WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 4-6 (John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta, Michael ‘Road Warrior Hawk’ Hegstrand, Ray ‘Hercules’ Fernandez)

‘Muchnick Won’t Back Down. What Will Linda McMahon Do?’
January 5, 2010
Muchnick’s sportstalkNETWORK.com Interview in Podcast Form
January 6, 2010

Monday – Senate Candidate Linda McMahon Has No Good Answer to This Question

Tuesday – WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 1-3 (Dino Bravo, Kerry “Texas Tornado” Von Erich, Davey Boy “British Bulldog” Smith)

TODAY – 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 year’s flagship show of the company now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, died before their 50th birthdays. This third of a six-part series documents three of them: John Tenta, Michael Hegstrand, and Ray Fernandez.


At WrestleMania VII, at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on March 24, 1991, John Tenta, known as “Earthquake,” defeated Greg Valentine. The huge Canadian-born Tenta was, at one time, a rare Westerner who broke into sumo wrestling in Japan.

On June 7, 2006, Tenta died after a long bout with bladder cancer. Steroid abuse has been linked with kidney and liver diseases and certain kinds of cancer. I have no information on whether this was a factor in the death of John Tenta, who was 43.


With his partner Joe Laurinaitis, known as “Animal,” Michael Hegstrand, known as “Hawk,” formed the Road Warriors, a hugely popular tag team. When they joined WWF, Laurinaitis and Hegstrand were called the Legion of Doom. (Laurinaitis is the brother of another wrestler, John Laurinaitis, now WWE’s vice president in charge of talent.)

At WrestleMania VII, the Legion of Doom beat the team of Hercules and Paul Roma.

Hegstrand was beset with drug and alcohol problems; that steroids were among the drugs, there is no doubt. He had a heart condition, arrhythmia, that could cause his heartbeat to escalate alarmingly, as it did once when he was stricken on an airplane flight with other wrestlers.

On October 19, 2003, Michael Hegstrand died of a heart attack at his Florida home. He was 46.


Ray “Hercules” Fernandez, a member of the tag team the Legion of Doom defeated at WrestleMania VII, died in his home in Florida on March 6, 2004, of an apparent heart attack. A heavy steroid abuser, he was 47.

Irvin Muchnick




NEXT: WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 7-10 (Curt “Mr. Pefect” Hennig, Ray “Big Boss Man” Traylor, Brian “Demolition Crush” Adams, Sherri “Sensational Sherri Martel” Russell)

Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick