One of the most tragic aspects of the professional wrestling industry is the case of many superstars dying young. Over the years, many of the most beloved superstars in the WWE and other promotions have died from numerous causes, and it has cast a black eye over the entire industry. In a recent appearance on The Playback Podcast, John Cena spoke about these premature deaths in the wrestling industry and what he believes caused the deaths.
John Cena said that when it all comes down to it, the premature deaths in wrestling are less a cause of the actual industry and more about personal choices from the athletes and performers involved. As someone who lived the life on the road with the WWE, Cena said that it is more about individual superstars and how they react to the life on the road.
“There are a lot of guys that did all those dates on the road and they’re fine. And there are a lot of guys who lived like there was no tomorrow and guess what: when you do that there’s no tomorrow. Like, that stuff catches up with you plain and simple.”
John Cena pointed out that it isn’t just professional wrestling and the WWE but the entertainment industry as a whole. Cena said there are a lot of choices that people can make and when they make the wrong decisions, it leads down that road that they can’t turn back from.
A perfect example of this isn’t from the WWE but from the very popular regional territory in the ’80s known as World Class Championship Wrestling. A look at the wrestlers from that promotion who died is staggering and really shines a light on what John Cena is talking about.
The Von Erich family is the biggest tragedy in professional wrestling. At one time, David Von Erich was seen as a future world champion and one of the best wrestlers in the industry. He died in Japan of a drug overdose, although World Class covered it up and claimed it was from medical complications.
Kerry Von Erich won the world title instead of his brother David but began to abuse drugs as well. When he lost a foot in a motorcycle accident and then faced prison time for drug charges, he committed suicide. Younger brother Mike Von Erich suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome and also committed suicide. The youngest brother, Chris Von Erich, could never live up to the family name and committed suicide as well.
Other World Class superstars also fell on hard times. Gino Hernandez died of a drug overdose. Chris Adams battled alcoholism and died in a gun accident involving his roommate. Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death in the locker room in Puerto Rico.
The WWE is no stranger to premature deaths as well, and there were many wrestlers there that John Cena knew well. The Chris Benoit murder-suicide death was one that rocked the WWE and was partially caused by brain damage suffered by Benoit over the years in the wrestling world.
Former WWE world champion Eddie Guerrero battled drug addiction for years and finally cleaned up only to die of heart failure at the age of 38. Chyna died at the age of 45. Miss Elizabeth was 43. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig was 45. Mike Awesome was 42. Test was 34. Ravishing Rick Rude was 41. Davey Boy Smith was 40. Brian Pillman was 35.
The list can go on, but for everyone who died early in the WWE, there are those who lived to old age. That is the point that John Cena is making as there are many who lived life differently and they are still with us today.
In the podcast, John Cena was asked about the way the WWE takes care of their wrestlers now. Cena said he admires that the WWE offers financial assistance and health care for injuries and that the company pays wrestlers now when they are injured. John Cena said that the WWE also offers secondary education to help wrestlers move on when they leave the industry.
[Featured Image by WWE]