Every single time a wrestler enters a ring, they put their bodies on the line. Many wrestlers die young for various reasons, including higher rates of drug use and the more intense demands on the body due to the sport’s year-round schedule. Yet after their contributions to the business are done, not all wrestlers are remembered the same, especially by the WWE.
Some wrestlers are granted on-screen tributes shortly after their passing. If a wrestler’s contribution to the business was notorious, they’ll likely have an event or award named after them. If that’s not the case, certain wrestlers will continue to be highlighted as influences for generations of performers. For others, this is nowhere near the case. Some deaths are not acknowledged on-screen and some are only acknowledged by a sentence or two by the WWE.
In the most extreme cases, a wrestler’s contributions to the business will be erased from history in the most unusual of ways. The WWE wants their history to be remembered a certain way and they only acknowledge who they feel should be. So not every wrestler gets the farewell that some feel they deserve.
Here are 10 wrestlers the WWE honors continuously and 10 the WWE could apparently care less to mention.
20. HONORED: Mr. Perfect
A Hall of Famer, a gifted in-ring technician and full of charisma, Mr. Perfect was just that: perfect. He is often referred to by many as one of the WWE’s greatest in-ring performers of all-time. Some fans even consider Mr. Perfect to be the best wrestler who never won the WWE’s top title. His in-ring abilities have been highlighted by some of the company’s most influential wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels.
In addition to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, Mr. Perfect also had a DVD released by the WWE that highlighted his career. You’ll also hear his name on WWE programming from time to time, usually mentioned as the father of Curtis Axel. Mr. Perfect’s legacy is entrenched forever.
19. FORGOTTEN: Viscera
King Mabel, Viscera and Big Daddy V were all gimmicks played by Nelson Frazier throughout his multiple WWE tenures. Yet for a man who was able to portray so many unique, memorable characters, his contributions are seldom acknowledged by the WWE. After his passing, Viscera didn’t receive an In Memoriam graphic on the Raw following his death in 2014, something that’s relatively commonplace for the WWE to do with modern wrestling deaths. Granted, a graphic was shown on SmackDown, but not acknowledging a wrestler who spent around a decade total with the company seemed shocking.
Viscera was never a main-event talent, yet he was most certainly memorable. However, his wife did file a lawsuit against the WWE after his passing, which likely contributes to Viscera not being mentioned nearly as much on WWE programming today.
18. HONORED: The Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah is often remembered as one of the most influential women’s wrestlers of all time. The WWE even claims that she held the Women’s Championship for more than two decades straight! The Fabulous Moolah also trained many women’s wrestlers that would wrestle during the 1970s and 1980s, including Wendi Richter, Leilani Kai and Sensational Sherri. Without the Fabulous Moolah, we likely would not see women wrestling in the capacity they were today. Women of various eras of the WWE often regard Moolah as more than just a pioneer, but as one of the best of all time.
17. FORGOTTEN: Bam Bam Bigelow
One of the swiftest and athletically-gifted big men in professional wrestling history, Bam Bam Bigelow passed away in 2007. After his death, multiple drugs were found in his system, including cocaine. Few men had the athletic abilities of Bigelow and even fewer men of his size had the ability to do a moonsault. Yet the former ECW World Heavyweight Champion’s contributions to the industry are not nearly recognized enough. Without men like Bam Bam Bigelow, we would likely not see other big men like Braun Strowman. Bigelow was so dedicated to the business that he put over an NFL player during the main event of WrestleMania XI. While that event is often considered to be one of the worst WrestleManias of all time, the fact that Bigelow was willing to do such a thing shows how much he loved the business. It’s a shame that the WWE doesn’t show him an increased amount of respect.
16. HONORED: Jimmy Snuka
Jimmy Snuka is an unusual case. Shortly before Jimmy Snuka’s passing, his WWE profile was removed from WWE.com’s Hall of Fame section. This was around the time where Snuka was arrested on third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges. Snuka pleaded not guilty, and after being deemed unfit to stand trial due to his declining health, the charges against him were dropped. The WWE produced a memorial package for Snuka that aired on Raw, yet his WWE.com profile is still not back on the website. Nonetheless, WWE acknowledging Snuka’s contributions to the business left some fans shocked considering the legal issues he was facing around the time of his death. Perhaps his daughter, Tamina, being on the company’s main roster plays into this slightly. But as they say in WWE, anything is possible, and the company paying tribute to Snuka showed just that.
