Professional wrestling may still have a lot of critics for a variety of reasons, but that has not stopped the industry from becoming a billion dollar enterprise with millions of die-hard fans all over the world. It is easy to see why professional wrestling is so popular, because not only does it showcase compelling competition, it also features individuals who for the most part, are very charismatic, talented, and entertaining. Not everyone can become a pro wrestler, because of the toll it takes on a person’s body from a physical and mental perspective, which is why some fans think that wrestlers are to some degree superhuman, even though that is far from the case.
When you take away the in-ring skill, and the fame and money that come with it, you will find that pro wrestlers are all ordinary people just like the rest of us, which means that they too have to follow the rule of law. Now, there may be those who believe that the law does not actually apply to everyone because of celebrities, politicians, and influential businessmen who either get slaps on the wrists, or get completely exonerated for crimes that regular people would serve time for. When it comes to pro wrestling, there have been those who have managed to escape criminal prosecution and justice, but just because some were able to do get away with what they did, does not mean that everyone has. This article will identify 15 wrestlers who did indeed serve some prison time.
For the past 3 years, WWE’s Women’s Division has monumentally improved, as the company now focuses on bringing in women who actually want to wrestle, or who have actual wrestling backgrounds. In the 90s and early 2000s though, that was not really the case, as looks tended to trump everything else, which is why someone like Sunny managed to have a career in the business. Sunny is considered to be the very first Diva, which is not really that much of an accomplishment, even though she finds herself in the Hall of Fame because of it. She has had quite a few run-ins with police over the years, and in 2012, she spent 114 days in jail for several crimes, including 3rd degree burglary, and 3 counts of violating a restraining order.
14. Randy Orton
Whether or not you are tired of watching Randy Orton wrestle, we can all agree that the 13-time World Champion has already cemented himself as a Hall of Fame performer, but being a professional wrestler was not his first choice. Before he started to train in 2000, Orton enlisted in the Marine Corps, which turned out to be a terrible mistake, as he quickly realized that he was not cut out for military life. In order to get out of his service, Orton tried his best to get dishonorably discharged, first by going AWOL, but that did not work out at all, so he decided to just cause as much trouble as he could. Eventually this tactic worked, but it worked a bit too well, as Orton was also court-marshaled and sentenced to 38 days in a military prison.
R-Truth has been wrestling since 1997, and although he has performed in several promotions throughout his career, the WWE is truly his home, as he has spent a combined 13 years with the company. He may lose A LOT, but Truth is liked by the fans, and he has managed to win a few wrestling titles, which makes his story really inspirational, considering he managed to provide a good life for himself and his family after serving jail time. When he was 16, Truth turned down several college scholarships, and then dropped out of high school in order to pursue a music career, a career which he tried to fund by dealing drugs. This move led to Truth getting arrested, and later sentenced to 13 months in prison.
12. Ken Patera
The wrestling industry has been home to people with a variety of different backgrounds, as evidenced by all of the former weightlifters and football players who have had lengthy careers in the ring. Ken Patera was a somewhat successful weightlifter, with both a Gold and Silver medal to show for it, and when he decided to get into pro wrestling, he spent most of his career with the WWE and NWA, where he mainly portrayed a heel. In 1984, Patera went to get some food at a McDonald’s after hours, and when the staff refused to serve him, he got really mad, so mad in fact that he walked out, found a boulder, and threw it through the restaurant’s window. He appeared in court a year later, where he was sentenced to 2 years in prison, of which he served a year and a half, not bad for a former Intercontinental Champion.
11. Booker T
Booker T has been a welcomed addition to WWE’s announce team, which is not all that surprising when you think about it, considering that he was incredibly charismatic when he was an in-ring competitor. Over the length of his career, Booker worked for WCW, WWE, and TNA, and in that time, he won numerous titles, including 6 World Championships. Before becoming a wrestler, Booker worked at Wendys, which did not pay him as much money as he had hoped for, which is why he and a group of friends decided to rob the very same restaurant he worked in. Booker made a couple of mistakes during the robbery, which is why the police were able to find him, and why he was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Luckily for him though, he only served a 3rd of the time.
10. Mr. Saito
It is true that the majority of Japanese pro wrestlers choose to stay in Japan, but there have been numerous individuals who have come to North America, and Masa Saito was one of the first. Most wrestling fans know him by the name, Mr. Saito, and he wrestled in North America for more than 15 years, which included a very short stint with the WWE, where he managed to become a 2-time Tag-Team Champion. In the previous entry, we talked about how Ken Patera got arrested for hurling a boulder through the window of a McDonald’s, but as it turns out, he was not alone. Saito was with Patera that night, and according to the official report, he was arrested for assaulting a responding officer, which is why he also spent a year and a half in prison.
9. Nick Gage
It is true that most of the wrestlers on this list have spent at least some time with the WWE, but Nick Gage has so far gone his entire career without ever stepping into a ring owned by the world’s biggest promotion. Gage has spent his time on the independent circuit, where he has made a name for himself as a hardcore wrestler with Combat Zone Wrestling, where he basically won every major title. Apparently, Gage was not happy with the amount of money he was making, and in 2010, decided that it would be a good idea to rob a New Jersey bank. Gage might have actually gotten away with the robbery if he had been wearing a mask, but he must have thought that no one would recognize him, but they did, and he was sentenced to 5 years; and after getting released a little bit early, he got sent right back to jail for violating parole.
