There is a popular misconception in society that if someone is on TV they are rich. After all, isn't TV where only the super-famous are allowed? As it turns out, plenty of people on TV are poor or will become poor quickly after their 30 seconds of fame is up. Wrestlers are no different. Performers in wrestling usually don't make the kind of money required to live out the rest of their days in comfort after their in-ring careers are over. They also don't tend to be the most forward-thinking people and make poor choices with their money. This trend does appear to be reversing, however.
Many former wrestlers are so broke it is visible from miles away. Their poorness projects from them like a constant reminder of how far someone can fall. Once Vince McMahon decides someone is too old for television, their career is often times over with. This can leave the performer with limited options while still needing to pay the bills.
The 20 wrestlers mentioned in this article have fallen farther than their colleagues. In this article, we shine the spotlight on 20 performers from WWE and WCW who look as though they're lining up for food stamps.
20 Sunny (WWE)
Sunny's contributions to the Attitude Era cannot be undersold. She was the perfect performer at the perfect time and helped redefine what women can do in WWE. Unfortunately, since Sunny wasn't exactly a fantastic wrestler and tended to get by based off her physical assets, she is not as celebrated as she could have been by today's women's revolution.
Sunny has not aged well clearly. She's lived a hard life filled with substance-abuse and tragedy. She lost her longtime boyfriend, Chris Candido, prematurely, although Sunny was constantly running around without him.
Now 45 years old, Sunny looks like she's on welfare and might actually be on it. She sold her WWE Hall of Fame ring on eBay so clearly, she is hurting for money a little bit. Hopefully, Sunny has gotten her problems in check and is enjoying her current life.
19 Lex Luger (WCW)
Granted, Lex Luger only looks the way he does now because he suffered a spinal stroke 11 years ago. Unfortunately for Luger, the stroke left him in a physically weak state, almost a polar opposite from what he was like during his heyday. Luger used to brag about having nearly no body fat on him whatsoever. That might still be the case today only he doesn't have any muscle on him either.
At 59 years of age now, Luger spends his time counseling others on religious-related matters. He's part of a group of former wrestlers, including Ted Dibiase and Sting, who are active religiously.
Luger's situation has improved in the years since his spinal stroke. Although he is often seen needing assistance to get around, Luger says he can now walk comfortably for short periods of time and can drive a car.
18 Ahmed Johnson (WWE)
Ahmed Johnson seemed to let all that muscle turn to fat after his pro wrestling career ended. Now the 54-year-old is rocking the same physical frame as Butterbean back in the day.
Johnson was once thought to be someone WWE really wanted to turn into a star. Unfortunately, Johnson started to carve out a reputation as being dangerous to work with. WWE paired him with Ron Simmons first as a rival and then as a mentor during the Attitude Era but neither angle worked out. As striking an appearance as Johnson had, he just couldn't get the nuts and bolts of the wrestling business down. WCW gave him another shot but that also failed. After retiring from wrestling, Johnson went back to school and got a degree in criminology.
17 Vader (WCW)
62-year-old Leon White, aka Big Van Vader, is not in good health these days. A year ago, Vader was in a bad car accident. Doctors who were tending to Vader discovered that he has chronic heart failure. They only gave him two years to live.
Subsequent doctors have not been too quick to give the same diagnosis but it's safe to say Vader has some serious health problems he needs to address. Diamond Dallas Page has invited Vader to come live at his place in Atlanta. Page gave the same invitation to Jake Roberts and Scott Hall in recent years and helped them turn their lives around. Unfortunately, according to Page, Vader won't stop wrestling and that prevents him from being able to workout and live the lifestyle he needs to in order to get better.
16 One Man Gang (WWE)
Granted, One Man Gang looked like he was on welfare during his in-ring career as well. Now pushing 60, however, he looks as though he might have to line up for food stamps every now and again.
One Man Gang did hold out his hat for donations after the 2016 floods in Louisiana, however. He set up a GoFundMe account after he and his family lost most of their belongings that summer.
Real name George Gray, he will still show up at independent events even to this day. His heyday was definitely during the late 80s and early 90s, however. During this period he was in WWE, though he would drop the One Man Gang gimmick eventually. That was when he rediscovered his African roots with the help of his manager, Slick. Gray would become “Akeem the African Dream” until leaving WWE in 1990.
15 Raven (WCW)
Raven was one of the most unique, creative, and interesting characters during his day. His storylines in ECW, WCW, and even sometimes in WWE were generally very interesting. He’s always had a large fanbase as a result.
Now at 53 years of age, however, Raven looks as though he might eat out of the trash. Granted, many former stars of ECW appear this way but Raven seems to take it to a new level. It’s clear Raven has lived a hard 53 years as well. Life on the road in ECW was said to involve a lot of extra-curricular drug use and Raven was probably one of the more enthusiastic on the roster during this time.
