Professional wrestling has always been a controversial pastime. Many people argue that it is staged, every fight being perfectly planned. But whether or not the fights are real, there have been some very tragic moments in professional wrestling history that have definitely been real.
Owen Hart’s death during a match made international news, leading people to question why someone would do such a dangerous stunt if it was all just staged.
Although not all these tragic moments involve death, there have been many that are pretty horrible and sad. In this top ten list, we count down the most tragic events that have occurred in the world of professional wrestling. Watch out, this could get a little gruesome, and is definitely not for the faint of heart!
1. Owen Hart
Coming in at number one on our list is the tragic death of Owen Hart. Owen Hart was a Canadian-American professional wrestler, often wrestling under the name The Blue Blazer. Hart came from a family of wrestlers.
In 1999, on a pay-per-view screening of Over the Edge, Owen Hart fell from a harness into the ring. He was being lowered into the ring from the rafters. He was meant to be making a dramatic entrance. He was meant to act as though he was entangled in the harness, and then fall, just above the stage.
The harness had a quick release mechanism, which backfired. Hart fell 78 feet, landing chest first. Thousands of people present at the match watched Hart die at that moment.
What was especially tragic about Owen Hart’s death is that the WWF management chose to continue the event, despite Hart’s death.
Jim Ross would later announce Hart’s death to the viewers at home, but didn’t mention it to the people in the arena. His harness was blamed for his tragic death. When someone is released from a harness from such heights, back up latches need to be employed.
The Hart family sued the WWF over the dangerous and defective harness. The WWF ended up giving $18 million to the Hart family in a settlement.
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Video: The Tragic Death of Owen Hart
2. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero was a Mexican-American wrestler, and also a member of the Guerrero wrestling family. Known as the “Latino Heat”, Guerrero was a crafty wrestler who would do almost anything to win his matches. He had publicly battled with his addiction issues, including heavy drug use.
Yet many believed that he had defeated his issues before he became a WWE Champion. In November 2005, Guerrero was found dead, having passed in his sleep. It was later learned that his death was caused by heart failure. It is believed that his heart issues were surely linked to his very harsh lifestyle. Eddie Guerrero was only 37 years old when he passed away.
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3. Macho Man
During his lifetime, “Macho Man” Randy Savage was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. On May 20, 2011, Savage was driving his car down a Floriday highway when he suffered from a “medical event”. Savage’s car was found crashed into a tree, and the “Macho Man” died later that day.
His autopsy reported that he had actually suffered from heart disease, and that at the time of his accident, he may have had a heart attack, which is what caused him to lose control of his vehicle. The “Macho Man” was a true wrestling legend, and what adds to this tragic event is that he deserved to be in the WWE Hall of Fame well before his death.
4. Mitsuharu Misawa
Coming in at number four is the tragic death of a world-renown wrestling pro. The Japanese wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa died, inside of the ring, in 2009. Misawa received what manny would consider a routine back suplex.
A back suplex is an offensive move, a throw that involves lifting the opponent and bridging to slam the opponent on their back. After receiving the blow to his back, personnel rushed to the ring, but it was too late. Misawa was pronounced dead later that night at a medical facility. A tragic death, caused by a seemingly routine move.
5. The Von Erichs
There was one family in the world of wrestling who just seemed to be downright cursed. Fritz Von Erich, the father of the family, saw five of his sons die before him. One of the sons, Jack Junior, died very young from electrocution, in a tragic household accident.
In 1984, David Von Erich died in Japan, from accute enteritis of the upper intestine. It was also speculated that he had a drug overdose. Michael, Chris and Kerry all committed suicide at different points in their lives.
Mike took an overdose of drugs and alcohol, Chris shot himself at his parent’s home, and Kerry shot himself behind his father’s house. Kevin is the last surviving son of Fritz Von Erich, the wrestling legend. Kevin’s two sons are in the wrestling business.
6. Bret “Hitman” Hart
Many wrestling accidents seem to come from a simple move, practiced again and again, that just goes wrong. In 1999, during a match of Starrcade, Bret “Hitman” Hart would get a serious kick to the head from Goldberg. Although Hart tried to continue his wrestling career after this match, he would not be able to. He suffered from a serious concussion during the match. Post-concussion syndrome affected him after this event: he suffered from chronic headaches and dizziness, which got in the way of his fighting. In 2002, Hart suffered from a stroke. Hart eventually went back inside the WWE ring, but in very protected environments only.
7. Darren Drozdov
When he entered the ring to fight the wrestling veteran D-Lo Brown in 1999, Darren Drozdov was only 30 years old. Neither wrestler knew that this fight would drastically change one of their lives.
Drozdov went for a power bomb, a move in which an opponent is lifted and then slammed down to the mat, back first. Although this is a move that many wrestlers often us,
Drozdov’s fall was very serious. He became paralyzed, and is now a quadriplegic. What’s inspiring about this story is that Darren Drozdov has remained extremely positive about the event, giving inpirational talks and sharing his story with the world.
8. Bruiser Brody
This story is one of myth and legend. It’s difficult to report exactly what happened at this event – only those who were actually there will truly know. On July 16, 1988, Bruiser Brody was working in Puerto Rico.
On this date, Jose Gonzalez, a fellow wrestler and booker, asked Brody to talk business with him inside of the shower.
Brody was stabbed by Gonzalez during this confrontation, although Gonzalez claimed that he stabbed Brody in self-defense. Brody died from the stabbing, and Gonzalez was later acquitted at his trial.
9. Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine
WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair (Source: WWE)
In 1975, there was a horrible plane crash that would affect not one, but two professional wrestlers. Ric Flair would suffer from a broken back. Luckily enough, he would actually recover from his injury and go on to have a very successful career.
Most people on that plane weren’t as lucky as Ric. Another wrestler, Johnny Valentine, became paralyzed from that same plane crash. Unlike Ric Flair, he would not be able to continue his wrestling career. Many people also forget that the pilot of the plane, who was only 28 years-old, lost his life in the crash.
10. Magnum T.A.
In 1986, The National Wrestling Alliance had the chance to work with a wrestling up-and-comer who was sure to be a huge success. Tragically, Magnum T.A. was a part of a very serious car accident, where he nearly lost his life.
Although he didn’t die from the car crash, his career as a wrestler came to sudden stop. Many wrestling experts have estimated that Magnum T.A. had the capability of being the NWA World Heavyweight Champion if he hadn’t been involved in the car accident.
Although he is greatful to have survived the crash, the world of wrestling has been forever changed.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!