Fallen Soldiers Gone But Not Forgotten With Photos

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.

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Adrian Adonis Death – Car Accident

Adrian-Adonis

Adrian Adonis – Dead at 33 after the minivan he was traveling in crashes off a bridge and into a creek. Photo: wwe.com
1954-1988 (Age 33)

The life of a wrestler contains many potential dangers – the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol, the temptation of easy romance, and the dangers of the road.
Keith Franke, better known as Adrian Adonis found his way on the road to wrestling success, but a tragic road accident ended his career in an instant, leading fans to wonder how things might have otherwise turned out for the young star.

Adrian Adonis before his “Adorable” gimmick. Tuesday Night Titans – May 29, 1984. Photo: wwe.com
Buffalo Brawler

Born September 15, 1954, Buffalo, NY native Keith Franke trained under wrestling star Fred Atkins, a man known for his tough conditioning regimen (Atkins reportedly trained the Buffalo Sabres hockey club during its first year).
Franke debuted in 1974, and worked under his real name initially. By the early 80s, however, he was a leather-clad biker, working under the moniker Adrian Adonis. Adonis improved his skills, eventually landing in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association.

Wrestling Stardom

Adonis enjoyed success as a singles star and tag team performer. He formed the legendary “East-West Connection” in the AWA with Jesse “The Body” Ventura, holding the AWA World Tag Team Championship.
AWA All-Star Wrestling, August 1981: Adrian Adonis & Jesse Ventura vs Sonny Rogers & Chuck Greenly
Adonis and Ventura also worked in the World Wrestling Federation as a team and in singles competition. Adonis was a fantastic worker, with WWF champion Bob Backlund praising his ring skills in his memoir.
Adrian Adonis formed a successful partnership with Dick Murdoch as “The North-South Connection,” eventually winning the WWF Tag Team Championship from Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas. Murdoch and Adonis would ultimately part ways, but Adonis’ WWF career was just beginning.

“Adorable” Adrian Adonis taunts the Junkyard Dog. Saturday Night’s Main Event, March 1, 1986. Photo: wwe.com

In 1986, the WWF had Adonis undergo a radical transformation, ditching his leather outfits and transforming into a flamboyant wrestler known as “Adorable” Adrian Adonis.
The character was played off stereotypes of gay men as much as the WWF could get away with during the kid-friendly days of Hulkamania (rumor has it Vince McMahon liked “Exotic” Adrian Street’s character, but felt Street was too old to work in the WWF).
Wearing pink clothing and made up in garish make-up, Adonis also puffed up to a reported 350 pounds. Adonis played the effeminate character well, quickly becoming a top heel.

Adrian Adonis and Roddy Piper feud through late ’86 into WrestleMania III in March ’87. Photo: wwe.com

Despite his extra weight, Adonis was still agile in the ring, and at the top of his mat game. With Roddy Piper gone, Adonis took over “Piper’s Pit,” renaming it the “Flower Shop”—that is, until Piper returned to reclaim it. This launched a heated feud culminating in a Hair vs. Hair Match at WrestleMania III that saw Piper triumphant. Behind the scenes, Piper and Adonis were close friends and in later years, Piper would claim to have seen Adonis’ ghost.
A Comeback Cut Short: The Car Accident that Claimed Adrian Adonis
By 1988, Adonis’ career was sinking fast.

Adonis interviewed at the Pontiac Silverdome before his big match with Piper at WrestleMania III in front of 90,000+ fans. Photo: wwe.com

The WWF had let him go shortly after WrestleMania III and Adonis’ return to the AWA was short lived. In order to make ends meet, Adonis began working short runs in small wrestling promotions. That meant considerable travel, which would prove deadly. On July 4, 1988, Adonis was traveling through Newfoundland, Canada with Canadian wrestling colleagues Dave McKigney, and identical twin brothers William and Victor Arko – known as the Kelly Twins (Pat and Mike Kelly) in wrestling circles. The four men were in a minivan when their vehicle drove off a bridge and into a shallow creek in Lewisporte, Newfoundland – a small coastal town with a population of roughly 3,000. William Arko was driving at the time of the incident, and was the only survivor. He suffered a broken leg and underwent surgery a few days after the accident. One of the odd things about the minivan accident that claimed three wrestlers’ lives, including that of Adrian Adonis, is the lack of information, and conflicting reports. Various reports stated that driver William Arko was blinded by the sun. Some reports also note that Arko may have swerved to avoid hitting a moose, while others say a moose was actually struck in the accident.

An officer examines the scene of the van accident in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, which claimed Adrian Adonis and two of his colleagues. Photo: youtube

Secret East raises another valid question, “Aside from the debated details of how the driver and sole survivor, William Arko, steered the minivan into the creek, there is yet another mystery surrounding the crash; the mystery of a detour that quickly landed the career of Adrian Adonis from New York’s Madison Square Garden to Newfoundland’s gymnasiums and hockey arenas within a single year.”
Adrian Adonis was seemingly on top of the world at his 1986 WrestleMania III appearance – performing in front of a packed 90,000+ Pontiac Silverdome. A little over a year later he perished in a cramped minivan, working to make ends meet on the indie circuit.
Adrian Adonis left behind his wife, Bea Franke, and two daughters. The family was residing in Bakersfield, California at the time of the accident.

Adonis is buried at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Bakersfield, California.
Adrian Adonis’ grave at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Bakersfield, California. Photo: oakblossom

Al Green Death – Health issues related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Alfred Dobalo, known go WCW fans as Al Green, Dead at age 57. Photo: wwe.com
1955-2013 (age 57)

Alfred Dobalo, known to wrestling fans as Al Green, saw moderate success in the early to mid 90s during his run with WCW.
Green wrestled under a variety of monikers, perhaps most notably as “Blade”, where he teamed up with Kevin Nash (“Steel”) to form the Master Blasters.
He also wrestled under ring names “Rage”, and his final WCW gimmick as “The Dog”.
On the independent scene, Green wrestled as Al “The Enforcer” Knitti – one half of a tag team called The Dixie Mafia.

Al Green faces Goldberg on an episode of Nitro. Photo: wwe.com

Though he never reached upper card status in a major promotion, Dobalo did face some top tier opponents while wrestling for WCW, including Goldberg.
Getting any major TV time, even if you’re jobbing, can be considered a success in the ruthless industry of professional wrestling where only a select few make it to the big leagues.

Reality TV

Al Green saw the end of his wrestling career when WCW was purchased by the WWE in 2001. But that didn’t keep him off TV.
Al Green squares off against Wrath. Photo: wwe.com
Green still managed to find himself in front of television cameras, appearing on both Hogan Knows Best and Brooke Knows Best in the mid to late 2000s. Green was a close personal friend of Hulk Hogan.
Al Green Death
Al Green died on June 14, 2013. He had been suffering from health issues related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He was 57 years old at the time of his death.

Andre the Giant Death – Heart Failure

Wrestling Legend Andre The Giant – dead at 46. Photo: wwe.com 1946-1993 (age 46)

Many athletes are larger than life, but one 80s wrestler put new meaning to the term. Sadly, Andre the Giant passed away much too young. He was 46. This is the Andre the Giant death story.

A Giant Is Born

Andre Rene Roussinoff, better known by his ring name of Andre the Giant, was born in Grenoble France on May 19, 1946. Andre quickly rose in the wrestling ranks to become a household name around the globe, as well as an actor. In wrestling he was often called “The 8th Wonder of the World.”

Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan had one of the most well known feuds in wrestling history. Photo: wwe.com

Andre was born to parents who were an ordinary size, as were his siblings. Meanwhile, Andre measured a very tall 7’4” and weighed between 380-520 pounds throughout the course of his career. By the age of 12, he was already 6’3”.
The North American debut for this wrestler was in Montreal, Canada in 1971, where he wrestled under the name of Jean Ferre. His popularity later came when he took Vincent McMahon Sr. as his booking manager.
The first unveiling of Andre the Giant in the WWF (later the WWE) came in March of 1973. He was a favorite of fans from the start. A high point was the match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III at the Silverdome. It was then that Andre turned villain; the change from gentle giant to a heel was shocking for fans and likely extended his career by years.
6 years before his death: Andre wrestles Hogan at WrestleMania III – perhaps the most iconic match in wrestling history
Outside of wrestling, The Giant found success acting in TV shows and movies. His most recognized movie role was as Fezzik in the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride. His big physical size and larger-than-life personality combined with his amazing athleticism to make him a celebrity around the globe. Sadly the Andre the Giant death headline would come a few short years later in 1993.

Health and the Andre the Giant Death
In his early 20s, Andre was diagnosed by doctors with a rare condition called acromegaly, which was an extension of his earlier known gigantism. Both conditions result from excessive growth hormone. Reports are that he was told he would die an early death.
The late Andre the Giant working the late Ultimate Warrior. Photo: wwe.com

Arguably due to the prospect of death at middle age, Andre developed an affinity for food and alcohol. The big man routinely drank two cases of beer a day – an estimated 700 calories of the cold ones… per day. Legend is that he once drank 117 bottles of German beer in only one sitting.
When he first learned of his condition, he had fluid drained to ease the pressure to his heart. But, later in the ‘80s, he declined to have an operation to potentially improve his health issues. He is reported to have said that if God wanted him this size then it was the size he would be.
As the years passed, walking became more difficult for the pro wrestler due to his size. He retired from wrestling and took to his 160-acre ranch in North Carolina, near Rockingham. It was here that he raised longhorns and quarter horses.

Andre the Giant Death Details

Andre the Giant died on the night of January 27, 1993. He was sleeping in a Paris hotel room. The irony was that he was in the city of Paris to attend his father Boris’ funeral. The French hotel was called Hotel De La Tremoille. He went to sleep and never woke up.

Amidst his heel run, Andre enters the ring at WrestleMania III with manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (as they get pelted with trash). Reportedly, the Silverdome was holding over 93,000 fans. Photo: wwe.com

It was only days after his arrival in the city that he passed away. Andre’s death diagnosis was congestive heart failure. The wrestler is survived by his one daughter, Robin Christensen Roussimoff. She was born in 1979.
Perhaps if he had undergone the surgery to reverse his health condition in the ’80s, his heart would not have been under such strain. His body and organs deteriorated with time, as is typical for acromegaly sufferers, which helped to explain Andre’s death.
In 1993, later the same year of the Andre the Giant death, the wrestler was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. He was the only inductee in that particular year.

Tributes, Following the Andre the Giant Death Saga

News of the Andre the Giant death was met with tears from family, friends, and longtime fans. His life was honored by the making of the film My Giant in 1998 by Billy Crystal, who had met him on the set of The Princess Bride.
In 1999, an A&E biography TV episode aired in tribute to the wrestler called Andre the Giant: Larger than Life. More recently, in 2005, WWE released a DVD on his life and work within the ring, titled simply Andre the Giant. It was a re-issue of an earlier VHS of the same name that had been a limited release.
On March 10, 2014, Hulk Hogan announced that he would celebrate Andre’s legacy by creating the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale. The winner of each match would receive a memorial trophy that resembled Andre.

The Early Andre the Giant Death

At only 46 years of age, Andre passed away. He was not the only wrestler to die so young. Others include Umaga, Eddie Guerrero, Andrew “Test” Martin, and many, many others. Reasons for the premature deaths of pro wrestlers often include the tough, physical demands put on the body inside the squared circle.
While Andre the Giant stopped wrestling with the WWF in the early 1990s, he will always be remembered by fans for his massive size, impressive athletic ability, and for his reputation for being a gentle giant.

Andre the Giant’s ashes were buried at the Roussimoff family ranch in Ellerbe, NC. Photo: unknown Andre the Giant Grave
As per Andre’s wishes, he was cremated. The problem was that he died in Paris, and there was no crematorium nearby that could perform the cremation on a body so large. Thus, Andre’s body was flown back to the U.S. for cremation. His ashes weighed 17 pounds and were spread by Andre’s friend, and former referee, Frenchy Bernard. Bernard spread the ashes on horseback at the Roussimoff family ranch grounds in rural Ellerbe, North Carolina. The ranch is located off Route 73 and was up for auction in 2013.

Andrew “Test” Martin Death – Drug Overdose

Andrew Martin (known to wrestling fans as “Test”) – dead at 33 from drug overdose. Photo: wwe.com 1975-2009 (age 33)
Andrew Martin has a story that has become all too familiar in the world of professional wrestling. His career showed early promise, but sadly, his demons would get the best of him. Martin debuted in the WWF as “Test” in 1998. His scripted storyline was that he was a former bodyguard for Motley Crue. The gimmick was a good fit as the WWF was transitioned into the Attitude era. Test took part in several memorable storylines, including one involving an engagement to Stephanie McMahon. He would go on to win several belts in the WWE, including the hardcore championship, as well as a tag-team championship run with Booker T. Test was ranked among the top 50 wrestlers by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2001. Still, Test never seemed to break out of the midcard.
Drug Abuse Begins the Andrew Martin Death Story

Martin struggled with substance abuse. In late 2007 into 2008, he was arrested on multiple occasions for DUI. He failed a WWE drug test in the fall of 2007, which ultimately lead to his dismissal from the company.

A year later, Martin would also be fired by TNA due to drug use.
In February of 2009, Martin officially retired from wrestling. He would be found dead one month later. Test takes on the Big Boss Man on a January 2000 episode of SmackDown. Sadly, both men would be dead within 9 years

The Discovery of a Body Leads to the Andrew Martin Death News

On March 13, 2009, police in Tampa, Florida, received a call from the next door neighbor of Andrew Martin. The neighbor reported that he had seen Martin lying on the floor motionless, and that when he checked several hours later, the former wrestler was in the exact same position. The police arrived on the scene and entered his home. They confirmed that Martin was dead. The former wrestler would have turned 34 just 4 days later.

The Results of the Andrew Martin Death Examination

As soon as the news about the Andrew Martin death broke, fans and the media began speculating over whether or not anabolic steroids were involved with his death. The not so distant memory of the Chris Benoit murder/suicide was still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Test – Master of the Big Boot

Ultimately, the Hillsborough County medical examiner concluded that it was an accidental overdose of oxycodone, a prescription pain medication that killed Martin. Anabolic steroids were found in his apartment, but they were not the cause of death.

Beyond Drug Abuse: Head Injuries and the Andrew Martin Death Story

Following the death of Andrew “Test” Martin, Dr. Bennet Omalu examined his brain. Previously, the physician had also examined the brain of Chris Benoit. After his examination, Dr. Omalu spoke out, saying that he believed that brain damage due to repeated blows to the head were involved with the death of both men. Omalu criticized professional wrestling and other professional sports leagues for not doing enough to advice athletes about the dangers of head injuries, which have been shown to lead to severe depression, drug abuse and even violent behavior. Omalu would go on to be depicted by Will Smith in the 2015 film, Concussion. Andrew Martin was cremated. It’s not public knowledge who his ashes were given to.

