Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pro Wrestling Deaths 1990 to 1999


Name: Whipper Billy Watson

Date of Death: February 4, 1990

Age: 76

Cause of Death: Natural Causes

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Wrestled Legends such as Gorgeous George, Bobo Brazil, Fritz Von Erich, Killer Kowalaskki & Buddy Rogers

Name: Gory Guerrero

Date of Death: April 18, 1990

Age: 65

Cause of Death: Cancer

Story of Death: Two weeks before his death, Guerrero's liver crashed and he developed cirrhosis due to hepatitis

Known for: The Father of former WWE Smack-down Champion the Late Eddy Guerrero

Pat O'Conner

Date of Death: August 16, 1990

Age: 65

Cause of Death: Cancer

Story of Death: In 1990, he died of cancer. ]The following December, World Championship Wrestling held the Pat O'Connor Memorial International Cup Tag Team Tournament, an eight-team international tag-team memorial tournament at Starrcade in 1990 in honor of O'Connor.

Known for: Former NWA Star

Name: Dean Hart

Date of Death: November 21, 1990

Age: 36

Cause of Death: kidney disease

Story of Death: His death was the day before the WWF Survivor Series that year, and commentator Roddy Piper stated that Bret dedicated his match to Dean

Known for: from the Famous Hart Family

Name: Ed "The Bull" Gantner

Date of Death: December 31, 1990

Age: 31

Cause of Death: Suicide

Story of Death: In 1988, Gantner's health began to go downhill after years of steroid use. His kidneys were the first to start failing, causing him to go under kidney dialysis, forced him to be hooked up several hours a week to a machine to survive.

Doctors also forced Gantner to lose 100 lbs, as he nearly weighed 300 lbs. He complied by giving up red meat and starting a holistic diet, making his own watermelon tea. Despite the changes, he couldn't stop using steroids and had started using cocaine. He was rushed to the hospital for heart failure four times within two months. At that point, he started asking around for a firearm.

By the fall of 1989, his heart and kidneys were failing, after refusing doctors' orders to lose weight and alter his exercise regimen. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1989, Gantner received a kidney transplant, as his sister donated her kidney. His family thought the worse was over. However, five days after the transplant, he asked that weights be brought to his room, as he went back to using steroids.

The strain of recovering from the transplant caused Gantner to lose weight, but he had still an imposing figure. Despite this, when he looked into a mirror, he saw a defective, distorted image. Self conscious about his physique, he'd wear shorts under his jeans to look bigger. While in the gym, he would wear an extra pair of socks to bulk up his calves. Over the next six months, he would go back to the hospital five times, because of complications. He would also move from Orlando, to St. Augustine, to West Palm Beach, working as a salesman.

Early in the fall of 1990, Gantner's mental health began to falter, as he started calling his parents late at night. He would get dressed for work, make it to his car, and sit there for a half-hour with the keys in the ignition, before going back in his house. When his mother finally decided to bring him home in Orlando, she found him in a dark room, sitting down, rocking on his bed.

Back home with his parents in Orlando, Gantner wouldn't eat, sleep, or work out. He would shower constantly and pace all night long. When his mother tried to take him for a haircut, he made her drive all over town, and at each stop, he refused to leave the car.

By November 1990, Gantner was placed in a psychiatric ward at a Florida hospital, where he stayed until after Christmas. During this time, he began casting about for solutions and new truths—meditation, vitamins, even faith healing with Rev. Benny Hinn.

Feeling defeated, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1990, Ed Gantner committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in the kitchen of his parents' home in Orlando, Florida. He was 31 years old.

Known for: First man Lex Luger defeated


Name: Vivian Vachon

Date of Death: Auguest 25, 1991

Age: 40

Cause of Death: Car accident

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Former AWA Women's champion and from the famous Vachon Wrestling Family

Name: Chris Von Erich

Date of Death: September 12, 1991

Age: 21

Cause of Death: Suicide

Story of Death: unknow

Known for: member of the famous wrestling family the Von Erich's

Name: Gene Anderson

Date of Death: October 31, 1991

Age: 58

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: Passed away during Surgry

Known for: Trained by Vern Gagne

Name: Dick The Bruiser

Date of Death: November 10, 1991

Age: 62

Cause of Death: Internaal Bleeding

Story of Death: Died of Internal Bleeding on November 10, 1991....according to a spokesman for suncoast hospital in Largo, Flordia near his winter home,..His Widow Louise said her husband had been weight-lifting at home with his adopted son Jon Carney and ruptured a blood vessel in his esophagus

