Ashley Massaro, the winner of WWE’s 2005 Diva Search, has passed away at the age of thirty-nine. TMZ reports that Massaro died in a hospital in Suffolk County, New York on early Thursday morning. Massaro was transported from her home to the hospital, where she passed. The cause of death has yet to be revealed, but it is being classified as “non-criminal” according to the site.
Massaro joined WWE through the 2005 Diva Search, where she competed alongside the likes of Leyla Milani and Kristal Marshall (now Kristal Lashley). Massaro won the competition and was signed to a one-year contract as a result, worth $250,000. She immediately feuded with Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle and teamed with Trish Stratus in a series of matches against Wilson, Michelle and Victoria. After an broken left tibula in February of 2006, she was out for several months and returned on the Smackdown brand. She would go on to eventually feud with Melina in a match that culminated in an unsuccessful attempt to win the Divas Championship at WrestleMania 23.
Massaro would continue to work for WWE for another year and appeared in Playboy while working for the company in 2007. She also appeared on Survivor: China that year and did some other promotional work, including an appearance alongside Kane in an episode of Smallville. She would be released from the company in April of 2008.
Massaro gained headlines in 2016 when she joined a class action lawsuit against WWE over the company’s treatment of talent in relation to concussions. She claimed in her filing that she was sexually assaulted while in Kuwait in 2006 to visit American troops on behalf of the company. The concussion lawsuit was eventually dismissed. She said back in March that she was training for a return to the ring.
WWE has issued a statement on Massaro’s passing, which reads:
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. WWE offers its condolences to Ashleys family and friends.
On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Ms. Massaro.