The men and women of professional wrestling have to maintain a specific level of fitness that is unique from other forms of sports and entertainment. The work schedule compared to other professional athletes – e.g. football, baseball and hockey – is a lot more hectic in wrestling. Just ask anyone who has worked a full-time schedule for WWE.
With the stresses from work on an non-stop schedule, it’s common to hear and read stories of former WWE wrestlers who tried to get relief from substances. Common are the stories of wrestlers who were once the biggest stars in the industry having taken a fall from grace. Injuries have also played a factor in how a once great wrestler has become a shell of what they once were.
Before Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s passing in January, it was obvious his mental health and physical condition had deteriorated greatly. Several wrestling stars from WWE, ECW and WCW have their share of health concerns. But not all wrestlers age badly. It’s surprising to see some wrestlers still go strong in their 40s, and some in their 50s, be able to compete like they did in their prime.
Some wrestlers have even maintained good health and conditioning through the years in their lives after they left the squared circle. Some have maintained health while working in major motion pictures and others have developed their own fitness programs to help others.
The following looks at top wrestlers who have aged poorly and those who have defied the odds and maintained amazing overall health.
15 BAD – Kamala
There aren’t as many wrestlers from the 1980s and 1990s who scared young fans like Kamala the Ugandan Giant did. He would eventually become more of a comedy act, but he debuted in the wrestling as a cannibalistic headhunter found in the deepest parts of Africa. At his wrestling prime, he was six feet and seven inches while weighing a massive 380 pounds. But the man behind the gimmick, James Harris, is completely different from the one seen on television. Harris is a man in pain.
In 2011, doctors had to amputate his left leg due to diabetes that he wasn’t able to control. The next year, doctors also had to remove his right leg. The former “Ugandan Giant” now travels by wheelchair in his Mississippi home. A fundraiser on Go Fund Me was started in efforts to raise $45,000. He has since joined a class action lawsuit against WWE with other legends claiming the company covered up the risk of injuries in the ring.
14 WELL – Seat Waltman
It wasn’t long ago when there were concerns for the well-being of Sean Waltman. The man has been known for having partaken in some different substances outside of the wrestling ring. It was well-documented when his former girlfriend Chyna was part of VH1’s “The Surreal Life.” Whether you know him best as the 1-2-3 Kid or X-Pac, he was a big part of the 1990s wrestling scene. Unfortunately, he fell down a dark hole and looked to be in pretty deep.
However, it looks as if he has turned things around health wise. A recent picture posted on his Twitter account sees Waltman now having washboard abs. Waltman wrote that he’s in the best physical and mental shape of his life. One can expect that the post has received a lot of praise from fans and peers alike for the 44-year-old. It shows it’s never too late to get in great physical shape.
13 BAD – Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn is best known for being a star in Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championships Wrestling before falling down the card in WWE. After his WWE release, his life started to go downhill after suffering bullet wounds to the neck and shoulder after stopping an attempted rape in Atlanta. Those injuries led to an addiction to methamphetamines. He would then go down a spiral where he became homeless and went missing from the public eye until 2010.
Since then, Saturn has developed more complications from traumatic brain injuries suffered through his wrestling career. Saturn has several additional health problems that have led him to struggle to pay the bills. A page set up on GoFundMe.com was set up last October with a goal to raise $100,000. As of this writing, it has surpassed the $38,000 mark.
12 WELL – Batista
Dave Bautista first joined the WWE main roster in 2003. Back then, he was about 34 years old. Through the Ruthless Aggression Era of the WWE, Batista became a big star in the company that rivaled the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton. While some might not like his in-ring abilities, Batista has always maintained an impressive physique as he continued to age very well. This has continued in his life after the WWE.
In fact, Batista looks to have found himself at the right spot in the movie industry as Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Despite being in his late 40s, Batista still looks to be in amazing shape in the trailers for the upcoming sequel. This is great because he is also being planned for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War planned for a 2018 release, which also has a second part after that.
