Before the wellness of a WWE Superstar became a front and center issue, we lost far too many performers at young ages. In this article, we even include a plethora of Superstars that passed in their early 30s and one, still in his 20s. Concussions and drugs played a huge role in these wrestler deaths, though thankfully, the proper measures are being taken nowadays as the WWE has implemented strict policies in an attempt to ensure a wrestler’s well being. Like they say: better late than never.
In this article, we take a unique look at what these Superstars from the past could have been doing nowadays if such tragedies would not have struck. From serving as a backstage WWE road agent to even working in Hollywood, the possibilities are truly few and far between for these people we lost far too early. And remember, take this list with an open-mind, it’s only speculation after all.
Enjoy the article and like always, be sure to share it with a friend. You can also let us know what you think these wrestlers would be up to nowadays. So without further ado, here are 15 former WWE stars that passed away and where they would be now. We begin with a certain wrestler that perhaps might’ve been in the world of Hollywood today.
15. Test – Acting
The world of pro wrestling has lost a lot of wrestlers prematurely throughout the last couple of decades, however, when a former WWE star passes away in their early 30s it truly stings that much more.
For the Canadian at that point, he was actually transitioning out of pro wrestling and looking to make a switch into the world of entertainment. After working the indie scene and a run with TNA, Martin announced his official retirement and fought his last match in February of 2009. At the same point, he was also working on a television TV Movie, Medium Raw: The Night of the Wolf. Sadly, just a month after his final match Test passed away due to an accidental overdose. Had he still been with us today, we believe he’d be working in Hollywood and out of the pro wrestling field.
14. Lance Cade – Indie Scene
Trained by the great Shawn Michaels, the WWE got very excited when they first locked eyes with Lance Cade. He had all the in-ring tools to succeed along with the size and look, though ultimately, he was known for his Tag Team prowess more so than anything else.
Like Test, we lost Cade far too early as he passed away from an overdose even before he hit the age of 30, which is truly shocking. At that point, he was out of the WWE and attempting to resurface his brand on the indie scene. He was also spending lots of time in Japan at that point working alongside another former WWE star in Renee Dupree. He was still actively wrestling at the time of his death and we believe he’d be doing the same nowadays as he’d still be relatively young at the age of 37. Working for smaller indie promotions while still making a living was the likely path for Cade.
13. Umaga – New Japan
During his prime run with the WWE, Umaga was a force to reckoned with inside of the squared circle. He made his debut on WWE television in a Tag Team alongside the late Rosey, but he’d really step his game up as a solo act even winning the IC Championship. The WWE pushed him like he was a big deal and he deserved it, as he possessed both the size and skill of a true modern day heel. In other words, the guy wasn’t one dimensional and could move in the ring.
Sadly for Umaga, his WWE run came to an end after he refused to enter a rehab program, one that could have potentially added years to his life. Instead, he joined the indie circuit and took part in some high profile matches, even making a run-in during a Flair against Hogan bout. Shortly after that cameo, he passed away from a heart attack which was also linked to an overdose. Today, he’d be in his mid-40s and we believe he’d be closing off his career overseas in Japan, perhaps as an enforcer for the Bullet Club.
12. Curt Hennig – WWE Road Agent
When you look up the term “underrated” in the world of pro wrestling, a picture of Curt Hennig’s face should be there. Although Michaels and Bret Hart get all the credit for revolutionizing the business as smaller wrestlers that turned into credible acts, truth be told, Curt was doing that even before the two great Hall of Famers. He was truly a brilliant act, even when he returned to the company years later in 2002.
As a major player in the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell”, Curt was released by the company due to his involvement. Sadly, less than a year later, he passed away due to an acute cocaine intoxication. Without a doubt, if he was still with us today, his brilliance would be used behind the scenes with the WWE as a road agent. He would help the talent set up matches, something he did brilliantly throughout his career.
