From #backfromboozehell5 (2006?)
Reading this story now reminds me of my cousin Joey. He was a little older than me and a true wrestling fan. He broke it down for me with out ruining the fun. He had a good collection of videos and exposed me to what was happening in Japan at the time. It’s not like I could “google” it back then. Any information outside of the usual channels was like gold. Unfortunately Joey’s life was a short one. I wish we could talk wrestling today.
My brothers and I were very into pro wrestling when we were kids. We were Hulk-a-maniacs, I know it’s sad. As empty and commercial as our heroes were, sometimes positive messages leaked out. Training hard, saying your prayers, and eating your vitamins. In the eighties pro wrestling was still regulated as a sport even though everyone knew that the outcome of the matches were pre determined. For us kids it was like you knew that their was no Santa clause but you wanted to believe anyway.
When I got a little older around 88‘, 89’ we used to go to the matches at the San Diego sports arena. Sometimes the whole family or just me and Isa, my overweight Persian best friend and tag team partner. Some of the great battles we witnessed: Andre the Giant vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Macho Man vs Ricky Steamboat, and Hulk Hogan vs Nickoli Volkoff. When Andre the Giant died in 1993 of a heart attack it was big news. Andre died in France shortly after the death of his father. Andre was universally famous but I’d like to tell you about some of his co-stars.
Big John Studd died in 1995 from cancer. He was one of the few that could really compete with Andre the giant and they had a long running feud. One of the highlights was a $15,000 body slam match at the first wrestlemania. Andre won.
In 1998 The Junk Yard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) died in a car accident. Know for his hard head and great matches against “King” Harley Race. JYD was one of the superstars that was featured in a Hulk Hogan and friends Saturday morning cartoon. Adorable Adrian Adonis also died in a car crash ten years earlier. Adonis wore pink tights and eye shadow. The adorable one had one of the most repulsive bodies in the sport. That same year Bruiser Brody (Frank Goodish) was murdered in Puerto Rico. Stabbed to death after a match. Brody had some of the bloodiest and most violent matches in history against Abdullah the Butcher.
The most tragic story in pro wrestling has to be the Von Erich family. Fritz Von Erich a famous wrestler in the 50’s had raised and trained five sons to follow in his footsteps. They were a family of champions. David Von Erich died in 1984 and less than ten years later all his brothers were dead by suicide or overdose except for Kevin.
Miss Elizabeth is dead. Former manager and wife to Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Elizabeth died in 2003 from a drug overdose. Elizabeth had been divorced from savage for quite a while and was living with Lex Lugar at the time of her death. I had her poster on my wall. Drugs have taken many great wrestlers down for the count. The cause of death is always listed as heart attack. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that steroids and coke are quite a finishing move. I was sad to hear that Hawk of the Road Warriors had died in 2003, in his sleep. I got his autograph when I was a freshman in high school. I told him that I wanted to be a wrestler just like him and in a low growl he said, “you’re sick”. Other Men in fantastic cardiovascular shape that died of “heart failure”: Davey boy Smith of the British Bulldogs (2002), “Mr. Perfect” Kurt Henning (2003), Rick Rude (1999), “Bam Bam” Terry Gordy (2001), “Flying“ Brian Pilman (1997), “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert (1995), Moon Dog Spot (2003) died in the ring. Yokozuna (2000) in all fairness this guy was 6’6”, 589lbs. Nephew to the legendary Wild Samoans Yokozuna was a star for only a short time after beating Brett hart for the world title At Wrestlemania IX. Rodney Anoia was found dead in his Liverpool hotel room on October 23rd, 2000, only a few weeks after celebrating his 34th birthday.
Owen Hart the “Blue Blazer” and younger brother to Brett Hart was also 34 when he went to the great locker room in the sky. Owens Father Stu Hart started Canada’s Stampede Wrestling and later sold the company to Vince McMahon senior. Owen Hart was killed on May 23, 1999 when he fell 70 feet from a cable as he was being lowered into the ring at a WWF wrestling match in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. A wrongful death suit followed. The incident is also discussed in the wrestling documentary “Beyond The Mat” (1999) by Barry Blaustein. Owen Hart is survived by his wife and two children.