The WWE that we all know through live performances and televised programming is only a tiny portion of what the company actually is. The WWE is a full throttle, 24/7 entertainment juggernaut that reaches 650 million homes worldwide and is broadcast in 25 languages. WWE partners with companies all over the world to sell products, such as clothing, toys, books, and more. WWE Studios not only produces what we see on television, but also develops content for the WWE Network and makes major motion pictures starring some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and some of the WWE’s own talent.
Needless to say, the WWE is the giant of the professional wrestling business. None of this would be possible, however, if it were not for the incredibly hard working in-ring talent that the company employees. While professional wrestling has at times been referred to as “fake,” there is nothing fake about the stress related to being a sports entertainment performer. These individuals are known for taking hard bumps on unforgiving surfaces and putting their bodies on the line every night when they step into the ring. Injuries are so common that the WWE employees their own staff of doctors and enforces a strict Wellness Policy.
The WWE produces over 350 live events each year, which makes for a grueling traveling schedule for its performers. This takes a toll on every wrestler physically and psychologically, and while there are those who seem to thrive despite theses challenges, there are others who haven’t been so lucky. Some wrestlers have been consumed by the system and when they were unable to contend with the constant pressure, they watched their lives fall apart around them. Some wrestlers couldn't succeed in other promotions, some succumbed to drug and alcohol abuse, some are facing poverty, and others suffered tragic deaths. These are 15 pro wrestlers who crashed and burned after leaving the WWE.
15 Curt Hennig
Hennig, better known as Mr. Perfect, had three runs in the WWE and his last run with the company in 2002 ended after a confrontation on a plane with Brock Lesner that turned physical. Hennig was allegedly drunk at the time and the WWE promptly released him from his contract. On February 10th, 2003, Curt Hennig was tragically found dead from an apparent cocaine overdose in a Florida hotel room. At the time of his death, the WWE aired a tribute to his career and life, and in March 2007 inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame. His son, Curtis Axel, continues to wrestle in WWE today.
14 Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty is best known for his time as the tag team partner of Shawn Michaels (The Rockers) during the 1980s. However, conflict between the two superstars would lead to the famous episode of “The Barbershop” where Michaels would throw Jannetty threw a plate glass window. In March of 1992, Jannetty was released from the WWE. Since then, Jannetty has made several failed attempts at comebacks in the WWE, ultimately facing his final release in 2007. Although Jannetty did appear one more time on the 15th anniversary of RAW and continues to work in independent promotions, his career has never truly lived up to his early success in The Rockers.
13 Bret Hart
At one point in Bret “The Hitman” Hart’s career, he had signed a 20 year contract with the WWE, practically guaranteeing him a job in WWE for the rest of his career. However, this was not to be. Hart decided to leave the WWE in 1997 to join WCW which led to the controversial “Montreal Screwjob.” He remained with WCW for only a short time before retiring from in-ring action in October 2000, due to a nasty injury suffered in a match with Goldberg. Regardless of the injury, he was poorly used in WCW and ended his legendary career with a sad run.
Chyna was once billed in the WWE as the “Ninth Wonder of The World” and is the only female performer to ever hold the Intercontinental Championship. After leaving the WWE in 2001, she wrestled for awhile on the independent circuit. Not long after her departure from WWE, a sex tape surfaced of her with former D-Generation X stable mate, X-Pac. Following the popularity of the tape, Chyna launched a career in the adult industry, but she's sadly also battling a substance abuse problem, Chyna would ultimately end up doing a stint on the VH-1 reality series “Celebrity Rehab” because of it and has had a number of very public breakdowns and incidents.
11 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake Roberts is remembered as one of the best stars of the 80s and is credited for creating the DDT. He worked one and off for several years and in 1997 WWE asked him to dissolve his in-ring career and concentrate on working backstage. Roberts did not take this change well, relapsing into drug and alcohol use which caused him to be fired in February 1997. In 1999, Roberts was featured in an unflattering documentary, Beyond The Mat, where he reveled many private stories of his tumultuous past, including his drug use. Jake has since cleaned up (thanks to DDP) and been invited back to WWE to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
10 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn debuted as one of “The Radicalz” team in January 2000. After a two year stint with WWE, he was released in late 2002 while he was home recovering from an ACL injury that had sidelined him. In 2004, while attempting to aid a woman being assaulted, Saturn was shot twice with a .25 caliber handgun. While recovering from the shooting, Saturn became addicted to methamphetamine. He ended up becoming homeless for the next couple of years, leaving family and friends to wonder what had happened to him. Luckily, it has been reported that he has overcome his addiction and is in good health.
