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.
10. Axl Rotten
While he passed away earlier this year due to a heroin overdose, it’s hard to oversee Axl Rotten’s body transformation in the world of wrestling. He wasn’t the smallest guy in ECW, but if anything, he looked like an in-shape heavyweight who swung chairs like it was nobody’s business.
Rotten was invited to WWE in 2005 as part of the ECW brand, but didn’t look quite the same. Him and Balls Mahoney were two guys that looked way different from their time as a tag team years prior. He even made a big comeback at TNA Hardcore Justice in 2010, yet looked a little slow and out of shape doing so.
Just before his death, Rotten was limited to movement due to a spine injury, and unfortunately, that was really damaging to his health and weight.
9. Matt Hardy
It’s not like Matt Hardy ever had a great wrestling body, but as a young babyface in the legendary Hardy Boyz tag team, Matt was looking just fine. His breakup with Lita must have really gotten to him, though, because that’s where he started to let himself go.
Ever since his V1 days, Matt was always getting bigger…and bigger…and bigger. He has wrestled almost everywhere since leaving WWE, and he just seemed to be putting on more weight. He looked severely out of shape in ROH, and now that he’s the top star in TNA, it’s almost as if nobody really cares about his look because he’s doing so well. He’s shed some of the weight and his career has experienced a complete revival with his ‘Broken Matt’ character.
As one half of the Brothers of Destruction, Kane made his presence felt immediately when he attacked his brother The Undertaker at Badd Blood 1997. He was not only more intimidating, but bigger and more jacked.
Then, when Kane unmasked at the orders of Eric Bischoff, he really started to let himself go. He would wrestle shirtless, and his flabby stomach was exposed for the world to see. Up until only a few years ago, Kane didn’t have an impressive body, and some would even call the “Big Red Monster” a bit of a fatty. What caused the sudden change in Kane’s appearance?
He’s stayed in great shape now, but his body weight has always fluctuated. All things considered, it’s pretty impressive that today in his mid 40s, Kane still looks great. Like many others though, he just couldn’t keep up his best appearance at all times.
7. Triple H
Triple H will always have one of the best physiques the wrestling world has ever seen. As Terra Ryzing in WCW, he was a huge, muscled wrestler who looked like he had lots of potential. When he ventured off to WWE, he was much smaller, but started to get jacked up when he entered the main event picture.
When he made his comeback in 2002 after his quad tear, he looked so big that he was more of a cartoon character than a human being. But after turning heel and starting Evolution, Triple H lost all that muscle, and eventually looked…well, really fat. His feuds against Booker T, RVD and Scott Steiner were lackluster, and all that weight he had gained really slowed him down.
After another quad tear in 2007, Triple H got even slower in the ring and at one point, his muscles looked deflated, while his gut inflated.
That’s not the case now, but if you ever want to be put to sleep, watch one of Triple H’s matches from those days and you’ll see what we mean.
Goldust didn’t always have a perfect wrestling body, but under the gold suit, he was able to hide it a bit. It didn’t help that the suit was skin-tight, yet if anything, Goldust looked like a guy who didn’t take performance enhancing drugs and just went with his natural body.
After his third stint in WWE, Goldust moved to TNA where he was known as Black Reign, which was somewhat of an off-shoot from his gimmick in WWE. He didn’t look good, though. He had gained a ton of weight, and looked so out of shape that it was almost embarrassing to see him that way. He surely didn’t train anymore, and it showed. Thankfully, Goldust has gotten in better shape over the past few years, and his career has rejuvenated.
5. Scott Hall
We all know the Scott Hall story – he was on the cusp of greatness as Razor Ramon in WWE, almost reaching the top of the mountain but left for WCW. Hall felt like he wasn’t going to be in the main event picture, while WWE officials felt it was a trust problem. After his career in WCW, Hall wrestled in TNA and in the indies for a bit, but looked like a shell of his former self.
Hall, who is now relatively healthy thanks to DDP Yoga, looks way bigger than he did as a wrestler. He doesn’t have the pretty boy looks, and his body isn’t chiseled anymore. While some feel that’s what happens when you get healthy, it’s important to remember Hall was looking pretty big as a wrestler when his substance abuse problems were at an all time high.
Yokozuna, who was not Japanese and actually Samoan, was one of the best big men to ever step inside the squared circle. He was a great WWE Champion, and his feuds with The Undertaker and Bret Hart showcased exactly how a man of that stature can perform.
But as time went on, Yokozuna gained a ton of weight, and clocked in at around 700 pounds while still wrestling. According to his peers, he loved eating fast food on the road, and it finally caught up with him. As a face in 1996, he looked way bigger than he did two years before, and even his movement was a little different. Even his angles were starting to look weird, as he participated in matches where he would accidentally break the ropes or have to be carried out on a forklift.
The big man died at age 34 from heart failure while in Liverpool, England.
When Chyna first emerged as Triple H’s bodyguard, WWE fans hadn’t seen anything like her. She was incredibly masculine, and had pythons for arms. She looked as if she could destroy half of the WWE male roster.
Chyna eventually became an Intercontinental Champion and a Women’s Champion, and started to adopt more femininity. She reminded women to be strong and beautiful, and even though WWE wasn’t kind to her after Triple H and Stephanie McMahon started their affair, she was still a recognizable force in places like TNA and NJPW.
Unfortunately for Chyna, her life started to spiral downwards after wrestling and she lost her physique. Her face looked incredibly puffy, and all that muscle was gone. She started doing adult videos, and she was nothing like the enforcer fans remembered.
The years have surely caught up with Sunny, and they haven’t been too kind to her, to say the least. Once the hottest Diva in WWE history, Sunny was every boy’s dream in the mid-1990s, where she first appeared alongside Chris Candido as part of The Body Donnas. She then went on being more of a hostess and backstage interviewer, not to mention doing commentary from time to time. She eventually made her way to ECW, too, but left the wrestling business a few years later.
Sunny, though, is hardly even recognizable now. She has put on a large amount of weight, and struggled with substance abuse, not to mention being arrested for DUIs and domestic violence. She’s always surfacing in wrestling news from time to time, and she looks bigger every time we see her. Sunny, much like the aforementioned Chyna, also has done adult entertainment work.
1. Kevin Owens
To be fair to Kevin Owens, nobody really thought he had a big chance to make it to WWE. He didn’t look like other wrestlers – his physique looked more like someone who would wrestle hardcore matches and hang out at Burger King hours later after matches. But Owens was an undeniable talent, who surpassed expectations based on his wrestling style and his great work on the mic.
After starting his career in Montreal, Owens looked like a bigger guy, but didn’t have much muscle. After competing in places like PWG. CZW and ROH, he really started to look fat. He was gaining weight by the second, and even Jim Cornette recalls an instance where he was on a break from ROH and came back “morbidly obese.”
In WWE, Owens hasn’t put on too much weight, but looks relatively the same with bigger arms and a leaner gut. He’s still a bigger guy, but it may not matter all that much with that Universal title around his waist (or his shoulder, for that matter).