The 25 Saddest Moments in Wrestling History
The world of professional wrestling is intended to entertain and make sure everyone is having fun. With this in mind, things go wrong often in wrestling.
All of the moves are designed to not seriously hurt anyone, but they often do. Careers are short and the pain from injuries is long. In such a cutthroat business, people fade out almost every day without anyone really noticing.
For a truly sad moment to occur, the bond with the fans has to be strong enough to literally bring tears to the eyes of a fan that knows nothing about the personal lives of the superstars.
Raw emotional moments often make for the most unforgettable television moments. Without these sad moments, wrestling fans could not fully appreciate the status quo of entertainment supplied to them.
Grab a handkerchief and bear with me as we recap arguably some of the saddest moments of our lives, despite it not meaning anything to any of us directly.
Author's note: Before we even begin, know that the Montreal Screwjob is not in this list. It was a low point for the business but doesn't really constitute a sad moment, especially when compared to many real-life tragedies that will be in this list.
25) Hornswoggle Is Last Cruiserweight Champion
We can start with a nice curveball so we can all get used to this list for a minute. Hornswoggle's win of the Cruiserweight Championship seemed funny at first, but wasn't anything that fans were very proud to see.
Hornswoggle would hold the championship until it was retired, making him the last champion in the belt's illustrious history.
For all of the smaller guys who have held that title and become relevant because of it, it was a slap in the face of cruiserweights across the world.
I give all the credit in the world to Hornswoggle for making it to WWE and staying this long, but there is no way that he is happy about being the one to cease the existence of that championship.
24) Tommy Dreamer Leaves ECW
I have friends who had the honor of being in the building for this moment. With Tommy Dreamer's tenure in WWE coming to an end, Zack Ryder was given the honor of being the one to retire Dreamer on an episode of ECW.
It seemed that Dreamer had wrestled the last match of his career and had certainly wrestled for the last time in an ECW ring. It was emotional for him to part with those three letters that had defined his career so much.
We know now that Dreamer would go to TNA, but it would be the last match in an era of Dreamer and ECW that dated all the way back to 1992.
23) Psycho Sid Breaks Leg
At a WCW pay-per-view named Sin in January 2001, Psycho Sid was in a WCW Championship match when a bad injury would derail his wrestling career. WCW management apparently wanted the large Sid to expand his moveset with some aerial moves.
Sid would go to the second rope and do a big boot to Scott Steiner, but would land awkwardly on his left leg, breaking his tibia and fibula at the same time.
Sid would not wrestle for WCW again since it was sold months later to WWE and wouldn't wrestle anywhere again until 2004.
22) Mr. McMahon Fired
For many years, Vince McMahon was a public part of what made WWE so great. McMahon was very quick to want to fire people on-screen, as well as having a known trigger finger behind the scenes.
McMahon is now going into his late 60's and was looking to be written off television for a few years. Triple H finally put his father-in-law out of his misery by taking over for him almost two weeks ago.
It might not have been official, but it was representative of the changing of the guard in the company and it certainly did bring some moisture to Vince's eyes.
21) Smackdown Goes Live Sept. 13, 2001
The attacks of September 11, 2001 shocked all Americans and put our entire country in possible peril. Many companies, including professional sports, canceled events after the tragedies of that day. That morning was supposed to be the night for tapings of Smackdown.
Instead, a rare live episode of Smackdown aired two days after the tragedy, making it the first entertainment event to take place since the terrorism earlier that week. It was a happy night, but there were a lot of tears and even more American flags.
20) Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth Reunited
Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage were one of the great wrestler-manager duos in wrestling history. After a falling out, the two were split up until Savage lost at WrestleMania VII in a retirement match to The Ultimate Warrior.
Sensational Sherri beat down on the defeated Savage until Elizabeth came into the ring to save her man. The two would then embrace in a moment that is still one of the most bone-chilling moments in WrestleMania history.
It may not be sad, but it brought tears of joy to many people.
19) WCW Nitro's Final Episode
The night that WCW had their last episode was an emotional one. It was literally the end of an era for that company as nobody was certain what the future would hold for the company and those who ran it.
Many superstars that helped make WCW what it was would not transfer over to WWE from the purchase and certain champions were made to accommodate those changes.
18) Paul Heyman Parts with ECW
Paul Heyman was always a great wrestling mind. He latched onto ECW back when it was still Eastern Championship Wrestling before turning Eastern into Extreme.
