While wrestling fans growing up may think that being a professional wrestler is a dream job, they may want to think twice about that. As history has shown us, if you are not mentally and physically tough, the business has the tendency to chew you up and spit you out. While being a wrestler can bring you fortune and fame, it comes with a ton of drawbacks. Like any contact sport, pro wrestling can take a huge toll on your body. After years of taking bumps, some wrestlers have left the business barely able to walk.
While debilitating injuries is a huge reason why being a wrestler is not all fun and games, it's not the only reason. The wrestling business can be very gruelling, especially considering the amount of time you have to spend on the road. In order to minimize all the pain, wrestlers turn to painkillers. Once the painkillers no longer do a good job of masking the pain, they turn to harder drugs. From that point on, their careers and lives begin to spiral out of control.
Without further delay, here are 15 wrestlers whose lives were completely ruined by the wrestling business.
15 Matt Osborne
Matt Osborne had a lengthy wrestling career. He performed under many names, but he will always be remembered as the first person to portray Doink The Clown. Osborne was almost ten years into his career when he finally caught his big break with the WWE in 1992. While the villainous clown gimmick was loved by the fans, Osborne only played the character for just over a year. He was fired by the WWE in 1993 for substance abuse problems.
Matt Osborne continued to wrestle after leaving the WWE but his drug habit stopped him from ever reaching the success he had as Doink. In 2013, Osborne unfortunately passed at the age of 55. His cause of death was ruled an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone. However, Osborne's family blamed all the head trauma he suffered in the WWE as the reason he became addicted to painkillers. The family tried suing the WWE but were ultimately unsuccessful.
14 Lex Luger
When it comes to wrestlers in the 1980s and 1990s few had as long of staying power as Lex Luger. His amazing muscular physique helped him become one the top guys wherever he went. In WCW Luger was multiple time United States Champion as well as a World Heavyweight Champion. While he never won a title in the WWE, he was still booked as one of the top babyfaces in the company.
While Luger had an excellent career in the business, it didn't come without a hefty price on his body and life. The life on the road was tough on Luger. When the pain and injuries started piling up, he relied on painkillers. His large steroid use also didn't do any favours for his body. Luger would eventually suffer a stroke that would temporarily confine him to a wheelchair. While his health has gotten better in recent years, he still is just a shell of his former self.
13 Rico Constantino
Rico Constantino didn't have the longest wrestling career, but it was still somewhat memorable. Rico made his WWE debut in 2002 as the manager/stylist of the flamboyant tag team Billy and Chuck. Rico also briefly managed 3-Minute Warning before going off on his own as a singles competitor. Rico was starting to gain some traction in his career, but he was ultimately released by the WWE in 2004.
After leaving the WWE, Rico wrestled in Japan for a short time before hanging up his wrestling boots. Constantino went back to his career he had before wrestling as a police officer. He stayed out of the limelight until in 2016 it was revealed he was in very bad shape health-wise. Rico had to leave his job as a police officer because he was suffering from heart problems as well as memory loss. Rico blames all of his current health problems on his brief wrestling career.
12 The Iron Sheik
The Iron Shiek will be forever remembered as the man who gave Hulk Hogan his first ever WWE Championship, which would start the HulkaMania era. However, the Iron Sheik was way more than just a transitional champion. When it comes to the greatest heels in wrestling history, it's hard to top the Iron Sheik. If wasn't for a guy like him, there wouldn't be anti-American characters like Rusev in the WWE today.
The Iron Sheik's career could have gone to even greater heights of it wasn't for his substance abuse. He spent so much on his addictions that he was forced to keep wrestling even though his body was already damaged beyond repair. Today, the Iron Sheik is just a shell of his former self. The only way he can get around is with the aid of a cane. To makes matters worse he's too poor to afford any surgery to fix his own broken down body.
Mike Halac had lengthy wrestling career that lasted over a decade. However, no matter what he accomplished fans will always remember him for his brief run in the WWE as Mantaur. The gimmick definitely fit in with 90s cartoonish WWE characters. The gimmick of Mantaur was that of someone who was half-man, half-beast. Although it was a memorable character, Mantaur was gone from the company not long after he debuted. His lone pay-per-view appearance came in the 1995 Royal Rumble.
In recent years life hasn't been too kind to Mike Halac. His health is at an all-time low. He's on multiple medications for various problems. Physically his body is a source of constant pain for him. Currently, he can only partially move his neck and has little to no feeling in his arms or fingers. Halac blames his current poor health situation on his time with the WWE.
10 One Man Gang
When it comes to the big guys in the WWE during the late 1980s you can't make a list without mentioning the One Man Gang. At 6'9", 450 lbs he was an absolute beast of a man. He was fortunate enough to have feuds with some of the top guys in the company like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. After the One Man Gang switched over to the gimmick of “Akeem, the African Dream", he slowly disappeared from the spotlight.
As the years have gone by, the One Man Gang, whose real name is George Gray, has not done a good job of taking care of his body. Since hanging up his wrestling boots he has gained a considerable amount of weight. That weight gain has done him no favours when it comes to his back problems. Wrestling takes a toll on your body, especially when your a bigger guy and that is exactly what has happened to Gray. While he used to be a prison guard, Gray's back and neck problems have him living on disability checks.
9 Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty is mostly remembered by fans as one half of the tag team "The Rockers" with Shawn Michaels. The team was highly successful in both the AWA and WWE. After the team split in 1991, Michaels went on to become the guy we know as the "Heartbreak Kid". Jannetty, on the other hand, did briefly become an Intercontinental Champion before becoming nothing more than a glorified jobber.
