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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Andrew "Test" Martin, Dead at 33 
March 14, 2009

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

Media reports out of Tampa, FL, indicate that Andrew Martin (known to wrestling fans as "Test" during a couple of WWF/E stints) was found dead in his apartment on Friday night.

A neighbor had called the police to check in on Martin after she'd observed his motionless body on the floor through a window. Obviously, we've got no indications as to a 

cause of death at this point, and toxicology tests will take weeks to process, but Martin was only 33 years of age, and had his last stay in WWE ended due to a failed drug test. So to pretend there aren't plenty of whispers and theories out there would be pretty silly at this point...

Martin was "discovered" by Bret Hart in 1997 after a chance meeting at a restaurant... with wrestling just beginning its late-90s boom phase and with Martin being a well-built 6' 6", there was mutual interest in developing Martin for the then-named WWF. Hart greased the wheels for Martin to train with Dory Funk in what had just become the Fed's de facto developmental program. Even after Hart's memorable departure from the company in November '97, his fellow Canadian, Martin, stuck around and completed his training.

In 1998, he debuted on TV in the role of a bodyguard for Motley Crue (when said band performed live on RAW one night), which provided the impetus for Martin to be a sort of personal "hired goon" for The Rock. The name "Test" evolved when the Rock forced Triple H to defeat his Hired Goon, or in Rocky's parlance "to pass the Test."

Test remained a relatively forgettable third-stringer for the heel Corporation until a breakout storyline in which a rebellious "Union" was forged and its members each won the right to ask any favor they wanted of Vince's Corporation. Other guys asked for matches and title shots. Test asked Stephanie McMahon (then a cute, innocent, and plausibly be-bosomed young lady) for a date. Fans couldn't help but respect Test for putting his wang before his career, and the guy blossomed in the newfound babyface role.

As the Test/Steph romance ramped up to a huge Televised Wedding, things, of course, went awry: Triple H roofied Steph the night of her bachelorette party and then married her himself at one of Vegas' Drive-Thru Chapels. For the sake of our tale: Yes, this was legally binding!

Everything appeared to be set up for Test to break through as a main event babyface: he had an indisputably great look for the McMahon-o-Vision bodybuilder fetish, his athleticism was not remarkable but certainly several notches above what you'd expect out of such a big man, and now, he had a red-hot storyline. I remember, back in those heady days of writing for CBS SportsLine, practically guaranteeing that Test was going to be headlining PPVs real soon.. his potential seemed that undeniable.

But then: *POOF* it was all gone. Whether the result of a carefully-calculated power play or an honest and innocent MIScalculation, the Steph/HHH storyline that was custom-made to cement Test as a star was re-written as a vehicle for VINCE McMahon in the lead babyface role. HHH and Test never even had a PPV match against each other, with Test rapidly fading into the distance as Vince inserted himself into things as Stephanie's knight in shining armor (of course, the Big Reveal came during HHH/Vince's climactic PPV showdown, when it turned out Steph didn't need a knight as she was in cahoots with HHH all along).

Test never recovered from being tossed aside in that storyline.  He certainly never came even close to re-connecting with the fans in a meaningful way again, and more than a few observers (once again, myself included) thought it apparent that we were seeing a different, perhaps less-motivated Test. As he was shunted into being a mid-card role player, the spark we'd seen in 1999 seemed essentially gone, and Test seemed more than content to settle into a low-pressure spot as a lowly cog in the gigantic WWF Machine.

His post-Steph career might have peaked in 2000 when he formed a tag team with Albert (later "A-Train")... it's just that instead of being a showcase for his own talents, the tag team known as T&A was a vehicle for an entirely different break-out star: Trish Stratus. Test, once projected to as a break-out star in his own right, was relegated to second fiddle. 

When the WCW/ECW "inVasion" came in 2001, Test aligned himself with the outsiders and again eased into a background role, just out of the spotlight: he contended on the mid-card for the secondary IC/US Titles (which were eventually unified when US Champ Test lost to IC Champ Edge). Despite being on the losing side of the inVasion, Test had earned "immunity" from being fired... he spun his wheels as kind of a generic bully for a while, then found himself working in the tag ranks once again as an "UnAmerican." It was 2003 before he struck out as a singles wrestler again, albeit one who once again found himself riding the coattails of a diva more "over" than he was with the fans: in this case, Stacy Keibler was his dimwitted sweetheart of an image consultant/girlfriend.

