#1: Brian Pillman
When “The Loose Cannon” died the night before a major WWF PPV in 1997, no one could believe it. A lot of people thought it was all planned at first; with all of the things that Pillman had pulled in the year or so leading up to his death, no one would have been surprised.
Brian Pillman managed to always beat the odds all his life. He survived numerous bouts of throat cancer as a child. He lived through a near-fatal car crash in 1996. An ex-girlfriend and the mother of one of his children killed himself while she was on the phone with him. Still, Pillman seemed destined to survive everything. Everything except the heart attack that killed him at the age of 35.
His death brought the lifestyle of wrestlers to the limelight. The mix of drugs, alcohol, and other means that were 'required' to survive the lifestyle of a WWF wrestler were brought to light, and it was an unflattering spotlight that the promotion found themselves in.
Throw in the live Raw interview with Pillman’s widow, Melanie, on the day after his death, and Vince McMahon found himself in the middle of a firestorm. Two decades later, there are still questions about how the company handled Pillman’s death.