On December 26, professional wrestler Jon Huber-AKA Brodie Lee-passed away at 41.
He died from a lung issue that sidelined him from in-ring competition in October. Before his passing, Hubert wrestled for All Elite Wrestling. He debuted for the promotion in March after spending seven years in World Wrestling Entertainment under the name Luke Harper.
Huber's colleagues and fans expressed their sadness over the passing of the beloved superstar on social media. Many recall him being a pleasant person and a devoted father and husband. Both AEW and WWE have released personal statements expressing sympathy to Huber's family, as well.
Brodie's death is a shocking loss to professional wrestling. He was finally coming into his own as a main event star before his life was cut short. Unfortunately, he isn't the sport's only star to lose his life under such tragic circumstances. Stories like Lee's date back to professional wrestling's beginnings, from the days of local territories to Vince's McMahon's global takeover.
Let's recall some other infamous pro wrestling tragedies and remember those we've lost.
The Von Erichs
The Von Erich Family
The Von Erich Family and World Class Championship Wrestling were synonymous with wrestling in Texas in the '70s and '80s. Fritz Von Erich and his sons were wrestling royalty in their home state. But the Von Erichs' infamy is also linked to tragedy. The deaths of five of six of the Von Erich children gave birth to what was known as "The Von Erich Curse."
Fritz's firstborn son, Jack, died at six before most of his other children were born. His other son David died of enteritis in Tokyo in 1984, while Mike, Chris, and Kerry committed suicide between 1987 and 1993. Fritz died of cancer in 1997. Kevin Von Erich is the only living sibling.
Bruiser Brody had a reputation of being tough both outside and inside the ring. He was one of the originators of the "hardcore" style in professional wrestling. The man born as Frank Goodish was very stringent when it came to his character's authenticity.
Before a match in Puerto Rico in July 1988, fellow wrestler Invader 1 (Jose Gonzalez) persuaded Brody into having a business conversation in the shower. There are multiple accounts of what led to the altercation, but Gonzalez stabbed Brody in the shower; Brody died that evening. Gonzalez was acquitted of murder after claiming self-defense.
Brian Pillman was ahead of his time. In WCW, under the name Flyin' Brian, he helped introduce a more acrobatic style that wasn't frequent in North American pro wrestling in the early '90s. He and future legend Steve Austin (then known as Stunning Steve Austin) formed the charismatic heel tag-team The Hollywood Blonds and showed fans that he was great on the mic, as well.
Pillman would eventually make his way to what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation in 1996. By the time he arrived, he wasn't the same in-ring performer he once was. But his creativity and ability to deliver promos gave WWF some of its most memorable moments during the genesis of its "Attitude Era."
Unfortunately, Pillman died in October of 1997 after suffering a heart attack. He was 35 years old.
The Hart Family is to professional wrestling what The Kennedys are to American politics. Both the immediate family and their in-laws are the wrestling industry's most acclaimed characters. Bret Hart is the family's biggest star, but many will say his baby brother, Owen, was the most talented.
Owen was scheduled to wrestle at the Over the Edge pay-per-view in 1999. At the time, Hart was wrestling as his bumbling superhero character, The Blue Blazer. Hart's entrance was supposed to see him lowered from the arena's ceiling and unhooking himself once he was close enough to land safely in the ring.
Faulty equipment and limited preparation for the stunt caused Hart to fall nearly 80 ft from the ceiling and landing on the top rope. Hart was rushed to a local medical facility but died from internal bleeding and blunt force trauma.
Intense. Dedicated. Professional. These are some of the words used to describe Chris Benoit. He was revered for his technical brilliance and grit as a performer. He has an impressive body of work that spans across various promotions and continents. However, Benoit experienced the majority of his success in WWF/E.
Chris Benoit fell into a deep depression after the death of wrestling legend Eddie Guerrero. Benoit and Guerrero were best friends, so his loss devastated Benoit. Many sensed a dramatic change in Benoit's demeanor.
On June 25, 2007, Fayetteville Police visited Benoit's home after WWE officials had requested a wellness check. Benoit had missed various events that weekend, and the company had grown concerned. Benoit's body and the bodies of his wife, Nancy, and seven-year-old son, Daniel, were discovered.
The wrestling world mourned the death of Chris and his family. Further investigation revealed that Benoit killed his family before taking his own life. WWE retracted any statement(s) celebrating Benoit's legacy and wiped any existence of Benoit's time in the company from its archives.
Pedro Aguayo Ramírez
Pedro Aguayo Ramirez
Pedro Aguayo Ramirez or, Pedro Aguayo Jr., was a world-renowned luchador. He was the son of El Perro Aguayo, a household name in Lucha libre. Both his and his father's contributions help lay the foundation for Mexican wrestlers.
On March 20, 2015, Aguayo would wrestle his final match. It was a tag team match with Lucha libre legend Rey Mysterio. In what appears to have been a freak accident, a dropkick from Mysterio fractured three vertebrae in his spine. The fractures caused Aguayo to go into cardiac arrest. Wrestlers and officials tried to revive Aguayo during the match.
Paramedics rushed to the hospital after the match, where he was pronounced dead.
Joanie "Chyna" Laurer
Joanie "Chyna" Laurer is a true professional wrestling pioneer. At a time when women's wrestling was an afterthought, Chyna proved she was just as, if not more, dominant than her male counterparts.
Billed as "The Ninth Wonder of the World," Chyna made history as the first (and only) woman to win a Royal Rumble match and the Intercontinental Title in the WWF. Her growing popularity made her a crossover star and inspiration to women around the world.
Sadly, an unsavory departure from the WWF and substance abuse sent Laurer into a downward spiral. She would wrestle for other wrestling promotions sporadically but became more known for reality TV show exploits and adult films. Laurer was also in a turbulent relationship with wrestler Sean Waltman aka X-Pac.
Laurer died on April 17, 2016, at age 46. Her cause of death was an overdose of alcohol and anxiety medication.
Any other pro wrestling tragedies we left out?
Let us know on Twitter @Popdust.
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