Andy Kaufman Death – Lung Cancer

Andy Kaufman cuts a scathing promo after getting knocked around by Jerry Lawler. He offers $5,000 to any wrestler who can put Lawler in the hospital. Memphis, 1982.

1949-1984 (Age 35)

Although Andy Kaufman was often billed as a comedian, his place in history isn’t so simple. Part actor, part performance artist, and yes, part comedian – Andy was a multifaceted entertainer. Today, we dive into Kaufman’s run as a professional wrestler. That’s right, the self-proclaimed “Intergender Champion”. Kaufman truly left behind a legacy just as strange as he would have hoped for…

A Born Entertainer

Andy Kaufman was born on January 17, 1949 in Queens, New York. Growing up in upper-middle class Great Neck Long Island, young Andy entertained his friends and family from the time he was an infant, dancing in his crib to music and eventually entertaining people at birthday parties.
Andy Kaufman performing at The Comedy Store
A tumultuous childhood saw Andy experiment with drugs and father an out-of-wedlock child (who was turned up for adoption but later connected with Kaufman’s family in 1992). However, he found peace through transcendental meditation and joined a comedy improv. Kaufman’s off-the-wall antics amused audiences – with both fans and club-owners questioning his sanity along the way.
Andy Kaufman makes his Saturday Night Live debut in 1975. Photo: youtube
By 1972, Andy Kaufman was appearing on national television, including his national debut on The Dean Martin Comedy World. He would go onto a then-record 14 appearances on Saturday Night Live. Kaufman co-starred in popular sitcom Taxi, which cemented him as a household name in the late 70s – though Andy was vocal about how much he hated sitcoms. There was no stunt too grand or too outrageous for Kaufman to try, and the bigger his star rose, the more he could get away with. In an infamous 1979 performance at Carnegie Hall, Kaufman staged one of the elder actors having a heart attack. He later invited the entire audience out for milk and cookies following the show. A fleet of two dozen buses parked outside Carnegie Hall, waiting for anyone who took Kaufman up on his offer.
A Natural Progression
A natural in front of the camera, Andy Kaufman played the role of a heel wrestler to a T. Photo: youtube
With its outrageous characters and subtle manipulation of its audience, Andy Kaufman had always been intrigued by professional wrestling. It was an ideal venue for Kaufman to work his unconventional style of entertainment – and with a penchant for the grandiose, Kaufman’s run in Memphis became the stuff of legend. But getting there led to at least one closed door. With high hopes of breaking into the wrestling biz’, Kaufman told Bill Apter, editor of the Weston family of magazines such as Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler (known to fans as “The Apter magazines”), about his idea of entering the squared circle as a villain. Apter informed Vince McMahon Sr. about Kaufman’s proposal, but McMahon turned the idea down – worried that the audience wouldn’t buy a Hollywood star in the ring, and in turn potentially exposing the business.
But Kaufman was determined to become a wrestler.
Apter put him in touch with Memphis wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler, who co-promoted Championship Wrestling Association (CWA) with Jerry Jarrett. Lawler bought the idea, and one of the most memorable feuds in wrestling history was born.
‘I’m From Hollywood’: Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler’s feud in Memphis
Kaufman began a legendary program when he appeared in the Memphis-based CWA, antagonizing fans by insulting them:
And challenging their women to wrestle him:
To no one’s surprise, the citizens in Memphis wanted to see someone destroy the outsider from Hollywood. Kaufman offered $1,000 to any female who could pin him in three minutes and a Memphis resident named Foxy accepted the challenge. Foxy gave Kaufman the proverbial run for his money, but the Hollywood invader proved successful.
Andy Kaufman gives the folks of Memphis a lesson in hygiene
In true wrestling tradition, the promoters took things to the next level when local hero Jerry “The King” Lawler offered to train Foxy for a rematch with Kaufman. Kaufman in turn, promised to marry Foxy if he lost, setting the stage for a highly anticipated rematch in Memphis’ Mid-South Coliseum (aka the Memphis Coliseum). That night, Kaufman triumphed again, despite Lawler’s training and his presence in Foxy’s corner. After the match, Kaufman humiliated Foxy by rubbing her face into the mat. An angry Lawler rescued Foxy, pulling Kaufman off her and shoving the TV star to the ground. Kaufman threatened to sue and reminded Lawler he only wrestled women. Eventually, Jerry Lawler challenged Kaufman to a match, and on April 5, 1982, the two met in the Memphis Coliseum. During the match, Kaufman did everything possible to avoid Lawler, leading to Memphis’ number one hero to famously ask him, “Did you come down here to wrestle or act like an ass?”
Jerry Lawler puts Andy Kaufman in the hospital after delivering a pair of piledrivers.
A crafty Lawler offered Kaufman the chance to put him in a side headlock and Kaufman fell into Lawler’s trap. Lawler quickly suplexed the hapless actor, driving him into the mat. The 10,000 fans in attendance were electric as Lawler picked up Kaufman and piledrived him, laying him out and earning a disqualification from referee Jerry Calhoun (the piledriver was banned in Memphis).
With nothing to lose, Lawler piledrived Kaufman a second time.
In his memoir, it’s good to be the King…Sometimes, Jerry Lawler recalls how Kaufman and Lawler negotiated the end of the segment through referee Jerry Calhoun. Kaufman quietly asked that an impromptu ambulance be brought in to stretcher him out, thus making the angle appear more dramatic to the fans. Lawler refused, telling referee Jerry Calhoun that it would cost the company $500 to pay for it. But Kaufman wasn’t taking no for an answer, offering to pay the $500 out of his own pocket to sell the storyline. An ambulance arrived, Kaufman was stretchered out of the arena, and he continued the act all the way to the emergency room – convincing the hospital staff he’d suffered compressed vertebrae. Never one to break character, Andy stayed in the hospital for three days.
July 16, 1983, Memphis TV: Kaufman says he wants revenge on manager Jimmy Hart, attempting to recruit Jerry Lawler as his tag partner – but is it just a setup.
The crowd was buying the storyline, hook, line and sinker. And so was the rest of the world. The incident in Memphis made the national news, just as Kaufman had undoubtedly hoped. Jerry Lawler couldn’t have been happier. Not only was he getting national attention, but so was his Memphis territory. Lawler’s peers congratulated him on teaching a lesson in respect to an outsider. Houston promoter Paul Boesch even telegrammed Lawler to thank him for protecting the business. The line between reality and storyline had never been quite so blurry, even for some insiders who were “smart to the business”.
Andy Kauffman and Jerry Lawler appear on David Letterman in 1982, when things quickly take a turn for the worse.
The angle was just beginning however. During the summer of 1982, Kaufman and Lawler appeared on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman talk show. Letterman interviewed them about their feud, with Kaufman (wearing a neck brace to sell his injury) and Lawler exchanging insults. Finally, Lawler appeared to have enough. “The King of Wrestling” rose from his chair and slapped Kaufman, knocking the TV star out of his seat. Things only got worse as Kaufman grabbed a cup of coffee from Letterman’s desk and threw its contents at Lawler. The storyline was hotter than ever, and led to many more matches and angles involving Lawler and Kaufman. The two feuded for years, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Eventually the drama fizzled out, the storyline having run its course.
While the angle in Memphis was over, Kaufman continued with his love of wrestling.
1984 saw the release of Kaufman’s My Breakfast with Blassie, a sixty-minute film featuring Andy having breakfast with wrestling icon “Classy” Freddie Blassie. The film spoofed the 1981 comedy-drama My Breakfast with Andre, and featured the madcap humor of both Kaufman and Blassie interacting with each other, as well as other people in the restaurant.
Andy Kauffman’s Death… or Death Hoax depending who you ask
Sadly, by the time My Breakfast with Blassie was released, Kaufman was in bad health. Family and friends were concerned by his unhealthy appearance and persistent cough. Andy finally went to a doctor and in January 1984, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Kaufman tried a number of alternative cures including natural medicine and psychic surgery. However, the illness took its toll and on May 16, 1984, Kaufman passed away at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 35 at the time of his death.
Staying true to kayfabe, Jerry Lawler had little to say about Andy Kaufman’s death:
Andy Kaufman is buried in his family’s plot at the Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York. Andy’s grave sits adjacent to his mother’s, Janice Kaufman, who passed in 1989.
Andy Kaufman’s grave at the Beth David Cemetary in Elmont, NY. His grave marker reads “We love you very much.”
Andy Kaufman’s grave, next to his mother’s, at the Beth David Cemetary in Elmont, NY
Considering Kaufman’s next-level pranks, more than a few people believed he faked his death. Bob Pagani, a friend of Andy’s, told the Daily Mail “I know people at the wake in Long Island literally leaned over the casket and said, “Andy, if you’re faking, please stop.”‘ In 2004, some of Kaufman’s friends even held a “Welcome Back” party, hoping he’d show up. In 2013, a woman appeared claiming to be Kaufman’s daughter, proclaiming he was still alive. However, TMZ reported this was a hoax and that Kaufman’s so-called daughter was actress Alexandra Tartarsky.
​A Rich Legacy
Although Andy Kaufman enjoyed success during his lifetime, his talents were not fully appreciated until after his death. Kaufman’s work as a performance artist was years ahead of anyone else.
Jim Carrey portrays Andy Kaufman in the 1999 film, “Man on the Moon”
Andy Kaufman’s work anticipated the reality show craze of the late 90’s, and many artists found inspiration in his work. R.E.M. wrote their hit single “Man on the Moon” about Andy Kaufman, and a film of the same name starring Jim Carrey was released in 1999. A documentary titled Jim and Andy was released on Netflix in 2017 – featuring a behind the scenes look at Jim Carrey transforming himself into Andy Kaufman for his starring role in Man on the Moon. Kaufman’s mixture of Hollywood and wrestling would be taken further when Vince McMahon launched his WWF into a national promotion in the mid 80s; using celebrities such as Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T to boost his audience. This is a strategy still commonly used by the WWE today.

