Becoming a WWE superstar is not easy. It can take years of hard work to even make it to the lowest rung of the roster. Once you’re there, there’s a lot they have to do to keep their spot. Being a professional wrestler is pretty much a 24/7 job. They have to keep their physiques in tip-top shape, travel 300 days out of the year, be a spokesperson for the company they work for, shy away from anything the company might deem as taboo, oh yeah, and not get arrested. That last one should be a lot easier than it sounds.
Once their time with the company is over, all bets are off. Even if their dream job may have come to an end, I’m sure most wrestlers breathe a sigh of relief when they no longer have to keep up with WWE’s standards. They might start skipping gym days and begin to let their bodies go. Years of taking bumps in the ring may have them turn to drugs to be able to relax. Sometimes they go buck wild and spiral out of control. Some wrestlers go through a metamorphosis so drastic that they are hardly recognizable. They no longer reflect the role model they once stood for when they were at their peak. It can be really depressing to see these men and women after they fell from grace.
Let’s take a look at photos of 15 wrestlers who had changed so much that it breaks our hearts.
I’ve tried to find some more context to this picture but my research has proved fruitless. This image, and many like it can be found at the incredible lonelyvirgil.net. Most of the sad, sad pictures come with at least some context as to where and when they were taken. But this one, man, I have so many questions. Was this one taken at an entrance to a flea market? Perhaps a local park? Does he have a permit? Where is The Million Dollar Man? It clearly says that it is “Ted DiBiase & Virgil.” Why is there no line? Okay, I think I can answer that one. Because it’s Virgil. The second Million Dollar Champion, may have never had much skill when it came to being a professional wrestler. But, if this litany of pop-up autograph signing photos shows us anything, it’s that the man definitely doesn’t lack a hustle.
14 Lex Luger
For a wrestler who was once known as the Total Package, Lex Luger’s current appearance is far from that of his glory days as professional wrestling’s best physique. What was once bulging biceps, phenomenal pectorals, and tremendous trapezius is now atrophied muscles and practically skin and bones. The former Narcissus has lost the thing he was most proud of in his life. Despite his career dwindling down in the early 2000s, Luger had maintained an impressive physique until he suffered a spinal infection in 2007. This devastating spinal stroke rendered him paraplegic for over a month, and he was given a very slim chance of recovery. Without the ability to lift weights, Luger’s muscle mass decreased rapidly, and overtime he was a shell of his former self. Thankfully, he has since regained the ability to walk for short periods of time and is once again able to drive a car.
13 Buff Bagwell
Just by looking at this picture, you may think that Buff still has the “stuff.” And hey, you may be right, because as of 2014 he was selling said “stuff” on the gigolo-for-hire website, Cowboys4Angels.com. Meaning you can form your own American Males-esque tandem with the former 5-time WCW Tag Team Champion. His entry into his new profession was chronicled on the aptly titled Showtime series Gigolos. Honestly, I don’t know the economics of the gigolo business, but his $800 for 2 hour price tag seems a bit steep. If you’re one of the ladies who truly can’t get enough of Buff’s stuff, for $25K, the Handsome Stranger’s services can be yours for an entire week. His WWE run may have been a bust, but it appears he is once again able to focus on what made him popular in the first place, standing around and flexing his little heart out.
Yokozuna was a rare case of a big man who could move well. When he entered the WWF in 1992, he weighed a mere 505 pounds. That number constantly ballooned, and three years later, he had gained close to 140 pounds. Sadly, weight issues kept Yokozuna from reaching his former glory. Even though he was able to lose nearly 100 pounds, he was unable to be medically cleared to wrestle by various states’ athletic commissions, including the all-important New York State Athletic Commission. This lead the phony sumo to start taking bookings through various independent companies and stop taking care of himself. While outside of the WWF, Yoko had truly let himself go, as this picture shows. At his heaviest, he weighted 760 pounds and was allegedly attempting to tip the scales closer to 900 pounds. A feat that would have set the record for heaviest professional wrestler of all time. Aside from this picture, his immense stature can be seen in the abysmal Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view event from 1999.