11. Big Bossman – Politics/Entrepreneur
A true heel in the wrestling business, Big Boss Man had quite the run spanning from the mid 80s all the way till the end in 2004 when he was competing overseas in Japan. At that point, Bossman was quietly setting up his life for the aftermath of his pro wrestling career. In the summer of 2004, he gave politics a try running for Commission Chairman of Paulding Country, Georgia. Along with his political involvement, he was also running his own company, RWT Enterprises, a storage company.
He’d be likely running down the same path nowadays at an older age, however, he sadly passed away in 2004 of a sudden heart attack. He was only 41 when found in his Georgia home. Bossman was recently immortalized in WWE history entering the HOF in 2016 as the company paid homage to his brilliant heel work from the 90s (in the WWE).
10. Brian Pillman – Consultant With Indie Promotion
Many call Dean Ambrose the modern day Brian Pillman which was one hell of a compliment. Pillman was truly brilliant on the microphone and his erratic behavior was perfect for the Attitude Era. His WWE involvement truly wasn’t long enough as he was just beginning to scratch the surface after signing a lucrative contract with the company. Pillman made history becoming the first signed wrestler to ink a guaranteed contract, which was a huge deal back in the day.
Set to face Dude Love at Bad Blood, Pillman never made the event and tragically passed away. He was found in his hotel room and the cause of death was ruled a sudden heart attack. Someone with such a brilliant wrestling mind and promo, we believe he’d be working with an indie company like ROH aiding the talent with promo-type work, similar to Dusty Rhodes’ involvement with the WWE. Speaking of Dusty Rhodes…
9. Dusty Rhodes – NXT Coach
When it came to a promo, there was no better man to teach the talent than the great Dusty Rhodes. Triple H knew that all too well and put the legendary iconic face as a part of the NXT brand. Rhodes had many duties down in developmental, serving as a mentor to the younger talents. Of course, his promo skills were the best part of it all; he was a brilliant teacher that helped most of the new talent you see today. Most importantly, his advice to the younger Superstars was always spot on.
For that reason, we believe that even in his 70s, Rhodes would still be in the same position in a part-time role nowadays. Though sadly, the legend passed away in the summer of 2015 due to stomach cancer. The news made negative headlines after fans were infuriated at how disrespectful the dispatcher was towards Rhodes’ wife when the phone call was made that Dusty had fallen ill. In any event, we leave that in the past and remember the brilliance he brought to the field, revolutionizing the business one promo at a time.
8. Chyna – Rehab
Following her WWE release, things went south for Chyna, so bad that she never got to recover from the demons she faced on a regular basis. Infusing her body with various substances, Chyna’s downward spiral continued with no end in sight. Even when she entered rehab, the former IC Champion would just continue to relapse.
Many were aware that things weren’t too well due to Chyna’s erratic, bipolar-like antics. Sadly, the absolute worst came to fruition when she passed away last year due to an accidental overdose. The autopsy would later reveal that Chyna infused her body with prescription drugs and alcohol. If she would still be with us today, we believe she still wouldn’t be a part of the WWE family, though we’re optimistic she could have gotten clean at a rehab facility with a little more time.
7. Chris Candido – Indie Events/Signings/Wrestling Conventions
Poor Chris Candido, the guy had all the tools to be someone special, though his career was ultimately overshadowed by Sunny and her wild antics. Candido worked for nearly every promotion spending time with ECW, WCW, WWE, New Japan and even TNA Wrestling during his final days.
His death was another tragic one on this list that occurred during his early 30s. Chris passed away due to surgical complications after a terrible tibia and fibula dislocation injury that took place with TNA. He suffered from pneumonia after the surgery and suddenly passed away.
In his mid 40s (if still with us today), we believe Candido’s in-ring career would be infrequent. Though, he’d continue to attend conventions and shoot interviews discussing the events that took place throughout his career.
6. Roddy Piper – WWE Ambassador
A brilliant heel whose work is still relevant for the younger talents to watch nowadays, Piper wasn’t the greatest in the ring but he oozed with charisma and was a true modern day heel back in the day taking on the most prominent babyfaces. Once his career was over, he joined the WWE on a “legends contract”, meaning he was pretty much a part of the company for life. Without a doubt, he’d be in the same role today if he was still with us.