Anthony Durante Death – Drug Overdose

Anthony Durante, best known to wrestling fans as “Pitbull #2”, dead at 36. Photo: wwe.com 1967-2003 (age 36)
Anthony (Tony) Durante, best known to ECW fans as one half of the Pitbulls tag team, died on September 25, 2003. Durante briefly wrestled for the WWF in 1989 as enhancement talent. He wrestled under his real name, Tony Durante. Durante would go on to see the most successful period of his career while working for ECW throughout the mid 90s. He partnered with Gary Wolfe (“Pitbull #1”) to form the Pitbulls.
​Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hammonton, NJ. Photo: findagrave Anthony Durante and his girlfriend overdose
Durante died alongside his 29 year old girlfriend – both from apparent heart attacks induced from a drug overdose. Needle marks were found on their bodies, and the prescription OxyContin was found in their Westerly, Rhode Island home.
Family
The couple’s two infant children were in the home at the time of their deaths. Bob Magee from PWBTS.com, offers a heartbreaking glimpse into what transpired with the children, offering:
Pitbull #2 sends the late Chris Candido for a ride. Photo: wwe.com
“The 21 month old boy, apparently trying to feed himself, had left a trail of food from room to room, with a spilled quart of milk, chicken nuggets and bits of bread he had pulled from the refrigerator. A yellow toy truck sat on the living room floor. The 8 month old was found in the crib.”
Thankfully neither child was harmed nor was custody granted to their grandparents.
Perhaps a precursor to Durante’s troubles, in 1995, charges were filed against The Pitbulls for trafficking steroids and marijuana. Both Anthony Durante and Gary Wolf were eventually arrested on the charges, which lead to their firing from ECW in July of ’97.
Pitbull #2 pins “The Franchise”, Shane Douglas. Photo: wwe.com
Anthony Durante’s grave is located at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hammonton, NJ.

Art Barr Death – Unknown Causes

In 1994, Art Barr abruptly died at age 28. An aneurysm was originally reported, but his death was ultimately ruled as “unknown circumstances”. 1966-1994 (Age 28)
Considered one of wrestling’s most charismatic stars, Art Barr’s past would haunt him when he aspired for national stardom, but a run in Mexico revitalized his career, promising a bright future. However, just when he seemed ready for a comeback in the United States, Barr died under unknown circumstances, leaving the world at the young age of 28.
A Second-Generation Star  
Art Barr was born on October 8, 1966 in Portland, Oregon. The son of wrestler and promoter Sandy Barr, he excelled at amateur wrestling in high school and began training with his father, brother Jesse (aka Jimmy Jack Funk), and wrestler Matt Osborne (aka Doink the Clown), while working in a steel mill. Art debuted in Pacific Northwest Wrestling in 1987, but it would be a transformation with help from Roddy Piper that turned Art into a regional superstar.
Art Barr works as Beetlejuice, eventually changed to “The Juicer” to avoid trademark issues.
Following the success of the 1988 supernatural comedy, Beetlejuice, Barr transformed himself into a wrestler based on the film’s title character. Beetlejuice became a popular wrestler, particularly with kids and Barr’s future success seemed guaranteed. But unfortunately this story doesn’t have a happy ending and an out-of-the-ring encounter nearly ended Al Barr’s career (and almost sent him to prison in the process).
Al Barr’s Rape Case
In July 1989, Barr had a sexual encounter with a 19-year-old female fan after a wrestling card. The female fan filed rape charges and Barr eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse, obtaining a light sentence of two years probation; which included a $1,000 fine, restitution for the victim’s medical bills, and 180 hours of community service. The local media put Al Barr’s rape case under a spotlight, harming the territory’s business and altering the future of Barr’s career.
Hitting the National Scene
In 1990, Barr was forced to find work elsewhere, landing in World Championship Wrestling after his license to wrestle in Oregon was not renewed. Ironically, Barr’s license was refused not because of his sexual abuse charge, but because he’d failed to mention an earlier drug conviction on his original wrestling license application. Barr’s misfortune seemed to work itself out as he tweaked his Beetlejuice character into “The Juicer” (to avoid copyright infringement). It wasn’t long though, before an Oregon newspaper columnist faxed articles about Barr’s sexual abuse plea to WCW. The company promptly let him go.
Rebirth South of the Border

In 1991, Barr entered the world of lucha libre, working in Empresa Mexicana de la Lucha Libre (EMLL) as the masked man “The American Love Machine.”

