There seems to be a trend of wrestling stars being able to live out their wrestling lives much more easily than they can their actual lives, away from the spotlight.
Unfortunately for some of these wrestlers, their inability to keep the crazy in the ring or simply not become their own worst enemy has changed their statuses as retired wrestlers -- some of whom were the greatest to ever wrestle -- into embarrassed, and sometimes simply disgraced, performers who changed our perspectives and opinions about them for the worst, through any number of actions.
Remember, there are different degrees to the word "disgraced," so some of these entries will be a little on the lighter side, some will probably make you somewhat upset, and some might downright ruin your childhood. Don't say you weren't warned.
Here are 15 disgraced wrestlers we forget were once amazing.
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20 Bret Hart
It's hard to write this here, because Hart is one of my personal favorite wrestlers of all time, but he only has himself to blame.
The "best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be" was a fitting billing. It's no secret that Hart is a legend in the sport, for his charisma, his storytelling, his technical expertise -- which he learned from his father, who learned catch wrestling in prison -- and his amazing stints as a singles wrestler and as a tag team partner with his equally legendary brother Owen Hart.
Bret Hart became the best of what were legends, at a time where you had to compete against everyone from Hogan to Shawn Michaels, and he could have gone on to have an entirely different career had it not been for his falling out with the company following the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back: the Montreal Screwjob.
At this infamous incident, McMahon's fears that Hart would leave to the WCW and take the WWE Championship title with him, so McMahon made sure he wasn't embarrassed by having the referee of Hart's match against Michaels proclaim Shawn Michaels the champion, even though Hart had never tapped out or been pinned.
While he was rightfully upset, Hart has since become very outspoken about the WWE and all of the politics and backstage happenings and, frankly, many wrestling situations that don't really even concern him, like referring to Seth Rollins as a lousy wrestler. He continues to complain about things that did and didn't happen years ago, like the fact that he didn't headline WrestleMania 13, and his ego, which was always present in the ring but ignored for the most part, has gotten to the point that he takes everything personally, including his ratings in video games like EA's WWE wrestling series.
After seeing he was rated lower than Triple H in WWE 2K16, he was insulted, stating, "He isn't fit to lace up my f****ng boots."
Bret Hart has since apologized for his statements about Triple H, Seth Rollins, and some of his other targets, and he's even made up with the WWE brass, sort of, but he's not the legend we once knew. Maybe he deserves to be cut some slack because of what happened to Owen, but The Hitman demolished his own reputation years ago, and the legend is now just an old, whiny guy with a podcast.
Chyna was the 9th Wonder of the World, and the only female athlete on the WWE roster who could believably pin her male counterparts -- something she did pretty often in fact. She was a true icon, and a pioneer in the industry, in her own words, blazing a trail "where no woman had gone before".
While she was one of the best things to happen to the WWE during the Attitude Era, she was let go pretty unfairly after her then boyfriend, Triple H, cheated on her with Stephanie McMahon. After being let go from the company, Chyna's wrestling career was over, and we didn't hear from her again until a sex tape of hers with fellow ex-wrestler X-Pac surfaced and brought a whole new set of complications for her, especially since sex tapes weren't something everybody did in those days.
Chyna took the infamy that came with her leaked movie and did a reality show before going on to perform in several other videos. Unfortunately, things never got better for Joanie Laurer, and her battles with her demons ended in 2016 when she was found dead in her home, at the age of 45.
18 The Great Mae Young
Mae Young wrestled for longer than any sane human being could have ever anticipated. Her career began in 1939 and only came to an end in the year 2010, while she was 86 years young.
During her early years, Young opened up Canada for female wrestlers by helping women take advantage of the fact that their men were all overseas, allowing them to expand their role in the sport. She was a fierce competitor who had learned wrestling with the boys on her high school team in Oklahoma. She became a heel, because, in her mind, the heel carried the show, and the hair pulling, dirty fighting Mae (who actually fought back in those days) became one of the best to ever fight dirty. By the late 1960s, she had become the National Wrestling Alliance's first ever national women's champion.
In the late 90s, she was hired by the WWE along with her longtime friend, and student, the Fabulous Moolah. Mae and Moolah were fan favorites and the outrageous storylines, while some of the worst at times (like Mae giving birth to a hand), were still incredibly entertaining, and Mae proved age was just a number, for the most part, as she hung with wrestlers who hadn't been born by the time she was champ.