As an "image consultant" Stacy provided such groan-inducingly dumb ideas as calling Test's fans his "Testicles." And as a girlfriend, Stacy sort of started doing a "Miss Elizabeth" thing as Test morphed into more and more of an abusive jerkface, especially when Stacy tried to get Test and Scott Steiner to co-exist as a tag team, causing Test to become suspicious of Steiner. The dynamic of an abusive Test trying to "make Stacy [his] whore" was cut short. And while I remember being grateful for that fact, the reason why was unfortunate: Test was battling nagging neck problems that eventually sidelined him in early 2004, and which required the dreaded spinal fusion surgery later in the year..

Test's WWE contract expired during his year-long rehab, and was not renewed... when Martin received a clean bill of health in late 2005, he started taking independent bookings, focusing especially on tours of Europe. About six months of working the kinks out on indie shows and overseas led Martin back on to WWE's radar; he agreed to a new contract during the Spring of 2006, and returned to TV that summer as a monster heel for the "re-imagined" ECW brand. The "new breed" of ECW stars were pushed over the popular "ECW Originals," but in terms of ratings and marketability, were pretty much an abject failure. Test was part of the main event on the least-watched WWE PPV of all time, "December to Dismember."

He continued on as the lead heel challenger to new ECW Champ Bobby Lashley for a few months after that PPV, but in February 2007, he was pulled from TV due to an announced suspension, and then 2 weeks later, was released by WWE. Though Martin said it was a mutual decision, Jim Ross confirmed that Test had failed a drug test and was in violation of the Wellness Policy.

After a 90-day no-compete clause concluded, Martin showed up in TNA for several appearances during the summer of 2007. Using the name "The Punisher," he was a babyface aligned with Sting in a semi-main-event storyline... there were talks of a long-term contract being offered to Martin, but the company suddenly changed its mind in September, instead cutting all ties to Martin. Various reasons were given (including the notion that Martin at 6' 6" would dwarf TNA's undersized roster), but most insiders agreed that TNA -- lacking a defined drug policy but suddenly finding itself lumped in with WWE in terms of a pending congressional investigation into steroids -- simply couldn't ignore Martin's bulk, back acne, or the simple fact that he had been fired from his last job for failing a drug test. It was little more than a PR Move, but probably a necessary one.

With neither of the two major domestic wrestling companies showing any interest in his services, Martin began talking retirement in late 2007. However, the lure of the payday kept him coming back, and presumably kept him in the "lifestyle" of a pro wrestler (you may read whatever you like into that euphemism). That is not, however, to say that he HAD to wrestle for the money: his WWF/E tenure coincided with the industry's giant boom phase, and he was well-compensated. Even with the recent economic downturn, it's thought that his investment/real-estate holdings were sufficient to allow him to "pick his spots" when it came to wrestling, and this meant eschewing the US indie scene and competing exclusively on overseas tours where he (and other ex-WWE stars) are heavily promoted as major stars in front of big arenas full of fans. Martin had competed on a tour of Japan earlier this year, and was slated to return to Europe later this month.

Instead, Andrew Martin finds himself back in the minds of wrestling fans today for an altogether different and unfortunate reason. After a lengthy stretch of Wrestling Deaths that seemed limited to reasonable and/or natural causes, we once again find ourselves contemplating a case of a guy passing away while still in the absolute prime of his life, and wondering how it is that another healthy 30-something-year-old man can drop dead. In briefly eulogizing Test, Jim Ross has revealed that Martin completed an in-patient drug-rehab program last autumn (on WWE's dime, as part of WWE's out-reach to their alumni who may be dealing with the Personal Demons), and was thought to be doing well. Then again, Test's decision to take WWE up on the offer of rehab only came after a late-night arrest for drunk driving, so again, we come back full-circle to the whole issue of "lifestyle" and how it's kinda hard to sit here and blithely pretend like there's gonna be some sort of perfectly logical explanation for why this has happened...

OO will continue to provide updates and information on this story as details become available, so keep on checking back for that... and until then, it goes without saying that we offer our condolences to all of Andrew "Test" Martin's family, friends, and fans.


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 


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