It’s no secret pro wrestling is an incredibly tough business which puts a ridiculous amount of physical and mental stress on those who make it their life work. All of their time and effort is spent on making memories for the fans that tune in week in and week out. All of the sacrifices (family, financial, etc) are paid off when wrestlers get that big moment, whether it’s a title reign, a win at WrestleMania, or induction into a Hall of Fame. For some wrestlers, this big moment never materializes and they come to a realization that all of their hard work may not have been worth it in the end. Often this is when we get to hear some real talk about how they either need to make a change or continue to grind.
Through the tough times, strong friendships are made and when a friend (or family member) passes away from the struggles of living the pro wrestling life, that’s where we also get some of the most disheartening and saddest comments of all-time.
Time waits for no man, so let’s get right to 15 quotes that will most definitely cause you to blame those tears on someone cutting onions.
15. Owen Hart Passes Away – Jim Ross
“I have the unfortunate responsibility to let everyone know that Owen Hart has died.” – Jim Ross
Scheduled to go up against The Godfather, at that time Owen Hart was wrestling as The Blue Blazer at Over the Edge in 1999. The initial plan was for Owen to repel from the rafters into the ring, which was a 70-foot drop. Early in the descent, Owen’s cable was disengaged very the safety vest that he wore, it had a quick release option, so he could get out of the vest once getting to the ring. After being taken to a hospital, about an hour later Jim Ross let the TV audience know Owen’s unfortunate fate, the live audience wouldn’t know until they got home.
“All that I can say about Owen Hart is that I hope that I can be, as good a man as him, so that I can see him again, someday.” – Jim Ross
The next night, WWE did a tribute for Owen, dedicating the entire show to his memory as wrestlers told stories throughout the show. Ross’s comment was a mix of being incredibly sad and sweet at the same time.
14. A Series Of Tragedies – Kevin Von Erich
“I used to have five brothers. Now I’m not even a brother.” – Kevin Von Erich
It’s tough not to use the word “cursed” when it comes to death and the Von Erich family. The oldest (Jack Jr.) died at the age of six when he was shocked unconscious by an exposed wire and drowned in a puddle. David passed away officially from an unconfirmed cause, but many within pro wrestling have said it was from a drug overdose.
Then a string of suicides followed as Mike overdosed on Placidyl and alcohol in 1987 after not being able to return to the ring once he was diagnosed with Toxic shock syndrome. Chris shot himself in the head in 1991, after not having much success in wrestling, partly due to his asthma medication, which led to losing muscle tone. The pressure of the family name may have been too much for him to bare, although in his suicide note he didn’t put any blame on the family. Kerry (aka Texas Tornado) shot himself in the chest in 1993, partly due the physical pain he endured from a motorcycle accident that eventually took his foot. His brothers’ deaths also weighed heavily on his mind, but the final straw was when drug related legal issues came up that would have sent him to prison, he opted not to go.
13. Friends Pass Away – Chris Jericho
“There’s a great picture in A Lions’ Tale of me, Dean, Eddie, Benoit, and Brian Hildebrand (my WCW gang) in 1998. There’s another one in Undisputed of the surviving four of us after Brian passed away. Now only Dean and I remain. Hopefully there will be another picture of the two of us in my next book.” – Chris Jericho
Brian started out as a manager in 1984, but work most notably as referee, Mark Curtis, in WCW during the mid 90s. He passed away in 1999 from stomach and bowel cancer. Chris Benoit hung himself after killing both his wife and son in June 2007. Benoit’s brain was studied and it was found that it was so damaged that it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, stemming from a number of concussions over his pro wrestling career. Even though he had a Hall of Fame career, WWE has not mentioned Benoit since 2007 and will never be inducted. We’ll get to Eddie’s passing in a bit.
12. A Classic Commentary Team – Bobby Heenan
“Only one thing’s missing, I wish Monsoon was here.” – Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Considered by most as the greatest manager in the history of pro-wrestling, Bobby Heenan was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2004. With his incredible manager career aside, Bobby was also a wizard of words at commentary, spending many years behind the table as a color commentator. While he worked with a number of people, his best chemistry came when he sat next to Hall of Famer, Gorilla Monsoon.
Playing up the lovable play-by-play role, Heenan was a constant needle in Gorilla’s side and he loved to swat Heenan any chance he got. The two worked so well together because they were best friends in real life, spending a ton of time even when the cameras weren’t on. After speaking for almost twenty-five minutes Heenan closed out his Hall of Fame speech giving thanks to a number of people and saying the only person missing was Monsoon, choking up as he spoke those words.