Mae should have hung it up in the 90s, at the height of her 'second career', while she was still young enough to compete without fans fearing for her actual safety.
While it's not quite a 'disgrace' to Mae as a person, her extra decade spent wrestling did somewhat disgrace the legacy she built. Mae was never one to do what other people expected though, so maybe her sticking around until there wasn't anything left to give was right in line with her paving the path for female wrestlers everywhere.
17 Mick Foley
This is a similar case to that of Mae Young, since the disgrace is mostly a case of a great wrestler holding on for way longer than they should have. His body was already ruined during his original stint in the WWE, and he's now a shell of the wrestler he once was. In Foley's case, he took matches beyond a time when he should have retired solely for the payday, so what he did to himself, and his family, for money could be considered disgraceful, considering he's done pretty well for himself beyond the ring.
Mick Foley is a hardcore legend, and almost certainly the most famous hardcore wrestler of all time. Mankind, his most popular gimmick, was famous enough to have a cameo appearance in the popular Thirtyrock sitcom, and his book, Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, became #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, pretty much solidifying his spot as a guy who everyone loves.
In the ring, Foley's matches as Dude Love, Mankind, or Cactus Jack were all guaranteed to entertain, with the occasional match so intense that we would be genuinely concerned for Foley's health, even at his prime. It would have been incredible to see Foley in a match today, against Bray Wyatt or even against a fellow lunatic like Dean Ambrose, but it will never happen. Foley was actually supposed to compete against Dean Ambrose in 2012, but he was informed by a neurologist that he is to never wrestle again, and, for his well-being, that's for the best.
16 CM Punk
There was a time when CM Punk was the biggest deal in the WWE, even holding the heavyweight championship for 434 days, but that time was long ago.
CM Punk fell from grace when he began feuding with his manager, Paul Heyman, other wrestlers, and then decided to screw over the WWE by walking out on the company following Royal Rumble in 2014, with months still left on his contract. He followed that up with a 22-page letter to the WWE that detailed royalties he believed he was owed.
Punk's legacy has further been tarnished as of late, when he stepped into the UFC octagon against Mickey Gall, a barely recognizable fighter prior to this match, and got destroyed in under two minutes.
15 "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig
There is a reason Curt Hennig was known as Mr. Perfect. In the ring, many people consider him one of the greatest, if not the greatest wrestler ever, even though he was never world champion in the WWE. He was the complete package, inside and outside of the ring, upsetting fans everywhere with his arrogant heel persona.
Sadly, Hennig's life outside of the ring was far from perfect. After a back injury, Hennig's career was never the same and he never could achieve the status he once had. He eventually was released from the WWE following an semi-altercation that he drunkenly began between himself and Brock Lesnar, while aboard a flight.
The disgrace to his legacy? His death, in 2003, as a result of acute cocaine intoxication, something most fans of Mr. Perfect never expected they would hear.
14 Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka
Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was well known for his high-flying splashes and his feud with Rowdy Roddy Piper, but he was equally as famous (or infamous) for his antics out of the ring.
Snuka had problems with alcohol, and fellow wrestlers have told stories of it actually being unwise to drink with Superfly, for their own sake, which doesn't help the already shaky reputation he built. Buddy Rodgers, Snuka's long time mentor, even told of Jimmy Snuka abusing women other than his ex-girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, who he had been suspected of murdering 32 years ago.
Jimmy Snuka wasn't charged in the original investigation into the murder, but the case was reopened after an unseen autopsy report was revealed which had labeled the death a homicide. Snuka was eventually charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter as a result.
11 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jake "The Snake" was, and still is, one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, thanks in part to the giant, phobia-inducing snake that accompanied him to every match, but also due to his intensity, his in-ring psychology (which the snake played a huge part in, of course), his in-ring skills, and his incredible talents on the microphone as the ultimate heel.
And, if nothing else, the world of wrestling has him to thank for the invention of the DDT.
Unfortunately for Jake Roberts, all that he achieved in wrestling has since been overshadowed by the revelation of his battles with alcohol and drug addiction, particularly cocaine, for nearly twenty years. He was also charged with battery, and arrested twice for unpaid child support.