Raven has a podcast you can listen to these days but if you're expecting a podcast that doesn't veer off-topic almost constantly, then it's probably not for you. If you enjoy Raven's rather unique sense of humor, however, then you might want to give it a chance
14 Kamala (WWE)
Poor Kamala. He doesn't look like he's doing that well which is probably because of numerous health problems he has faced in recent years.
Real name James Harris, the 67-year-old has had to have both his legs amputated in recent years due to the effects of diabetes and high blood pressure. He lives in Mississippi and told sources he makes a living selling wooden chairs as well as playing music. There are plenty of wrestlers out there doing things far more demeaning to make money than making wooden chairs and playing music. In that regard, he's actually doing pretty well.
It was reported last fall that Kamala was in poor health again. He ended up undergoing emergency surgery and things weren't looking too well for him but in the end, he pulled through.
13 Missy Hyatt (WCW)
Younger fans might have a hard time understanding that Missy Hyatt, the woman pictured above, was not supposed to be a frightening heel. In fact, Missy Hyatt was the original symbol in professional wrestling. That she turned into the ghoulish-looking woman pictured above doesn't take anything away from that fact. Let's just be honest here, anyone from ECW who is still alive isn't doing better than most.
Hyatt officially retired from wrestling in 2016. Her last match was at WrestleCon over WrestleMania weekend. She managed Lance Storm for some reason and he lost to Matt Hardy.
Hyatt is only 54 years old but those are about the longest 54 years one could imagine. Her career began in the mid-80s and even today she will appear for promotions like Women Superstars Uncensored.
12 Marty Jannetty (WWE)
Marty Jannetty looks a broken wrestler these days as he pushes towards 60 years of age. He's 58 now, six years older than his former Rocker teammate, Shawn Michaels, who is looking a little older than his real age these days too. It's possible those hard-partying days led both performers to age rather ungracefully.
It's too bad Jannetty is best known for being the member of a tag team who didn't go on to great success as a single's star. He was a great wrestler and had some fantastic matches on his own. Some of the matches he had with Shawn Michaels go down as some of the great mid-card matches to take place on WWE programming. Many of the current wrestlers talk about the influence in seeing Jannetty and Michaels wrestle on the early episodes of Monday Night Raw and the value it had on them.
11 Perry Saturn (WCW)
Fans of 51-year-old Perry Saturn are just glad he's alive but would prefer he didn't look as rough a shape as he does these days.
Saturn had to deal with the impacts of concussions as well as having gone through a painkiller addiction. He spent a couple of years missing as he developed a large painkiller addiction following being shot in the neck. In 2004, Saturn broke up an attempted assault and took a bullet to the neck for his efforts. Following the incident is when he became addicted to pain pills along with methamphetamine.
Saturn was a big part of ECW's tag team division. When he got to WCW, however, we got to see more of his range as a performer.
10 Virgil (WWE)
If the free bread and salad they give out at the Olive Garden counts as welfare then Virgil is on welfare.
The former bodyguard for the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase has become something of a joke in recent years. Entire websites devoted to posting pictures of a lonely looking Virgil at wrestling conventions have been created in his honor. He was even once caught setting up a table inside a subway station charging people $20 for a photo. If there was a poster child for down on their luck former wrestlers trying to squeeze out every last dollar from their former fame, it's Virgil.
The 55-year-old can still be found at wrestling conventions from time to time, even when he’s not booked. Virgil has also been known to express his love of the Olive Garden online, possibly in order to receive coupons to eat there.
9 Bobby Eaton (WCW)
You wouldn't know it looking at him now but Bobby Eaton's nickname used to be "Beautiful". That was a long time ago, clearly.
At 59 years of age, all of the beautiful has run out of Bobby. He's now just Robert Lee Eaton. Any comments about him being "Beautiful Bobby" are now made ironically.
Younger fans will only remember Eaton as a guy who lost matches on WCW Nitro but those were in the later part of his career. From the 1970s to early 90s, Bobby Eaton was considered a great worker and an excellent hand in the ring. Pretty much everyone who ever worked with him has also said he was one of the nicest guys ever in wrestling. He's just not all that physically appealing anymore.
8 The Dynamite Kid (WWE)
They don't come much worse off than 59-year-old Tom Billington. The former Dynamite Kid was one of the best wrestlers in the world when he was physically able to perform. Back injuries brought his career to an early end, however. Further complications from his injuries would result in him being confined to a wheelchair as well. In 2013, Billington suffered a stroke and now requires round-the-clock care.
Unfortunately, Billington's backstage reputation prevents many people from having sympathy for his current plight. The Dynamite Kid was well-known to play mean-spirited pranks on his fellow wrestlers and few stick-up for him today as a result.
At one time, however, the British Bulldogs and the Hart Foundation changed tag team wrestling in WWE and before then, Dynamite Kid and Jushin Liger changed how many perceived smaller wrestlers in Japan.
