Mookie (mookieghana) wrote,

WWF/WWE Wrestler Death Analysis Over the past 30 Years

I did some research which was published over at F4W yesterday.  Here is an abbreviated version of that article.



Analysis: Deaths of top performers in WWF/WWE over the past 30-years (8/31/2010)

By Chris Harrington (chris.harrington@gmail.com)

Methodology
 For each year, looked at the wrestlers with the most matches (top 10, top 25, top 50) and examined statistics of how many of those performers have since passed away, cause of death and length of time between prominent status in WWF/WWE and death.

Dataset
 In total data on over 500 wrestlers was collected and analyzed.  Information about Wrestler’s deaths was summarized from Wikipedia, Gary Wills’ Deceased Wrestler List and Wrestling Observer newsletters.

Conclusions
Approximately 89% of the wrestlers who featured prominently* in the WWF/WWE between 1980 and 2010 are still alive.  (470 out of 529).

(*) In this context, “featured prominently” indicates that for a given year, they were one of the top fifty wrestlers with the most matches in the WWF/WWE that year.  This methodology does not take into account the role of managers (such as Elizabeth, Captain Lou Albano or Sherri Martel) unless they wrestled in a match.  Nor does it assign additional weighing to wrestlers who might have had headlining roles on Pay-Per-View matches but did not wrestle numerous times that year (Hulk Hogan in 2002, for instance).  Conversely, there are many low-ranking wrestlers (such as SD Jones in 1984) who were among the top wrestlers with the most matches that year.

Of the sixty wrestlers that have died on this list – here are some statistics:

17 wrestlers were under 40 years old  (28%) – 15 were prominent wrestlers
25 wrestlers were 40 to 49 years old (41%) – 22 were prominent wrestlers
5 wrestlers were 50 to 59 years old (8%) – 3 were prominent wrestlers
9 wrestlers were 60 to 69 years old (15%) – 8 were prominent wrestler
4 wrestlers were 70 years old or older when they died (7%) – 4 were prominent wrestlers

70% of the WWF/WWE wrestlers that have died passed away before they reached 50 years old.

Causes of deaths included:

52%: Heart Problems/Drug Overdoses (Louie Spicolli, Lance Cade, Rick McGraw, Test, Eddie Gilbert, Yokozuna, Brian Pillman, Umaga, Eddie Guerrero, Davey Boy Smith, Rick Rude, Big Bossman, Billy Travis, Curt Hennig, Brian “Crush” Adams, Road Warrior Hawk, Bam Bam Bigelow, Steve King, Andre the Giant, Hercules, Luna, Moondog Cujo, Sherri Martel, Dick Murdoch, Moondog Spot, Pez Whatley, Ray Stevens, Sapphire, Badnews Brown, Spoiler, Tony Altimore)

17%: Age/Disease/Illness (John Tenta, Big John Studd, Uncle Elmer, Buddy Rose, Bulldog Brower, Swede Hanson, Missing Link, Tor Kamata, Lou Albano, Baron Mikel Scicluna)

15%: Deaths not classified: Bertha Faye (possible drugs, possible suicide), Chris Candido (blood clot), Chris Duffy (seizure), Mike Bell (died in a rehab center), Dino Bravo (murdered), Steven Dunn (blood clot), Frankie Williams (unknown), SD Jones (stroke), Jerry Valiant (unknown).

10%: Suicides (Crash Holly, Kerry Von Erich, Chris Benoit, Chris Kanyon, Mike Awesome, Ludvig Borga)

7%: Accidents (Owen Hart, Adrian Adonis, Brady Boone, Junkyard Dog)

1980-1984

39 out of the top 50 wrestlers of 1980-1984 WWF are still alive
21 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 1980-1984 WWF are still alive
9 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 1980-1984 WWF are still alive

Of the 11 deaths among the top 50 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 14 years after 1984.
Among the 4 deaths of the top 25 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 15 years after 1984.
The one death of a top 10 wrestler (SD Jones) was 24 years after 1984 - Stroke.