11. Wrestling Is Life – John Cena
“This is all I got.” – John Cena (pointing to the crowd as they chant “Cena Sucks”)
Now, on one had it might be tough to sympathize with Cena, who currently lives in a marble castle in Florida. It’s fair to say he’s sacrificed a lot to be at the top of the WWE for so long and it seems like he’s never home because they have him doing so much in and out of the ring. Even though Cena is crazy successful it’s forced him to divorced and not want to get married or have kids due to his crazy schedule.
The really sad part is what that phrase represents; this is the mentality that most wrestlers have and if things don’t work out in wrestling, they often don’t have anything else to fall back on. While someone like Cena would land on his feet, there’s a hundred other wrestlers out there who go back to working everyday jobs to just get by.
10. The Love Of Pro Wrestling – Eddie Guerrero
“More importantly, wrestling is my greatest release. It’s been such a blessing for me. I can step into the ring and let it all go- all my anger, all my frustration, all my pain. I honestly can’t describe what goes on in my head when I’m out there. People who don’t wrestle can’t possibly understand it. When I’m in the ring, I don’t feel any pain. I’m in another world out there. To me, wrestling is therapy. No matter how bad my personal situation is, when I step into the ring, all my troubles disappear. My baggage stays in the back where it belongs.” – Eddie Guerrero
Grinding through the world of wrestling for 18 years, Eddie finally reached the top of WWE with tons of fans and title reigns to his name. In 2005, at only 38, Eddie was pronounced dead after his nephew, Chavo Guerrero, found him unconscious in a hotel room. Even though he was clean at the time, past drinking and drug use were a contributing factor to Eddie passing away from arteriosclerosis heart disease (hardening of arteries and restriction of blood flow). His legacy still lives on today through fans and being regularly mentioned as many wrestler’s favorite wrestler.
9. Enough Is Enough – CM Punk
“It’s not fun; I have zero f****** passion for this. I’m f****** concussed, I’m f****** hurt, and all you care about is what segment I am and how soon I can get my f******* gear on and how soon I can pee in this f******* cup and I don’t want to f******* do it anymore.” – CM Punk
Wrestling for the last time with the WWE at the 2014 Royal Rumble, it took until November until Punk really let loose on what happened with his exit from the WWE. Citing health as his main reason for leaving WWE, Punk said he had a potentially fatal staph infection that was removed from an independent doctor due to WWE’s doctor not wanting to remove it, calling it a fatty tissue. Punk has not returned to wrestling in any capacity, but did just recently lose in his first MMA match at UFC 203.
8. Long Live Eddie Guerrero – Dean Malenko
“I don’t wanna be the guy that gets a call in the morning telling me that my friend just died in the hotel.” – Dean Malenko
Unfortunately for Dean, that’s exactly what happened when his longtime friend and colleague, Eddie Guerrero, passed away at 38. A sad reality in pro wrestling is how young so many have passed away, people like Test, Lance Cade, Mr. Perfect, Big Boss Man, Rick Rude, British Bulldog, Umaga, and Crash Holly all went way before their time.
Many of their deaths have been attributed to the mixing of prescription medication (most often painkillers) and alcohol, a lethal concoction that can bring down even the healthiest individuals. Dean spent much of the mid 90s into the early 2000s wrestling or teaming up with Eddie in ECW, WCW, and WWE. After bouncing from WCW, Dean showed up as part of The Radicalz, a stable that also included Eddie, Chris Benoit, and Perry Saturn.
7. A Cryptic Prediction – Roddy Piper
“I have one hip and I hurt all the time. But as long as these folks here say so, I will crawl down here on my hands and knees to give them one more memorable moment…Let’s be honest, I’m not gonna make it to 65.” – Roddy Piper
This is the mentality that plenty of older wrestlers have when it comes to wrestling, if people still want to see them, they will do whatever it takes to get in the ring and wrestle a match or just do one more bump. Piper’s prediction unfortunately came true as he passed away in 2015 at the age of 61, due to a heart attack by way of a pulmonary embolism. Piper continued to work in the wrestling business even in his later years because he said his pension couldn’t be accessed until he was 65 and he somehow knew that he wouldn’t ever see that money.
6. Acceptance Of A Hardcore Wrestler – Mick Foley
“I hope I caught these injuries in time; I give up the roller coasters, look off-camera when someone flashes a light bulb. Every once in a while when I have to walk down more than a couple of flights of stairs, I’ll say ‘What have I done to myself’ but I’m in pain, and apparently these things don’t get better. But this is stuff that I knew, as I was launching myself off ring aprons onto concrete, so you don’t often hear me complain” – Mick Foley
Foley is one of those wrestlers who literally gave his body to pro wrestling, everyone remembers his leap off the cell against Undertaker, but it was decades of punishing matches in Japan, ECW, WCW, and WWE that led to Foley’s pain today. Thanks to DDP Yoga, Foley has been really shedding the weight these days and is looking his best as Raw’s newest General Manager.
