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Feb. 16 Update: Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton) officially died from an “accidental overdose,” according to officials in Baltimore.
The Chief Medical Examiner’s office announced the official cause of death this week, reports the Baltimore Sun.
According to a police report, Rotten was found unresponsive in the bathroom stall of a McDonald’s location in Baltimore. He was surrounded by drug paraphernalia.
Rotten was pronounced dead at 3:09 p.m. after not regaining consciousness. It’s unclear how long he was in the stall before he was discovered.
February 4 Report
Former ECW star Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton) died at the age of 44 on Thursday afternoon.
WWE acknowledged Rotten’s death on their website Thursday night: “WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Brian Knighton, best known for competing in ECW as Axl Rotten from 1993 to 1999, has passed away. WWE extends its condolences to Knighton’s family, friends, and fans.”
Rotten was posting on social media as of Thursday morning. Included was a final message about doing things his way. A tribute banner is now the most-recent post on his Twitter account.
The way I do things may not be the way you do things but you will find out there is only 1 way. My away! #AxlsTruth
— AXL ROTTEN (@AxlRottenECW) February 4, 2016
— AXL ROTTEN (@AxlRottenECW) February 5, 2016
Rotten battled prescription and drug addiction throughout his wrestling career. He also suffered numerous injuries wrestling the hardcore style and then tried to continue wrestling the style after ECW.
A documentary was released in 2015 on Rotten’s struggle to live a normal life outside of wrestling.
From the description: “Years of brutal death matches, heroin addition and extreme injuries; witness the hardcore recovery of an ECW legend, now confined to a wheelchair. Axl Rotten (fresh off his Talk is Jericho) appearance is in bad shape. He needs spinal surgery or he may never walk again. After working in a business with such an unusually high mortality-rate, plus a lifetime of hardcore wrestling and drug addiction; Axl Rotten is fighting against the odds to live a normal life.”