on the rope and broke his neck. WARNING: video is not for the faint of heart:
His battle to survive was only beginning as he faced various health woes including kidney failure and pneumonia.
Hayabusa dropped from 232 pounds down to 127 pounds as his body wasted away. He was forced to retire from in-ring competition at the age of 32 – but his career entertaining fans was far from over.

Rebuilding His Life

Undaunted by his career-ending injury, Haybusa worked hard to rebuild his life.

A return to the ring was out of the question so he promoted Wrestling Marvelous Future (or “WMF”), a promotion whose initials were the reverse of FMW.
Hayabusa also spent time in the Dragon Gate promotion, leading to the recording of an album with Dragon Kid. His musical career saw him release several other albums.
Hayabusa also performed in the play “The Shinichi Amano Story” in 2005, playing a wheelchair-bound World War II pilot.

Hayabusa’s Death

Amazingly, Hayabusa had gained some mobility six months before his death:
Unfortunately, the signs of improvement were short lived.
On March 3, 2016, Hayabusa unexpectedly passed away.
According to Tokyo Sports, Haybusa’s cause of death was due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage – bleeding of the brain.
It is possible to survive a subarachnoid hemorrhage if treated quickly, but Hayabusa lived alone so there was no one available to contact emergency services. He had been scheduled to sing at a local tavern later during the week and when he didn’t show up for a meeting, the tavern owner checked on him, discovering his dead body.
Up until his death, the Japanese legend was taking blood thinners to prevent a heart attack – common in people whose mobility is limited.

Hayabusa makes an appearance at ECW’s 1998 ‘Heatwave’ pay per view, teaming with Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi from his WWF days). Photo: wwe.com

Had he survived, it is believed his health would have quickly declined.
Hayabusa was 47 years old at the time of his passing. He was survived by his mother, his brother Takanori, and Hayabusa’s two daughters Ayane and Shie.
Hayabusa’s body was cremated and his ashes given to his mother for storage in a shrine at her home.

Hayabusa’s Legacy

Hayabusa left a tremendous legacy for both wrestlers and wrestling fans.
During his career, Hayabusa helped to popularize the 450 Splash and the Falcon’s Arrow, as well as inventing the move known as the Phoenix Splash (aka the 450 Corkscrew Splash).
Hayabusa’s style was considered far ahead of its time and his passing saw wrestlers such as A.J. Styles, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Tommy Dreamer, Bubba Ray Dudley, Neville, Sami Zayn, and Kenny Omega heaping accolades on Twitter.

Haystacks Calhoun Death – Diabetes

Wrestling big man, Haystacks Calhoun, Dead at 55 after suffering from diabetes

1934-1989 (Age 55)
One of professional wrestling’s attractions is that it offers something for everyone. Looking for skilled technicians? Wrestling has boasted some of the world’s premier amateur wrestlers. Looking for high-flyers who could work as acrobats and gymnasts? Wrestling has provided gravity-defying artists to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Want to see a larger-than-life worker who define the word spectacle? Look no further than Haystacks Calhoun, one of wrestling’s most successful big men. At 6’6” tall and a quarter ton of mass, Calhoun provided promoters with a top draw wherever he worked. “Haystacks” wowed audiences with his size, strength, and remarkable display of wrestling skills for a man his size. He cultivated a character of a lovable hillbilly with his overalls, bushy hair, and trademark lucky horseshoe. Calhoun was a top star in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s until weight-related issues took their toll on his health, leading to his death at age 55.

Haystacks Calhoun cultivated the character of a lovable hillbilly with his overalls, bushy hair, and trademark lucky horseshoe.

Texas Titan

Legend has it the big man was discovered by a group of wrestling promoters who saw him carrying cows across his farm. Whether or not this is true, Calhoun began wrestling in the mid-1950, wearing overalls and carrying his lucky horseshoe to the ring. Calhoun boasted a weight ranging from 450-500 pounds – and in true wrestling fashion, his weight would be exaggerated to 600+ pounds depending on where he was working at the time.
Billed from Morgan’s Corner, Arkansas, Calhoun furthered the role of a giant hillbilly, thanks to his bushy hair and beard, and habit of wrestling barefoot.

