TODAY WrestleMania 1991 Early Deaths 7-10 (Curt Mr. Perfect Hennig, Ray Big Boss Man Traylor, Brian Demolition Crush Adams, Sherri Sensational Sherri Martel Russell)
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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 fourth of a six-part series documents four of them: Curt Hennig, Ray Traylor, Brian Adams, and Sherri Russell.
At WrestleMania VII, Curt Hennig, who wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation as Mr. Perfect, lost by disqualification to the Big Boss Man.
Hennig, a second-generation wrestler, overdosed on cocaine in a Florida hotel room on February 13, 2003. He was 44.
The real name of the Big Boss Man was Ray Traylor. (Mike Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit, told me that notes Chris left behind indicated that his two best friends were Eddie Guerrero and Traylor.)
On September 22, 2004, Traylor died of a heart attack in Dallas. He was 41.
Brian Adams, under the name Crush, was part of the WWF tag team known as Demolition. At WrestleMania VII, Demolition lost to the team of Tenryu and Kitao.
Adams was a heavy steroid abuser. In 1995 he was arrested for purchasing steroids and owning an illegal stun gun. In 2003 he retired from the ring due to a spinal injury, after which he was addicted to painkillers. In the February 2007 raid on Internet gray-market dealer Signature Pharmacy, Adams turned up on the customer list.
On August 13, 2007, Brian Adams died in his Florida home from an overdose of prescription medications. He was 44.
At WrestleMania VII, Sherri Russell, Sensational Sherri, had the role of manager or second to Randy Macho Man” Savage. Prior to managing, she was a top wrestler under the name Sherri Martel.
On June 15, 2007, Sherri Russell died at her mothers home in Alabama. The cause was an overdose of oxycodone and other painkillers and prescription drugs. She was 49.
Ten days later Chris Benoit went on his double murder/suicide rampage in Georgia. During the federal prosecution of Dr. Phil Astin, Benoits personal physician, evidence emerged that Sherri was among many Astin patients from the ranks of pro wrestling. Last year Astin pleaded guilty to charges of over-prescribing; he is serving a ten-year sentence and also has been named in a civil wrongful-death suit filed by the family of Chris Benoits wife Nancy. Four of Astins wrestling patients are now dead: Sherri Russell, Nancy and Chris Benoit, and Michael Johnny Grunge Durham (who was found dead in his Georgia home in 2006, at age 39, from an overdose of muscle relaxers prescribed by Astin).
One of the reasons Sensational Sherri was working as the manager of Randy Macho Man Savage Poffo in 1991 was that Poffo was estranged from his wife Elizabeth Hulette, who had acted as his manager under the name The Lovely Elizabeth. Poffo and Hulette divorced the next year.
On May 1, 2003, Hulette was found dead in the Georgia home of another wrestler, Lex Luger. Hulette, who had mixed alcohol with many drugs, was 42.
Two weeks prior to Elizabeth’s death, Larry Lex Luger Pfohl had been arrested in a domestic dispute at their home. Two days after that incident, Pfohl was arrested for drunk driving while Elizabeth was in the car with him. And following her death and a search of the home, Pfohl was arrested and indicted on 14 counts of illegal drug possession; the drugs included both painkillers and steroids and growth hormone. After pleading guilty in 2005, Pfohl was fined and sentenced to probation. In 2007 he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed, and from which he has partially recovered.
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