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20 Wrestlers Whose Careers Were Ruined By Substance Abuse

The field of professional wrestling has become so popular and demanding over the years that there have been many wrestlers whose fame and fortune came and went in the blink of an eye. Many can't cope with the pressure that the industry puts on them. While some seem to thrive under the pressure, others need a way to escape it, which is why the industry has a long history of substance abuse problems.

We have seen so many talented wrestlers over the years who couldn't accomplish what they deserved because of their addictions. While the WWE has recently developed a Wellness Violation Policy, this wasn't around in the early days of the business, as many wrestlers were left to struggle with their vices.

Although there have been cases of wrestlers salvaging their careers by seeking treatment for their drug or alcohol issues, there have been just as many--if not more--cases where wrestlers lost their careers, and sometimes even their lives, because of their addictions.

Here is the list of 20 wrestlers whose careers were ruined by substance abuse.

21 Lex Luger

via AL.com

Lex Luger was touted by many to be the replacement for Hulk Hogan after he was signed on by the WWE, as Luger was set to be given a huge push and soon be the face of the company. Luger had the physique to pull it off, as he was booked very strongly and was booked at first to win the WWE Championship from Yokozuna at SummerSlam 1993. But a night before the event, Luger went onto spill the beans on the match to a journalist while he was drinking at a bar and that shut the door on his push along with the hate from the fans. Luger would still be pretty strongly booked, but went down to the ladder to the mid-card and later went onto join WCW in a controversial fashion as he was still booked strongly there, but never as the face. Luger's drug addiction only got worse as times passed, and after he left WWE to live with Miss Elizabeth, his addiction only got darker. Luger was arrested and detained many times in 2003 and also saw Miss Elizabeth die from intoxication from a mixture of drugs and vodka as he was charged with 13 counts of drug possession after police found a mixture of drugs in his house. Luger would be hit hard from that and went into rehab to become drug free later on and is now working with WWE on their Wellness Violation Policy, but he ruined his career when it was peaking in the WWE and is now making sure other wrestlers don't go to the dark path he ventured into.

20 Miss Elizabeth

via wwe.com

Miss Elizabeth was probably the most beautiful woman during the Savage-Hogan era in the WWE, as her relationship with Randy "Macho Man" Savage was the ideal love story for many wrestling fans at the time. Miss Elizabeth was there during Savage's rise in the company and also a core factor in Savage and Hogan's feud later on, as she was this pretty woman who was very good on WWE TV and always saw the good in things. But even though she was presented as someone so gullible, she had her demons in her personal life and was heavily into drugs and alcohol. After her divorce with Savage, she stayed with Lex Luger as they were entangled in many controversies. Her condition was getting worse with each passing year due to her drug addiction, as she was shockingly pronounced dead in 2003 with the cause of death being brought on with a mixture of pain-killers and vodka. Elizabeth could've become an even bigger idol in the WWE had she not ventured into the dark path of drugs, as it tore her down in the end and made for the end of a career which could've been so much better.

19 Joey Mercury

via wwe.com

Joey Mercury might be remembered by more recent audiences as part of J&J Security, but he was a wrestler in the WWE during the Ruthless Aggression Era and was pretty good at it as well. He was part of MNM with John Morrison and they ruled the tag team division for a while, winning the WWE Tag Team Titles once as Mercury was on the right path until he got badly injured in a match when he broke his nose when struck by a ladder. Mercury went to a dark path afterwards, as his drug addiction which was already pretty bad only got worse as he got addicted to pain-killers and was sent to rehab by the WWE in 2006. He was fired by the WWE because of his drug-addiction and almost became homeless before CM Punk helped him out with that. Mercury overcame his addiction and later joined the WWE but his wrestling career was over by this time. Mercury was actually a pretty talented wrestler who could've gone a long way had he not become addicted to drugs, as he might be in a good position in the WWE management, but he ruined his wrestling career because of his bad decision of finding solace in drugs and painkillers.

