The wrestling industry is a cutthroat business. Once your character can't draw an audience and you can't offer something behind the scenes to future talent, you're no longer useful and thus, no longer needed. You quickly become "future endeavored."
After being released or retiring, some wrestlers have trouble separating their on-stage or in-ring personas from their lives outside of wrestling. Their characters are not the same, they grow some accustomed to the lifestyle that comes with traveling, performing and being on the road and without their fellow wrestlers to "look out for them" they struggle when it all ends.
Other wrestlers just didn't do well when it came to managing their finances. Too much money and too quickly wasn't something they were ready for and when the money stopped coming in, they hadn't saved anything.
Finally, some wrestlers just fell on bad luck.
As such, if you examine what the lives of many former wrestlers look like after they leave or are booted from the business, it isn't pretty. We decided to take a look at 15 cases that are uniquely bad. We're not necessarily talking about performers who got into drugs and alcohol and paid the price with their lives — there are far too many of those cases. We're more speaking about former wrestlers who completely fell apart or had something so disastrous happen that they couldn't recover.
We've also left out wrestlers who had trying times but seem to be on the road to recovery. You won't see a Jake Roberts or Scott Hall on this list.
At one time the personal bodyguard of "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Virgil had it made with a nice role in the WWE. When it came time to separate from DiBiase, he was unable to find success as a single's wrestler. Since then, it's been anything but pretty. It is unclear whether
It is unclear whether or not Virgil can't hold a job or simply doesn't want one, but when people see him now, it's usually begging for money, trying to make funds signing autographs for lines that don't exist or opening internet funding campaigns that barely earn $1000. He hasn't seemed to help his cause by ranting on social media and basically looking like a boob who could work if he wanted to, but seems to take the easy road every time.
14 One Man Gang
The One Man Gang was a monster for the WWE in the '80s and '90s. He joined the WWE in 1987 and while he beat almost all the mid card to lower end talent, was used to put over guys like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. In 1988, he became Akeem, the African Dream. It was an insane gimmick but he actually did a decent job of it. Gang left the WWE in 1990.
Gang wrestled on the independent scene for some time but in 2000 suffered a heart attack. As a result, he lost quite a bit of weight to try and get more healthy. He went on to work as a prison guard but struggled with back issues. He joined a class action suit against the WWE and in 2016, his Baton Rouge home suffered major flood damage. He was one of 125,000 people who didn't obtain flood insurance. He started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover the costs to repair his home.
13 Dino Bravo
The story of Dino Bravo is a sad one: one that the Superstar seemed to know was coming. Throughout his career as a WWE Superstar (then WWF), Bravo's family was involved in the Montreal Mafia and he understood that upon retiring, he was going to have to find a way to stay out of that life. When he couldn't afford to pay the bills and his mother was in financial trouble, he felt he had no choice and got involved in cigarette smuggling.
After a dispute with an outside member over a shipment that was detained by the police, Bravo was rushed in his home and shot in the head multiple times. He died because he was involved in something he never wanted to be involved in but was not sure how to live his life in a better way. He seemed to know he was in trouble the minute the WWE told him they no longer needed him.
12 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn was a member of ECW, WCW and then finally as one of The Radicalz in the WWE. He came into the company with great fanfare but failed to live up to the hype.
After leaving wrestling Saturn had a run of bad luck and personal demons. First, while trying to stop a sexual assault crime he was shot by one of the two men committing the crime. As a result, he became addicted to methamphetamine and wound up homeless for two and a half years. Basically, he fell off the radar. During an interview with Bill Apter in September 2016, Satullo revealed that he was dealing with a "traumatic brain injury" that limited his ability to function properly. He joined a class action lawsuit against the WWE and opened a GoFundMe page in an attempt to help raise money due to increased and out of control medical expenses.
11 Chris Kanyon
Kanyon was a wrestler in both the WWE and WCW. He was never really a main event guy but he was a solid worker and often used to help train future wrestlers and work on behind the scenes productions.