15. FORGOTTEN: Luna Vachon
Luna Vachon was instrumental in the success of women from multiple eras of wrestling. She served as the key rival for Alundra Blayze and helped make Sable into a wrestler. Despite her ability to put over talent, Luna was never a Women’s Champion in the WWE. Yet without Luna, it’s possible that the in-ring careers of two of WWE’s most popular women would not have reached the heights that they did on the grandest stage of the all. While Vachon was named in a Sasha Banks promo in 2016, she has yet to receive a WWE Hall of Fame induction. With the WWE inducting women from two eras past her, it should only be a matter of time before she receives an induction. Yet there are plenty of women before Luna that have yet to be inducted, most notably Miss Elizabeth.
14. HONORED: Andre The Giant
Before there was Big Show, there was Andre The Giant. Andre The Giant is one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time. Not only was Andre The Giant intimidating, but he was a unique character. People were genuinely afraid of him in the ring. He had such a unique stature and sense of charisma that very few big men have even to this day. The WWE honored Andre The Giant by making him the first inductee into the company’s Hall of Fame. He was one of the first legends to be included in a WWE video game in ‘WWF No Mercy’, before including legends became a standard practice. He continues to be honored every year at WrestleMania with the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
13. FORGOTTEN: Chris Candido
When Sunny was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, she mentioned that she entered the business with her at-the-time boyfriend, the “underrated” Chris Candido. Candido’s passing is one of the more unexpected and unfortunate ones in the sport’s history. After sustaining injuries to his leg during a match with TNA, Candido had surgery, only to develop acute pneumonia days later and pass away as a result. While Candido isn’t necessarily best known for his days in WWE, his in-ring talent is seldom mentioned by the WWE. He also spent time in WCW and ECW, but the WWE doesn’t seem to mention that, either. Sunny may have been the bigger star in the Bodydonnas, yet Chris Candido is also one of the most underrated (and underutilized) wrestlers the company ever had.
12. HONORED: Sensational Sherri
She was sensational, she was scary and she was a queen. Sherri Martel is one of the most influential female performers of all-time, and she could do it all. Whether it was wrestling, cutting a promo or managing a wrestler to titles, Sherri truly understood multiple layers of the business. Very few performers will ever have the versatility that Sherri had. In addition to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, Sherri is often cited by female talent as a huge inspiration for their careers, and the WWE regards her as one of the greatest managers of all-time. Sherri wasn’t afraid to get physical to protect her client or herself. She was truly fearless, ahead of her time and the WWE is always willing to acknowledge her contributions to the business.
11. Forgotten: Test
At one point in time, it felt like Test had large plans in store for him. Once the on-screen boyfriend of Stephanie McMahon, Test had all the makings of a future star. Test made his WWE debut in 1998 and would work for the company for about six years before being released in 2004. He’d have a short-lived return for the company in 2006 but would disappear from television after his first suspension for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy program. Despite retiring from wrestling more than a year before his death, Test could have been a star. His pairings with Stacy Keibler, Trish Stratus and Albert truly could have taken him somewhere. Yet a premature death at the age of 33 would prevent Test from ever becoming the star he could have been.
10. HONORED: Eddie Guerrero
Viva La Raza! Eddie Guerrero is one of the most charismatic performers of all-time, and his influence lives on in many performers, most notably Sasha Banks. Yet he has been acknowledged on programming plenty of times after his death. In addition to being featured in many WWE video games since his passing, Guerrero was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, the first class of inductees after his untimely death. When his widow, Vickie Guerrero made her last WWE appearance, she left the arena to Eddie’s theme song and did his signature gig. It was a heartwarming moment for Vickie, the WWE and all the fans who got to witness it. More than 10 years after his passing, the WWE still works to spread his legacy through future generations of the WWE Universe.
9. FORGOTTEN: Umaga
Like Test, Umaga did not receive a video tribute that aired on Raw or SmackDown. Umaga passed away less than six months after his WWE release. Umaga violated the company’s Wellness Policy for the second time, and after allegedly being offered a treatment program that he refused, the company let him go. Perhaps it was a case of “too soon” to more publicly acknowledge his passing, yet many on the Internet were not happy with how the WWE handled the Samoan Bulldozer’s death. Also, Umaga was never as popular as his brother, WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi. While Umaga has received an action figure from Mattel after his passing, the reaction of the IWC after the WWE didn’t acknowledge his passing warrants Umaga a spot on this list.
8. HONORED: Dusty Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes is one of the most vibrant characters the WWE has ever produced. It was extremely hard not to like Dusty Rhodes in large part due to his distinct character. He contributed to the business in many ways, from bringing his children (Cody Rhodes and Goldust) into the business to spreading his knowledge on character development to aspiring wrestlers at the WWE Performance Center until his passing. Fans got to see the reactions of Natalya, Alicia Fox and others to his death on Total Divas, with many of the women referring to him as a “father.” The NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was also named in honor of Dusty, who was also a producer for NXT in addition to his Performance Center duties.
