More On Lance Cade’s Death, WWE Career & Shawn Michaels Feud

Some more information has come to light regarding how WWE parted ways with Lance McNaught, better known as Lance Cade, in 2008. McNaught had been trained as a teenager by Shawn Michaels and was highly touted to go far in the business due to his size (6-5 and 260 pounds), long blond hair and impressive agility. He earned initial comparisons to a young Barry Windham and WWE signed him in 2000, aged 19, along with Michaels’ other students Bryan Danielson, Brian Kendrick and Shooter Schultz. McNaught was also married at 19 but divorced 6 years later, then remarried. They had two children, a daughter, Natallye, 7, and Laryssa, 2, and also had a stepson.

The Michaels students were placed into a Memphis developmental program but after WWE dropped affiliation with it McNaught was the only one kept on. He went to other WWE developmental territories in Cincinnati and Louisville before debuted on Raw in 2003 as Garrison Cade (Lance Storm being under WWE contract at that time).

McNaught’s first run with WWE ended in 2008 after getting the biggest shot of his career. He was made into the bodyguard for Chris Jericho, similar to the Shawn Michaels/Kevin Nash dynamic from the mid ’90s, while Jericho was feuding with Michaels in a top-line program. Cade pinned Michaels clean with a sit-out powerbomb on the 22 September 2008 episode of Raw, winning the Cade/Jericho/JBL vs Michaels/Batista handicap match main event. He had a bad match and Michaels got mad about him leaving the building before shaking his hand and thanking him. Michaels has always been very selective about who he puts over clean and would not have done it for somebody he thought did not deserve the rub. The following week saw a Jericho/Cade vs DX match that ended in a DQ, as he was still being somewhat protected at that point. He was blamed for a missed spot, however, as he was out of position when Michaels did a superkick and Cade decided to sell it anyway despite it clearly having missed. The week after that saw him lose a no-DQ match to Michaels with a decisive defeat and multiple brutal chair shots in a form of punishment. He was then booked against D-Lo Brown on house shows, kept off of the following week’s Raw and released the day after that.

It was then revealed that he had a seizure on a plane flight home. Lilian Garcia was on the same flight and ensured he was rushed to hospital by ambulance after landing. Tests were run but no faults were found. It was assumed that he had taken too many painkillers and, with Michaels no longer supporting him, WWE released him. It was noted that the creative team, including Vince McMahon, was frustrated and upset about it as they had penciled in Cade to be a major star in 2009.

After working the indies and touring Japan, with Hustle, he was called in August 2009 by Michael Hayes. The idea was to bring him in as a top heel on Smackdown to feud with The Undertaker. Vince McMahon was negative about this idea because he did not believe that Cade took the opportunity seriously enough. He was re-hired the following month but the Undertaker feud was scrapped and he was sent to FCW. By December there were plans to push him on ECW but by then he was going through painkiller withdrawal, was having trouble sleeping, and got hooked on sleeping pills instead. By February 2010, after others noted he was slurring his words and unable to focus on conversations, he requested to be put into rehab. WWE monitored him while he was in the program and received positive reports about his progress. By March, however, he received a phone call from Michaels and was informed that he was done and would never be a top guy. The following month he was released. In May he began working for All Japan as a Stan Hansen styled evil foreigner. WWE last contacted him in June and it was around about that point when, according to his wife, he stopped going to his rehab program meetings.

His wife, Tanya Gonzalez McNaught, noticed that he looked ill and had difficulty breathing on August 10. She called an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital, passing out that night before being revived in hospital. McNaught discharged himself the following day but then got mad and left his house too. Tanya heard from father-in-law Harley McNaught at about 4pm, saying that Lance had come to see him at work but did not look well. He took Lance back to his house and Lance passed away later that night. Tanya noted that Lance had not been drinking. She requested that WWE officials called Michaels to tell him the news.

Cade was described as being very hard on himself and not handling pressure very well. After a match he would go over his mistakes again and again, even if they were minor and the match was good. It was felt that he was frustrated about never living up to the expectations that others had of him early in his career. He was also frustrated that he was not making it to the top of the card fast enough, despite only being in his twenties.

Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 23 August 2010 (subscribe here)

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