The Dead Wrestler Of The Week Archive

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Brian "Crush" Adams (1964-2007): He played so many archetypes of '90s wrestling mythology that he became legendary at none, moving from persona to persona without fully leaving the last behind. No mention of his previous lives was made. He was a man without a history, unstuck in time. READ »

The Undertaker (1965-): To take nothing away from Undertaker's sui generis legacy, it's probably a net positive that the most popular figure in wrestling — an industry defined as of late by real-life death — isn't so wholly defined by fake-life death. READ »


"Macho Man" Randy Savage (1952-2011): He was engaging even at his most reprehensible, which had everything to do with the unexpected note of pathos in his character, an oddly relatable paranoid streak: We the viewers were suspicious, too. READ »

Captain Lou Albano (1933-2009): He kicked open the doors for wrestling's erratic modern era, his dissociative personality spreading to his sport at large. In retrospect, it's paradoxical that a performer footed in the Golden Age of wrestling would incite its unraveling. READ »


"Ravishing" Rick Rude (1958-1999): Rude wasn't so much a heel who happened to be attractive as a concentrate of machismo and self-absorption, a Lothario for his own sake. READ »

Owen Hart (1965-1999): His death allowed us to see how indelicately we had been treating reality — this is as real as real can be here — how McMahon and the WWE and all its fans had become cynical and callous. READ »

Lance Cade (1981-2010): Because his death came in the midst of former WWE CEO Linda McMahon's bid for the Senate, and because it could be put to immediate political use, Lance Cade's fate has touched on a deeper symbolism: the failure of leadership. READ »

Road Warrior Hawk (1957-2003): The Road Warriors were antiheroes for a Marvelized audience that had acclimated itself to rooting for eccentric baddies. READ »


Extreme Championship Wrestling (1992-2001): ECW did away with a lot of the ironic distancing and comic frou-frou of a mainstream wrestling industry that had grown staid, hokey, and otherworldly, and instead reduced the sport to its essence: fighting. READ »

Junkyard Dog (1952-1998): Even with the chains, what Junkyard Dog was doing was a sort of inversion of the racial stereotype act. By playing up the antipathy inherent in racist sentiment, wrestling got the audience to cheer for JYD because he was black. READ »


Yokozuna (1966-2000): He was a grotesque, a caricature, and his career straddled an old-school wrestling world in which racial/ethnic stereotyping was the norm and a new era in which a new style of un-PC excess reigned. READ »

Chris Kanyon (1970-2010): One can hardly get past the headline of any of the multitude of Kanyon obits without being confronted with Kanyon's "idiosyncrasy" — which is to say, his apparent homosexuality. The irony is that Kanyon was never a particularly eccentric on-screen personality. READ »


The Ultimate Warrior (1959-?): The story of the Ultimate Warrior, whether or not you take his death as fact, is one of these metatextual games — it's basically Nabokov with muscles and facepaint. READ »

André the Giant (1946-1993): He was an icon of a different era, the last in a long line of real men — William Wallace, Vlad the Impaler, Davy Crockett, etc. — who became gods in the retelling of their tales. READ »


"The Big Boss Man" Ray Traylor (1963-2004): Ray Traylor was an average guy who achieved his place in the pantheon for being just that, if a little better. READ »

Miss Elizabeth (1960-2003): Above all, Miss Elizabeth wasn't a woman. She was a symbol — a signifier of ideal beauty, of the perfect woman. READ »


Dino Bravo (1948-1993): He was archetypal of an outmoded sort of bad-guy wrestler in a number of ways: the bleached hair, the weaselly managers, the my-buddy's-strong-dad physique. That he died in such a theatrically bad-guy sort of way was a lesson in wrestling's happy unreality. READ »

"Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig (1958-2003): He was the harbinger for a generation of jackassery, of smart-guy sarcasm and holier-than-thou snark. We are the Mr. Perfect generation. READ »


"Dr. Death" Steve Williams (1960-2009): Williams was frightening precisely because he didn't need to fool anybody — we knew that Williams really could kick anybody's ass. READ »

Ludvig Borga (1963-2010): Like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Borga was genetically engineered with the sole purpose of striking fear in the hearts of an American audience — but not so much fear that you ever really questioned the ending. READ »