To the surprise of very few, two recently deceased wrestlers have been diagnosed with severe brain damage. Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten were both found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, as reported by the Bleacher Report. Autopsies for both men were performed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian.
On February 4, Axl Rotten, whose real name is Brian Knighton, was found dead in a McDonald’s restroom by the police. Autopsy reports revealed that he had died of an accidental heroin overdose. It was a sad and tragic ending for the 44-year-old who once had himself quite the underground wrestling following.
On April 12, Balls Mahoney, whose real name is Jonathan Rechner, died at home. He had celebrated his 44th birthday the previous day. Mahoney was simply watching television at home when he passed away on the couch from a heart attack. His wife found him, but he was already dead before the medics made it to the house.
Both Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten started their pro wrestling careers when they were just teenagers. It was much more common for performers to get started at a younger age back during the 1980s. It also meant that they were part of a generation that would spend a very long time in the ring.
Though they ended up working all over the world, Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney made their names in ECW. Like most of the performers on the roster, they eventually became crowd favorites because they were willing to do what it took to entertain.
ECW never reached the same levels of success in business, but the promotion was considered just as popular as WCW and WWE. The reason for that was because there was a gratuitous amount of violence in Extreme Championship Wrestling, which was a change of pace from the products by World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Two of the more violent members of the ECW roster were Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten. Both were well known for utilizing steel chairs and other weapons in their matches. It would be virtually impossible to come up with the amount of vicious shots that they have taken directly to the skull.
Aside from their stint in ECW, Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney both spent time working the various promotions of the independent wrestling circuit. Often times, hardcore matches would be utilized to draw in a bigger audience, so more damage was done to the brain.
Since WWE is the most well-known pro wrestling promotion in the world, they are often blamed for everything. That’s why there have been so many lawsuits against the company, even from performers who did not spend a whole lot of time working there.
Axl Rotten only worked sporadically with WWE, making special appearances at reunion shows. Balls Mahoney, however, had a nice little run with World Wrestling Entertainment, where he spent a couple of years. Both guys joined the company after spending years in the industry, so there’s a good chance that the damage was done beforehand.
To their credit, WWE has made some changes to how things are done within the company so that they can try to protect the performers more so than in the past. A fine example of that was when Daniel Bryan was forced to retire as an in ring performer because of health concerns.
Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney knew the risks when they decided to become wrestlers. It’s a tough way to make a living, but the performers loved what they did. Unfortunately, it oftentimes comes at a great cost.
[Featured Image by WWE]