Not everyone can be a Hulk Hogan or a John Cena or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Some wrestlers can’t even make it into the WWE, and those that do may not stay there very long. The life of a professional wrestler has its ups and downs, and we’ve seen through stories and articles and even from the movie, The Wrestler, what happens to them after they have fallen from grace.
Unless you’re at the top of the card, chances are you’re not going to be making the big bucks even in WWE. Outside of WWE is even worse, with stories of wrestlers sleeping in their cars and helping set up shows for free just to get try-outs to become a wrestler. While making it to the WWE is difficult, staying in the competitive WWE and remaining on top is even more so. When it’s time to cut someone loose in favor of new talent, to WWE, it’s not personal, it’s what’s best for business.
There is no retirement plan in WWE, so when the company lets their wrestlers go, they have no other choice than to find work in another field or continue wrestling elsewhere. It’s cool, in a sense, to see these famous wrestlers continuing to work for nostalgic reasons, and it’s nice to see them booked better than they were in WWE. Still, it’s also sad to see superstars that we grew up worshipping, at their age, still wrestling in front of crowds of under 100 people. This article is about them. Here are 15 sad pictures of superstars from the 90s still working in the independent circuit today.
Blood ran cold in WCW when Glacier made his debut in 1996. Capitalizing on the popular Mortal Kombat franchise and impressing Eric Bischoff, who practices martial arts himself, Glacier appeared to be in line for a huge push. Unfortunately, the WCW Creative Team struggled to advance Glacier beyond the mid-card, despite a year long undefeated streak, a string of Mortal Kombat villains to battle, a cool ensemble of armor, helmets and ring attire, as well as a nearly two minute long entrance costing roughly half a million dollars. While the story of Glacier in WCW was a disappointment, his story doesn’t end there.
In 2017, Glacier made his shocking return to the ring in, of all places, Ring of Honor. Apparently, blood is running cold there as well, but without the money thrown at the character, Glacier looks kind of sad. Glacier is no spring chicken anymore, and while I’m sure he’s still in decent shape, Glacier, with his round belly, is looking a little less like a glacier and more like a boulder.
Sandman was like the Stone Cold Steve Austin of ECW. He was beloved by the fans, edgy and raised hell for the ECW villains. As amazing and as popular as Sandman was in ECW, none of that popularity helped him in WCW or WWE. After years of getting over with the fans and killing himself in ECW, you would think his hardcore days would be over. Sadly no.
After years of destroying his body in the Indies, Sandman is still doing the same thing today. While other semi successful ECW stars were able to retire and move on from wrestling, Sandman is showing no signs of retiring. However, Sandman is showing signs of terrible health. He looks frail and underweight raising serious concerns for his well-being. Though, I’m sure it’s nothing a beer and a smoke can’t fix.
13 Kevin Sullivan
Aside from getting annihilated by Hulk Hogan, destroyed by the Four Horsemen and losing his wife to Chris Benoit, Kevin Sullivan had a pretty alright time in WCW. The Taskmaster retired from the ring and became booker for one of the biggest wrestling companies in the world. Things were finally looking up for Sullivan. Then, WCW fired him just prior to WWE’s purchase of WCW.
Being a high official in WCW would lead one to believe Sullivan is doing alright in the world and yet, at 68 years old, Kevin Sullivan is still wrestling. It’s never a pleasant sight to see a 68-year-old wrestling, but the Kevin Sullivan from WCW and the Kevin Sullivan now look like two totally different people. Apparently, the task to end Hulkamania took a heavy toll on his youth.
12 Buff Bagwell
Buff is the stuff but enough is enough. Believe it or not, Buff is still wrestling, but unfortunately for him, he isn’t wrestling in WWE. No, after his disastrous WWE debut, Buff has been hitting the indie circuit with very little success. The fact that Buff Bagwell, who was kind of a big deal in WCW, is left working the indie circuit for a handful of people today is pretty shocking.
Despite not having the most profitable career, Buff is still finding work and, at 47, has officially begun his retirement tour. While it’s sad Buff never got to make any headway in WWE, on the screen or behind the scenes, at least Buff knows when to quit. He still looks to be in good shape and is retiring on his own terms. Now, he can concentrate on his other job; male gigolo. True story.