One of the most tragic events to ever occur inside of a wrestling ring would have to be when Darren Drozdov was paralyzed thanks to a botched maneuver. After less than a year and a half inside of a WWF ring, Droz’s career was already over. He was everything you would want in an Attitude Era performer. He had a great look, brash personality, better-than-average skills, and hey, he could vomit on command. During a match against D’Lo Brown, Droz was on the receiving end of a standard running powerbomb gone awry. Brown, was not able to get the proper grip needed and accidentally dropped Droz on his head, fracturing two discs in his neck. He would never walk again and relies on the custom built transportation device, as seen on the picture above. Thankfully, in recent years, he has been able to regain the use of upper body and arms.
When people think of the WWE’s Women’s Division in the early 2000s, they usually only think of Lita and Trish Stratus. Although those two are definitely the most notable women of the time, the division had a lot more depth than one would believe. This would be seen at the 2001 Survivor Series event, where a Six-Pack Challenge was held for the newly vacated Women’s Championship. That match was contested between a who’s who of talented female performers like Trish, Lita, Ivory, Jacqueline, Molly Holly, and a debuting Jazz. During her prime, Jazz had an incredible physique and was an imposing figure in the ring. Even though her first stint in the WWE only lasted three years, she was able to claim the Women’s Championship on two occasions before being released in the fall of 2004. From there Jazz went on to compete for various promotions including NWA, where she is the reigning Women’s Champion. Age has been taking a toll on Jazz, and even though she can still go in the ring, she is in her mid-40s and has not been able to maintain formidable appearance she had in her youth.
9 Andre The Giant
Andre the Giant was a pop culture phenomenon. Suffering from acromegaly, Andre’s time on this world was bound to be short, so he made the most out of the 46 years he spent on this world. Between his historic rivalry with Hulk Hogan and his performances in movies like The Princess Bride, he was beloved by fans the world over and monumentally successful both in and out of the ring. This image is from Andre’s final appearance on US Television where he was seen on WCW’s Clash of the Champions XX. Looking extremely sickish and pale, the Eighth Wonder of the World was propped up by two massive crutches. He could hardly speak and sounded incoherent than usual. It was an upsetting way to say goodbye to one of the most entertaining and truly larger than life performers the world has ever seen.
8 The Dynamite Kid
According to the likes of Bret Hart and Dave Meltzer (you know, two dudes who know what they are talking about), Dynamite Kid is one of the most influential wrestlers of all time. To make up for his limiting size, Kid was able to incorporate a mix of speed, power, and technical abilities into his repertoire that he had developed from a career that saw him travel to places like Mexico, Japan, Canada, and his home of Britain. Unfortunately, his daring and innovative offense led to numerous health issues. Due to mounting back and leg injuries, he eventually lost the use of his left leg and is now confined to a wheelchair. He has also suffered multiple seizures (the reason why he had to retire from wrestling in 1996), a multitude of heart problems, and a stroke that nearly took his life in 2015. The use of recreational and performance enhancing drugs, various concussions, and a daredevil wrestling-style have all been attributed to one of the most gifted performer of all time’s current state.
In 1996, Sunny was AOL’s (this is already dating itself) most downloaded woman of the year. She was a knockout that had loads of charisma and managed tag team champions after tag team champions, being the woman behind the Bodydonnas, the Smoking Gunns, and LOD 2000. Then, Sable appeared and Sunny was no longer WWF’s hottest blonde bombshell. She started to appear less and less on television until she was released for no-showing several events. Though she appeared in both WCW and ECW, her career never bounced by and by 2012, things had taken a turn for the worse. She was arrested five times in four weeks for crimes like burglary and disorderly conduct. This mugshot in particular is from 2016, when Sunny was arrested for driving under the influence with a suspended license. She served 97 days in rehab for this crime and had finally cleaned up her act…until she was arrested for violating her parole later that year.
6 Nikolai Volkoff
There is so much wrong with this picture. Here, we have wrestling legend Nikolai Volkoff pushing 70, wearing the highest waist trunks you’ve ever seen, in a mostly empty gymnasium, oh yeah, and there is no ring! How is there no ring? It’s the first thing you should get when putting together a wrestling show. There is also so much more with what happened behind the scenes to make this amazing picture happen. The match took place in the fall of 2013 for the ironically titled “Classic Championship Wrestling” promotion and was part of a Randy Savage Tribute Show. If Macho had seen the disgrace of a show done in his name, he would have dropped an elbow on himself. In the end, Volkoff prevailed over Bobby Fulton. Although Fulton’s leg was CLEARLY outside of the ring while he was being pinned. That’s just poor refereeing if you ask me.
