Christopher Klucsaritis, who wrestled professionally as Chris Kanyon, died April 2 as a result of an apparent overdose from prescription pills. He was 40 and openly gay.
Klucsaritis, who also competed under a mask as Mortis, worked for World Championship Wrestling ( WCW ) and World Wrestling Entertainment ( WWE ) . He was released from the WWE in 2004 and came out shortly thereafterand gave his exclusive coming-out story in 2006 to this reporter.
A New York native, Kanyon broke into the business in the early 1990s and was part of WCW's roster during the fabled Monday Night Wars era of the late-1990s.
At times during his career, he coined the tag line "Who's better than Kanyon?" and long was considered an in-ring innovator of unique, original offensive moves.
Kanyon was a world champion on multiple occasions, highlighted by his WCW Tag Team Championship run as one-third of the Jersey Triad with the late Bam Bam Bigelow and Diamond Dallas Page ( DDP ) .
Also during his run in WCW, Kanyon trained several celebrities for their brief runs in wrestling, including Jay Leno. And he was a stunt coordinator on the WCW 'Ready to Rumble' feature film.
In the WWE, Kanyon held the United States Championship and, with DDP, won the WWE Tag Team Championship.
After coming out, Kanyon was a guest at the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago and dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Gay Games' championship games.
Kanyon, who long battled depression, was respected throughout the industry for his abilities in the ring and love for professional wrestling.
Several wrestlers and personalities offered Twitter tributes to Kanyon, such as:
Kevin Nash: "R.I.P Chris Kanyon prayers to his family and friends."
Matt Hardy: "Kanyon was always really cool to me. Hate to hear the sad news. My best goes out to his family & loved one."
Jim Ross: "Too bad about Chris Kanyon. Troubled, talented guy. Sad."
Gregory Helms: "RIP Chris Kanyon. He was a good guy that helped a LOT of people in this biz. He struggled with a lot of problems though. It's a sad day. When Kanyon 'came out' he texts me with 'I'm gay, that bother you?' My reply, 'I'm not, does that bother YOU?' We laughed & stayed friends. He was unique that's for sure, we'd just texted a lil bit last week and he spoke again of his ups and downs with depression. That is a tough struggle!! But at least his struggles are over. He was a nutcase, good and bad, but I'll miss him nonetheless. RIP my friend."
Dixie Carter: "On behalf of everyone at TNA [ Wrestling ] , our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Chris Kanyon."
Steve Austin: "Yes, I was sad to hear about Chris. Very nice guy. Way too young to die."
Bill Goldberg: "Sad to hear about Chris...RIP"
On a personal note, I tweeted, "I was very sad to hear about Chris' death. I worked with Chris for years at WCW and, more than that, Chris was a friend. He was a champion in the ring who had great matches with many. Chris will be deeply missed."