For every 10 people who get a contract from World Wrestling Entertainment as a performer, there’s only one that actually makes it to one of the main rosters. Of those that make it to the main rosters, only a small percentage stick around more than a couple of years. For those that do stick around, only a couple go on to have careers that make them rich and famous people who deserve first-ballot Hall of Fame entries. The odds of being that person are astronomical. The odds of simply sticking around are astronomical in a pop-culture industry that has a non-stop revolving door. There are people who are willing to bend the rules and put their personal health in jeopardy to ensure their position sticks and the paychecks keep coming in.
Back in the 1980s, it was what it was. The wrestlers who survived that era have similar stories about what life on the road 28 out of 30 days every month can do to a person. They needed painkillers to deal with the physical toll, downers to fall asleep at night and uppers to get going in the morning. Between wrestlers dropping like flies in the mid-to-late ’90s, Vince McMahon’s very public steroid trial and the WWE becoming a publicly traded company, things had to change.
Enter the Wellness Policy. In 2006, the WWE unveiled the program, which claims to be tougher than any of the major mainstream sports. Along with illegal drugs, and wrestler found to be without a prescription for medication in their system or for not following the prescription are to be suspended. Athlete testing takes place several times a year and many wrestlers have spoken publicly about how rigorous the system is. Still, there are those people who look for any edge when it comes to their career. Some of them we could see coming a mile away while others made our jaws drop. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit our reactions to some of WWE’s most infamous Wellness Policy violators.
15 Obvious: Jeff Hardy
There’s a code when a wrestling company wants to let the public know a talent has a drug problem, but doesn’t want to use the word “drug”. Fans are told that a wrestler is “dealing with their demons.” For anybody who is an addict, they can tell you “demon” is an appropriate way to describe their situation and for Jeff Hardy, his demons spilled onto the screen when he wrestled on a TNA pay-per-view against Sting for the championship. Sting was obviously annoyed and the match lasted less than two minutes since Hardy was in no position to compete. Hardy was nailed twice by the WWE’s Wellness Policy within a space of eight months. This came in the middle of his biggest push as a singles worker and was likely one of the big reasons he and the company parted ways not long after his 60-day second violation suspension in March 2011. We didn’t think he’d offend again, but we can’t it came out of nowhere. Only months after being suspended by the WWE, Hardy got in trouble with the law following a raid on his home where police found 180 Soma pills, 262 Vicodin, over 500 millimeters of anabolic steroids, a small amount of cocaine and paraphernalia associated with drug use.
14 Shocking: Booker T
Perhaps more surprising than the fact Booker T (in his King Booker role at the time) was suspended for violating the policy, he was actually sanctioned twice! Booker was one of a dozen talents suspended after his name was linked to Signature Pharmacy, a Florida-based internet drug retailer accused of running a nationwide illegal steroid ring, in August 2007. In the early years of the Wellness Policy, skeptics wondered if it was going to be a legit screening system, and the fact many of the wrestlers suspended were connected to Signature Pharmacy dating back to February 2006, when the policy was put into place. Specific substances were not named, but it’s safe to assume it was either painkillers or performance enhancing drugs in Booker’s case. With a “three strikes and you’re out” mandate, we’re glad the Hall of Famer learned his lesson the second time around. We’d miss the Shucky Ducky Quack Quack Moment of the Night on WWE pay-per-view pre-shows he co-hosts with Renee Young.
13 Obvious: Kurt Angle
One of the hallmarks of addiction is for the addict to deny they have a problem in the first case. This denial led to the departure of former Olympian Kurt Angle from the WWE. As the story goes, Angle was dealing with a bevy of physical issues, but WWE wouldn’t let him take time he needed off and punished him by sending him to their version of ECW to serve as the brand’s face. Angle has given many interviews over the last decade crediting TNA, his home for a decade after he left WWE, for giving him whatever time he ever needed off to deal with his issues. Looking back at the last six months of his matches in WWE and several stretches of time with TNA, it doesn’t take an expert to see Angle is sluggish and something seems wrong. Hopefully this once-great entertainer has kicked his habit once and for all.
12 Shocking: Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is another one of those people who appears like they don’t use performance or image enhancement drugs, so how to explain his violation of WWE Wellness Policy rules in October 2008? We certainly don’t want to make excuse for the hard working superstar, because there are no excuses, but Ziggler was just on the cusp of making it to the bigtime as a singles wrestler. He had been a fixture in the Spirit Squad male cheerleading quintet a few years earlier, but after figuring out his solo act in developmental, Ziggler debuted as a character on RAW performing in backstage vignettes starting in September that year. The violation and subsequent 30-day suspension pushed back his debut match until early December. The best thing we can say about this situation is that Ziggler is proof you can violate the rules once, learn your lesson, and go on to have a long career in WWE.
