Back in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, the performers of the WWE were basically “allowed” to use enhancement type substances. As a matter of fact, as it pertains to the earlier days, some indicate that Vince McMahon distributed the substances to his talents backstage.
It was a growing trend and something that needed to be stopped as wrestlers were passing away all too frequently. Following a huge Sports Illustrated report leaking various WWE Superstars to banned substances along with the passing of both Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, the WWE finally had enough and setup a strong Wellness Policy Exam for their talents. The examination process is praised by many and without a doubt - the company is a better place because of it today.
However, such measures needed to be taken some time ago as these ten wrestlers saw their bodies break down because of "the gear". In this article, we’ll highlight those individuals. We’ll also take a look at five Superstars that likely took banned substances, but were not affected in such a toxic manner. Enjoy the article folks and remember, steer clear from “the gear”!
15 Broke Down – British Bulldog
One of the most underrated talents of the 90s, British Bulldog not only had the skill inside the ring, but he was also built like a Greek God. Back in the 90s, the atmosphere backstage was like a circus and as you can expect, banned substances were roaming behind the scenes. Bulldog was one of those wrestlers infusing his body with the dangerous substances.
Sadly, pounding such chemicals into his body on the regular caught up to Davey Boy as he passed away before entering his 40s at the age of 39. Bulldog suffered a heart attack while on vacation and the autopsy revealed that past steroid usage played a big role in his premature passing. Even Bruce Hart when on the record stating that Davey Boy’s enhancement usage cost him his life.
14 Broke Down – Umaga
Another tragic wrestler death, the ever so talented Umaga aka Edward Smith Fatu lost his life in December of 2009 at the tender age of 36. Umaga was an early example that neglecting to get help isn’t always the best idea.
In 2007, a couple of years before his passing, Sports Illustrated had listed Umaga’s name among those purchasing illegal substances online. The former IC Champion was caught purchasing banned growth hormones. His enhancement problems would only continue, in 2009 he failed the WWE Wellness Policy. The company requested a rehab stint but the wrestler was unwilling to listen and parted ways instead. Sadly, he passed away soon after leaving the company as a result of a heart attack due to an overdose. Once again, a rehab stint could have saved a life.
13 Didn’t – Kurt Angle
Nine times out of ten, someone in Kurt’s position would have been on the other side of the list. During his final days with the WWE in ’06, Angle was in a dark place infusing his body with various enhancement drugs, alcohol and even lots and lots of pain killers. The WWE pleaded with Kurt to get help, instead, he left the company and wouldn’t return for a decade.
His problems continued away from the WWE, many feared for Kurt’s life including his wife who saw Angle during his lowest of lows. Thankfully, Angle was one of the rare pro wrestlers that saw the light and chose to push the reset button entering a rehab stint. He merely survived his body breaking down and he’s now doing better than ever back with the WWE and more importantly, drug free.
12 Broke Down – Eddie Guerrero
On November 13th, 2005, the world of pro wrestling lost a remarkable human being in one of the most tragic pro wrestling deaths of all-time, Eddie Guerrero passed away due to a heart failure. His nephew Chavo found Eddie unconscious and sadly, it was too late by the time the paramedics arrived.
A big reason as to why Eddie’s heart stopped pumping was due to the fact that he was a perfectionist outside of the ring, working out and doing cardio every single day. Sports Illustrated added salt to the wound claiming that Eddie received various banned enhancement substances in 2005. Of course, the timing of Eddie’s enhancement use was before the WWE initiated the Wellness Policy. Had the policy started in the early 2000s, lots of wrestlers would still be with us today, and we believe that includes Eddie.
11 Broke Down – Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid was tremendous inside of the squared circle, however outside of it, he wasn’t the easiest to get along with and the enhancement use was a big reason for that. Following Benoit’s horrifying incident, Kid was interviewed by CNN and he made some bold statements during the interview.
Kid blamed pro wrestling for the ruining of several lives including his own. Kid stated that steroid usage was a huge reason as to why so many wrestlers broke down, and that included himself. Nowadays, Dynamite is in intensive care as his body is literally fading away as the days go on. Infusing his body with various substances back in the day, his body is feeling the effects of that in the final stages of his life.
10 Didn’t – Randy Orton
Orton is a special talent and that’s evident given the fact that he’s failed the Wellness Policy Exam multiple times, and yet, he maintains his job with the company. In truth, there aren’t many talents that can get away with that.
Orton has admitted to his struggles in the past. Enhancement use wasn’t the only negative substance haunting Randy’s life, alcohol also played a role. Randy was yet another name that was included on the SI report, now we won’t get into detail on what he specifically took, though the list was extremely lengthy and one that raised a lot of red flags.
Unlike most of the others on the list, Orton overcame his vices and at the age of 37, he’s doing better than ever with his new wife and family. Randy is in a good place now, and the WWE Wellness Policy is a major reason as to why.
9 Broke Down – Nicole Bass
WWE is very selective when it comes to the announcement of pro wrestler deaths, this was the case with Nicole Bass who passed away in February of 2017 due to a stroke. The announcement flew under the radar as the WWE did not acknowledge her passing. Both sides ended things on bad terms as Bass took the company to court for a sexual harassment charge.
A former bodybuilder, Bass made Chyna look small. She had a monstrous look, however, she paid the price for such an image infusing her body with illegal substances. In 2006, she was rushed to the hospital because of pancreatitis, the cause of such an illness was steroid usage. A stroke ultimately ended her life as she was taken off life support.
