Wrestling is not like a desk job. It's a job that comes with all kinds of risks and all wrestlers know that when they step into that ring there is always the possibility that they could be injured, their career could be ended or even worse they could take a hit that could end their life. All of these have happened in the ring, and we all hope they never happen again.
Plenty of superstars have passed away in the ring over the past few years, while many others have passed because of injuries that they suffered during a match that went undetected. There are many wrestlers whose careers have ended through tragedy over the past few decades, some of which had the potential to be some of the biggest stars in the world if their careers weren't ended so prematurely.
It's interesting to think about the fact that some of these stars could still be wrestling on a regular basis right now if fate hadn't decided to step in and take them away from the business that they once were so passionate about. As stated earlier, this is no desk job, and many wrestlers are so dedicated tat they will sacrifice their own well being for the sake of the fans being entertained.
The following list looks at just 15 wrestlers whose careers were ruined by a tragedy, whether that's through death, injury or even because their addiction outside of wrestling became too much for them to handle.
Chyna was seen as "the ninth wonder of the world". The only woman to ever win the Intercontinental Championship and one of very few women in WWE history who has ever been able to compete with the men at the highest level.
Chyna was set to be a star, but a love triangle between Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Chyna led to the former Women's Champion being released from the company, something that she never forgave Stephanie or Triple H for. Even though Chyna was out of the wrestling business for more than a decade before her death, it seems that her life truly went on a downward spiral following her release and she was never able to recover. Chyna sadly passed away in April 2016 and her autopsy revealed it was an overdose when she combined her prescriptions with drinking.
14 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn's career is a tragic one. While he was never a star that was destined to stand out in any wrestling conversation, he was a man who proved that he was a hero both inside and outside of the ropes when he witnessed a woman being assaulted and decided to step in to help her.
The incident happened back in April 2004 and while Saturn was able to fight off both of the female's attackers, he was shot twice during the scuffle. The pain from these wounds led him to become addicted to painkillers and left him homeless for two and a half years. Saturn was still performing on the Independent Circuit at the time but the pain forced him to retire from the wrestling business. He has become a shadow of his former self.
13 Mike Awesome
Mike Awesome will be best remembered for his time in WWF where he was a former Hardcore Champion. He also had stints in WCW, ECW and TNA throughout his almost two-decade-long career.
Awesome is best remembered as the ECW Champion who made the switch to WCW without dropping the belt. There was a lot of heat on him for a number of years after this and he was jeered by the ECW fans throughout his match at One Night Stand in 2005. After Awesome was released from WWE, he went on to have a successful stint on the Independent Circuit, that was until 2007 when he was found at his home in Tampa. Awesome was just 42-years-old and while the cause of his passing is known, his motive is still a complete mystery.
"The Samoan Bulldozer" Umaga was one of the most dominant wrestlers in WWE and a member of the famous Anoa'i family. He was a former two-time Intercontinental Champion in WWE and was part of the huge Battle of The Billionaires match back at WrestleMania 23. Despite all of this, it seems that his problem with addiction caused him a few problems in his later career and he was released back in 2009 when he failed WWE's Wellness Policy for the second time and refused to enter rehabilitation.
Merely months after his WWE release in December 2009, Umaga was rushed to hospital after being found unresponsive and bleeding from his nose. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage and his autopsy later revealed that he had suffered two major heart attacks that had been brought on by an overdose. He was just 36 years old.
11 Balls Mahoney
Balls Mahoney will be remembered for his stints in ECW and WWE which saw him play a big part in the revival of ECW back in 2005. Balls was a popular star with the crowd throughout his run, but he was one of a number of stars that were released from WWE back in 2008 when the ECW reboot was deemed a failure.
In the years that followed, Mahoney continued to ply his craft on the Independent Circuit and was part of a flaming tables match merely months before his untimely passing. Mahoney suddenly left us in April 2016 at his home in New Jersey the day before his 44th Birthday and it was later revealed through his autopsy that he was suffering from CTE which remained undetected throughout his wrestling career.
10 Sensational Sherri
Sensational Sherri was one of the women who was a pioneer as part of the company in the 1980s and 90s and was seen as one of the most iconic female managers in WWE history. Sherri was part of WWE, WCW and ECW throughout her time in the spotlight until she walked away in 1997.
Sherri stayed around the wrestling business for the next decade and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Sherri shockingly was found at her home on the morning of June 15th, 2007, merely a year after her Hall of Fame induction. It was later reported that Sherri had suffered an overdose since she had many different substances in her system. She left an incredible legacy in the world of wrestling regardless of the way it ended.
9 Miss Elizabeth
Miss Elizabeth is one of the most iconic female stars in WWE history and stole the hearts of the WWE Universe when she appeared as Randy Savage's wife for a number of years on-screen. Elizabeth was the girl next door and was the woman that many of the WWE Universe were attracted to for a number of years. Sadly, Elizabeth's career didn't end in the same way it began since she left Randy Savage and began a relationship with Lex Luger. After her release from WCW in 2000, Elizabeth never appeared on another wrestling show on TV and sadly in May 2003, less than three years after her release Elizabeth passed away. The autopsy revealed that this was caused by acute toxicity after she ingested a mixture of alcohol and pills.