5 Perry Saturn
Every time I get to talk about him, I will always state that Perry Saturn was one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. His intensity was unmatched, had a look that would make you think twice about picking a fight with him, and secretly possessed one of the dopest top rope elbow drops ever. He was always a solid mid-card talent and went on to hold WWF’s European and WCWs Television Championships. After being released from the WWE in 2002, he floundered around in both TNA and NJPW. He would retire in 2004 and it would be six years before anyone heard from him again. According to Saturn, immediately following his retirement, he was shot while saving a woman from being attached by two men. He then became addicted to meth and lived on the streets for over two years. He also received a Mike Tyson-esque face tattoo, a feat that should be avoided by anyone in the market for some new ink. Since his reemergence, his story has been told by many newspapers and television programs.
4 Scott Hall
Scott Hall’s issues with drugs and alcohol are no secret to those within the wrestling community. There was a reason why he was dubbed “Last Call Scott Hall” during his final days in WCW. He has been repeatedly in and out of rehab and has experienced more relapses than you can count. In addition to addiction, his body had also been broken down from years of in-ring activity which resulted in his retirement from wrestling. This left his main source of income to be from meet and greets and conventions. He could be seen at these all over the country, usually while inebriated in one form or another. It seemed liked the only time anybody heard about Hall was via his multiple arrests, which were usually drugs and alcohol related. It really seemed like the former Razor Ramon was headed for an early grave. That’s when Diamond Dallas Page stepped in, just like he did for Jake “The Snake” Roberts, DDP set Hall up with room in his home and put him on a yoga regimen that has seemingly done wonders for the Bad Guy.
Despite being one of the most promising acquisitions in recent memory, Paige had a very rough 16 month period between August of 2016 and November of 2017. An injury kept her off of television, then came a wellness policy, followed by neck surgery. Combine all of that with her ill-advised engagement with Alberto Del Rio, a man 15 years older than her, and it made for one extremely turbulent period in her life. In the photo above with Del Rio and his family, Paige looks emaciated. Her bones could be seen through her skin, and she looked very sickly. Folks were waiting for the day Paige’s name was attached to a “Future Endeavored” press release from the WWE. Thankfully, Paige has been able to put all of this behind her and very recently returned to WWE television. She now looks much better than she did in this photo, and is apparently no longer with her former fiancé.
2 Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr.
As the poet Kenny Rogers once said, “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, known when to fold ‘em.” Right now, the Funk brothers are gambling with their lives. Both Dory and Terry are currently in their 70s and are still wrestling to this very day with no sign of them ever given it up. The second generation performers can’t seem to let go of the profession they have been involved in since the 1960s. Both Funks have previously “retired” only for them to return to the squared circle mere months after leaving the business. This picture, from a hard to watch Japanese match from 2013, shows that both of them are obviously far from peak physical conditioning. Heck, Dory, with a mouthful of blood, doesn’t even seem to know where he is when this photo was snapped. It’s pretty worrisome that these two legendary performers don’t seem to mind dying in the ring one day.
Before her depressing decent into drugs and adult entertainment, Chyna could be seen as a role model for women’s equality. In the late 90s through 2001, she was a tough-as-nails badass who could hold her own with the men of the WWF. It was during this time that she had heated rivalries with Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho and became the first (and only) woman to even hold the Intercontinental Championship. She was on top of the world, until her boyfriend Triple H cheated on her with the Boss’ daughter. Chyna’s career never recovered, and by November of 2001, she had left the WWF. By 2004, had become addicted to drugs and had shot her first adult film. Originally conceived as a way to make a quick buck with then boyfriend X-Pac, Chyna would go on to shoot five more with the final two being her foray into the world of adult film parodies. As you can see, she was perfectly cast as the adult film analogue to Marvel Comic’s super-strong heroine, She-Hulk. Despite her incredible success in the ring, it is this salacious turn that is keeping her out of the WWE’s Hall of Fame.