Have you ever wondered what happens to your favorite pro wrestlers after they retire? Do they continue wrestling in smaller promotions? What do they do?
There is a great movie called "The Wrestler" starring Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a pro wrestler well beyond his prime that continues to wrestle in just about any venue he can land a job. He puts his already destroyed body in danger each and every night as he pushes himself to hang onto the dream he once lived. It is a very sad story that shows us a side of the sport that is not talked about very often, the one that happens after the cameras stop filming. Although his story is not a true story, it is based on countless other wrestler's and their stories of struggling with life after wrestling.
The movie showed us that a lot of these guys will do just about anything to continue living the dream, even if it means they could die. The idea that it is all over hits these wrestlers so hard that many of them struggle to survive and end up broke and living on the streets or under a bridge.
Let's take a look at the 15 Wrestlers Who Went Broke and where they are today.
15 Nick Gage
If you have not heard the name Nick Gage, and you consider yourself a pretty solid pro wrestling fan, then you might want to rethink some things because he is one of those guys that has been around for a long time but never showed up on Raw or Monday Night Nitro. He wrestled with Combat Zone Wrestling, a hardcore wrestling promotion, and is the companies first ever World Heavyweight Champion, winning the belt almost 20 years ago.
His life took a turn for the worst in 2010 when he was arrested for allegedly robbing a PNC Bank in New Jersey by handing the female cashier a note demanding the money. He was down on his luck in life and reached the point of robbing a bank to set things right but it turned into a prison sentence that lasted about six years, just recently getting out last November.
14 Lex Luger
During the very first episode of WCW's Monday Nitro, they shocked the fans by bringing in a wrestler from the WWE that no one expected to see. That man was Lex Luger and his arrival at WCW was just another in a long list of career moments that has made Lex one of the most memorable wrestlers of all time. He was brought in as a larger than life beast that had more muscles than brains. His power was showcased best during his finishing move which he called the total package.
Lex was treated like a God and he let it get to his head. He would eventually find himself in a very dark and narrow road that has no future and in 2007, it all came to a sudden halt when he suffered a spinal stroke that forced him into a wheelchair for over a year in 2008. His battle with drugs and steroids turned his fortune into pennies and left him for dead.
Today, he goes around the country speaking to people about his life, religion, and the effects of drugs and addiction.
13 Hulk Hogan
The biggest star in the history of professional wrestling was Hulk Hogan. The entire Hulkamania gimmick was so over that it lasted an entire decade. He then turned into a heel in the WCW, forming the nWO, which technically stopped his Hulkamania role. Throughout his career, he was also a father and a loving husband to his ex-wife Linda Hogan. They had children and were married from 1983 until they got divorced in 2007. Their divorce became a very big news story and was all anyone in wrestling could talk about.
For a man that has won numerous world titles, reading about his real life divorce was hard on not just him but also his fans. It also turned his ex-wife, Linda Hogan, into one of the most hated ladies in wrestling, ever. She ended up getting nearly 70% of their liquid assets, or $7.44 million, on top of also getting 40% ownership in Hulk's companies, a $3 million settlement, and 50% of the rest of their stuff. He might not have been completely broke, but when you go from $15 million to $2 million, overnight, you will have serious problems righting the ship. Currently, Hogan is sitting home waiting for WWE to welcome him back.
12 Justin Credible
Peter Polaco, also known as Aldo Montoya, The Portuguese Man O' War, a horrible wrestling gimmick that featured Peter wearing a Ninja Turtles type of costume complete with the eye band that wraps around his head. The entire gimmick was so bad it remains on every list of the worst wrestling characters of all time. That came at no fault of the guy behind the mask, it was mostly from the fact that the entire gimmick was so phony, no one cared to watch him.
But Peter did not become a household name until he showed up under the ring name of Justin Credible with the ECW. That was when he turned into a star in the pro wrestling business. He has since retired and is now providing his pro wrestling knowledge through YouTube videos and is the founder of Pro Wrestling 101.
11 Scott Hall
Not all pro wrestlers crash and burn once they reach the pinnacle of their careers. Some of them manage it better and figure out a way to take that success and turn it into a career beyond the mat. Scott Hall, on the other hand, is not one of those men. In fact, he should be in a category of his own because his fall was so abrupt and sad that it stands alone as one of the worst in the industry. And it was all because of his talent. He was a superstar and dominated the WWE as Razor Ramon. He was one of the best ever and he gave it all away because of addictions he could not control.
