The WWE Wellness Policy was made official by WWE in an attempt to clean up the public perception of the company. Wrestlers have been passing away at a young age in high numbers and addiction issues have been a major reason why. The heavy use of drugs is something that has been synonymous with wrestling for a long time. Vince McMahon used the Wellness Policy as a way to change that. Wrestlers are drug tested to make sure they are not using any banned substances. The drug tests are random and wrestlers reportedly take two-to-four tests per year to ensure they're clean.
Punishment for violation of the policy will see a thirty-day suspension for first time offenders. The second time will land someone sidelined for sixty days. A third violation is meant to lead to termination of contract, but that isn’t official. WWE can choose any punishment they wish for the violations. Those are just the standard of what has been expected and history shows they live up to their word. Many names have been suspended with the news making headlines in recent years. Roman Reigns and Paige are two huge stars that failed drug tests last year. We'll look at some of the lesser known stories of WWE stars violating the Wellness Policy.
15 Kurt Angle
The impending return of Kurt Angle to WWE as a part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class will mark his first appearance for the company since 2006. Angle violated the Wellness Policy in 2006 as one of the first high profile names to fail the drug test. The violation came in the Summer of ‘06 leading to a thirty day suspension.
Angle failed the drug test by testing positive for a steroid after his prescription ended. That was just one of many drugs Angle was abusing at the time. Angle left WWE to work for TNA and continued his addiction there. Luckily, recent years have seen Angle clean up his life enough to earn a spot in WWE again. WWE specifically waited until they were confident in Angle beating his addiction before welcoming him back into the family.
14 Darren Young
Not many current fans are aware Darren Young has violated the Wellness Policy because it happened a long time ago. Young failed a drug test back in October of 2011 during a time when no one cared about his position on the card. This was after he was kicked out of Nexus and sent back to the NXT television. Young did his time of thirty days before coming back to the same NXT show as if nothing changed.
WWE didn’t hold it against him. Young returned to the main roster shortly after his suspension ended, joining The Prime Time Players tag team with Titus O’Neil. It was arguably the best time of his career with nothing significantly changing for the better since then.
Despite very rarely ever wrestling actual matches, Hornswoggle violated the WWE Wellness Policy back in September 2015. Hornswoggle was employed by WWE for many years and the high point of his career saw him work in storylines with DX and Vince McMahon. Hornswoggle served the thirty-day suspension following the drug test failure, but WWE never put him back on television.
The once popular talent was sitting on the sidelines with nothing for him on screen or at the live shows. WWE clearly lost faith and trust in Hornswoggle for violating the policy. Hornswoggle would get released from the company about seven months after the suspension ended. The suspension was not a big story since he was an afterthought on the roster, but it might've ended up costing him his career with the company.
12 William Regal
A lot of suspensions over the first few years flew under the radar due to it coming in bunches. William Regal was one of the rare names to fail the drug test twice. The traditional thirty and sixty day suspensions came for Regal after violating the policy. Unfortunately, the second suspension came at the worst time in 2008 just less than a year after the first.
WWE tried to push Regal with a noteworthy feud against Triple H and later by making him win the King of the Ring. The suspension came at that point to end his success. Luckily for Regal, that was the time where he cleaned up his life. A third violation would have ended with a firing, but he has remained clean enough to become one of the most important people in the company. Regal helps train wrestlers at the Performance Center and scouts for new talent all over the world.
11 Mike Chioda
Referees are not exempt from the rules in WWE. It was a huge shocker when Mike Chioda violated the Wellness Policy for failing a drug test back in August 2011. Very few people remember this due to a referee not playing an important part of the show. They tend to blend in and you don’t notice when they are gone. This was a positive for Chioda that made it a forgettable mistake.
WWE proved they really took the drug testing seriously by suspending one of their longest tenured officials. Chioda did his time and returned to television after the thirty day suspension. Everyone in WWE to work with him has nothing but good things to say. WWE likely would have fired 90% of the other referees to violate policy, but Chioda is still employed on the roster today.
Ryback was actually one of the first wrestlers to violate the Wellness Policy in 2006 during his time in developmental. Many would take a look at him and assume he at least experimented with steroids at one point or another. WWE suspended him long before his success of the Ryback character. The early brush with trouble definitely could have sunk his career, but, to his credit, Ryback turned it around to have a successful career.
CM Punk did refer to him as “The Steroid Guy” when ranting about Ryback’s reckless in-ring style. However, Ryback never violated the Wellness Policy following the 2006 mistake. Now that he is out of WWE, it's easy to wonder if he’s keeping that up. Ryback will forever be one of the bigger names with a Wellness Policy strike that flew under the radar.
2007 saw WWE suspend ten noteworthy talents at the same time for getting steroids from the Signature Pharmacy in Orlando. They were raided and discovered to have distributed steroids without examining patients. A few of the wrestlers to get busted here will appear on this list. All of them getting suspended at the same time made each name stand out a little bit less.
Funaki was one of the lesser known names involved in this drama. WWE employed Funaki for the Cruiserweight division during his time on the SmackDown brand. The company didn’t hold it against him following the suspension, as Funaki remained employed for a few more years before getting released. WWE brought him back in recent years as a broadcaster for the Japanese commentary team, along with helping Japanese talent get acclimated to life at the Performance Center.
