The wrestling world suffered an unexpected tragedy this past weekend, when on Saturday Perro Aguayo Jr. was tragically killed in a match due to injuries sustained during a spot with former WWE superstar Rey Mysterio. The cause of death, based on the autopsy report, was due to trauma to the neck and a cervical fracture. It is believed that this was as a result of a square dropkick to the back, delivered by Mysterio, and Aguayo's neck would hit the middle rope as Mysterio set up for his signature move, the 619. This isn't the first death or serious injury centred around wrestling, and in this article I am going to examine some of the other serious injuries and deaths that have occurred in wrestling.
The most famous death to occur in the ring to date is that of Owen Hart in May 1999. For those not familiar with the incident, Hart was meant to descend into the arena from the rafters in his then Blue Blazer gimmick. Unfortunately the safety rigging he was attached to failed, and Hart fell almost eighty feet to his death when his head hit the ring post. While many speculate that he died instantly, the official cause was later reported to be internal bleeding from a blunt force trauma. The show continued, much like in the case of the Aguayo Jr. incident, but this was the first time anything like this had occurred under WWE's watch. No one could have foreseen this coming, but it did raise questions about the safety of performers, and it was many years before another wrestler would come in from the rafters. Much has been said about this, so there is very little I can add to this, but it is an important example given WWE chose to continue their show, much like Triple A did with their event.
Moving away from the sombre subject of death, lets look at injuries that have occurred in the ring that could have resulted in death. One of the more memorable injuries occurred when Darren Drozdov suffered a serious neck injury during a match in October 1999 against D'Lo Brown. The spot involved a botched running powerbomb that resulted in Droz landing on his head, fracturing two discs in his neck. Initially, Droz lost the ability to move from his neck downward, but he has since at least regained the use of his upper body. However, the seriousness of the injury has left Droz without the ability to walk again, and images of Droz being stretchered out of the ring featured heavily in WWE's "Don't Try This At Home" vignettes. Another all too grim reminder that one mistake can very easily end your career. Luckily for Droz, he lived to tell the tale.
AJ styles wasn't the victim in my next example, but he was the man who caused the injuries to his fellow performers. The first injury occurred in March 2014 during a match in the UK between Styles and 'Lionheart' Adrian McCallum, after Styles hit his finishing manoeuvre the Styles Clash, breaking McCallum's neck in two places which has so far resulted in McCallum not returning to the ring almost a year later. McCallum wouldn't be the last victim to the Styles Clash, as former WWE superstar Yoshi Tatsu suffered a broken neck in November 2014 as a result of the same move. Styles would almost claim a third victim in November 2014, when the move went wrong on Japanese star Satoshi Kojima, but luckily no injury was suffered as a result of the error. This led to a fierce debate as to whether the move should be outlawed, much like the piledriver is in WWE, but Styles still currently uses the move. However, this situation once again serves as a reminder how easy it is for an injury to occur in the ring through the result of the tiniest error on one move.
The impact of what happened on Saturday will be felt for some time across the world of pro wrestling, and instead of being a time where the finger of blame is undoubtedly pointed this should serve as a reminder to fans and wrestlers from all around the world of the risks these brave men and women take every time they get in the ring to provide us with entertainment. Questions will of course be undoubtedly raised following this tragic incident, and an investigation into possible manslaughter is already under way in Aguayo Jr's death, but we need to all step back and remember that there's more to wrestling than just flippy moves, athleticism, and skill. It's also about protection of the performers, and remembering that our tomorrows are never guaranteed so we should really appreciate what we are seeing in the moment, and instead of giving these guys a hard time if something doesn't quite work that they are human beings too, and to do what they do on a daily basis takes courage, but ultimately comes with a risk of your career being over in an instant.
This weekend has been a dark and saddening time for wrestling fans all over the world. Lets hope another tragedy like the one that ended the life of Perro Aguayo Jr. doesn't happen again. RIP Perro.