10 Tragic Wrestlers Who Died Way Too Young (Under-40)

Hamish Woodward

The professional wrestling world is one that has seen it’s fair share of wrestlers dying young.

It is almost a cliché at this point, that the hard road life will eventually take its toll on a number of young stars.

Whether it be the wear-and-tear of wrestling each night, an addiction to drugs and alcohol, or something out of their control entirely, there are untold reasons why some wrestlers die young.

So many wrestlers have died way too young, many before they even turned 30.

This list of wrestlers who died young include WWE Hall of Famers, former WWE Champions, AEW stars and some of the most influential wrestlers to ever grace the ring.

Umaga

Umaga Hall of Fame

WWE Legend Umaga passed away in late 2009 after being released by WWE due to drug issues.

Umaga was found in his home unresponsive and with blood coming from his nose on December 4th, 2009.

The former WWE Intercontinental Champion was rushed to hospital, but died later that day after multiple heart attacks. He was only 36 years old.

Umaga died from a combination of acute toxicity, heart disease, and a failed liver. The acute toxicity, it turns out, was from hydrocodone (a painkiller), carisoprodol (a muscle relaxer), and diazepam (an anxiety medication). The autopsy also showed that he had heart disease (hypertensive cardiovascular disease) and a failed liver.

Lance Cade

Former World Tag Team Champion was trained by Shawn Michaels and paired with JBL on WWE TV, so seemed to have a huge future in the company.

However, he died at the age of just 29 in 2010, two years after being fired after suffering a seizure on a plane.

Lance Cade died on August 13, 2010 in San Antonio Texas. He suffered with heart failure, and left being a career unfulfilled, with an incredible potential that was never realized.

Bray Wyatt

Former WWE Champion Bray Wyatt died on August 24th, 2023, in one of the most shocking wrestler deaths ever.

He was only 36-years-old at the time of his death. The former WWE Champion hadn’t wrestled since the Royal Rumble this year, and was removed from WrestleMania due to illness.

Bray Wyatt died of a heart attack, caused by complications from the COVID virus, as reported by Sean Ross Sapp.

Brodie Lee

One of the most shocking wrestling deaths ever was when Brodie Lee passed away while in AEW.

He died on Boxing Day 2020, just a few months after wrestling his last match against Cody Rhodes on AEW Dynamite.

Brodie Lee died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, in which the lungs become scarred and breathing becomes increasingly difficult, on December 26, 2020.

The illness causes the lungs to become scarred and over time stiffens the lungs themselves – this makes breathing harder and eventually causes them to become so damaged they cease to function.

British Bulldog

Despite angling for a WWE return and teaming with his son on the indies, British Bulldog (aka Davey Boy Smith) died aged just 39.

He died on May 18th 2002, following two matches alongside his son the week prior.

The cause of death was a heart attack, which was caused by his enlarged heart from the years of drug and steroid abuse (similar to Eddie Guerrero’s death)

Bulldog was meant to be returning to the WWE, getting in great shape before sadly dying an early death.

Plum Mariko

lum Mariko was the first pro wrestler to die in the ring in Japan, in Hiroshima on August 16th, 1997.

She was hit by a Liger Bomb during a tag team match, and was supposed to kick out before the three count.

However, she didn’t. Due to an abscess on her brain, stemming from a culmination of concussions suffered over a long and dangerous career.

She was only 29-years-old. Eddie Kingston paid tribute to Plum Mariko, using her Stretch Plum to force Chris Jericho to tap out at AEW Revolution 2022.

Owen Hart

One of the most horrific early deaths in pro wrestling was the death of Owen Hart.

The younger brother of Bret Hart was killed during a WWE PPV, with his harness snapping as he descended from the stage to the ring, fifty feet in the air.

He plummeted to the ring, landing chest first onto the turnbuckle, dying soon after. He was only 34-years-old, and his death sent shockwaves across the wrestling world.

His widow, Dr Martha Hart, refused to allow Owen Hart to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, refusing to allow WWE to profit off her husband because it was their negligence that killed him.

Perry Aguayo Jr

A freak accident happened on March 20, 2015 when Perro Aguayo Jr. was killed in the ring, while being set up for the 619 by Rey Mysterio.

During a AAA show, a routine dropkick by Mysterio caused Perro Aguayo Jr.’s death.

Aguayo died from a cervical spine trauma caused by whiplash from the dropkick, although it is a such a basic move that is performed multiple times per match that Rey Mysterio can’t be blamed for his death.

This was similar to Misawa’s death, who also had a build up of spinal injuries that eventually led to his death in the ring during a wrestling match.

Test

Just two years after wrestling for both WWE and TNA, Test (aka Andrew Martin) passed away unexpectedly.

Despite being a huge star of the Attitude Era, Test was just 33-years-old at the time of his death – one of the youngest wrestlers to die during this era.

Martin’s death was caused by an accidental overdose of the prescription pain medication oxycodone.

He had previously sought help from the WWE for his painkiller addiction, spending time in Rehab prior to his death.

Brian Pillman

Despite being only 35-years-old, Brian Pillman died just days before a huge pay-per-view bout was scheduled to take place.

Brian Pillman was meant to face off with Dude Love at the WWF pay-per-view In Your House 18: Badd Blood the next night.

Sadly, he was discovered dead in his hotel. He died from the same heart defect that killed his father, and passed away just one day after Brian Pillman’s last match, aged 35.

Eddie Guerrero

On November 13 2005, Eddie Guerrero was found in an unconscious state at the Marriott Hotel City Center in Minneapolis. He was discovered by Chavo Guerrero, his nephew who was raised like a brother during the pairs’ childhoods, growing up in Texas.

He was reportedly alive, but barely clinging to life when Chavo discovered him and called an ambulance to try and save him.

Eddie Guerrero was pronounced dead at the scene when the ambulance arrived. He died aged 38, with the autopsy revealing he died due to died as a result of acute heart failure due to underlying atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

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