18 Test

via Wrestlingfigs.com

Test was one of the real powerhouses of the Attitude era, as he'd mostly be remembered for his time as the muscle-man of the Corporation as he did much of the dirty-work for them. He would then be part of many prominent story-lines, as he went onto many mid-card championships like the European Championship, Hardcore Championship, Intercontinental Championship as well as Tag Team Belts. But when Test could've been a front-runner for the main event, he started to wreck his own career as he got into drugs and was slowly pushed out of the WWE because of it. He later joined TNA where he was in hot water as well, because of being arrested twice for DUI. He announced his retirement tour in 2009 when he wrestled his last match in February 2009 and defeated Misuya Nagai in his final match. But he'd shock the wrestling world when it was announced in March 2009 that Test had been found dead in his apartment after an accidental overdose of Oxycodone. Test apparently had the same disease which caused Chris Benoit towards his murder-suicide tragedy, as Test made for his own downfall in wrestling by getting addiction to drugs and alcohol which consumed him to his death in the end.

17 Mr. Kennedy

via cagesideseats.com

Mr. Kennedy had the potential off going a long way in his wrestling career, but his addiction to various kinds of drugs disabled him from reaching his full potential. Kennedy found his relevance in the WWE as this loudmouth and was pushed strongly in the beginning, winning the US Championship and Money in the Bank Briefcase later on. He was scheduled to be pushed even higher as a main-eventer, but in 2007 he was suspended by the WWE for violating their Wellness Policy as it was discovered that he had taken performance enhancing drugs among other bad drugs too. This made for the end of his push, as he lost his briefcase to Edge and was slowly moved down the ladder, before being released in 2009. Kennedy later found himself as a star in TNA, as he found some stardom in the promotion but his drug problems came back to bite him as he was released earlier this year for failing a drug test at a TNA taping. He is currently out of work and looking for Independent shows, but who could've been a major star reduced himself to this because of his addiction to drugs as he turned to his vices after being unable to cope with the pressure of wrestling, as the vices turned back to grasp him into the darkness forever.

16 Umaga

via wwe.com

Umaga was one of the more destructive elements to come out of the Anoa'i family to find relevance in the WWE, as he was always booked like a monster heel in his time in the WWE. He was booked like this monster and dominated over everyone, going onto winning the Intercontinental Championship later on and becoming a mainstay in the key story-lines in the company. He wrestled against the best of wrestlers and was booked extremely strongly, as he was athletic as well as powerful which made him a terror to many. But Umaga would not be able to consume his fame that well, as he got addicted to the wrong kind of drugs as he was released because of his refusal to go to rehab after violating WWE's Wellness Policy for a second time. His condition only got worse from that, as his addiction of drugs reached a peak in the following months and he was shockingly pronounced dead later that year, with the reason being the combined effects of many drugs together. Umaga could've been WWE Champion had he complied with them and got rid of his drug addiction, but he wrecked his own career by letting the drugs overcome him and kill him in the end.

15 Sherri Martel

via mikemooneyham.com

Known more popularly as "Sensational Sherri" in the WWE, it turns out she wasn't quite as sensational in her personal life as she was in TV as Sherri Martel might have been one of the most influential women in the WWE in the 80s, but quickly turned to drugs after she got her fame and fortune. Martel won the WWE Women's Championship while at WWE and managed wrestlers like Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase and Shawn Micahels but was fired by the company because of her increasing drug addiction. She was signed by WCW who also used her in more of a managerial role, but she didn't survive long because of her vices and would make sporadic appearances after that in the wrestling world. Martel was heavily into many kinds of drugs, as she herself confessed in several interviews about how drugs ruined her career and it also got the better of her in the end, as she was found dead in 2007 with many kinds of drugs in her system. Sensational Sherri could've been a big thing had she not got into that kind of stuff, as the drugs which gave her "pleasure" ruined her in the end and made for the end of her career as well.

14 Davey Boy Smith

via WWE.com

Davey Boy Smith is definitely regarded as one of the best wrestlers to have come out of England, as he was an amazing wrestler when part of "The British Bulldogs" and in his singles career as well. Forming a team with Dynamite Kid, he made for one of the best tag teams in the history of the WWE as he later also found relevance as a singles competitor in the WWE. But Davey Boy Smith got addicted to drugs and steroids after attaining fame, as he might have been putting on amazing matches for WWE and WCW but was messed up in his personal life. Bret Hart stated that Smith was "messed up on crack" during their 1992 SummerSlam classic and some injuries also got him addicted to pain-killers later on. He would be sent to rehab by Vince McMahon in 2000 because of his addiction to drugs, but the drugs took a big toll on him as he died 3 years later in 2003 from a heart attack. It was revealed that the heart attack was because of the drugs and steroids taking a toll on his body, as Davey Boy could've been an icon like Bret Hart if he had some discipline in his work and not let the drugs ruin his career in the end.

