There was a time when wrestlers and partying went hand-in-hand, and plenty of WWE superstars knocked off years of their careers by boozing and taking drugs during their time with the company. These days, the WWE has fewer party animals than in the 1980s and 1990s, when grapplers were living like rock stars as they jetted around the world. Some say, it is more common to see today’s generation of wrestlers playing video games in the locker room than living that old wrestler lifestyle. The heyday of WWE wrestlers partying reached its zenith in the 1980s, as the sport went from regional promotions to nation wide expansion. The transformation of the business during the decade of excess meant wrestlers were traveling more, and the pleasures of the road were plentiful.
Deaths in the 1990s of high-profile wrestlers such as Brian Pillman, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and in the 200os of Eddie Guerrero have changed the way many wrestlers now live their lives. However, there have still been plenty of superstars who love the nightlife wrestling has afforded them. A strong push or even a steady paycheque have been taken away completely due to excessive partying. Too much drinking and fun has even influenced a WWE superstar, like “Stone Cold” Steven Austin to walk away from the company. Regardless of how they left, their partying ways were all a factor in their eventual departure from the WWE.
These are 15 WWE Stars Whose Partying Destroyed Their Career.
15. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was one of the most exciting and innovative wrestlers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. His work in the original ECW, unlike much of the product’s other matches, still hold up today. In 2006, Van Dam was on top of the world after defeating John Cena at the WWE produced ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. Two days after winning the belt, Van Dam was also given the ECW World Heavyweight championship on the first-ever episode of ECW on Sci-Fi. Less than a month later, Van Dam landed himself in hot water with the company when he was pulled over by police in Ohio for speeding on July 2, 2006. The state trooper, smelling marijuana in the car, searched the vehicle that Van Dam and friend Sabu (Terry Brunk) were riding in. The officer found 18 grams of marijuana in the WWE champion’s possession, and Van Dam was promptly arrested. Once word got back to the WWE, the decision was made to have the high-flyer drop the belt the following night on Raw (July 3). Van Dam’s moment of humiliation wasn’t over yet, as he was made to lose the ECW belt a day later to the Big Show. By the end of the year, Van Dam was gone from the WWE, and wouldn’t return to the company until 2013. During the time in between, the former champion spent several years with TNA, the ultimate humiliation.
14. Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne, or Matt Sydal on the independent scene, was touted as one of the best young, high-flyers in professional wrestling. However, Bourne’s interest in drugs and other party favors helped keep him from being a huge WWE superstar. It didn’t help that injuries curtailed his career, but two WWE Wellness Policy Violations were mostly the reason his time with the company didn’t last long. Bourne was suspended twice in the span of three months (November 2011 for 30 days, and January 2012 for 60 days), and after a March 2012 car wreck that broke his foot, the high-flyer never appeared on WWE programming again. In a 2014 shoot interview, Bourne stated he was suspended for smoking synthetic marijuana. At the time of his suspensions, Bourne was in a very well liked (and pushed) tag team with Kofi Kingston. Luckily for Kingston, he wasn’t punished for his partner’s failed drug tests. In 2016, Bourne hadn’t learned from his previous mistakes in WWE. He was arrested at Kansai International Airport in Japan where officers found over two grams of liquid marijuana (according to Pro Wrestling Insider) that Bourne had hidden in an e-cigarette. Bourne received three years’ probation after his case went to court. Due to his arrest and probation, Bourne lost the lucrative chance to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling; the group he was wrestling for at the time of his arrest.
13. Adam Rose
Adam Rose had serious heat from WWE fans, it’s just too bad it was ‘go home’ heat. It wasn’t Rose’s fault as he was given stupid, mindless gimmicks from WWE writers that knew little to nothing about what wrestling fans wanted. Rose was suspended twice during his time with the WWE. The second was for the use of Adderall, which Rose proved he had a prescription from a doctor to use. That didn’t matter to the WWE, who Rose stated knew about his use of the medication. Rose’s problems weren’t just with the WWE’s Wellness Policy. The South African grappler was arrested in May 2016 for assaulting his wife in their Florida home. Although he was arrested and charged with battery domestic violence and tampering with a witness, Rose’s case was dropped after he showed the court he was getting “professional help”. The WWE fired Rose shortly thereafter.
While many of the WWE’s big partiers seemed to fade away after the Attitude Era, Paige is an exception. Paige was suspended twice in 2016 for Wellness Policy violations for non-prescription drugs; but those suspensions haven’t been the main talking points in her career. In July 2017, Paige’s husband, Alberto Del Rio, was investigated for domestic battery and the WWE diva made headlines for an incident with him at the Orlando Airport. Allegations were made that the two were heavily fuelled by alcohol and cocaine. The incident occurred just months after a video surfaced of Paige, Xavier Woods and former WWE wrestler Brad Maddox having a threesome. Paige also had “X-rated” photos leaked on social media by someone she claimed had “hacked” her phone.
