Professional wrestling certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Not only does the gruelling sport wear on ones physical body, but it also certainly wears on one emotionally over time as well. Few jobs are as physically and mentally demanding as pro-wrestling, and as such, many former wrestlers health (again, both physical and mental) starts to deteriorate following their retirement from the squared circle. It is a tragic symptom of a business that sees its employees spend almost their entire careers on the road and taking bumps in front of huge crowds.
Many of the big stars you grew up idolizing who performed for large wrestling promotions such as the WWE look absolutely nothing like they did during the peak or prime years. Instead, a bulk majority of those said wrestlers have lost most of their physique, they look years older than they actually are, and they have become as some fans like to say “washed up”. However, that’s not to say that ALL wrestlers deteriorate to that extent following their retirement, as some have actually improved in the looks department with age (perhaps resulting from a healthier lifestyle).
With that being said, today’s article delves into detail regarding 15 former wrestlers who have become completely unrecognizable with age – and I assure you, some of these are absolutely shocking to say the least.
15. Val Venis
Val Venis is remembered by wrestling fans for being that wild character who was basically a male “film” star. The Attitude Era was certainly a time for “pushing the boundaries”, as Val’s gimmick most definitely would not fit in with today’s world of professional wrestling – especially not in the WWE. However, Val Venis has become enshrined in our memories due to his rather memorable persona, and he had a pretty good run back in his heyday during his initial WWE stint. That said, taking a look at the photograph above, Val Venis is almost completely unrecognizable presently compared to what he looked like during his prime. Now bald and relatively out of shape, Val looks nothing like the charismatic character who shouted “Hello Ladies” on a weekly basis.
“The Ugandan Giant” Kamala was one of the most fearsome WWE wrestlers of the 80’s. Known for his white face paint and a crazy expression, Kamala dominated much of his competition – though he was mainly utilized as a “jobber to the stars” on most occasions. Never the less, Kamala’s still a very recognizable performer due to his menacing appearance.
However, life hasn’t been all too kind to Kamala as the years have flown by. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you may not even recognize Kamala if you were to see him out and about in public due to the fact that he has aged quite a bit, and has unfortunately become wheelchair-bound due to complications of high blood sugar and diabetes (both his legs were unfortunately amputated due to his deteriorating health).
13. Spike Dudley
I think it’s safe to say that most of us clearly remember who Spike Dudley is. Mainly remembered for being the “runt” of the Dudley Family, Spike always made sure that he entertained the ECW and WWE Universe. Although Spike was never regarded as being a real “threat” or “competition”, he still pulled off his role well – similar to SmackDown Live’s James Ellsworth. Following his departure from the WWE in 2005, Spike has made various appearances for TNA Impact Wrestling and on the Indies. However, if there’s one thing for certain when it comes to Spike Dudley, it’s the fact that he has become almost completely unrecognizable with age. The photo above showcases what Spike looks like now, and had he not been wearing those “Dudley” glasses, I for one would’ve had a very hard time figuring out who exactly he was.
12. Typhoon (AKA Tugboat)
Tugboat, also known as Typhoon or the infamous WCW “Shockmaster” has become very unrecognizable with age. Now sporting a white beard, the former one-time WWE Tag Team Champion looks like any ordinary person – certainly not a former “wrestling star”. However, believe it or not, the man behind the white beard is in fact the legendary “Shockmaster”, and he currently works as a safety manager for Gaffin Industrial Services (a building cleaning company).
Though Tugboat never captured a singles championship in WWE or WCW, the fact remains that he had memorable runs in both companies and he’s gone down in the history books as being apart of one of the most infamous wrestling moments of all time – The hilarious WCW Shockmaster debut angle which took place at the Clash Of The Champions XXIV pay-per-view. That entire debut segment has to to rank among the funniest moments in Sports Entertainment history, no doubt!
