Pro Wrestling’s Deadly Dark Side

by Sean Hackbarth

Pro wrestlers are tremendous athletes. You have to be to bodyslam, crash, fall, and flip inside a wrestling ring. The punishment puts a toll on the body after years of such intense activity. It’s shortened lifespans. Wrestlers have compentated by reaching for the chemicals: steroids and painkillers. It’s the dark side to a real-life comic book. The double murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family are only the latest tragic chapter:

  • Ravishing Rick Rude — Died at 40 of an apparent heart attack in 1999, a bottle of prescription pills for his bad back at his side. The autopsy report said he died of “mixed medications.” Rude was an admitted user of anabolic steroids.
  • Louis Mucciolo, a.k.a, Louie Spicolli — Died in 1998 at age 27 when he suffocated on his own vomit after ingesting massive amounts of Soma and alcohol. Investigators also found an empty vial of testosterone, pain pills and an anti-anxiety drug at the scene.
  • Brian Pillman — An admitted user of steroids, he died of a heart attack at age 35 in 1997 on the morning of WWF’s In Your House: Badd Blood pay-per-view event.
  • Rick “the Renegade” Williams — Died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 33 after being released from his World Championship Wrestling contract in 1999.
  • “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig — Found dead of a cocaine overdose at age 44 in his motel room on April 10, 2003, the morning of a match. Hennig’s father maintained that steroids and painkillers contributed to his death.
  • Rodney “Yokozuna” Anoa’i — Died of a heart attack in 2002 at 34.
  • Davey Boy Smith, “The British Bulldog” — Died of a heart attack at age 39 on May 17, 2002. An autopsy report indicated that past steroid use had likely played a part in his death.
  • Michael “Road Warrior Hawk” Hegstrand — An admitted steroid user, he died of a heart attack at age 46 in 2003.
  • Michael Lockwood, “Crash Holly” — In 2003, at the age of 32, he choked to death on his own vomit after ingesting 90 painkiller pills.
  • Jerry Tuite, “The Wall” a.k.a. “Malice” — Died at age 36 in 2003 of an apparent heart attack in his hotel room.
  • Raymond “Hercules” Hernandez — Dead of heart failure in 2004 at age 47.
  • Ray “The Big Boss Man” Traylor — Found dead of a heart attack in 2004 at age 42.
  • Eddie Guerrero — After a long battle with painkillers, he was found dead of a heart attack by his nephew in his hotel room at age 38. The first person his nephew reportedly called was Guerrero’s best friend, Chris Benoit.
  • Chris Candido — Died in 2005 at age 33 from a blood clot after breaking his tibia and fibula and dislocating his ankle in a pay-per-view event.

In defense of the WWE Benoit tested negative for steroids when tested a few months ago. Also, the crime appears too deliberate to be simply “roid rage.”

Charlie Sykes asks, “You really want your kids to be watching this?”

The answer is a resounding, “No.” The sexual themes and intense violence aren’t good for a kid. The most recent plotline sunk to a new low with owner Vince McMahon supposedly killed in a bombing. That’s quite tacky in this age of terrorism. WWE is geared for an adult audience.

This week retired NFL players told a House of Representatives subcommittee about their troubles getting disability benefits. But in their case they’re not dropping like flies like pro wrestlers. There’s no hearing for them.

Benoit Tragedy Not the Only One”

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4 Responses to “Pro Wrestling’s Deadly Dark Side”


Andre the Giant isn’t on your list?


It wasn’t on the list I quoted from, and I didn’t think of him.

I thought I Andre as more of a freak of nature rather than a freak of chemistry.


Yeah, he died of Acromeagaly; does that really count for the purposes of this discussion?

Of course, that line of thinking can disqualify Yokozuna/Rodney from this list too. He didn’t use ‘roids; he was just morbidly obese.


Calling Andre a freak of nature isn’t exactly the nicest thing ever, you know.

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