11. Chris Kay
It isn’t just WWE wrestlers whose careers get destroyed by drugs, alcohol and partying. Referee Chris Kay (who?) was suspended twice in 2007. Search for articles on the company’s Wellness program and Kay’s name always appears; but little is known about this referee from Louisville, Kentucky who featured on SmackDown. Nor is it known what substances he was fired for using. Originally trained by Rip Rogers, Danny Davis and Jim Cornette in Ohio Valley Wrestling, Kay got the call up to the big show in 2004 where he spent around three years before getting the boot. In 2011, WWE also suspended head referee Mike Chioda, proving that some of the biggest partiers may in fact be the men tasked with keeping law and order in the squared circle. Unlike Kay, Chioda has continued working with the WWE and is still one of the company’s main men in stripes.
10. Brian Kendrick
Like others before him, Brian Kendrick has been welcomed back into the WWE fold. However, there was a time when the cruiserweight’s interest in smoking marijuana and partying destroyed his chance at a lengthy WWE career. In 2009, after reportedly failing numerous drug tests for marijuana, Kendrick got the boot from the WWE. His release came as he was being featured in a prominent role in the company, but in the weeks leading up to his firing, he was jobbed out on television. According to one wrestling reporter, Kendrick’s release was used as a message to other roster members that smoking marijuana and repeatedly paying the $1,500 fine for failing a drug test wouldn’t be tolerated (that figure has since been raised to $2,500). Kendrick failed 12 drug tests between 2006 and the beginning of the company’s Wellness Policy before the WWE finally sacked him. At the time, Kendrick even challenged the WWE on its marijuana stance. He lost. However, as of 2012, Kendrick has stated he is no longer using the drug and in 2016, he was brought back for the Cruiserweight Classic. In an interview about his release for too much partying, Kendrick described himself as an “animal” during his previous WWE run and that he let his career “slip through” his fingers.
9. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio – aka Alberto El Patron – had charisma that few other WWE superstars possessed. However, the company continually dropped the ball on him during his two stints with the WWE. Since he left the WWE for the second time, Del Rio’s personal life has been quite public. There was a nasty incident in Orlando with his wife Paige that many say was fuelled by drugs and alcohol. There were also private photos and videos of Paige released online that Del Rio wouldn’t have wanted to go public. The grappler left the WWE in September 2016 after being suspended in accordance with the WWE’s Wellness Policy. Although Del Rio has publicly stated the suspension was in fact for a testosterone replacement prescribed by his doctor, not all fans are so sure. Rumours of Del Rio’s partying have been rampant, especially when around his wife.
8. Jeff Hardy
The Hardy Boyz have been in and out of the WWE throughout their careers, and despite an often-rocky relationship with the company, the duo is on good terms now. In 2003, after years of success with the WWE, Jeff Hardy was released from the company just as another push alongside Trish Stratus was starting. At the time, it was reported Hardy was let go due to “erratic behaviour, drug use, refusing to go to rehab and not honouring appearances at house shows”. After more than three years away, Hardy was brought back in the summer of 2006. Things were only slightly better. Injuries resulted in Hardy’s next departure after a run as both Intercontinental and World Champion. Injuries helped to fuel Hardy’s addiction to drugs and alcohol; and in 2011, he hit a new low by working the TNA Victory Road pay-per-view completely under the influence. After getting his addictions sorted out, Hardy has returned to the WWE. Now reportedly clean, his WWE career looks to be picking back up. Hardy is an example of a WWE wrestler that has been forgiven for his past problems.
Andrew “Test” Martin was just 33-years old when he died of a drug overdose in 2009. Just 10 years early, Test was a main figure in the WWE’s Attitude Era. Brought into the company as Motely Crue’s kayfabe bodyguard, Test was pushed hard by the WWE, and he won several titles during his run. To say WWE wrestlers were running hard in the late 1990s and 2000s would be an understatement, and Test was one who was sprinting every chance he got. In 2007 and 2008, Test was arrested on several occasions for DUI, and around that time he was fired by the WWE for failing a drug test. His drinking and drug abuse was so bad that even TNA released him after less than 18 months with the company. Test was found dead in his Florida apartment just a month after leaving TNA. It was determined Test had overdosed on oxycodone. The autopsy also showed Test had developed severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy from concussions and repeated blows to the head. Doctors concluded the advanced CTE had ben a factor leading to Test’s death.
6. Carlito Colon
Carlito Colon has gone down in the WWE history for being the first wrestler the company fired due to its Wellness Policy. Despite it being Carlito’s first indiscretion with the WWE, the company cut ties with him in 2010. Carlito had refused to enter drug rehabilitation following his violation and he was immediately removed from the WWE universe. Reportedly, Carlito had a problem with painkillers, and due to his reliance on the medication, the WWE wanted him to seek help. According to Dave Meltzer, Carlito had shown up to RAW in no condition to wrestle and he was quickly told he needed to get professional help for his worsening addiction. At the time of his departure, Carlito was gaining momentum once more after months of sitting on the sidelines. In a 2016 interview, Carlito spoke about being open to a return to the WWE. However, there is little evidence to suggest the company wants him back.
