10 Great Wrestlers Whose Careers Were Cut Short

Gone in the midst of their greatness.

Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE.com

It's a hard-knock life getting slammed on plywood every evening. No matter how athletic and well-conditioned a wrestler may be, the risk of injury is extremely high at all times.

The wear and tear of such a physical job coupled with the travel and sleepless nights unsurprisingly ages the body very quickly. It's one of several reasons why the death rates of professional wrestlers have been so alarmingly high over the years.

Another key reason lies in life on the road. While wrestlers these days seem much more health and safety-conscious in their down time, the legends of old were oft-renowned for their insanely hard living. Booze, clubs, drugs and all manner of shenanigans they'd probably prefer not be brought to light were a custom of the business for generations.

The double trouble cocktail of in-ring destruction plus self-destruction has unsurprisingly been very unkind to the longevity and well being of those involved.

While everyone's career has an expiry date, there are some that take a hit well before their prime has passed them by. From fatal missteps between the ropes to disasters out in the real world, wrestling has been rocked time and again by the surprise loss of a major performer.

Here are 10 such talents that had to leave the ring too soon.

10. Bret Hart

Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWE

Bret Hart was a 21 year veteran of the ring by 1999. Despite his long run, the then-42 year old Hitman was in excellent physical condition and had managed to sidestep any major wear and tear on his body. While his WCW run was marred by horrendous booking, his work rate remained sharp and it was clear he had a lot left in the tank.

Despite few signs of slowing down, Hart's career came to a screeching halt at Starrcade '99 when a stiff superkick from Goldberg rattled his skull. It was the first of two concussions he sustained during their main event bout.

Hart briefly attempted a return to the ring in 2000 but it was clear the extent of his injuries were just too much to overcome. Cashing in his Lloyds of London policy, Hart retired from the ring (bar a couple of WWE bouts in 2010 where he didn't take a single bump).

The Excellence of Execution never injured anyone during his storied career. The hard luck of someone so renowned for their in-ring safety falling to the polar opposite had a cruel kind of irony to it. Hart's health in the years since has been cause for concern as the former WWE and WCW champ has suffered several life-threatening setbacks.

Contributor

Jack Cunningham hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.