Last spring, Vince McMahon appeared both on his own show, the World Wrestling Federation’s ‘RAW IS WAR’ on TNN, and on his competitor’s, World Championship Wrestling’s ‘MONDAY NITRO’ on TNT, and declared himself owner of both. And maybe the number of folding chairs thrown at wrestling matches will decrease now that maverick Extreme Championship Wrestling has itself folded. The wrestling wars of the 1990s have simmered down, but they left behind a body count.
Half a dozen active wrestlers and wrestling personalities died during the ratings war, mainly between the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling, as punishing road schedules, painkillers, and ever more fantastic stunts were offered to television audiences hungry for the spectacle of gladiators.
The action may be scripted, but the deaths are real. They rose as the stakes got higher.
“These things have happened over the past 15 or so years,” says Dave Meltzer, who runs the Wrestling Observer, a “sheet” of inside wrestling information, but “really escalated in the last three or four years.”
Brian Pillman was the first major post-Nitro casualty. He had wrestled on the first-ever Nitro match for WCW, and then, after an injury, spent a brief time in ECW to build momentum for his leap to the WWF, where his character wrestled with his own personal demons. Formerly a high-flying wrestler, Pillman suffered an ankle injury that forced him to change his style to straightforward brawling and his character to a loose cannon. Like many other wrestlers with nagging injuries, industry insiders say, he abused prescription painkillers.
On October 5, 1997, just before the PPV event Badd Blood, he was found dead in a hotel room in Bloomington, Minnesota, thanks to a heart attack brought on by heart disease and possibly complicated by prescription drugs. The WWF responded by hyping an interview with Pillman’s widow, Melanie Pillman, the next night on Raw.Everything’s Fake but the Deaths | The Village Voice
The most spectacular wrestling death in 1999 was that of Owen Hart of the WWF. While the WCW was well-known for repackaging old WWF wrestlers and concepts and selling them to new fans, the WWF also took a few jabs at its competition. The WCW often had its main event star Sting descend via cable from the rafters like a superhero. Once in the ring, he would clobber opponents with a baseball bat. The WWF, riffing on the storyline, dressed accomplished technical wrestler Owen Hart as the comical Blue Blazer and started sending him down from the rafters as well.
The joke soured on May 23, 1999, during a PPV event, when Hart fell from the rafters to the ring in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. The lights were down, so the audience did not see Hart fall, but they did watch him get carried backstage, where he died while the event was still under way. While online fans were alerted to Hart’s death immediately, the thousands of people watching the show live were not told of Hart’s backstage death, and the show went on. The next night, on Raw, a “memorial” episode featured heartfelt statements by wrestlers. The WWF also sent a busload of wrestlers and cameras to Hart’s funeral, and eventually sent a bundle to Hart’s family, which received a huge settlement, reportedly $18 million.
This article is from 2001 but I think it's very relevant to the rampant professional wrestling deaths that are alleged to have taken place. What I noticed with these deaths is that they coincide with Vince McMahon admitting in Federal Court back in 1993 during his WWF Steroids trial, that professional wrestling is scripted. What this did was deflate the appeal of wrestling. Once it was on record it was admitted as fake by a major wrestling promoter it was now official.
After this wrestling experienced a decline. Steroids were regulated and certain wrestlers had to stop taking steroids or were suspended for taking steroids. Wrestlers bodies weren't as big as the roided 1980s wrestlers. Look up how Hulk Hogan slimmed down after having to stop taking Steroids. Wrestlemania IX shows a slimmer Hulk Hogan than ever seen before or how Ultimate Warrior was rumored to be replaced because his stopping of steroids made his muscles smaller. That's what steroids do. You stop taking them and if you still lift weights, you half muscle definition but it's smaller than on roids.
I could go on about other wrestlers bodies suddenly getting smaller because there are tons of examples.
With the admission of wrestling being scripted and no more steroids to make wrestlers look Godlike, I think Vince McMahon and other wrestling promoters came up with faking deaths of wrestlers to bring a level of realness back to the "sport". Around the second half of the 1990s a lot of wrestlers started dying all of the sudden. Whether from drugs or other causes, there was a surge in wrestler deaths and it hasn't stopped since. So maybe these deaths are designed to bring interest back into a admitted scripted/fake wrestling.
If they can fake celebrity deaths they can certainly fake wrestler deaths. Also I think the fake deaths serve a masonic philosophical purpose. Aaron Franz talks about this on his Secret Societies and The Truth Movement Transistor Radio podcast episode.
The one death that stands out to me as the most media driven is the Owen Hart death. I highlight in the above article how Owen Hart's fall from the rafters wasn't seen by those in the arena and of course not by cameras because the lights in the arena went dim. I mean come on, that's a real easy way to pull off a magic trick.
Also why did this article have to say the deaths are real? Aren't they supposed to be? Are there any admitted faked deaths ever? Why the need to say they are real then? Or maybe they can be fake too since we are talking about a "sport" that revolves around scripting and fakery.