5. Louie Spicolli
The creator of the Death Valley Driver wrestling move, Louis Spicolli is an unknown figure to many wrestling fans these days. After gaining success in Mexico, Spicolli worked with the WWE under the grunge-era inspired Rad Radford gimmick in 1995. During that time, Spicolli’s reputation for drugs and alcohol became known to many of the boys and officials in the company, and it only worsened when he moved to ECW in the summer of 1996. According to a statement by Spicolli in the 1990s, he had a seizure when leaving a friend’s house while working with the WWE. Unknown to his friends that Spicolli was unconscious outside the house, they didn’t find the wrestler until hours later. In an interview, Spicolli stated that incident scared the WWE away, believing he had a substance abuse problem. Even before the seizure, WWE officials had accused Spicolli of being on drugs in the locker room and some say he was labelled as a “pill popper” by agents. After being unreliable with ECW, Spicolli re-surfaced in WCW as Scott Hall’s lackey in late 1997. He was working a program with announcer Larry Zbyszko, when it was announced on Nitro that he had died in his sleep on February 15, 1998. Just 27, it was discovered Spicolli had taken Soma while drinking wine as he enjoyed a night with friends at his home. According to reports, Spicolli had overdone it, and his body’s reaction to the muscle relaxer and alcohol caused him to choke on his own vomit during sleep. When investigating his death, police found pill bottles all over Spicolli’s room, shedding light on his massive pill addiction.
4. Kurt Angle
Although Kurt Angle has returned to the WWE and is regularly seen on the company’s television programming, there was a time that Angle’s partying and lifestyle was too much for Vince McMahon. The former Olympic gold medal winner was addicted to pain pills as he had used the tablets to mask the pain of working each night. According to reports, Angle was popping 65 extra strength Vicodin a day to cover up the pain he was enduring. Along with the pain of two broken necks, muscle injuries and bone breaks, Angle was going through a tumultuous relationship. He would later divorce his wife Karen, who subsequently married wrestler Jeff Jarrett. After Angle left the WWE, his life continued to spin out of control despite being positioned as TNA’s top wrestler. Over the next five years, Angle was arrested for DUI four times. In 2013, he finally went to rehab, and has since turned things around.
3. Scott Hall
Scott Hall changed the wrestling business in the 1990s after years of being a relative unknown on a major level. First as Razor Ramon and then as himself in the N.W.O., Hall became a major player in the business. Some feel he changed it for the better with the N.W.O., while others feel Hall’s selfish approach helped bring down WCW and put wrestling on the path it follows today. In 2002, six years after departing the WWE for Atlanta, Hall returned to the company. The idea was to bring back the N.W.O. and Hall was reunited with Kevin Nash and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Hall’s problems with alcohol were already well-known in the business, but that didn’t stop the WWE from having “Stone Cold” Steve Austin kidnap him and drink beer inches away from his face on the February 21st episode of SmackDown. The two grapplers would face off in a match at WrestleMania 18. According to Austin on The Steve Austin Show podcast, the match was awful due to both wrestlers having various substance problems and personal issues. Hall’s return to the WWE would be through by early May as he was released for erratic behavior. His problems only worsened after leaving the company and only with the help of his friend Diamond Dallas Page, did they improve years later.
2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is a WWE Hall of Famer and legend known for his in-ring performances and mic work. However, Roberts is also a legend for his out of ring drug and alcohol use, and sexual debauchery. Roberts’ youth was anything but enviable. The son of former wrestler and booker Grizzly Smith, Roberts and his brother (Sam Houston) and sister (Rockin‘ Robin) all worked in the business. Roberts has stated many times that he was conceived when his mother was raped by Smith. Roberts’ mother was 13-years old at the time, and the daughter of the woman Smith was actually dating. Roberts’ youth and the wrestling lifestyle combined to create a life that saw the master of the DDT cover up his emotions with anything that could numb the pain. In 1996, after nearly four years away from the WWE, Roberts returned with a “born again” gimmick. Working as both a wrestler and backstage hand, Roberts would go “missing” on a regular basis as his partying and demons got the best of him. He was fired just over a year after returning due to his excessive partying. After cleaning himself up with the help of Diamond Dallas Page, Roberts was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
1. “Stone Cold” Steven Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was still at the height of his career when he walked out on the WWE in 2002. Sure, he has made up with the company since, but at the time there was no clear evidence he would ever return to the fold. Austin has admitted he was “running hard” at this point in his career and he wasn’t thinking straight when he left the WWE after being told he would be losing to Brock Lesnar on RAW. Although he believed Lesnar would be a big star, Austin didn’t think it was right for business at the time. Austin has said on his podcast, The Steve Austin Show, that he was drinking a lot of whiskey at the time of his decision and his drinking was clouding his judgement. After telling Jim Ross he wouldn’t lose to Lesnar, an alcohol-fuelled call was made to Vince McMahon at two o’clock in the morning. Austin has cited terrible creative at the time for part of his mood swings. However, it wasn’t helped by his 24/7 drinking.
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