The WWE Hall of Fame is an elite group of wrestlers who have blazed trails for those that have followed them. Despite all of the greatness these select few have accomplished inside the ring, many Hall of Famers have faced adversity at many points during their career. These challenges come in a variety of different forms, including drug addiction, issues with the law and health issues. While some of the best still struggle with these issues today, many were able to deal with them enough to contribute significantly to the business and earn places in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Not all of these dark secrets end in tragedy. As a matter of fact, many WWE Hall of Famers have turned their lives around for the better after conquering their biggest demons. It can be argued that the WWE's generosity in paying for various forms of rehab for its performers is a significant contributor to this. Other Superstars are able to move on from darker stages of their lives, essentially dissociating themselves from more challenging times. Yet the past cannot be rewritten, and in the modern era, a wrestler's past lives on forever.
Here are 15 of the darkest secrets associated with WWE Hall of Famers.
15 Kurt Angle's Alcoholism and DUIs
Recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Kurt Angle is one Hall of Famer that has turned his life around significantly in the past few years. Over the course of the past decade, Kurt Angle has been arrested at least four times after driving under the influence of alcohol. His last alcohol-related arrest occurred in 2013, and Angle announced that he was entering rehab almost immediately after news of his arrest made it to the Internet. Angle also struggled with an addiction to prescription painkillers, including Vicodin. Now more than four years sober, not only is Kurt Angle in the WWE Hall of Fame, but he has an on-screen role as Raw's General Manager. Angle has also developed an app, Angle Strong, to help those who are addicted to alcohol break the addiction cycle.
14 Verne Gagne Linked To Man's Death
This incident happened years after Verne Gagne was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In 2009, the legendary promoter was accused of slamming a 97-year-old resident of the senior residence he resided in down to the ground, breaking his hip. Both men suffered from Alzheimer's disease and didn't remember the incident. The man Gagne slammed died due to complications arising from the injury. Gagne was not charged as a result, due to his dementia limiting his mental capacity. Following the incident Gagne was moved to another institution and since Gagne was not aware of his actions or couldn't understand the consequences of what he had done, criminal charges were not pursued. Authorities speculated that perhaps the incident could have stemmed from Gagne having a flashback to his days in the ring.
13 Sunny's Rainy Days
Tammy Sytch has been through hell and back throughout her two-decade career in professional wrestling. She's openly admitted that she's struggled with drug addiction, and the WWE has paid for her rehab multiple times. The company even stated that they would no longer pay for her rehab, yet Sytch told TMZ they have continued to do so. She also suffered from a wide range of health issues after her WWE tenure, including appendicitis and thyroid issues that led to her unintended weight gain. She would return to the WWE in 2007, 2009 and 2011 in fantastic shape. While Sunny recently re-entered rehab, you have to commend her for having the strength to get her life back on track. She is a fighter, and her everlasting will to keep fighting her addiction battle deserves some respect.
12 Pat Patterson's Inability to Formally Come Out
In the modern era, this would not be a dark secret. However, when Patterson was in his prime, coming out as "gay" in a formal capacity could have gotten him blacklisted from various companies. Some acknowledge that this is one of the most poorly kept secrets in professional wrestling history, yet Patterson never officially came out until a few years ago on the WWE Network show, Legends House. It's great that Patterson was able to have that moment and to finally be his true, authentic self without living in fear. Yet the 1970s and 1980s did not provide him with that chance. There are a number of openly LGBTQ Superstars on the WWE roster today, including Darren Young, Paige and Daria Berenato. But now is also a different (and more accepting) time to be an LGBTQ athlete than during Patterson's career.
11 Fabulous Moolah Accused of Pimping Out Trainees
Fabulous Moolah is regarded as one of the original female wrestlers and as the longest-reigning WWE Women's Champion of all-time. She's also the first woman to ever be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Yet she's been accused of some of the most distasteful things anyone could be accused of, regardless of gender. Moolah helped trained many women that wrestled in the 1970s and 1980s, including Wendi Richter, Leilani Kai and Sherri Martel. Yet some of the ladies she helped train, including Luna Vachon, have come out and said that Moolah forced her trainees into uncomfortable situations with other men. The family of Sweet Georgia Brown said that Brown was raped on the road. Despite these allegations, Moolah would appear on WWE television semi-regularly up until her death in 2007.
10 Scott Hall Killed A Man
Scott Hall is known as a lot of things, but not many people realize that he's actually killed a man before. In 1983, he got into a dispute with someone outside of a nightclub, wrestled a gun away from said person and shot them. He would then be charged with second-degree murder, but the charges would be dropped due to a lack of evidence. Hall has said he did shoot the man, but as a form of self-defense. This incident didn't stop him from having a very successful in-ring career in the WWE and WCW, and he earned himself a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014 under the Razor Ramon moniker. Hall has said the incident still haunts him to this day and can't escape it.
9 Hulk Hogan's Racism
Hulk Hogan was a judge on WWE's Tough Enough when news broke of him using a racial slur to describe his daughter's at-the-time boyfriend. He ranted about the thought of his daughter being with a black man while repeatedly using the n-word. The WWE would then announce his release, stating that they celebrate people of all backgrounds and identities. Hogan's lawyer claimed that Hogan would resign. Hogan went on to file a lawsuit against Gawker and was eventually rewarded with a hefty sum for his privacy being violated, but he still suffered in terms of his legacy and public image.
