Whether you agree with it or not, professional wrestling is indeed a sport, and like any other sport, there are people who dream about competing in a ring in the middle of an arena filled with screaming fans. Professional wrestling, however, requires a person to put in a lot of time and effort for training, travel, workouts, and actual wrestling, which is too much for most people to handle, and why very few people go on to sign with a major promotion. It is true that outside of wrestling, wrestlers live a fairly comfortable lifestyle, but even though they can do things that most individuals cannot, they are still ordinary people who have to go through the ups and downs of everyday life.
Yes, professional wrestlers get to enjoy things like dating, getting married, having kids, and celebrating special events like anniversaries and birthdays, but they also have to deal with issues that are far less fun. Since wrestlers are ordinary people, it means that they too can get sick, or develop some kind of disorder that can make life very difficult at times, and in some cases these disorders, whether they be physical or mental in nature, can prove to be fatal. Hardcore wrestling fans know everything there is to know about the industry and those who perform in it, but not all of them know that some of the wrestlers they currently watch, as well as those from the past, have had to deal with some sort of disorder, and the purpose of this article is to identify 15 of those wrestlers.
15. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
“Macho Man” Randy Savage will go down as one of the most recognizable wrestlers in history, what with his deep and rough voice, his in-ring intensity, and his very vibrant ring attire. His career lasted for over 20 years, and during all of that time, Savage, as well as other wrestlers, had to deal with the fact that he suffered from what is known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. This mental disorder causes people to have to check things repeatedly, and to perform certain tasks repeatedly, and Savage actually benefited from this while he was wrestling, because he would always go over every move with his opponent before every match. Unfortunately, this OCD also made him difficult to work with, because not every wrestler liked going over the moves, and anytime an opponent did something different during a match, Savage would get upset and confront them backstage, which led to some brawls.
14. Mark Henry
Mark Henry has been a physical force within the WWE since his debut in 1996, and in all of that time, we have constantly been reminded of the fact that he was named the world’s strongest man, a title which he earned during his powerlifting days. Over the course of his wrestling career, Henry has won the European Championship, the ECW Championship, and the World Heavyweight Championship, and he has managed to wrestle all this time while dealing with dyslexia. A person with dyslexia has trouble reading, regardless of how intelligent they are, and symptoms of dyslexia also include a difficulty in writing and spelling words, and sounding out words. Henry has done a great job in dealing with this disorder, because not many wrestlers will be able to last as long as Henry has when you consider how much reading a wrestler needs to do, especially when in comes to their promos.
13. Sean O’Haire
Throughout the ’90s, WCW was the only real competition that the WWE had to contend with, which is why Vince McMahon must have been over the moon when he purchased the rival promotion in 2001. After acquiring WCW, McMahon went on to purchase the contracts of several of the promotion’s wrestlers, including Sean O’Haire, who at the time was WCW Tag Team Champion with Chuck Palumbo. By 2004, O’Haire and the WWE decided to go their separate ways, and he chose to re-enter the world of kickboxing. But things went downhill for O’Haire shortly after leaving wrestling behind. After leaving wrestling, O’Haire was arrested multiple times, including a 2011 arrest for battery involving his girlfriend. As it turns out, O’Haire suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, which would explain some of his behavior, but the disorder is also the main reason why he took his own life in 2014.
12. John Cena
Love him or hate him, John Cena is going to break Ric Flair’s record of World Title wins, and he will go down as one of the best superstars of all time because of all the championship success he has had. Aside from being an iconic wrestler, Cena has also ventured into the world of network television and movies, and he is now engaged to the lovely Nikki Bella, but he has also had to deal with having OCD. Based on his in-ring work, Cena has demonstrated his attention to detail, and the control aspect of his OCD is also on display seeing as he never wants to go heel, and insists on keeping the same worn-out gimmick. Also, thanks to Total Divas, we have seen just how much he loves/needs to be in control of everything around his house, to an obnoxiously obsessive degree.
11. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Jerry “The King” Lawler has been in the wrestling industry for over four decades now, and although many young fans today know him only as a commentator, he also had a lengthy in-ring career, which is why he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Lawler has been living with a disorder known as diverticulitis, which is a bad, yet non-fatal disease which actually affects other professional wrestlers, as well as about 35% of people who live in the Western part of the world. Diverticulitis is a digestive disease which causes a person’s bowels to become inflamed, which leads to abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and diarrhea; and it also causes the person to have to rush to the bathroom at any time, which makes it a terrible disorder for a WWE employee to have considering all the live work they do.
10. Chris Kanyon
The wrestling industry only has room for so many people at the top, which is why there are so many jobbers around whose main job is to routinely lose matches to help build up the better talent. Chris Kanyon worked for both WCW and WWE, and in both promotions, he served as a jobber, but unlike other wrestlers who do not like being in that role, Kanyon was perfectly fine with it, and the fact that he was also a hard worker made it so that any promotion was lucky to have him. After WCW was bought by WWE, Kanyon was not able to properly adjust to the new lay of the land, which is why he tried to take his life in 2003, and in 2010, he succeeded in that endeavor after overdosing on antidepressants. Kanyon suffered from Bipolar Disorder, which causes periods of depression and elevated moods, and this disorder must have been especially hard for him, as he was one of the few openly gay wrestlers at a time when being gay was less accepted than it is today.