8 The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior is a wrestler who's spirit has lived on for generations and a star that WWE has managed to continue to use following his passing to inspire the WWE Universe to "unleash their Warrior." Warrior was a huge star in the wrestling business, but he was a man who had a number of issues with WWE, problems that were only cleared up in the months leading up to his unfortunate passing.
Warrior managed to put all of his issues behind him and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame back in 2014. Mere days later he was no longer with us. Warrior appeared on the Monday Night Raw following WrestleMania 30, before reportedly suffering from a heart attack outside his hotel the following day. Ryback later speculated that he was supposed to fight Warrior at WrestleMania 30, a rumour that was later dismissed by Warrior's wife Dana.
7 Mr Perfect
Mr Perfect left a legacy that was so strong in the wrestling business, that his son spends every day trying to live up to the shadow that his father left. Curt Hennig is widely considered to be one of the best pure wrestlers that has ever stepped into a WWE ring, but with that talent came a host of problems for the man who was dubbed as Mr Perfect.
Hennig was famously released from WWE following the 'Plane ride from hell' back in 2002 but was able to remain in the wrestling business when he moved over to TNA. Merely a year later Hennig was found in his hotel room in Tampa, Florida and it was revealed that his passing was caused by acute intoxication, with his father admitting that steroids and painkillers played their part in his passing. Hennig was just 44-years-old.
Test won six Championships during his nine-year stint with WWE and become a recognizable name in the business throughout that time and was seen as a successful tag team and singles wrestler. After his WWE career was over, he went on to appear in TNA under his real name before he revealed that he was retiring from wrestling in 2007.
Like many wrestlers, Test didn't stay retired for long and actually wrestled his final match just a month before his untimely passing. Test was just 33-years-old when his body was found in his home and his passing was ruled as an accidental overdose. After the tragedy, it was revealed that Test had been struggling with severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which had been caused by repeated concussions and head injuries throughout his career.
5 Brian Pillman
Brian Pillman was a man who was destined to be a star. His high-flying style caught the eyes of many hardcore fans during his days in WCW and ECW, but it seems that Brian's wild on-screen persona was something that he maintained outside of the ring as well.
When Pillman joined WWE along with Stone Cold Steve Austin, the duo seemed as though they had a huge amount of potential before an ankle injury grounded Pillman and his high flying style. Pillman was scheduled to face Dude Love at the Badd Blood: In Your House pay-per-view back in 1997 and when the company realized that he was late, they sent Jim Cornette out to find him. It was only then that Cornette discovered that Pillman had suffered a fatal heart attack in his hotel room earlier in the day. He was just 35 years old.
4 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin was one of the greatest characters that WWE had throughout their famous Attitude Era, but it seems that like many other stars over the past few generations Austin's career was cut short by the injuries that he had suffered throughout his career.
Austin suffered a shocking neck injury back at SummerSlam in 1997, which forced him to relinquish the Championships that he held at the time. Despite this, Austin returned to the ring until 2003 when his body had reached the point where doctors had warned him that one wrong move could leave him fully paralysed. Austin's knees were in bad shape and the horrific neck injury he suffered more than two decades ago at the hands of Owen Hart seems to have been the point where his career began to unravel.
3 Chris Benoit
Putting aside what happened in Chris Benoit's wrestling career, he was unfortunately responsible for one of the most horrific events in wrestling history. Benoit was scheduled to wrestle during the weekend that has gone down as one of the darkest in the history of WWE and was even set to win the ECW Championship.
Back at Vengence 2007, WWE couldn't get in touch with Benoit so they ended up replacing him in the match at the last minute before the news was later revealed that Benoit and his family had been part of wrestling's most terrible tragedy. Benoit was 40-years-old and it was later revealed that one of the main reasons for his brain injuries (that many believe played a role in his behaviour) was a number of hits he had taken to the head throughout his career.
2 Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero's untimely passing was one that rocked the wrestling community to the core. Eddie was a popular WWE star and he had managed to overcome addiction in his early career, leaving him in the position where he was set to win the World Championship at the next SmackDown event.
Eddie was one of WWE's top stars, so when the news filtered through that Eddie had left us back in November 2005, the company decided to dedicate the show that day to the former Champion. Eddie was just 38 years old and passed away from a heart problem that WWE failed to pick up on. The sudden tragedy was one of the reasons why WWE brought in their Wellness Policy, to ensure that no other stars with heart conditions were able to go undetected again.
1 Owen Hart
Owen Hart was one of the most underrated members of the legendary Hart family. While his brother Bret was busy being "The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be, his brother was lighting up the mid-card with his Blue Blazer character.
What happened to Owen was a tragic accident, one that was luckily not caught on satellite TV as part of the Over The Edge Pay-per-view back in 1999. Hart was making his comedic Blue Blazer entrance and was supposed to make it look as though he was caught up in his own cape before then dropping into the ring from a safe height. Sadly, Owen accidentally triggered the early release and fell 78 feet into the ring landing chest first on the top rope. All efforts were made by the medical team to help the fallen member of the Hart family, but he was pronounced no longer living a few minutes later with the cause being ruled as internal bleeding from blunt force trauma. Owen was just 34 years old and had a lengthy career ahead of him.
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