Roberts has continued to wrestle, which hasn't helped his reputation much, but there is a happy ending to this story as his student and friend Diamond Dallas Page was able to help Roberts with his demons. Roberts has since gotten clean, been inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, and he hopes to wrestle one final match, where he should have all along, in the WWE.
Sean Waltman, AKA X-Pac during his run with the WWE and Syxx while in WCW, was another integral part of the Attitude Era, and one of the key members of the most powerful group of wrestlers in the industry's history -- The Kliq. He was, arguably the second most popular member after Shawn Michaels, and his stint in D-Generation X shot him (along with his stable mates) to superstardom and changed wrestling forever.
Unfortunately for Waltman, these days he's less remembered for his in-ring antics and more for the things he's done outside of the ring, like making a sex tape with his former girlfriend Chyna. The tape was only the tip of the iceberg it seemed, and once it came to light rumors of Waltman being abusive towards Chyna, emotionally and physically, began spreading, mostly from Laurer herself.
It's impossible to know what the truth was, especially since Chyna has passed away, but Waltman's reputation isn't likely to return to what they onwere, especially after he came clean about his problems with meth, on top of everything else.
9 Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura is one of a handful of wrestlers who have a verifiable tough guy background; his occupation before becoming a wrestler was as an underwater demolitions expert during the Vietnam War. After the war, Ventura began wrestling and found success in the WWE as a strong performer and color commentator, and he was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He became mayor, then governor in Minnesota, and he even had a starring role in Predator, the most manly action flick in history.
Unfortunately for Ventura, he was always very against the "system", as in governmental agencies and politicians who conspire to keep common people, people like Ventura, down. When he first retired in 1985 as a result of blood clots in his lungs, which he attributed to exposure to the biological weapon Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and this probably had a huge part to play in his hunt for 'truths'.
While he was always a credible threat to Hogan and other wrestlers, Jesse Ventura always felt like his greatest battle was against things most people laugh at the idea of, like shadow governments, and his post-wrestling career has been focused heavily on exposing conspiracies and uncovering hidden truths, wherever they might be.
To add more fuel to his detractor's fire, his issues with American Sniper author Chris Kyle's depiction of him did not sit well with a lot of people, and his defamation lawsuit for $1.8 million against Kyle's estate upset a lot of people. Even if he was right about the defamation, going after a military hero's wife is almost guaranteed to alienate a ton of people.
Ventura has lived life on his terms, and he has always seemed to be on the right side of things, at least from a moral standpoint, but it's clear that he has became a polarizing figure in his post-wrestling days, and these notorious acts have tarnished what was a great wrestling career, until injuries, wherever they came from, drew it to an end.
5 Hulk Hogan
It's crazy to think Hulk Hogan is this high (or low, depending on your perspective) on this list, but there are actually a few guys worse than him, so he gets to sit comfortably at the number six position.
It's likely you're familiar with Hogan, so there's no need for refamiliarizing ourselves with his career too much, other than remembering that he basically was wrestling in the early 90s, and he was the greatest face ever until his turn in the WCW during the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars that caused everything and everyone to become dark and gritty. Fortunately for Hogan, even his time in the NWO was amazing, and it was hard not to love the veteran wrestler, even as he stuck to his basic moves.
Back then, we all thought Hulk Hogan was the greatest American ever, even as a bad guy, and he'd go down in history as the face of wrestling.
That was, until we learned what kind of a schemer Hogan was backstage, with his manipulating of practically everything behind the scenes in both the WWE and WCW, deciding what wrestlers would get put over and essentially controlling organizations with his pinkie. This was just the first hint of Hogan probably not being the great guy he wanted the world to believe he was.
That inkling was confirmed when a sex tape of Hogan's was leaked by the website Gawker, and what was probably a 'love session' that included gratuitous use of the word "brother" and "Hulkamaniac" was followed by a conversation that was barely more than a racist and homophobic rant. Since then, Hogan has successfully sued Gawker, for tens of millions of dollars, proving that he's definitely a terrible person, and sometimes the bad guy wins big.
Let this be a lesson that nobody who is that orange, unnaturally, should ever be trusted.