5. Henry Got Everyone – Mark Henry
“My little girl, Joanna, who cries when I leave home…. Baby I’m coming home!” – Mark Henry
To lighten the mood a bit we turn to that time Mark Henry donned that incredible salmon jacket, set his wrestling boots down on the stage, and joined John Cena in the ring to put on an incredible performance. With tears in his eyes almost from the onset, he shook (then rival) John Cena’s hand and fooled everyone with his faux retirement speech.
He gave thanks to everyone backstage, he gave props to John Cena (who initially was going to leave, but Henry ask him to stay, so he stood on the apron), and reminisced about much his career achievements. As he finished up, Cena came in to raise Henry’s hand, Henry quickly body slammed him to the mat and yelled out ”You think it’s that easy? I got a lot left in the tank!” For a few moments, we were all Henry’s puppets, an all-time classic WWE segment.
4. A Poignant Promo – Dean Ambrose
“I’m gonna die a very young death. But that’s fine, that’s cool, that’s not so bad. All my heroes are dead anyway so at least I’ll be in good company.” – Dean Ambrose
This quote came from Dean when he was known as Jon Moxley back in 2008 during his time in the indies. With a nihilistic attitude, his gimmick along with his natural talking abilities went over huge with crowds. He was so impressive that even the WWE couldn’t ignore Ambrose and brought him into the fold in 2011.
After working in development for a year and a half, Ambrose was called up to the main roster to form the Shield alongside Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, telling one of the best stories ever in wrestling. Going back to his quote, it’s not so much a sure thing he’ll die young, but the comment about his fallen heroes is probably true, many of the wrestlers today’s generation have looked up to have passed away.
3. See You Down The Road – Dusty Rhodes
“Happy trails to you, til we meet again.” – Dusty Rhodes
The context of this quote isn’t necessarily sad, it was used at a point when Dusty was still wrestling, probably when he was talking about another opponent. More recently, when Dusty passed away WWE put together a wonderful highlight reel of “The Dream” and used this quote in it, which definitely brought a few tears to fans around the world.
It’s one thing to be an amazing wrestler or manager, but Dusty was an absolute legend in the pro wrestling business. He booked promotions, helped produce segments, and probably most importantly trained many of the up and coming WWE Superstars we see today. Nearly everyone from NXT has said Dusty helped them in one way or another, he always had sound advice on how one simple tweak of their gimmick could send them on a successful path. While it’s depressing that Dusty is no longer around, it’s nice to know his memory will live on for decades to come in the WWE.
2. Hero’s Fallen Hero – Chris Hero
“The moments at ringside felt an eternity. Never, in my life, have I wanted the fighting spirit to jump into someone’s being more than I wanted tonight. The fans chanted Misawa, Misawa, Misawa. They wanted their Hero to get up so f****** bad. Just get up. Come on! You’re too tough for this. Too strong. I grabbed his boots and held onto them til they took him away.” – Chris Hero
Misawa passed away at the age of 46 in 2009 after receiving a cervical spinal cord injury during a match that caused cardiac arrest. While this was never confirmed as the family never released the cause of death, many felt that is what happened to the legendary wrestler. Chris Hero was wrestling at that event and stayed by his idol until he was taken away by paramedics. Hero was such a fan that he ran a storyline where he wore a weighted elbow pad that was said to be a gift given to him by Misawa. Hero worked in WWE’s development from 2011 until 2013 as Kassius Ohno but was let go due to lack of progress in their physical conditioning programs.
1. A Tough Tale – LuFisto
“Today, at 35 years old, I gave everything I had to wrestling. I sacrificed health, relationships, family and so much more. I did everything I could to be seen as a credible fighter and I wouldn’t say no to any spot. I wanted to prove people wrong and that I too, could do it. I was sick and tired to hear my step-father telling me that wrestling was not for a little fat girl like me and that I wouldn’t do anything good in life. I wanted to prove those workers who (the day of my first match as I was getting ready to cross the curtain) spat on me saying I was a piece of s*** and that I would quit within a year. I got injured but would still wrestle just so people would not call me a ‘p****’ and remind me that wrestling was not for women. Well today, after 18 years of hard work, sweat, lots of blood and tears, where all this got me? Nowhere.” – LuFisto
For many wrestling fans, they probably have no idea who LuFisto is, which kind of proves her point. Debuting in 1997, she has worked all over the world, including Shine and Shimmer Wrestling, but never for any of the bigger companies, including WWE. She sent a video to WWE in an attempt to get on their most recent Tough Enough show, but wasn’t one of the chosen contestants. While hardcore fans know and appreciate her work, being in the indy circuit for nearly two decades is an extremely tough row to hoe.