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WWE deaths: 3 professional wrestling superstars died this weekend, 2 at a tragically young age

WWE deaths: 3 professional wrestling superstars died this weekend, 2 at a tragically young age
Brian Lawler, Nikolai Volkoff and Brickhouse Brown

There are a lot more deaths in professional wrestling than there are in many other professions. This weekend, there were three deaths in the world of professional wrestling and only one of them was to an elderly retired superstar.

That death was the legendary Nikolai Volkoff, who passed away at the age of 70. The other two deaths were to former regional superstar Brickhouse Brown, aged 57, and Brian Lawler, aged 46.

Nikolai Volkoff died after a stint in the hospital for dehydration and other still yet unknown issues. The WWE mourned the loss of Volkoff, who entered their WWE Hall of Fame the same year as Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the Iron Sheik.

Volkoff was a massive heel in the 80s when he asked fans to rise and pay respect as he sang the Russian National Anthem before his matches. He was a one-time WWE tag team champion with the Iron Sheik.

Brickhouse Brown died after a battle with prostate cancer. He was only 57 and it was stage 2 cancer when discovered. However, Brown had no insurance and could not afford treatment to save his life. In his final days, the Cauliflower Club helped pay for his hospice stay.

Finally, Brian Lawler died while in jail for a DUI in Tennessee. Reports indicate that he attempted to hang himself in his jail cell and he died the following morning in a hospital.

The latter two deaths are a black eye against professional wrestling that has plagued the industry for years.

Eddie Guerrero died in 2005 at the age of 38 after battling drug addiction for years. He finally cleaned up and suffered a heart attack.

Chris Benoit died in 2007 at the age of 40 after taking the life of his wife and son before ending his own life. Research on his brain showed that he had the mental state of an Alzheimer’s patient due to constant head trauma at the time of this tragedy.

Andrew “Test” Martin died in 2009 from a drug overdose. All but one member of the legendary VonErich family of brothers died before reaching the age of 40.

Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, died of a drug overdose at age 47.

The case of Brickhouse Brown is even more tragic. He had no insurance, and that is a problem with many wrestlers — even those who compete in the WWE.

When Vader was diagnosed with heart problems, he had to continue to wrestle and appear at conventions because he had no money to survive or get treatment. Vader died earlier this year.

Professional wrestling is a tough sport and the time on the road and the bumps the men and women take destroys their bodies. When they fall ill or suffer serious injuries, they often have nothing to fall back on since they are all independent contractors.

In the case of Brickhouse Brown, he had nothing to do but take pain killers and wait for cancer to end his life. When it comes to Brian Lawler, it was the case of life on the road creating bad habits that he was never able to kick.

At least in the case of Nikolai Volkoff, he enjoyed a nice long life with a wife of 35 years and two daughters. Sadly, in wrestling, that is often the exception to the rule.

Shawn S. Lealos has been a freelance writer for 25 years, starting with magazines and newspapers before moving to the internet. He has been published... read more
Shawn S. Lealos

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