The three wrestlers that would die within a decade of 1984 were Andre the Giant, Rick McGraw and Adrian Adonis.  (Also, Frankie Williams who had about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)

1985-1989

42 out of the top 51 wrestlers of 1985-1989 WWF are still alive
21 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 1985-1989 WWF are still alive
9 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 1985-1989 WWF are still alive

Of the 9 deaths among the top 51 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 10 years after 1989.
Among the 4 deaths of the top 25 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 10 years after 1989.
The one death of a top 10 wrestler (Junkyard Dog) was 9 years after 1989 - Auto Accident.

The five wrestlers that would die within a decade of 1989 were Junkyard Dog, Dino Bravo, Rick Rude, Andre the Giant and Big John Studd.  (Also, Adrian Adonis, Owen Hart, Rick McGraw and Brady Boone had at least about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)

1990-1994

39 out of the top 50 wrestlers of 1990-1994 WWF are still alive
20 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 1990-1994 WWF are still alive
8 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 1990-1994 WWF are still alive

Of the 11 deaths among the top 51 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 8.5 years after 1994.
Among the 4 deaths of the top 25 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 10 years after 1994.
The two deaths of top 10 wrestlers (John Tenta and Big Bossman) were on average 11 years after 1994 - Cancer and Heart.

The eight wrestlers that would die within a decade of 1994 were Big Bossman, Owen Hart, Mr Perfect, Davey Boy Smith, Yokozuna, Road Warrior Hawk, Kerry Von Erich and Hercules.  (Also, Dino Bravo and Rick Rude had at least about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)

1995-1999

46 out of the top 51 wrestlers of 1995-1999 WWF are still alive
23 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 1995-1999 WWF are still alive
8 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 1995-1999 WWF are still alive

Of the 5 deaths among the top 51 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 3.5 years after 1999.
Among the 2 deaths of the top 25 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 1.5 years after 1999.
The two deaths of top 10 wrestlers (Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith) were on average 1.5 years after 1999 - Accident and Heart/Drugs.

The five wrestlers that would die within a decade of 1999 were Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Road Warrior Hawk, Big Bossman and Chris Candido. (Also, Yokozuna, Crush, Test and Bam Bam Bigelow and Rick Rude had at least about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)

2000-2004

46 out of the top 50 wrestlers of 2000-2004 WWF are still alive
21 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 2000-2004 WWF are still alive
8 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 2000-2004 WWF are still alive

Of the 5 deaths among the top 51 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 2 years after 2004.
Among the 2 deaths of the top 25 wrestlers, those performers died an average of 2 years after 2004.
The two deaths of top 10 wrestlers (Chris Benoit and Test) were on average 4  years after 2004 - Suicide and Drugs.

The four wrestlers that would die within a decade of 2004 were Chris Benoit, Test, Eddie Guerrero and Crash Holly (died 2003).  (Also, Big Bossman, Lance Cade and Chris Kanyon had at least about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)

2005-2009

47 out of the top 50 wrestlers of 2005-2009 WWF are still alive
25 out of the top 25 wrestlers of 2005-2009 WWF are still alive
10 out of the top 10 wrestlers of 2005-2009 WWF are still alive

Of the 3 deaths among the top 50 wrestlers, those performers died in 2010 (Lance Cade-heart), 2009 (Umaga-heart) and 2007 (Chris Benoit-suicide).

The three wrestlers that would die between 2005 and 2010 within a decade of 2009 were Lance Cade, Umaga and Chris Benoit.  (Also, Eddie Guerrero had at least about a hundred matches during this timespan but would not be in the top 50 wrestlers.)


There was at least four thousand matches in 1985 WWF.

