Over the history of professional wrestling, there have been many urban legends and stories of folklore that have been said; and while some of those have been good, funny and amusing, others have been bad, tragic and downright illegal.
Yes, the talents that are a part of the world of wrestling are usually displayed as violent, unpredictable and crazy, amongst others. However, a majority of them don’t let that stigma go passed what the fans see inside of the squared circle.
Yet at the same time, there are also many of those wrestlers that truly are as legitimately crazy and out of control outside of the ring as they are inside of it; which only means that acts against the law aren’t exactly out of the realm of possibility for the men and women.
Sure, wrestlers have had their fare share of run ins with police, drug and alcohol abuse and other negative chargers. However, one of the most inexcusable acts that some of these wrestlers have been involved in have to do with probably the worst crime that one can commit: homicide.
While the act of homicide is an unfortunate circumstance that happens in all walks of life, it always hits home even harder when it involves someone who is in the limelight – and since wrestlers perform in front of thousands of people every night, the limelight is something that they’re used to.
As you will read throughout the countdown, not everyone mentioned below did the heinous acts on purpose, or were even acquitted before they were sent to jail; however, here are 10 stories about wrestlers being accused of homicide at some point in their lives.
10 Jimmy Snuka
To begin the countdown, we must start with the basis of this list and the man who has been in the news most recently for this subject, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. As it has come to life in recent weeks, a Pennsylvania District Attorny had resumed the case of the death of his former girlfriend Nancy Argentino, and it has resulted in justice finally being served. Back in 1983, after a WWE taping, Snuka and Argentino went back to a Pennsylvania hotel. Later in the evening, Snuka placed a call to an ambulance, saying his girlfriend was not responsive. After she was taken to a local hospital, Argentino died shortly thereafter.
An autopsy showed cuts and bruises all over her body, while also displaying signs of traumatic injuries to Argentino’s brain. While it was originally thought that foul play was involved, Snuka was never charged, and instead settled with the family. However, as stated above, it appears that karma had finally caught up to the WWE Hall of Famer, as he was arrested and charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
9 Ox Baker
When wrestling legend Ox Baker passed just shy of a year ago, some of the things circulated amongst the Internet were both his wild facial hairstyles and backstage stories. However, one of those backstage stories stood out more than others did. According to an urban legend, Baker killed not one, but two wrestlers on separate occasions due to his finishing maneuver, the Heart Punch.
The first came in June of 1971 when Baker was working a tag-team match with the AWA, he had used his finisher against Alberto Torres – and Torres died three days later. Although it was widely assumed that Torres passed away from a ruptured appendix, many still believed that it was due to Baker’s move. Just a little more than one year later in August of 1972, Baker was involved in another incident involving the Heart Punch. While competing in a promotion in Georgia, Baker faced Ray Gunkel, who was part owner. During their encounter, it is believed that Baker dropped dead after taking the Heart Punch and although some have claimed that Gunkel died from other causes, it is still thought by many that it was because of Baker.
8 Brian McGhee
Although most people won't know Brian McGhee by name, he signed a WWE developmental contract in 2010 and worked with the company up until 2012. Known under aliases such as D.T. Porter, The Future and Donovan Ruddick, his burly build and athletic frame made him a hopeful for the main roster some day. Unfortunately, McGhee isn’t known for his professional wrestling career; instead, he is known for murder.
Over the summer of 2013, McGhee was seen by witnesses exiting his car at his girlfriend Bianca McGaughey's apartment complex, stabbing the victim multiple times in the torso and neck and then fled the scene. After a police chase that resulted in a car crash, McGee was eventually caught by the police and charged with first degree murder.
7 Akitoshi Saito
Though the death in this case wasn’t a fault of Japanese wrestling mainstay Akitoshi Saito, a move he did resulted in Mitsuharu Misawa’s unfortunate passing. In June of 2009, with the two men wrestling in a tag team match for the GHC Tag Team Championships, Saito performed a backdrop on Misawa, which resulted in a very bad spinal injury – so bad, that Misawa died later that night in a local hospital.
Although Saito didn’t know it at the time, Misawa was dealing with a very serious neck injury, and he should have never taken the move in the first place. However, because the injury wasn’t spoken about, the suplex was done, thus resulting in death. After Misawa’s passing, Saito – obviously – took it hard. Not only were fans trying to attack him at his house, but Saito was also put on suicide watch for a short while as well.
