For many fans, attaching old wrestling clips is similar to looking at an old family album. Sure we don’t necessarily know the performers that we see on television personally, but they have played such a large role in our lives that we feel like we do. That’s a testament to wrestlers and the companies that they work for creating moments that make us emotionally invest into their talents. For example, when The Undertaker lost to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, we all felt a collective punch to the gut. Sure, the vast majority of us have never shaken hands with The Deadman, but he has been a constant in our lives for the past three decades.
Even as wrestlers and fans get older, those feelings and emotional connections remain intact. That is why we all react so viscerally when we lose a wrestler, this is especially the case when we lose them too soon. Today we will be looking at pictures that were taken prior to a wrestler’s death that might give you chills when you look at it.
Hey, if you aren’t hit in the feels after this article it’s okay, just let us know how you feel in that comments section.
15. The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior may not have been the most technically savvy wrestler to ever grace a ring, but he is easily one of the most iconic figures in the history of the WWE. Whether you like him or not, you must respect the fact that he is the only man to win two titles during the main event of WrestleMania.His legendary status was sadly ignored by the WWE for nearly 20 years until his return to the company in 2014 with an induction to the WWE Hall of Fame. Fans were elated when they got to see Warrior return to Monday Night RAW following his WrestleMania weekend induction.
His appearance, however, was bittersweet as the former WWE Champion seemingly gave his own eulogy with his final televised appearance. Less than 24 hours after reintroducing himself to the WWE Universe, Warrior died due of a heart attack, which makes this photo all the more chilling.
14. Rick Rude and Curt Hennig
In this photo we see the duo of Rick Rude and Curt Hennig, two men who by their appearance in this picture look to be in the prime of their lives; sadly both would succumb to addiction within four years of the snapshot. Many fans know that the relationship between these men went deeper than just wrestling, as Rude and Hennig were real life friends since childhood. Professionally, both Mr. Perfect and The Ravishing One are considered to be in the upper echelon of wrestling, but maintaining that position resulted in both men battling personal demons.
We all love a good comeback story, which is why when Umaga (formerly Jamal of Three Minute Warning) came back to the WWE in 2005 fans got behind him. As the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga became a main event draw for the WWE, taking on the likes of John Cena and Triple H regularly. Unfortunately, Umaga was released from the WWE in 2008 for failing two separate wellness policy drug tests and refusing to go to rehab. His substance abuse would be a recurring theme for the following year, and he died of an overdose in December of 2009.
12. Bruiser Brody
Next year will mark the 30th year to pass since the untimely death of Bruiser Brody, and the wrestling world still mourns the loss of such an amazing talent. Brody was killed at the hands of Jose Gonzalez, during an altercation in a Puerto Rico locker room. Though controversy surrounds the specific of the murder, one thing that is certain is the fact that Brody’s death certainly went unpunished. Gonzalez was able to avoid the murder charge, even though there were witnesses who saw the giant man stabbed in the showers.
This photo shows a still from the last recorded match of Brody’s life and features him taking on his rival Abdullah the Butcher. The picture features the referee and Abdulla working against him in the match, which parallels the rumors that there was a conspiracy involved with his murder.
11. Roddy Piper
By the time of Roddy Piper’s death in 2015, the WWE Hall of Famer had already beaten Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was dealing with the symptoms associated with cancer since 2008. Piper had long predicted that he wouldn’t live past the age of 65, most notably predicting his own death on an episode of HBO’s Real Sports in 2003. During the interview Piper talked about his use of cocaine, alcohol, and painkillers, which all seem to have led to the pulmonary embolism which caused his death. The life of a wrestler is hard and fast, and being an icon of the sport means that Piper lived harder and faster than most.
You have to feel bad for Chyna just a little bit. Even if you can’t empathize with her addiction problems, most can understand what led her down the path to drugs and alcohol. During the height of her career, Chyna didn’t abuse anything except for the gym, which led to her becoming the first female Intercontinental Champion in the history of the WWE. Her problems began when her real life boyfriend Triple H left her for Stephanie McMahon, leaving Chyna out in the cold. It wasn’t long until the Ninth Wonder of the World would be released from the company that she helped put on the map. Chyna would go on to struggle with extreme alcoholism and meth addiction over the next 15 years, sobering up for weeks at a time before falling back into bad habits.
Whether you knew them as the Legion of Doom or The Road Warriors didn’t matter to Animal or Hawk, all that mattered to them was getting great pops and entertaining crowds. When the WWE was shifting to the more adult oriented Attitude Era, Vince McMahon attempted to swerve the WWE audience by changing the character of Hawk into a wrestler struggling with addiction and suicidal tendencies. The only problem with the storyline is that Hawk was actually struggling with substance abuse problems in his personal life, causing controversy on the dirt sheets as well as in the locker room.
Now we don’t exactly know if Hawk was actually suicidal, but this picture shows him right before attempting to jump off the WWE titantron during the team’s second run in the company. The photo above is a still shot from the moment that Hawk was “considering” suicide before being pushed off the edge; Hawk would go actually pass away from heart complications in 2003.
