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In professional wrestling, a ten-bell salute is given to honor a wrestler that has died, especially when that wrestler is a current member of the promotion or a distinguished former member of the promotion. It is the professional wrestling equivalent of a Three-volley salute.
It is typically given at the beginning of a card, with the current members of the promotion either in the entranceway, in the ring or around the ring. Both wrestlers and audience observe a moment of silence during the tolling of the bell.
World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
In World Wrestling Entertainment (and its formerly World Wrestling Federation), several such salutes have been televised over the past ten years. Some of the honorees have included:
- André the Giant (1993, heart failure).
- Brian Pillman (1997, heart failure).
- Rick Rude (1999, heart failure).
- Owen Hart (1999, ring accident).
- Gorilla Monsoon (1999, heart failure).
- "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith (2002, heart attack).
- Lord Alfred Hayes (2005, complications from a stroke).
- Eddie Guerrero (2005, heart failure).
- Fabulous Moolah (2007, natural causes).
- Paul Bearer (2013, heart attack).
- The Ultimate Warrior (2014, heart attack).
On June 25, 2007, Chris Benoit, along with his wife Nancy and his son Daniel were found dead in their home in Fayetteville, Georgia. However, Benoit did not get a ten-bell salute after it was discovered to be a murder-suicide.
On December 16, 2012, a 26-bell salute was given at the beginning of WWE's TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in tribute to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that had taken place 2 days earlier in WWE's home state of Connecticut.
Tenbell salutes within WWF/WWE storylines
While ten-bell salutes have typically been reserved for real-life deaths, it has been used in kayfabe at least thrice in WWE history (see worked shoot). The most recent instance was in June 2007 for Mr. McMahon (WWE chairman Vince McMahon's on-screen persona), as part of an angle where he was inside a limousine that exploded, and was presumed dead.
In 1988, Harley Race was "honored" with ten bells as part of a promo by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, wherein Heenan accused Hulk Hogan of causing serious injuries to Race. This angle grew out of a match where Race was legitimately injured during a match vs. Hogan, due to a mistimed move, and was forced to take a hiatus.
On a Raw is War broadcast shortly after the Royal Rumble in January 1998, Paul Bearer and Kane tolled the bell ten times in ring to mock the Undertaker, with whom they were feuding at the time. Their actions grew from an incident at the Royal Rumble where, in the storyline, Kane and Bearer had locked the Undertaker in a casket and set it ablaze, presumably killing the Undertaker.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
The most memorable instance of this honor in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is the salute given to Chris Candido at TNA Hard Justice in May 2005. Candido had died of a blood clot due to a complication of leg surgery, on April 28 of that year.
Usage in other promotions
On the morning of June 18, 2010, Trent Acid was found dead at his Philadelphia home by his mother. It was later determined that he had died because of a drug overdose. At an Ring of Honor show in Buffalo, New York that night, ROH held a ten-bell salute to honor Trent Acid.
Richard "Rick" Wilson committed suicide on February 23, 1999. He was 33 years old. His death was announced eight days later on Nitro, where he was honored with an "In Memory..." graphic at the beginning of the show and given a ten-bell salute.
On April 14, 2000, Masakazu Fukuda suffered a fatal head injury during a match with Katsuyori Shibata in the Young Lion Cup Tournament after taking a flying elbow drop. He was rushed to the hospital but died 5 days later on April 19 due to a brain hemorrhage; he was 27 years old. The rest of the tournament was dedicated to Masakuza's memory and was honored with a ten-bell salute and a tribute show in September of that year.
At MCW Shane Shamrock Cup 11 on July 30, 2011, a ten-bell salute was observed in honor of Burke's death. At the time of his MCW Hall of Fame induction, the company acknowledged the contributions of Burke and Dennis Wipprecht stating that "had it not been for these two men there may not be wrestling in Maryland today".
Brian Hildebrand died from the disease on September 8, 1999 at the age of 37. He refereed one last match at a local independent show mere days before his death. Hildebrand's death was briefly acknowledged on the following edition of WCW Thunder, but the first WCW event to have taken place after his death was a house show on September 11 at the Baltimore Arena, which was held in his honor with a ten bell salute. Late in the show, friends Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko (known as Revolution) shared heartfelt words about Hildebrand and dedicated the show to him.
The ten-bell salute is also used in boxing to honor a departed boxer, where it is known as the "final ten-count."
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