PWInsider.com is sad to report that former WWE star Andrew "Test" Martin was found dead in his apartment in Tampa, Florida at the age of 33, just four days shy of his 34th birthday. We don't have much in the way of details at this time. Tampa area authorities have declined to officially confirm it is Martin they found but word within the industry has been widespread the last few hours.
Originally born in Whitby, Ontario Canada, Martin was discovered randomly by then-top WWF star Bret Hart in a restaurant. Recognizing the potential of a 6'6', 300 pounder, Hart offered to train Martin and help break him into the business. Martin quit his jobs and trained for eight months under Hart and Leo Burke in Calgary. At the same time, Hart was helping several other young Canadian talents including future WWE champion Edge, and future NWA champion Christian Cage, among others.
In his 1998 debut on WWF television, Martin appeared as a roadie for heavy metal band Motley Crue during a musical performance where he "removed" a fan that had gotten on stage. He was quickly made a member of Vince McMahon's Corporation under the ring name "Test", which was short for Testosterone. He made his PPV debut for the company at the 1999 Royal Rumble, competing in that match and made his Wrestlemania debut at Mania 15, teaming with D'Lo Brown while challenging then-WWF Tag Team champions Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett in Hart's last Mania bout before his death several months later.
After turning babyface, Martin was scripted into a relationship with a young, babyface Stephanie McMahon that was exposed via G-TV, a series of mysterious cameras capturing WWF talents in out of the ring, backstage situations (sort of a predecessor r to today's paparazzi, TMZ type "journalism"). The relationship led to an angry Shane McMahon feuding with Test, which culminated at Summerslam 1999 in Chicago with a "Love Her or Leave Her" match where Test had to beat McMahon in order to be accepted. Inside the ring, it was probably the high point of his career as the two had a hell of a brawl. Stephanie and Test's on-screen romance continued, complete with engagement and a wedding live on Raw.
As is the case with all WWE weddings, there was a twist and in hindsight, it was the most successful one for any wedding angle the company has ever produced. The storyline that top heel Triple H had drugged Stephanie the night before and gotten her to marry him in Las Vegas, revealed on the Titantron in the middle of the ceremony live on Monday Night Raw. The storyline from that point on focused on HHH vs. Vince McMahon, with Stephanie turning heel on her father, having been in on the plot. The angle later turned to real life as Triple H is for all intents and purposes married into the company.
From a storyline standpoint, Martin was left out of the top mix of the company's roster and never got as high in the hierarchy as he did during that era. He was repackaged as heel, teaming with Albert (current New Japan star Giant Bernard) as T&A, managed by the debuting Trish Stratus, who was just breaking into the company as a former fitness model who legitimately was a huge wrestling fan before being signed. After the team broke up, Martin was back as a babyface and won the European championship from William Regal in 2001. He dropped the title to Eddie Guerrero at Wrestlemania 17 in Houston after interference from the other Radicalz.
Martin ended up a heel yet again as part of the WCW/ECW Alliance later that year, holding both the WWE and WCW Tag Team belts with Booker T as well as the WWE Intercontinental championship during that period. At the 2001 Survivor Series, Martin lost the IC belt to Edge, who unified it with the WCW United States championship. He also had a short run with the hot potato Hardcore championship. With the idea that the Alliance vs. WWE war was coming to an end and those who lost could be fired, Test went on to insert himself into an "Immunity" Battle Royal, which he won with the gimmick being that he couldn't be let go by WWE for a year.
In 2002, he bounced around a number of different storyline gimmicks. He was part of the Un-Americans with Lance Storm, Christian and William Regal. He was Stacy Keibler's charge as she tried to change his image and claim his fans were his "Testicles" in an all-time so bad it was good idea. He went to the finals of that year's King of the Ring tournament, later losing to eventual winner and current UFC champion Brock Lesnar. The relationship with Keibler eventually turned into a real life one for the couple. After she left the company and became an ABC darling via "Dancing With the Stars", Martin would later write online how proud he was of her success and that he often told her while they were dating that she would go on to do something bigger than professional wrestling.
Scott Steiner was brought into the company. Despite being one of the top names in WCW when it imploded in 2001, Steiner was sent to the mid-card after a feud with then WWE champion Triple H and put into a tag team with Martin. The two ended up at odds of Keibler's services but later reunited with the idea she was their slave.
Martin ended up out of action with a neck injury and was forced to undergo spinal fusion surgery that would keep him out of action for at least a year. In a move that was heavily criticized at the time, World Wrestling Entertainment released Martin on 11/1/04, four months after the surgery and at least eight months before he would be able to return. At the time, WWE's John Laurinaitis promised to give Martin a look when he was ready, but the very idea that Martin, who had spent his entire professional career with the company and had broken his neck working there, could be fired as he recovered, sent a shockwave through the company's roster.
