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Ashley Massaro died after apparently taking her own life, and in heart-wrenching accusations by the woman in the years leading up to her death, she blamed ongoing bouts of depression and multiple injuries on “routine repetitive blows” she suffered to the head while wrestling for the WWE.
Sources close to Massaro tell The Blast the 39-year-old was discovered at her home Thursday morning in Smithtown, New York.
Massaro worked at a local radio station and we’re told she failed to show up for work without notice, which raised a red flag.
As we first reported, a 911 call was placed and emergency responders rushed to the home for an “unconscious” woman. CPR was administered on the way to the hospital but, unfortunately, Massaro died.
A friend close to Massaro, Shelly Martinez who wrestled as Ariel, said in a statement, “My best friend from the wrestling business died from suicide two days after responding to 300+ fan letters. She was the happiest I have seen her in years, so stoked that people still cared about her 11 years after her career was over. There are no signs. It comes without warning. If you are going through the worst shit in your life, just know that you are not alone. PLEASE seek help.”
The friend was referring to a tweet from Massaro, where she showed off a pile of fan letters and said, “Just answered a ton of fanmail so you guys should be receiving them soon!”
Before her death, Ashley Massaro had been part of a class action lawsuit against the WWE, where 60 wrestlers accused the wrestling juggernaut of failing to protect its employees from repeated head trauma and concussions that eventually developed in long-term brain damage.
The lawsuit was dismissed last year after a judge deemed it “frivolous” and ruled some of the claims occurred past the statute of limitations, however, it was appealed shortly after and is still ongoing. According to a previously sealed affidavit that was released by Massaro’s attorney, Konstantine Kyros, the wrestler detailed the pain and suffering she allegedly endured while working for the WWE.
According to the affidavit, Massaro said she was never informed of the “long-term risks associated with concussions or repeated head trauma and I had never even heard the terms of TBI or CTE mentioned.”
She claims to have been “literally knocked out cold for five minutes,” and says afterward, “not only did I not receive treatment, but I was told to brush it off.”
Massaro said throughout her wrestling career with the WWE, between 2005 – 2008, she “sustained multiple concussions and did not receive appropriate treatment for my injuries.”
She also claims to have suffered a “hairline fracture in my spine and sustained numerous back injuries,” and was “ultimately diagnosed with herniated discs in C4 and C5 of my vertebrae.”
In the affidavit, which Massaro wrote in 2017, she explained, “Aside from my on-going physical injuries that were sustained in the ring, and my former battle with addiction, to this day I suffer from depression, for which I take medication; migraine headaches; and severe short-term memory loss.”
In one specific incident, Ashley Massaro claimed in 2005 she received a “neck-breaker” from Torrie Wilson during a rehearsal that left her injured, and described former WWE Diva Trish Stratus as telling her to just “shake it off.” She didn’t fault Stratus for not helping more, and explained that “she knew from experience that I would get in trouble if I spoke up.”
It’s unclear if that injury was suffered during a rehearsal for WWE’s “Unforgiven,” but Trish and Ashley ended up beating Torrie and Victoria that same year.
Since Massaro’s death, Torrie tweeted, “I can’t even begin to explain how devastated I am to hear about [Ashley Massaro] – legit one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. When we fall into a dark place it can seem like it will never change but if you are there PLEASE keep hope & reach out for help.”
Trish Stratus also sent out a message of condolence, writing, “My heart hurts so much with this news. I remember being off with an injury and watching this beautiful, charismatic, athletic girl crowned Diva Search winner.”
Massaro’s affidavit continues, “I attribute these issues to my work-related injuries sustained while working for the WWE, and specifically to the routine repetitive blows to the head, I received in the ring over the course of my career which were not properly diagnosed or treated.” Massaro strongly believes WWE failed to live up to its obligations, and “as a result, it has caused me severe and ongoing pain and suffering, emotional distress and financial hardship.”
Ashley Massaro also claimed the WWE “used narcotics as a tool to allow me and other wrestlers to perform through our injuries. If we took enough pills, the pain went away (temporarily) and we were able to wrestle.”
She claims the pills eventually led to an addiction to pain medication, for which she sought treatment through the WWE Former Talent Rehab Program.
Massaro explained, “I underwent treatment through that program in September of 2010. I remained in the program for 42 days.” She credited the WWE for helping get her treatment but was upset that the organization “recklessly” ignored other obligations, such as providing monitoring and treatment for the long-lasting effects of head trauma.
After her death, the WWE released a statement: “We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of former WWE Superstar Ashley Massaro. She performed in WWE from 2005-2008 and was beloved by her fellow Superstars and fans around the world.”
The company added, “WWE offers its condolences to Ashley’s family and friends.”
In the months leading up to her death, Massaro had been pursuing a return to wrestling, but with an independent company rather than the WWE.
The Blast reached out to WWE for comment.