Art Barr and Eddie Guerrero form “La Pareja Del Terror” (“The Pair of Terror”).
In 1992, Barr worked in Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) as “The Love Machine” Art Barr. Here, he established one of lucha libre’s most hated tag teams, La Pareja del Terror (“The Pair of Terror”) with Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero turned his back on his Mexican fans, joining Barr in wearing ring attire based on the American flag. This team with Eddie Guerrero became a sensation and Guerrero later adopted Barr’s Frog Splash to honor his friend’s memory. Before long, Barr’s tag team was joined by other wrestlers, becoming the faction Los Gringos Locos (“The Crazy Americans”). Flush with success in Mexico, Barr was determined to become a top star in the United States. While he was a main event sensation in Mexico, he was homesick and his friends grew concerned as Barr abused alcohol and drugs, presumably to lessen his homesickness. Barr’s chance to break through came on when AAA held its When Worlds Collide pay-per-view on November 6, 1994. There, Barr and Eddie took on El Hijo del Santo and Octagon in a hair vs. mask match which quickly became regarded as one of the greatest matches of all time.
Art Barr would be found dead less than three weeks after this November 6, 1994 match. Art Barr’s Mysterious Death
Art Barr died on November 23, 1994 at age 28. Initial reports indicated he died from an aneurysm, and while sleeping pills were found in his system, his cause of death was ultimately ruled as “unknown circumstances.” Art Barr is buried in Springfield Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Oregon.
Art Barr’s grave, located at Springfield Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Oregon.

Ashley Massaro Death – Undisclosed Causes

Former WWE star Ashley Massaro, dead at 39. Photo: wwe.com 1979-2019 (Age 39)
While Ashley Massaro only worked in the WWE from 2005-2008, she left her mark on the promotion, its fans, and her fellow workers. As short as her WWE career was, she accomplished much in 3 years including guest appearances on television and in music videos, along with a well-received Playboy pictorial.
Breaking into Wrestling
Born on May 26, 1979 Ashley Massaro grew up in Long Island, New York where she trained as a gymnast and later succeeded as a model, including wins in the 2002 Miss Hawaiian Tropic and 2005 Miss Hawaiian Tropic Canada pageants. Massaro graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a minor in Business from the State University of New York. In 2005, Massaro entered the WWE’s Diva Search competition, defeating 7 other finalists to earn a one-year WWE contract. On August 15, 2005, she was declared the winner and quickly thrust into the ring.
A Short but Successful Career
Despite her inexperience, Massaro worked a number of matches, including program against “Vince’s Devils” (Candace Michelle, Victoria, and Torrie Wilson), teaming with Trish Stratus. Massaro battled Mickie James during James’ stalker storyline with Trish Stratus. However, on January 20, 2006, Massaro suffered a broken leg, which required surgery. In addition to competing in the ring, Ashley served as Brian Kendrick and Paul London’s valet, occasionally teaming with them in 6-person mixed tag team matches. Her WWE celebrity status led to a 2007 Playboy cover and pictorial, television appearances (Smallville, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Survivor: China), and appearances in 2 music videos (Timbaland’s “Throw it On Me” and “Hell Yeah!” by Rev Theory). Although Massaro never won WWE gold, there’s no telling how her career could have played out if she hadn’t left the company in July 2008, with Massaro stating she’d asked for her relief in order to care for her sick daughter, Alexa. Ashley Massaro never returned to the ring until a brief appearance in 2017 for the Zero1 Professional Wrestling USA promotion.
Ashley Massaro makes her entrance on an episode of Monday Night Raw in August of 2005. Photo: wwe.com Accomplishments but at What Cost?
While Ashley enjoyed success in the WWE, it seems to have come at a tremendous cost to her physical and mental well-being. According to the Boston Globe, the 2005 Diva Search winner, “alleges she suffered several concussions, including one that rendered her unconscious for five minutes in the ring, while she performed for the company from 2005 to 2008. Massaro says she received no care after she was knocked out and alleges she was told to ‘shake it off’” and her in-ring injuries “also included a hairline fracture of her spine, two herniated disks, and an ankle fracture that required the insertion of a five-inch metal plate to repair.” Massaro was one of over fifty former WWE Superstars who participated in a class-action lawsuit against the WWE which argued that the corporation withheld information to its wrestlers on the effects of concussions. The case was dismissed in 2018. According to an article in The Nation, “Massaro also said that in her post-WWE life, she had been dealing with bouts of depression, mood swings, drug addiction, and other familiar side effects of repetitive head trauma.”
The Company Takes Care of Me
In 2006, Ashley Massaro joined several WWE Superstars in a trip to visit U.S. military personnel in Kuwait. Before she left for Kuwait, Ashley commented at WWE.com that “Anything can happen going over to the Middle East. But my company takes care of me, and I trust them. I have full faith that I will come back exactly the way I left, if not a little bit better in the heart.”
Ashley Massaro in the ring on an August 2006 episode of Smackdown. Photo: wwe.com Tragically, that was not the case.
In a lawsuit filed against the WWE, Massaro alleged that she was raped while participating in the tour of the military base. According to court documents: “Upon her return to the United States, she was seen by Dr. Rios who interviewed her about the incident. Dr. Rios reported the incident to WWE executives who soon thereafter met with Massaro to apologize for their negligence but persuaded her that it would be best not to report it to appropriate authorities.”
The WWE issued a statement after Massaro’s death stating:
“WWE is saddened by the death of Ashley Massaro, and we reiterate our condolences to her family. However, we regret that her attorney Konstantine Kyros, who filed multiple cases against WWE, lost all of them, and was sanctioned multiple times by the Court for repeated misconduct and false allegations, is using Ashley’s death to further his malicious campaign against WWE by releasing an affidavit that she submitted to the Court and later apologized to WWE for being involved with, so we wish to make certain things crystal clear. At no time was Vince McMahon or the management of WWE ever informed by Ashley Massaro or anybody else that she had been sexually assaulted, drugged, raped or sodomized by a military doctor with a nurse standing guard while on a goodwill tour in 2007 to U.S. military bases in Kuwait. In fact, if she ever articulated such a claim to WWE, we would have reported it immediately to the Base Commander. At no time was there ever a meeting with Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John Laurinaitis or other company executives in which she told them of such a claim and was instructed to keep it quiet.”
Dead at 39
The wrestling world was shocked when they learned that Ashley Massaro had died on May 16, 2019 at the age of 39, just days before her 40th birthday. According to TMZ: Ex-WWE superstar Ashley Massaro was found hanging in an apparent suicide, multiple sources connected with the situation tell TMZ Sports. The 39-year-old was found unconscious inside of her Suffolk County, NY home early Thursday morning — and she was transported to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead. The death is being classified as “non-criminal.” Despite the TMZ story, no official cause of death has been released. In a report with HollywoodLife, the Suffolk County Police Department PIO issued the following statement: “I can confirm that she has passed and has died and that she was 39 and that she was from Smithtown, but I cannot confirm any other details because we don’t have them. And since it was considered a non-criminal death, we will not have them. We normally don’t release that info for non-criminal deaths.”
Ashley’s Friends Rally for Her One Last Time Ashley Massaro is survived by her daughter Alexa.
Following the news of Ashley’s passing, a group of Ashley’s colleagues known as “The Squared Circle Sisters” launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for Alexa’s college education. The drive exceeded its goal of raising $100.000 for Alexa, a testament to Ashley’s lifetime impression on those she worked with. Legendary hardcore wrestler, Mick Foley played a large part in the success of the fundraiser, bringing in over $40,000 alone through the sale of a limited edition Cactus Jack tshirt design. Several other notable names from the wrestling world have passed in 2019 including King Kong Bundy, Pedro Morales, and Mean Gene Okerlund.