As some of you are probably aware, Droz’s professional wrestling career ended rather abruptly (and sadly) back in 1999 following a severe neck injury he suffered during a match with D-Lo Brown – Droz was unfortunately left quadriplegic and is now bound to a (cool and creative) tank-like wheelchair which had been designed by Droz’s friend (and Under Armour founder) Kevin Plank. Though it could’ve been extremely easy for Droz to hold a grudge against D-Lo Brown for being a factor in why his career-ending injury occurred in the first place, Droz has stated on multiple occasions that he holds no animosity towards D-Lo, and that he believes it was an unfortunate accident. However, if there’s one thing for certain, it’s the fact that Droz looks absolutely nothing like he did during his prime wrestling days due to the tragic injury.
10. Ahmed Johnson
Ahmed Johnson was most definitely a polarizing professional wrestler back in his “heyday” during the mid 90’s due to his impressive size and overall look, and he had “WWE main eventer” written all over him – though unfortunate injuries held his career back in the end. On multiple occasions, Johnson was given the opportunity to compete for the most coveted prize in all of Sports Entertainment – the WWE (WWF) Championship, but as I mentioned before, injuries prevented such bouts.
However, Ahmed Johnson still has one championship to his credit, the Intercontinental Championship, and quite fittingly, Ezekiel Jackson has held the same gold on one occasion as well (a very similarly built performer who came years later). That being said, since hanging up the boots in the early 2000’s, Ahmed Johnson has lost a large majority of his muscle mass, and he looks almost nothing like he once did. Completely unrecognizable.
I think it’s common knowledge by now that Sunny, one of the most popular WWE Divas of all time, has had an incredibly rough and up/down life following her retirement from Sports Entertainment in the early 2000’s due to substance abuse and in a general sense, poor life decisions. However, the WWE has accepted Sunny despite her shortcomings, as she was inducted into the Hall Of Fame back in 2011 (though it was reported that Sunny had tried flipping her Hall Of Fame ring on eBay which shows desperation). Without a doubt, Sunny will go down in the history books as being one of the most gorgeous WWE Divas of all time, but that certainly would be hard to believe if you were to take how Sunny looks now into consideration. After years of “partying it up” and abusing substances, Sunny has aged rather rapidly, and she’s quite unrecognizable compared to what she once looked like.
8. Meng (AKA Haku)
Long regarded as being one of the toughest professional wrestlers of all time, Meng, also known as Haku is almost entirely unrecognizable compared to what he looked like back in his prime wrestling years ( the 80’s and 90’s). Haku has traveled all across the globe to wrestle, and he has performed in both the WWE and WCW where he captured the Hardcore Championship in WCW and the Tag Team Championship in WWE alongside the great Andre The Giant.
So many wrestlers including the likes of The Rock, Ric Flair and Stone Cold Steve Austin have all went on record to state that Meng was the toughest wrestler they ever knew, and there are countless stories to back up those claims including one which described a time when it took 13 guys to remove Meng and Ric Flair from a bar. Haku proceeded to laugh at the cops who had pepper sprayed him much to the disbelief of onlookers.
Mideon is mainly remembered by wrestling fans for being apart of The Undertaker’s Ministry Of Darkness stable in the late 90’s. However, aside from being one of ‘Taker’s stooges” so to speak, Mideon also had a run in the WWE portraying one-half of The Godwinns alongside Canterbury. They captured the Tag Team Championships on two occasions. After a fairly short run with the Ministry Of Darkness, Mideon took part in a couple more feuds up until his departure from the WWE in 2001.
Mideon, real name Dennis Knight retired from professional wresting in 2006, and following his retirement Mideon pursued becoming a chef considering he has a passion for cooking. Now, Mideon runs his own private catering company called Dennis Knight Catering. That being said, taking a look at the fairly recent picture of Mideon above, I think it’s safe to say that he has become unrecognizable with age.