9. Diamond Dallas Page
This year, the WWE inducted Diamond Dallas Page into the Hall of Fame, which was well deserved considering all the success he had while working in WCW, and he is the only person on this list who has had to deal with two different disorders. Page has had to deal with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder from a young age, and in his case, his dyslexia is so bad that for most of his adult life, he has only been able to read at a third-grade level. Page may have had an incredibly hard time reading, but thanks to his ADD, he also had a terrible time staying focused on one thing, which means he could not really improve on his reading that much. Thanks to perseverance, Page was able to push himself hard enough to overcome these disorders, to the extent that he was able to become a 3-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
8. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
In 2014, the WWE inducted Jake “The Snake” Roberts into the Hall of Fame, an induction which was well deserved because Roberts had the kind of charisma that could effect an entire arena full of fans. Roberts was known for using psychology and snakes in his matches, primarily a python named Damien, and his DDT finisher was at one point even considered to be the coolest move in the WWE. What many people may not be aware of is that Roberts had a long history of drug and alcohol addiction, which led him to live a very solitary life filled with depression. Thanks to his friend and fellow Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page, Roberts was able to overcome his addictions to become a born-again Christian who has now been sober for nearly five years.
7. Vince McMahon
The wrestling business has been popular for several decades, and although there are different promotions all over the world, everyone in the business can agree that Vince McMahon is the reason why professional wrestling has become the billion-dollar industry it is today. After taking over the WWE when he was 37 years old, Vince went on to revolutionize the industry thanks to his vision of what he wanted wrestling to be, and although fans may disagree with some of his choices, he still does a great job most of the time. Vince may have revolutionized the business, but what many people do not know, is that he did all of that without being able to properly read a wrestling card or contract, because he too has had to deal with dyslexia throughout his entire life.
6. Luna Vachon
With this entry we have Luna Vachon, who is the first female wrestler to appear on this list, and like the previously mentioned Chris Kanyon, she too had to live with being bipolar. Vachon wrestled for over twenty years, and performed in both WWE and WCW, as well as the independent circuit before retiring in 2007, but it was not until after her career was done, that the depression brought on by her bipolar disorder became a real issue. Vachon not only had trouble adjusting to a life that no longer featured cheering and passionate fans, but she also had to deal with her home burning down, which caused her to lose all of her own wrestling memorabilia and possessions, and to move back in with her parents. The depression proved to be too much for her to handle, because in 2010, she took her own life after overdosing on oxycodone and benzodiazepine.
5. Alexa Bliss
Here we have Alexa Bliss, who is the second woman to appear on this list, and at 25 years old, she also happens to be the youngest wrestler who will be featured. She once suffered from a disorder that affects many young women: anorexia. For those who do not know, anorexia is an eating disorder in which a person has a fear of gaining weight, as well as a strong desire of being thin, and it is a dangerous disorder that can become deadly, especially for a tiny girl like Alexa who is 5’1″. Alexa’s eating disorder got so bad that she lost so much weight that her heart rate dropped to 28 beats per minute, which is so low that you are literally close to death. Fortunately, Alexa was able to overcome this disorder, and has gone on to become a Women’s Champion who is both good in the ring and very attractive.
4. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar will probably be the only person who will ever have had major success in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, but as formidable and destructive as Lesnar appears on screen, his bowels have often times gotten the better of him. Like Jerry Lawler, Lesnar also deals with diverticulitis, but in his case, the intestinal disorder was even worse, because it forced him to undergo surgery to remove a built-up amount of diseased bowel from his intestines. Diverticulitis may cause people to have a fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, but it can also cause cases of extreme constipation, which is what Lesnar had to deal with, and it is hard to picture The Beast sitting on a toilet with stomach pain being unable to go to the bathroom.
3. Bret Hart
Bret Hart was an incredibly talented wrestler, to the extent that he truly deserved the moniker of being “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be,” but as good as he was, he has had to deal with his own mental health demons. Hart has had to deal with major depressive disorder for many years now, and based on what happened in his life since leaving WWE in 1997, it is no wonder that he developed this disorder. In 1999, his brother Owen died after falling from the rafters as a result of a broken harness, and he was then forced to retire as a result of an injury that he sustained in a match with Goldberg. His good friends Brian Pillman and The British Bulldog also died as a result of heart attacks, and his friend Roddy Piper died from cardiac arrest in 2015, and if all of that were not enough, Hart himself nearly died in 2002 when he suffered a serious stroke.
2. Hulk Hogan
The Attitude Era may have given the wrestling world several great and iconic wrestlers, but prior to that era, there was an entirely different era which produced its own set of icons, and it was in that era that the immortal Hulk Hogan made a name for himself. Hogan may be one of the greatest performers in history, but he too had to deal with major depressive disorder, which came about thanks to several circumstances, which included the deaths of some of his friends, getting divorced after more than 25 years of marriage, his son being sent to jail, and having a sex tape released by one of his closest friends. During an interview with Oprah, he opened up about this depression by saying that he had hit rock bottom, that he had been drinking heavily during that time, and that he did not know how to handle everything that was happening in his life.
1. The Rock
The Attitude Era will be considered to be the best era in wrestling for many years to come, and a big reason for that is because of all the great and popular wrestlers who emerged at that time, with The Rock being one of them. The Rock will forever be viewed as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and he has certainly made his mark in Hollywood as an actor, but he too has had to deal with serious depression. Prior to becoming a wrestler, Rock tried to pursue a career in professional football, but after graduating from college, he was not only passed over by the NFL, but he was also cut from the Canadian Football League, and those rejections put him into a very dark place, to the point that he thought that his life was over. Luckily though, Rock was able to pull himself out of that depression, once he decided to leave football aside and try his hand at wrestling, which turned out to be the best decision of his life.
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