As the owners of footage that makes up the entire careers of too many wrestlers to mention, in recent years, the WWE has remade itself into the holder of wrestler's history. With that in mind, it is more important now than ever that they cherish the sacrifices wrestlers make. Thankfully, there are a lot of signs that they are doing their best to take their role as the flag bearer of wrestling’s history seriously (i.e., the network and Hall of Fame). However, there have been several instances where they’ve made moves that many fans have seen as disgraceful. Those feelings of anger only become more severe when the wrestlers involved are gone, which is what inspired us to put together this list of deceased wrestlers the company has disrespected.
This list only considers incidents of disrespect that took place after a wrestler's death. As such, incidents where the WWE disrespected a wrestler and said wrestler went on to pass away were not considered. Additionally, when any member of the McMahon family has acted in a disrespectful manner towards a dead wrestler, that qualifies, since they are clearly the core of the company. We’ve also opted to include people who worked as a manager or otherwise held important positions in the industry. Lastly, the disrespected wrestler did not necessarily have to have worked for the WWE.
With all that out of the way, here are 15 deceased wrestlers the WWE disrespected.
24 Eddie Guerrero
Lots has been made of the many wrestlers who’ve died surprisingly young in the past but the death of Eddie Guerrero seemed to hit the wrestling world harder than almost any. Perhaps, that was because of his mischievous smile and lovable character but for whatever reason, anyone who saw him in his prime knows his demise saddened millions of fans. The WWE, ever the opportunist, turned his death into a storyline element when they decided to push Rey Mysterio into the main event picture and constantly reminded fans that he was “doing it for Eddie”. While that sometimes felt gross, at least they were close in real-life and we could rest assured Eddie would have loved his pal’s ascension. When the decision was then made to have Rey’s enemy, Randy Orton, claim Eddie was in hell rather than heaven, there was no silver lining.
A wrestler who has been involved in several clips that have been broadcast on news channel of late, due to taking part in a match involving Donald Trump, Umaga is a lot more than a single match. Introduced on WWE television as one-half of Three Minute Warning, a tag team that would show up out of nowhere to destroy the enemies of Eric Bishoff, that run fizzled out quickly. However, when he was repackaged as Umaga, one of the more recent examples of the wild savage gimmick that was once so popular, his charisma and in-ring ability made it work, against all odds. Dying six months after his final tenure in the company, it seemed like a no-brainer that they would pay tribute to him on their television product but probably due to his overdose his demise was ignored on WWE TV.
22 Nancy “Woman” Benoit
A former professional wrestling valet who worked in WCW and ECW over the years, Nancy was often known as Woman on wrestling television and seconded many performers. Working alongside people like Ric Flair, Ron Simmons, Shane Douglas, Taz, Arn Anderson, Kevin Sullivan, and many more over the years, she contributed greatly to many of those important careers. Married to Chris Benoit in her final years, in arguably wrestling’s most controversial and tragic event, her life was taken by her husband before he killed their son and himself. While the circumstances of her death are understandably something the WWE may not want to talk about, she was the victim of a grisly attack and shouldn’t have her career ignored because of it. Even on the night of the Chris Benoit’s tribute show, before the WWE knew how he’d died, she was a footnote at best in the conversation.
21 Paul Bearer
A WWE employee between 1990 and 2012, the last several years of which he only appeared occasionally in, the man known as Pual Bearer made quite the mark on the company. Initially serving as a pivotal part in the presentation of The undertaker, a character that may be the most revered in WWE history, that alone would have earned Paul a hallowed place in history. However, he also worked extremely effectively as the manager of both Mankind and Kane over the years.
That and his overwhelmingly positive reputation played a part in why many were so aghast with the way his death was used in WWE’s storylines immediately after his passing. The Undertaker was mired in a feud with CM Punk at the time and when Taker attempted to honor his former alley Punk interrupted him and mocked the legendary manager. Going a step further, Punk would later steal The Undertaker’s urn, claim it held Paul’s ashes and tossed it around that night. The next week things incredibly got even worse when Paul Heyman, Punk’s second at the time, came out dressed like Paul while holding the urn before poured the contents out later in the segment.
20 Brian Pillman
A former innovator of the high-flying wrestling style in WCW and memorable tag team partner of Steve Austin, Brian was also a member of the Hart Foundation in the WWE. However, despite all of those achievements, the most interesting era of his career was when he was the loose cannon and fans never knew what he’d do next or if it was supposed to happen. An employee of the WWE at the time of his passing, he was in the midst of a feud with Goldust and his body was discovered when he didn’t show up to take part in a pay-per-view match. In a revolting turn of events, the WWE made the decision to interview his widow the next night live on RAW when she clearly had to be in the midst of grieving her very recently deceased husband and father of her children.
19 Chris Kanyon
A controversial figure in the company long before his death, we guess we should have seen the WWE’s decision to almost entirely ignore his existence at the time coming. A former standout from WCW’s mid card, Kanyon was renowned for his in-ring prowess and his ability to innovate moves on a consistent basis. Brought into the WWE as part of the Invasion angle, his run there was far from a success and is best-remembered for the match in which he and his longtime pal, DDP, were utterly destroyed by the Brothers of Destruction. After leaving the company, however, he was an outspoken critic of the backstage environment the company fostered as he believed he was used poorly and bullied because he was a homosexual. When he then went on to kill himself by consuming too many antidepressants, the WWE only acknowledged him with a terse announcement on their website that didn’t even have a photo of him.