11 Terry Funk
Terry Funk was a legendary wrestler with multiples titles under his belt even before he became a hardcore wrestling icon. Terry Funk’s career spans over 50 years in the business, he’s a WWE Hall of Famer, and yet, full-time retirement seems to elude him. At an insane age of 73, Funk is still wrestling and still putting his body through hardcore punishment.
Funk should be enjoying retirement with his grandchildren like a normal 73-year-old, but Funk has recently just left retirement to wrestle in front of a small crowd once again. It was sad enough seeing Funk hobble out to the ring 20 years ago. The fact that he’s still putting his body through abuse on top of a violent 50 year career is depressing.
10 The Steiner Bros
The Steiner Bros, Rick and Scott, are both legendary tag team competitors and a team that should be in the WWE Hall of Fame right now. While the “Dog Faced Gremlin” hasn’t had the singles career that Scott Steiner had, Rick had a modest singles career in WCW winning the WCW United States and Television Titles. Still, Big Poppa Pump seemed to be the brother that gained the notoriety. Scott Steiner was far more successful and found himself with more high profile wrestling appearances than his brother.
Despite being the Big Bad Booty Daddy, Scott Steiner’s physique looks to be in desperate need of a pump. Steiner, after a dismal time in his last stint in WWE, has recently returned to Impact looking sad, having to wear a shirt to cover up. Although Rick never had his brother’s guns, Rick is looking weathered as well. Sadly, The Steiner Bros are still occasionally wrestling small indie shows despite being legends in the business.
9 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas was a part of WWE during one of their worst eras. Douglas is vaguely remembered for his time there but gained serious recognition for his time in ECW, trashing the NWA title and christening the new ECW World Heavyweight Title. Douglas eventually, came to WCW at their worst moment as well, but garnered modest success to a wider audience.
Regardless of what others say, Shane Douglas is a legend in the business. Sadly, his success came at the worst times working in the WWE and WCW, or in front of small crowds in ECW and TNA. The first ever ECW Champion is still wrestling for the small crowds at 53 and clearly not looking to be in the same shape compared to his days as The Franchise.
8 D’Lo Brown
Before Roman Reigns wore the chest piece armor, D’Lo Brown wore his chest plate to the ring and during his matches also. D’Lo had a decent career in WWE, capturing the WWE Intercontinental and European Titles and was a part of the renowned Nation of Domination. Although, D’Lo was never a major player like The Rock or Stone Cold, D’Lo held his own during the wrestling boom, making it a little surprising he’s not involved in WWE in any capacity currently.
For D’Lo, life after WWE took him to TNA and the independent circuit, riding his time in WWE to get himself booked for shows around the country. Although D’Lo has tried to start up his own wrestling school, retiring from the ring has yet to become full-time. Sadly, D’Lo went from performing in front of millions to performing for dozens at school gymnasiums. More than ever, he needs the chest protector to cover up his gut.
Apparently, for Raven, quoting “nevermore” refers to retirement from the ring. Raven is a hardcore legend with one of the most iconic characters of all-time. However, like many wresters that didn’t start out in WWE, Raven found no success in WWE and was only taken seriously in ECW and partly in WCW. After his disappointing tenure in WWE, Raven hit the Independent Circuit once more. While he’s taken more seriously outside of WWE, he’s still wrestling in front of a small crowd for a small amount of money.
Life as a wrestler is tough for anyone, but the toll has really hit Raven hard. His grungy look and gothic eye shadow just isn’t a great look anymore for someone who’s 53 years old. The fact that Raven, who’s still one of the best talkers in the business, has to subject his already battered body through brutal match-ups is not how any fan wants to remember Raven.
6 Brian Christopher
Better known as Grand Master Sexay, Brian Christopher was one-half of the Attitude Era’s popular tag team, Too Cool. Neither Brian Christopher, nor his tag team partner, Scotty 2 Hotty, really had much of a singles career, but their tag team work went from comedy act to actual WWE Tag Team Champions. Unlike, Scotty 2 Hotty, who is a trained firefighter, EMT and is currently a trainer in WWE, Brian Christopher hasn’t shared similar luck.
