Drugs have always been a part of professional wrestling, but there was a time when wrestlers doing drugs was hidden as much as possible or otherwise generally accepted. Then came the ‘80s. Wrestling so happened to boom around the same time that drug usage in America skyrocketed. Because of this, professional wrestlers using both performance enhancing and recreational drugs became a much, much bigger deal. Still, you could be a wrestler who was obviously on steroids or cocaine and not technically get busted for it. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 2000s that major wrestling companies began cracking down hard on their performers for substance abuse.
Once that happened, the floodgates were opened. We may be living in a PG era of WWE, but don’t take that to mean that every WWE performer acts like a role model all of the time. In fact, part of the reason you may have forgotten about notable substance abuse violations is because there have been so many of them in a relatively short amount of time that it would be hard for anybody to properly keep up with every single instance. That’s why we bring you these 15 WWE wrestlers you forgot were busted for substance abuse.
15 Rey Mysterio
WWE went out of their way to present Rey Mysterio as the ultimate babyface underdog. Rey’s superhero character and small stature made him a beloved member of the roster among WWE’s younger audience. Even older fans respected Rey for his incredible in-ring abilities. While Rey Mysterio eventually settled into the role of “veteran that usually loses to the up-and-comer,” he still derailed his own WWE career in a big way in 2009 when WWE busted him for substance abuse. At that time, it was revealed that Rey had claimed to be taking a prescription drug for some injuries but was not able to produce an official prescription. Rey was busted again in 2012 over unnamed substances believed to be performance enhancers. WWE didn’t give Rey much to do after that, and he left shortly thereafter.
14 Darren Young
Darren Young has enjoyed a pretty low-key WWE career. He debuted as part of The Nexus but never really distinguished himself as one of the breakout stars of that group. After the Nexus angle fizzled out, Young was kicked back down to NXT. When he came back, he enjoyed a memorable run in the Prime Time Players that was derailed by bad booking and Abraham Washington’s live mic snafu. Young isn’t really one of those guys you associate with substance abuse problems given that he’s flown under the radar most of his career and retained a relatively wholesome on-screen image. However, Young fell victim to the company’s wellness policy earlier this year when he received a 30-day suspension for undisclosed substances.
13 Luke Gallows
When Luke Gallows arrived in WWE, there weren’t many who expected him to rise above the ranks of forgettable big man. While Gallows was a decent enough wrestler, he was saddled with some awful gimmicks such as imposter Kane and Festus the...well, we’re not really sure what Festus was supposed to be except a mentally handicapped Southerner prone to violent fits. It wasn’t until CM Punk inducted Gallows into the Straight Edge Society that he really established himself as someone with potential. It’s pretty ironic that Gallows became famous thanks to his participation in a straight edge group given that he began his WWE career with a policy violation.
When Gallows was in WWE’s developmental territory, he received a 30-day suspension of illegal substances believed to be of the performance enhancing variety. He’s been clean ever since.
Remember when WWE tried to present R-Truth as a legitimate threat and had him main event a PPV against John Cena? That was a strange time. It wasn’t that R-Truth was a bad wrestler, but it was clear that the guy worked better as a comedy act or bit player than a main event wrestler. Still, the word on the street was that Vince McMahon absolutely loved R-Truth, which is generally how one gets the best matches in WWE. When R-Truth was enjoying a bit of a career resurgence in 2011, he was shockingly hit with a 30-day suspension over undisclosed substances. At the time, it was widely reported that both Evan Bourne and R-Truth were suspended for smoking a brand of synthetic marijuana that showed up during random drug tests.
You could hear the eyes roll when Edward Fatu made his WWE return as Umaga. Sure, a tribal savage was a slight improvement over being the guy that Eric Bischoff called on when he wanted someone to beat up some girls he hired to kiss each other in the ring, but a tribal savage gimmick in 2005? Most figured that it was destined to fail. The reason Umaga didn’t fail is because he absolutely nailed the character. He was a great monster heel. He was also a guy that had a lot of problems adhering to WWE’s policies. In 2007, Umaga received his first suspension over what was believed to be recreational drugs. In 2009, Umaga received his second suspension and elected to quit WWE rather than attend rehab.
10 Heath Slater
Believe it or not, there was a time when Heath Slater was treated like a serious star. Slater briefly held the FCW Championship during his time in that developmental territory and joined Nexus as one of the group’s most outstanding overall members. Slater was lucky enough to survive the group’s implosion, but WWE really only kept him around as a comedy character who wrestled legends and formed a three-man band with the rest of the company’s outcasts. While Slater may have just been a jobber comedy act, he was a particularly beloved jobber comedy act who really captured the attention of fans.
What’s remarkable about that is that Slater was busted for a wellness violation during his early jobber days over what is believed to be weed or a similar recreational drug. WWE decided to keep Slater around regardless.
9 John Morrison
It’s strange to look back on John Morrison’s WWE career. Morrison was once believed to be a mini-Shawn Michaels. The comparison seemed apt. Morrison was good looking, charismatic, and pretty great in the ring. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where everything went wrong with Morrison, but it certainly didn’t help when he was busted for violating WWE’s wellness policy in 2007. That didn’t derail Morrison’s career, but it certainly set him back a few years. From there, things get strange. It was widely speculated that Morrison had once again violated the company’s drug policy in 2011 by taking performance enhancing drugs. The suspension was never enforced, but Morrison quit WWE not long after the allegations surfaced. Morrison stated the left WWE in order to have more control over his career, but some suspect it had something to do with the violation.
