David Arquette on wrestling ‘death match’ that nearly cost him his life

When he decided to become a professional wrestler, Hollywood actor David Arquette never dreamt it would almost cost him his life.

But after a brutal “death match” which saw the Scream star stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass and rushed to hospital, he admits he questioned whether he was going to make it.

David says: “It nearly cost me my life. I was in way over my head. I was about half an inch from death – it hit my neck muscle.

“I did something in the ring that wasn’t planned, things got out of hand and I pulled the other guy’s legs, which caused me to get stabbed in the neck.”

Luckily David survived his brush with death, partly with the help of his pal, actor Luke Perry.

Luke’s son Jack is also a professional grappler, wrestling under the name Jungle Boy, and was on the same card as David that night.

He says: “For a period of time I wasn’t sure if I was bleeding out or not. I came out of the ring and everyone was quiet. I could hear Luke but I couldn’t see him.

“He said: ‘Davey it’s Luke’ and I said: ‘Luke is it pumping?’ because I was worried I was bleeding out and he said: ‘No it’s not pumping’. I knew at that point I wasn’t dying immediately, I could try to finish the match.”

David did finish the match against Nick Gage, but was then taken to hospital with Luke by his side. While he had a lucky escape, he did win the respect of wrestling fans that night.

You might wonder why David – a member of the famous Arquette acting family and formerly married to Friends star Courteney Cox – would want to put himself in danger that way.

Having loved wrestling as a kid and grown up with icons such as Hulk Hogan, in 2000 he was brought into World Championship Wrestling and it was decided he would win the championship belt as a publicity stunt.

It’s widely regarded as one of the sport’s worst moments, detested by fans. Ever since, David has been desperate to prove himself to the wrestling world – hence his decision to give fighting another shot in 2018.

His journey back to the ring is the subject of a new documentary, You Cannot Kill David Arquette. And the title seems fitting – not only has he battled drug and booze addiction, he also had a heart attack before even starting wrestling.

“I had two stents put in my heart,” explains David. “And as I was going into that surgery – because you think about everything, you think about your life and your family – I kept thinking about wrestling.”

David’s second wife Christina even questioned whether he was trying to kill himself in the ring.

“We went through a lot as a couple,” says David, 49. “After the death match, she was like: ‘I just feel like you want to die’.

“I don’t want to die but life is painful. If you have addiction issues like I do there’s an element in the back of your head that the addict is literally trying to kill you.

“You have to find ways to deal with it so you don’t continue to kill yourself, either slowly or quickly.”

David has also suffered tremendous heartache in the past few years. Not only did Luke Perry die from a stroke last year, David’s transgender sister Alexis also died from a heart attack in 2016 after battling HIV for 29 years.

But the actor has had several experiences which made him feel those he has lost are still with him.

He says: “Losing someone is really painful but a few things have happened to make me feel we are all much more connected.

“For wrestling you shave everything and at one point I was looking at my arms and it was like I was looking at Alexis’ arms, as being transgender she would shave them.

“For a second it was like I was looking through Alexis’ eyes.

“I had that feeling once before when I was sitting with my son Charlie just after he was born, wishing my mum and dad could see him. And I had an overwhelming feeling they were also looking at him at that moment. I think we’re a lot more connected than any of us know.”

While he’s not sure whether he will wrestle again after achieving his dream of getting back in the ring, David does believe it’s allowed him to finally accept himself.

He says: “I accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to prove I could be a wrestler. And through this whole experience I figured out – and it’s ironic – I need to stop beating myself up. “I had to stop attacking myself and be kind to myself, as corny as it sounds.

“I am a champion in my heart and I have to believe that so I don’t go down the other rabbit hole of using substances that numb you.”

Filming has just started on the fifth Scream sequel – where David plays loveable cop Dewey Riley opposite ex Courteney. The slasher franchise has been running since 1996 and this time also stars Jack Quaid, the son of Hollywood stars Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid.

David says: “I knew Jack since he was a little kid and now he’s the same age as I was when I did the first Scream.

“I met my first wife on that film and now I have a 16-year-old daughter as the result of it. It was very intense, a lot of emotion. Scream fans are really going to love it.”

David also believes the secret to his successful relationship with Courteney – the pair have daughter Coco – is simply respect.

“It’s not letting the pain of breaking up get in the way of understanding what you had in the past,” he says. “We have a daughter together so we have to be respectful and that’s what’s most important for us. If you go to war with your ex, typically the only winner is your lawyers.

“If you can be understanding and kind, you can carry on a friendship and that’s really what we were best at anyway.”

*Blue Finch Film Releasing presents You Cannot Kill David Arquette on Digital Download, November 23.

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