WWE has proved to be a lucrative company to work for as a wrestler, as they can not only perform their beloved sport but also can achieve unprecedented fame and fortune if they manage to impress management in the long run. Vince McMahon has slowly built a billion-dollar empire which offers services and payments which no other promotion can match, and because of the brand value of the company, many cannot resist when an offer from the WWE comes along their path. WWE not only provides world recognition, but also tests one’s skills against the world’s best and no wrestler can deny the spectacle which WWE offers with its incredible popularity.
WWE offers bumper contracts to their wrestlers and also covers their daily expenses, and growing popularity in the company can lead one into getting sponsorships and merchandise sales which can make for more money. Most of these wrestlers come from ordinary backgrounds and are often overwhelmed at the prospect of all the fame and fortune they attain, and often get lost in it. They try to live lavish lifestyles which they dreamt off since their childhood and often spend all the money they make off their work, which makes for trouble in their future.
We’ve seen some WWE superstars keep rising in the entertainment business like The Rock and Batista making it big in Hollywood, while some others tend to go on a downward spiral after leaving the WWE and cannot seem to cope without the lavishness they attained in the company. Most of them tend to fall to some sort of addiction, wrecking their personal lives and there are cases of many legendary wrestlers even becoming bankrupt after leaving the WWE, as they can’t help but continue with their destructive lifestyle in spite of not having the same income they did back in the WWE.
15 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn was another wrestler who got lost in the shuffle after flocking to the WWE as part of the Radicalz alongside Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Known for his WCW days where he was part of Raven’s Nest, Saturn couldn’t really outdo his fellow wrestlers and fell to the back of the line. After a match where he legitimately beat up a jobber, Saturn was punished by being given the Mop gimmick, where he’d be infatuated with a mop. This got him over for a while with his entertaining personality, but he couldn’t capitalize on it as an injury lay-off forced WWE to release him. After his WWE release, Saturn was shot in the neck while trying to fend off two men assaulting a woman. This triggered him to become addicted to narcotics, as he became homeless for 3 years and disappeared for some time before he got married in 2009. He has since tried to get back to the wrestling circuit, but can barely wrestle like before and even though he’s in a better situation than before, he’s still struggling to get back to the position he was during his best wrestling days.
14 Nicole Bass
Nicole Bass might barely be remembered by many wrestling fans, as she had a short stint in the WWE during the Attitude Era. Debuting as Sable’s bodyguard at WrestleMania XV, Bass would then go on to feud with Debra, which culminated in a mixed tag team match pitting Bass and Val Venis against Debra and Jeff Jarrett. She then aligned with Val for a short time, before yet again costing Debra her Women’s Championship. The brawny athlete was someone Vince liked, until Bass decided to leave the company and file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, claiming she was assaulted backstage by Steve Lombardi. The case was ultimately dismissed and that was the end of the line for her, as she had to go wrestle in the Indy scene for low-key events. In 2006, Bass was hospitalized due to steroid-influenced pancreatitis as things started to get really difficult for her after her husband died in 2013. Last year, she was arrested for shoplifting $1,200 from a supermarket. She also opened a GoFundMe account, stating she needed money desperately and didn’t want to be evicted from her home as things have started to get really hard for this former WWE superstar, with no help coming from the company because of her past actions.
13 Dynamite Kid
One half of the infamous “British Bulldogs”, The Dynamite Kid was one of the inspirational wrestlers for many budding ones in the 80s as he dazzled with his hard-hitting moveset and fast-paced action. The Bulldogs would have classic rivalries with The Hart Foundation as Kid had a reputation for working stiff matches and being a hot-head outside the ring as well. One such incident backstage where Jacques Rougeau broke his teeth out was a factor in him leaving the WWE, as he went on to wrestle for Stampede Wrestling and later went to wrestle in Japan in All Japan Pro Wrestling. It was during that when his health started to deteriorate, as he divorced his wife Michelle. He lost the use of his left leg, and is now bound to a wheelchair forever. He has also suffered from heart problems in the past, suffering from 2 strokes in the last four years as his inability to work and rising hospital bills have left him in a very difficult predicament financially, almost leaving him penniless and unable to do anything about it as the fall of this legend is pretty depressing.