11 Obvious: Randy Orton
If there is a next time Randy Orton violates the WWE Wellness Program rules, it will be the last time as he’s been sitting on two strikes since his 60-day suspension in May 2012. His first violation took place in 2006. While details of his second suspension are tough to track down, Sports Illustrated ran a piece stating that Orton was found to have used anastrozole, clomiphene citrate, and steroids such as testosterone, nandrolone, oxandrolone, and stanozolol. Oddly, anastrozole is a hormone-based chemotherapy generally given to women who are fighting breast cancer while clomiphene citrate is an estrogen modulator used to treat infertility. According to WebMd, those medicines are also used by some bodybuilders to offset the side effects of the kinds of steroids Orton was accused of taking. Orton has never spoken on the record about either of his suspensions.
10 Shocking: Edge
Edge is another one of those guys who seems too smart to do something that might not only harm his body, but also get in trouble with the WWE. Maybe it speaks to the pressure wrestlers feel to stay relevant and the sacrifices and risks they are willing to make in order to be a superstar. Edge was one of many wrestlers who was suspended in August 2007 after being connected with the Signature Pharmacy scandal. In the Sports Illustrated expose that named names, the magazine reported documents seized by officials showed Edge received two versions of human growth hormone, somatropin and genotropin and the steroid stanozolol from Signature for over two years between 2004 and 2007. The suspension must have been enough to spook the real-life Adam Copeland into behaving because he was never caught in violation again all the way up to his retirement.
9 Obvious: Rob Van Dam
Some wrestlers on this list have violated the WWE’s Wellness Policy then returned as if they hadn’t missed a beat and their suspension barely registered in the success of their career. Then there is Rob Van Dam. Professionally, the fallout of his infraction may be greater than any wrestler before or since. RVD was already the champion of the new ECW in 2006 when he won the WWE championship from Rob Van Dam at the second One Night Stand pay per view. If there was any time to keep your nose clean, the self-described marijuana aficionado should have recognized holding the most important title in the company was then. But, these are wrestlers, not rocket scientists. Police pulled over Van Dam and Sabu as part of a routine traffic stop and found five Vicodin tablets and 18 grams of the wacky weed. Before he started serving his violation he was forced to drop both belts in the same week. After returning from suspension he quickly fell down the card and never returned to the title picture. It’s a shame, but it’s hardly a surprise when somebody who has been interviewed by High Times magazine is caught holding marijuana.
8 Shocking... And Then Obvious: Paige
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. When Paige and Alberto Del Rio were suspended the same day in August 2016, it confirmed the unlikely duo were a real-life couple, but it called into question exactly what this couple did outside of the ring. While WWE makes suspensions known publicly, they don’t say exactly what caused the slap on the hand. Paige went to Twitter to offer her side of the story, claiming it was nothing more than a mix-up in the testing process. “Let me be clear that I was not suspended for failing a drug test, it was merely due to a procedural issue. I took the test, I passed it. I arranged said test to happen after I wasn’t at home when aegis contacted me. So I drove 200 miles to do it. Unfortunately I didn’t do it on time, according to Aegis (the company that administers WWE’s drug tests.) Her suspension was for 30 days. She hadn't returned to TV when her second violation went public, this time keeping her off WWE TV through the end of 2016. We won't be surprised if we never see her competing for the company again. It's hard to believe Paige made the same procedural issue twice. We were shocked, then not surprised.
7 Shocking: Funaki
Few would have ever guessed the long career that would have come out of a partnership with Japan’s Michinoku Pro for Sho Funaki, but he both played into and against Japanese stereotypes to great effect during his in-ring career. These days, he has popped up on NXT and serves as one of the Japanese commentators for WWE pay-per-views. He was one of the dozen linked to Signature Pharmacy by Sports Illustrated, allegedly receiving somatropin in March 2016. Somatropin is a human growth hormone promoting muscle growth and fat loss. It also increases gluconeogenesis and reduces sensitive to insulin, both which are designed to increase fat loss. The hormone is nicknamed “The Fountain of Youth” as it serves as an anti-aging solution. It was originally designed to treat pituitary dwarfism, but we’d be willing to wager this wasn’t the reason Funaki allegedly used the banned substance.