He is an alcoholic and battled it for most of his adult life, dating back to the day he started in the business. He let it take over his career, forcing him to become unreliable and hard to manage. That alone was enough to ruin a career that was once considered the most underrated in his time. He went from being the biggest name in the business to a sad sack of a man, broke and battling a life of drinking and doing drugs. Today, his son, Cody Hall, is rising in the industry and should be a big name one day. Scott does what he can to help him out while also continuing to make appearances in various independent promotions.
The story of the WWE's first official Diva, Sunny, starts off with her incredible rise to fame within a year of her arrival in the promotion. Along with her then boyfriend, Chris Candido, Sunny quickly became known as one of the best managers and valets in the business. She managed The Bodydonnas and, later, the Legion of Doom 2000. Both teams were better for it because she could take the managerial role and turn it into a major asset during a match, or in a promo. She was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
But when the WWE fans started asking for Sable rather than Sunny, she became dispensable and was let go. She then worked the independent circuit for awhile, even after Chris Candido's death in 2005. She did, however, fall off the map for a few years until she started getting in trouble with the law a few years ago, being arrested multiple times for multiple reasons. Between the partying and drug use, which she explains in detail in her new book, Sunny ended up trying to earn a buck anyway possible, just to survive. She was so desperate, she was featured in her first and only adult film in 2016. Today, she is touring the country, stirring up drama and trouble with the release of her new book.
In 1992, Kamala learned that he had diabetes but did not do anything about it. He did not accept dialysis treatment because of the time he would miss wrestling. So in 2011, he had his left leg amputated and was forced to finally retire from pro wrestling. The following year, he had his right leg amputated too, also from the diabetes. It is a sad ending for a man that began wrestling in 1978. He stopped wrestling in 1993 until the WCW hired him in 1995 followed by a return to the WWE after the turn of the century.
He was never a World Champion with the WWE. In fact, he never won a single title with the WWE during his incredible career, being used mostly as the heel that helps other wrestlers get over. But his life took over and he was left paying massive medical bills for many years, leaving him to rely on disability checks and selling handmade wooden chairs.
8 Tony Atlas
During the 1970s and 1980s, there was one man that known as "Black Superman" and it was former bodybuilder and pro wrestler, Tony Atlas. He rose to prominence fairly quickly, during a time when pro wrestling was almost like a fraternity that was tough to break into. He found a way to get into the business, using his charisma and mic skills to fight his way into the NWA. Shortly after his time within the NWA, he joined the WWE and even, WCW. He spent many years wrestling for many promotions, and was best known as Rocky Johnson's tag team partner, and co-champion. Rocky Johnson is, of course, The Rock's father.
Tony battled drug addiction and was forced to clean himself up before wrestling again. It was a downhill battle and he was constantly finding himself fighting with addiction. Today, he is traveling around the country for meet-and-greet appearances and even to wrestle, at the age of 62.
7 Joey Mercury
If you have not figured this out by now, then we should remind you that drug and alcohol addiction is a horrible thing that has consumed the lives of many of the superstars we came to love over the years. The road to addiction is a dark and lonely road with no turning around, only backing up. It is a downward spiral that can lead to serious problems for some people, even death.
For Joey Mercury, his fatal four way match at Armageddon 2006 was the moment his life began to spiral out of control. During the match, a ladder was placed along the turnbuckle and Joey was tossed into it, with his head leaning over it as it was positioned, balanced against the ropes. Then the ladder was kicked up and crushed his face, a move that was not planned, sending him to the emergency room and leading him to an introduction to painkillers. Many other drugs lined up to visit Joey throughout his career until he finally was able to get a hold of it and recover fully. He is now a producer for the main roster of the WWE.
6 Ric Flair
Back in 2011, a columnist wrote a story about a pro wrestling legend's life inside and outside of the ring and the struggles of managing those two lives. The wrestler was Ric Flair and the article told a story that many of his fans never heard before. It was a sad tale of his financial problems and how they got so bad that he was ejected from his Charlotte home after a judge ruled against him for not being able to pay his rent.
But that is just one, of many, money problems he now has because of a laundry list of things that have taken him down to almost nothing. He earns money now to pay for his lawyers, all of his ex-wives, to the IRS for unpaid taxes, unpaid loans, and former business partners he stiffed.
Ric Flair has always done a great job of shielding his fans from the truth, that he was more worried about being that persona than taking care of himself. He was once the highest paid wrestler in the world, for many years, and now finds himself taking jobs with the WWE, managing his daughter Charlotte, just to earn a few extra bucks.
