Sadly another former wrestler has passed away earlier today at a tragically young age, as WWE.com has just announced that former WCW star Brad Armstrong, who had a brief stint as an active trainer on WWE's ECW brand in late 2006, died this morning from unknown causes:
"WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of Brad Armstrong, 51, one of four sons of "Bullet" Bob Armstrong. Brad Armstrong last participated in the ring for the ECW brand in 2006. WWE understands that Brad saw his physician last week for a medical issue and was found unresponsive this morning. WWE extends its sincerest condolences to the entire Armstrong family."
Brad was perhaps destined to compete in the squared circle, being the son of a Georgia wrestling legend. A silky smooth worker, he was easily the best technician of Bullet Bob's offspring, but lacked the dedication and the charisma to become anything more than just a criminally underrated performer on the bloated WCW roster. Despite lacking his in ring versatility, Brad's youngest brother Brian found more fame and fortune as "Road Dogg" Jesse James, one half of The New Age Outlaws tag team, in the WWF during the Attitude Era, due to his far superior gift of the gab. Two of his brothers currently work for WWE, Scott as a referee and Brian as a road agent / producer, so both are likely overseas on WWE's house show tour of Europe at the present time. His other brother Steve, also had a short run in the WWF as Lance Cassidy, an opening match high flying babyface cowboy, in late 1992, before quitting over the road schedule and low pay.
Brad's career peaked early. Taking to wrestling like a duck to water, it wasn't long before he was shot to stardom in Georgia Championship Wrestling as the tag team partner of his father in late 1981, having a couple month run as the NWA National Tag Team Champions, which gave him national exposure on TBS. Singles success soon followed with him holding Georgia's NWA National Heavyweight Championship twice in 1984, where he feuded with the likes of Ted DiBiase, The Spoiler and The Fabulous Freebirds. He also had reigns as the Mid-South North American Heavyweight Championship in 1985 and Alabama's CWF Heavyweight Championship in 1986, and formed The Lightning Express with Tim Horner, which held the UWF World Tag Team Championships in 1987.
But with the death of the territories, the promising start to his career fizzled out. He eventually settled into the role of being a good hand to put other people over strong (like Bill Goldberg at Superbrawl VIII) in several WCW stints throughout the 1990s, in between being Jim Cornette's Smokey Mountain Heavyweight Champion in 1995. The bookers in WCW killed his credibility by saddling him with one lame gimmick after another.
First came being put under a hood in the summer of 1991 as Fantasia / Badstreet, the third wheel of the least fabulous Freebirds trio with the washed up Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin, though that at least led to a run with the short-lived WCW World Six-Man Tag Team Championships. Immediately thereafter was another lame masked gimmick, Arachnaman, which was such an obvious ripoff of Spiderman that the character had to be embarrassingly ditched when Marvel Comics threatened WCW with a lawsuit.
He fared a bit better in 1992 winning the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship from Scotty Flamingo (aka Scott Levy / Raven) at Beach Blast, but his more grounded style couldn't live up to the dazzling standards set by Jushin "Thunder" Liger and "Flyin'" Brian Pillman earlier in the year and the title was quietly dropped when he suffered a knee injury two months later.
Sad to say, but that was probably the highlight of his stay in WCW, outside of tours of New Japan Pro Wrestling on behalf of the company. He treaded dull water before being fired in April 1995 and on his return a year later he wasn't used much better, though he did sneak in a decent pay-per-view match with WCW Crusierweight Champion Dean Malenko at Slamboree '96, before being given a losing streak gimmick due to the "Armstrong Curse", where supposedly losing was in his blood or something. WCW wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on appearances by rapper Master P in the spring of '99 at least gave him a renewed push for awhile, despite having to pretend to be all hip and happening while dressed in combats as part of The No Limits Soldiers with the imaginative new ring name "B.A.". In the autumn, Brad was then blessed by Vince Russo's "creative genius", who turned him into a pot loving hippy called Buzzkill, a character that stole heavily from his brother Road Dogg's act. Suffice to say, this somehow didn't get him over either, despite it being true to life. Brad spent the last 12 months of WCW's lifespan on the disabled list due to serious knee injuries and outside of working a few ECW house show dates for WWE in late 2006 against Eric Perez and doing some commentary for the brand's television show, he never worked in the big leagues again.
We at Cageside Seats would like to send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. When we have word of the exact cause of death, we'll pass it on to you, Cagesiders. Apart from what has been reported by WWE, no other details are known at this time.