Wrestling world mourns loss of former stars
The wrestling world is in mourning after three former stars passed away on the same day.
Brian Christopher Lawler, 46, Nikolai Volkoff, 70, and Brickhouse Brown, 57, all passed away on Sunday.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) said it was “saddened” to hear Lawler and Volkoff had died, while the National Wrestling Alliance sent its “deepest condolences and sympathies”.
Lawler, who was the son of former wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler, was known for his tag team partnership with Scott Garland.
Their Too Cool duo saw them perform in the late 1990s and early 2000s in WWE under the aliases Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty.
An investigation is under way after Lawler, who was an inmate at the Hardeman County jail, was found in his cell on Saturday, said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Lawler was in custody on charges of driving under the influence, driving on a revoked licence and evading arrest.
The agency said officers performed CPR and Lawler was taken to a hospital where he died on Sunday.
US and Olympic wrestler Kurt Angle said it had been “a very sad day in the history of sports entertainment”.
Hulk Hogan was among other wrestling stars to pay tribute, thanking Lawler “for always stealing the show”.
Nikolai Volkoff was born Josip Peruzovic and in Memphis his WWE character was known for pretending to be a villainous Russian.
Amid the height of the Cold War in the 1980s, Volkoff antagonised American audiences by wearing all-red Soviet outfits, waving a Soviet flag and insisting that the crowds stand for the Russian national anthem and then loudly singing along.
The former wrestler, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, died at his Maryland home following a spell in hospital.
“As one of the greatest villains sports entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff’s infamous rendition of the Soviet national anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE universe as a superstar they truly loved to hate,” WWE said.
Volkoff faced off against heroic American wrestlers like Hulk Hogan.
He tag-teamed with the Iranian heel Iron Sheik, and together they won the first-ever Wrestlemania in 1985, waving Iranian and Soviet flags in the ring.
Brickhouse Brown was born Frederick Seawright in 1960 and was best known for his association with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
The former pro wrestler, who enjoyed most of his success in the 1980s and 1990s, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.
Debuting in 1982 in Texas, Brown worked for multiple promotions where he would feud with Terry Funk, Scott Steiner, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and others.
His death was confirmed in a Facebook post by former wrestler Luke Graham, whose on-stage brother Eddie Graham was Brown’s trainer.
“No false finishes ... no more swerves ... no more kickouts. After a hard fight ... he has left us,” Graham’s post read.
Wrestler Diamond Dallas Page was among others in the wrestling community to tweet calling Sunday a “super sad day for me and wrestling fans everywhere” following the three deaths.
Nikolai Volkoff played a Russian villain.