After retiring, Kanyon joined a lawsuit against the WWE for cheating wrestlers out of health care and other benefits but the case was dismissed. Then, in 2004, he claimed to be openly gay and because he was gay, he was released by the WWE. When it was proven untrue, he retracted his statement, calling it a publicity stunt. He later retracted those statements and acknowledged that he was in fact gay. From there, he wrote a book called Wrestling Reality, which detailed his struggles.
In 2007, he appeared on television following the death of Chris Benoit and was vocal about the issues facing wrestlers. He admitted to taking 50 sleeping pills in a failed suicide attempt. It was known Kanyon was bi-polar and he had threatened suicide on a number of occasions. In 2010, he finally did go through with it and was found with an apology note and bottle of antidepressants.
Kamala was one of the greatest villains in WWE history. He had major feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and other major stars. In 1993, he left the WWE when his sister and her stepdaughter were shot to death. He spent time trying to ensure the killer would stay behind bars.
After he retired, Kamala suffered from diabetes and it got so bad it forced doctors to have to amputate both of his legs. He was forced to reach out to fans and others through social media and the internet seeking donations to help with his financial struggles. In an interview with Bleacher Report, he discussed his troubles making ends meet, living off his disability check and trying to woodwork to make a living.
He was one of many who joined the class action suit against the WWE for allegedly hiding traumatic brain injuries during their tenure.
Sunny is widely known as the first-ever WWE Diva. She's also widely known as a trainwreck of a person who can't seem to stop herself from saying and doing things that make her look terrible and catch the ire of wrestling fans and former wrestlers.
She's gone public with her personal feuds with former Divas, talked openly about her relationships with wrestlers (including the married ones) and talked about personal situations that should remain public. She's been arrested a number of times for drug and assault related charges and was accepting money from fans to spend the night with her. If you've seen her now, you'd know that she's gained a ton of weight and probably isn't the attraction she once was for anyone lonely enough to take Sunny up on her offer.
8 Bret Hart
The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be, seems to be all in Bret Hart's head. At one time, he was among the best technical wrestlers in the world and he was a huge star for the WWE. He had a huge falling out with Vince McMahon and left the company to find greener pastures in the WCW. It didn't happen.
When he arrived in WCW, the company didn't know how best to use him. Not long after, he received word that his brother Owen had died at a live WWE pay per view trying to repel from the ceiling for his entrance. Not too long after that, he took a poorly timed kick from Goldberg that forced him into retirement.
After he retired he suffered a stroke and after recovering tried to mend fences with the WWE. It didn't really last and now spend most of his time publicly bashing the company and the current talent pool for being reckless and dangerous. He's extremely bitter even though he still accepts WWE invitations to appear and cashes their checks.
7 Dynamite Kid
The Dynamite Kid was a fantastic performer, in-ring talent, and popular wrestler as part of the British Bulldogs. He was also widely known as a poor excuse for a person, having started personal beefs with countless wrestlers. He was a major abuser of drugs and steroids and got other wrestlers involved, in some cases being a major contributor to their early deaths. Still, what happened to him is a shame.
In 1997, he lost the use of his left leg. It was mainly due to years of back and leg injuries suffered during his career. In addition to his paralysis, Billington also has suffered from heart problems. In 2013, he suffered a stroke and in 2015 joined the lawsuit against the WWE. Today, Dynamite Kid is confined to a wheelchair and has been told he'll never walk again.
6 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was a physical specimen. A million dollar body but very little wrestling talent, Luger was known to be in the right place at the right time. He was able to capitalize on changes in the WWE and WCW products and keeping employment, often being pushed as their number one talent, even though he didn't deserve it.