11 BAD – Abdullah the Butcher
Every athlete has to come to terms with the idea of having to retire from their sport. In the case of pro wrestler Abdullah the Butcher, those kinds of words seem to fall on deaf ears. Despite being well into his 70s, Lawrence Shreve continues to do occasional independent wrestling shows with a trademark fork in hand and a crimson mask of blood on his face. His schedule has reduced over the years, but he’s still bleeding and forcing others to bleed in the ring.
But while he still appears at wrestling events, Father Time has taken a toll that is visible as he slowly moves towards the ring. Age is not his friend and neither his health. He also suffers from Hepatitis C, which can attack the liver in the body. This was proven after another wrestler was awarded more than $2 million after contracting Hepatitis C from a hardcore match against the Butcher in 2007.
10 WELL – Diamond Dallas Page
Josh Barnett of USA Today recently wrote a piece about WWE Hall of Fame inductee Diamond Dallas Page. The headline says it best, “Nobody had ever done it the way DDP did it.” That’s because most professional wrestlers don't maintain a high level of physical and mental health for as long as DDP has. Long after his days with WCW in the 1990s and the WWE in the early 2000s, Page has found a new life through the world of fitness.
In fact, he’s also created his own fitness program called DDPYoga. While the number of wrestlers passing away before 50 continues to grow, Page is about to turn 61. He doesn’t look it as he’s kept himself fit with his own style of yoga. He’s also turned that energy towards helping other wrestlers like Scott Hall and Jake Roberts, who would have been long deceased without Page’s help.
9 BAD – Tammy “Sunny” Sytch
During the early 1990s of WWE television, Tammy Sytch was better known as Sunny. She was a popular WWE Diva who managed a variety of wrestlers. Through the years, she would develop heat among the different locker rooms in wrestling. From WWE to WCW and ECW, Sunny was known for trading favors with male wrestlers in exchange for drugs. She also has a long history when it comes to driving under the influence.
At one point, she was dealing with three charges that she pleaded guilty to in 2016. Her physical health is nowhere close to that of when she was a WWE superstar. Now, Sytch is left struggling to find ways to cover bills. It was around this time last year when news broke that she had signed a deal with Vivid Entertainment for a pornography film. This might have been exciting news for male wrestling fans 15 to 20 years ago.
8 WELL – Trish Stratus
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One of the most iconic women’s wrestlers in WWE history has certainly kept herself in good health in life after the ring. Trish Stratus has opened up a yoga studio in her hometown of Toronto. Much like Diamond Dallas Page, Stratus has aged well due to her maintained activity outside of wrestling. This is even more impressive after the birth of her two children over the past few years.
Before her second pregnancy was announced, there were rumors that Stratus was being considered for a return to the company. She said in 2016 that she would do it if there was a challenge in it. At age 41, she is in good shape to make another WWE run. It is just dependent on recovering from the birth of her second child in January, which can take some time. Maybe SummerSlam or WrestleMania 34 is a possibility.
7 BAD – Scott Hall
Scott Hall was once known as “The Bad Guy.” While he never won a world championship for the WWE, he was essentially a main event star as a long-reigning Intercontinental Champion under the name Razor Ramon. He maintained his popularity when he joined Kevin Nash to jump to WCW, forming the New World Order and helping start the Monday Night Wars of the 1990s. However, Hall is an example of how a wrestler can fall from grace due to drugs and alcohol.
Hall’s substance abuse has been well known for years and it’s led to a number of health problems that could have easily led to him dying. At age 58, he was also invited to be a part of Diamond Dallas Page’s treatment program that has worked wonders for Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Hall isn’t at perfect health, but it’s a lot better than what it could have been.
6 WELL – Chris Jericho
The Gift of Jericho is the gift that keeps on giving, especially when it comes to his overall health and fitness. Now at age 46, Jericho continues to look as if he’s wrestling in his 20s or 30s. The current resurgence of Jericho is one of the best in recent years with a new heel persona that included his now “former best friend” Kevin Owens. This is impressive considering the time he dedicates not only to pro wrestling, but also to his rock band Fozzy.