1985 WWF wrestlers who have died
The Junkyard Dog: 228 matches in WWF
Moondog Spot: 184 matches in WWF
SD Jones: 181 matches in WWF
Big John Studd: 169 matches in WWF
Rick McGraw: 151 matches in WWF
Andre the Giant: 128 matches in WWF
Adrian Adonis: 111 matches in WWF
Davey Boy Smith: 109 matches in WWF
Swede Hanson: 105 matches in WWF
the Spoiler: 92 matches in WWF
Uncle Elmer: 63 matches in WWF
Cousin Junior: 53 matches in WWF
Dick Murdoch: 40 matches in WWF
Buddy Rose: 30 matches in WWF
Dino Bravo: 21 matches in WWF
Hercules: 20 matches in WWF
Ted Grizzly: 18 matches in WWF
Jack Brisco: 17 matches in WWF
Tony Parisi: 14 matches in WWF
Capt. Lou Albano: 9 matches in WWF
Billy Red Lyons: 5 matches in WWF
Jos LeDuc: 5 matches in WWF
Jim Londos: 4 matches in WWF
Jerry Monti: 3 matches in WWF
Frankie Williams: 2 matches in WWF
Kerry Brown: 2 matches in WWF
Tom Rice: 1 match in WWF
Sailor White: 1 match in WWF
Sheik Ali: 1 match in WWF
Sky Low Low: 1 match in WWF
Steve King: 1 match in WWF
Chief War Eagle: 1 match in WWF

Of the 4099 matches that were reviewed, at least one participant has died in 1477 of the matches (36%).

1,231 matches have at least one deceased wrestler, 199 have two deceased wrestlers, 47 matches have three deceased wrestlers.

There are 159 matches where more than half of the participants have died including at least 100 where all of the participants have died (Adrian Adonis/Rick McGraw feud, Adrian Adonis/SD Jones feud, Adrian Adonis/Swede Hanson, Andre the Giant/Big John Studd feud, Big John Studd/Swede Hanson feud, Cousin Junior/Moondog Spot feud, Moondog Spot/Rick McGraw feud, The Spoiler/Rick McGraw feud and Uncle Elmer/Moondog Spot feud).

 

There was at least four thousand matches in WWF in 1990.

WWF/SWS wrestlers who have died
Mr. Perfect: 239 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2003 at age 44
The Big Bossman: 207 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2004 at age 41
Earthquake: 204 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2006 at age 42
Dino Bravo: 177 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1993 at age 44
Hercules: 174 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2004 at age 47
Buddy Rose: 149 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2009 at age 56
Rick Rude: 127 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1999 at age 40
Bad News Brown: 120 matches in 1990 WWF, died in at age
Demolition Crush: 114 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2007 at age 44
Kerry Von Erich: 106 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1993 at age 33
Pez Whatley: 95 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2005 at age 54
Road Warrior Hawk: 86 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2003 at age 45
Sapphire: 67 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1996 at age 61
Sensational Sherri: 64 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2007 at age 49
Davey Boy Smith: 60 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2002 at age 39
Andre the Giant: 46 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1993 at age 46
Brady Boone: 41 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1998 at age 40
Chris Duffy: 15 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2000 at age 35
Jerry Monti: 10 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1999 at age 59
Louie Spicolli: 7 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1998 at age 27
Scotty Williams: 4 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2007 at age 44
Mike Davis: 3 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2001 at age 46
Tom Burton: 2 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 2010 at age
Giant Baba: 1 match in 1990 WWF/SWS, died in 1999 at age 61
Jumbo Tsuruta: 1 match in 1990 WWF/SWS, died in 2000 at age 49
Shinya Hashimoto: 1 match in 1990 WWF/SWS, died in 2005 at age 40
Sonny Rogers: 1 matches in 1990 WWF, died in 1996 at age 49

Of the 3968 matches that were reviewed, at least one participant has died in 1730 of the matches (43.5%).

1,436 matches have at least one deceased wrestler, 272 have two deceased wrestlers, 21 matches have three deceased wrestlers (&) and one match has four deceased wrestlers (*).