Known for: The original beer guzzling, cigar smoking, tough guy in the wrestling industry

Name: Wilbur Synder

Date of Death: December 25, 1991

Age: 62

Cause of Death: Lymphatic leukemia/heart failure

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Former AWA Star


Name: Buzz Sawyer

Date of Death: February 27, 1992

Age: 33

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death:unknown

Known for: Former WWF Star and trained the Undertaker

Name: Buddy Rogers

Date of Death: June 26, 1992

Age: 71

Cause of Death: Stroke

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: The Very First WWWF Heavyweight champion

Name: Roy Heffernan

Date of Death: September 24, 1992

Age: 67

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unkniown

Known for: One half of the legendary tag team The Fabulous Kangaaroos

Name: Uncle Elmer

Date of Death: June 30, 1992

Age: 54

Cause of Death: Diabetes

Story of Death: Frazier suffered from diabetes and poor health as a result of his weight.These problems led to kidney failure, from which he died on July 1, 1992. He was buried in Biloxi, Mississippi

Known for: WWF (1985-1986)


Name: Andre The Giant

Date of Death: January 27, 1993

Age: 46

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: Suffered a heart attack in Paris while attending his father's funeral

Known for: AWA (1972), WWWF/WWF (1973-1991), WWF Hall of Fame (1993)

Name: Kerry Von Erich

Date of Death: February 18, 1993

Age: 33

Cause of Death: Suicide

Story of Death: (Source: Wikipedia)

Known for: WWF Star (1990-1991), Member of the Von Erich Family

Name: Dino Bravo

Date of Death: March 10, 1993

Age: 44

Cause of Death: Shot to death

Story of Death: On March 10, 1993, Bravo was found shot to death.He was 44 years old. Bravo was thought to have been shot up to 17 times to the head by a gunman while watching hockey in his Vimont, Laval, Quebec apartment. It is widely believed that his alleged role in illegal cigarette smuggling in Canada led to his murder. Rick Martel has stated in interviews that because of Bravo notability from being a popular professional wrestler, he was able to attract many customers (specifically Aboriginals) to switch over to having him as a supplier of illegal cigarettes, thus crossing the mafia. According to various sources, right before his death Bravo had confided to close friends that he knew his days were numbered. He was a nephew by marriage of Montreal crime boss Vic Cotroni, and was believed by authorities to be involved in his organization for some time. Bravo remains are in a mausoleum at Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec.[citation needed] He is survived by his wife, Diane Rivest and their daughter Claudia.

Known for: WWF Wrestler (1978-1991)

Name: Don Kent

Date of Death: June 14, 1993

Age: unknown

Cause of Death: Leukemia

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: one half of the fabulous Kangaroos

Name: Rufus R. Jones

Date of Death: November 13

Age: 60

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: suffer a heart attack while deer hunting

Known for: AWA Legendary wrestler & Father of former WWF Manager Slick

Name: "Lethal" Larry Cameron

Date of Death: December 13

Age: 41

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: Larry suffers a heart attack while wrestling in the ring for Otto Wanz's CWA promotion in Bremen, Germany at the age of 41

Known for: wcw (1990)


Name: Sam Menacker

Date of Death: January 7


Cause of Death: Natural Causes

Story of Death: Unknown

Known for: Married and Managed June Byers

Name: Kareem Muhammad

Date of Death: May 15, 1994

Age: 42

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Trained New Jack

Name: Joey Marella

Date of Death: July 4, 1994

Age: 30

Cause of Death: Car Accident

Story of Death: died on July 4, 1994, after he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed while driving home on Beverly-Rancocas Road in Willingboro after a night of refereeing WWF matches in Ocean City, Maryland. Bruno Lauer, better known by his ring name Harvey Wippleman, was with him at the time and was critically injured. Lauer was wearing a seatbelt, while Marella was not. As a tribute, WWE ring announcer Tony Chimel named one of his sons after Marella. Marella's sister Valerie also named a son after her brother

Known for: WWF Referee (1983-1994) and the son of The Legendary Gorilla Monsoon

Name: Boris Malanko

Date of Death: August 27, 1994

Age: 61

Cause of Death: cancer

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary wrestler and the father of former WWE/WCW/ECW Alumni Dean Malanko

Name: Art Barr

Date of Death: September 1, 1994

Age: 28

Cause of Death: unknown

Story of Death: On November 23, 1994, Barr was found dead lying with his child at his home in Springfield, Oregon. Preliminary reports said that he died of an aneurysm, but later reports said that he died under unknown circumstances. Barr did not have heart problems, no aneurysm or internal bleeding, and no ring injuries. He had a mixture of alcohol and drugs in his blood stream. Eddie Guerrero was his best friend around this time period. Although Eddie Guerrero's book claims that the cause of Barr's death is still unknown to this day, Hardcore History by Scott E. Williams, criminal-justice reporter and wrestling columnist for The Galveston County Daily News, states that "Barr died in his sleep from a drug-related heart attack."