There was a time when little people and wrestling went together like Hulk Hogan and headlocks that last way too long. Promoters loved to put a few little people against each other in a match or otherwise have them face one giant wrestler. Hornswoggle was definitely a remnant of those days for better or worse. While Hornswoggle was a pretty entertaining guy, it was hard to get over just how outdated his gimmick really was. What’s even harder to believe is that there was a time when Hornswoggle was busted for violating the wellness policy. In 2015, Hornswoggle received a 30 day suspension for a failed drug test. What was the substance? As per WWE tradition, they didn’t disclose the specifics. However, Hornswoggle claims he just missed the urine test which resulted in an immediate strike.
7 William Regal
When many people think of William Regal, they tend to either think about his time in WCW as a technical wrestling wizard or his current stint as everyone’s favorite GM. Somewhere in the middle is the bulk of Regal’s time in WWE which is filled with a whole lot of nothing. However, there was a time when Regal looked to be on the verge of late career comeback. In 2007, Regal began a brilliant run as Raw GM that included a King of the Ring win. He drew massive heat during this time and was poised for something great. Unfortunately, Regal also drew his second wellness policy violation during this time - the first occurred in 2006 - for his use of performance enhancing drugs. This derailed Regal’s push and threatened to end his career.
6 Eva Marie
Eva Marie just can’t catch a break. Sure, she’s incredibly good looking and theoretically somewhat wealthy, but her WWE career thus far has been an absolute nightmare. The problems started when Eva Marie...errr...started. Right from the beginning, Eva was identified as someone hired just for their looks. She tried, but Eva Marie never got over with fans until she participated in an angle which saw her find an excuse to not wrestle her scheduled SmackDown opponent each week. It was great stuff that was seemingly leading to Marie becoming the number one female heel on SmackDown. However, her push was derailed by a wellness policy violation triggered by an undisclosed substance. This suspension was covered up by some other WWE drama going on at the time, but it looks like it might be the last notable thing to happen to Eva Marie during her WWE career.
5 Randy Orton (Three Times)
Many of you will know that Randy Orton violated WWE’s drug policy, but few people know the extent of Randy’s transgressions. The first of Orton’s violations occurred relatively early into Orton’s career when he was popped in 2006 around the time that he was teaming up with Edge. This incident went relatively unnoticed, but when Randy violated the policy again in 2012 during his pursuit of the World Heavyweight Championship, that caught people’s attention. What not everyone knows is that Randy Orton was actually busted a third time in 2016. Now, technically, he was supposed to be fired in accordance with WWE’s three strike policy. However, Orton spent some time at a rehab facility and agreed to remove the third violation from Orton’s record. It’s unlikely a lesser star would have gotten the same treatment.
4 Booker T
Ever since he established himself as a singles wrestler in WCW, Booker T has been treated like a big star. Even when Booker entered WWE at a time when WWE seemed determined to bury every single piece of WCW talent in order to feed Vince McMahon’s ego, WWE still treated him as one of the few WCW guys who were equal with their WWE counterparts. What’s even more impressive is that Booker T climbed to these career heights without upsetting too many people or ruining his mostly positive image. Maybe this is why so many people are willing to forget about his wellness policy violation. Booker was busted by WWE in 2007 as part of a massive sting involving online drug shipments. It’s widely believed that Booker’s drug of choice was either a performance enhancing substance or painkillers.
3 Dolph Ziggler
Many WWE fans will tell you that Dolph Ziggler never really got everything he deserved in WWE. It’s an odd sentiment. Ziggler has won world titles, participated in numerous main event programs, has been a consistent presence on the roster for years, and regularly puts on the match of the night. WWE dropped the ball on Ziggler a few times, but he’s enjoyed a pretty great overall career. Of course, whatever WWE may have against Ziggler might have something to do with his 2008 drug bust. Many were shocked to learn that Ziggler was popped by the wellness policy given that he had seemingly been a model worker for the company for years. Ziggler’s comments on the matter suggest that it was for performance enhancing substances as he described it as a “worst case scenario” that helped him turn his career around.
2 Roman Reigns
The reaction to Roman Reigns’ wellness policy violation was somewhat odd. There was a lot of cheering from the Roman Reigns detractors shortly after it was announced as they genuinely believed that WWE might use that incident as an excuse to completely de-rail Roman’s push. Those that did believe that clearly never studied Randy Orton’s history with violations. Nevertheless, the reason that people tend to forget about this despite it being such a big deal at the time is because of the way that WWE handled it. Roman sent out an apology, did his time, was bumped slightly down the card, and then returned to the main event quickly enough for the “I hate Roman Reigns crowd” to talk about how they hate him and not about the violation.
This is certainly the violation that any fan who considers performance enhancing drug use in wrestling to be a bad thing wants to forget about. As previously noted, 2007 was a banner year for drug policy violations for WWE. When a major Florida supplier was busted and the pharmacy’s client list was revealed, it turned out that quite a few WWE stars were getting performance enhancing drugs from this one company. By far the most shocking name on that list, however, was Edge. Edge never really had the PED look, but he did have legions of fans who were shocked to learn that he had apparently been taking HGH for quite some time. WWE did their best to keep things under wraps given that Edge was in the middle of a major push at this time, but this will always be the black mark on his career record.