Someone who at one time seemed to be earmarked for huge things in the WWE, Test was beloved enough by the powers that be that he was put into an onscreen affair with Stephanie. Going so far as to propose to the McMahon’s only daughter on national television, their romance would come to an unfortunate end due to the interference of TripleH. Still, despite never getting his comeuppance on his foe, he was still put in a prominent position in the company for several years afterward. In fact, he was even pushed in the WWE’s version of ECW in 2006 and 2007 before leaving the company for the last time. Dying a couple of years later due to an overdose, the WWE opted to ignore his departure from this world despite him working for them over nearly a decade.
16 Crash Holly
A memorable member of the WWE’s roster during the Attitude Era, Crash Holly was largely used to comedic effect while working there. Brought in as the delusional cousin of the uber-serious Hardcore Holly, Crash would insist that he was a super heavyweight despite his obvious small stature in one hilarious promo after another. Later used as the figurehead of the Hardcore division when the belt was defended under 24/7 rules, the clips of his defenses at airports and in ball pits have become things of legend. Dying five months after departing the company, during a night of fun at his friend, and WWE employee at the time, Stevie Richard’s house, he choked on his own vomit. A grisly way to die, it shouldn’t have meant that the WWE ignored the death of a beloved figure in their history.
14 Mabel/Viscera/Big Daddy V
A massive man who had several tenures in the WWE, Nelson Frazier Jr. accomplished a lot during his times in the WWE. A former King of the Ring who fought for the company’s main title on pay-per-view, he may not have had a long run in main events but getting there at all is always impressive. Also a member of the Ministry who underwent multiple name and character changes, he was used as a monster and a love machine over the years. Alternatively known as Mabel, Viscera, or Big Daddy V, no matter what you knew him as he was likely to make an impression. However, despite being brought back again and again, if you believe the claims of his widow, his former bosses didn’t even reach out to her to offer up their condolences.
13 Jack Tunney
A former professional wrestling promoter who was brought onto WWE TV and turned into the onscreen president of the WWE in the eighties, he served as the company's figurehead for years. In fact, it was he who presided over some of the most memorable moments of the era, such as the signing of the WrestleMania match between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Removed from the role by the WWE for nearly a decade prior to his death, his ties to the company were largely gone but considering his once important role in the company and industry, you’d think they’d care. Seemingly that wasn’t the case as not only did they not acknowledge his passing on their product but there wasn’t even a single company representative at his funeral.
12 Reid Flair
The son of the dirtiest player in the game, Ric Flair, Reid like his brother David and his sister, current WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte, followed his father into the wrestling business. A former amateur wrestling standout who’d earned several awards during that career, he seemed to have all the pedigree in the world. Unfortunately, while he was still getting his stripes on the independent scene he died of an accidental overdose at the early age of twenty-five. Fast forward a couple of years and his sister was a prominent member of WWE’s television product and was in the midst of a feud with Paige when his death was used as storyline fodder. A move that was designed to get Paige over as a villain, instead most wrestling fans were angered at the WWE, especially when they learned that neither of Reid’s parents were warned beforehand that their deceased son was going to have his death cheapened.
11 Ludvig Borga
Ludvig Borga’s career in the WWE was far from a rousing success. Only a member of the roster for a single year in the early to mid-nineties, his time there was largely unremarkable and he is largely remembered for his distinctive name above all else. Still, like everyone else on this list and everyone who has ever worked for the WWE, he routinely put his body on the line for the company and for that alone he deserved at least some respect, right? Apparently, the WWE didn’t think so, as they did absolutely nothing to acknowledge his life or death. Even worse, WWE employee at the time, Jim Ross, penned a blog where he bashed him as a man, saying he was “somewhat obnoxious and could be a bully”.
8 Perro Aguayo Jr.
A wrestler who never laced up his boots in a WWE locker room by the time of his untimely demise at thirty-five, we guess it could be argued that the WWE didn’t owe him anything. On the other hand, he was an immensely popular wrestler who had many fans, including some who also support the WWE, and he died in the ring in a tragic event. Dying due to cardiac arrest that was brought on by a cervical stroke, what that means is that he died directly due to the involvement of his spine. Yet, somehow the WWE made the careless decision to have their announcer, Michael Cole, suffer a storyline injury to his neck days later which was a move that disgusted many. While it may have been an oversight, the WWE was clearly aware of what had happened, as it was the talk of the industry, and should have known better.
7 Lance Cade
A former student of WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, Lance had a route into the WWE and it seems to have worked for him as worked for the company for seven years. A former three-time World Tag Team Champion alongside Trevor Murdoch, there was a time where they were arguably the pre-eminent WWE duo. Fast forward a few years and he’d unfortunately passed and Linda McMahon was in the midst of a run for senate when she was asked if she recalled him, as he was one of many former WWE wrestlers who’d died young. When the former WWE C.E.O. claimed she couldn’t remember meeting him it got the ire of his father up. That was because he claimed to have “been with him on two different WWE functions where she came up to him and knew him by name”.
4 Toots Mondt
We’re guessing that a lot of you questioned who the hell we were talking about when seeing this unique name and that in itself is pretty appalling, even if it is entirely understandable. A former professional wrestler himself who spent years in the ring and is credited with revolutionizing the industry in the mid-twenties, there is one major reason you should know his name. He co-founded the WWE alongside Jess McMahon under its original name, Capitol Wrestling Corporation, and was there when they ultimately decided to break away from the NWA and become the WWWF. Dying without a dime to his name in 1976 after a long battle with an illness, he was pushed out of the company years earlier due to gambling issues. Still, even if he deserved to be ousted, the idea that his role in the creation of the WWE behemoth isn’t acknowledged is a disgrace.