Axl Rotten Death – Drug Overdose

​Axl Rotten, Dead at 44 from a heroin overdose. Photo: wwe.com

1971-2016 (age 44)

Brian Knighton, known to wrestling fans as Axl Rotten, is best known for his run with ECW throughout the 90s. Axl Rotten died from an accidental drug overdose on February 4th, 2016. He was found dead in a McDonald’s bathroom in Linthicum, Maryland from a heroin overdose.
Please check back soon as we’ll be expanding on the career and death of Axl Rotten.
Axl Rotten in 2006. Photo: axlrottenecw / instagram
Axl Rotten enters the ECW Arena in 1997.

Bad News Brown Death – Heart Attack

​Allen Coage (known to wrestling fans as “Bad News Brown”) – Dead at 63. Photo: wwe.com 1943-2007 (age 63)
Allen Coage only spent two years in the World Wrestling Federation. But in that short time he managed to catch the attention of fans as the pissed off bad guy, Bad News Brown. Unlike many other heels who would join up with factions, Bad News Brown marched to the beat of his own drum. A true tough guy who wasn’t concerned with making friends.

Bad News Brown in a WWF promo Photoshoot circa 1988. Photo: wwe.com

Most notably, Bad News won the Battle Royale at Wrestlemania IV, beating out Ken Patera, Ron Bass, The Hart Foundation, among many others. By 1990, Coage abruptly parted ways with the WWF, wrestling on the independent scene before ultimately retiring from the ring in ’99. Why did Bad News leave the WWF? According to Coage, he was promised he would be given a run as the first African American heavyweight champion. When the storyline didn’t play out, he simply left. Others speculate that Coage may have entered the game too late – joining up with the WWF at the age of 35. After retirement, Allen Coage led a quiet life in Canada. He became a wrestling teacher, showing aspiring wrestlers how to work.
​Bad News Brown debuts in the WWF (February 1, 1988) A Surprising Background
Bad News Brown didn’t begin his career in wrestling but rather in amateur judo. He won the heavyweight championship at the Pan American Games in both 1967 and 1975, and he took home the Bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games. He was the only heavyweight from the United States to ever medal in judo.
Health Problems after Retirement

Bad News working Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 1990. Photo: wwe.com

The Beast from the Middle East, the Man They Hale “Ali” only had this to say: “I Loved This Man” 

Vinnie fever: “Thank –You for all you taught me about the business, R.I.P. Brother even though your gone you will never be forgotten”

 

After his tenure with the WWF, Bad News Brown remained on the independent wrestling circuit for nearly a decade. He retired on May 20, 1999. At the time, Coage was suffering from knee pain and was no longer able to keep up with training and competition. After his retirement, Coage worked as a wrestling trainer and served as a security guard at the Towerlane Mall in Airdrie, a small city north of Calgary. In 2007, he started to experience pain and was told by the doctor that he needed hip replacement surgery. The surgery went off with success in February 2007, but sadly, Bad News Brown would never fully recuperate from the procedure and get back on his feet. Bad News Brown confronts WWF President, Jack Tunney on the Brother Love show (Superstars, 1988)

Details of the Bad News Brown Death

Only a few details of the Bad News Brown death have been shared with the public by his family. Apparently, the wrestler started complaining of chest pains on the morning of Tuesday, March 6, 2007. Concerned, his family rushed him to Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, Canada. Allen Coage lived to arrive at the emergency room, but he passed away soon after. His death was ruled to be due to a heart attack, which has proven to be a common cause of death for wrestlers due to their large sizes. Bad News Brown was 63 years old when he died and would have turned 64 in October. He was married with children.

Wrestler Deaths in 2007

2007 was not a kind year for wrestlers. We saw the losses of Mike Awesome, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ernie Ladd, Crush, Sherri, The Fabulous Moolah, The Missing Link, and of course the Benoit tragedy.

Balls Mahoney Death – Heart Attack

​Balls Mahoney, Dead at 44. Photo: wwe.com 1972-2016 (age 44)
Jonathan Rechner, known to ECW fans as Balls Mahoney, died on April 12th, 2016. Rechner died from a heart attack. He was 44 years old. Just two months prior to his death, Balls Mahoney’s former ECW tag partner, Axl Rotten passed away after suffering from a heroin overdose. Several other wrestlers passed in 2016 including Blackjack Mulligan, Mr. Fuji, Iron Mike Sharpe, and Frenchy Martin. On October 21st, 2016, the Boston Globe reported that CTE was discovered in Rechner’s brain. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the hardcore nature of Balls Mahoney’ wrestling style. Earlier this year, we wrote a piece about CTE and the ongoing concussion lawsuit against the WWE. The WWE, along with Mahoney’s former colleagues, have taken to twitter to pay respects:
WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of ECW Superstar Balls Mahoney.

Tommy Dreamer ✔@THETOMMYDREAMER I am beyond sad to announce my friend ECW Original Balls Mahoney has passed away. I just spoke w/his wife.

I am truly saddened to hear of Balls Mahoney’s passing. Please say hi to Chris for me John. My thoughts and condolences to his family.

ECW 1999: Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten. Photo: wwe.com

Balls Mahoney and ECW owner Paul Heyman
ECW Hardcore TV 1997.

