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Dr. Death

The Most Famous Wrestling Tragedies in History, Part 1:

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
As the title of this blog states, we will have separate parts since the list of tragedies in Pro Wrestling is very long and will not fit into just one blog. Now that this is clear, lets start.
Over the decades there has been numerous wrestling tragedies. Some are only known in the wrestling community, with some hitting the mainstream media due to the people involved or the circumstances of death. This list explores some of the most prominent tragedies, many with strange circumstances, disastrous deaths and unexpected events. So without further ado, here's my list:

[B]Counting Down The Most Famous Pro Wrestling Tragedies:[/B

Rikidozan: {November 14, 1924 - December 15, 1963} Age: 39; In 1963, he ran afoul of a rivalry between his friend Nicola "Nick" Zapetti, a yakuza boss who helped him fund the JWA, and a warring crime family. On December 8, 1963, while partying in a Tokyo nightclub, Rikidozan was stabbed with a urine-soaked blade by gangster Katsuji Murata. He died a week later of peritonitis on December 15.

He was a Korean Japanese professional wrestler, known as the "Father of Puroresu" and one of the most influential men in wrestling history. Rikidozan gained worldwide renown when he defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA International Heavyweight Championship on August 27, 1958 In Japan. He also trained professional wrestling legends Kanji "Antonio" Inoki, Ooki Kintaro, and Shohei "Giant" Baba.

Bobby Shane: {Aug. 25, 1945 – Feb. 20, 1975} Age: 29; On Feb. 20, 1975, Shane died in a plane crash following a wrestling match in Miami, Florida at 1:30am when the plane crashed into the pitch-black water of Hillsboro Bay just off the runway of Peter O’Knight Airport on the tip of Davis Island.

Bobby won the Central States version of the United States Championship from the Mongolian Stomper in 1966, and he feuded with such stars as Bob Geigel, “Bulldog” Bob Brown, and “Missouri Mauler” Larry (Rocky) Hamilton.

Dick Murdoch: {August 16, 1946 - June 15, 1996} Age: 49; Murdoch was wrestling in the independents when he died of a heart attack on June 15, 1996.

In 1968, he formed a tag team that would continue throughout the early 1970s with Dusty Rhodes called "The Texas Outlaws". After splitting with Rhodes, he wrestled for Florida Championship Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance, and Mid-South Wrestling.

Vivian Vachon: {Born 1951. Died Aug 24th 1991} Age: 40; Vivian was killed in a road accident on August 25, 1991 near Montreal. Her daughter Julie died also.

She is considered one of the best female wrestlers of the 1970's and was also the aunt of wrestler Luna Vachon. In February 1971, she became the California Women's Champion. She became the American Wrestling Association's (AWA) Women's Champion for a time, defeating Bette Boucher on November 4, 1971.

Junkyard Dog: {December 13, 1952 – June 2, 1998} Age: 45; He died on June 2, 1998, in a single-car accident on Interstate 20 near Forest, Mississippi as he was returning home from his daughter Latoya's high school graduation in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The apparent cause was falling asleep at the wheel.

The Junkyard Dog thrilled fans like few of his contemporaries. From New Orleans' SuperDome to Atlanta's Omni to New York's Madison Square Garden, the 280 lb. former professional football player-turned-wrestler was easily one of the most beloved superstars in the entire sport, as well as one of its biggest draws.

Chris Adams: {Born Feb 10th 1955. Died Oct 7th 2001} Age: 46; "Gentleman" Chris Adams was shot dead during a drunken brawl with a friend. The owner of the gun claimed self-defense and was found innocent of the charge.

Chris Adams was probably best known (in his later years) for having trained WWF Superstar "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Raised in Stratford, England, he was a national judo champion as a teenager. And he fast became a star in professional wrestling. Between 1983 and 1986, he was one of the biggest stars in wrestling.

Gino Hernandez: {Aug 14, 1957 - Feb 1, 1986} Age: 29; Initially Hernandez's death was ruled a homicide case, but following autopsy reports, his death was ruled as a result of an overdose of cocaine. Many people (even today) still believe Gino was murdered in a drug related incident.

His lists of accolades is like a book unto itself - WCCW American Heavyweight Champion (three times), WCCW Texas Heavyweight Champion (six times), WCCW Texas Brass Knuckles Champion, WCCW American Tag Team Champion (four times: twice with El Gran Markus, once with Gary Young, once with Chris Adams), WCCW Texas Tag Team Champion (three times: once each with Jimmy Snuka, Pak Song and Bruiser Brody) and WCCW Six-Man Tag Team Champion (with Chris Adams and Jake Roberts).

Miss Elizabeth: {November 19, 1960 – May 1, 2003} Age: 42; On May 1, 2003 in Marietta, Georgia, Lex Luger called 9-1-1 and reported that Elizabeth was not breathing nor was she responding to CPR. Paramedics rushed her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead of a drug overdose.

She was an American professional wrestling manager. She gained international fame from the mid-1980s to the early 1990's in the World Wrestling Federation, and the mid-1990s in World Championship Wrestling in her role as the manager to the late wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

Bam Bam Bigelow: {Sept 1, 1961 - January 19, 2007} Age: 45; Bigelow's death was due to multiple drugs found in his system including toxic levels of cocaine and benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety drug). He was also suffering from a heart problem, specifically arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Bigelow worked in major wrestling promotions, including the WWF, ECW, WCW, Memphis, WCCW, and NJPW. He held multiple championships in both ECW and WCW, and thirteen throughout his career. Among other accolades, he was a former world champion, having held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once, and a two-time WCW World Tag Team Champion. Although he never held any titles in the WWF, he main-evented multiple pay-per-views for the promotion, including WrestleMania XI.

Brian Pillman: {May 22, 1962 – October 5, 1997} Age: 38; While he had a documented history of abuse of prescription drugs, an autopsy found that a previously undetected heart condition - arteriosclerotic heart disease - had led to his death. He died October 5th, 1997 in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Trained by Stu Hart, Brian Pillman was a 1 time NWA United States Tag Team Champion with Tom Zenk, 2 time WCW Light Heavyweight Champion and 1 time WCW World Tag Team Champion with Steve Austin. He was a wrestler for the WWF, ECW and WCW.

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Updated 12-03-2011 at 06:20 AM by Dr. Death (Typo for Bam Bam Bigelow's Death Date.)



  1. nrb6304's Avatar
    Brusier Brody?? The Von Erichs?
    Good read though man
  2. Dr. Death's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nrb6304
    Brusier Brody?? The Von Erichs?
    Good read though man
    There is more and I think you'll find it interesting. Look for my 2nd and 3rd blog which should be up.
  3. DK Wrestling Savior's Avatar
    Awesome! Nice Job!
  4. LightZouT's Avatar
    Bam Bam Bigelow died in 2007 not 1999 bra. Good list though, read all three.
  5. Dr. Death's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by LightZouT
    Bam Bam Bigelow died in 2007 not 1999 bra. Good list though, read all three.
    Thanks for pointing that out. I must of typed the wrong day of his passing and his age. I just corrected it.

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