In 2003, Luger was charged with domestic abuse against his live-in girlfriend (Miss Elizabeth). In May of 2013, Elizabeth died while with Luger and having shown that she'd mixed Hydrocodone, Alprazolam (Xanax) and vodka. Luger was arrested and his home was found to contain a number of illicit controlled substances. He was charged with 13 felony counts of drug possession. While the death was ruled an accident, Luger was sentenced to five years probation, which he violated trying to fly to Manitoba, Canada.
On October 19, 2007, Luger suffered a nerve impingement in his neck that led to temporary paralysis. In 2013, Luger published his memoir, Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption, with the foreword written by Sting. He's done some behind the scenes work with the WWE and their Wellness Policy.
Chyna was probably the most dominant female ever to step foot in a WWE ring. Unfortunately, when Triple H left her for Stephanie McMahon, she didn't leave well enough alone and caused a stink. It didn't work and she was released. After her release, things went downhill rapidly.
She tried to capitalize on publicly shaming the WWE, had a back and forth relationship with Sean Waltman (X-Pac) and in January 2005, she was arrested for domestic assault after allegedly beating Waltman. In November 2007, Laurer legally changed her name to Chyna.
For many years after, Chyna was in and out of rehab, had major issues with drugs and alcohol and was noticeably intoxicated on a number of videos she'd made and shared on social media. She made an adult tape with X-Pac and dived into an attempted pornography career. In 2016, after not updating her social media feeds, her manager found her dead at her home.
Scott Levy was known for a while as a genius in wrestling. He made his Raven character famous in ECW by blurring the lines between character and life and with his success moved on to WCW and eventually the WWE.
Raven's case is not so much that he got mixed up with drugs or alcohol, but more so that he was one weird dude who got too involved in the storytelling of his character. As a huge comic book lover and as one a unique persona in wrestling, he seemed to lose grasp of the line between fact and fiction. He's still around today, making videos and talking wrestling, but for some reason isn't working with the WWE. He's a storytelling master, but he's hanging onto wrestling way too hard. In all fairness, we're probably being extra hard on Raven, but in a way, he represents a whole slew of wrestlers who don't seem to want to let it go.
3 Ahmed Johnson
From 1995 to 1998, Ahmed Johnson looked like he was being groomed to be a big star. Unfortunately, that stardom went to his head and he became nearly unbearable to work with. He claimed on numerous instances to being held down due to his race, called Steve Austin and others racist, didn't appreciate his opportunities and became a casualty of his own early success.
He ballooned up in weight and that, along with his attitude, led to his release from the WWE. While he still works in the wrestling industry, he's since made numerous videos for anyone that will listen and his weight has gotten so out of control, there are serious concerns about his health. He seems to be extremely bitter about the fact that he never did amount to what people thought he would.
2 Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell was completely full of himself as a professional wrestler. Known as a troubled individual, he found strong mid-card success in WCW, but when the company was sold to the WWE in 2001, he came over and flopped badly. Bagwell had one match to try and set the tone for the WCW invasion angle and he was clearly not in any physical condition to wrestle. It was his one and only match for the WWE.
Since then, he has wound up on the wrong side of the law several times and resorted to becoming a gigolo for income. In 2012 he was in a serious car accident (reportedly had a seizure while driving) and broke a number of bones in his neck. He did recover but had to have surgical work done. In 2016, he tried to sue the WWE for using his image on the WWE Network.
1 Jimmy Snuka
Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was a huge star in the 1980s. He was known as a high-flyer and one of the major assets for the WWE when they went national. During his time in the WWE, he was involved in a major controversy. In 1983, he called for an ambulance to his hotel room where his girlfriend had been injured. She died of traumatic brain injuries consistent with a moving head striking a stationary object. Snuka was the only suspect and the case remained open.
In 2015, some 32 years after the initial charges, Snuka was arrested and charged with third-degree murder. Snuka pleaded not guilty and a hearing to determine his mental health was required as he claimed not to be fit for trial. In 2015 he was also diagnosed with stomach cancer and he died at the age of 73. He wrestled all the way up to the age of 71. Even as he was losing his mind, he was still doing his thing.
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