WWE issued a statement on Rotten’s passing, which reads: “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 best known for his run in ECW and his feud with Ian Rotten, who was his storyline brother. Rotten was already a seven-year veteran at that point, having beguin training at seventeen and teaming with his trainer Ricky Lawless in the Maryland independents. He had a short run in WCW where he befriended Paul Heyman, who later hired him and Ian Rotten in 1993 for ECW. Their split and feud in 1994 caused heavy controversy for their use of barbed wire baseball bats and heavy bleeding, and was named “Feud of the Year” by Pro Wrestling Illustrated Magazine in 1995.
Rotten would leave ECW in 1999 and went on to appear in other hardcore promotions such as XPW and FMW in Japan. He appeared as part of WWE’s One Night Stand PPV in 2005 and also had a one-night appearance with TNA at their ECW tribute show, Hardcore Justice. He retired from the ring after suffering a spinal injury.
Our prayers for the family, friends and family of Axl Rotten.