12 Matt Osborne
Famously known for his portrayal of “Doink The Clown” in the WWE in the 90s, Matt Osborne had a short-lived fame in the wrestling industry as this villainous clown who would pull tricks on wrestlers and fans. Osborne wouldn’t really last much in the WWE because of recurring drug abuse, and saw his career derailed after being fired from ECW in 1994. He would rarely find any work as his gimmick had grown stale, and would only appear in reunion events with no real job to lean back on. His persistent drug problems would affect his personal life as he lived a poor man’s life after his time at the WWE. He brought back his Doink The Clown gimmick in 2010 with a twist, as he found some work in the low-key independent promotion “Wrecking Ball Wrestling”. He wasn’t given a proper opportunity to return to the WWE and unexpectedly died in 2013 due to drug overdose. His ex-wife launched a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWE last year stating that they were the reason for his depression and head trauma, but the case was dismissed as Osborne’s fall in the wrestling circuit is another sad case of how short-lived fame can derail one’s life.
11 Scott Hall
“The Bad Guy” still remains as one of the coolest characters in the history of WWE, as his character of Razor Ramon made for some of the most iconic moments in the company’s history. Hall found much admiration for his character, a cocky heel and got his own moment at WrestleMania X in one of the first WWE Ladder matches against Shawn Michaels. Hall was a hot property to have and pushed WWE to give him a better contract, and moved to WCW with buddy Kevin Nash when they didn’t match up to WCW’s contracts. He got even more iconic by creating the NWO in WCW. The turn of the century saw him return to the WWE for a short stint as a member of the WWE's version of the NWO, after which he had stints in TNA, before things started to get really messed up for him. His drug abuse was getting more dangerous with each passing year and he often did petty shows to pay for the drugs. Hall got arrested numerous times due to this, and even after being put into a WWE sponsored rehab in 2010, he couldn’t get rid of his addiction. An ESPN documentary on his improvement from an awful state went to show how he attended low-key events to make ends meet, and always wasted it on drugs and alcohol. Hall eventually became sober (for the time being) due to DDP’s help, before returning to WWE in 2014 when he got inducted into the Hall of Fame. He has appeared in WWE shows numerous times since then, and lives a sober life surrounded by friends and family inspite of not being very well off financially.
10 Joey Mercury
Joey Mercury might be remembered recently as part of J&J security and by older fans as part of MNM with John Morrison and Melina. Mercury debuted in the company in 2004 alongside Morrison, as they soon captured the Tag Team Gold from Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero and held the titles for three months. They went back and forth with the titles, winning it for the 3rd time the same year before having a 3 month feud with Paul London and Brian Kendrick, who they relinquished their belts too. Mercury would then be suspended for 30 days for violating WWE’s wellness policy and return 6 months later to reform MNM. It was during this time that he suffered a horrific nose injury, which required 30 stitches. He was fired by the WWE in 2007, after his drug abuse was at a peak and a direct intervention from Vince McMahon. He revealed in an interview that he started to do drugs and alcohol from the age of 15, resulting in him overdosing 3 times and wrecking ten cars. Mercury even got addicted to painkillers after his injury, as his house was about to be foreclosed at one point until CM Punk bought the mortgage for him. All these incidents propelled him to become clean, as he soon rejoined WWE and now holds a prominent position backstage.
9 Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Jimmy Snuka might have been an icon of his time because of his flashy, high-flying moves which got the people to cheer him, but his personal life is far from iconic. Snuka would sky-rocket to popularity when he jumped off the top in his match against WWE Champion Bob Backlund, and his athletic style was a breath of fresh air in the WWE. Another highlight moment in his career would come in 1983, when he performed a Snuka Splash from on top of a cage to Don Muraco, at an event when a young Mick Foley, Bubba Ray Dudley and Tommy Dreamer were in attendance and were inspired to start wrestling. “Superfly” would play a small part at the first ever WrestleMania where he was in Hulk Hogan’s corner but would soon leave the WWE. He would later return, but this time given the job of putting over young wrestlers and couldn’t really attain the height of his success afterwards. But the death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino has haunted him throughout his career, as the case where he was charged with murder has dragged on since 1983. This has disabled him from getting work, and he couldn’t even pay off the bills for the wrongful death case that was filed by Nancy’s family. He is now poor and suffers from dementia which has stalled the case for now, but jail time could be on the cards in the future for Snuka who is now trying to reap money from WWE through the mass action lawsuit filed recently where former WWE wrestlers are suing the company for “Long-term neurological damage”, as the legacy of Superfly is hampered in darkness.
