The death of the wrestler known as Warrior – known more commonly as the Ultimate Warrior during his heyday when WWE was the WWF – has stunned and saddened many, but there are those who are simply saying that the popular wrestler’s death comes as no surprise. There is a stream of other wrestling personalities who, like Warrior, were gone too soon.
Perhaps the best known example of a wrestler gone well before his prime would be that of Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and child before committing suicide seven years ago. The WWE distanced themselves from any mention of Benoit since the incident, and it became fairly common knowledge that the multiple concussions the pro wrestler had sustained throughout his career left him with a brain similar to that of an 85-year-old man. In fact, Benoit’s brain injuries were so extensive they had been likened to those sustained by players in other sports, such as football, that ultimately led these players into self-harm or harm of others.
ESPN host Colin Cowherd said that wrestlers like Warrior were constantly rolling the dice with their health, and noted that the punishment their bodies went through was extensive. While the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program monitors the wrestlers for use of illegal substances, there is no questioning the abuse that wrestlers’ bodies go through. Many of the storylines throughout the WWE’s history are, indeed, scripted, but there is no diminishing the possibility of injury throughout their careers.
Muscular injury is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these wrestling giants. Eddie Guerrero was felled by heart disease, according to a coroner’s report. Mr. Perfect was taken out by “extreme cocaine intoxication,” according to another coroner. Big Boss Man died as a result of a massive heart attack at age 42, and he was by all accounts a friendly southern man who was devoted to his family. Fellow wrestler Bret “Hit Man” Hart said that Boss Man – aka Ray Traylor – may have played a bad guy in the squared circle, but he was one of the nicest guys around. “Ravishing” Rick Rude passed in 1999 of a heart attack as well. All of them, and plenty of others, including Hart’s kid brother Owen, died in their late 30s or early 40s and all of them were gone too soon.
Warrior is the latest in a line of wrestlers who were taken in their prime, and this should have been Warrior’s second prime. He was on tap to be a WWE ambassador, had just ended an 18-year acrimonious relationship with the WWE and was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame. While the autopsy has been completed, results are not being released and the only thing that seems to be on anyone’s lips is that Warrior died of a “catastrophic medical event.” Wrestlers every day put their bodies through incredible punishment; while some certainly have been known to take steroids, countless concussions and other potential brain trauma can certainly contribute to the medical events that these wrestlers endure on a daily basis. The question is, how many more have to die before a serious look is taken at what is taking these young men out too soon?
By Christina St-Jean