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Countless examples of wrestlers who have died in the ring exist throughout the Professional Wrestling history. Every time we hear about a wrestler death, we realize how much these athletes put on the line. Some of the wrestlers who died in the ring were quite established; others weren’t. Regardless, every life is equally important. Stories about WWE deaths in the ring are not very popular due to their controversial nature. However, when a WWE wrestler dies, expect news and media outlets to exploit the story.
Here, we will be discussing 7 instances of Professional Wrestlers losing their lives in the ring. These wrestler death stories show how risky of a sport wrestling truly is.
#7 “Iron” Mike DiBiase:
“Iron” Mike DiBiase is listed among those unfortunate wrestlers who have died in the ring. He was the (adoptive) father of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and the grandfather of multi-time Tag Team Champion Ted DiBiase Jr. This is the reason behind the name sounding so familiar.
DiBiase made his professional wrestling debut in 1950, after working as an amateur for a number of years. During his career, he won the AWA Midwest Heavyweight Championship 3 times. While NWA had influence over the wrestling world with its territory system, DiBiase won Titles in various territories.
Unfortunately on July 2, 1969 during a match against Man Mountain Mike, the “Iron” encountered the unthinkable. He suffered a heart attack while wrestling. One of the all-time greats and two-time WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race was on-site. He figured out on the spot the reason behind DiBiase’s collapse in the ring. Race unsuccessfully performed CPR on DiBiase. The “Iron” was rushed to a nearby hospital but pronounced dead upon reaching there.
Although his wrestling legacy continued with his son Ted and grandsons (Mike, Ted Jr. and Brett), it would have been better if the “Iron” had actually witnessed his future generations’ progress inside the squared circle.
#6 King Kong Kirk:
Wrestling in UK is becoming popular once again. But have you ever wondered why it lost its charm in the first place? Well, there are many reasons behind it; one being a wrestler death during a match. The wrestler we are referring to is Malcolm Kirk (King Kong Kirk).
During his professional wrestling career, Kirk wrestled against the likes of Bret Hart, Andre the Giant, William Regal etc. Close to the mid 80’s, Kirk started to dislike wrestling and expressed interest in retiring from action. He had planned his post-wrestling life (opening a pub with his wife). However, his dreams couldn’t come true and he met his demise in quite a tragic way.
On August 23, 1987, Kirk teamed up with King Kendo to take on Greg Valentine and Big Daddy (Kirk’s on-screen rival at that time). The finish saw Big Daddy execute a splash on Kirk, landing on the latter’s chest to pick up the victory. Big Daddy then noticed Kirk turning purple and called for help. Due to his size, a CPR couldn’t be done by the on-site staff. So, he was taken to the hospital but pronounced dead right away.
Although King Kong Kirk is one of the wrestlers who died in the ring, it was revealed later that he had been suffering from a previous heart condition. His death resulted in widespread media coverage and this led to the sport’s decline in the UK.
#5 Dan “Spider” Quirk:
The stories about WWE deaths in the ring receive world-wide attention. However, there are several wrestler death stories about small promotions as well. One such story concerns the late Daniel Michael Quirk (known by his ring-name Spider). He made his professional wrestling debut before the age of 20 in 2002.
He enjoyed stints in NWA, Chikara and some other promotions. By the age of 22, Quirk was ready to establish himself in the world of Professional Wrestling. Little did he know that his match against Hi-Lite Kid at an Ultimate Championship Wrestling event on May 28, 2005 would be his last.
During the match, Quirk’s opponent missed a step while executing a move. To cover up for his opponent’s mistake, Quirk tried to improvise on the fly. However, the whole sequence ended with Quirk falling head-first on the floor. In addition to that, there were no mats outside the ring. The referee stopped the match immediately. Quirk was loaded into an ambulance and attended to in every possible way but unfortunately, it didn’t matter
#4 Luther Lindsay:
During the 50’s and 60’s, Luther Lindsay had quite a reputation in professional wrestling. He competed throughout the United States during the NWA territory days. Moreover, he was a part of Stampede Wrestling as well as All Japan Pro Wrestling.