The Grand Master has made sporadic appearances in WWE, but he's nowhere near the level of popularity or physical condition he once was. Christopher continues to wrestle on the independent circuit, and the sight of him dancing to his gimmick in front of twenty people is “too much” indeed. At 45, with his bulging pot belly, Brian Christopher isn’t looking “sexay” at all.
How Gangrel even gets booked for appearances is anyone’s guess. Gangrel became famous during his time in WWE as the leader of The Brood. His blood spitting, gothic gimmick was pretty cool, but Gangrel wasn’t winning any major titles. His Brood and New Brood became far more notable than Grangrel ever was and yet, Gangrel finds work on the indies and is still wrestling, somehow, even today.
Even in the indies, Gangrel is continuing with the silly vampire gimmick and wrestling at 48 in front of less than 100 people. It’s actually amazing Gangrel was able to find work outside of WWE even during his prime. The fact that he is still wrestling at his age with the same gimmick and that there is even still a demand for Gangrel is unsettling. This pic above is proof of that.
Triple H has thrown plenty of bones to X-Pac, but the member of the Kliq, New World Order and D-Generation X seemingly has no place full time in WWE. X-Pac is a legend, was a huge player during the Attitude Era and friend to Triple H, but with X-Pac’s drug history, he’s too much of a liability to the WWE, at least in their mind.
Today, X-Pac is doing okay for himself, signing a legends contract in WWE and hosting a weekly podcast. Despite what the pic above might say, X-Pac has gotten sober and into tremendous shape. Still, it’s still a little cringeworthy to see X-Pac hitting the ring outside of WWE. I’m not sure what’s worse, that a grown man is doing crotch chops in front of no one, or that X-Pac is still doing the same gimmick he’s been doing since the 90s.
3 Al Snow
What does everybody want? Retirement of course, unless you’re Al Snow. Al Snow at 54, miraculously, got himself into the best shape of his life long after his popularity peaked. Snow has a history of wrestling but seemed to find his calling in training professional wrestlers. He was a coach on WWE’s Tough Enough, a road agent for TNA and is currently running his own wrestling academy.
Al Snow is obviously multi-talented, with a career in training and even acting. There’s no real need for him to be stepping into the ring, and yet, he finds himself there from time to time. Snow may be in phenomenal shape, but it’s time to retire “Head” and stick to training. It just seems like these once popular Attitude Era stars are still living in the past.
2 Billy Gunn
“Bad Ass” Billy Gunn had an up and down career in WWE. He was a member of DX, won WWE Tag Team gold and even feuded with The Rock as a singles star known as “Mr. Ass.” Today, he looks like one, performing in front of small crowds at the school gyms and bingo halls around the country. It’s hard to believe his time as member of the tag team Billy and Chuck would look more prominent than his position now.
Billy Gunn was by no means the star of DX, but he was a major piece. WWE brought back Billy on more than one occasion and even made him a coach on Tough Enough before failing a wellness policy test. Gunn is currently working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and that’s not a bad gig. It’s just hard not to feel bad for “Bad Ass,” who was an important Attitude Era wrestler, still wrestling at 54 outside the WWE. I’m not down with that and have two words for him. “Please retire.”
Oh, it’s time! It’s time! It’s Vader’s time... to retire. Vader, being the massive human even in his heyday, was never very coordinated in the ring. As his time in WWE ended, his physical conditioning worsened, and he became even more out of shape and even more awkward. Poor Vader’s a walking Botchamania reel, and his reputation wasn’t helped by this spill.
Sadly, Vader is still wrestling today. Despite his awkwardness, and affinity for crying behind the scenes, Vader is still a huge star. Seeing him still wrestling for pennies is not how anyone wants to remember Big Van Vader. On April of this year, Vader actually collapsed and passed out giving wrestling fans a major scare. At 62, it’s time, oh it’s time to hang up the mask, for his own sake.