Another professional wrestler has died at a very young age. Balls Mahoney, a popular star for ECW in the 90s, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 44. According to Pro Wrestling Scoops on Wednesday, Mahoney injured his hip after a fall last week and then grew ill before dying on Tuesday. Mahoney’s wife informed the brother of another former deceased ECW star, Chris Candido, who then revealed the death to the world.
Like many ECW professional wrestlers in the 90s, Mahoney became hugely famous for his violent brawling in the ring as well as for using a very popular song for his entrance theme. Much like Sandman, who used Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as a theme that the audience would sing along with, Balls Mahoney used AC/DC’s “Big Balls,” which the crowd would sing as he entered the ring and started brawling.
Mahoney, whose real name was Jonathan Rechner, wrestled in ECW from 1997 until 2001 when the company went under. He got his start in Smokey Mountain Wrestling as Boo Bradley Jr., where he met and worked with Chris Candido and his wife Tammy “Sunny” Sytch. He went on to wrestle in the WWE for a short time as Xanta Claus before moving on to ECW, where Candido was already a major star.
When he entered ECW, he changed his name to Balls Mahoney and brought a steel chair to the ring for almost all his matches, swinging it at anyone who moved. He started a tag team with hardcore wrestler Axl Rotten and began a feud with the Dudley Boyz. The two were hugely popular as a team, but failed to capture any titles, which really didn’t matter much to their ECW fans, who just loved the chaos they brought to the ring.
After that, Mahoney teamed with Masato Tanaka and he finally won his first title in 1998, the ECW Tag Team Championship from the Dudley Boyz. They only held them for six days and then Mahoney started a tag team with Little Spike Dudley, where they won the titles from the Dudley Boyz twice in 1999, holding them for a total of 38 days. Mahoney stuck around ECW till they went out of business.
Since then, Mahoney was a mainstay on the indie scene except for a short time when he made appearances in the WWE during ECW revival angles. Mahoney was one of the first ECW originals signed to the new WWE ECW when it launched and he stayed there from 2006 until 2008. Mahoney went back to the independent scene and his final match before his death was in December 2015.
Sadly, Mahoney’s passing follows the death of Axl Rotten, who died on Feb. 4. Rotten’s wrestling career came to an end when he ended up confined to a wheelchair after a spine injury. According to Wrestling Inc., the official cause of death for Rotten was an accidental overdose. He was found dead on the bathroom floor of a McDonalds from what is believed to be a heroin overdose.
Other professional wrestlers who died in 2016 include Blackjack Mulligan, the father of Barry Windham and grandfather of Bray Wyatt, and former WWE star Iron Mike Sharpe. Both of their deaths were due to health reasons. That followed a 2015 year that saw the death of some of wrestling’s most popular stars in The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Nick Bockwinkel, and Verne Gagne.
Balls Mahoney was 44 at the age of his death and is survived by his wife Gayle and his son Christopher. Johnny Candido, who posted about the death of Mahoney on Twitter, included a photo of his brother with Balls and himself. Chris Candido died in 2005 at the age of 33 due to complications from a blood clot following complications from surgery to repair a fractured tibia and fibula.