After the incident, Hogan has rarely been mentioned on WWE programming and was completely removed from the WWE's website. He's been rumored for an eventual return to the company once the incident is far in the rearview mirror.
8 Shawn Michaels' Drug Battle
It's not a secret that Shawn Michaels' Christianity is an important part of his life. Crosses were often found on his ring gear, and he incorporated a prayer into his iconic entrance. Michaels has gone on to say that investing in his faith helped him win his battle with drugs, and once said that he was doing anything to kill himself except putting a loaded weapon onto his hand. Michaels credits meeting his wife Rebecca as a launching pad into discovering his new way of life, as well as hitting rock bottom once WWE released him from his contract in 2001.
Michaels may have been known as a partier, but very few people would realize that with the man who he has become now.
7 Lita's Cheating Scandal
This storyline was a hot commodity in 2005. When news broke out of the scandal, Matt Hardy went loose online and lost his job as a result. Lita would then receive "You Screwed Matt" chants whenever she would be on television. The WWE had no choice but to do the following three things: Turn Lita heel, pair her with Edge and bring back Matt Hardy after his 90-day non-compete clause expired. The WWE did just that, and Lita became one of the largest heels of the 2000s. It appears that the love triangle and the fans have both moved on from the incident, as Lita receives massive pops when she enters arenas today. Yet during the mid-2000s, she was as hated as possible.
6 Jimmy Snuka Accused of Murder
Shortly before his death, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was charged in the death of his former girlfriend in the 1980s. He would be considered unfit to stand trial due to his dementia and the charges would be dropped. Regardless, the WWE decided to remove many aspects of Snuka from its website, including his profile from the WWE's Hall of Fame section. Shortly after the incident occurred, the case went dormant until 2013, when it was announced that the case would be reviewed. However eventually Snuka was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was soon deemed unfit to stand trial. He would pass away early in 2017.
The WWE would produce and air a significant tribute package for Snuka following his passing, yet this left any fans shocked.
5 Jake "The Snake" Roberts' Substance Abuse And Estrangement From His Family
One of the greatest personal comebacks in professional wrestling was done by none other than Jake "The Snake" Roberts. His comeback took a significant turn for the better in 2012, when Roberts moved in with Diamond Dallas Page. Roberts' alcohol and drug use provided him with a wide range of challenges inside and outside the ring.
Roberts also revealed in the 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat, that he was estranged from his daughter at the time and his substance problems caused him to be estranged from his family several times over the years.
In 2012, his weight peaked at more than 300 pounds and he struggled to physically move around. He would later lose 50 pounds and regain much of his mobility. He would return to WWE programming for the first time in almost 10 years for an old school episode of WWE Raw in 2014, placing a trademark snake on Dean Ambrose's face. He would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony later that year, signaling a complete turn-around in his life.
4 Donald Trump's Businesses Filed for Bankruptcy Six Times
Did you know that the current President of the United States is a WWE Hall of Famer? If you didn't, now you do. His businesses have also filed for bankruptcy not once or twice, but on six separate occasions. There's been rumors about plenty of wrestlers being irresponsible with their money, but no wrestler has filed for bankruptcy nearly as many times as Donald Trump's businesses. The last time one of Trump's businesses filed bankruptcy was in 2009, when Trump Entertainment Resorts was hit hard by the 2008 recession.
Trump was inducted into the hall back in 2013 in New York City. Not many could have foreseen one of the 2013 inductees eventually becoming president of the United States, but sure enough, here we are today.
3 Steve Austin's Domestic Violence Accusations
If there is a professional wrestler who was ever considered to be more popular than Hulk Hogan, it is Steve Austin. Shortly after Austin infamously walked out of the company in 2002, his wife, Debra, called the police and told them that Austin had physically assaulted her. Two months later, Austin would be arrested and charged with domestic abuse.
Austin would eventually plead no contest to the charges, pay a fine and be sentenced to community service and probation. His marriage to Debra would end the following year. Since then, very little has been said about the incident, but Debra alleged that Austin went into roid rage several times and beat her. She also claimed WWE placed a gag order on her, since Austin was still one of their biggest stars.
2 Abdullah the Butcher Accused of Spreading Hepatitis C
Abdullah The Butcher is one of the most well-known hardcore wrestlers of all time. However, in recent years, multiple wrestlers have accused Abdullah of spreading Hepatitis C to them in matches. In 2014, Abdullah lost a lawsuit filed by wrestler Devon Nicholson, who claimed that Abdullah bladed him without consent and, as a result, contracted Hepatitis C. Nicholson only found out about his Hepatitis C while undergoing medical examinations for the WWE in the late 2000s. It was undoubtedly one of the darkest secrets ever uncovered in the wrestling business.
When the WWE found out he had the disease, Nicholson's contract offer was rescinded. Abdullah was inducted into the Hall of Fame two years later, while Nicholson has been cured of the disease.
1 The Von Erich Tragedies
The Von Erich family is one of the most respected - and tragic - families in the history of professional wrestling. The family's patriarch, Fritz Von Erich was proceeded in death by five out of his six sons. Three of those deaths, Mike, Kerry and Chris, were the result of suicide. The other two, Jack and David, died from a childhood accident and of a speculated drug overdose, respectively. The last surviving son of the Von Erichs is Kevin, who accepted the family's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009. The family clearly had plenty of issues but since there wasn't internet in those days, plenty of facts were lost under the surface and much didn't come to light until it was too late.