13 X-Pac

via wrestlingnews.co

X-Pac was an extremely entertaining individual when performing in front of the cameras as it almost seemed like he was high on crack at the time of some of his performances. Well that was exactly the case, as X-Pac was a big drug addict who ruined his career because of his addiction. X-Pac jumped from WWE to WCW and vice versa in the 90s and early parts of 2000's, but never found that much success because nobody could trust him because of his drug problems. X-Pac was then left to work for the Independent circuit and also for TNA, as he also did a sex tape with Chyna in which he was probably under the influence of drugs as well. X-Pac has revealed in many interviews about how he tried to commit suicide because of his drug-addiction and even told Stone Cold Steve Austin in an interview about how he did drugs before a match with AJ Styles in TNA. X-Pac had the ability and talent to go a long way in his wrestling career and might have even achieved main-event success if he maintained discipline in his career, but he threw away his opportunities because of his addiction to various forms of drugs and ruined what could've been an iconic career which would've asserted him as a legend in the minds of many.

12 Brian Pillman

via wwe.com

"The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman's story is rather tragic, as the guy might have been one of the toughest wrestlers in the business, but his demons made his personal life a living hell. Originally A Footballer who later turned to wrestling, Pillman found his relevance in WCW where he was a very good mid-carder and wasn't afraid of taking his matches to a more realistic level. Pillman's career took a turn when he developed his "Loose Cannon" gimmick where he had a reputation for unpredictable behavior. This gimmick landed him in WWE where he found popularity because of his infamous "Pillman's got a gun" angle with Stone Cold Steve Austin when he pulled a gun on Stone Cold on WWE TV. He was headed towards a promising career, but tragedy struck when it was found that he died before the Bad Blood PPV in 1997. Reports later discovered that he was actually heavily into drugs, mainly into illegal pain-killers to give him relief from the pain from the various injuries he had suffered in his wrestling career. Pillman had a great career ahead, but he himself cut it short when he decided to get into drugs and pain-killers which didn't suit his body and tore him apart in the end.

11 Lance Cade

via rouvre.com

Another wrestler who just couldn't cope with the fame and pressure of the WWE, Lance Cade looked promising when he was in the WWE as this redneck with Trevor Murdoch and was one of WWE's top tag teams in their years, as they won the WWE Tag Team Championship 3 times in their time in the company. Cade's career was looking upwards after his alliance with Murdoch ended, but his drug problem was getting to real for the WWE to shove it under the rug, as he was apparently having health issues because of the drug-intake. He was quickly released afterwards, leaving him to go wrestle in the Independent circuit. But Cade's condition was only getting worse, as shocking news of his death came out in 2010 as the reason for his death turned out to be from intoxication from a mixture of drugs in his system. Cade needed to look after himself after his early warning signs in the WWE, but he kept on taking the drugs which made for the end of his life at the tender age of 29.

10 Road Warrior Hawk

via onlineworldofwrestling.com

The Road Warriors are one of the most dominant tag teams in the history of wrestling, as the two achieved success in almost everywhere they went to wrestle. Even if they were these terrorizing figures inside the ring, they were only human outside it and Hawk got influenced into all the bad stuff. Hawk would become addicted to alcohol and some forms of drugs as well, as it got so bad that he even appeared to work while drunk. There's even an infamous story about how Hawk actually turned up extremely drunk to Road Warriors match against IRS and Ted DiBiase at SummerSlam 1992. A bad king of party animal, Hawk was protected by his team-mate "Animal" and their manager Paul Ellering but once they parted, Hawk only got worse. The alcohol and drugs took the toll on him, as he died in his sleep of a sudden heart attack in 2003 and more stories of his substance abuse came into revelation afterwards to show how badly he was into the bad kind of substances and this addiction also ruined his reputation in the wrestling society.