Bam Bam Bigelow Death – Drug Overdose

Bam Bam Bigelow – Dead at 45 from a drug overdose. Photo: wwe.com 1961-2007 (age 45)
In the 90s, Scott Charles “Bam Bam” Bigelow was a star in the wrestling world. Born on September 1, 1961 in Asbury Park New Jersey, Bigelow grew into a big guy who stood 6’4 and weighed in at three hundred and ninety pounds. Known for his size and the bold flame tattoo that covered his bald head, he had a long career in the wrestling world that spanned twenty-one years. Bam Bam was noted for being an unusually agile wrestler for his size. He went by a variety of ring names during his career including Bam Bam Bigelow, Bruce Bigelow, Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow, and Crusher Yurkof. Bam Bam lived up to his nickname “The Beast from the East”. He held multiple championships in ECW and WCW. With the WWF he headlined WrestleMania XI, squaring off against NFL star Lawrence Taylor. The Bam Bam Bigelow death occurred January 19, 2007 in Hudson, Florida. He was only forty-five. He was survived by his girlfriend Janis Remiensiewicz, his ex-wife Dana Fisher and their three children.
Early Career 1985-1992
Bam Bam Bigelow debuted as a wrestler in 1985. He trained at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory in New Jersey. He was billed as a monster heel in the ring when he debuted professionally in Memphis, Tennessee. He signed with the WWF in 1987. Sidelined by a knee injury, he still performed to support other wrestlers. From 1988 to 1992 he worked for Jim Crockett promotions and challenged Barry Windham for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship. He then spent time in Japan with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Return to Professional Wrestling in the US (1992-2001)
Bam Bam Bigelow and NFL star Lawrence Taylor in the main event at Wrestlemania XI. Photo: wwe.com
Upon his return the United States Bam Bam Bam Bigelow returned to the WWF where he went back to being a heel. He had a colorful career there from 1992 to 1995. With manager (or “main squeeze” as he liked to refer to her) Luna Vachon by his side, Bam Bam feuded with Tatanka and Doink the Clown. He was featured in several PPVs including SummerSlam, Survivor Series, King of the Ring and the Royal Rumble. In 1995 he was featured in the main event at WrestleMania XI. Bigelow squared off with NFL legend, Lawrence Taylor. I still question why they didn’t script Bam Bam to win, as it would have been a huge push. His final match for the WWF was at the 1995 Survivor Series. 12 years prior to his death: Bam Bam takes on NFL star Lawrence Taylor in the main event at WrestleMania XI (Hartford Civic Center – April 2, 1995) Bam Bam joined Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1995. His feud with Taz became legendary and Bam Bam defeated him at the Living Dangerously PPV in March of 1998. Later in 1998 Bam Bam left the ECW and went to World Championship Wrestling. He had a notable feud with WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg. He then went to the WCW Hardcore division. Bam Bam lost his final match to Stasiak at WCW Nitro in March of 2001. 8 years before his death: Bam Bam makes his WCW debut on Monday Nitro. He proceeds to clean house and then call out Goldberg (November 16, 1998)
Wrestling on the Independent Circuit (2002-2006)
Before his death, and in the final stage of his career, Bam Bam Bigelow wrestled on the independent circuit. He made the move to the independent circuit when the WCW was bought by the WWF in March of 2001. He made appearances for USA Pro Wrestling. His final wrestling match was on October 25, 2006. He was working for American Combat Wrestling Promotions with Ralph Mosca (The Syndicate) in tag team match against Overkill.
The Man behind the Wrestler
Bam Bam was popular and generally well-liked among his associates. He earned the admiration of managers and other wrestlers for his work ethic and his agile athleticism in the ring. Other wrestlers cited him as influence on their careers. He was able to put aside his personal feud with Taz and become friends. He was also known for an act of heroism that occurred in July of 2000. Bam Bam suffered from second degree burns covering forty percent of his body while he rescued three children from a burning house.
5 years before his death: Bam Bam shoot interview from Legends of Wrestling II (2002)
After his retirement from wrestling, Bam Bam made appearances to promote a chain of automotive customizers and opened a burger restaurant, which failed. He was in a serious motorcycle accident in October of 2005. His girlfriend Janis Remiesiewicz was in the accident with him and received serious injuries.
Bam Bam Bigelow Death
On January 19, 2007, at 10:00 am, Janis Remiensiewicz found Bam Bam Bigelow dead in his home in Hudson, Florida. An autopsy was performed. It determined that the Bam Bam Bigelow death was from a drug overdose. There were multiple drugs in his system, including cocaine and an anti-anxiety drug. The drugs were at a toxic level in his system.
Bam Bam Bigelow with his “main squeeze” Luna Vachon. Photo: wwe.com
The autopsy also noted that he suffered from arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which was also a likely factor in Bam Bam’s death. It is a sad fact that, like many professional wrestlers, Bam Bam was addicted to drugs. His death due to a drug overdose is not unique among wrestlers. He had a history of drug and alcohol use that was mentioned after his death by many people that knew him during his life. Bigelow also suffered from seizures, which apparently caused an incident in 2004 when he was charged with endangering the welfare of a child through reckless driving. The charges were eventually dropped. Personal struggles aside, the circumstances surrounding the Bam Bam Bigelow death news never overshadowed his professional career. Bam Bam is a well remembered figure from anyone who watched the WWF in the early 90s. Scott Bigelow was cremated. It’s not public knowledge who his ashes were given to.

Bertha Faye – Heart Attack

1961-2001 (age 40)
Rhonda Ann Sing grew up around professional wrestling. As a child, she attended Stampede Wrestling events with her mother. During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Sing would change the world of the All Japan Women wrestling circuit, competing under the name Monster Ripper. She would later become known as Bertha Faye in the ring of the World Wrestling Federation. Sadly, her career ended quickly, and fans and fellow wrestlers would receive word of the Bertha Faye death news much too soon.
Disappointing Runs in the WWF and WCW
Weighing 260 pounds and standing at 5 foot 8 inches tall, Bertha Faye was very different from the other women who competed in the WWF. She stood out immediately when she first appeared on the scene in 1995. Due to her size, Rhonda often faced off against men rather than women, and she managed to quickly earn the respect of her fellow wrestlers due to her impressive abilities and signature moves like the Big Bertha Bomb and the Body Avalanche. Although she was friends with many of the male wrestlers, Rhonda felt at odds with Vince McMahon. She said she felt like she was a prostitute due to the sexualized and comical way that she was often portrayed. Disappointed in her gimmick, Rhonda asked to terminate her contract and she left the WWF in 1998. Sing briefly appeared with WCW in 1999 and 2000 but similar to her experience in the WWF, she was mainly used as comic relief.
The Bertha Faye Death Story
After retirement, Rhonda mostly remained out of the eyes of the press. She did occasionally give interviews and when doing so, she wasn’t shy to say that she didn’t enjoy her time wrestling with the WWF. To earn a living, Sing worked as a caregiver for physically disabled people and was working in the field up until her death on July 27, 2001. She was only 40 years old. The Bertha Faye death cause was ruled to be a heart attack likely due to complications from diabetes. Her weight is believed to have played a role as well.
Friends Saddened by the Bertha Faye Death News
The Bertha Faye death news deeply saddened friends from the world of professional wrestling. At her funeral held on August 3, 2001, a number of well-known wrestlers were in attendance. Bret Hart was on hand for the event and ended up writing a tribute to Bertha Faye, describing how she was accepted by the male wrestlers and was a very giving and warm woman. Other friends like The Great Gama and Bad News Brown spoke about her as well, sharing similar sentiments as Hart. May 1995: On WWF Superstars, Bertha Faye pins a jobber after a sitting powerbomb. She would be dead 6 short years later. Rhonda Sing Grave Rhonda Sing’s grave is located at Mountain View Memorial Gardens in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The plot is located in the “Everlasting Life Lot” 249 Plot B4.
Rhonda is buried with her parents, Jack and Elsie.
Rhonda Sing’s grave in Calgary, Alberta. She is buried with her parents, Jack and Elsie. Photo: milou Remembered by Fans and the Wresting Community to This Day
Rhonda Sing may be gone, but she has not been forgotten. Two years after her death, she was given a posthumous award from the Cauliflower Alley Club. Fans continue to leave tributes to Rhonda on the Internet, remembering her for both her reign as WWF Women’s Champion, and a two-time WWWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Big Boss Man Death – Heart Attack

Big Boss Man dies at Age 41 of a heart attack. Photo: wwe.com 1963-2004 (age 41)
Big Boss Man was born in Marietta, Georgia, on May 2, 1963. The wrestler’s real name was Raymond “Ray” W. Traylor, Jr., and he died young at the age of 41.
First WWF tenure
In the mid 80s, Traylor began his wrestling career as the bodyguard to Jim Cornette and was known as “Big Bubba Rogers”. He carried his nightstick and wore his signature blue police shirt. He went on to wrestling fame when he joined the World Wrestling Federation in 1988; remaining with the company (for his first run) until 1993. Big Boss Man makes his WWF debut on Superstars. He makes short work of a jobber and proceeds to handcuff him to the ropes while beating him mercilessly… not a bad way to start your heel gimmick (June 18, 1988) Traylor was first introduced as “Big Boss Man” from the WWF. His police gimmick was actually fairly true to life – The Boss Man was a real life former prison guard in Cobb County, Georgia. Managed by Slick, the Boss Man entered the WWF as a heel, feuding and helping get over fan favorites like Hogan and Savage. By 1990, the Boss Man dropped his heel gimmick and began feuding with former Twin Tower partner Akeem, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Nailz.
Boss Man joins WCW, returns to WWF for Attitude era
Big Boss Man with the hardcore championship during the WWF ‘Attitude Era’. Photo: wwe.com