6 Jose Gonzalez
In what is one of the most told stories throughout professional wrestling history, number six will the Jose Gonzalez and Bruiser Brody murder incident. As the story goes, Gonzalez asked Brody to enter the shower to talk business, and after a brief discussion, screams could be heard from the shower. As it has been reported on multiple accounts, wrestler Tony Atlas said he saw Gonzalez holding a knife while Brody was bent over holding his stomach.
After being brought to a hospital, Brody passed away, as his reliance on Aspirin thinned his blood, so much so that he lost too much to overcome. Although rumors have swirled that both that Brody was a bully to Gonzalez on multiple occasions, nothing has been proven over the years. And while Gonzalez was originally charged with first-degree murder, but was acquitted in 1989 after the jury agreed that he was just acting in self defense.
5 The Great Khali
While The Great Khali imposed legitimate fear into many wrestlers during his WWE stint, he was never known to legitimately hurt someone. However, while he was training to become a WWE Superstar, he did inadvertently kill someone inside of the ring. Working with All Pro Wrestling, Khali was working with up and coming wrestler Brian Ong. Although Ong received a concussion earlier in the training session, the staff at APW made him continue. Unfortunately, after receiving a flapjack from Khali, Ong received yet another concussion, that sadly, proved to be fatal. While Khali did commit the act, the family of Ong instead targeted APW for not giving him proper care while training.
4 Verne Gagne
While Verne Gagne is known as one of the greatest wrestlers and promoters in the history of professional wrestling, as his latter years came on, he became rather ill; so much so that Gagne had to stay in an assisted living home. After getting into a dispute with one of the people who lived with him, Gagne either shoved and knocked down the victim or body slammed him to the ground. Unfortunately for the man on the other end of the fall, he ended up passing away due to complications from the injury he sustained. Although the circumstance was originally ruled a homicide, due to Gagne’s dementia, he was acquitted of all charges.
3 New Jack
If you don’t know who New Jack is, take the time out to go look up some of his old matches on Youtube. The ECW alumnus was known for his devastating hardcore matches while also working a stiff and aggressive style against any opponents he squared off with. However, during an ECW live event back in 1996, New Jack took it a little too far. While in Massachusetts, promoter Paul Heyman was looking for a replacement in a tag team match. After lying about his age to do so, a 17-year-old “wrestler” known as Mass Transit was able to get onto the card.
As the story goes, Mass Transit asked New Jack if he could help him bleed – and boy did he bleed. During the matchup, New Jack took a scalpel to Mass Transit’s head, making a forehead long gash that resulted in bloodshed all over the ring mat. After receiving over 50 stitches from the cut, Mass Transit’s family sued New Jack and ECW for multiple causes, but they were both dismissed. While Mass Transit eventually passed away due to problems with gastric bypass surgery, his family still swears that it stems from the incident mentioned above.
2 Scott Hall
While Scott Hall has had many ups and downs throughout his illustrious wrestling career, this low didn’t truly come to light until an ESPN E60 special was done on Hall back in 2011. Before becoming a wrestler, Hall served as a bouncer for a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After getting involved in an altercation with a patron, the man pulled out a gun, in which Hall ended up wrestling away from him. Due to proclaimed self-defense, Hall shot and killed the man in the parking lot of the nightclub. Although he was originally charged with second-degree murder, the chargers were dropped due to both an agreement on self-defense and a lack of evidence as well. During the said special, Hall stated that it is still something that he thinks about every day.
1 Chris Benoit
Rounding out the list is the most notorious incident involving a professional wrestler in the history of the business: Chris Benoit’s double murder and suicide in 2007. While not only still an active wrestler but also having an ECW Championship match scheduled at the Vengeance pay-per-view that Sunday, Benoit was missing in action over the weekend events. When word circulated that he had passed away, Vince McMahon held a Raw show in memory of Benoit; however, unlike the Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero memorial episodes, Benoit’s had an odd feel to it – and just days later, it was known why.
Over the weekend mentioned above, Benoit went on a tragic rampage in which he first murdered his wife on Friday, his son on Saturday and, finally, killed himself on Sunday. While there is still a debate as to what the cause of the events was, the acts alone were enough to erase all references from Chris Benoit in published books, magazines and other materials since the incident.