As you can probably imagine, the life of a wrestler is not an easy one. From backstage politics to personal demons, to the toll such a profession takes on a performer’s body, there is a lot more going on beyond the surface than their glowing faces might let on as they raise their hands in victory. Listen to a shoot interview from just about any wrestler and you’ll find the magic of the production effectively destroyed, the sit-downs full with stories of drug abuse, harassment, criminal behavior and tragic tales of broken people.
This goes two-fold when it comes to the women of professional wrestling who arguably have it even harder, having to navigate the politics and physical tribulations of the sport while also dealing with that pesky glass ceiling and the struggles that come with being a woman in a predominantly male environment. When Lita and Edge were revealed to have both cheated on their spouses in an affair that will live on as one of wrestling’s greatest real-life scandals, guess who took the brunt of the abuse backstage? Stories like this are sadly not uncommon and have lead to some pretty shocking revelations from female wrestlers over the years.
The following list examines some of the most disturbing and/or fascinating confessions female wrestlers have made over the years, either from experiences on the job or traumatic events in their personal lives. After all, anyone who chooses to get beat up week in and week out as a job has got to have had a colorful journey getting there, right?
15 AJ Lee Was Stalked By Wrestling Fans
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not the wrestling industry is harder on women than it is men, consider this Exhibit A. In her raw and unnervingly candid memoir, Crazy Is My Superpower, AJ Lee revealed that she has been stalked by male wrestling fans on many occasions, often after shows. In one particularly chilling story, Lee recalled a pair of fans who followed her all the way back to her hotel and even convinced the desk clerk to tell them which room she was staying in so they could book the room next door. Thankfully in the end, all they wanted was a picture with the former Divas Champion, but it could have ended much worse had they more nefarious intentions.
14 Mickie James’ Childhood Abuse
When Mickie James sat down with Lillian Garcia to be interviewed for her Making Their Way To The Ring podcast, few could have predicted the heartbreaking revelation the six-time women’s champion would divulge. During the emotional sit-down, the legendary women’s wrestler, revealed that both her and her sister had been molested by her step-grandfather from the ages of nine years-old, until she was 15. “I was ashamed,” the future hall of famer explained, “This is why I talk about it now because I feel like I have no reason to be ashamed after everything I’ve accomplished in my life.” James revealed her step-grandfather ended up going to prison for this assault, where he eventually died. She says the trauma had a lasting impact on her psyche, causing her to make regretful decisions in her younger years and that she is only now beginning to process and heal from the ordeal.
13 Lita Was Forced To Bare All On Monday Night Raw
One of the most infamous moments in Raw history has to be when Lita and Edge chose to celebrate his recent WWE Championship win with a “live sex celebration” in the middle of the ring. The segment has not only lived on in wrestling infamy but holds the distinction of being one of the highest-rated moments in Monday Night Raw history. But if Lita had it her way, it wouldn’t have happened at all. During an appearance on Talk is Jericho, the extreme Diva revealed that both her and Edge were adamantly against the idea, saying, “I was just absolutely mortified, we both were.”
However, Lita took things a step further, admitting that it was at Vince McMahon’s request she go topless during the segment to add a sense of realism. “He wanted me naked. He was like, no, you’d be naked. I was like, uh, are you sure?” The WWE Hall of Famer did end up disrobing for the celebration, saying that its high-ratings and unparalleled success is perhaps the only thing she takes pride in from the performance.
12 Sable Said Her Ex’s Death Was “The Best Thing That Could Have Happened”
This next entry isn’t so much a confession as it is an accusation. For as long as there have been WWE Divas, there have been WWE Divas who hate each other and that’s perhaps best exemplified by Sunny and Sable.
The quote-unquote original Diva of the WWE has wasted no opportunities to tell the world exactly how she feels about Sable, including in one shoot interview in which she made a stunning allegation about her feelings towards the father of her eldest daughter, who passed away in a car accident when she was an infant. “She goes, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because if he wouldn’t have died, I wouldn’t have met [then husband] Marc [Mero].” She went on to say, “She’s talking about a guy she was married to and the father of her child and she’s happy he died? This is not a nice girl.” Considering the source however, it may be best to take this with a grain of salt.
11 Alexa Bliss Had An Eating Disorder
Alexa Bliss may reign over Monday Night Raw as the Goddess of the WWE but there was a time when the Women’s Champion almost didn’t have a future at all. During her appearance on My Daughter Is A WWE Superstar, Little Miss Bliss revealed that she suffered a serious eating disorder at 15 years-old that she almost didn’t make it out of. Bliss recalled being told by her parents that they were going to church, getting in the car only to discover she was actually being taken to a hospital for treatment. “They take my vital signs and they tell my parents, we’re going to keep your daughter with or without your consent because she’s 24 hours away from dying.” Through treatment, Bliss ended up falling in love with bodybuilding, paving the way for her to become the beloved three-time women’s champion fans root for today.