More than Mass

While it’s possible Haystacks could have got by on his size alone, the man mountain showed a willingness to learn wrestling holds, displaying rarely seen moves for a man his size. Calhoun displayed remarkable agility as well, making him much more than just a mass of muscle.
Calhoun never lacked for work, traveling the globe to work in a number of National Wrestling Alliance territories, earning NWA World Heavyweight Championship title shots.
Through the years, Calhoun also visited New Japan Pro Wrestling and Vince McMahon Sr.’s World-Wide Wrestling Federation.
The big man could also be found on television, such as his cameo in Rod Serling’s television production of Requiem for a Heavyweight.

Haystacks signing autographs for fans at the Fairgrounds Expo Building in Walla Walla, WA. June 14, 1963.

He made frequent appearances on television including Groucho Marx’ show You Bet Your Life and talk shows hosted by Jack Parr and Merv Griffin. Calhoun dazzled viewers with his incredible strength when he appeared on Art Linkletter’s program House Party. There, Calhoun tossed bales of hay like they were rolls of toilet paper. Needless to say, the nickname “Haystacks” was forever attached to Calhoun.

Like colleague Andre the Giant, Haystacks could put food away with ease. Imagine the shock to the manager of an “all-you-can-eat” diner when Andre the Giant and Haystacks Calhoun walked in, ready to get the most of the $2 charge. Legend has it Calhoun and Andre each ate $25 worth of food on a $4 tab, bringing a restaurant manager to tears. Fortunately, Calhoun and Andre laughed the night off, paying the manager what the meal would normally have cost. Andre noted in a 1973 interview that “He [the manager] thanked us for that and told us two more like us could put him out of business.”

Calhoun’s wandering ways ended when he settled down in the WWWF, becoming a regular in the promotion.

There, Calhoun teamed with Tony Garea to form a powerful tag team, winning the WWWF Tag Team Championship. Calhoun continued wrestling there, both in singles and tag team action.

Failing Health

While Haystacks worked a lengthy and successful career, his weight began to catch up with him, aggravating the heavy wear and tear all wrestlers suffer. Calhoun retired in the late 1970’s and tragically, his health problems only worsened. Calhoun battled diabetes unsuccessfully, losing his left leg in 1986. Although Calhoun had a spectacular career, he was impoverished and confined to a double-wide mobile home in his final years.

Haystacks Calhoun Death

On December 7, 1989, Calhoun died at age 55. He is buried at Scott Cemetery in McKinney, Texas.

Haystacks Calhoun grave in McKinney, Texas. Photo: Kathryn mckilip thrift

Haystacks Calhoun’s contribution to the wrestling world was honored with a 2017 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame’s Legacy Class.

Hercules Death – Heart Disease

Remembering Hercules. The former professional wrestler was just 47 years old at the time of his death. Photo: wwe.com

1956-2004 (age 47)


Many people might not recognize Raymond Fernandez’s name, but anyone who followed the WWF during the 1980s has seen him step into the ring under the name Hercules Hernandez – and later shortened to just Hercules.
Also a competitive bodybuilder, Hercules was known for his powerful physique, which suited his ring name.
Despite looking like a million bucks, Herc’ never broke into super stardom in the wrestling world, though he did take part in a few memorable programs that 80s wrestling fans will remember.

Struggling to Move Up the Card

Hercules Hernandez joined the World Wrestling Federation in 1985. While he was involved in a few story lines and took on some top billed talent (notably Hogan, and Warrior) he was never able to build a large fan base. Many speculate that the WWF never gave Hercules a real opportunity to shine – his matches often resulting in him jobbing to the bigger star.

Hercules takes part in the opening bout of WrestleMania V at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Photo: wwe.com

In the early 90s, Hercules left the WWF in hopes of making a name for himself elsewhere. He joined rival company, World Championship Wrestling where he took on the moniker of the Super Invader, hailing from Bangkok, Thailand. His time with the WCW only ended up lasting a year, and after that, Hercules appeared at small promotions around the world. He would ultimately retire from wrestling in 1999.