There are 174 matches where more than half of the participants have died including 154 matches where all the participants have died (Earthquake vs Big Bossman feud, Kerry Von Erich vs Mr Perfect feud, Rick Rude vs Big Bossman feud, Sensational Sherri vs Sapphire feud, Bad News Brown vs Hercules, Road Warrior Hawk vs Demolition Crush, Jobbers such as Pez Whatley/Buddy Rose/Jerry Monti/Chris Duffy/Scotty Williams vs stars such as Davey Boy Smith/Hercules/Brady Boone as Battle Cat/Kerry Von Erich)


(&) Ultimate Warrior/Kerry Von Erich vs Rick Rude/Mr Perfect (13x), Tugboat/Bossman vs Dino Bravo/Earthquake (6x), Hogan/Bossman/Tugboat/Duggan vs Earthquake/Dino Bravo/Haku/Barbarian (1x) and Warrior/Hawk/Animal vs. Perfect/Smash/Crush (1x)

(*) Survivor Series 90 - Hartford, CT - Civic Center - November 22, 1990 (16,000; 13,000 paid)
WWF World Champion the Ultimate Warrior, WWF IC Champion Kerry Von Erich, & Road Warrior Animal & Road Warrior Hawk defeated Mr. Perfect (w/ Bobby Heenan) & Demolition Ax, Smash, & Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji) at 14:20

There was at least two thousand matches in WWF in 1995.

1995 WWF wrestlers who have died
Owen Hart: 166 matches in WWF
Davey Boy Smith: 160 matches in WWF
Bam Bam Bigelow: 111 matches in WWF
Yokozuna: 109 matches in WWF
Chris Candido: 103 matches in WWF
Louie Spicolli: 81 matches in WWF
Rhonda Singh: 53 matches in WWF
Mike Bell: 23 matches in WWF
Steven Dunn: 19 matches in WWF
Sonny Rogers: 8 matches in WWF
Chris Benoit: 3 matches in WWF
John Kronus: 1 match in WWF
Steve King: 1 matche in WWF
Johnny Grunge: 1 match in WWF
Rocco Rock: 1 match in WWF

Of the 2,249 matches that were reviewed, at least one participant has died in 676 of the matches (30%).

562 matches have at least one deceased wrestler, 87 have two deceased wrestlers, 27 matches have three deceased wrestlers.

There are 40 matches where more than half of the participants have died including at least dozen where all of the participants have died (Davey Boy/Bam Bam, Davey Boy/Owen Hart, Owen/Bam Bam, Chris Candido/Sonny Rogers, Skip/Louie Spicolli, Owen Hart/Chris Benoit).


There was at least two thousand matches in WWF in 2000.

2000 WWF wrestlers who have died
Crash Holly: 168 matches in WWF
Chris Benoit: 162 matches in WWF
Test: 148 matches in WWF
Eddie Guerrero: 122 matches in WWF
Big Bossman: 109 matches in WWF
Russ Haas: 11 matches in WWF
Steve Bradley: 8 matches in WWF
Fabulous Moolah: 4 matches in WWF
Mike Bell: 1 match in WWF
Victor the Bodyguard: 1 match in WWF
Lance Cade: 1 match in WWF

Of the 2,316 matches that were reviewed, at least one participant has died in 689 of the matches (30%).

645 matches have at least one deceased wrestler, 43 have two deceased wrestlers, one match has three deceased wrestlers (1/3/00 RAW -- The Big Bossman & Albert defeated Test, the Fabulous Moolah (w/ Harvey Wippleman), & Mae Young (w/ Mark Henry) in a handicap match at 1:41)

There are 22 matches where more than half of the participants have died including at least 19 where all of the participants have died (Benoit/Guerrero, Beniot/Test, Crash Holly/Big Bossman Feud, Test/Crash Holly, Eddie Guerrero/Crash Holly feud).


There was at least two thousand matches in WWE in 2005.

2005 WWE wrestlers who have died
Chris Benoit: 142 matches in WWE
Eddie Guerrero: 111 matches in WWE
Lance Cade: 52 matches in WWE
Sean Evans: 3 matches in WWE
Mike Awesome: 1 match in WWE

Of the 2,612 matches that were reviewed, at least one participant has died in 302 of the matches (11.5%).

295 matches have one deceased wrestler, 7 have two deceased wrestlers (all matches with Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero together).

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