Wrestlers Who Tragically Died – An early death seems to go hand in hand with a career in the squared circle, with very few performers from pro-wrestling’s boom era making it to old age. For some, it was the head bumps and constant injuries which wore them down until they just didn’t have any fight left in them. For others – and this is the disturbing majority – it was the alcohol and the drugs and the incessant partying which sent them to an early grave.
Last year alone, wrestling legends and WWE Hall of Famers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes died within one month of each other, leaving a void in the business which can never be filled. Both men were too young to die and not nearly done having fun. However, at least Hot Rod and Dusty had long and colorful careers behind them. They had held championships, made millions, and performed all over the world. It is small consolation to their friends and families, I know, but Piper and Rhodes will forever be remembered as two of the greatest of all time.
Other wrestlers, however, have not been so lucky. Many have passed away in their forties, thirties, and even their twenties, way before they had lived up to their full potential. A lot of modern wrestling fans may be unaware of the superstars who died before reaching stardom; and in many cases, those of us who do know who their names only remember them as “that guy who died young,” which is the greatest tragedy of all.
Here are 15 WWE superstars who died before their prime.
15. Art Barr
Despite the fact his early career was plagued by allegations of the sexual assault of a 19-year-old girl, Art Barr managed to become one of the most popular up and comers in professional wrestling during the early nineties. Obviously, it is a testament to just how talented the man was that he could become so over with wrestling fans despite the accusations (he always maintained his innocence).
It was in AAA that Barr did the work which he is today remembered for by the majority of wrestling fans. Here, he formed a tag team with future WWE Champion and Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero and Barr, who were great singles stars in their own right, proved to be an even better tag team and reinvigorated tag team wrestling in the eyes of many.
It was actually Art Barr who gave Eddie Guerrero the Frog Splash finishing move that Eddie would use to become WWE Champion a decade after his former tag team partner’s death.
Art Barr died in his sleep at the age of 28, and it is believed the dependance on alcohol and drugs which he developed in the final years of his life contributed to his early passing. At the time of his death, both ECW and the World Wrestling Federation where said to be interested in signing Barr and Guerrero as a tag team.