Extreme Championship Wrestling used the extreme lifestyle to create a cult following and be a cutting-edge alternative to WCW and WWE. When ECW was bought up by WWE, it was a sad day for those who were fans of the extreme brand.
WWE paid a little tribute to the brand by including it in the Invasion storyline, but it hardly did ECW any justice. Years later, ECW would get the high-profile pay-per-view it always deserved, even if it did have WWE stars in it too.
With the success of that, ECW was poised to become its own brand with Heyman at the helm behind the scenes. It was an exciting chance for Heyman to bring his creation back to life.
However, WWE brass would step in and go against wishes of Heyman, forcing Heyman to leave the company and walk away from the brand he loved and made what it was.
17) Mick Foley Forced to Retire
Mick Foley had a fantastic WWE career, becoming a three-time world champion and being the first-ever Hardcore Champion. Foley and his multiple personas put on classic matches in a variety of venues, including Hell in a Cell.
It may be The Undertaker's playground, but it was Mankind who made it famous. Foley would add another chapter to the book at No Way Out 2000, facing Triple H inside Hell in a Cell for the WWF Championship. If Foley lost, which he did, Foley would have to retire.
A bloodied and beaten up Foley had been taken down once again and it seemed like it was for good. Linda McMahon would add Foley to the WWF Championship reign at WrestleMania 2000, losing in the match despite Linda being in his corner.
Foley would not wrestle for four more years. So much for retirement.
16) Droz Gets Paralyzed
Accidents do happen with certain moves. One of the more dangerous moves in wrestling is the powerbomb, which supplied this injury to Droz.
In a match with D-Lo Brown, Droz was slammed awkwardly to the canvas due to D-Lo slipping on a wet patch in the ring. Droz received immediate medical attention, which found that Droz fractured two discs in his neck and left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Even more than a decade later, Droz fights an uphill battle to try and regain feeling in his body.
15) Edge Suddenly Retires
This certainly shocked many wrestling fans this past year. After watching him defend his World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, Edge had to suddenly retire from wrestling or risk a fate that included a wheelchair.
Edge has gotten hurt in many ways, from his torn tendons in his legs to his broken neck, which is the main cause for his retirement. While he was getting up in age and likely didn't have much left in his career anyway, Edge went out on top.
Even still, it was hard to see Edge go and fans were almost as upset about it as Edge was.
14) Ric Flair Retires
The Nature Boy had been a world champion a record 16 times in his career, more than anyone else in history. When his retirement storyline began, we knew we were watching something special.
In a streak that lasted a few months, Flair made it to one more WrestleMania, finally losing and retiring at the hands of Shawn Michaels.
Of course, Flair didn't exactly stick to his retirement plan, nor to his loyalties for a company either.
13) Shawn Michaels Retires
Speaking of Shawn Michaels, it was his time not too long after to retire himself. Michaels also retired at a WrestleMania, but lost a match against The Undertaker.
Michaels got two great tries at it, but he could not defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Because of that, he was forced to retire.
Considering that an injury nearly ended his career that much earlier, Michaels had to feel good about the later run with WWE. The Heartbreak Kid was practically running on borrowed time already.
12) Gorilla Monsoon Dies
Be prepared, people. You are about to be bombarded with deaths of wrestling personalities. You have been warned.
Gorilla Monsoon's death in 1999 wasn't exactly unexpected since he was 62 years old at the time. Monsoon was still known by the public, however, making his death all the harder to deal with.
From commentating to wrestling and being an authority figure on and off the camera, Monsoon meant so much to WWE that his death crippled the staff of the company.
They now nickname the room right by the curtains of the stage the Gorilla Room in tribute. It was in that room that Monsoon would often sit in order to help the show move along.
11) Chris Candido Dies of Blood Clot
Many of you may not know much about Chris Candido's death, but it sure is sad. Candido is known to WWE fans as Skip, one half of The Bodydonnas. Candido would land in TNA Wrestling during its beginning days.
Candido wrestled in a steel cage match at Lockdown in 2005 and suffered a broken leg in the match. He had screws inserted into his leg, which he stated in his last appearance on television.
His last appearance was in the corner of The Naturals against America's Most Wanted for the NWA tag team titles, which The Naturals won thanks to Candido.
Candido suffered complications in surgery and developed a blood clot. Candido was rushed to a hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. Candido would die four days after the injury at Lockdown at the age of 33.