In 1993, Traylor briefly left WWF for All Japan Pro Westling, and then returned to America for the start of World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
He was in the WCW from 1993 to 1998, first joining as “The Boss” – apparently the WWF didn’t take too kindly to WCW using his familiar moniker and threatened with a lawsuit. Traylor’s character was then changed to The Guardian Angel (yeah, unfortunately it wasn’t very memorable). He did not see much success with his WCW tenure, but his career would eventually turn around.
Following his WCW run, Traylor rejoined the WWF. He once again took on his role as Big Boss Man, but his blue police shirt was swapped out for a SWAT-inspired uniform, all in black, complete with gloves and a bulletproof vest. He sometimes wore a mask to the ring. The updated character was a great fit for the WWF’s edgy Attitude Era.
In his final run with the company, Boss Man was part of Vince McMahon’s Original Corporation stable alongside The Rock, Shane McMahon, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Brisco. Mostly involved in the hardcore division, Boss Man also had an epic feud with Big Show which will probably always be remembered for how far it pushed the limits of the Attitude era – funeral crashing ring a bell??
Big Boss Man returns to the WWF in the late 90s. One of his most memorable feuds was with the Big Show – if any angle took it to the limits of the Attitude era, this one was it (Smackdown – November 11, 1999)

Details about Big Boss Man Death
As with many wrestlers, Traylor passed away at a young age. The cause of the Big Boss Man death was a heart attack, which occurred on September 22, 2004. He died in his sister’s home in Dallas, Georgia. The Big Boss Man was only 41 years old at the time of his death. The incident happened quickly and was shocking to all who knew Traylor. He was found by his wife, where she had only shortly before left him on the couch at about 10pm. His two children had been upstairs playing, while she had briefly left the room. She returned to find he had passed away. The later investigation into the Big Boss Man death determined he had suffered a massive heart attack. Jim Cornette and Stone Cold Steve Austin shoot on the Bossman (‘Steve Austin Show Unleashed’ Podcast, 2015) Traylor left behind two daughters and his wife Angela. He and Angela were childhood sweethearts. At the time of his passing, his daughters were eight and 11.
In the late 80’s the Big Boss Man and Hakeem formed the Twin Towers tag team with manager Slick. Photo: wwe.com Death and Young Wrestlers
The sad truth is that many pro wrestlers have died young. The list is long, with Big Boss Man being a notable one. The pro wrestlers around Traylor’s age have passed at a rate that is about ten times that of football players of the same age. Specifically, professional wrestlers are a shocking 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than other adults in the US between the ages of 25-44. They played larger-than-life characters to the public and died young, before their time. Sadly, many other professional wrestlers have died young from drug related causes, including accidental overdoses. The WWE has seen the tragic losses of Miss Elizabeth, Road Warrior Hawk, Rick Rude, Test, Mr. Perfect, Umaga, and many more. Unfortunately the tragedy of wrestling dying young did not stop for the Big Boss Man.
Remembering the Big Boss Man
Ray Traylor has been missed by fans and friends alike. Friends who knew his character’s accent was true to life with “gal dang it” being a part of Traylor’s regular vocabulary. Boss Man will be most recognized as being part of Hulk Hogan’s era. The 80s was a time when wrestling was gaining mainstream attention and becoming massively popular. Largely an upper-mid-carder, Big Boss Man had epic battles with Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Macho Man Randy Savage. The guy was incredibly agile in the ring for a big man. In real life, Traylor was a family man with a Southern drawl who died young and suddenly, before he was even 45 years of age. The Big Boss man will be missed.
Ray Traylor’s grave at Dallas Memory Gardens in Dallas, GA. Photo: unknown Big Boss Man Grave
Ray Traylor’s grave is located at Dallas Memory Gardens in Dallas, GA. In Chris Benoit’s journal, he noted: “As Nancy and I left the church and watched them put Ray’s coffin into the hearse. We both waved goodbye one last time and I thanked him in my heart, and thanked God for putting him in my life and said I love you Ray.” Update: WWE has announced Big Boss Man will be posthumously inducted into the class of 2016 Hall of Fame!

Big Bully Busick Death – Cancer

Known for his run with the WWF in the early 90s, Nick “Big Bully” Busick has lost his fight with cancer at age 63. Photo: wwe.com 1954-2018 (Age 63)
WWE has announced the passing of Nick “Big Bully” Busick. He was 63. Busick grew up in Pittsburgh, looking up to local wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino who passed last month. Busick started out as enhancement talent for the WWWF in the late 70s. He bounced back and forth between wrestling and his job as a police officer throughout the 80s.
If the bully gimmick wasn’t enough, Busick was managed by Harvey Wippleman during his WWF run, making him an easy recipient of heel heat.
In 1989 Busick received TV time in the WWF, wrestling as “Big Bully” Busick. His gimmick was modeled after a stereotypical 1920s bully, complete with a cigar, derby hat and trademark mustache. If the bully gimmick wasn’t enough, Busick was managed by Harvey Wippleman during his WWF run, making him an easy recipient of heel heat. Though he may not have been a household name because of his short TV run, Busick locked up with many notable stars including The Texas Tornado, Sid, and Jimmy Snuka. He had a short feud with the Brooklyn Brawler, but by late 1991, was gone from the company.
Big Bully locks up with “The Texas Tornado”, Kerry Von Erich – Madison Square Garden, Oct. 28, 1991. Photo: wwe.com
Bully’s last match with the WWF was a shot at the IC title, squaring off against Bret Hart on an episode of Superstars. Bully was scheduled to appear at the ’91 Survivor Series, but departed the company shortly prior. He was replaced by the late Hercules.
Life after Wrestling
After wrestling, Busick kept a low profile with occasional appearances at wrestling conventions. According to Slam Sports, Busick worked as a bodyguard in the Atlanta area, alongside his friend Bill Eadie (Ax of Demolition).
Pittsburgh natives: Big Bully Busick and Bruno Sammartino. Photo: facebook
In 2005 Busick went into cardiac arrest after exercising on a treadmill in a fitness center. After five minutes of being shocked back to life, Busick reportedly refused to get into a waiting ambulance, opting to walk out of the gym on his own.
Those close to Bully said his refusal to go to the hospital was not surprising.
Busick did, however, go in for heart surgery in 2010. The results were successful. Busick noted surgeons needed to completely re-map his heart. According to LinkedIn, in 2013 Busick was self employed with CCI (“Criminal and Civil Investigations”) a Weirton, West Virginia based firm specializing in safeland training, background checks, and drug testing. Approaching his 60s, Busick was still involved in competitive power lifting and looked to be in phenomenal physical shape.
No stranger to the gym: Busick lifting weights after undergoing brain surgery in a Photo from his Facebook profile dated Feb. 12, 2018 Big Bully Busick Death
In 2015, Busick’s health took a turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and dropped nearly 100 pounds after surgery and chemotherapy. By 2016, it appeared Busick was cancer-free, but the good news would be short lived. In 2017, Busick underwent neurosurgery for a brain tumor and in 2018 he was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease – a disease which occurs when cancer cells move to the liquid around your brain and spinal cord. Busick was moved to hospice care and died on May 8, 2018, in Weirton, West Virginia. He was 63. Busick’s family including his wife Lori were by his side when he passed. Our condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Busick.