8 Broke Down – Lance Cade
A massive prospect back in the day, Cade was trained by Shawn Michaels. The talent had the look to succeed in the WWE. However, his career never lived up to its potential, Cade did well for himself as a tag team wrestler, but that was his ceiling for success with the company.
Like others on the list, Cade was caught purchasing illegal “gear” substances during his time with the WWE. Failing the Wellness Policy, the company requested Cade get a rehab stint (which he agreed to and completed). A seizure during a plane ride sadly ended his run with the company as he wasn’t fit enough to continue with the WWE. Sadly, shortly after his release, the former WWE Superstar passed away due to an overdose, the autopsy found various illegal substances in his body.
7 Didn’t – Edge
A shocking name to come out of the Sports Illustrated document featured the Rated R Superstar Edge receiving banned substances. Following the news, Edge was suspended for the first and only time in his career as he faced the 30 day suspension due to the leaked document. At the time of the news, the Wellness Policy was basically just getting started within the company.
Unlike the others, substance abuse really didn’t seem to affect Edge one bit, although he was forced to retire, that by all indications had nothing to do with enhancement usage. Instead, his body was in terrible shape given the years of rigorous work he put in. Edge faced paralysis had he not called it a career. Away from in-ring competition nowadays, Edge is doing just fine as a terrific podcast host alongside Christian.
6 Broke Down – Ryback
For the next two entrants on the list, we take a look at Superstars whose bodies broke down, however thankfully, they’re still with us today and doing well, in terms of health.
Before his WWE days, Ryback admitted to infusing his body with lots and lots of testosterone. Ryback himself made the claim that his body completely “shut down” as his testosterone levels plummeted. It took the Big Guy a while to recover, but thankfully, he was able to maintain his levels eventually.
Props to Ryback who was natural throughout his WWE run. Although that’s hard to believe, the former IC Champion takes pride in the fact that he conformed with the policy throughout his career with the WWE. Rarely does he praise anything the WWE does, though he did praise the company for the random drug testing calling the process very legitimate.
5 Broke Down – Chris Masters
Like Ryback, Chris Masters took the route of banned substances which helped his incredible physique from back in the day. The Masterpiece was a huge deal in the company when he began, the WWE had high hopes for the California native. Of course, McMahon loved his look which influenced the push.
However, the Wellness Policy set back Masters career as he failed the examination process multiple times. He would ultimately return to the WWE looking like his body broke down, appearing half the size and looking 20 years older. Nowadays, Chris is actively competing for Impact/GFW, looking decent. However, you’d never think he was 34, looking like a dude in his 40s. The “gear” usage certainly took a toll on the Masterpiece, but thankfully, he appears to be doing much better nowadays.
4 Didn’t – Brock Lesnar
Aside from diverticulitis, Lesnar’s personal health really hasn’t been in jeopardy at any point due to banned substances. He did however admit to be in a dark place during his initial WWE run, Lesnar recalls his final stint with the company being a complete blur as his body was littered with prescribed drugs such as pain killers along with huge amounts of alcohol. Lesnar recalls drinking a bottle of alcohol a day.
Leaving the WWE, he was able to get out of that downward spiral. The UFC recently caught Lesnar using an anti-estrogen substance meaning, he was using a testosterone substance during his WWE run. Basically, he was using the anti-estrogen to lower his t-levels for the UFC, which were likely unnaturally high. Despite the enhancement use, his body hasn’t broken down because of “the gear”.
3 Broke Down – Test
Passing away at the age of 33, Test was another tragic death that happened way before it should have. The company had high hopes for the big man early on putting him in a storyline alongside Stephanie. The Canadian lacked charisma which ultimately demoted his talent as a mid to lower card performer throughout his time with the WWE.
Test’s death was deemed an overdose as he was spotted motionless through the window if his condo by a close neighbour. Enhancement usage did play a part in Test’s premature passing, as he was yet another wrestler from the 90s to use banned substances. At the time of his passing, Test was out of the WWE and trying his hand in a different career as he entered the bright lights of Hollywood taking part in lower scale films and TV shows.
2 Broke Down – Chris Benoit
Clearly, Benoit was not well, particularly mentally. Physically, he looked as good as he normally did, but outside of his physique, the wrestler was a mess as his mental capacity resembled someone who was not in their 40s.
Enhancement usage was a big reason as to why Benoit spiraled, many even labelled his horrifying acts as one of “roid rage”. Like Eddie, Chris had a knack for being perfect outside of the ring, training hard every single day. That consistent commitment and infusing his body with drugs led to his terrible and tragic downfall. Soon after his death, the WWE knew something needed to be done and the Wellness Policy launched shortly after. Since his death, the WWE has erased Benoit footage out of their archives and nobody blames them for it.
1 Didn’t – Triple H
Triple H’s nutritionist Dave Palumbo recently dropped a monumental bomb claiming Hunter likely took banned substances and stating that certain talents aren’t tested by the WWE. Of course, such news really isn’t all that shocking, especially with Brock failing a UFC drug test recently, however, it was still something to hear a guy so close to Triple H make such claims.
Given his insane body as he nears his 50s, we have reason to believe that banned substances were likely used. However, they haven’t played a negative role in the slightest as like Vince, Hunter rarely sleeps committing his life to the world of sports and entertainment behind the scenes. At the age of 48, Hunter is expected to once again whip himself into in-ring shape as he takes on Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 34.