One of ECW’s most recognizable faces from the 1990s has died at the age of 44. Balls Mahoney’s death was confirmed by Jonny Candido, the brother of one of Mahoney’s best friends, the late Chris Candido on April 12. Even more tragically, Mahoney passed away just one day after his 44 birthday.
The WWE later confirmed the sad news in a statement in which they referred to Mahoney by his real name, Jonathan Rechner.
In the aftermath of Mahoney’s death, footage of him receiving a chair shot from Marty Jannetty in 2012 became a trending video on YouTube.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He’s Survived by His Son Christopher & His Wife Gayle
Authorities have not released any cause of death for Mahoney. Although, Jonny Candido did take to Twitter as the late star’s name began to rend to dispel rumors that Mahoney had shot himself dead. He said that Mahoney died suddenly at home. Jonny Candido said that a friend of his lives close to Mahoney and saw an ambulance outside the wrestler’s home on the evening of April 12.
Candido said on Twitter that Mahoney was watching Jeopardy with his family when “he became quiet.” He added the funeral “likely going to be at O’Brian’s funeral home in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey.”
He is survived by his wife, Gayle, and son Christopher. His son is named for Jonny Candido’s late brother Chris Candido. People Magazine reports that Christopher was born on Thanksgiving night in 2007.
A month before his son’s birth, Mahoney told WWE.com that his forearm tattoo, which reads, “C.C.,” is dedicated to Chris Candido. He added, “I got it the day of Chris Candido’s funeral. It’s still affecting me to this day, which is why I will name my first born male child Christopher.”
2. He Debuted at the Age of Just 15 in His Native New Jersey
Mahoney began his wrestling career in New Jersey at the age of 15 as Abbudah Singh. From there, he went work for Jim Cornette’s Smoke Mountain Wrestling until 1995. He then had a brief stint at the WWE where he appeared as Xanta Claus for a few matches before being released.
His most memorable run came in ECW in the mid-to-late 90s. Mahoney used the AC/DC song “Big Balls” as his intro music and reveled in the company’s violent reputation. Prior the company’s demise in 2001, Mahoney was primarily a star in the tag team division, teaming with Masato Tanaka and Spike Dudley. His final appearance with the company was at ECW’s last pay per view, Guilty as Charged, in January 2001.
You can read a full list of his in-ring achievements here via Online World of Wrestling.
3. Mahoney Wrestled Independently Since Being Released by the WWE in 2008
After the WWE absorbed its two main rivals, WCW and ECW in 2001, Mahoney went into the independent circuit, although he did get a brief run in TNA. When the WWE relaunched the ECW brand in 2006, Mahoney was one of the first originals from the Philadelphia company who was signed.
Coincidentally, Mahoney’s signing to the WWE was announced alongside fellow ECW original Axl Rotten. Sadly, Rotten died after an accidental drug overdose in February 2016, reported the Baltimore Sun.
His run in the WWE was uneventful and he was released in April 2008. From there, he would work in the independent circuits, including appearances in the World Wrestling Alliance and Juggalo wrestling.
Mahoney’s wife wrote on Facebook in 2013 that Vince McMahon had retained the rights to the name “Balls Mahoney.” She said her husband was still using the moniker unless he was doing a TV appearance.
4. ECW Fans & Former Stars Alike Are Turning to Twitter to Share Their Condolences
As news of Mahoney’s death spread, his name became a trending phrase on Twitter.
Here are some of the best messages from fans and colleagues:
In another tweet, Corino said, “Balls was crazy & probably gave me 5 concussions. But he also gave me my first PPV match & introduced me to sushi. Some good memories.”
5. Mahoney Is the 9th Major Pro Wrestling Star to Die in 2016
Mahoney is the latest former professional wrestler to pass away at a relatively young age. Pro Wrestling Wikia says he’s the ninth former squared circle star to die in 2016. Mahoney is arguably the biggest name to die this year, in January 2016, “Iron” Mike Sharpe died at 64 and then a month later, Mahoney’s friend, Axl Rotten suffered an accidental drug overdose in February 2016.