Unfortunately, pro wrestling is not a profession which tends to correlate with a long life-expectancy. While the situation has improved drastically in recent years, it was all too apparent a decade ago that wrestlers, much like football players, have a lower life expectancy than those from other professions. For that reason, many of the names listed in this article could potentially leave us in 2018 due to their age and health concerns.
WWE has done a lot to reverse the premature death crisis in wrestling. Their decision to pay for all rehab of former employees has been fantastic and there has been a significant decrease in overdose-related deaths of former wrestlers since it went into effect. Granted, there have still been wrestlers, such as Chyna, who have succumbed to addiction-related deaths in recent years, but the number is considerably lower than it used to be. WWE has also instituted a Wellness Policy to catch wrestlers developing problems before they start. While it is impossible to tell for sure, it seems likely this policy has saved many lives as well.
Despite all the positive changes we have seen, however, wrestlers are not immortal and before 2018 is over, a few more will leave us.
In 2016, Vader was involved in a serious car crash. While being evaluated following the accident, doctors discovered Vader had a congestive heart failure. They only gave the big man two years to live. If those doctors are correct, Vader won't make it out of the next calendar year.
Jim Harris, aka Kamala, has endured serious health problems in recent years. In November 2017, it was reported that Harris was on life support in a Mississippi Hospital intensive care unit. He underwent emergency surgery to clear fluid from his lungs and heart. Doctors were forced to put him on life support as a result of complications due to the surgery. Thankfully, it was later reported that he was breathing on his own and while he remained in the intensive care unit, he no longer required life support. While he is currently doing better, you have to wonder how many more health scares the 67-year-old will be able to withstand.
13 Abdullah The Butcher
Considering he has spent the majority of his 76 years on the planet being overweight, with hepatitis, and being involved in brutal hardcore wrestling matches, it's pretty surprising that Abdullah the Butcher is still reported to being in decent health these days. Despite this, it is hard not to put him on a list of wrestlers who might pass away in 2018.
12 Iron Sheik
Iron Sheik shouldn't be alive now let alone by the time 2018 is finished. The loveable yet wildly offensive Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri is now 75 years old. That's a hard 75 also. That is 75 years with a large percentage of them being spent on the road with other professional wrestlers. "Sheiky Baby" is one of those wrestlers from the 1980s who you hear stories about and assume they can't possibly be true. Tales of his alcohol and drug use rival those of Ric Flair, Scott Hall or even Jake Roberts. Yet for some reason, with the Iron Sheik, it never feels like he's at death's door like it did for the three previously mentioned wrestlers.
11 Johnny Rodz
Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodz, will turn 80 in a few months, making him one of the oldest wrestling legends still alive. Vince McMahon will make sure there is mention of Rodz on WWE programming when he does pass away (assuming he is not immortal). Rodz predates Vince Jr. in WWE, having started working for Vince Sr. in 1965. He would wrestle against Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship inside the famed Madison Square Garden and was a big heel during this era.
Rodz had already been with the company for four years by the time Vince Jr. began working as a commentator. His last match in WWE was against the Great Gama Singh, who is Jinder Mahal's uncle. Rodz also trained several wrestlers, such as Taz and Tommy Dreamer and current talents such as Enzo and Cass - who would go on to have great careers as well.
10 Billy Graham
Speaking of "Superstar" Billy Graham, he won the WWF Championship back when that was something only a couple of wrestlers would do in a decade. He's also a 74-year-old man who had a liver transplant over 15 years ago. In 2010, Graham was back in hospital again due to further liver problems. He even purchased a burial site in the same cemetery where Eddie Guerrero is buried.
9 J.J. Dillon
J.J. Dillon is 75-years-old and spent a lot of time on the road with Ric Flair. Those two things combined means Dillon might not have a lot of time left on this planet.
Although he is perhaps best remembered for his time as the manager of the Four Horsemen, Dillon was an accomplished wrestler himself during his day. In fact, Dillon is a former NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion and a former NWA Macon Heavyweight Champion in Georgia. It was his ability on the microphone that separated him from the rest, however. Even after the glory days of the Four Horsemen had faded, Dillon still had a major role in WCW as Commissioner.
8 Mil Máscaras
75-year-old Mil Mascaras is one of the oldest living members of the WWE Hall of Fame. For that reason, he has to be included in any list of wrestling legends who might pass away in 2018.
The legendary luchador has made some enemies throughout his lengthy career. He has received criticism from wrestlers such as Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Billy Graham, and John Bradshaw Layfield for his perceived ego. Most notably, wrestlers who have worked with him claim he is unwilling to sell moves for other wrestlers to make them look strong. He's also said to be completely unwilling to do jobs.
7 Bushwhacker Butch
When the Bushwhackers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, it was touch and go if Butch would be on hand to accept his induction in person. According to his longtime tag-team partner, Butch has had numerous health problems over the years. Now 73-years-old, it's possible we lose Butch sometime in 2018.
6 Bob Armstrong
The patriarch of the Armstrong family is 78-year-old "Bullet" Bob Armstrong and he could be a legend fans say goodbye to in 2018. While there is nothing to say the father of Road Dogg Jesse James is in ill-health, however, he'll be close to 80 by the time 2018 is up. For wrestlers of his era, living until 80 is like living to be 100.
5 Bill Watts
Cowboy Bill Watts is both one of the most respected and hated bookers in the history of professional wrestling. The 78-year-old was given the booking reigns in both WWE and WCW - though he ultimately clashed heads with both Vince McMahon and Ted Turner as a result. Watts will also be almost 80 by the time 2018 is up.
4 Harley Race
An NWA legend, Race grew a reputation for being as big a bad ass in the ring than he was outside of it, just ask Hulk Hogan about that said statement. He was a legend inside of the squared circle and many question why we haven’t seen him as much in the last couple of years, sadly, health concerns and a recent injury is the main motive for his recent absence.
3 Pedro Morales
Former Champion Pedro Morales is 75-years-old and is said to be suffering from an advanced case of Parkinson's Disease.
Morales was a huge star in the 1970s and the first ever winner of WWE's prestigious Triple Crown. Much like Bruno Sammartino had appealed to the Italian fans during his day, Morales did the same with Puerto Rican fans, who would often wave Puerto Rican flags while their favorite wrestler made his way to the ring.
2 Dynamite Kid
When you assess the current state of elder wrestlers, Dynamite Kid might be one of the absolute worse. He’s undergone several health complications in the last couple of decades starting way back in the late 90s when both leg and back issues became nagging concerns. He was eventually forced into a state of paralysis, unable to walk and if that wasn’t bad enough, suffering from a serious spine issue as well later. His family filed a lawsuit against the WWE joining the class action suit against the company.
1 Ric Flair
At only 68 years of age, Ric Flair is the youngest person to appear on this list but as recent history suggests, there is only so much any human body can withstand. It's not that 68 is old, it's that Flair has lived a very hard 68 years.
In 2017, Flair was hospitalized and in a medically induced coma. Much of the wrestling community assumed it would be the last we would see of Ric. Kicking out from a near-fall with death is such a Ric Flair thing to do and seemingly he could do it a hundred more times before we really do lose him.
If something happens and 2018 is Ric Flair's last year on the planet, what a career and life he has led. Now, with Charlotte Flair carrying on his legacy in truly epic fashion, Flair's influence on the business is felt more now than ever.
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