Matt Cappotelli, the WWE Tough Enough Season 3 co-winner whose pro wrestling career was cut short when he was announced early in 2006 that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, died on Friday morning after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 38 years old.
The tragic news was confirmed on Friday afternoon by Cappotelli’s wife, Lindsay, who wrote on Facebook that Matt passed away exactly one year after he had last undergone brain surgery. According to Cageside Seats, Cappotelli initially appeared to have made a successful recovery from his illness, only for the cancer to return last year in even deadlier form.
“Today my love-my strong, sweet, beautiful love-took his last breath at 3:30 a.m. and went Home to be with Jesus…exactly one year after his brain surgery,” Lindsay Cappotelli wrote.
“You think you can be prepared for this when you know it’s coming, but you just can’t. The only person who’s comfort I want right now is the one who can’t give it to me. I miss him so much. I know where he is now is so much better, but it doesn’t change how much I miss him.”
— Gemma's padre (@JakeARobison) June 29, 2018
According to Wrestling Inc., Matt Cappotelli was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma tumor in June 2017, which meant that he was effectively battling a form of brain cancer that had “never been defeated.” Doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor, but the remaining 10 percent was found to be too sensitive to remove, due to how close the growth was to the brain stem. In addition, Cappotelli’s cancer was found to be terminal, with only about 5 percent of patients surviving another five years after diagnosis.
Matt Cappotelli spoke to the WWE website in August 2017, explaining how he felt “completely shocked and thrown off guard” when he was informed a few months prior that his brain cancer had returned after 10 years in remission. He also illustrated the difference between the tumor that was originally spotted and the one that was found in 2017, saying that the former was a “very slow-growing” grade 2 tumor. In any case, he stressed that his initial diagnosis taught him the importance of making an impact in other people’s lives, and taking advantage of opportunities once they come knocking.
“We need to all seize each day to make the biggest impact and lead by example while inspiring others to conquer whatever trial they’re dealing with in their own lives.”
Matt Cappotelli was once seen as an up-and-coming talent in WWE’s system, having won the third season of the Tough Enough wrestler search alongside John Hennigan, who later won several mid-card titles for WWE under the ring names Johnny Nitro and John Morrison. At the time he announced his cancer diagnosis in February 2006, Cappotelli was competing in WWE’s then-developmental promotion, OVW, where he held the company’s Heavyweight Championship.