The world of professional wrestling is unlike almost anything else. It's one of the rare places where having a deformity can actually benefit you. While some people may see their deformity as just a flaw, wrestlers have used their deformities to their advantage. An example of this is that being a giant in the real world can be annoying, but being one in the world of wrestling can lead to major success. This all works for people on the opposite end of the spectrum, with people being born with dwarfism.
While some deformities can be a positive thing for wrestlers, that is not always the case. Throughout the years, wrestlers have suffered from conditions that could have stopped their dreams of becoming professional wrestlers. However, each wrestler on this list was not going to let their deformities get the best of them, and have all gone on to have great success.
Here 15 wrestlers who all suffered from deformities, but still managed to make the best of their situations.
16 Zeus: Deformed Retina
The name of "Tiny" Lister might not sound too familiar, but the name Zeus might ring a bell. Zeus was a character that Lister played in the 1989 WWE produced film No Holds Barred. The movie starred Hulk Hogan as hero Rip Thomas, while the film's main villain was portrayed by Lister. Hogan and Zeus would actually take their on-screen rivalry to the WWE, where they were notably involved in a tag team match at SummerSlam.
Besides his massive muscular frame, the next thing you notice about Lister is that his right eye doesn't seem normal. That is because Lister was born with a deformed retina, and is completely blind in that eye. However, that hasn't stopped him from establishing a great career in Hollywood as a character actor.
15 Scott Steiner: Chest Deformity
Nobody in the history of professional wrestling went through a dramatic change of appearance quite like Scott Steiner. From late 1997 into early 1998, Steiner cut his signature mullet, dyed his hair blonde, and put on a massive amount of muscle. While it was clear that the man now known as Big Poppa Pump abused steroids a bit much, there was denying that his new found physique escalated his career to new heights.
While Scott Steiner still looks likes he's incredible shape even into his fifties, something about his body doesn't seem right. Over the past few years, Steiner's pectoral muscles seem to have gotten farther and farther apart. While other wrestlers like The Undertaker and Chris Jericho have seemed to suffer from the same problem, it's nowhere near as severe as Steiner. He now looks like he has a gaping hole in his chest, and all his years of steroid abuse might have something to do with it.
14 Big Show: Gigantism
For the past two decades, there have been many giants who have entered the wrestling business, but none of them have had as much staying power as the Big Show. Paul Wight got into wrestling when he got a chance to meet Hulk Hogan in 1995. After dominating WCW for four years, he went to the WWE in 1999 and has been there ever since.
Like all other giants that came before him, Paul Wight also suffered from acromegaly. By the time he was 12 years old, he was 6 ft 2 in and already had a chest full of hair. When Wight was in his early twenties he had a tumor removed which caused him to finally stop growing. As he got older, Wight's body became to ache constantly because of his size, but he has recently lost a ton of weight which has seemed to ease the pain.
13 Sabu: Scarred
When you think of some of the greatest hardcore legends, Sabu's name has to be near the top of the list. The "The Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal....Death–Defying Maniac" has competed all over the world, but is best known for his time spent with ECW. His feuds with the likes of Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer produced some of the most entertaining matches in the company's history.
Sabu didn't get his reputation for being a maniac for no reason. Throughout his career, he has competed in some of most extreme matches possible. These matches included no-rope barbed wire death matches, as well matches where the ring was even lit on fire. All these extreme matches have made Sabu's body a bit worse for wear to say the least. While lots of wrestlers have scarred bodies mostly due to blading their foreheads, Sabu's entire body is completely covered with ugly scars.
12 Traci Brooks: Erb's Palsy
Ever since she was a kid it was always a dream from Traci Brooks to become a WWE Superstar. While she never got the chance to wrestle for the WWE, she was a mainstay in TNA Wrestling for over a decade. She never won any titles in TNA, but she still had some very memorable moments in TNA. She was the long-time manager of current NXT Champion Bobby Roode, while also being a member of the highly successful Main Event Mafia.
Traci Brooks managed to have a decade long career despite being born with Erb's palsy. The birth defect affects her arm muscles. She's not able to straighten or turn over one of her arms. Brooks said her condition affected that way she had to take bumps. It actually annoyed her the most when she couldn't raise the hands of the tag teams she was managing.
11 Robert Gibson: Lazy Eye
Robert Gibson is best known as one-half of the tag team known as The Rock 'n' Roll Express, with Ricky Morton. The duo started wrestling in Memphis during the 1980's and would go on to wrestle in the AWA, WCW, and the WWE. The team was recently announced as inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. Although Gibson is close to sixty years old, he still teams up with Ricky Morton on the independents.
When you take a close look a Robert Gibson, you will immediately notice that he eyes seemed to be looking opposite directions. This is because he was born with Strabismus, which causes his eye to seem "lazy". Despite struggling with his depth perception, Gibson overcame his condition and has gone on to have a career that has spanned over four decades.
10 The Great Khali: Gigantism
The Great Khali might not have been the tallest wrestler ever, but he was arguably the most imposing looking giant. Big men have come and gone in wrestling, but there wasn't anybody who quite looked like Khali. The giant from India was a former powerlifter which gave him a muscular look that had not been seen on a giant before. He also has a jawline that makes Jay Leno's chin seem normal sized. Khali has all these unique physical features because he suffers from acromegaly.
While no one is going to argue that the Great Khali was a good in-ring performer, he still managed to carve out a nearly decade-long career in the WWE. In 2012, Khali had surgery to remove a tumor on his pituitary gland, a surgery that will hopefully prolong his life.
