When & Why was the Article Written?
I wrote the article on the day that Eddie Guerrero died. On that day, I felt that it was appropriate that when people read that a wrestler died that they also realize that his death was a just one tragic piece of a scary epidemic. Since the article was written, it has been updated only for the addition of the Wellness Policy which went into place because of Eddie’s death and for the addition of names to the list at the end of the article.
Questions About the List
The title of the list is Famous Wrestlers That Have Died Since 1985 Before the Age of 65. For some reason, there have been many questions about the list. Hopefully, this will answer all of your questions.
The term wrestlers is being used for any on-air personality involved in making a wrestling match entertaining. That includes managers (Miss Elizabeth), announcers, and referees (Joey Marella). These entertainers are an integral part of a wrestling show and face many of the same issues that the wrestlers themselves face.
The term famous is used because this list is not comprehensive. That was an editorial decision because I felt that a smaller list with famous names would make a bigger impact to bring light to this horrible situation than a long list filled with names that no one had any attachment to. The wrestlers on this list were either stars in a domestic national wrestling organization, a major force in the territorial era of the business, or were an international wrestler that was able to transcend language and distance barriers.
That Have Died
The words mean just what they say. Very few of the deaths on the list could be blamed 100% on the wrestling business and very few have a 0% blame. Wrestlers on the list have died for varied reasons including drugs, accidents, murder, and diseases unrelated to drug abuse.
I picked 1985 because it was the year of the first WrestleMania. That was the year that wrestling became a part of American pop culture. For the record, I have received hundreds of emails informing me that I forgot to put David Von Erich on the list. He died in 1984.
Before the Age of 65
I picked that age because that is the year that most people consider retirement age. Eerily, due to character limitations in the template I used to write the list, if the current epidemic continues, I might have to lower the age because soon I will no longer be able to add names to the list.
What the List is Not
1 - A steroid list. Despite this list scrolling on news channels when they discuss steroids killing wrestlers, not all of the wrestlers on this list died due to steroid related issues.
2 - A list blaming Vince McMahon. I have seen this list used in blogs where it has been written that Vince has the blood of all these men on him. Common sense would show that many of the wrestlers on this list never worked for the WWE when Vince was in charge.
3 - It does not detail those that have left the business a shell of their former self due to either physical or chemical conditions they have received in their careers.
4 - It does not take into account the number of people these people have left behind. Some of the most heart warming emails I have received have been from family members of the people on this list thanking me for helping me to expose this problem. My only hope is that now the problem has been exposed that something good can be done.
What I Would Like to See Done
1 - Recently the WWE has offered free drug rehab to any former performer. I would love to see Time Warner offer the same to any former WCW wrestler that never wrestled for the WWE. The Nancy Grace Show made a lot of money recently by covering this story yet while they were blaming Vince, I never heard them say that their parent company was the last wrestling organization a lot of the deceased worked for.
2 - The offering of a career transition program. When people get laid off from a job many employees offer career guidance to help you land on your feet. Some of the skills that wrestlers have learned can be applicable to a future career outside of the ring and it would be great if these wrestlers got some career guidance to accentuate their positives instead of leaving them feeling that all they can do is bodyslam someone.
3 - Offer psychological counseling for former wrestlers. When a wrestler is in the WWE they are famous. Once they are gone, so is their fame. That is a tremendous emotional fall that can very easily lead to drug abuse due to depression.