10 The Real Reason Trish Stratus Left The WWE
Even as we navigate this post-women’s revolution era of wrestling, it’s hard to imagine a time when Trish Stratus isn’t remembered as one of the best to ever step into a WWE ring. The record-breaking seven-time women’s champion, became an overwhelming fan favorite during her seven years with the company, securing a place in the WWE Hall of Fame in the process. However, when the “Diva of the Decade” recipient announced she’d no longer be guaranteeing Stratusfaction to WWE fans, many were shocked to see her go. Stratus had been the top woman in the division for several years, her career showing no signs of slowing down.
However, on an appearance on Lillian Garcia’s podcast, Stratus revealed it was actually a family emergency that stopped her from renewing her contract. “My mom got diagnosed with cancer and it was like the universe [saying] it’s time to go. I needed to be home. There’s no way, because you’re just so consumed on the road, there’s no way I could have been with her through treatment and I needed to be there with my mom.”
9 Brie Bella’s First Love Was Tragically Killed
Thanks to the E! reality show, Total Divas and its spin-off Total Bellas, there isn’t much fans don’t know about Brie Bella. However, during a sit-down with Lillian Garcia in the inaugural episode of her podcast, the Bella Twin revealed that her first love, Bear was tragically killed in a car accident during their senior year of high school. Bella says the heartbreak took her years to fully process, admitting that she thought they were going to get married. “My whole life I was planning was with him. I was planning on following him to wherever he was going to college and I just never saw anything different in my future.” Bella chose to commemorate their relationship with a tattoo, having two bear claws tattooed on her lower abdomen.
8 Maria Kanellis And Nikki Bella’s Real Life Heat
If you follow Maria Kanellis on Twitter, then you probably know exactly how she feels about the Bella Twins. The First Lady of Wrestling has pulled no punches when discussing the polarizing purveyors of twin magic, at one point engaging in venomous live tweeting sessions during their reality show, Total Divas. However, it wasn’t until an interview with Wrestling Inc. that the source of their tensions was finally revealed and in a move that would not do Alison Bechdel proud, it was all reportedly over a boy.
The arctic chill between Kanellis and the Bellas reportedly began when the Diva Search finalist started dancing with Dolph Ziggler at a party while he was still in a relationship with Nikki Bella. “I was dancing with the girls, I was dancing with the other people that were there. So all of a sudden when I’m dancing with Dolph, I get a tap on my shoulder and it’s Nikki Bella going, 'what are you doing?' And I said, uh, dancing with my friend, and she’s like, oh he’s with me. I said, okay sure.” Both parties have since buried the hatchet but for a while, this was one of the most intense real life feuds in wrestling.
7 Sasha Banks Overcame A Terrible Childhood
Today, Sasha Banks is known as one of the best female wrestlers to ever step foot in a WWE ring. In just two short years on the main roster, she’s already blazed a new trail for women in wrestling, setting the standard for female performers everywhere. While this feat would be impressive for anyone, it’s especially incredible considering just how much Banks has overcome in her childhood to get there. In an interview on Lillian Garcia’s Making Their Way To The Ring podcast, the typically private superstar opened up about her rocky road to WWE superstardom.
Raised by a single mother, her family just scraped by supporting both her and her younger brother who has special needs. Her father was extremely abusive towards her mother and despite having the finances thanks to some successful business ventures, refused to help, forcing them to move all over the country chasing work. For three years, they lived in a cramped hotel room, her mother working odd jobs, just to keep a roof over their heads.
In her early teens, Banks dropped out of high school to take care of her brother and allow her mother to keep her full-time job, opting to take classes online instead. She credits wrestling as the thing that got her though, telling her mother, “I’ll do anything for this family, just give me wrestling.”
6 Paige Worked As A Bouncer At 15
To say Paige has some stories would probably be the understatement of the year. In her 24 short years on this planet, the resident Anti-Diva has lived enough for three lifetimes, from her professional wrestling debut at the tender age of 13, to travelling across Europe by herself to wrestle the independent circuit just a year later. However, one story that caught even Stone Cold Steve Austin off-guard when she appeared as a guest on his podcast was her time working as a bouncer at a bar when she was just 15 years old. As the Norwich-native explained, her parents owned a bar and would often leave her in charge when they booked wrestling jobs out of town, a job that would usually entail her to also serve as the unofficial bouncer as well.
In fact, her wrestling training became quite useful on-the-job, recalling a time when she had to break up a fight between two women by putting them each in a headlock, keeping them apart as she tried to talk them down. It’s safe to say Paige’s after school jobs put most of her classmates to shame.