A Quiet Retirement before Death

Often, wrestlers’ death stories are filled with drug abuse and alcohol and deteriorating family situations, particularly when they retire under disappointing circumstances. The Hercules death story is very different though.

Hercules’ titantron video

Up until his death, Raymond remained a dedicated family man. He was a devoted husband and a father to six children. He spent most of his time visiting schools, encouraging children to get good grades and avoid drugs. In addition, he would visit children with terminal illnesses to boost their spirits. Because he led a simple, wholesome life, most people were extremely shocked when Hercules died.

The Details of the Hercules Death Story

Hercules’ date of death was March 6, 2004. The former professional wrestler was just 47 years old at the time and would have turned 48 in May. Not much has been revealed about the exact details of Hercules’ death, as his family has kept the matter as private as possible. Reportedly, Hercules died in his sleep during the night in his home in Tampa, Florida, the same city where he was born. Hercules’ wife shared with the press that her husband died of heart disease, so presumably he suffered a heart attack.

Remembering the Man after the Hercules Death Story

Hercules grave at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL. Photo: unknown

After Hercules’ death, a funeral was held for family to pay respects. In 2004, he was included in a book of tributes published by Wrestling Observer that briefly discussed his life story.

Raymond “Hercules” Fernandez Grave

The grave of Hercules is located at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL. The plot is located at Section 325, Site 558.

Iron Mike Sharpe Death – Undisclosed Causes

Mike Sharpe, best known to wrestling fans as “Iron” Mike Sharpe was a Canadian wrestler who had a long career from the 70s all the way into the mid 90s. Sharpe died at the age of 67 from causes that were not made public, although it’s said that he had been in poor health since 2006. A landscaping accident lead to an infection in his leg, confining Sharpe to a wheelchair. Slam! Wrestling notes that Sharpe “became a bit of a recluse” in his final years.

1987: Iron Mike Sharpe on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling. Photo: wwe.com
Sharpe spent much of his tenure with the WWF as enhancement talent.

The late “Dr. Death” Steve Williams spoke fondly of Iron Mike Sharpe in his book, noting “he taught me about financial responsibility. He told me to keep all my receipts that were business-related so I could write them off at the end of the year. I watched my spending and saved as much as I could. Mike genuinely looked out for me.

Boston Garden, 1986: Iron Mike Sharpe squares off against Special Delivery Jones. Photo: wwe.com

Ivan Koloff Death – Liver Cancer

Wrestling legend Ivan Koloff, Dead at 74. Photo: wwe.com

1942-2017 (age 74)

Wrestling legend Ivan Koloff has died at age 74.
The wrestling world has been dealt a number of blows over the last week, including the passing of George “The Animal” Steele on February 16th, and Nicole Bass just yesterday.
Chavo Guerrero Sr. died a week ago, February 11th, suffering from liver cancer – the same fate that would take Ivan Koloff.

The Russian Bear
In the midst of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, Koloff, nicknamed “The Russian Bear” garnered legitimate fear from audiences.

MSG, November 17, 1975: Ivan Koloff scoops Bruno Sammartino for the slam. Photo: wwe.com

Before the days of social media, it was a lot easier for a guy from Canada to play a villainous heel from Russia. French Canadian tough guy Ivan Koloff played the role to the letter.

Koloff spent time in WWWF and NWA throughout the 70s and 80s.

Most notably, early in his career, Koloff won the WWWF championship – taking the gold from a babyfaced Bruno Sammartino in 1971. Bruno had held the belt for over seven years – the packed house at Madison Square Garden was stunned.

NWA 1986: Ivan and Nikita take on the Road Warriors

Despite major success during his run in the WWWF (now WWE), Ivan Koloff was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – though a posthumous induction could still take place in the future. Koloff was, however, inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Wichita Falls, TX. He received that honor in 2011.

