IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

WWE confirms Grandmaster Sexay and Nikolai Volkoff have died

Volkoff's rendition of the Soviet national anthem made him an "instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe," WWE said.

World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed that two of its former stars died Sunday in separate incidents.

Brian Christopher Lawler, known as Grandmaster Sexay, died at age 46, and former wrestler Josip Peruzovic, who played beloved Soviet heel Nikolai Volkoff, died at age 70, it said.

Peruzovic was a member of a WWE tag team with the infamous Iron Sheik. Together, the two played villainous characters in battles against well-liked wrestling heroes like Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter and Bruno Sammartino.

Josip Peruzovic, aka Nikolai Volkoff, at Wizard World's Philadelphia Comic Con in Philadelphia in June 2011.Gilbert Carrasquillo / FilmMagic - Getty Images file

Peruzovic retired and joined the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 after an in-ring career that spanned nearly 40 years. His wife said that Peruzovic had heart problems and that she found that he was not responsive when she tried to bring him medicine, according to The Associated Press.

"As one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff's infamous rendition of the Soviet National Anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe as a Superstar they truly loved to hate," WWE said in a statement.

In 2006, Peruzovic made an unsuccessful run for a House seat in the Maryland General Assembly, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Lawler, the son of WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler, gained popularity playing his Grandmaster Sexay character.

As a wrestler for WWE, Lawler was a member of the "Too Cool" tag team and "competed during the height of the Attitude Era," according to the wrestling organization.

After leaving wrestling, Lawler had fallen into some legal trouble.

Corrections officers found Lawler attempting to hang himself in his jail cell, NBC affiliate WMC of Memphis, Tennessee, reported Sunday. Hardeman County jail records confirmed that Lawler was arrested July 7 on charges of DUI and evading arrest.

According to WMC, officers administered CPR until emergency services arrived, but Lawler died at a hospital on Sunday afternoon. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

WWE shared its sadness and extended their condolences to Lawler's his family, friends and fans.