By Mike Mooneyham

Aug. 14, 2007

Former pro wrestling star Brian Adams, who was best known for his early ’90s run as the character Crush, was found dead Monday at his home in Tampa at the age of 43.

Investigators say Adams’ wife found him unconscious in bed Monday morning at the couple’s home and called 911. Paramedics could not revive Adams and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident report indicated there were no visible signs of injury. A preliminary autopsy is scheduled to be performed today.

This latest wrestling death come at a time when the industry finds itself under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide in late June. Benoit asphyxiated his wife Nancy and 7-year-old son Daniel before hanging himself at the family’s home in Georgia.

Former wrestling star Marc Mero, who is spearheading a campaign to clean up the wrestling industry, said Monday that he just heard from Adams two weeks ago.

“He wanted to build a Body Slam (gym) in Tampa,” said Mero, who operates a high-end personal training facility in Orlando. “He loved the way I did my gym and the whole concept I had, and he was really interested in doing something like that and maybe helping me with the franchising of it.”

Brian Adams

Brian Adams

The 6-6, 300-pound Adams, who was a star in both the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) and World Championship Wrestling during the ’90s, had been arrested on steroids charges as well as possession of illegal firearms in 1995 in his native Hawaii. He later was acquitted of the drug charges.

“Who knows how he died, but it seems to be the typical MO of ‘a wrestler found dead.’ And he was one of the guys I was closer to, and it’s just like, here we go again,” said Mero.

Mero said Adams “sounded great” and the two shared some laughs during their last conversation.

“He was just a really good, laid-back guy, and pretty funny. He had actually been talking to me over the winter about the whole Body Slam concept. He was involved with a new high-rise, and he was thinking about putting a Body Slam in there. He wanted to come down to the gym and talk about it. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen now.”

Mero, who worked with Adams in WCW, WWE and TNA (Total Nonstop Action), said Adams becomes the 27th name on his infamous list of wrestlers he’s worked with who died before the age of 50.

“Where do you find someone that even knows 27 people that are dead … unless you’re fighting the war in Iraq? Life is precious.”

Adams began his career in 1986 in the Pacific Northwest territory under the name American Ninja, but achieved his greatest notoriety as the third member of the rugged, face-painted Demolition, the WWF’s answer to The Road Warriors. As Demolition Crush, Adams joined forces with WWF tag-team champs Demolition Ax (Bill Eadie) and Demolition Smash (Barry Darsow). He and Smash eventually dropped the tag-team title to The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart).

Adams also enjoyed stints in the WWF as part of The Nation of Domination and The Disciples of Apocalypse. He appeared in WCW in the late ’90s as a member of The New World Order and teamed with Bryan Clark as Kronik. Adams and Clark later reunited in the WWE shortly after the purchase of WCW, but the team was broken up when Clark was released.

Adams later worked for the Cincinnati-based Heartland Wrestling Association where he served as a trainer for the WWE developmental territory.

A boxer in the U.S. Air Force while stationed in Japan, Adams was trained by the legendary Antonio Inoki. He was a two-time WCW world tag-team champion as well as a holder of both the WWF world tag-team title, the All Japan Pro Wrestling world tag-team title, the Pacific Northwest tag-team title and the Pacific Northwest heavyweight championship.

After leaving WWE in late 2001, Adams competed in Japan and then attempted a career in boxing. After suffering a shoulder injury while training for first professional bout, Adams called off his boxing endeavor and returned to Japan to compete. He wrestled his last match in January 2003, suffering a spinal injury that forced him into retirement.

Following his retirement, Adams became a bodyguard for his longtime friend, wrestler-turned-rapper Randy Savage, for the promotional tour of his CD.

Mero says he has a picture with Adams and Savage at his gym.

“We were together in TNA. He would always drive down with Macho Man. He was real good friends with Randy in the latter part of his life.”

As blond-haired Hawaiian powerhouse Kona Crush, Adams had enjoyed a successful program with Savage in the WWF that culminated in a Falls Count Anywhere match in 1994 at Wrestlemania X at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m still in a state of shock right now,” WWE’s Ron Simmons told the company’s Web site. “He and I go way back and have worked together for years. He was a very good friend of mine. I still don’t want to believe it. I’m just saddened by it, and I just want to wish his family well. I am just very, very upset about this because it hits close to home.”