Chris Kanyon’s wrestling career was lackluster, to say the least. Besides a run in the WWE as the United States Champion, the New York native didn’t achieve much in the industry before his suicide in 2010. Kanyon carried a ton of weight on his back, dealing with his bipolar disorder as well as struggling with his sexuality through much of his career. After being released from his WWE contract in 2004, Kanyon publicly trashed the company for releasing him due to him being gay. At the time Kanyon had not yet come out as gay, which fueled speculation that was confirmed when he finally announced that he was, in fact, homosexual in 2008; most attributed his 2010 overdose on antidepressants to his personal struggles.
7. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero is one of the most beloved wrestlers in the history of the profession. Despite being a wrestling journeyman for over 20 years, Guerrero truly won over the fans during his second run in the WWE in 2002. During that time Latino Heat had some of the best matches of his career against the likes of Chris Benoit, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Brock Lesnar and of course Kurt Angle. Although he looked like a million bucks, Guerrero’s health was deteriorating during his final years. In 2005, it seems that the lifestyle had finally caught up to the former WWE Champion when he was found unconscious in his hotel room by Chavo Guerrero. Sadly Guerrero died of acute heart failure before he could even be transported to the hospital.
6. Owen Hart
There is no single wrestler that is admired as much as Owen Hart is by the friends and family who are asked about him in interviews. The Black Hart famously died after a failed stunt caused him to fall from the rafters at 1999s Over the Edge pay-per-view. During the event, Hart, who was using the Blue Blazer gimmick, was set to take on The Godfather in an Intercontinental Championship match. The Blazer gimmick was supposed to be sillier than Hart’s normal persona, which is what led to the initial plan for him to be lowered to the ring via a harness.
Tragically Hart accidentally triggered the harness leading to his 78-foot drop to the ring; he was announced dead later that night by Jim Ross. This photo of the Blue Blazer shows Hart performing a comedic flip back in the early 90s, as was standard with the gimmick, but eerily looks like it could have been taken the day of the failed stunt.
5. Randy Savage
During his legendary career, The Macho Man Randy Savage won a total of 29 wrestling championships most of which were split between his time in NWA, WWE and WCW. Macho Man embodied wrestling and was easily one of the largest figures in American pop culture during the Golden Age of wrestling. During the peak of his career, Macho oozed confidence and life, even behind all of the pomp and circumstance (pun intended). This photo shows a very different Randy Savage, one that age has caught up creating a nearly unrecognizable Savage.
This is one of the last known pictures of Savage before the car crash that exacerbated his unknown heart condition in 2011. The former WWE Champion died later that day due to complications from an enlarged heart and was posthumously inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
4. Miss Elizabeth
Since we just talked about Randy Savage, it makes sense to talk about his former wife Miss Elizabeth here. After allegedly suffering abuse at the hand of Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth finally split from the former champion in 1992 and eventually began a relationship with Lex Luger in the late 1990s. Luger and Elizabeth kept their relationship going despite Luger actually being married during the time of their affair. During the early 2000s, the duo secretly lived together, with both abusing drugs and alcohol. Elizabeth’s friends eventually started to worry about her, but by that time Luger was divorced and the two were fully living together.
The First Lady of Wrestling overdosed on painkillers and vodka in 2003 when Lex Luger apparently didn’t call 9-1-1 fast enough. Luger admitted to ESPN that he was a negative force in Elizabeth’s life, and the picture above is a stark juxtaposition to the frail people they would eventually become.
3. Big Boss Man
The Undertaker has (kayfabe) tried to murder a bunch of people in the WWE with varying results, however, he did come remarkably close to killing The Big Boss Man in 1999. Following a match between the two men at WrestleMania XV, Taker brought down a noose and literally hanged Boss Man from the Hell in a Cell where they had just battled. As the cell was raised, Boss Man was taken off of his feet and seemingly choked out by the rope around his neck. This event took place just a few years before The Big Boss Man actually died of a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 41. Sure the Boss Man’s death may not have played out like it did on screen, but it still can give you the chills knowing what we do now.
2. Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was involved in one of the most heinous crime stories to ever hit America back in 2007. Benoit shockingly murdered both his wife and son before taking his own life over the course of a weekend in June of that year. Benoit’s actions were largely thought to be a result of continued head trauma over the course of a career that spanned over three decades. The media – rightfully so – made Benoit out to be a monster, featuring pictures of the former WWE World Champion performing his signature move the Crippler Crossface.
One photo that was not shown, however, was the one above which is the last known photo to be taken of Benoit a few days before his death. A man that was made out to be a psychotic rage filled killer doesn’t look remotely agitated in the picture here. It’s indicative of the type of personality swings one can go through as of a result of head trauma.
This photo that features Yokozuna being thrown into a casket may be one of the most foreshadowings yet. The picture was taken during a casket match between him and The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in 1994. Though Yoko won the match, he didn’t do it alone and relied on help from many wrestlers in the locker room. Additionally, the former WWE Champion almost lost the match on a few occasions, as The Undertaker literally had his entire body laid out in the casket; I guess he was lucky that the lid had to be closed.
Sadly due to complications from his weight at the time (580 pounds), Yoko died due to blockages in his lungs in October of 2000.
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