There’s good money to be made in the professional wrestling business. This is particularly true for those talents who make it to the upper levels of the business. For men and women plying their trade in WWE, TNA, or other historical national promotions with any sort of longevity, it’s not unusual to earn more than enough money to support oneself comfortably and support a family.
Fame can be fleeting, however, as any number of actors, musicians, or other sorts of performers would tell you. This is all the more true of athletes whose bodies will generally only allow to perform—at least at a peak level—for so many years. While it’s not unusual for a U.S. citizen to work into his or her 50s or 60s, it’s difficult for most wrestlers to keep things up at a high level into their forties. For every Ric Flair who extended his career for nearly 40 years, and Terry Funk who still works occasionally in his 70s, there are top level stars like Steve Austin and Edge who see their careers cut short by their bodies before they even hit 40. There are plenty more who call it quits because of the hardships associated with the physical punishment, time on the road, and other grinds associated with the pro wrestling business.
But what to do after wrestling? Shrewd wrestlers save their money when they have a steady flow coming in, but there are a lot of talents who haven’t been so careful about their spending, or who have at least made some outlandish decisions when it comes to what money they do spend. Sometimes it’s a matter of frivolity. Sometimes it’s a matter of self destructive behavior. Whatever the case, this article looks at fifteen of the dumbest things wrestlers have wasted their money on.
15. Zack Ryder: A Rick Martel Action Figure
From a variety of accounts, Zack Ryder is the hardest of hardcore WWE fans. Some might balk at him sticking with the company after they blew the momentum he’d cultivated for himself on YouTube and social media, and his stop/start pushes over the years. The consensus seems to be, however, that he’s such a WWE fanatic from childhood on that he’d never willingly leave his employment with the promotion.
One example of this dynamic discussed on Edge and Christian’s podcast was that Ryder invested an absurd amount of money in a rare Rick Martel action figure. The 1980s figure was a prototype, not formally released, and considered an incredibly valuable commodity for WWE toy collectors. While everyone has their own interests and hobbies, this seems like a particularly oddball investment for a grown man, and particularly one who is actually in the wrestling business and has had action figures made of him.
14. Brock Lesnar: A Private Jet
Brock Lesnar is famously a bit of a recluse who enjoys his personal space. Away from the ring, he’s a farmer who has invested quite a bit of his money in land. He’s not known to be great friends with much of any of his wrestling colleagues, and is notoriously standoffish when fans approach him in public, generally taking the position of quite literally ignoring they’re even there if they ask for an autograph.
As such, it’s understandable that Lesnar would invest in a private jet to avoid airports and airplanes, and be able to travel the world more independently and on his own time. Private jets aren’t cheap, however. This isn’t a purchase that’s foolhardy for what the guy was buying or its practical function. In addition to the initial cost of the jet itself, the cost of upkeep, fuel, paying for a pilot and so on are estimated to cost the user over a million dollars per year. That’s a lot to pay, especially for a self-professed homebody.
13. Ric Flair: Living His Gimmick
Ric Flair developed his own moniker as the limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing son of a gun. According to Flair himself, and just about anyone who spent time around him during his wrestling career, he very much lived this gimmick. Though he made a great deal of money as a frequent main eventer and world champion, he also admits to have overspent his means on expensive clothes, hosting parties, and frequently taking the most expensive mode of transportation available to him.
While Flair clearly had a lot of fun during his time in wrestling, it’s also clear that the lifestyle has caught up to him. In recent years he’s been reported to have money problems, including owing debtors a great deal of money. He’s similarly reflected in interviews about living a lifestyle very much oriented towards materialistic things without thinking about his long term finances, personal life, or health. It seems that his recent hospitalization functioned as a wake up call, and he told the press that he’s never drinking again. It will be interesting to see if The Nature Boy really can balance out his lifestyle.
12. Hulk Hogan: His Daughter’s Music Career
Hulk Hogan is in the top tier of wrestling’s money makers as he was the dominant star during WWE’s national expansion in the 1980s, and went on to have a second berth as a top tier star as the heel leader of the New World Order for WCW. For all of the money he’s raked in over the years, it’s understandable—maybe even admirable—for him to want to reinvest some of that money in his children’s happiness and success.