9 Mr. Perfect

via wwe.com

Mr. Perfect earned his wrestling name, as he was definitely a "perfect" wrestler at his time and had the talent and skills to be a top star for any promotion. He was brought to the WWE in 1988 as he went undefeated for over a year and quickly won the Intercontinental Championship as well. He was slowly rising to the top, but some injuries deterred his path as he would wrestle against big names but never get to the main-event level. Perfect went onto join WCW later on looking to be their biggest star, but could only be a mid-carder as his personal reputation held him back. The core thing about his personal life was his addiction to drugs, as he had this bad drug-addiction which didn't let him become into a big star. He had a short return to WWE in 2002 but even lost that opportunity when he had a physical confrontation with Brock Lesnar on a plane while in a drunk state. Things were only going downhill for him, as he was mostly intoxicated while performing and was found dead in 2003 as it was discovered that acute cocaine intoxication was the reason for it. Mr. Perfect might have been an amazing wrestler, but his personal vices didn't allow him to get to the iconic stage he deserved and he wrecked his own blooming career by trying to find solace in drugs and alcohol.

8 Kerry Von Erich

via allwrestlingsuperstars.com

The Von Erich family might be one of the pioneers of wrestling, but there seems to be a horrible curse which has engulfed them as many of the deaths in their family have been under rather disturbing circumstances. Kerry Von Erich was one of the more prominent wrestlers of the family, as the son of Fritz Von Erich had a very good career in WCW and was seemingly heading towards success. But then he had a horrible motorcycle accident in 1986 which made him lose his leg, as the doctors had to amputate his leg, leaving him to wrestle with a prosthetic leg. He was brought to the WWE and immediately given an Intercontinental Championship run, and he looked to have a promising career, only for his own demons to hold him down. Kerry was heavily into drugs, particularly into illegal pain-killers as he was released by the company after his drug problems became uncontrollable. Kerry's condition only got worse after that, as he committed sucide in 1993 after his drug problems got the better off him and absolutely destroyed what could've been an iconic career in spite of that terrible accident.

7 Luna Vachon

via wwe.com

Luna Vachon was one of the most promising women in 90s wrestling, as she was one of the pioneers in Women's wrestling in the WWE and was this crazy character who wasn't afraid at taking it to the next level. Although she never won the Women's Championship in the company, she was definitely one of the most influential figures to others during her run as she could fight it out against any opponent and was a very skilled wrestler and entertainer as well. But what kept Vachon down was her addiction to drugs, as she was into all kinds of terrible drugs which didn't let WWE trust her enough to put the belt on her. She was released in 2000 after an outburst with management and made sporadic appearances in the Indy circuit afterwards, as her drug addiction never left. Vachon was sent to rehab a couple of times by WWE, but it did nothing to curb her obsession with drugs as those drugs killed her in the end as she was revealed to have died in 2010 from an "overdose of oxycodone and benzodiazepine" in her system. Vachon could've been as legendary as the other women of the 90s, but her drug addiction didn't let her get to the stage she deserved and ruined her career which could've been so much brighter if she didn't get into drugs.

6 William Regal

via wwe.com

William Regal is one of the most talented wrestlers to have never found major success in the field of wrestling, as he might have been one of the most technically skilled athletes of his time, but something always held him back. He was badly into drugs and alcohol once he attained some fame in the wrestling business. He initially started out in WCW where he was mostly a cocky heel, but was arrested once because of being drunk on a flight and urinating on a air hostess. Regal explained that he was so drunk that he couldn't remember anything about the incident and only remembered waking up in a cell. Regal later joined WWE where he excelled in an authority role. It was later revealed that he had done drugs which violated WWE's Wellness Program as he was suspended once for 30 days in 2007, and again for 60 days the next year. Regal never got any main event prominence because of it and sort of recovered himself after the suspension.

5 Sunny

via ign.com

Sunny is regarded by many as one of the best wrestling managers of all time, as she had an amazing figure to show off during the 90s and had quite the fan-following because of it. She managed the Bodydonnas at first before going onto manage other tag teams like the Godwinns for a point of time and also managed Farooq for a bit. Sunny would be the host of many of WWE's shows at the time, as she also managed The Legion of Doom for a point of time in 1998 but was fired by the company afterwards because of her addiction to painkillers. She went onto appear for ECW and WCW for short stints later, as her drug addiction got only worse as she got addicted to even worse drugs and did independent events to gather money for the drugs. Sunny's addiction reached a peak in 2012 when she was arrested 5 times in a month's time for many crimes as her drug addiction tore her sense of reality. She recently appeared in an adult film to make big bucks, but she'll probably drown it away on drugs as she's heavily into the bad kind of drugs nowadays and needs to stop before it completely destroys her as it definitely ruined her career when it was getting promising.