While climbing up the ranks within the professional world, he gained the respects of Stu Hart, J.J. Dillon, Lou Thesz etc. In addition to that, his list of accomplishments is quite huge.
Lindsay continued wrestling as the 70’s kicked off. On February 21, 1972, Lindsay collided with Charlotte’s own Bobby Paul. In a shocking turn of events, he suffered a deadly heart attack while pinning his opponent for the win. After the match, local authorities were called when it was observed that Lindsay was completely unresponsive. He was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to the dressing room. What sets him apart from other wrestlers who have died in the ring is that he passed away while making the pin.
In 2017, WWE inducted him into the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the wrestling world.
#3 Hijo Del Perro Aguayo:
Wrestlers who died in the ring left behind a legacy that others try to live up to. The death of Hijo Del Perro Aguayo/Perro Aguayo Jr. was one of the most widely covered wrestler death stories. Before we get into that, let’s shed some light on the wrestler’s impact in the Mexican Wrestling scene.
Perro Aguayo Jr. was a notable part of Mexican Wrestling Giants such as AAA and CMLL. He led the Los Perros Del Mal stable. Although this name might not sound familiar to the casual wrestling fan, it was quite over with the Mexican audience. Over the course of his two-decade long career, Perro Aguayo Jr. bagged multiple Championship Titles.
Unluckily, his career didn’t end on a good note. During a Crash show on March 20, 2015, he partnered with Manik to take on Rey Mysterio Jr. and Xtreme Tiger in a tag team match. At one point in the match, Mysterio performed a dropkick on the back/shoulder region of Aguayo. A few moments later, performers in the ring started noticing that Aguayo was unconscious. He was taken to a hospital after the match and pronounced dead shortly after midnight.
Cardiac arrest was the cause of his death. The arrest was because of a cervical stroke caused by three broken vertebrae. AAA inducted him into its Hall of Fame. It should be clarified that Rey Mysterio wasn’t under contract with WWE at that time. So, this tragedy doesn’t fall into the list of “WWE Deaths in the Ring”.
#2 Brian Ong:
Among the countless stories about wrestling deaths, Brian Ong’s is an interesting one. He died during a training session with Dalip Singh (known for his time in WWE as The Great Khali). Prior to the session, Ong had already been dealing with various injuries. However, the APW promotion gave him a pass to keep on performing.
Fast forward to the training session, Singh executed a flapjack, a move that requires the attention of both the executioner as well as the victim. Ong didn’t do his part effectively, fell hard onto the mat and severely hurt himself. He died a few days later. The Wrestling promotion had to pay $1.3 million to Ong’s family for damages. This happened after the company was found responsible for the careless evaluation of his condition prior to the session with Singh. If a WWE wrestler dies due to such negligence, expect some heavy consequences. WWE deaths in the ring attract world-wide media coverage.
Before we head over to our #1 pick, a few honorable mentions should also be included. These mentions include the names such as Japanese Wrestling Legend Mitsuharu Misawa and Plum Mariko. If a WWE wrestler dies, people get to hear about it in the news. However, these non-WWE deaths in the ring stories carry equal weight.
#1 Owen Hart:
Let’s be fair, WWE does a good job of protecting its Superstars in the ring. Although there is buzz when a WWE wrestler dies, the stories of WWE deaths in the ring are basically non-existent. However, there is one Superstar who lost his life in front of thousands of fans during a live WWF Pay-per-view. We are referring to Hart Family’s own, Owen Hart.
Hart was about to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship at 1999’s Over the Edge PPV. At that time, he was performing as the Blue Blazer, a superhero gimmick. WWF decided for Hart to make an entrance that suited his character. The plan was for him to come down into the ring from the rafters.
The concerned personnel successfully tested the entrance prior to the event as well. Unfortunately, while making the actual entrance, Hart accidentally activated the early release mechanism. At this time, he was hanging 78 feet above the ring. This caused him to fall down chest-first into the ring. After the on-site staff unsuccessfully attempted to revive Hart, they took him to a hospital but he died before midnight. It was a controversial and sad turn of events and should have been prevented at all costs.
How did you find this list? Are you aware of any other stories about a wrestler death or in which a wwe wrestler dies while in action? Do let us know in the comments section!