Being let go from your job can certainly be a troubling time. Many of us have likely gone through the unemployment process and know what it’s like.
The world of professional wrestling is not too much different than our normal lives. Working for World Wrestling Entertainment is obviously the best place to work. While there are several other promotions in the world, only a few offer the financial security one has when the paychecks come from Vince McMahon’s bank account.
Just like when you are let go from your job, you find a life afterwards that can be good or bad. The same thing happens with professional wrestlers after they leave the WWE. Some have been able to find a lot of success in other fields of work. Wrestlers have been able to re-brand themselves as actors, fitness experts, media personalities, and even gourmet chefs.
At the same time, not everyone has been able to find a respectable income after WWE. They sometimes hit an all-time low in their personal lives with independent wrestling as an escape. Part of their fall from wrestling grace is due to a number of personal issues. More times than not, their demons are in the form of drugs and alcohol.
The following are eight wrestlers who hit rock bottom after leaving the WWE, and another eight who were able to thrive in life outside of the ring. One thing to keep in mind that these two lists barely scratch the surface of the good, the bad, and the ugly of life after working for the WWE.
16 Rock Bottom: Virgil
Virgil was never a big star in the WWE. While he did hold the Million Dollar Championship for a brief period of time, he was mostly known for being a lackey for "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. However, that was about 20 years ago and things have since changed.
Virgil isn’t competing in front of thousands of fans. The crowds he attracts are much less. Not thousands. Not even hundreds. Not even in the tens. Try something more along the lines of zero. Long after his time wrestling on television, he has been seen at multiple wrestling conventions with not a single fan lining up to get an autographed photo from him. This has allowed Virgil to become an internet meme as “Lonely Virgil.”
15 Thrived: Mideon
The Attitude Era featured some prominent factions in the WWE. During a time when there was The Nation of Domination, D-Generation X, and The Corporation, The Undertaker also formed The Ministry during the 1990s. While not a large name, fans remember Mideon as one of "The Phenom’s" disciples. Then, there are those who remember him for the Naked Mideon segment, which was unfortunate.
Shortly after leaving the WWE, Dennis Knight found a calling as a chef in Clearwater, Florida. It started with working his way up and becoming a fine dining chef for hire that caters various types of events. He's not quite the type you would possibly see on a competition show on the Food Network, but that’s what he’s hoping to do somewhere down the road.
14 Rock Bottom: Umaga
The former two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion was a different kind of Superstar. During his brief stint as Umaga, Edward Fatu had plenty of big wins against some of the biggest names in wrestling. His list includes wins over Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Ric Flair. But he had a number of problems that led to his release in June 2009 after violating the WWE Talent Wellness Program.
Umaga certainly had his demons and it was evident when he refused to obey the WWE’s request to go into a rehabilitation program. Months later, Umaga died from a heart attack caused by a high amount of drugs that were found in his system. The substances found in his body included painkillers, muscle relaxers, and even a drug meant to help with anxiety.
13 Thrived: Jonathan Coachman
There have been a number of former WWE announcers who have made the transition into the world of sports broadcasting. A few have made the jump to ESPN, which is arguably one of the biggest names in sports media. Jonathan Coachman has found the most success in ESPN with regular appearances on ESPN’s flagship show, SportsCenter. Coachman has also been able to interview a number of high-profile athletes with the segments seen by millions of fans.
Coachman is also noted for being part of the bridge that has recently been built between WWE and ESPN. He’s hosted weekly segments, wherein he shows WWE highlights on ESPN, as well as having a Superstar for a special interview. It might not be the biggest impact to help WWE’s popularity, but it shows Coachman has not forgotten from where he came.
12 Rock Bottom: Tammy Lynn Sytch
Tammy Lynn Sytch had a small run with the WWE from 1996 to 1998 in which she was a heel valet with The Bodydonnas and a face manager for the Legion of Doom 2000 team. For the latter, she may as well have been a heel for that booking. Under the name Sunny, she was a popular Diva on WWE television before she was released for a number of reasons – drugs being one of them.
Her stints in Extreme Championship Wrestling and WCW until 2000 were not as successful and she has since tried to stay relevant on the independent circuit. During the last 15 years, Sytch has had issues with the law regarding drugs and alcohol. She’s pled guilty a number of times and recently faced a triple DUI charge. Sytch seems to be in need of money as she signed a deal earlier this year to do an adult film with Vivid Entertainment.
11 Thrived: Stacy Keibler
Stacy Keibler wasn’t known for her wrestling abilities. She didn’t necessarily meet the standards that other women in the Attitude Era set like Trish Stratus and Lita did, but Keibler was one of the better known valets who was a big star in her own right. Part of that had to do with her long legs and suggestive entrances to the ring.
But an appearance on the second season of Dancing with the Stars and a third place finish helped increase her star power outside of the WWE. This led to a newfound career in television and movies. She even gained fame through a relationship with actor George Clooney, but she has since married and had a daughter. Her social media accounts have since become a forum for living a healthy lifestyle.
10 Rock Bottom: Sean O’Haire
The rise and fall of Sean O’Haire is pretty sad. Here was a WWE Superstar who looked as if he was getting one of the more interesting gimmicks in the Ruthless Aggression Era, but that push didn’t last long as he was unable to perform well in front of a live crowd in 2004. O’Haire was unable to keep his job in the WWE. He was also unable to find consistent work in Japan and various independent wrestling promotions.
But his troubles continued after he retired from professional wrestling. He was charged for attempting to choke an ex-girlfriend, which obviously didn’t help his issues with depression and substance addiction that plagued him for about a decade. O’Haire was unable to get out of his depressed state and he would take his own life in 2014.