Remembering Ivan Koloff

Many prominent names in the wrestling industry have tweeted out about Ivan Koloff’s passing. Here’s a few:

Jack Brisco Death – Surgery Complications

Legendary grappler Jack Brisco, dead at 68 after surgery complications.

1941-2010 (Age 68)

Jack Brisco distinguished himself in amateur and professional wrestling, becoming the first Native American to win the NCAA Wrestling National Championship as well as the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Championship.
Brisco teamed with Brother Jerry in various promotions. The pair were also part-owners of Georgia Championship Wrestling. Jack Brisco accomplished much in the wrestling industry; retiring as the business was going national.
Brisco died in 2010 following complications from heart surgery. He was 68 years old.

Amateur Wrestling’s First Native American NCAA Champion

Jack Brisco was born Freddie Joe Brisco on September 21, 1941, just months before America entered the Second World War.

The Blackwell, Oklahoma native proved a capable amateur wrestler in high school, winning two state wrestling titles. Brisco was an accomplished football player as well and was offered a football scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. However, Brisco was committed to wrestling and chose Oklahoma State, becoming a two-time All-American wrestler there. Jack Brisco’s skills saw him finish second in the NCAA’s 1964 wrestling tournament. In 1965, Brisco won it all, capturing the NCAA Wrestling Championship and becoming the first Native American athlete to do so.

Tag Team Champs: Jack Brisco (right) with Brother Jerry
Rising to the Top

Although Jack Brisco became a professional wrestler for the chance to travel and make money, he soon became disgruntled with the pay. Things changed when Brisco went to work in Eddie Graham’s promotion, Championship Wrestling from Florida.
Graham, a powerful figure in wrestling, began grooming Jack to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Along the way, Graham taught Brisco the figure-four leglock, a move Brisco immediately adopted.
Brisco’s good looks and incredible athleticism made him a top candidate for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He could defend the belt should someone attempt to double-cross him, and he had the looks to play a strong babyface, yet evoke a tough image with his ability to dish out and take a beating in the ring.

Jack Brisco scoops Harley Race for the piledriver. Photo: youtube

Eventually, Brisco’s moment came. On July 20, 1973, Brisco entered history when he defeated Harley Race for the NWA’s top prize. Wrestling lore has it Brisco participated in a financial transaction when he dropped the NWA World Heavyweight Title to Japanese legend Giant Baba in Japan in December 1974, winning it back days later. Brisco engaged in some of wrestling’s biggest matches with the sport’s top stars, including a classic series with Dory Funk, Jr. Brisco reportedly tired of the hectic life of a champion and asked that the belt be taken off him. On December 10, 1975, Brisco lost to Dory’s brother Terry.
The Brisco Brothers

Jack Brisco remained a top singles star, but also formed a long-lasting and successful tag team with younger brother Jerry (whom Jack trained for the business). The two won many regional titles and also wrestled matches with another brother team—Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk.
The Brisco Brothers worked one of the hottest tag team angles in Jim Crockett Promotions when they began a rivalry with the popular babyface team of Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. The Briscos were babyfaces when they challenged Youngblood and Steamboat to a match, and during the match, the Briscos accidentally hurt one of their opponents—or was it an accident?
With tempers flaring, the Briscos turned heel, attacking Youngblood and Steamboat, battling with them for JCP’s version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship. This led to their much-anticipated match at the second Starrcade, where the Briscos lost to the babyfaces.

Jack Brisco (right) with his brother Jerry. Photo: instagram

Jack and Jerry were more than a wrestling team, they were business partners too, with an ownership stake in Georgia Championship Wrestling. The Briscos (along with several other owners) sold their interest in the company to Vince McMahon, circumventing co-owner Ole Anderson and allowing the WWF to get Georgia Championship Wrestling’s much-desired two-hour timeslot on Superstation WTBS, as detailed in the 2004 book Sex, Lies, and Headlocks. The Briscos jumped to the WWF, working a program with the WWF Tag Team Champions Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis. The Briscos were once again babyfaces and quickly won over WWF fans.