Known for: Former ECW Tag Team with Eddy Guerrero


Name: Jerry Blackwell

Date of Death: January 22, 1995

Age: 45

Cause of Death: Car Accident

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WWWF and AWA Wrestler

Name: Eddie Gilbert

Date of Death: February 18, 1995

Age: 33

Cause of Death: heart attack

Story of Death: On February 18, 1995, Gilbert died of a heart attack. His father, Tommy Gilbert, stated that injuries to Eddie's chest and heart muscle had occurred in a serious car crash in 1983 and could have been a factor; Eddie's alleged use of painkillers since the accident could also have contributed to his heart condition. The Eddie Gilbert Memorial Brawl was held in his memory from 1996 to 1999.

Known for: WCW (1988-1989), formally married to Missy Hyatt & Madusa

Name: Big John Studd

Date of Death: March 20, 1995

Age: 46

Cause of Death: Hodkin Disease

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WWF (1981-1989), 1989 Royal Rumble Winner

Name: Black Venus

Date of Death: September 30, 1995

Age: 46

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: LPWA Wrestler

Name: Little Beaver

Date of Death: December 4, 1995

Age: 61

Cause of Death: Emphysema

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Midget Wrestler


Name: Buddy fuller

Date of Death: January 15, 1996

Age: 71

Cause of Death: unknown

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Wrestler and father of wcw manager col.robert parker

Name: Ivan the Terrible

Date of Death: February, 1996

Age: 97

Cause of Death: unknown

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Midget Wrestler

Name: Ray "The Crippler" Stevens

Date of Death: May 3, 1996

Age: 42

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown.

Known for: Former AWA & WWF Star

Name: Dick Murdoch

Date of Death: May 3, 1996

Age: 49

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown.

Known for: former WWE Tag team and US Champion

Name: Sapphire

Date of Death: September 10, 1996

Age: 61

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WWF (1989-1990)


Name: DR. Jerry Graham

Date of Death: January 24, 1997

Age: 58

Cause of Death: Stroke

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: The Founder of the Wrestling Graham Family

Name: Bulldog Bob Brown

Date of Death: February 5, 1997

Age: 58

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: In 1996, Brown suffered a heart attack, and was pronounced dead twice before being revived. This caused him to retire from in-ring competition. Following his retirement, he worked as a security guard in a casino in Kansas City, Missouri until his death on February 5, 1997

Known for: Legendary Canadian Wrestler

Name: Stan Stasiak

Date of Death: June 19, 1997

Age: 60

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Father of former WWF Star Shawn Stasiak

Name: Plum Mariko

Date of Death: August 16, 1997

Age: 29

Cause of Death: Brain Aneurysm

Story of Death: On August 15, 1997 she teamed with Commando Bolshoi against Mayumi Ozaki and Rieko Amano at the Hiroshima Sun Plaza, Hiroshima. At the matches conclusion, Ozaki used one of her regular moves, the Ligerbomb, to pin Mariko. The move was executed no differently than normal, but appeared to have triggered a pre-existing problem, the abscess on her brain. Since other wrestlers on the card had sold their finishes that night, the fans in the arena didn’t immediately realize there was a problem. It seems that this spot may not have been the planned finish of the match. In any case, Mariko was knocked out from the Ligerbomb and didn’t kick out. After the match, Ozaki and the other wrestlers saw Mariko, who still hadn't budged, snoring, which was a sign that her brain was bleeding. Mariko died a few hours later on August 16, 1997

No postmortem was performed on her at the request of her father. Despite this, Mariko was said to have had head injuries and an abscess on her brain which may have contributed to the head trauma that killed her.