8 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was hot property in the wrestling business during the 90s when he was signed up by WWE. They soon tried to turn him into the next Hulk Hogan (who had left the company) and gave him the American Patriot gimmick as Luger surpisingly body-slammed a 500+ pound Yokozuna. This convinced Vince McMahon to give him a major push, as he was pitched to win the WWE Championship from Yokozuna at SummerSlam 1993. But backlash from fans and superstars alike stopped that push, as he only got a count-out victory over Yokozuna and was then demoted to the mid-card. He soon jumped ship to WCW where he had an underwhelming career, as his personal life started to derail at the same time. Luger’s addiction to drugs reached a maximum with the turn of the century, as he was arrested thrice in 2003, having to pay bonds to get out of jail. His live-in girlfriend at the time, Miss Elizabeth, died in 2003; Luger was charged with 13 felony counts of drug possession. He had to pay $27,500 as bail, before he was acquitted of the case. He had to undergo a jail sentence in 2005 as well, as most of the cash he earned in his heyday was wasted on legal bonds, drugs and other bad stuff. He became a born again Christian in 2007 before having to go through spinal surgery for his spinal infection in 2007, and now leads a sober life, working with WWE on their Wellness Program to ensure that other wrestlers don’t go down the path he did.
7 Sean O’Haire
Sean O’Haire was a promising talent to come out of the WCW Power Plant, as he impressed during WCW’s lackluster final years and soon tagged with Mark Jindrak to win the WCW Tag Team Belts. He then started a tag team with Chuck Palumbo, when both of them were signed up by the WWE with the takeover of WCW. They were eventually broken apart, as O’Haire was sent to OVW for some development on his character. He was given the “Devil’s Advocate” gimmick where he would encourage people to commit adultery and had an obsession with spiders. This obviously didn’t work so well, and O’Haire couldn’t get over despite getting wins over Rikishi, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. O’Haire was released from WWE while recovering from a motorcycle accident, and worked some dates at New Japan Pro Wrestling. He later retired from wrestling to concentrate on his MMA career which was a wreck as he lost his pro matches and didn’t survive in the field. Things had started to spiral down for him at this point, as he divorced his wife and was charged with numerous assault charges. He didn’t get any work in the wrestling field or in MMA, and had to do odd jobs to survive as he was arrested in 2009 for allegedly choking out his girlfriend. On September 2014, O’Haire took his own life, as his promising career was destroyed by his own bad decisions.
6 Ric Flair
Ric Flair might be “The Nature Boy” inside the squared circle and one of the most respected wrestlers of all time, but his personal life has been quite a wreck for sometime now. Flair’s WWE career was off two parts, the first one in the early 90’s when he had a short stint in the company, even becoming the WWE Champion during the period. He then went to WCW, but returned to the company in 2001, fighting with Vince McMahon over the ownership of WWE(kayfabe). Flair then went onto manage Triple H and formed Evolution with him, as he also went onto win the Tag Team Titles at this point. After disbanding, Flair would go onto wrestle as a singles competitor with Vince wanting him to retire which he did after losing to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXIV and even got his farewell party on RAW. But he didn’t really retire from wrestling, as he went to TNA later on as his personal problems really started to mount during this time. Flair had married and divorced 4 women in his life, as his alcoholic problems really started to get worse as he was charged in 2005 for a road rage incident. He even formed his finance business called “Ric Flair Finance” in 2007, which filed for bankruptcy the next year. Ring of Honor filed a lawsuit against Flair in 2010, alleging that he owed them $40,000 but the case was dismissed. He was even indebted to HighSports Inc who claimed he gave them his NWA World Heavyweight Title belt as collateral and Flair was looking at 90 days jail, but someone paid the debt off. Flair might be looking fine on WWE TV with his suit on, but his personal life is a wreck with him having little money of his own.
X-Pac has been an electric athlete in the wrestling industry throughout his career, but behind the scenes he’s quite a mess. X-Pac got his recognition through WWE in the mid 90’s when he started to tag with Razor Ramon and became popular as the “1-2-3 Kid”. His popularity peaked in WCW when he became the sixth member of the NWO, being renamed as “Syxx” as he went onto win the WCW Cruiserweight Title and Tag Titles during his time at the infamous stable. He was later fired from WCW for drug abuses, but WWE signed him up and paired him with the raunchy D-Generation X where he shined. He later on went to have Tag Titles runs as well as Cruiserweight Championship reigns, before joining the underwhelming WWE version of the NWO. He was released after an injury, and went onto wrestle for various promotions including TNA. But his personal life was a wreck, as his addiction to drugs was destroying his reputation. He wasted all his money on drugs and other stuff, as well as degrading his reputation by making an amateur sex tape with fellow wrestler, Chyna. In various interviews, X-Pac has revealed to have attempted suicide various times, and hasn’t improved inspite of going through continuous rehabilitation. He was called back by the WWE in 2011 and has made appearances since, but his unpredictable addiction to drugs has left him in a very mediocre state and not well off financially.