5 Dynamite Kid
On August 29th, 1984, the Dynamite Kid made his WWF debut, defeating Iron Mike Sharpe and Troy Alexander, with Bret Hart as his teammate. Not long after that first match, the Dynamite Kid started working with Davey Boy Smith, forming the infamous WWF tag team, the British Bulldogs. That pairing led to a WWF World Tag Team title victory at WrestleMania II. The British star was quickly becoming a fan-favorite and was soaring in popularity until things came to a complete halt after he suffered a serious back injury in December of 1986. He also injured his left leg and eventually, years later, he would lose the use of it, forcing the paralyzed former superstar to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
He was a super talent and a future World champion that never reached his true potential because of various reasons, mostly his back and leg injuries. Those injuries took him down and his battle with alcohol and drugs grew even greater when he stopped wrestling and eventually turned him into a bitter, broke, retired pro wrestler that everyone forgot about. He recently was featured in the wrestling documentary, Nine Legends, released last year.
One of the most underrated pro wrestlers of the past 30 years is, in our opinion, the one and only X-Pac, who was born with the name Sean Waltmann. Sean was one of those hard workers that was not afraid to break a few bones if it got someone over. He was athletic, fun, and very skilled in the ring but was always considered a groomsman, never a groom. He was a key figure in the WWE's historic and game-changing stable, D-Generation X. That stable pushed the envelope of what was allowed on live cable tv or not while also transforming pro wrestling into the Attitude Era.
During X-Pac's career, he had many demons and they mostly came in the form of drugs, and we are not talking about prescription pills or pot, we are talking about the hardcore stuff that can ruin your life in the matter of days. That is almost what drugs did to X-Pac until he was able to turn his life around and clean up his act. He is living a normal life for a retired pro wrestler and hosts his very own podcast.
3 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
There are only a handful of pro wrestlers, in the history of the business, that are considered the total package and Jake "The Snake" Roberts was one of them. He won over the crowd using his incredible charisma and elite mic skills. There are few guys that could drop a better promo than him. He was a team player that loved to succeed and pushed himself to become the best in the world causing him to grow a fan base that turned him into a marketing superstar. He knew how to tell a story and would do whatever it took for the company. He was the closest thing to a perfect superstar wrestler as they come.
However, while his talents were helping him pay the bills, his mind was going to some really dark places. That darkness took him to places he regrets to this day. He quickly got addicted to drugs and alcohol, letting them take over his life, nearly killing him a few times in the process. It pulled him away from his friends, family, and professional wrestling until all that was left was a man desperate for one more chance, with no money, having spent almost all of it feeding his addiction.
Today, he has continued fighting his addiction and has tried to remain sober. He is currently on The Unspoken Word Tour, where he travels to smaller venues and bars all across the country sharing stories from the road, life, and a little comedy too.
2 Perry Saturn
Only a month or so ago, Perry Saturn took to Facebook to ask his fans and friends for help. He was asking for money because he was just a few weeks away from being homeless. He even has a GoFundMe page that was established a few months ago that has raised around $15,000. His life has spiraled out of control after battling several health issues since retiring from the sport in 2004.
Shortly after he left pro wrestling, Perry Saturn, according to the police report, came to the aide of a woman being raped and was shot during the altercation. That incident led him to a serious addiction to painkillers beginning around 2004 and ending when he reappeared into the lives of his family and friends in 2010. For nearly six years he battled the addiction that has caused him to lose everything in life.
But things have gotten even worse recently when he revealed last September that he is dealing with a traumatic brain injury that dates back to his pro wrestling days.
We talked about that Mickey Rourke movie earlier, "The Wrestler," and it makes perfect sense for our number one broke wrestler, Virgil. He has gone from being all over the place in the 1980's to begging for fans to love him again by doing anything he possibly can just to earn a buck.
During the movie, there is a scene where Randy "The Ram" Robinson goes to a local event hall, sets up all of his stuff from back in the day, and sits behind a fold-up table trying to sell his stuff and charge money for pictures or autographs. It is one of the saddest parts of the film and it is 100% real life. Virgil continues to show up across the country, asking for money to take photos or get an autograph and he does it in the same types of venues as they used in the film. He usually does not get many fans and winds up sitting alone, behind his table, while people take pictures of him and post them on a parody website called LonelyVirgil.net.
It is always sad to hear about any famous person becoming nearly extinct but to watch them not know when it is time to move along, that is much worse. He is rumored to also be a school teacher in Pennsylvania these days.