4 Abdullah The Butcher
Abdullah The Butcher wasn't the best wrestler, but he was a unique and shocking character who is legendary in the world of extreme wrestling. It also has to be appreciated that a guy his size would use a fork as his main weapon, but his issues aren't related to eating.
Abdullah's reason for being on this unsavory list is due to his habit of blading other wrestlers, whether they like it or not. Billy Graham once shared a story of Abdullah blading an amateur wrestler so badly that the man almost died from blood loss. His fork gimmick looked gruesome because it was, since Abdullah was legitimately stabbing people with the fork he carried around.
To top it all off, Abdullah was also often guilty of blading himself, and his opponent (again, who was sometimes not consenting to the blading) with the same blade, which caused commingling of blood; dangerous enough on its own, but a disgusting act when you consider that Abdullah was also infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
What's worse is that he's still out there on the indy circuit blading wrestlers and putting other people's lives at risk because he deems it so.
Abdullah's reckless blading habits have resulted in him being sued for giving another wrestler Hepatitis C, which caused the man to lose an opportunity with the WWE. Several veterans have also come forward in the documentary that details that incident and lawsuit, saying that The Butcher's induction to the WWE Hall of Fame is a sham, and it's hard to argue with that.
3 New Jack
This guy was never as great as many of the other wrestlers in this article, but his disgusting antics are much worse than most, so he has definitely earned a very low spot.
New Jack was a legend, and was considered "amazing" to a degree, but only in secondary promotions like ECW and other hardcore organizations. He was compelling, but he wasn't so much a wrestler as he was a person who wanted to hurt others while getting away with it legally.
The infamous "Mass Transit" incident, involved him beating a young, aspiring wrestler, blading him too deep, and causing the 17 year old (who had lied about his age) to need to be carried out by medics. Another New Jack incident involved him forgetting about the planned spot and throwing Vic Grimes, his opponent, off of scaffolding, missing the tables he was supposed to hit in the process and somehow luckily hitting the ropes instead of the floor. Vic Grimes could have died that day, and that's what New Jack was hoping for.
On top of these two terrible incidents, New Jack has stabbed several opponents, beaten a stubborn, but old Gypsy Joe, and has been a general terrible human being, all around.
What respect he earned as a hardcore legend is gone these days, and so is New Jack, thankfully.
2 The Dynamite Kid
This man was looked up to by Bret Hart, but also Chris Benoit, which says a lot about his wrestling ability and may also make his character seem questionable right off the bat.
As a wrestler, Billington was one of the best, and a definite legend from the UK. His matches were influential, his feud with Tiger Mask is a classic, he was acrobatic, and his tag team work with Davey Boy Smith as The British Bulldogs is legendary. He was basically almost perfect in every area a wrestler could want to be.
Where Billington falls short is everywhere else. Backstage, Billington would bully other wrestlers, cutting up their clothes, putting laxatives in their food, and even defecating in their bags. In his home life, Billington abused his wife once his wrestling income began to dry up, to such a degree that she considered killing herself and her children, just to get away from him.
One morning, his now ex-wife says she woke up to Billington pressing a shotgun under her chin. When she told him she wanted him to leave, he popped her jaw out using holds and "stretched" her in agony. He gave her fifteen minutes to leave for her sister's home, at which point his brother would return with his gun. Fortunately, his ex-wife was able to escape without being harmed any further.
While I don't wish ill on anyone, it's hard not to think karma caught up to Billington eventually. He's now very ill and has been in the hospital since December of 2015 after suffering a stroke.
1 Chris Benoit
There's really no way to get around what happened in this tragic situation. Chris Benoit was once the brightest of stars, and, in one disgusting act of violence, he demolished anything positive fans ever thought about him and made us uncomfortable to ever look upon him favorably, in any light, ever again.
As a wrestler, Chris Benoit was very talented in the ring, boring on the mic, but an absolute superstar in the WWE. He was a guaranteed Hall of Fame inductee, until the terrible night he murdered his wife, his son, and himself. Benoit's crime was attributed to steroid abuse, concussions, and every other excuse under the sun, and it probably had more to do with altering the course of wrestling forever than any other single event ever.
Whatever the case, the Benoit story is an absolute travesty and much worse than just disgraceful.
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