In my real-life job last week, a 28-year-old co-worker died unexpectedly. Many of us in the office were shell shocked for days, and this gal was buried on Monday morning.
When my colleagues and I got word of her death, work basically ceased that day. Grief counselors were brought in. Former employees were invited by our CEO to join everyone for lunch. People started writing on the office walls of our fallen co-worker.
So how do pro wrestlers cope these days when their colleagues, current and former, die? We learned last week that Matt Borne, who played the most famous version of Doink the Clown in the WWF and Big Josh later in WCW, passed away. He was just 55, another wrestler in a long list to die young.
(As a trivia note, Borne wrestled against Ricky Steamboat at the first WrestleMania in 1985.)
Surely there are wrestlers in the WWE and TNA who knew Borne personally or worked with him. Did they get to stop their jobs for a day or two to mourn Borne’s death? Did they find his locker and scribble some remembrance to him on the inside? Did a mental health specialist swing by WWE headquarters offering folks a chance to talk about Borne’s life?
I’m still thinking about my co-worker’s death almost non-stop nearly a week after she passed. I wasn’t best friends with her and didn’t hang with her outside of work, but I saw her almost every day on the job.
Yet, honestly, wrestlers have faced far more grief than I have dealing with death after death after death — many of the deaths directly attributable to pro wrestling and its lifestyle.
I took time off my job this morning to attend a funeral, and wrestlers often can’t even do that to pay their respects or seek some answers to their grief. There must be a lot of wrestlers burdened with mental stress over not only the deaths of so many competitors, but an inability to deal with those losses as those of us in the normal world do.