Jannetty could have gone on to greater heights in his career had he not been so reckless in his personal life. He had a reputation that he still carries today of somebody who loves to party. Instead of taking his wrestling career seriously, he would stay up all night drinking and partying. There was a time when Janetty was getting paid decent money, but he unfortunately threw it all away on his rockstar lifestyle.
8 Davey Boy Smith
"The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith was famously trained in the infamous Hart Dungeon. After beginning his career in Stampede Wrestling he would go on to his greatest success with the WWE. He was with the WWE on and off for nearly a decade. While he never won a world title, he was a highly decorated champion.
While his in-ring career continued to go strong into the 2000s, his life outside the ring was a different story. Smith entered rehab on multiple occasions due to drug addiction. Smith had an especially bad addiction to painkillers. The combination of painkillers and steroids eventually led to him suffering a fatal heart attack in 2002.
Chyna was truly one of a kind when it came to women in wrestling. Known as the "Ninth Wonder of the World", Chyna will be remembered for her time as the enforcer for D-Generation X. She was also the first and only woman so far to capture the WWE Intercontinental Championship. However, her relationship with Triple H stopped her from ever reaching her true potential.
After Triple H ended his relationship with Chyna, that is when he became romantically involved with Stephanie McMahon. For obvious reasons, any push for Chyna in the WWE ended at that point. After her awkward exit from the WWE, Chyna's life went into a downward spiral. She would battle very strong addictions, which would lead to her ultimate demise in 2016.
When it comes to the wrestling business, the man who is usually the butt of the all the jokes is Virgil. It's true that there was a time where you would consider Virgil a success. He spent several years in the WWE during the late 1980s and early 90s. He was best known as the bodyguard for "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase'. After leaving the WWE in 1994, he would go to have a bit of success in the WCW as a member of the nWo.
Unfortunately, Virgil's staying power in the wrestling business all dried up by the year 2000. it seemed like no company wanted to hire the guy. All the money Virgil had earned had seemed to disappear. He's sunk as low as selling autographs in subway stations just so he could put food on the table. Virgil is a perfect example of someone who counted their chickens before they hatched. He probably thought he had it made for life in the wrestling business and let his ego go to his head. All Virgil seems to know is wrestling, but if no company wants to hire you then that's a problem.
Sunny is considered by most to be the first Diva in WWE history. She made her debut with the company in 1995 as the manager of The Bodydonnas. She would go on to manage wrestlers like Farooq and the Legion of Doom before leaving WWE in 1998. Although she went on to have runs in both ECW and WCW she could never capture the same success she had earlier in her career.
It was clear that Sunny wasn't quite built for the life on the road. In order to deal with the stress, she turned to drugs and alcohol. She could have had a longer and more successful career in wrestling if it wasn't for her addictions. Sunny got into the business at a young age and didn't really have much of a backup plan if wrestling didn't work out. Now all she can do to make money these days is appear at conventions and in "films".
4 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn was a well-known name in wrestling during the 1990s and early 2000s. However by 2002 Saturn's life started to take a turn for the worse. While he was still employed by the WWE, Saturn was already heavy into substance abuse as he was having a hard time managing the hectic road schedule. When he was released by the WWE, his addiction was taken to a whole other level.
It came to a point where a rumour had started that Perry Saturn had passed away. While the rumour ended up being false, the way Saturn's life was going he wasn't far off from leaving us. He was addicted to heavy substances and living on the streets. While Saturn may no longer be addicted to meth, his health and financial situation is currently in rough shape. Saturn is an example of how life on the road isn't for the faint of heart.
3 Von Erich Family
When it comes to wrestling families, few if any are bigger or more famous than the Von Erich's. The family patriarch was Fritz Von Erich, who was an absolute legend in the business. With Fritz making such an impact, it put a ton of pressure on five of his sons to do the same. Unfortunately, all that pressure would end up being a huge reason in four of his sons passing away.
David Von Erich (who at one time feuded with Ric Flair) passed away in 1984 from a drug overdose. Mike Von Erich couldn't live up to the legacy that his brother David left, and he eventually took his own life in 1987. The youngest Von Erich son Chris, whose body was just not cut out for wrestling, also took his own life in 1987. Finally, there was Kerry, who was better known to wrestling fans as the “Texas Tornado”, who passed in 1993. The only son who managed to survive the wrestling business was Kevin Von Erich.
2 Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid is considered to be one of the most influential wrestlers in history. His athletic style was something that was not seen before. However, his high-risk style ended up not only being the downfall of his career but his life as well. Dynamite Kid suffered many injuries throughout his career, but an injury that occurred in 1986 changed him forever. Dynamite Kid was performing a basic move off the ropes when his back gave out on him. Instead of taking time off to recover, he continued to wrestle which only made the injury worse. After being forced to retire in 1996, Dynamite Kid (whose real name is Tom Billington) has seen his health get worse by the day. He has suffered multiple strokes which have left him wheelchair bound. His injuries, steroids and other abuse have left him barely hanging onto his life.
1 Chris Benoit
At this point, there is not much that hasn't already been said about Chris Benoit. In a ton of fan's minds, he was one of the top five wrestlers there ever was. However, all the blood sweat and tears he put in the business were thrown to the wayside after a horrific event in the Summer of 2007. Over the course of a weekend, Benoit took the lives of his wife and son before taking his own life.
Can you blame the wrestling business for Benoit's ultimate downfall? The answer is an easy "Yes". There are many theories on why Benoit snapped. The two main theories are steroids and concussions. Benoit was nowhere near the biggest guy, so he took steroids in order make up for his small stature. Benoit worked a very hard-hitting style, one that caused him to suffer multiple concussions. While it can probably never be proven, those two factors are most likely what caused Benoit to commit those horrible actions. More than one life was ruined in this case, and it's likely the worst event in wrestling history.