In the mid-2000s, VH1 aired the Hogan Knows Best reality series centered on Hulk and his family. One of the major subplots was his daughter Brooke’s attempts to make it as a pop music star. The effort to get her over in this new business included hiring high profile producers for her to coordinate with, using Hulk’s connections to get her bookings, and eventually moving the family to Miami to make professional connections. It’s not entirely clear how much of all this Hulk bankrolled himself versus what was paid for by the show, and how many of the decisions Hulk made as opposed to contrivances for the reality series. Regardless, the money invested in Brooke’s music career seems pretty poorly placed given no one outside the family seemed to think she was all that talented, and it never amounted to much of a career.
11. Baron Corbin: Human Skulls And Taxidermy
Baron Corbin is a successful main roster star for WWE now after working transitioning from pro football and putting in a solid effort in NXT. He’s that rare guy who functions as a true heel, legitimately drawing anger and spite from fans. That result is based on a combination of his work on screen, the taint of being the kind of big guy Vince McMahon traditionally favors over more athletically gifted smaller guys, and the perception that he’s kind of a jerk in real life.
Speaking of Corbin’s real life, social media has revealed that he’s quite the collector of skulls and taxidermy. It’s an outlandish interest for sure, and one that would probably run expensive. Corbin hasn’t commented much on his interest, but just from pictures that have surfaced online, it would seem he’s made a substantial investment in it.
10. Steve Austin: Watches
There are few wrestlers whose star power has ever rivaled that of Stone Cold Steve Austin. While he was well known and surely made some good money for his time with WCW, when the Stone Cold gimmick came together in WWE, he was off to the races. There’s little doubt that, as one of the most popular wrestlers ever, and one of the biggest merchandise movers of his time, Austin raked in the dough from the late 1990s into the early 2000s.
While Austin was, at one time, known to have issues with alcoholism, he seems to have gotten his act together in that regard. He does hold onto another vice, however, of collecting watches and clocks. He’s spoken about this passion on his podcast and interviews before. He describes himself as thrifty, but for a guy with Austin’s deep pockets, it’s unrealistic to think he hasn’t blown thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on this hobby.
9. Andre the Giant: Alcohol
Andre the Giant is one of wrestling’s most profound legends. His size made him a must see attraction, and he fit the time perfectly as a traveling giant who would mostly show up in different territories for short stints to serve as the cavalry for overwhelmed good guys before hitting the road again before fans tired of him. Of course, he’d go on to his best remembered work at the tail end of his career, passing the torch as wrestling’s top draw to Hulk Hogan in a feud that peaked going into WrestleMania III.
It’s not just Andre’s wrestling career that’s legendary. There are all kinds of stories about the man’s size, strength, and appetite. And there are stories about his drinking.
Given the Giant’s size, it’s understandable that it would take a lot of alcohol for him to feel buzzed, let alone to get drunk. He notoriously drank beer by the case and wine by the barrel, drinking most any other wrestler he came across under the table. Alcohol, even in Andre’s day, wasn’t cheap and it’s incredible to think just how many dollars he must have spent on booze.
8. Antonio Inoki: An Island
Antonio Inoki may not exactly be a household name in the U.S. He was a successful enough wrestler and promoter in Japan to earn a degree of notoriety among U.S. wrestling fans, including a number of matches and even an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s little surprise that he ended up a wealthy man—it’s what he did with his wealth that raises more eyebrows.
Inoki most notoriously used his money to buy his own Island off of Cuba. Rumor has it that he was sold on the idea that there was treasure on the island. It’s unclear if Inoki really bought in on that (much less if there were any truth to the claim) but buying the island from Fidel Castro was certainly a demonstration of his wealth, and an oddball choice. Inoki purportedly spends much of his time living on the island now.
7. John Cena: Cars
A few weeks ago, John Cena commented in an interview about the very first thing he bought with a WWE paycheck. Some wrestlers recall using that money to cover the necessities and pay back debts, buying a house, or buying something for their parents or others who supported them along their journey to the WWE. Cena, however, used that money on a vintage Jeep Wrangler.
Cena was just getting warmed up buying classic cars and has shown off his collection for various magazine spreads and WWE videos. It’s clearly a passion for him, and given the kind of merchandise he moves, and how long he spent at or around the top of WWE, he certainly has the money to afford his collection. Just the same, there comes a point when one has to wonder just how many cars one man needs and if that money might go to more constructive uses.