When Jericho was the World Heavyweight Champion in 2010, he was certainly not in the greatest physical shape. He wasn’t looking as lean and chiseled as he had been through most of his career in the WWE. Jericho credits a lot of his current fitness level to a combination of CrossFit workouts and Diamond Dallas Page’s DDPYoga. He’s benefitted as he just enjoyed yet another solid WrestleMania match against Kevin Owens.
5 BAD – Jake Roberts
There was once a time when Jake “The Snake” Roberts was arguably one of the best on the microphone in WWE. He could have easily become a world champion at one point. Unfortunately, Roberts’ story was similar to a number of wrestlers. Drugs and alcohol addictions negatively affected his rise and actually became his downfall. It also affected his health.
A few years ago, Diamond Dallas Page invited Roberts to “The Accountability Crib,” where Page acted as a mentor and coach for Roberts’ path to sobriety. It wasn’t easy considering how close to death Roberts likely was. Roberts has lost a lot of weight and looks to be in great better physical condition. He’s also returned to the road to share stories of his life in spoken word events.
4 WELL – Sid
Whatever you thought of Sid as an in-ring performer or on the mic, wrestling companies kept pushing him as a star and it was because of his look. Standing at nearly seven feet tall and 300 pounds, Sid headlined two WrestleManias and was a former WWE and WCW World Champion. Sid suffered a nasty broken ankle at WCW Sin 2001 which required years of rehabilitation to fully heal. Sid's last WWE appearance came in 2012 where he took on Heath Slater in a short squash match. Sid has since gotten into bodybuilding, having competed in some amateur competitions. He's managed to take care of his body all these years, which is pretty impressive considering the nasty injury he suffered over 15 years ago.
3 BAD – Lex Luger
There was once a time when Lex Luger was one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. His career included highlights that range from bodyslamming Yokozuna on a military aircraft carrier to being the Total Package in WCW. He had the physique to match the personas of someone who called himself either The Narcissist or The Total Package. But he had his problems with drug abuse and steroid use, which was documented with the death of Miss Elizabeth in 2003.
Luger’s health has declined since then. The wear and tear of his wrestling career led to him waking up one morning paralyzed from the neck down. While he’s slowly regained movement over the last few years, he is still struggling to be able to stand and walk for long periods of time. For fans who grew up watching Luger in WWE and WCW, the current image of Luger can be a bit of a shock.
2 WELL – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
There are some people, by that I mean a large majority, who like to sleep in. Not for a select few like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The People’s Champion has gone from being the Most Electrifying Man in Sports-Entertainment to the Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment. Johnson has certainly kept himself busy with all of the movies and television shows that he’s been a part of - both in front of and behind the camera.
However, Johnson seems to remain dedicated in the weight room. So much so that he has begins his day with a 4 am workout. It makes sense considering he has such a busy schedule that this might be the only chance he has of getting in some physical work. Regardless, The Rock has improved his physical shape since he was a regular, full-time WWE Superstar.
1 BAD – Ric Flair
Ric Flair has had a long career in the world of professional wrestling. Even when he wasn’t supposed to after being in a plane crash in 1975 that changed the landscape of the National Wrestling Alliance. Flair did a lot in wrestling since he debuted for the American Wrestling Association in 1972. He was stylin’ and profiln’ for nearly 50 years between WWE, WCW, TNA and other promotions around the world.
But in recent years, Flair’s physical condition has deteriorated. The once bleach-blonde superstar that won 16 world championships now looks frail and would likely be broken by a simple bump. In 2013, reports came out from WrestlingInc.com that the WWE had concerns about Flair’s health and not letting him take any bumps. At age 68, those concerns are probably still there as he continues to be a playboy, which can’t be good for someone nearly 70 years old.
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