One tragic note in the history of wrestling is the amount of performers to die at a young age. The frequency of deaths in professional is second to no other entertainment industry. Wrestlers and fans have felt the pain far too often of saying goodbye to a fixture in WWE. We have witnessed many of the deaths honored on WWE television with tribute shows or highlight video packages celebrating the accomplishments of these performers. Fans still appreciate the work of these talents by watching their matches and segments back on WWE Network, YouTube and DVDs.
We'll take a look at fifteen of the biggest stars to die at a young age. Any death is crushing, but knowing someone died while still in their prime makes it even sadder when putting in perspective how young they were. Most wrestlers try to remain in WWE or another promotion for as long as possible to continue making a living on their passion and experience. This list will analyze each individual wrestler along with what we knew about their lives to figure out what they would be up to in the current day wrestling industry. These are fifteen wrestlers that left us way too soon and a guess as to where they would be today.
14 Eddie Guerrero: WWE Agent
The loss of Eddie Guerrero was mourned by wrestling fans for a long time. Guerrero was still on the most popular run of his career just a little over a year after his first WWE Championship reign. WWE fans fell in love with Eddie right when his time was coming to an end. Guerrero had wrestling in his blood as it was passed down in his family was generation to generation.
13 Davey Boy Smith: Part-Time Wrestler With Son Harry Smith
Davey Boy Smith is regarded as one of the most underrated wrestler of his generation. Known as the British Bulldog, Smith represented the British fans in the 90s. Some of the best matches of the decade featured Bulldog in matches against Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. The work of Bulldog is remembered fondly today due to his matches standing the test of time better than most of the era.
12 Big Boss Man: Indie Wrestler
The Big Boss Man is a perennial favorite of wrestling fans over 30 that got to witness the high points of his career. Boss Man was a secondary character that provided entertainment in his role. WWE and WCW each employed Boss Man for many years as he went back and forth during the 90s. A return to WWE during the Attitude Era allowed Boss Man to have feuds with big names like Steve Austin and The Rock.
11 Brian Pillman: WWE Manager
One wrestler to pass away right before a major push was Brian Pillman. WWE signed Pillman away from WCW in the mid-90s and used him as a member of the Hart Foundation. Pillman had a great ability to skew the line between script and reality that made him must-see television. The plans were for him to get a big push as a singles heel when aligning with Terri Runnels but passed away in 1997 right before it could get going.
10 Test: TNA/GFW
The potential of Andrew “Test” Martin in the late 90s was as high as any other mid-carder. WWE even placed him in the first storyline of Stephanie McMahon due to believing he could be a future main eventer. Instead, Test spent the majority of his WWE career in the mid-card. TNA hired Test for a very short run towards the end of his life.
9 Umaga: WWE Wrestler
Umaga is another very sad tale of a wrestler dying while still in his prime. The age of Umaga at his death was just 35 years old. As a member of the Samoan dynasty in WWE, Umaga was one of the most successful wrestlers of storied family. The fans of the time will remember the classic Royal Rumble Last Man Standing match between Umaga and John Cena. Umaga was over enough to get a title shot against Cena on a major PPV.
The legacy of Crash Holly will always be for the entertainment he provided during the Attitude Era. Crash was one of the smaller wrestlers on the roster but found success due to providing humor in the hardcore division. WWE’s Hardcore Championship featured a rule that had the title on the line 24/7. Holly defended the title in his segments depicting the wrestlers attacking him in everyday life.
8 Mr. Perfect: WWE Broadcaster
“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig is one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Despite never winning a World Title in WWE or WCW, Hennig often stole the show with outstanding matches lower in the card. Perfect achieved his highest level of fame in WWE for having great performances against Bret Hart. The personality added to his amazing wrestling for a perfect overall package.
7 Lance Cade: New Japan
A forgotten wrestler death that saw a Superstar pass away too early was Lance Cade at the age of 29. Cade was viewed as the biggest name trained by Shawn Michaels at one point before Daniel Bryan and Brian Kendrick had strong runs. The talent and look of Cade each made him valued by WWE for small pushes during his various stints in the company.
6 Chris Candido: WWE Trainer At Performance Center
The wrestling genius of Chris Candido is discussed in stories from anyone that had a close relationship. Candido never was able to find major success in WWE due to him being a smaller wrestler. During his era, you needed size or a larger than life charisma to get to the next level in WWE. Candido had a short run as Skip with his girlfriend Tammy Sytch being his manager as Sunny.
5 Andre The Giant: WWE Brand Ambassador
Vince McMahon viewed Andre the Giant as one of his first true Superstars. The size of Andre made him stand out in a way unlike anyone else in the industry. WWE’s popularity took off to new levels when Andre became the giant heel for Hulk Hogan to defeat at WrestleMania III. Andre’s role in the 80s is why McMahon ensures the big man is celebrated for all he did in wrestling before passing away.
4 Chyna: Podcast Host
The death of Chyna in 2016 shocked the wrestling world when she passed away at the age of 46. Chyna did a few interviews in the final year of her life including appearances on Vince Russo’s podcast. The numbers were some of his best that helped him get a daily podcast. Chyna likely would have followed suit if she didn’t pass away.
3 Ultimate Warrior: WWE Personality
One of the more shocking ends to a wrestler’s life featured the Ultimate Warrior making peace with WWE days before passing away. The hostility between Warrior and WWE lasted for years when he left them in a negative manner. WWE then buried him in a DVD all about how much of a tool he was to deal with.
2 Owen Hart: Happily Retired/Firefighter
The heartbreak of Owen Hart’s death came in a higher profile than the others. Owen was the first and only wrestler to die in a WWE ring after a stunt went wrong and he fell from the rafters to the mat. Hart passed away after a short but successful career in WWE. Many fans of the time considered him their favorite due to his heel antics being so entertaining.
1 Randy Savage: WWE Hall of Famer
Randy Savage’s death was one of the bigger wrestling stories when it happened. Everyone at least knew what Savage looked like due to his visibility in society in the 80s and early 90s with WWE. Savage was one of those larger than life personalities to capture the attention of an audience. The death of Savage saw him finally get embraced back into the world of WWE with DVD productions and a Hall of Fame induction.
Vince McMahon reportedly blacklisted Savage for many years. History has shown us that McMahon will go back on his word if it is good for business. Triple H would have convinced Vince to bring Savage back for the Hall of Fame similar to the stories of Ultimate Warrior and Bruno Sammartino. Savage may not have been a performer on WWE television again, but the potential of a HOF moment and DVD productions would have happened thanks to Triple H’s presence.
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