8. Ion Croitoru
If you have not heard of Ion Croitoru, than you are not alone, because he spent basically his entire wrestling career on the independent circuit, and when he found himself in the WWE, he was used as an enhancement talent who went by the name Johnny K-9. This jobber went on to have quite a relationship with police, as he was arrested several times for assault and drug trafficking, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Croitoru was once a member of the Satan’s Choice biker gang, and one night, he and a few of his fellow members were kicked out of a strip club. Needless to say, the group were not happy about getting kicked out, so they planned to bomb the club, but stopped and decided to bomb a police station instead. This led to Croitoru being sentenced to 13 years in 2013, but he spent just 5 behind bars.
Montel Vontavious Porter, otherwise known as MVP, has been wrestling since 2002, where he has competed in several of the world’s top promotions, including the WWE where he became a Tag-Team and Intercontinental Champion. MVP got into wrestling thanks to a corrections officer who advised him that he needed to find a way to keep himself out of trouble. When he was a teenager, MVP got involved with a bad crowd, which caused him to get into trouble with the law, trouble that included armed robbery and kidnapping, crimes that got him sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison. Fortunately, he managed to turn his life around while incarcerated, which is why he was released early after serving almost 10 years of his sentence.
6. Steve Gatorwolf
If you want to make it in the wrestling business, you need to portray a character that is well received by fans, regardless of whether the character is a baby face or a heel, and when it comes to the WWE, Vince McMahon has created many iconic characters. In the mid 80s, Vince signed Steve Gatorwolf, and he planned on giving him a rather significant push, but Steve was unable to adequately bring his character to life, which brought his push to a screeching halt, and effectively ruined what could have been a decent wrestling career. In 2014, Steve was arrested for assaulting his friend’s 15-year-old daughter, and when recordings of him threatening the girl and her family emerged, he was easily found guilty and sentenced to 16 years.
5. Andre Hart
Professional wrestlers may be able to do things that ordinary people cannot, but they live fairly normal lives outside of the ring like everyone else, which means that they become intimate with other individuals when they get the chance. Andre Hart garnered attention from the WWE because of his performances in the indies, and he would have received a contract from the company if the pre-signing medical tests had not revealed that he was HIV positive. Now, having consensual unprotected relations is not a crime, but when you choose to not inform your partners about it, you can be held criminally responsible. When Hart returned to the independent scene, he continued to sleep with numerous women without using protection, and it is because he failed to tell them about his diagnosis that he is currently serving a 32-year prison sentence.
4. Brian McGhee
Over the past couple of years, wrestling fans have become accustomed to seeing developmental talent debut on the main roster, but just because there have been a lot of call-ups, does not mean that everyone makes it out of developmental. Brian McGhee was signed to a developmental deal back when NXT was still known as Florida Championship Wrestling, but he never found himself on the main roster, mainly because he was released 2-years into his contract. It was a good thing that the WWE released him when they did, because in 2013, McGhee stabbed his girlfriend to death, and posted a gruesome picture of the crime on Facebook. Following a high-speed chase, McGhee was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, for which he is currently serving a life sentence.
3. Hardbody Harrison
Six years, that is how long Hardbody Harrison’s wrestling career lasted, with the highlight being that he managed to work in WCW as a jobber, but when the WWE bought WCW, they decided to not bring him along. This turned out to be a very wise decision on the WWE’s part, because if they had made him a part of the company, they would have been utterly embarrassed by his 2007 trial. As it turns out, Harrison was arrested for allegedly imprisoning 9 women in his home, women who he basically treated as sex slaves for himself and others. During the trial, Harrison decided to represent himself, and stated that the women were all aspiring wrestlers who were in his home because they wanted him to train them. In the end, Harrison was found guilty on all charges relating to 8 of the women, and is serving a life sentence as a result.
2. Buck Zumhofe
Buck Zumhofe may not be a household name, but he is somewhat important, as he was the first person to ever be put into a body bag by The Undertaker, while also being the person that Triple H faced in his debut. Both these matches occurred in the early 90s, which is really strange, because it means that the WWE signed him after he was done serving a 36-month prison sentence for fourth-degree conduct with a minor. You would think that being sent to jail once for sexual misconduct would be enough to change a person, but 10 years after his first conviction, Zumhofe started to abuse his own daughter. In 2015, he was rightfully convicted on 12 counts of assault, which got him a nice 25-year prison sentence.
1. Douglas Whitton
We have seen wrestlers on this list who have been sent to prison for doing some really terrible things, but none of them can compare to Douglas Whitton, who did something truly horrific. Whitton never set foot in a major promotion, and struggled on the independent circuit his entire career, mainly because he was a full blown alcoholic during that entire time. While trying to get his life back together, Whitton sought out a higher power, which is how he met the Reeves family in a Christian church, and being the good people that they were, they invited him to stay in their home while he fixed his life. Whitton repaid the Reeves’ generosity by murdering the entire family in their sleep, including their 9-year-old son, and although he stated that he was in a blackout state during the crime, he was still sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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