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Chris Kanyon, out former wrestler, dies

Sad news came in this weekend about the apparent suicide of openly gay former pro wrestler Chris Kanyon on Friday. Kanyon was a former tagteam champion with the WCW and WWE and came out publicly soon after he left the WWE in 2004. He was a popular guest on the Howard Stern Show, but he found it difficult to gain coverage from the mainstream and gay media.

"I was very sad to hear about Chris' death," TNA Wrestling publicist Ross Forman said yesterday. "I worked with Chris for years at WCW and, more than that, Chris was a friend. He was a champion in the ring who had great matches with many. Chris will be deeply missed."

Forman wrote a great piece on Chris for us a few years ago. People are leaving messages for Chris on his Facebook page.

Reports are swirling that Kanyon was talking about suicide as recent as last week, and the news wasn't surprising to many people who knew him. I'd met, chatted and emailed with Kanyon several times. He often ranted about not getting a fair shot in the WWE and how being gay hurt his career. I can't say I was surprised to hear the news either.

I asked Kevin Nash a couple years ago whether he thought Kanyon's sexual orientation impacted his career, and Nash praised Kanyon's wrestling skills:

I don't know what happened up there. Kanyon is very talented. His persona was never really strong, but as far as fundamentally doing the wrestling, there's really nobody any better. But he just never had that look. He had good size. The bad thing about Chris was that he was best when his face was covered over, when he was Mortus. One of the top creative guys for Vince, Pat Patterson, has been openly gay for years. So I don't think him being gay had much to do with him being released. They probably just didn't like him.

I hope Chris has finally found peace.