It may be a revelation to some that wrestling has its own rules. However, they are designed to be broken. The referee can fight with the fighter, and the opponents use the whole cascade of banned techniques during the fight. Is the final of a wrestling match known? Definitely, yes. But it is not the judges who determine who wins, but the so-called bookers. They are the writers behind the scenes, inventing the images of the fighters in life and the ring.
But sometimes, even the bookers can’t influence the storyline of the fight. After all, wrestling is always dangerous, even for well-prepared athletes. So it would be best if you visited the fighters’ performances to form an opinion about the sport. Wrestling is not a peaceful game of 3 patti play online, where you can’t get hurt.
All wrestling promotions say endlessly: Don’t repeat what you see at home or anywhere else. Wrestling can be not just an injury hazard but a harmful activity. We tell you what injuries have resulted in fatalities in the ring. The most common injuries among wrestlers are:
When it comes to the dangers of wrestling, it’s the case that most often comes to mind first – because of its loudness, tragicness, and ridiculousness. In 1999, Owen Hart, one of wrestling’s biggest stars and brother of the legendary Bret Hart, died at a WWE show Over the Edge. The original plan was for Owen to descend as a superhero from under the arena dome on a rope. It was carefully rehearsed, but on the day of the show, Hart collapsed from 24 meters onto the ring’s ropes. According to one version, the bindings failed; according to another one, Owen unhooked them accidentally, tangled in his raincoat.
Owen Hart, 34, died of internal bleeding the same night. The wrestler’s death was announced during the show’s broadcast, which WWE decided not to interrupt. However, Hart’s widow still hasn’t forgiven the company and won’t allow Owen to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Heart attacks are one of the most common causes of death on Earth. But the chance of dying from a heart attack is incredibly high for wrestlers – all because of the harsh cardio load during matches. For example, it is well known that wrestler and commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler had a heart attack on WWE Raw in 2012. He had only appeared on Raw as a commentator, but he had worked an indie promotion match before, and Lawler was 63 years old at the time. In the end, everything worked fine, although Jerry had to be rescued from clinical death.
But not everybody is so lucky. Many fighters have died of heart attacks in the ring. Among them are big stars of their time. For example, “Iron” Mike DiBiase, adoptive father of the even more famous Ted DiBiase, died of a heart attack during a match in Texas in 1969 at the age of 45. Another prime example is the death of Malcolm Kirk, better known as “King Kong.” He died of a heart attack in 1987 after taking a routine splash from his opponent during a match in England – Kirk was 51 years old.
Older wrestlers are more prone to heart attacks, but relatively young fighters are not immune. So, in 2000, during a match in Pennsylvania, Harry Albright died of a heart attack, the representative of the Anoa’i wrestling dynasty (which includes, for example, Dwayne Johnson and Rikishi) – was only 36 years old.
“Momentary” head injuries
Death from a heart attack – even right in the ring – can still be called natural: without diseases already running in the body, it’s impossible. But in wrestling, there is a chance to die, even being absolutely healthy. For example, we have already written in the article about injuries that the head is one of the most vulnerable points of any wrestler, and concussion is one of the most severe problems for many fighters. For this reason, for example, WWE has banned Piledrivers, chairs, and other objects that can only be hit on the back and limbs. But bans don’t insure against accidents.
The most famous case of death from an “instant” head injury in wrestling occurred in 2005 at a UCW show in Massachusetts. The 22-year-old wrestler Daniel “Spider” Kirk died. Kirk was behind the ring during one match segment and had to take a Munsolt from his opponent. However, Spider’s opponent caught his foot on the top rope, and it happened to collapse his entire weight on Kirk’s head, literally pounding it into the floor. But there were no foul words on that show outside the ring.
But this case is the most famous, but it’s not the only one. In 2000, at the Young Lion Cup in Japan, 27-years-old wrestler Masakazu Fukuda died. His opponent attacked him with the Elbow-drop – one of the most famous moves in wrestling, which can even be called a classic. But unfortunately, the punch turned out to be accurate and fatal. Fukuda was taken to hospital but died five days later from the consequences of that elbow strike.
A similar incident happened in 1993. Then, during a match in Mexico City, the luchador Jesus Javier Hernandez Silva, better known as Oro, died. He suggested to his opponent to do a Kobashi-bump on him, a hazardous way to take a throw over himself, during which it seems that the receiving wrestler broke his neck. Oro didn’t break his neck but still landed very poorly on his head – and passed away before reaching the hospital.
In addition to sudden, fatal injuries, wrestlers often suffer cumulative head injuries that can eventually lead to brain damage. The most glaring example is the death of wrestler Janet Wolfe in Ohio in 1951. The girl was participating in a team match and, at one point, while waiting to tag her teammate, fell over. It later turned out that she was dead – caused by a brain hemorrhage. However, the autopsy revealed that the clot that caused the bleeding had formed in the wrestler’s brain six to seven days before that match due to accumulated trauma. Janet Wolfe was only 18 years old.
In 1997, Japanese wrestler Umeda Mariko, better known as Plum Mariko, took a Ligerbomb hold in one of her matches Mariko and was unable to break out of the warehouse after that, even though it was planned. After the match, Plum, 29, became quite ill and died suddenly a couple of hours later. The cause was a brain abscess, also caused by accumulated head trauma.
Neck vertebrae are very easy to injure, and most wrestling techniques load the neck – even the primary close lines and suplexes. As a result, neck fractures in the ring are common. Sometimes fighters end their careers and recover in agony but still get back in the ring. But there are also fatal cases.
In 2015 in Tijuana, famous Mexican luchador Pedro Aguayo Jr. fought against even more famous Manik and Rey Mysterio Jr. At one point, Mysterio held Aguayo to a dropkick in the back, closer to the neck – so that Pedro fell to the middle rope and Rey was able to keep his 619 finishers. Aguayo did fall to the strings – but immediately went limp and passed out. As the match continued, the wrestler tried to regain his senses behind the ring, but to no avail. The reason for the death of the 35-year-old fighter was the so-called “whiplash injury” and the subsequent impact on the rope – as a result, and Aguayo had three broken cervical vertebrae.
Another iconic luchador, Jesús Alfonso Huerta Escoboza, better known as “La Parca the Second,” died of a similar injury. In 2019, during a match in Mexico City, La Parka performed a suicide dive, a dangerous leap from the ring over the ropes at his opponent. But the wrestler missed and flew into the metal guardrails with his head. The fighter was taken to the hospital alive and was even recovering, but three months later, he died from the consequences of this injury.