8 Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows is another current star that violated the Wellness Policy during the early days. During his time as “Freakin’ Deacon” in developmental, Gallows was suspended for failing a drug test back in 2006. It didn’t stop Gallows from rebounding and making his way to the main roster a few years later with the Festus gimmick. Sadly, the Festus experiment flopped horribly and he eventually found his way out of the WWE.
Gallows came back last year after he built his brand back up in Japan with Karl Anderson as his tag partner. Gallows and Anderson are the current Raw Tag Team Champions. That would technically make Gallows the one active WWE Title holder that no one remembers failing a drug test. So much has changed since the suspension and Gallows is better for it.
The last few years of Carlito’s run in WWE saw many reports leak that the company didn’t believe he took his job seriously. Carlito allegedly didn’t show the desire to improve or the passion to move up the card, despite having the talent. The final breaking point for WWE came in May of 2010 when Carlito violated the Wellness Policy.
WWE requested Carlito went to rehab along with his suspension before returning to television. Carlito refused to attend rehab and was released. It was a very rare case of WWE firing someone for a first strike, but they clearly had other qualms with him. Carlito has been gone for almost seven years now, yet fans still don’t appear to realize the actual reason for his release.
6 Billy Gunn
WWE holds their trainers and coaches at the Performance Center to the same standard as the wrestlers on the roster. Billy Gunn found this out the hard way last year when he violated the Wellness Policy after failing a drug test. The company didn’t realize Gunn was still competing in powerlifting competitions on his time away from the job as a coach at the Performance Center.
Gunn found out the company strongly looked down on the idea of one of their trainers failing a drug test. WWE fired him following the drug test failure and Gunn was forced out of his post-in-ring career dream job. The veteran currently wrestles on the independent circuit but is outspoken about his desire to return to the Performance Center as a coach again.
5 Booker T
The 2007 drug raid of a pharmacy in Orlando saw a few big names get outed. Booker T is a legend of the sport with very few negative marks on his professionalism in the wrestling industry. That makes it surprising to remember he was one of the names suspended back in 2007 for being on the leaked list that were given steroids without a proper prescription.
Booker denied using any drugs and claimed he wasn’t even a customer of Signature Pharmacy. The veteran requested and was granted a release from his contract along with wife and on-screen performer Sharmell. Both went to TNA for a disappointing run before Booker made peace with WWE and returned home. Booker is still employed with WWE today in a broadcasting role on the kickoff shows before PPVs.
4 John Morrison
John Morrison was one of the names involved in the Signature Pharmacy scandal. The timing was terrible for Morrison than most, considering he was receiving the biggest push of his career. Morrison won the ECW Championship and was becoming the face of the brand at that point. The thirty-day suspension forced WWE to take the title off of him.
CM Punk defeated Morrison to win the belt and become the new face of the ECW brand. It was the beginning of Punk’s ascension to becoming one of the biggest stars in recent history. Morrison received a few more noteworthy opportunities, but never got to the next level. You have to wonder if his momentum being squandered with the suspension prevented him from having a shot at the main event picture.
3 Eva Marie
The most recent suspension that went relatively unnoticed saw Eva Marie fail a drug test in August of 2016 right before the big WWE SummerSlam event. Eva would get removed from the six women tag match and was replaced by the returning Nikki Bella, much to the delight of Barclays Center. Paige and Alberto Del Rio were both suspended in the same week, overshadowing Marie's suspension.
Most fans despise Marie and she didn’t even wrestle during her time on SmackDown Live. That made it very easy to forget she was suspended for violating the Wellness Policy. It has been seven months since her thirty day suspension as of this writing and Eva has yet to return. There are some rumors floating around that WWE and Marie will mutually agree to split once her contract ends, so she can try her luck in acting full-time.
2 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler suffered his first and only strike violating the WWE Wellness Policy back in 2008. The timing was horrible as WWE introduced him as the Dolph Ziggler character for the first time, before his suspension took him off television. WWE didn’t hold it against him as they could have easily just killed the character, but Ziggler returned after the suspension ended.
To his credit, Ziggler has owned up to his drug test failure in interviews and admitted it was a huge mistake he would never make again. Ziggler has never violated the Wellness Policy again and has remained a member of the WWE roster without any time away since then. However, the strike against him is still there as one of the more surprising names on the Wellness Policy violations.
The most shocking name that violated the WWE Wellness Policy has to be Edge. WWE employed Edge as a relevant star on the show for many years and he always seemed like the model employee. Edge delivered in the ring, on the microphone and did a lot of work off screen to help the company. That made it all the more surprising when he was one of the ten names linked to the Signature Pharmacy scandal.
WWE sent a message that no one was exempt when they suspended a big name star like Edge for thirty days in 2007 and actually kept him off television. Randy Orton and Roman Reigns have been two of the main event names to get heat for violating the Wellness Policy. Edge took the suspension, learned from his mistake and kept moving forward. He did such a good job that most have no idea that he actually violated the Wellness Policy.