Andrew Martin, known as Test to WWE fans, at one time seemed to be poised to be a main eventer in the WWE. He enjoyed some success while in the WWE, winning six titles during his run. Test and the WWE parted ways in 2007 due to Test’s inability to comply with the WWE Wellness Policy. Test was then arrested for driving under the influence in 2007 and 2008. He wrestled with TNA, but was released fairly quickly. Sadly, Test was found dead on March 13th, 2009 from an apparent overdose on painkillers.
8 Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy gained popularity alongside his brother, Matt, in the late 1990s. After their huge surge in popularity as a tag team, Jeff was pushed as a singles competitor. Hardy, however, was released in 2003 due to deteriorating performances and refusal to go to drug rehab after violating the Wellness Policy. Hardy returned for another stint from 2006-2009, but again violated the Wellness Policy. After his departure in 2009, Hardy has wrestled in TNA and other promotions, but hasn't been able to attain the same level as he did in 2006-09 with the WWE.
7 Matt Hardy
The extreme style that The Hardy Boyz practiced involved both brothers taking very difficult and painful bumps. While working for WWE, Matt Hardy had developed a variety of injuries, but continued to wrestle despite them. This caused his in-ring performance to decline and the WWE to use him less and less. When he was finally released, Matt seemed to go off the deep end. He was arrested multiple times for driving while intoxicated and ultimately made the decision to go to rehab for his addiction to painkillers. Thankfully now both Hardy brothers are clean and dedicating their time to being good fathers, with Matt being in the main event picture in TNA in late 2015.
6 Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan was once thought to be the future of the WWE. At 6’10” and 320 pounds, the young talented athlete seemed to have unlimited potential and the look the WWE loves to push. WWE signed Morgan to Ohio Valley Wrestling in a developmental contract in 2002 and when he debuted on SmackDown in 2003, he was quickly sent back to OVW. His second run on SmackDown was as a stuttering bodyguard for Carlito and Morgan was released when Carlito was drafted to RAW. After leaving WWE, Morgan wrestled in TNA, but still never found his way to the top of the card.
5 Orlando Jordan
In May of 2003, Jordan made his WWE television debut in match with John Cena. During his two year stint in WWE, Orlando is most remembered for being the chief of staff for JBL’s cabinet and he even defeated John Cena to win the United States Championship. However, that is the extent of his success in WWE. In 2010, TNA signed Jordan to a contract with his gimmick being based on his real life bisexuality. Sadly for his career, the writers believed that meant he should sexually harass other male wrestlers and squirt lotion all over himself. After a thoroughly unmemorable year in TNA, he was released from his contract and hasn't achieved much else in the wrestling world.
Virgil is most famous for his role as the bodyguard of The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase from 1987 to 1991. Virgil’s famous turn on DiBiase made him a fan favorite for a short time. He was then used to put over upcoming talents and remained at the bottom of the card for the remainder of his time with WWE. Virgil recently resurfaced on the internet when he started going to events uninvited and trying to get people to pay for autographs. This prompted many solo pictures of him being posted on social media with the hashtag #LonelyVirgil.
3 Scott Hall
Scott Hall debuted as Razor Ramon in 1992 after leaving WCW for a short, but successful, stint in the WWE. Upon returning to WCW. he was one of the founders of the nWo and one of the major players in the Monday Night Wars. It was during this time when his drug and alcohol addiction began to become evident. Hall’s storied career was peppered with arrests, hospitalizations, and trips to rehab. Although he struggled for years with his demons, he only recently has gained some control over them. He has recently made some appearances in the wrestling world and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in March 2014.
2 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was introduced by Bobby Heenan as “The Narcissist” to the WWE audience in 1993. Since he had already obtained some success in WCW, he decided to return there in 1995 without giving any warning to the WWE that he was leaving. A few years later when the WWE became a mainstream powerhouse and bought out WCW, Vince McMahon stated that Luger would never be back on WWE television. After suffering a spinal stroke in 2007, Luger was left unable to use his arms or legs for two months. These days he has reconciled with WWE and works with them on their Wellness Policy.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan has the distinction of being the world’s most recognizable pro wrestler. He has achieved success in WWE, WCW, and TNA, and has had Hulkamaniacs running wild for him for years. He is a 12-time world champion and was billed as an American hero for decades. This is the reason it was astonishing to fans when a video was released in July 2015 where Hogan is blatantly making racist remarks. He was fired from the WWE immediately and subsequently blacklisted from all WWE programming for making the scandalous comments.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!