Known for: Japanese Female Star

Name:  Jeep Swensen

Date of death:  August 18, 1997

Age: 40

Cause of death: Heart Failure

Story of death: unknown

Known for:  WCW (1996), Starred in the Hollywood hit Batman & Robin as Bane the side kick to Uma Thurman’s character Poison Ivy

Name: Dale Lewis

Date of Death: August 27, 1997

Age: 64

Cause of Death: unknown

Story of death: unknown

Known for: AWA Wrestler

Name: Fritz Von Eric

Date of Death: September 10

Age: 68

Cause of death: Cancer

Story of death: unknown

Known for: The father of the fame Texas wrestling family the Von Eric’s

Name: Brian Pillman

Date of Death: October 5, 1997

Age: 35

Cause of death: Arteriosclerotic heart disease

Story of death:  found in his hotel room preparing for his WWF PPV match against Golduse at badd Blood

Known for: WCW (1989-1993) ECW (1994-1995) WWF (1996-1997)


Name: Big Daddy Dink

Date of Death: December 2, 1997

Age: 67

Cause of Death: Stroke

Story of Death: Big Daddy Dink died of a stroke in December 1997 in Halifax General Hospital. He was survived by his second wife of 31 years, Eunice and six children.

Known for: AWA Star


Name: Bobo Brazil

Date of Death: January 20, 1998

Age: 74

Cause of Death: Series of Strokes

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary WWF Wrestler, WWF Hall of Fame 1994

Name: Louie Spicolli

Date of Death:  February 15, 1998

Age: 27

Cause of Death: Carisopridol Drug Over-dose

Story of death: unknown

Known for: WWF (1995), ECW (1996-1997) WCW (1997-1998)

Name: Roy McClarity

Date of Death: March 27, 1998

Age: 79

Cause of Death: unknown

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Former WWWF US Tag Team Champion,

Name: Junk Yard Dog

Date of Death: June 2, 1998

Age: 45

Cause of Death: Car Accident

Story of Death: JYD died on June 2, 1998, in a single-car accident on Interstate 20 near Forest, Mississippi, as he was returning home from his daughter LaToya's high school graduation in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The apparent cause was falling asleep at the wheel. JYD body was laid in an unmarked grave in Wadesboro, North Carolina

Known for: WWF (1984-1988), WCW (1990), 2004 WWE Hall of Fame,

Name: June Byers

Date of Death: July 20, 1998

Age: 76

Cause of Death: pneumonia

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Woman Wrestler

Name: Terry Garvin

Date of Death: August 17, 1998

Age: unknown

Cause of Death: Cancer

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Wrestler & known for being openly gay and molested a 19 year old ring boy in the WWF in 1992

Name: Sky Low Low

Date of Death: November 6, 1998

Age: unknown

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Legendary Midget Wrestler

Name:  Christine Jarrett

Date of Death: November 19, 1998

Age: 75

Cause of death: heart attack

Story of death: unknown

Known for: Grandmother of Jeff Jarrett and the promoter and founder of USWA wrestling

Name: Loc Ness

Date of Death: November 29, 1998

Age: 52

Cause of Death: Cancer

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WCW 1996

Name: Battle Cat

Date of Death: December 15, 1998

Age: 40

Cause of Death: Car Accident

Story of Death :On December 15, 1998 while driving home to Tampa, Florida from a WCW television taping in Orlando,FL Battlecat died in an automobile accident

Known for: WWF (1986-1990) & WCW (1993-1998)


Name: Giant Baba

Date of Death: January 31, 1999

Age: 51

Cause of Death: cancer

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: one of the most famous Japanese wrestlers of his era, with a popularity in Japan comparable to Hulk Hogan's in America.

Name: Buddy Lee

Date of Death: February 13, 1998

Age: unknown

Cause of Death: Respiratory Failure

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: Wrestling and Country singer promoter, formally married Fabulous Moolah

Name: The Renegade

Date of death:  February 23, 1999

Age: 23

Cause of death: Suicide

Story of Death: Commits Suicide shortly after losing his Job with WCW at 23 years old

Known for:  WCW (1995-1999)

Name: Emiko Kado

Date of Death: April 9, 1999

Age: 23

Cause of Death: Internal Bleeding

Story of Death: Emiko Kado wrestled her 15th pro wrestling match when she took a blow during the match and later died of internal bleeding at the age of 23

Known for: Japanese Female Wrestler who wrestled only 15 matches

Name:  Rick Rude

Date of Death:  April 20, 1999

Age: 41

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

Story of death: An autopsy report showed he died from an overdose of "mixed medications

Known for:  WWF (1987-1990) WCW (1991-1994) ECW (1997) WWF (1997) WCW (1997-1999)

Name: Owen Hart

Date of Death: May 23, 1999

Age: 33

Cause of Death: accidental fall from the Sky Scrapers

Story of Death: On May 23, 1999, Hart fell to his death in Kansas City, Missouri during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event. Hart was in the process of being lowered via harness and grapple line into the ring from the rafters of Kemper Arena for a booked Intercontinental Championship match against The Godfather. In keeping with the Blazer's new "buffoonish superhero" character, he was to begin a dramatic entrance, being lowered to just above ring level, at which time he would act "entangled", then release himself from the safety harness and fall flat on his face for comedic effect—this necessitated the use of a quick release mechanism. It was an elaboration on a Blue Blazer stunt done previously on the Sunday Night Heat before Survivor Series in 1998.Many suspected the harness was made for lowering small tools to carpenters, not for any human being. Hart fell 78 feet (24 m) into the ring, landing chest-first on the top rope, approximately a foot from the nearest turnbuckle, throwing him into the ring.