9 The Messiah: Missing Thumb
When ECW closed its doors in 2001, some people said that was the day that hardcore wrestling died in North America. However, that is not the case. One company that tried to take ECW's place was Combat Zone Wrestling. One man that was trying to lead the charge was The Messiah. He would go on to have feuds in CZW with ECW legends like Sabu and New Jack.
The reason why The Messiah makes this list is pretty gruesome. In 2002, two men broke into his home and attacked him. They ended up cutting off one of his thumbs. The whole event was actually featured on an episode of America's Most Wanted. Although missing one of your thumbs doesn't seem too fun, it probably gives the hardcore legend a bit more street cred.
7 7. Giant Gonzalez: Gigantism
By the time Jorge González was 14 years old, he was already 6'4". When he finally stopped growing, he was an incredible 7'7" tall. González' height earned him a shot at playing in the NBA, but he was proof that just because you're a giant it doesn't mean your cut out for professional basketball. He then decided to give professional wrestling a try, making his WCW debut in 1990.
While he was arguably more successful in WCW, he will always be best remembered for his time in the WWE. Billed as Giant Gonzalez, he wore perhaps the ugliest body suit in wrestling history. Besides his distinct look, fans will remember him for his terrible match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania IX. By 1995, Gonzalez had to retire due to his ailing body. Later in his life, he was confined to a wheelchair and sadly passed away in 2010 from severe heart issues.
6 Hornswoggle: Dwarfism
Midget wrestling has been around forever, but no little person has arguably made more of an impact than Hornswoggle. He started to make a name for himself when he joined the WWE in 2006 as Fit Finlay's leprechaun. For better or worse he was involved in a bunch of major angles during his decade-long tenure in the WWE.
Hornswoggle may have been born with dwarfism, but that wasn't going to stop him from achieving his dream of one day becoming a professional wrestler. When he was just a toddler he was obsessed with the wrestling, especially The Ultimate Warrior. After a ton of hard work, he was able to achieve his dream and be an inspiration for all other little people who want to follow their dreams.
5 Mick Foley: Missing Ear
Mick Foley is one of biggest names in professional wrestling history. He's famous for taking some of the nastiest looking bumps you will ever see. Foley getting tossed off the top of the cell against The Undertaker is something fans will never forget. While he had some crazy moments in the WWE, Foley has some even crazier moments earlier in his career.
In 1994, Foley was wrestling for WCW where he was engaged in a feud with Vader. The two had some violent matches against each other, but nothing compares to what took place in a match on a European tour. The two men were involved in a very stiff match, probably a little too stiff. Both guys were throwing punches when all of a sudden Mick's ear fell to the mat. Foley never bothered to get his ear stitched back on, as he didn't want to take time off from wrestling.
4 The Swedish Angel: Acromegaly
During the 1940s it still wasn't taboo for wrestling promoters to make money off of a person's deformity. Promoter Jack Pfefer had seen that wrestlers with unique looks were drawing huge crowds. This is when he discovered the Swedish man named Phil Olafson, who suffered from acromegaly. Pfefer gave Olafson the gimmick of The Swedish Angel, which was actually just a rip off the wrestler who is number one entry on this list.
Olafson would go on to have a decently successful career, winning the MWA (Kansas City) World Heavyweight Championship in 1943. He is perhaps more famous for being the inspiration for the Super Swedish Angel Tor Johnson, who famously starred in a ton of director Ed Wood's cult films.
3 Zack Gowen: One Leg
When Zack Gowen was just eight years old, he had to have his left leg amputated due to cancer. However, this wouldn't stop Gowen from achieving his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. While he initially started wrestling with his prosthetic leg, he found it easier wrestling with just his one leg. His unique look eventually caught the eye of TNA in 2003, but it was with the WWE where he had the most of his success.
During his time with the WWE, he was notably involved in a feud with Vince McMahon, which eventually led to a match at WWE Vengeance in 2003. While Gowen would be released by the WWE in 2003, he continues to wrestle on the independent scene today. Gowen became a viral sensation in 2016 when he was a competitor on the television show American Ninja.
2 Andre the Giant: Gigantism
There have been many giants in wrestling throughout the years, but André Roussimoff will always be "The Giant". André wrestled all over the world but is best remembered for his time spent with the WWE in the 1980s. Hulk Hogan Bodyslamming the behemoth Andre at WrestleMania III is one of the most famous moments in wrestling history.
While Andre would continue to make appearances after his bout with Hogan, it was clear his giantism was taking a huge toll on his body. It came to the point where the simple act of walking became a chore. In 1993, André would pass away in his sleep from heart failure. His massive size is what made him famous, but it also ended up being his downfall.
1 The French Angel: Acromegaly
Maurice Tillet was a french wrestler in the 1940s and 1950s who was better known as The French Angel. His entire wrestling career was built upon the fact that he was "the ugliest man in the world." Tillet got his strange looks because he suffered from acromegaly, a condition that caused his bones to overgrow and thicken. While he was by no means a tall man at just 5'7", his head was massive, and his hands were as big as hams.
Promoters took advantage of Tillet's strange looks and built him as someone who was unstoppable. The crowning achievement of his career was when he won the AWA Heavyweight Championship, a belt he held for two years. Tillet would go on to be a big influence for other wrestlers who didn't have a traditional look. While it hasn't ever been confirmed, there are rumors that Tillet was the inspiration for the animated movie character Shrek.