TAMPA — When Andrew "Test" Martin entered the wrestling ring as the blond-haired bad guy, the crowd booed. He'd scowl and trash talk the baby-faced wrestlers.
And when muscular Martin was the good guy, he'd smile and wave to his fans. They cheered when his character "proposed" to wrestling executive Stephanie McMahon.
Either way, they loved him.
Martin, 33, was found dead in his Harbour Island apartment Friday night. The cause of his death is unknown, but police don't suspect foul play.
He died just four days short of his birthday.
Hundreds of fans took to the Internet on Saturday, posting tribute videos and messages about what the former wrestling champion meant to them.
Two men said their favorite memory of Martin was when he fought wrestler Chris Jericho in 2003 in Ottawa. The two left the ring and fought in the stands. As they moved up to the second level, fans reached out to touch them.
At about 8 p.m. Friday, police went to the Post Harbour Place apartments at 725 Harbour Place Drive to check on Martin. A neighbor had reported that she could see in his apartment through a window and that Martin appeared motionless for several hours, Tampa police said.
Officers went into the apartment and found Martin dead. The county Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of his death.
On his MySpace page, Martin wrote that he was going to leave Monday for a two-week trip through Europe, making stops in France, Sweden and Belgium.
"I'm looking forward to this trip," he wrote.
Martin, who was 6 feet 6 and about 280 pounds, had been wrestling in independent shows and had recently traveled to Japan.
He is originally from Canada and was a wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment from 1998 to 2004, and again from 2006 to 2007. He was trained by famous Canadian wrestlers Bret Hart and Leo Burke.
He also wrestled with Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
Martin made news in April when he was arrested in Pasco and charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.
He dated wrestler and model Barbara Blank of Jacksonville for about two years, her sister, Mary Blank, said. They recently broke up but were still good friends, said Mary Blank, 19. Barbara Blank uses the ring name "Kelly Kelly" at WWE events.
"That was the love of her life," she said.
Mary Blank described Martin as part of the family, saying he'd drive up to Jacksonville for Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. The last time Mary Blank saw him was the Fourth of July.
"We all loved Andrew," she said. "He was a great guy."
The Blank family doesn't have any ideas about the cause of his death, she said.
Barbara Blank flew to Florida today. She was in Texas for a show when she got the news Friday night.
"She's not doing well at all," her sister said.
Her MySpace status reads, "You were my world my best friend the one i always ran to u were always there for me … what happened to our plan … Why did god take u away from me … my heart is always with u and u only … I know your in heaven watching over me now my angel."
In an interview for an upcoming documentary about professional wrestling, The Circus, Martin talked about the negative side of the business. He said it's easy to get into a rut with all the partying and traveling.
"Being in the business and seeing what it's really like takes its toll on you, not just physically but mentally as well," he said.
The interview was taped when he was 32. He said he went to eight funerals that year.
"It opened my eyes," he said. "It made me take my foot out of the grave. … Do I want to join that club? Hell, no, I don't want to join that club."
Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.