Hart had performed the stunt only a few times before and was worried about performing the stunt at Kemper due to the height involved. Hart's wife Martha has suggested that, by moving around to get comfortable with both the harness and his cape on, Hart unintentionally triggered an early release. Television viewers at home did not see the incident or its aftermath—at the moment of the fall, a pre-taped vignette was being shown on the pay-per-view broadcast as well as on the monitors in the darkened arena. After, while Hart was being worked on by medical personnel inside the ring, the live event's broadcast showed only the audience. Meanwhile, WWF television announcer Jim Ross repeatedly told those watching live on pay-per-view that what had just transpired was not a wrestling angle or storyline and that Hart was hurt badly, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. Hart was transported to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, where several attempts to revive him were made, until he died from his injuries; some believe he died in the ring. He was 34 years old. The cause was later revealed to be internal bleeding from a severed aorta

Known for: WWF (1991-1999, 1994 King of the ring, WWF Tag Team Champion (4x), WWF Intercontinental Championship (2x), WWF Europe Championship

Name: Mark Curtis

Date of Death: September 8, 1999

Age: 37

Cause of Death: Stomach & Bowel Cancer

Story of Death: diagnosed with stomach and bowel cancer in October 1997. After having surgery in attempt to remove it, he continued refereeing for WCW throughout the following months. During the final stage of his disease in 1999, a Curtis Goes Home benefit was held in his hometown of Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania. Cody Michaels developed and promoted the event, which is viewed by wrestling insiders and experts as one of the truly memorable events in history that actually brought together the major companies at the time, World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling, in support for one of the most genuinely loved workers in the industry. The major stars that worked and provided support that night included Mick Foley, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shane Douglas, Bruno Sammartino, Dominic DeNucci, Terry Taylor, D'Lo Brown, Al Snow, Hugh Morris, Les Thatcher, Billy Kidman, Chris Candido, and many others.

Hildebrand died from the disease on September 8, 1999 at the age of 37. He refereed one last match at a local independent show mere days before his death. Hildebrand's death was briefly acknowledged on the following edition of WCW Thunder, but the first WCW event to have taken place after his death was a house show on September 11 at the Baltimore Arena, which was held in his honor with a ten bell salute. Late in the show, friends Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko (known as Revolution) shared heartfelt words about Hildebrand and dedicated the show to him

 Known for: ECW & WCW Referee

Name: Gorilla Monsoon

Age: 62

Cause of Death: Heart Illinois

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WWF broadcasting feud with Bobby the brain and WWF President in 1996

Name: Hiro Matsuda

Date of Death: November 27, 1999

Age: 62

Cause of Death: colon Cancer

Story of Death: unknown

Known for: WCW (1987-1989), Trained Hulk Hoogan, Lex Luger, Farooq, & Scott Hall


Trippler said...

Sad that we lost so many greats at such young ages.

Of these, Mark Curtis should have been in the WWE Hall of Fame - he was very courageous in his battle against cancer and continued to work until just before his untimely death.

Paul Donovan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Donovan said...

All the young deaths are indeed tragic,and yes a stalwart defiance against the scourge of cancer is fully deserving of inclusion into the Hall of Fame!! It saddened me to know that most of these men who provided me with hours of entertainment as a kid are no longer with us!! Hillbilly Jim,Uncle Elmer and Andre the Giant were VERY exciting and entertaining individuals!! Wrestlers like Ken Patera,and Paul Orndorff provided me with the motivation and inspiration to hit the weight-pile,and cause myself to become much LESS of an"easy target"for bullies and opportunists in my west-cetral Detroit neighborhood!! I'll never forget how the inspiration to poer-lift I obtained from these gentleman paid-off in a big way,when my Dad dropped-by to visit me,as I stood shirtless in my driveway,after shooting hoops in the backyard with:"Boy,WHEN did you get"like this"?!? I turned that corner,looked over here and thought you was LOU FERRIGNO standing up the driveway!! What IS"all of this"?!? Are these just"Hollywood muscles"or are you able to knock a joker OUT?!?"