5 Why Gail Kim Wasn’t Pushed In The WWE
When making a list of the most influential women in wrestling, it’s hard not to think of Gail Kim. The former women’s champion and TNA Hall of Famer is widely recognized as one of the best technical wrestlers to ever sport a pair of X chromosomes. However, looking at her WWE career, you wouldn’t know it. The Toronto-native has had two stints with the company but despite winning the Women’s Championship during her first night in the WWE, was largely wasted in sidekick roles or simply not featured on television at all.
It’s a curious case of booking that became a lot less curious during a 2015 episode of The Ross Report when Jim Ross revealed that Vince McMahon was hesitant to even hire Kim because she was Asian. He said that it wasn’t until he told McMahon that Asian women were a major market in the adult film industry, that he considered hiring her. While the revelation made many waves amongst wrestling fans, one person who wasn’t surprised was Kim herself who tweeted, “Nothing I’m really surprised at concerning Vince McMahon. Yes, it’s in poor taste but it’s his character.”
4 Stacy Keibler And Lita Threw Down Over Matt Hardy
Here’s a fight many fans would probably have liked to see. While the women of the WWE are largely known for supporting each other backstage, as any Total Divas viewer can tell you, that doesn’t mean they don’t throw down from time to time. This was likely the case in a story Matt Hardy told during his no holds barred shoot interview, describing a time when Stacy Keibler and Lita came to physical blows over him at a Vegas nightclub. It all started when Keibler began dancing with the Team Extreme captain during a night out with the roster, while Lita was in close proximity. “I just remember seeing Amy [Lita] coming like, zooming in and she walked over and just pie-faced her [Keibler] down on the ground.” He did say that Keibler later apologized and that both her and Lita actually ended up bonding over the experience.
3 Awesome Kong Suffered A Miscarriage
One of the greatest travesties in women’s wrestling to this day is that Awesome Kong (known in the WWE as Kharma), never got a proper run in the WWE. The menacing powerhouse debuted to much acclaim in 2011 but just four weeks later, announced that she’d be stepping away from the company after discovering that she was pregnant. The baby would tragically pass away late into her pregnancy, forcing her to deliver. In a gut-wrenching interview with Marc Maron, Kong’s portrayer Kia Stevens opened up about the tragic ordeal, saying, “That was emotionally soul crushing. To this day, it’s very hard.” Stevens would later lose her contract with the company she spent her entire career dreaming of being apart of, saying she didn’t think they felt she was emotionally ready to return, a decision she confirmed was right at that time.
While she says she found herself lost in grief for the next three years, she’s now in a better place emotionally and even currently stars on the Netflix series, GLOW.
2 AJ Lee Once Stabbed A Drug Dealer
While most know AJ Lee as a game changing wrestler and the proverbial mockingjay that sparked a women’s revolution in the WWE, until recently few realized that the three-time Women’s Champion was overcoming obstacles and breaking down barriers long before she signed her contract with the sports entertainment giant. In her bestselling memoir, Crazy Is My Superpower, the New Jersey-native reveals that her greatest opponent in life has probably been the circumstances she grew up in. Born to teenage parents, Lee grew up in extreme poverty, her father working odd jobs to keep food on the table for his family of five. She estimates that they were evicted more than 20 times before her 18th birthday, while drug dealers and other seedy characters a regular fixture wherever they were staying.
It’s this that sparked what’s got to be her most traumatic Christmas to date. At around 12 or 13 years old, Lee was home alone on Christmas Eve night, opting not to join in on a family outing, when she heard a noise at the window. As she got up to investigate, she noticed a man trying to break into her home, deeming it to be a drug dealer who her parents owed money to. Thinking fast, Lee grabbed a knife and stabbed him, the aggression enough to scare him off. Sadly, this was just one of many harrowing experiences the wrestling icon would have to endure in her formative years.
1 Stephanie McMahon and Triple H’s Affair
For 17 years, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have reigned supreme as wrestling’s most powerful couple. On television, their love story is one for the ages. He drugged her and married her without her consent when she was passed out. She decided she was okay with it so she could stick it to her family. However, off camera, it turns out their courtship was just as murky. You see, at the time, Triple H was dating another powerful female in the WWE: Chyna. It’s an affair that not only cost her the man she credits as the love of her life, but her career as well. Before passing away, The Ninth Wonder of the World revealed just how she discovered that the Game was cheating on her with the boss’s daughter. “Well, I had my doubts. I actually did the snoop. I found a love letter from Stephanie McMahon that had been dated the previous year so I knew that there was a year affair going on.”
Chyna said that upon discovering said letter, she immediately called WWE CEO Vince McMahon who admitted he had known about it for a while. She says that it was after a confrontation with Stephanie, that she was let go from the company, leaving behind a scandal that will live on in wrestling infamy.