TODAY WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 1-3 (Dino Bravo, Kerry Texas Tornado Von Erich, Davey Boy British Bulldog Smith)
Wednesday WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 4-6 (John EarthquakeTenta, Michael Road Warrior Hawk Hegstrand, Ray Hercules Fernandez)
Thursday WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 7-10 (Curt Mr. Perfect Hennig, Ray Big Boss Man Traylor, Brian Demolition Crush Adams, Sherri Sensational Sherri Martel Russell)
Friday Facsimile of WWE Talent Contract
Saturday Two Words: Public Relations Vince McMahon on Why WWE Now Underwrites Drug Rehab for Ex-Wrestlers
An incredible ten performers at the 1991 WrestleMania, the years flagship show of the company now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, died before their 50th birthdays. This second of a six-part series documents three of them: Dino Bravo, Kerry Von Erich, and Davey Boy Smith.
At WrestleMania VII, at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on March 24, 1991, Dino Bravo lost a preliminary match to Kerry Von Erich.
On March 11, 1993, Bravo (real name Adolfo Bresciano) was murdered in a hail of bullets, gangland-style, at his home in Quebec. Bravo had run afoul of the mob for his role in a cigarette-smuggling ring. He was 44.
I must say that Vince and Linda McMahon do not deserve to be on the hook for this one.
Bravos WrestleMania opponent, Kerry Von Erich (real name Kerry Adkisson), was a walking advertisement of wrestling dysfunction. He was the most popular of the wrestling sons of Dallas wrestler-promoter Fritz Von Erich. One son died suddenly and mysteriously in 1984, probably from a prescription drug reaction, in his Tokyo hotel room at the start of a Japanese tour. Kerry was the third of three other brothers who would commit suicide over the next nine years.
(My 1988 Penthouse magazine article, Born-Again Bashing with the Von Erichs, was selected for the anthology Best Magazine Articles: 1988 and included in my 2007 book Wrestling Babylon.)
After a 1986 motorcycle accident, Kerry Von Erich performed with an amputated foot a condition he hid by wearing wrestling boots even when he was showering.
In February 1992 federal drug agents, acting in concert with local cops, raided the dressing room before a World Wrestling Federation show in St. Louis. No drugs were uncovered in wrestlers bags, largely because word of the raid leaked ahead of time. In all likelihood, the agents were acting on a botched tip targeting Von Erich, who had been sent to drug rehab days earlier. Von Erich soon was arrested in Texas on two felony counts of attempting to use forged prescriptions.
On February 17, 1993,Von Erich was indicted on a new drug charge. The next day he drove to his fathers ranch, borrowed a .44 caliber gun there, and fatally shot himself in the chest. Kerry Von Erich was 33.
Davey Boy Smith, along with his cousin Tom Dynamite Kid Billington, formed the legendary tag team the British Bulldogs. Billington, one of the most electrifying performers in wrestling history, retired young due to crippling ring injuries, and now lives in a wheelchair, on the dole, back in England.
Smith who married and divorced the youngest sister of Canadian wrestling star Bret Hart, and later lived with the estranged wife of Harts older brother defeated The Warlord at WrestleMania VII.
On May 18, 2002, Davey Boy Smith, a heavy steroid abuser, died of a heart attack in British Columbia. He was 39.
NEXT: WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 4-6 (John EarthquakeTenta, Michael Road Warrior Hawk Hegstrand, Ray Hercules Fernandez)