His life was cut short in July of 2015 after he passed away in his sleep at the age of 61. His passing was due to heart complications caused by hypertension. Sadly, he passed away only a month after the great Dusty Rhodes as the company lost two major icons in the summer months of 2015. Piper himself admitted he was skeptical of reaching 65 due to his health.
5. Ultimate Warrior – WWE Ambassador
After a bitter departure from the WWE, Warrior was almost black-listed from the company due to his poor attitude. The WWE even went as far as to create a DVD that literally ripped the guy and his legacy. However, in typical WWE fashion, “never say never” and the Warrior was welcomed back into the WWE family in 2013. In 2014, he was inducted into the HOF, and he would appear on Raw the following night after Mania for the first time since 1996, if you can believe it. Seeing Warrior on good terms with the company was truly great, and there’s no doubt he’d still be joined at the hip with the company today.
4. Eddie Guerrero – WWE Road Agent
This one was one of the most heartbreaking deaths as Eddie sadly passed away before he hit his 40s. The cause of death was deemed a heart failure. As documented by many behind the scenes, Eddie was in rough shape but never willing to get help as he continued almost like a robot in the ring. He was falling apart physically out of the ring but inside the squared circle, he was still doing his thing. A mix of in-ring wear and tear, along with trying to stay physically fit out of the ring, caused his heart to totally give out.
If he was still with us, we believe Eddie’s brilliance would be used behind the scenes to set up matches with the WWE as a road agent. Just imagine the dream team of Eddie, Curt Hennig, Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson all working behind the scenes setting up matches… Man, would that be something else!
3. Macho Man – Retired
Before his sudden passing, Macho Man was enjoying the retired life away from the pro wrestling scene nearing his 60s. Things with the WWE remained a mystery as Macho Man content was few and far between. If he was still with us today, we believe things would generally be the same as Randy would be enjoying his retired life away from the spotlight while the WWE continued to do its own thing without the legendary Superstar.
Sadly, just a year after his new marriage to Barbara Payne, Savage passed away suffering a sudden heart attack while driving his Jeep into a tree. The cause of death was a heart attack, but pain killers and small amounts of alcohol also played a role. Rightfully so, Savage was immortalized by the WWE into the Hall of Fame. Though, we wish such measures were taken when he was still with us. RIP Macho Man.
2. Chris Benoit – WWE HOF/Training School
Benoit loved pro wrestling and that’s likely what caused his life to spiral out of control. With an emphasis on keeping things perfect both in and out of the ring, Benoit’s head and body completely gave out in his final days. Of course, we don’t need to remind anyone of the shocking incident that took place involving both Benoit and his family.
Had Chris gotten the proper help, there’s no doubt his career would have been immortalized forever in the WWE HOF. Along with that, we believe Benoit would still be in the business, likely running his own school similar to Lance Storm. He was a tremendous technician and arguably one of the greatest looking back during his time. Instead, you can’t blame the WWE for basically completely erasing his history altogether. There’s a lot of “what ifs?” when it comes to the legacy of Benoit.
1. Owen Hart – Former WWE Champion/ WWE HOF
At the age of 34, we lost Owen far too early after a freak accident in his portrayal of the Blue Blazer character. Instead of reliving that tragic event, let’s take a look at what his career could have possibly looked like.
Similar to Chris Jericho, we believe Owen could have been actively wrestling till his mid 40s. We believe Owen would have likely left the WWE eventually to resurface his brand elsewhere while returning later on as an upper-card talent chasing the WWE Title. Oozing with character and talent, Hart would eventually win the big one while recently riding off into the sunset and entering the WWE HOF as his brother Bret, would be the one to induct his tremendous career. Instead, somehow, due to disputes between Owen’s wife and the WWE, we still wait for such recognition. What a shame.
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