7. FORGOTTEN: Brian Pillman
Flyin’ Brian Pillman passed away way before his time at the age of 33. To make matters worse, Vince McMahon conducted an interview with his wife the following night. Since then, Pillman hasn’t been mentioned very often on WWE programming, despite appearing in multiple WWE video games. Perhaps the company realized that it would be awkward after the tastelessness of interviewing his grieving wife 24 hours after the death of her husband. There are plenty of other ways the company could honor Pillman, yet he often falls into the shadows of others he associated with during his career, most notably the Hart family. Yet Pillman, along with Chris Candido, is also considered to be one of the most underrated performers of the 1990s.
6. HONORED: Mae Young
Johnnie Mae Young was, alongside the Fabulous Moolah, a pioneer for women’s wrestling. However, her profile wouldn’t explode until the late-1990s, when she was brought in alongside Moolah to the WWE. Young would be involved in a variety of storylines (some, like her giving birth to a hand, being more infamous than others), but her contributions to women’s wrestling were also acknowledged.What’s really unique about this is that Mae Young didn’t wrestle in the WWE nearly as extensively as The Fabulous Moolah did. She would make her name known prominently through the National Wrestling Alliance. But without Mae Young, there would likely be no Moolah, whom Young helped train. The only wrestler to ever have a match in nine consecutive decades, Mae Young recently had the WWE’s women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic, named in her honor.
5. NOT HONORED: Chyna
While the WWE made sure to acknowledge Chyna as a pioneer after her death, her contributions to women in wrestling went unnoticed by the WWE for years. It’s no secret that Chyna made decisions in her personal life that made her frowned-upon by the PG-friendly WWE, most notably filming multiple adult films. Yet Chyna was one of the first women who was not just an in-ring threat, but marketable as a solo act. She achieved things that, to this day, no other female competitor has. Can you say that another female has won the Intercontinental Championship in the WWE? You sure can’t. Chyna made her mark, and Stephanie McMahon has said that Chyna will be in the Hall of Fame at some point. But the ultimate question is when?
4. HONORED: Randy Savage
Very few deceased wrestlers have merchandise that is consistently pushed by the WWE. One of these wrestlers happens to be Randy Savage. The Macho Man was only recently inducted into the WWE back in 2015, yet the WWE is insistent on carrying on his legacy. It’s not hard to see why the WWE loves Savage, considering how Savage is one of the most prolific wrestlers of all-time whose popularity peaked Hulk Hogan at its peak. Savage is often referred to as one of the greatest Superstars in the company’s history whenever he appears on WWE programming. Savage has inspired generations of performers.
Today, his legacy may live on most strongly through former WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Bayley, who incorporates various elements of Savage in her character and in-ring work, from her entrance jacket to her elbow drop signature.
3. NOT HONORED: Owen Hart
Owen Hart’s passing left many people devastated. Dying after an entrance gone horribly wrong during a WWE pay-per-view event in 1999, Hart received a Raw episode that was one of the highest-rated episodes of the show ever. Yet, when it comes to the Harts being mentioned on WWE programming, it’s usually Bret that’s exclusively mentioned. But there are plenty of hurdles that likely limit how the WWE can honor Owen. The largest hurdle the company has to deal with involves his widow, who is most certainly not on good terms with the company. It took more than 15 years for the company to release a DVD honoring his career. And to this day, Owen has yet to appear in a WWE video game released in the new millennium.
2. HONORED: The Ultimate Warrior
Believe it or not, there was a period of time where many believed The Ultimate Warrior would never be on civil terms with the WWE again. Days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he passed away. The Ultimate Warrior’s death was so sudden and unexpected. As a matter of fact, Warrior made an appearance on Raw less than 24 hours before his death. Luckily, Warrior and the WWE were able to mend their relationship, which had been strained for years, prior to his passing. His wife, Dana Warrior, remains an ambassador to the WWE. The Ultimate Warrior is a top merchandise seller for the company nearly 20 years after he wrestled his last WWE match. However, what may be the most touching way the WWE honors The Ultimate Warrior is through the Warrior Award it awards annually at the WWE Hall of Fame.
1. Forgotten: Chris Benoit
If this wasn’t obvious, I don’t know what to say. What Chris Benoit did to his wife and son is absolutely sickening. It is completely understandable why the WWE refuses to mention his name if at all possible. Chris Benoit is arguably the most censored person in WWE history. He was removed from SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 after news of the events surrounding the death of his family came out. His name has been censored from numerous WWE broadcasts. While Benoit can be found on the WWE Network, a disclaimer appears before programming that contains footage of him. It’s clear that the WWE wants nothing to do with Chris Benoit after his actions, and understandably so.
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