4 Jeff Hardy

via twitter.com

Jeff Hardy was one of the most exciting superstars when he was in the WWE, as he was this dare-devil which nobody seemed to hate. Hardy rose to prominence during the Attitude era with his brother Matt as The Hardy's elevated the tag team division at the time with the other teams and Jeff became a big fan favorite because of his style. He later became a mid-carder in the company before he was slowly elevated to the main event scene and went onto win the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship later on as well. But Hardy's addiction to drugs was always his bane, as he couldn't seem to take the pressure and found solace in his drugs as the WWE were forced to release him after his drug addiction seemed to get worse. He ended up going to TNA, where his drug problem wasn't paid much heed too and in TNA's 2011 PPV "Victory Road", Hardy came into his main-event match against Sting completely out of it as he was heavily intoxicated. Sting pinned him under 2 minutes, as this completely disrupted his reputation. Hardy's drug problems had always held him back and ruined his career when he had the chance of making it big in the WWE, as he might have become drug-free for a few years now, but his chance at becoming an icon has long gone now and the drugs ruined his WWE career which could've escalated to something so much bigger and brighter.

3

2 Scott Hall

via tvtropes.org

Scott Hall was one of the most charismatic wrestlers of his time, as he was this hard-hitting wrestler with a killer personality to wow over many fans in spite of being a heel. Debuting as "Razor Ramon" in the WWE, he'd be the mainstay in their Intercontinental Championship scene for almost 4 years and won the title multiple times before he and Kevin Nash went onto join WCW. Here he ruled the place as part of the NWO, but Hall never gained main-event success because of his questionable personal life. Hall was heavily into alcohol during the time and came into many events drunk, as his addiction to alcohol was almost impossible for anyone to contain as he found himself to be in a difficult situation after the turn of the century. Hall went back to the WWE for a short stint before wrestling for TNA for a few years, as his personal condition was getting worse because of his alcohol addiction and he was in a horrible shape health-wise because of the alcohol. His health was deteriorating majorly after 2010 as WWE paid to send him to rehab but that didn't do any good as he kept on relapsing and ended up at the hospital because of major health issues. Hall was finally saved by DDP who kept him at his home and helped him keep sober as he's doing much better now, but he screwed up royally when it mattered and ruined his wrestling career because of his alcohol addiction as many will see him as a drug-addict than a wrestler now because of his reputation as the Bad guy could've been the top guy of WWE or WCW but ruined his own career because of his love for alcohol.

1 Jake "The Snake" Roberts

via latimes.com

Jake "The Snake" Roberts' journey makes for quite the awful story, as Roberts was one of the more surreal personalities in the WWE during his time and had all the credentials to be a top star for the promotion. Known for his snake-like personality and chilling promos, Roberts was one of best heels of his time and feuded with many of the legends at the time, but never gained main-event success or any belt in the WWE. That was mainly because of his horrible addiction to alcohol and drugs, as he just couldn't get rid of the addiction and appeared in some events in an intoxicated state as well. His popularity and reputation came him active in the wrestling field in the 80s and 90s, but the turn of the century saw some difficult times for him as he separated from his family and got more addicted into drugs and alcohol than ever before. He was sent to rehab by the WWE in 2007 but he relapsed soon after as his health was deteriorating heavily because of it as well. Diamond Dallas-Paige helped him get sober after he took him in and helped him reduce 50 pounds in 18 months and get better health-wise. Jake might be sober now, but he ruined his wrestling career because of his alcohol and drug addiction and made for one of the most depressing downfalls of any wrestler's career as drugs took him into a dark stage of his career and ruined what could've been an iconic wrestling career with many titles and accomplishments and ended with him as one of the greatest of all time.

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20 Wrestlers Whose Careers Were Ruined By Substance Abuse