9 Thrived: Edge
It’s easy to say that one of the saddest moments in modern day wrestling history was Edge’s retirement in 2011. Part of that was because he had just defended the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII. But it was a necessary move by the 11-time world champion due to the severity of his spinal injuries built up over the course of his 13-year career.
So what do you do in life after living as Edge? Adam Copeland was able to find a career in acting that includes a regular spot on hit television shows like Haven and The Flash. His acting credits listed on IMDB.com will likely continue to grow in the near future. While he’s not jumping off ladders and spearing his enemies, he’s still portraying people who can still kick some butt.
8 Rock Bottom: Chyna
Chyna was once the biggest women’s wrestling star during the Attitude Era. While there was plenty of attention on how women looked in the ring, she was truly a great athlete who was more than capable of competing against other men. She even defeated Jeff Jarrett for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at one point. Unfortunately, backstage politics had a lot to do with the "Ninth Wonder of the World" departing from the company.
In the years that followed, she obviously had one of the roughest roads after WWE. Chyna was in an abusive relationship with Sean “X-Pac” Waltman and also had a number of noted struggles with drugs and alcohol. Her life came to a sad ending when she died from an accidental overdose of prescribed medications earlier this year.
7 Thrived: Trish Stratus
Since her debut in 2000, Trish Stratus was able to win the WWE Women’s Championship seven times. She was able to have a number of classic matches with other great female stars like Lita, Victoria, and Mickie James. But her career in the WWE ended in 2006 when she decided to hang up the wrestling boots. The former Women’s Champion has since become a yoga instructor and fitness expert.
Stratus has also made some appearances in films like Gridlocked. However, she’s also been able to focus on raising a family with news that she is pregnant once again. However, she hasn’t quite ruled out a return to the WWE. It’s just a matter of whether the timing would be right and if she was able to help give a boost to the current generation of female WWE Superstars.
6 Rock Bottom: Perry Saturn
During the final part of the infamous Monday Night War, Perry Saturn jumped from WCW to the WWE along with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko. The group were not among the biggest names in wrestling, but they were decent technicians that the WWE kept well after WWE bought out their competition. After leaving WWE, Saturn was not seen after having competed in Japan in 2004.
Years later, it was revealed that Saturn suffered injuries stopping a rape attempt. This was part of how he had become addicted to methamphetamines and even spent several years homeless. Eventually, Saturn would check himself into a drug rehabilitation center and was able to find new life afterwards. Fortunately, he’s been able to find some work on the independent circuit.
5 Thrived: Diamond Dallas Page
The post-WWE life of Diamond Dallas Page hasn’t been a bad thing. While he was never able to replicate the success from World Championship Wrestling into the WWE, he is still remembered as one of the biggest wrestling Superstars from the 1990s during the Monday Night Wars. Still, you can argue that he’s been able to achieve greater things outside of the ring.
Since leaving professional wrestling, Page has become a yoga expert with his own fitness program called DDP Yoga. It’s become extremely popular over the past few years with celebrities like comedian Gabriel Iglesias promoting how effective it is. Being able to help other former wrestlers like Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall have also been great for his growing business. He also made a big splash with an appearance on Shark Tank.
4 Rock Bottom: Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Wrestling fans know the sad story of Jake “The Snake” Roberts all too well. Here was someone who was easily one of the most charismatic Superstars during the 1980s and early 1990s. Roberts might not have been the household name like Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, but he was certainly a big star in his own right. But years after finishing his run in the WWE, he experienced well-documented cases of drug and alcohol abuse – even accepting help from WWE in 2007.
Roberts’ health was deteriorating quickly and fans were worried about his future. Thankfully, help did come in the form of Diamond Dallas Page, whom we mentioned earlier as a fitness expert and yoga guru. Page would be able to help guide Roberts down the clean and healthy life path. There were some relapses, but at least Roberts is on the right path after dropping a lot of weight and kicking some habits.
3 Thrived: Batista
Dave Batista might not have found the success that other wrestling Superstars have found in film, but he’s certainly earned a sizeable paycheck in the past few years. He played Drax the Destroyer in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, which made more than $700 million in the box office. Batista’s bank account is likely going to grow with a sequel planned for 2017. Drax will also make an appearance in the Avengers: Infinity Wars film in 2018.
The former six-time World Champion in the WWE has also been in other films with several notable actors. He was in the film Heist with Robert DeNiro and Jeffery Morgan Dean in 2015. There was also the James Bond film Spectre in 2015 with Daniel Craig. Batista might not have been viewed as an amazing wrestler, but he’s certainly making an impact in Hollywood.
2 Rock Bottom: Scott Hall
The 1990s certainly had their fair share of charismatic Superstars. The WWE had a number of them that included Scott Hall’s Razor Ramon character. He was the bad guy who was able to maintain a level of popularity in WCW and a second run in the WWE. But his problems with drugs and alcohol were a big part of why he was let go from WWE in 2001. Just look up “Plane Ride From Hell.”
His continued substance abuse was documented through wrestling fans’ stories and also through a special feature by ESPN. But similar to Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Hall was able to receive guidance and help from another veteran wrestling Superstar. Diamond Dallas Page was able to help him turn things around from the likely death he could have suffered.
1 Thrived: The Rock
Moviegoers might know him better as Dwayne Johnson, but wrestling fans will always call him The Rock. Johnson was a main event Superstar in the WWE. He was simply electrifying in the ring and on the microphone. While having 10 World Championships overall with WWE, it didn’t take long until Hollywood noticed his natural charisma. This would lead to a career in films that have made him one of the wealthiest actors.
Over the last decade, The Rock has been seen in a variety of movies that have included reboots of some classic films and television shows. The year 2017 is likely to be a big year with films like Jumanji and Baywatch, but he’s also been a big part of popular movie franchises like Fast and the Furious and Journey to the Center of the Earth.