Because his last appearance was taped prior to his death, the celebration of Candido with The Naturals was followed with a shot of Candido with "In Memory" on it.
10) Randy Savage Passes Away
Randy Savage's death earlier this year was very difficult to swallow. He was just beginning to get back into a good place with WWE, having his likeness appear on WWE All-Stars, and a Hall of Fame berth looked to be in the cards in the coming years.
Savage died when he reportedly had a heart attack while behind the wheel and crashed near his home in Tampa, Fla. It was especially rough for me, who watched Savage as I was growing up, because I graduated college that morning.
Never would I have imagined "Pomp and Circumstance" meaning two completely different things on the same day.
9) Umaga's Death
Umaga's death was tragic because he was apparently about to return to WWE. A branch on the Samoan wrestling family tree, Umaga was doing a Hulkamania tour before his death, which occurred after him sustaining two heart attacks.
Umaga was only 36 years old upon his death in December 2009.
8) Chris Benoit's Double Murder-Suicide
We all know the story by now. Chris Benoit killed himself and murdered his wife and child in their Atlanta home. The only reason something was known to be wrong was because Benoit no-showed a pay-per-view match.
Many fans no longer like to talk about Benoit and WWE's treatment of the situation is still argued about with fans to this very day.
Benoit's end to his life has spurned on many debates about the business and has put a black eye on sports entertainment as a whole.
7) The Mysterious Death of Miss Elizabeth
Miss Elizabeth was beloved for her relationship with Randy Savage. However, not even love like theirs could last.
Elizabeth then began to date Lex Luger and fans were shocked to hear that she overdosed on pain pills and alcohol at Luger's house in 2003.
This death occurred right after Luger being arrested for striking Elizabeth in a domestic dispute. Luger was charged with the possession of the drugs and the true story of what took place is still a mystery to wrestling fans.
6) Bruiser Brody's Murder
Bruiser Brody was wrestling in Puerto Rico in 1988 and got into an argument with booker Jose Gonzalez. Audible screams were heard by the rest of the locker room.
Among them was WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas, who ran to the shower where the argument took place and allegedly saw Brody bleeding and Gonzalez holding a knife.
An ambulance did not arrive for 45 minutes and Brody bled to death. Despite witnesses in the trial, Gonzalez was found not guilty, citing self-defense.
5) Brian Pillman's Death
Brian Pillman was always a loose cannon. However, no wrestling fan expected to learn of Brian Pillman's death.
Pillman was expected to wrestle in the In Your House: Bad Blood pay-per-view in 1997, but it was announced that Pillman was found dead hours earlier in his hotel room.
Vince McMahon had to announce this to the public during the pre-show of the event.
4) Andre The Giant's Death
Andre the Giant was a famous wrestler who touched everyone as a pop culture figure. Andre died of a heart attack in 1993 after attending his father's funeral.
Andre was the reason that WWE created a Hall of Fame, and Andre was the first recipient of the honor.
3) The Von Erich Family Curse
One of the most famous families in wrestling history, the Von Erich's were wrestling's answer to the Kennedy's. Of the five brothers that wrestled, only one lived to see 35 years of age.
David died in 1984 due to gastroenteritis. Mike suffered an injury and contracted a virus during surgery. Depressed, Mike killed himself.
Kerry was a former World Champion that lost his foot in a motorcycle accident. He wrestled for a few more years but drug charges led him to kill himself.
Youngest brother Chris killed himself because he felt he could never be as good as his brothers were. All in all, the Von Erich brothers were a group of talented men who were also very troubled.
2) Eddie Guerrero Passes Away
Eddie Guerrero was known to have abused alcohol and drugs, but it was still shocking to hear that he died on Nov. 13, 2005, in his hotel room.
Guerrero was slated to be a world champion again in the coming weeks, but years of abuse caught up to Eddie and killed one of the greatest fan favorites of our generation.
1) Owen Hart Dies At Over The Edge
Owen Hart's death beats out all in terms of sadness. While others, like Test, Big Boss Man, Lou Albano, and many others are not on this list, nothing compares to watching Over The Edge in 1999 and finding out that Owen, dressed as The Blue Blazer, had an equipment malfunction and fell from the rafters to his death.
Owen landed on one of the turnbuckles with his chest hitting first. Owen was pronounced dead at the hospital and the world watched, powerless to help.