Brian Knighton was better known by his professional wrestling name, Axl Rotten.

Brian Knighton, better known by his professional wrestling name, Axl Rotten, died Feb. 4, 2016, in Baltimore according to Us Weekly. He was 44.

He was found across the street from the motel he was staying in. No cause of death has been released.

“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,” said the statement by the wrestling promoter confirming Knighton’s death on Thursday.


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Born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 21, 1971, Knighton began wrestling in local circuits as a teenager. The name Axl Rotten was inspired by rockers Axl Rose and Johnny Rotten. Fellow wrestler John Williams took the name Ian Rotten and together the two became a tag team of fictional brothers that called themselves The Bad Breed.

They joined Extreme Championship Wrestling where they proved to be popular featured wrestlers from 1993 to 1999. They were known for their extremely violent and bloody performances that often included props like a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.

After leaving ECW Knighton bounced around various independent circuits, including one in Japan. In 2005 he made some appearances with World Wrestling Entertainment as part of a series of ECW tribute shows.

In later years he suffered physical ailments and at one point needed a wheelchair. He also struggled with substance abuse and had spent time in various rehabilitation programs according to PWInsider.com.

“Thanks for letting me learn from you, but most of all thanks for being my brother,” Williams, his former tag team partner, wrote in a tribute on Facebook.

Knighton’s final tweet, posted 10 hours before his death, read, “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.”

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