6 Obvious: Roman Reigns
Admit it: When you heard Roman Reigns violated the WWE’s wellness policy, your reaction was less “I can’t believe it” and far more “I’m not surprised”? The most interesting thing about the entire situation was how the situation could not be ignored on WWE programming, as most violations are. Have you heard them talk at all about Alberto Del Rio, Eva Marie or Paige’s suspensions? Nope, but on the very first RAW, in the very first segment after the suspension, the WWE had Seth Rollins address it head on. Whether Reigns should still be included in the match at Money in the Bank, the next pay-per-view was one of the many storylines. Reigns apologized on Twitter, saying: “I apologize to my family, friends and fans for my mistake in violating WWE’s wellness policy. No excuses. I own it.” The person who really came out smelling like roses was Dean Ambrose, who walked out of Money in the Bank with the championship.
5 Shocking: Chavo Guerrero
The Wellness Policy was put in place after the WWE’s drug testing policy was criticized as too lenient, not often enforced and little more than public relations. The fact any policy was put in place was only because the company became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Vince McMahon had soured on wrestlers using performance-enhancing drugs following his federal trial in the mid-1990s, but boys will be boys and wrestlers of all sizes, including Chavo Guerrero. Another person on the Signature Pharmacy list, Chavo was accused of buying among other drugs, somatropin, nandrolone and anastrozole. Since this was his second violation of the program, he was suspended for 60 days. Just as it looked like he might be turning a corner toward stardom, Guerrero was never able to get any traction in his career following the violation and was last seen on the El Rey Network’s Lucha Underground.
4 Obvious: Snitsky
Snitsky was a giant guy with plenty of pimples and a permanent angry demeanor. It would have been more surprising if he’d never been found in violation of World Wrestling Entertainment’s wellness policy. Unlike several people on this list, Sports Illustrated didn’t out him as being on the list of customers who used Signature Pharmacy to get their banned substances, but circumstances suggest he had to be connected. Officially suspended because he failed a drug test, Snitsky was one of two wrestlers, along with the Signature Pharmacy listees forced to attend a meeting on the issue at Titan Towers in late summer 2007 when the fallout happened. It’s hard to say the real impact on Snitsky’s career. After debuting with the ECW brand, he bounced around the company for far more years than he had any right, never really finding a niche and being known mainly as the guy who ran around screaming, “It’s not my fault!” We wonder if that’s what he told the McMahon’s after the failed drug test.
3 Shocking: Alberto Del Rio
As with his girlfriend, Paige, we only have Alberto Del Rio’s side of the story when it comes to his month-long suspension that turned into a mutual parting of the ways for the company. On the day he left, Del Rio gave an interviewing claiming a prescribed testosterone replacement therapy was to blame for his violation. While he played a cocky bastard on TV, Del Rio said that he understood the situation, but felt the spirit of the wellness program wasn’t to nail people like him. I am a 40-year-old man and it is a medical matter that I have proof of from my doctors. I don’t think it is something fair. But I come back to the same thing. It’s their Wellness Policy and you have to abide to it,” he told Más Lucha. The WWE’s policy does give exceptions for prescribed drug situations, so we’re left wondering exactly what happened, but the whole incident, especially the fact his real-life girlfriend Paige was suspended the whole makes us wonder if we’re getting the real story.
2 Obvious: Eva Marie
On the same day in August 2016 that the news of Paige and Alberto Del Rio shocked the wrestling universe, World Wrestling Entertainment also announced that the infamous Eva Marie had also racked up her first violation. Unlike her counterparts, Eva Marie felt no urge to defend herself or Twitter, or elsewhere. Barely a wrestler, and employed more for her magazine covers and large role on Total Divas, anybody who is surprise Eva Marie made the list hasn’t watched her transform from a raven-haired model into what looks like a large piece of plastic. We’re not going to hypothesize exactly what she was nailed for, but considering just how fake her hair and breasts are, it can’t be called surprising she was supplementing in other ways. Fans of women’s wrestling were not crying Eva Marie left their TV screens after the suspension.
1 Shocking: Rey Mysterio
If you’re reading this list, you’re probably more interested in the shocking listings than the ones for people who aren’t surprises and we can’t think of anybody more shocking than Rey Mysterio, who was found in violation of the WWE’s wellness policy twice during his tenure. When he was suspended for 60 days in May 2012, reports say that the masked luchadore tested positive for amphetamines, which are used legitimately in some cases of fatigue and ADHD, but are more often abused by people looking for chemical boosts of energy. For his part, Mysterio said he did not take any medication/drugs in a manner that should have resulted in a suspension, but he also couldn’t produce a legit prescription for the amphetamines. Since it was Mysterio’s second violation if he does ever return to WWE, which is always a rumor floating around, he’s going to have to watch his steps carefully since another violation would be a lifetime ban and certain disqualification from the Hall of Fame.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!