Former WCW star Brad Armstrong's death on Thursday morning marks a trend in the wrestling world, and it is one that cannot, and should not, be swept under the mat.
As WWE.com reported on Thursday, Armstrong, 51, was found unresponsive at his home in the morning. He was recently seen for an "undisclosed medical concern" by doctors.
Armstrong, the son of historic wrestler "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, won the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship over Scotty Flamingo (later Raven) in 1992, as well as the WCW World Six-Man Tag-Team title with Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin in 1991.
As Eric Cohen of About.com points out, there have been a staggering amount of deaths before the age of 65 in the wrestling community since WrestleMania's first year of operation in 1985. If the same thing had happened in virtually any other sport on the planet, there would be much more investigation about the sport in an effort to curb the overwhelming amount of fatalities.
Of course, you can't blame all of this on the sport itself. Deaths by drugs or diseases can't be generally tied to wrestling.
One thing's for sure, though: There is a problem.
One wonders how many more deaths it will take before more precautions are taken in the WWE and beyond. Also, with glory so fleeting in the wrestling world, how many more deaths will it take before we start examining how we treat wrestlers who have since retired?
Armstrong was not just another number, folks. He was a human being. His bloodline spotlights his death, but it wouldn't have mattered if he never won a match in wrestling. This is a person we are talking about—a person whose life was tragically cut short.
In 1996 and 1997, Armstrong weathered the storm through a stretch of losses. He called it "The Armstrong Curse" at the time.
But what happened to Armstrong on Thursday morning had nothing to do with a curse or some other fantastical phenomenon. This was real life, and these tragedies have happened far too often in the wrestling community.
At some point, the participants and the organizations of wrestling need to examine themselves, find out what is happening to the sport they love and make the necessary changes. This simply cannot go on for any longer.