WWE can be strange about which deceased wrestlers they’re willing to honor on TV. The fact that they don’t mention everyone who has gone on to that big wrestling ring in the sky is a bit bizarre.
Most recently, fans wondered how the company would approach the death of the legendary wrestler Jimmy Snuka. While he was inducted into their Hall of Fame, and was a major player in the WWF before the WrestleMania era, in 2015 he was charged with third-degree murder of the 1983 death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino. Less than two weeks before he passed away he was deemed not mentally fit to stand trial.
The story made national news. That gave WWE a PR nightmare on how to address his passing on-air.
Due to the company's history of not mentioning some wrestlers on TV after their deaths, it wouldn't have been out of character for them to do the same with Snuka. After all, they had released him from his Legends contract after his arrest and scrubbed his Hall of Fame page from their website. However, they did the exact opposite and honored him with a three minute video on Raw.
Many other wrestlers have been outright ignored, and their scandals (if they had any) didn't approach anything resembling Snuka's. It was a bizarre move on Vince McMahon's part.
It seems that it largely comes down to Vince not wanting to shine a spotlight on so many people in the business dying at a young age. However, it’s not always age that keeps someone away from being acknowledged on-air. Politics come into play too. Sometimes characters that played an important part in the company’s narrative don't receive any form of final farewell due to a backstage incident or two, and it feels a bit heartless.
Of course, there have also been tremendous displays of respect over the years that brought fans to tears. The promotion did an admirable job in honoring the legacies of Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero and others. It would be nice if every performer who spent a significant amount of time in the company was given at least a passing mention on TV after their death.
As Rust Cohle from True Detective said "Life's barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you're good at."
Sadly, I can't solve a murder like Rust...or change a tire, or even tie a tie. But I do know all the lyrics to Hulk Hogan's "Real American" theme song and can easily name every Natural Born Thriller from the dying days of WCW. I was once ranked 21st in the United States in Tetris...on the Playstation 3 version...for about a week.
Follow along @AndrewSoucek and check out my podcast at wrestlingwithfriends.com