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RIP Andrew “Test” Martin

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In an interview conducted 17 months ago for Canadian filmmaker and TV producer Liam Phillips’ upcoming documentary, “The Circus,” Andrew “Test” Martin explained his reasons for wanting to get clean:

 I just turned 32 years old, and I went to eight funerals this year. I shouldn’t even be going to funerals at 32 years old. As bad as this sounds, it opened my eyes. It made me take my foot out of the grave and step back and say, ‘What am I doing?’ Do I want to join that club? Hell, no, I don’t want to join that club. So either you clean up…or you lay down beside them.”

Martin didn’t live to see his 34th birthday.

Despite completing a rehab program last year, paid for by former employer World Wrestling Entertainment, Martin was found dead his Tampa, Fla., apartment on Friday night. A neighbor peering through Martin’s window noticed the former WWE star had not moved from his couch for several hours and alerted authorities. Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17) would have been his birthday.

According to the Tampa Tribune, the cause of death won’t be known for weeks, said Dick Bailey, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office, which performed Martin’s autopsy over the weekend. The report is awaiting the results of toxicology tests that take that long to complete. Tampa police do not suspect foul play.

The tragic news comes at point when Andrew’s father, Bob Martin, says he had been optimistic that his son “had turned a corner” in battling his addictions. Bob told SLAM! Wrestling Sunday:

“He was putting a real fight up. He did that. He was here at Christmas, and he was just great and we had a great time. January, February, March, he phoned. We had great chats about a lot of things. He knew it was going to be a struggle with him forever but he was willing to do it.”

Though he had been outspoken with his sadness following Guerrero’s passing in November 2005, Test appeared freakishly juiced on steroids when he re-emerged in WWE’s version of ECW in July 2006. By “wrestling standards,” Guerrero had reportedly cleaned up his alcohol and recreational drug use, but his incredible physique before he died betrayed some form of continued steroid abuse. Not long after his ECW debut, Martin was suspended from WWE for violating the company’s much-maligned Wellness Program and shortly thereafter requested his release, which was granted. Working as Andrew “the Punisher” Martin, he had had a brief stay in TNA in 2007 before the company released him, allegedly over concern of his physique and an investigation into steroids in wrestling by Congress.

With WrestleMania 25 coming up, it’s hard for me not to think of the WrestleMania 17 bout between Test and Guerrero without getting a little emotional.

Not long after I started writing Kentucky Fried Rasslin’, Curt Hennig, one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, passed away from a cocaine overdose in a Tampa motel room in 2003. I recall looking at my words on the computer screen and not quite believing what I was typing.

Since that time, I’ve written obituaries for the Big Bossman,  Gurrerro and Chris Benoit, among others. By now, you’d think I wouldn’t be shocked as wrestlers continue to die in their 30s and 40s. But I still get a sick feeling in my stomach with each passing. Mostly because I fear the worst is yet to come. Judging from Martin’s uneasiness during his interview for “The Circus,” I get the feeling he felt the same way.

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