4 Chris Kanyon
Chris Kanyon was hot stuff during the latter part of the 90’s in WCW, as he was a valuable part of “Raven’s Flock” while also having a compelling singles feud with Diamond Dallas Paige(DDP) which helped him gain popularity in the company. After WCW was bought by the WWE, Kanyon was brought in to be a member of The Alliance and went onto win the US Title and also went onto win the WWE Tag Titles with DDP. But then tragedy struck as he was gaining relevance, as he got injured in a dark match and got injured again after recovering from the previous injury. When he returned, he was demoted to the B-shows and rarely appeared in WWE TV as his life started to derail after his previous injuries. He retired shortly after being released from the WWE, but came out of retirement soon to appear in a few events, like TNA’s Turning Point PPV in 2005. He retired for good in 2007, but couldn’t find any prominent work afterwards. In a program in 2007, Kanyon stated that he took 50 sleeping pills in 2003 in a failed suicide attempt and was also arrested in 2004 where fellow wrestler Altar Boy Luke had to pay the bond to get him out of jail. Kanyon, along with Raven and Mike Sanders tried to sue WWE for “cheating them out of health care and benefits” but the case was soon dismissed. Things got so dire for him that he began a gimmick of an openly gay wrestler after his release from the WWE, and barely got any work. Kanyon was suffering from bipolar disorder, and took his own life in 2010 as his depression and lack of work got him to the boiling point.
Kamala was quite an intimidating figure in the WWE in the 80’s, as he’s one of the first wrestlers to paint their body and was pretty intimidating at the time. He was a mainstay in the mid-card for some years, terrorizing people with his bizarre acts and later on went to wrestle for WCW for a short stint. He even made sporadic appearances in the WWE in the future, wrestling in some events. But the times got really difficult for the big man, as his health deteriorated by each year resulting in him having to get his left leg amputated in 2011 due to high blood pressure and diabetes. In April 2012, his right leg had to be amputated as well as a campaign was launched seeking financial donations for the poor man. Kamala stated in an interview in 2014 that he relies on a disability check and sells handmade wooden chairs to survive. He was part of the class action lawsuit filed against WWE by former wrestlers for incurring traumatic brain injuries, and he is someone who is honestly in need of the money to survive and live a peaceful, respectable life.
Virgil is renowned for his time as Ted DiBiase’s valet, as he had to do some degrading acts for the Million Dollar Man, as well as helping him win matches dirty. After suffering humiliation for a long time, Virgil hit back on DiBiase and defeated him at Wrestlemania VII by countount and pinned him for the belt at SummerSlam. He continued to feud with DiBiase for the belt, with this being the highlight of his career. He continued to wrestle in the company before moving for better opportunities at WCW. He became the head of security for the NWO in WCW with the name of Vincent( as a mockery to Vince McMahon) with his time in the promotion being underwhelming and quite non-productive. After leaving WCW, Virgil became a high school math teacher but this was short-lived, as he became obsessed at coming back to the wrestling circuit inspite of almost being forgotten. Virgil continued to travel and appear at Wrestling convention and resorted to selling autographs at random wrestling events, inspite of not being recognized by many. He later stated off his loneliness and how sad he was, and even started his own GoFundMe campaign where he called fans to make him a millionaire. That is obviously a long-shot, as the broke Virgil barely manages to make ends meet and is stuck in the past to do anything productive in his life.
1 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake Roberts’ downfall is probably one of the most depressing tales in wrestling history, as the once frightening figure in the WWE has over the years being reduced to an absolute mess of a man who’s more interested into doing drugs than looking into his personal life. Roberts is infamous for his time at the WWE, where he was the prime heel who carried his own snake and terrorized many with his intense promos and moveset. His classic feuds with the likes of The Ultimate Warrior, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Randy “Macho Man” Savage made him a force to be reckoned with, but personally he was degrading each day. His in-ring personality kept him in the business for a long time, before the major promotions just gave up on him and Roberts fell into a deep, dark hole in his life. The wrestling documentary “Beyond the Mat” covered Jake’s life after WWE where he had a strained relationship with his daughter and always hid behind his drugs whenever he needed to man up. Things fell off with the turn of the century, as the aging Roberts couldn’t wrestle as much because of weight problems and in 2004 let his pet snake “Damian” starve to death. He barely survived off the money he got off indy appearances, and was set to a WWE sponsored rehab in 2007. This did him no good as he again crawled back to his drug roots, before he got help from DDP who helped him overcome his problems and shed weight, as the overweight Roberts could barely walk before becoming short of breath. The improvement led to a return to WWE in 2013, and a Hall of Fame nomination in 2014. Roberts is now doing better, being part of some documentaries and films which will help him get back on his feet as “The Snake” needs to thank his friends on resurrecting him from the dark place where he was crawled into.