What better way to say goodbye to the year 2010 than to count down the 10 biggest stories of the year in professional wrestling?
This 10-part series is designed to do exactly that, and each installment will be dedicated to the stories that fueled the very Internet fodder that makes the dirt-sheet media world go round.
No. 7: Former WWE Wrestler Lance Cade Dies at Age 29
If professional wrestling isn't the most dangerous field of entertainment in the world, it certainly should be in the discussion. What makes pro wrestling so dangerous, is the fact that it is viewed as an outlandish, cartoonish industry, parading under the guise of being a fake sport.
Any real problems are erroneously dismissed as incidental. Few in a position to make the necessary changes, to an industry that is nothing short of a life hazard, dare to take any particular component of pro wrestling seriously.
Because none of it's real.
But the death of Lance Cade (real name Lance McNaught) in August 2010, was yet another head-shaking reminder of the adverse effect that professional wrestling can take on a real human life, despite being a 'work.'
Cade was a promising young superstar. He had the look, charisma and talking ability necessary to thrive under the effervescent WWE spotlight.
Debuting alongside tag team partner Trevor Murdoch, his pudgy, less attractive counterpart, Cade was primed to be the breakout superstar of the Cade & Murdoch tag team.
Following the sudden split of Cade and Murdoch, it wasn't long before Cade was booked to be aligned with Chris Jericho during the embryonic stages of Jericho's instantly classic feud with Shawn Michaels of 2008.
Cade was put in an optimal position for future success with his involvement in this high-profile feud.
However, Cade's promising positioning was cut short in October 2008 when he was released from the WWE after having a seizure on an airplane while on tour with the company.
The episode was infamously described by Jim Ross as Cade making a "major-league mistake while utilizing bad judgment."
The incident was linked to the abuse of an assortment of pills, including pain medication, which has become one of the perceived necessary evils that many pro wrestlers feel they cannot do without in order to cope with the demands of the often tumultuous pro wrestling lifestyle.
Cade's seizure would serve as a sad illustration of the very real problems that had plagued his wrestling career, and later his life. The episode was not only an illustration of drug abuse problems that ultimately took the life of Cade, but it was also a disturbing microcosm of elements of the pro wrestling lifestyle that are too often overlooked.
Cade would be hired back by the company, only for his problems to resurface to the point where he checked himself into rehab. Amidst all of his struggles with a destructive potpourri of pills, and apparent steroid abuse, Cade claimed to have never failed a WWE wellness test.
Cade was released by WWE for a third and final time in April 2010 after spending months in the WWE's developmental territory of Florida Championship Wrestling.
The curious timing of the release, especially in hindsight, was indicative of the WWE possibly washing its hands of a troublesome star, ignoring obvious cries for help while former WWE CEO Linda McMahon was in the thick of a Senate race out in Connecticut.
In fact, the subsequent death of Cade just four months later, described by the medical examiner in San Antonio as an accidental ingestion of multiple drugs leading to an enlarged heart, directly affected McMahon's Senate run as she continued to fight off the pro wrestling skeletons plaguing her campaign by trying to stuff them in a closet.
When asked about the death of Cade, and how it served as yet another untimely death in pro wrestling, Senate-hopeful McMahon combated the poignant question with the ill-advised turned infamous quote, "I might have met him once."
The otherwise brief quote was a simple demonstration of the holes in the logic involved with WWE's ongoing wellness initiative. WWE remains primarily concerned with its particular involvement with talent at the time of the talent's death as opposed to what the company could have done to prevent such tragedies in the first place.
What is the most suitable solution to the issue of wrestler mortality in the WWE?
In its half-assed attempt at an obituary following the death of a wrestler no longer employed with the company, it is WWE protocol to make mention of a deceased wrestlers' time of employment with the company.
Such a borderline tasteless, yet somewhat understandable, caveat of WWE.com's reporting on wrestler deaths is the WWE passive aggressively stating that they are not to blame for these wrestlers dying as they severed ties with them prior to their passing.
While WWE cannot be held solely responsible for the behavior of grown men and women who they employ, and while the company has made respectable strides in the field of health and wellness over the years, the issue of wrestler mortality is still a glaring problem in the rubber-band industry of professional wrestling that never seems to be phased by issues that would be damning for any major sport.
The passing of Cade in 2010 was another depressing reminder of pro wrestling's many unresolved issues. The death was untimely for both Cade and WWE. Untimely for Cade, because he was just 29 years of age, and untimely for WWE because it occurred during the critical stages of McMahon's Senate run.
Cade's death not only intensified issues directly related to the Connecticut Senate race of 2010, but it was a story in and of itself that was the most notable of multiple wrestlers who passed in 2010 including Luna (Gertrude) Vachon, who died of a similarly fatal cocktail of drugs.
Top Ten of 2010
7. Lance Cade Dies of Heart Failure at Age 29