Exactly a year later, Martin discussed the release while writing about the November 2005 passing of former WWE champion Eddie Guerrero, commenting, "Look at me. I break my neck in the ring had to have two discs taken out of my neck and a steel plate put in and was told at the time by Johnny Ace when I asked if my job would be in jeopardy, 'We don't fire people with injuries like that.' Hmm, that's funny, because two months after surgery I got fired because I wasn't working. My seven years of busting my *** for them and putting over the boss's son while my foot was broken in a cast was all forgotten about.When Johnny Ace called me and told me they were releasing me - which of course he put all the heat on Vince - I said to him, 'What kind of message are you sending the boys that if they get hurt they are going to get fired?' So all the guys who don't want to lose their jobs, what do they do? Pop a couple of Percocet or Vicodin and mask the pain because god forbid they say they are hurt and lose their job. I'm not going to name any names, but I know at least a dozen or so wrestlers who are addicted to these things for that very reason. Get hurt, lose your job. I just turned 30, my back aches everyday, I have a metal plate in my neck, and yes I got in the business at the right time and have a lot of nice things, but is it all worth it? You guys don't see the ugly side of this business. Yes, wrestling is entertainment, but the bumps and bruises are real and sometimes they don't go away. So think long and hard before you get in this business because I can tell you first hand that if you're not working or making them money they don't give a ****."
Martin returned to the ring in the summer of 2005, working for Nu-Wrestling in Italy, which was being booked by former WWE star Rikishi Phatu. He made several convention appearances as well.
During this period, Eddie Guerrero died in a Minnesota hotel room due to an enlarged heart giving out on him, a complication from the drugs he had taken during his career. Martin, completely removed from WWE at the time, wrote, "I'm actually wondering who's next? Who's next to die? I can think of at least 15 to 20 people who have died from various things - mostly prescription pain killers. For all you wanna be wrestlers who wanna get in this business, especially now when WWE doesn't pay you anymore than you would make at a 9 to 5 job, let me break some things down for you. When I started wrestling I had never seen or heard of Vicodin or Percocet or Soma. How come so many wrestlers die from these medications and football players and hockey players don't? The answer is simple - wrestlers, especially WWE wrestlers, work five days a week all year long taking bump after bump in the ring. A doctor explained it to me like this: Every time you take a fall in the ring it's like getting rear-ended by a car going 20 mph, so how many bumps in the ring a night do you take? Multiply that by how many times a week you work all year long. That's a hell of a lot of whiplash and pain. I can remember hearing a conversation from some unnamed WWE head guys talking about how this certain person needs to go to rehab but they couldn't send him because he was to important to the show. That's the reality people that is how we are treated."
Despite being extremely critical of WWE's use of Eddie Guerrero's name after his death, including one blog where he said it wanted to "make me puke", Martin was still brought back to the WWE fold. He was signed to a new deal in March 2006 and placed into the relaunched ECW brand later that year as a heel. He most notably feuded with then-ECW champion Bobby Lashley late in the year going into 2007. After being defeated by Lashley clean several times, he disappeared from television.
Despite his earlier writings about the drug scene in the wrestling business, Martin ended up suspended under the WWE Wellness Policy and was released shortly afterwards. At the time, Martin claimed it was a mutual release that he asked the company for.
Through his Myspace.com account, Martin would often write about different views on the wrestling business and was critical of what WWE's developmental program had turned into after it was moved to Florida. In one blog, he complained that too many of the students would care too much about partying and not enough about studying tapes and learning the business. One talent signed to WWE who was stationed in FCW at the time responded that other than dropping Kelly Kelly (who he was dating) off, Martin had never actually come to the facility.
Martin was arrested for a DUI in April 2008. The police report at the time claimed Martin failed a field sobriety test and that he continued to fall asleep in the arresting officer's vehicle after being taken into custody. At the time, The Tampa Tribune noted that he had a history of traffic violations but Martin responded, "Considering I don't drink alcohol or do drugs I don't know how the DUI is going to stand." When the newspaper asked Martin if he was still a wrestler, he commented that it was something he "didn't want to get into."
As noted, in recent years, Martin had been dating WWE Raw Diva Kelly Kelly and at one point, he publicly praised her for saving his life when he had a medical emergency, believed by some to have been an OD. According to those I spoke to tonight, the two had split recently, about 6-8 weeks back. Although Martin had pushed that he was retiring from the business as far back as December 2007, he was still making appearances overseas. As recently as last month, he worked in Japan on shows promoted by Big Van Vader and was scheduled to leave this week for a European tour of several countries.
Our deepest condolences to Martin's family, friends and fans at this time.