7 Barry Windham (WCW)
Now that the Four Horsemen have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the four wrestlers most associated with the faction make regular appearances at wrestling conventions. In keeping with their gimmick, most members of the Four Horsemen are well-dressed during these appearances. On the other hand, Barry Windham usually shows up looking as though he just got back from a hunting trip. Although he was once arguably one of the best workers in the world, he now looks like he's never seen a carbohydrate he didn't end up eating.
When WCW closed in 2001, Windham was a member of the West Texas Rednecks. The faction was supposed to be comprised of heels but their surprising musical talent led to them being cheered. Apparently, Windham never stopped living the gimmick.
6 Trevor Murdoch (WWE)
Trevor Murdoch always looked as though he was on welfare but now he might actually be receiving it. Murdoch's career on the main roster only lasted three years between 2005 and 2008. Surprisingly, WWE gave up on the unique character when he was only 27 years old.
When WWE.com caught up with Murdoch in 2014, he let them know he now installs fiber optic cables for a living. He's also done some work as a trainer at Harley Race's wrestling school and will appear sporadically at independent wrestling events.
Murdoch was a throwback to old Southern-style wrestling, where the performers were ugly and mean as opposed to ripped and shredded. It's hard to believe he didn't catch on anywhere else (for the most part) after his WWE career ended.
5 Vampiro (WCW)
50-year-old Vampiro looks as though he has seen better days. The once lean and athletic competitor in WCW and CMLL has blown up to a considerable size.
Following the closure of WCW, Vampiro returned to Mexico and continued to be a big star. He's now working in a backstage role for AAA Lucha Libre in addition to his commentary gig on Lucha Underground.
Vampiro had to deal with health problems in the past. In 2012, a letter was posted on the Juggalo Championship Wrestling site (the Insane Clown Posse's wrestling promotion), where Vampiro admitted to having stomach cancer and a brain tumor. In the past few years since he has become a key figure for Lucha Underground, Vampiro has become more of a celebrated figure in English-speaking Lucha libre markets in addition to Mexico. He still looks pretty rough, though.
4 Enzo Amore (WWE)
Just a year ago, Enzo was on his way to WrestleMania along with his partner, Big Cass. Now he's unemployed and his wrestling career is quite possibly over. The 31-year-old was fired earlier this year after it came out he is being investigated for an assault related incident. Although he has denied the charges, WWE fired him anyway. He's gone silent since the allegations came to light.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Enzo. If he's found guilty, his career is undoubtedly over. Even if he's found not guilty, WWE will likely never take a chance on the guy again and other promotions are likely to do the same. Enzo doesn't strike us as someone who saved his money either...
3 Tank Abbott (WCW)
Ever since he was kicked out of the Boy Band "3 Count", Tank Abbott's appearance has gone progressively downhill. While the 52-year-old popular former UFC heavyweight isn't said to be experiencing in financial hardship - the badly grown in hair and swordfish patterned button-up shirt create a different impression.
Now 52-years-old, Abbott's time in WCW was short but memorable. While he was popular in UFC, his win/loss record was not exactly something to be feared of. He also had barely any experience with professional wrestling. This is probably why WCW tanked so badly signing such wrestlers to extravagant deals despite limited experience. He seems to be doing well nowadays, however, he's aged a heck of a lot as evidenced by the interview photo above recently taken.
2 James Ellsworth (WWE)
James Ellsworth looked like he was on welfare before he was signed by WWE - while he performed in WWE, and now again that he is gone from WWE. That he looks dirt poor and trashy is part of his appeal!
The 33-year-old Ellsworth was released last year and returned to the independents early this year. Rarely is a bad word ever said about Ellsworth, which makes us wonder if he won't be brought back to WWE at some point. In fact, isn't Braun Strowman looking for a tag-team partner for WrestleMania? It sure would make for a WrestleMania moment if Ellsworth were to be brought back at the event.
Ellsworth is currently the Inter-Gender Champion on the independent scene, wrestling women wrestlers in a gimmick similar to Andy Kaufman's old act. He doesn't just wrestle women, however. Last month, he defeated Joey Ryan to retain the title as well.
1 Brian Knobbs (WCW)
Nasty Boys member Brian Knobbs is getting progressively rounder as he gets older. For somebody said to spend a lot of time with Hulk Hogan, he sure doesn't seem to be keeping the same workout schedule. He sure isn't training or taking his vitamins either.
Knobbs is only 53 years-old but it's not so much his age as it is his circumference which has him looking like he might be on welfare. He's married to Greg Valentine's sister, however, so perhaps he is just trying to fit in with his in-laws.
For the most part, Knobbs has spent his post-wrestling life being involved in various Hulk Hogan related projects. He's linked to Hulk Hogan's entourage. As for his ex-partner Jerry Saggs, the two are still said to be close friends. Although he still pops up in wrestling circles, Saggs keeps busy with four kids.