6. Jerry Lawler: Coca Cola Memorabilia
Jerry Lawler famously doesn’t drink or use any illicit substances. These choices seem to have contributed to his long life and career, and why he can continue wrestling every and again right up to today at the age 67 (though WWE hasn’t let him in one of their rings since his 2012 heart attack). Lawler does have one substance he seems to rely on faithfully, though—Coca Cola.
Indeed, even on WWE broadcasts sponsored by Pepsi in which Lawler is shown with a bottle of Mountain Dew, reports have surfaced that he trades it out for a Coke when the cameras aren’t on him. Lawler’s brand loyalty extends to having amassed a huge collection of Coca Cola collectibles in his home, including promotional materials, giveaways, and all manner of objects branded with the Coke logo from different eras.
5. William Regal: Reptiles
William Regal has typically played characters for WWE and WCW that are prim and proper. He dressed up as a blue blood (and even worked a tag team with Bobby Eaton called The Blue Bloods), and in WWE he is more often than not shown wearing a suit when he’s not actually wrestling. In his own life, however, Regal is a bit less of a dandy. It may particularly surprise fans to know that he has a fascination with—and has invested a good bit of money into—reptiles.
Regal described his interest in his book, To Walk a Golden Mile, and has since been photographed a number of times holding all manner of snakes and reptiles in his care. Acquiring such animals, and then appropriately caring for them isn’t cheap, but seems to make Regal happy when he’s away from the ring.
4. Jeff Hardy: Art Projects
Jeff Hardy is a popular and successful wrestler of his generation. Despite not dressing in a mainstream fashion, and being less muscle bound than some of the top stars he’s coexisted with, Hardy succeeded. He rose from the tag team ranks to the mid-card, to the main event in WWE as well as TNA, collecting world championship along the way, and remaining totally relevant for nearly two decades now. Some of it is his off beat in ring style and creative aerial assaults; some of it is his look.
On the whole, Hardy just seems to think differently. Beyond the wrestling business, he has pursued music as well as visual art, including painting and metal sculptures. Some of these pieces, including a big metallic symbol, were even featured on TNA television during visits to the Hardy compound in the Jeff and his brother Matt’s Broken series. While art is clearly a key part of Hardy’s identity, the kind of art he’s embraced involves expensive materials and equipment, and mark a serious investment from him.
3. Mick Foley: Santa Claus Paraphernalia
Mick Foley is notoriously frugal. He has often joked in books, interviews, and his stand up comedy routines about cramming wrestlers into hotel rooms and rental cars to split the cost more ways. Just the same, if Foley does have one soft spot he’s willing to spend on—particularly after he’s reached a more comfortable space in life—it would be his Santa Claus habit.
For whatever combination of reasons, Foley loves Santa. His obsession includes dressing up like Santa not just at Christmas time, but to take part in full on conventions. He also has an impressive array of Santa-themed paraphernalia, including toys, decorations, clothing, and other memorabilia. It’s easy to balk at an old man investing this kind of time, space, and money into a childhood figure like this, but then it also seems to fit in with his own kind-hearted soul beneath the hardcore persona he used to portray.
2. Batista: Lunchboxes
Batista rose to fame based on his persona as The Animal. Jacked to the gills, Batista sold intensity like few could and had particularly memorable exacting revenge on Edge with a brutal beat down to set up CM Punk’s first Money in the Bank cash-in, and turning heel by annihilating Rey Mysterio. For such a big, imposing force, it may amuse some folks to learn that The Animal has spent a lot of his money from the wrestling business on metal lunch boxes.
The old school lunch receptacles—the kind kids would carry to school—don’t exactly fit his tough guy image. It’s clear that he’s invested in collecting, though, as he’s amassed a collection that includes rare ones. In interviews, he has cited a 1967 Green Hornet one as his favorite.
1. The Undertaker: Tattoo Removal
The Undertaker is famous for protecting kayfabe. He’s gone so far as to avoid sitting in the crowd at Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and not appearing while the TV cameras were rolling for Ric Flair’s retirement ceremony on Raw. Fans did get a glimpse at the man beneath the gimmick during the Attitude Era, during which time he took on a biker gimmick that played into his real life interest in motorcycles. During the Invasion angle to follow, The Dead Man also brought his then-wife Sara on screen and revealed a tattoo of her name on his neck.
Tattooing someone’s name on your neck is a bold statement. All the bolder, after they divorced he paid to have the tattoo surgically removed—a costly cover up to a costly mistake—before he moved on to marry Michelle McCool.
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