It’s important to have a good physique in the world of professional wrestling. While WWE chairman Vince McMahon was always into the big guys, it’s not going to do you any favors if you’re small, or more importantly, overweight. While there was a place for monsters like Earthquake and Yokozuna in WWE, some wrestlers haven’t quite had the same success as their peers based on the amount of weight they’re carrying around.
With that said, appearance seems to be everything these days. There aren’t many “fat” wrestlers around in WWE or TNA, and if they are, they’re more or less being teased for having no muscle or lackluster bodies (see Grado). But what about wrestlers who once looked good, but now don’t?
If anything, those are the ones who struggle the most. For some talents who competed years ago, it’s hard to maintain the body they once had. As human beings, we all let ourselves go, but when you’re a professional athlete, or better yet, a wrestler, it’s a lot more obvious when you put on a few pounds.
Wrestling has seen its fair share of weight problems over the years, and even though some past wrestlers don’t mind carrying it around since their careers are over, they may need to rethink their diet choices. For those still competing, they definitely need to make sure to not get any bigger.
As one half of the APA, Bradshaw was a rugged, no-nonsense Texan who served best as a brawler. He was sort of like a combination between Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy, and The Undertaker. As a barroom brawler, him and his partner Faarooq enjoyed much success as a tag team in WWE.
When Bradshaw traded his APA look for a more clean-cut cowboy one as a heel, he started to beef up a bit – but not in a good way. In the mid-2000s, Bradshaw started to be known as John “Bradshaw” Layfield, and had a conservative redneck gimmick as he began to be pushed to the main event. But his arms weren’t massive anymore and his gut looked quite flabby. It was as if he stopped going to the gym, and it really started to show as he was only wrestling in what seemed to be a black pair of underwear.
14. Tommy Dreamer
When Tommy Dreamer first started in ECW, the fans hated him. He was basically a pretty boy from New York, and his look was as vanilla as ever. He wore generic wrestling tights, had good hair and a better physique than most. Then after taking multiple kendo stick shots from Sandman, proving his hardcore worth, the toughest wrestling crowd there was grew fond of him.
Dreamer eventually made it to WWE as part of the Invasion angle, and did well for himself in the promotion, winning the Hardcore Championship 14 times, and even held WWE’s version of the ECW title. As one of the faces of the company’s abysmal ECW venture, Dreamer looked as if he hadn’t hit a gym since his early days in the Philly upstart promotion. He even had stints in TNA and his own House of Hardcore, where he basically wore a t-shirt and track pants to mask how out of shape he was.
13. Abdullah The Butcher
Abdullah The Butcher was always a big guy, but over the past few years, he’s gotten pretty big. He is now 75 years old, and could be considered obese. He wrestled up until a few years ago too, appearing mostly in Japanese promotions NJPW and Dragon Gate.
He first started his career at over 350 pounds, but as time went on, Abdullah got bigger and bigger. By the late 1990s, he was huge, and even though he was a hardcore wrestler, he couldn’t move all that much – he could barely even walk.
Abdullah was also accused of infecting multiple wrestlers with Hepatitis C, as indie wrestler Devon Nicholson was awarded over $2 million in damages after being infected by one of Abdullah’s weapons.
12. Mickie James
While Mickie James will soon be making a big comeback as part of WWE’s SmackDown Live program, the company wasn’t always kind to her. She will be best remembered for her great feud alongside Trish Stratus, where she tasted glory as a Women’s Champion at WrestleMania 22. But a few years later, James had put on some weight and even though her sudden gain didn’t look all that bad, the company felt she didn’t look like the typical “Diva” that WWE looked for in their women.
She was subject to harassment from LayCool, who constantly called her “Piggy James,” and the angle will go down as one of the most insensitive ones WWE has ever produced. To make matters worse, WWE canned James in 2010 after she couldn’t lose weight.
When he first emerged as a babyface lightweight, it was easy to get behind the 1-2-3 Kid. He upset Razor Ramon on early episodes of Monday Night RAW, and his style was energetic and enigmatic.
Years later, X-Pac held multiple titles in WWE, including the European Championship and the Tag Team Championship, to name a few. But after his heel turn, where he generated “X-Pac Heat,” Sean Waltman had severed ties with WWE and began to wrestle elsewhere. He was under the influence of heavy drugs shortly after, and even tried to commit suicide. Now, looking at Waltman, he’s nowhere near in shape, and it started to show in his later years while wrestling. While nobody can preserve their good looks as a youth, Waltman looks like he’s teetering on being a heavyweight these days, which is rather sad.