6. Bull Nakano
Bull Nakano has to rank among the top Women’s Wrestlers of the 90’s, as she dominated much of her competition in both the WWE and WCW. Nakano is a former WWE Women’s Champion, and her feud with Alundra Blayze was certainly memorable. However, unfortunately for Bull, her career was cut relatively short back in ’97 due to injuries. She could have remained a major player had she continued her career. Following her unfortunate retirement in 1997, Bull Nakano decided to become a professional golfer, and she has stayed relatively out of the spotlight. The photograph above showcases what the former Women’s Champion looks like today, and if you ask me, she looks totally different now compared to what she did during her prime wrestling days – quite unrecognizable.
5. Johnny B. Badd
Johnny B. Badd is widely remembered by pro wrestling fans for his tenures in both WWE and WCW throughout much of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s. Though Johnny never won a World Championship, he still captured some titles including WCW’s Television Championship 3 times, and the WWE Intercontinental Championship once. It’s not arguable that Johnny B. Badd was a stereotypical “pretty boy”, because he most certainly was concerned about his dashing looks at all times.
Since hanging up the boots in 2006, Johnny (real name Marc Mero) has made appearances at many schools throughout Florida to lecture adolescents and young adults on the dangers of substance abuse and bullying. Now at 57 years old, if you were to see Johnny B. Badd walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t recognize the former IC Champion at first due to his quite significantly changed appearance.
4. One Man Gang (AKA Akeem)
The One Man Gang, also known as Akeem, looks completely unrecognizable now due to age. Though Akeem was never a bonafide main event caliber Superstar, he still spent his fair share of time in the spotlight for both the WWE and as well in WCW, and he’s definitely regarded as being a memorable character.
I remember one of my first wrestling action figures growing up as a kid was the great blue and yellow striped Akeem, so there will always be a special place in my heart for the 450 pound monster. Despite being out of the limelight for many years now (since the late 90’s), the One Man Gang still appears on the Indies every now and then. Now at 57 years old, Akeem looks completely unrecognizable as you can probably tell after viewing the recent picture of him above – though he’s still kept most of his impressive size.
3. Tank Abbott
Now let’s be honest, Tank Abbott will never be regarded as being a great professional wrestler. Mainly remembered by sports fans for being a MMA/UFC fighter, Tank Abbott had a very brief run in World Championship Wrestling between 1999-2000. Tank was originally brought in to WCW to be utilized as an opponent for Goldberg, though their feud never really took off. As a professional fighter, Tank Abbott has 10 wins to his credit and 15 losses (the most recent fight Abbott participated in took place at the King Of The Cage: Fighting Legends event in 2013 where he was defeated by Ruben Villareal). Tank Abbott is now 52 years old, has grown out his beard, and as a result looks nothing like he used to. To some who may not have followed Tank’s career following his WCW release, there’s a great chance that you won’t recognize him at all.
2. Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman was certainly a very talented Cruiserweight Division wrestler. Famed for his tenures in both WCW and WWE, Billy Kidman captured the WCW Cruiserweight Title 3 times, and the WWE’s version of the championship 4 times. Since 2010, Billy has been working for WWE behind the scenes as a road agent/producer much like other retired performers including the likes of Finlay and Jamie Noble.
Billy was definitely smart to hang up the boots when he did (around early 2008), as his health will remain much better moving forward without all the extra wear and tear on his body. Kidman’s been out of the “limelight” for quite a few years now, and judging by the recent picture of Billy showcased above, he’s become rather unrecognizable with age – he looks much more “mature” I suppose you could say.
1. Lex Luger
Lex Luger is by far the wrestler who has become the most unrecognizable with age. Remembered by pro wrestling fans for being an absolutely shredded monster of a man who dominated his competition with ease, Lex doesn’t remotely resemble what he used to look like due to his deteriorating health (mainly caused by a spinal stroke in 2007). Luger is unfortunately wheelchair bound now a days, though he has seemed to remain optimistic despite his situation. Once dubbed “The Total Package”, Lex Luger represented what Vince McMahon desired in his top main event level Superstars – though Luger’s WWE career never really “succeeded” as much as Vince had originally anticipated. However, Lex certainly succeeded in WCW, as he captured their World Championship on two occasions.
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