In-Ring Retirement and a New Career

Jack Brisco retired in 1984 during his run in the WWF alongside Brother Jerry. Jack Brisco had had enough of the road life and was exhausted. It didn’t mean he was going to retire though. Instead, Jack opened up Brisco Brothers Body Shop in Tampa, Florida with his brothers Bill and Jerry. Jack worked at the shop several days a week and enjoyed traveling with his wife, traveling to amateur wrestling tournaments and NASCAR events. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed fishing as well.

In 2008, Brisco was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Jack Brisco Death

As Jack Brisco got older, he was beset with health issues including a growth on his spine that led to problems walking. Circulatory problems and emphysema plagued him in later years as well. Shortly before his death, Jack Brisco had open heart surgery and during rehabilitation, he collapsed. Jack Brisco died on February 1, 2010. He was survived by his wife, Jan.

Brisco is buried at Wolf Cemetery in Wolf, Oklahoma.

Jack Brisco’s grave in Wolf, Oklahoma. Photo: Joe easley

Jack Tunney Death – Heart Disease

Jack Tunney, WWF’s figurehead president in the late 80s and early 90s dies of a heart attack. He was 68. Photo: wwe.com
1935-2004 (age 68)

Jack Tunney was a well-known wrestling personality of the 1980s, playing the role of the President of the World Wrestling Federation in the days before Vince McMahon came onto the scene. Behind the scenes and before his time with the WWF, Jack Tunney was a wrestling promoter who carried on the family business of his uncle Frank Tunney along with his cousin Eddie. Unfortunately, a messy end to his time with the WWF brought an end to his involvement with wrestling, and Jack would remain estranged from the wrestling world until his death.

A Messy Separation from the WWF

No one is quite sure what led the WWF to fire Jack Tunney back in 1995, but there are many theories. Some people believe that Jack drank heavily and became unreliable, leading to frustrations with the owners of the WWF. There are also reports that Jack was involved with gambling and that it strained his relationships in the industry. Jack was also involved in a legal battle over WrestleMania VI in 1989, and some think that Vince McMahon started to dislike Jack due to the drama and the sizable legal fees he had to pay when the case was settled. Whatever the cause, Jack was abruptly let go from the WWF and never spoke of wrestling publicly up until his death.

The Details of the Jack Tunney Death Story

Full details about Jack Tunney’s death were never fully shared by family. Reportedly, Jack went to bed and never awoke again. Reports say that he was ill shortly before his death, but the exact nature of the sickness has not been revealed. It is known that he died at home in Watertown, Ontario, Canada, on January 24, 2004. Tunney was 68 years old at the time. His official cause of death was a heart attack. Sadly, Tunney, Rude and Bossman are no longer with us.

Silence after the Jack Tunney Death News

11 years before his death: At SummerSlam ’93, WWF President Jack Tunney orders Jerry Lawler into the ring to fight Bret Hart. Lawler attempted to get out of the match by faking an injury. Photo: wwe.com

Ordinarily after the news of a former wrestling personality passing, the WWE makes a formal statement. Wrestling personalities typically speak out about the individual’s time with professional wrestling. However, things were very different when Jack Tunney died. The WWE never acknowledged that he passed away, and reportedly, no one from his former wrestling days attended his funeral. The only real tribute given to Jack Tunney at the time of his death came from a sports reporter named Frank Zicarelli. In an article for the Toronto Sun newspaper, Zicarelli said that found Jack to be a kind man and said he did a lot of work for charity. Occasionally now, professional wrestlers will mention Jack Tunney on screen. In 2015, he was brought up by John Bradshaw Layfield on three different occasions. CM Punk also made mention of Tunney during an on screen promo on the August 22, 2011 episode of Raw.

Jack Tunney, pictured here at ringside, served as a figurehead president of the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s. Photo: wwe.com

A Legal Battle Concludes the Jack Tunney Death Story

When it came time to settle Jack’s estate, debates about who exactly owned his wrestling promotion company were raised. There were questions as to whether or not American promoter Jim Crockett had any stake in the company. The matter was resolved in court but no information about the outcome was shared publicly.

Jack Brisco’s grave in Wolf, Oklahoma. Photo: Joe easley