Wrestling is a dangerous sport, but there are still a tragic amount of wrestlers who have died in the ring.
Injury during matches are very common in professional wrestling, but death is a rare, but very real danger.
Whether they are horrific accidents, a culmination of injuries or a simple move gone wrong, there are many reasons why wrestlers have died during matches.
This list does not even include when wrestlers were attacked by fans, like when Roddy Piper was stabbed by a fan on the way to the ring.
On June 13th, 2009, Mitsuhiro Misawa teamed with Go Shiozaki against GHC Tag Team Champions Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith. The match was going well, with the 46 year old Misawa performing well, as always.
However, at an undocumented moment in the match, disaster struck. Saito hit Misawa with a simple belly-to-back suplex, but after the impact, Misawa did not get up.
The Japanese wrestling icon did not move, remaining motionless as the fans and wrestlers grew concerned.
The fans grew restless, worried about their hero. Chants of “Mi-saw-wa!” rang out in the arena, but it was soon replaced by frantic cheering, begging for him to get up.
Misuharu Misawa died from a cervical spinal cord injury that caused cardiac arrest, according to police speculation and a report from Dave Meltzer. He was just 47-year-old.
Perro 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.
“Iron Mike” DiBiase
On 2 July 1969 in Lubbock, Texas, United States, “Iron” Mike DiBiase died during a wrestling match, becoming one of the first high-profile deaths in wrestling.
He was the adoptive father of professional wrestler “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, and an early star of professional wrestling in the 1960s.
DiBiase died in the ring on July 2, 1969, in Lubbock, Texas, following a match with Man Mountain Mike as the result of a fatal heart attack.
Harley Race performed CPR on DiBiase and then rode in the ambulance with him. DiBiase was known to have high cholesterol, which was the cause of the heart attack.
Plum 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.
While it was only in the entrance for his last match in the WWE, Owen Hart died in the ring before he final match on May 23, 1999
WWE changed Hart’s harness to a quick-release harness – used for sailboats, and only built to withstand 40kg of weight – for his entrance as “The Blue Blazer”.
The harness snapped in midair, causing Owen Hart to fall 70 feet to his death, landing on the turnbuckle in the ring.
As Owen Hart fell, he landed chest first on the turnbuckle, in front of a confused and horrified live crowd.
It took a while for WWE to convince them this was real, and not part of an angle. Jim Ross then took to commentary, moments after finding out about his demise, to announce the death of Owen Hart.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.