One of the more difficult aspects of pro wrestling is transitioning to everyday life after your career ends. The spotlight is intoxicating and borderline addicting for performers not ready for their time to be over. There’s nothing like the rush of thousands of people reacting to your every move with millions more watching at home. Evolution is a must and sadly wrestlers are sent out of the door following the process of aging taking place or their body no longer allowing them to compete in a physically demanding business. Not everyone can easily go with the flow and some talents struggle with leaving the industry.
There are many unfortunate stories of wrestling personalities continuing to try to keep their name in the news in the current climate. Some of these former stars continue to wrestle on smaller shows despite not having the physical tools to perform at a high level anymore. This can lead to embarrassing one’s legacy as they risk their health for another pop from a high school gym and a small paycheck. There are also the talents that use their voice to create internet headlines, making controversial quotes by burying the new generation of stars. Both parties fail to adapt to the landscape of the business changing and it becomes a sad story.
It is hard not to pity someone that once had it all and ended up being bitter or desperate to continue their time in the spotlight. We’ll look at these stories here of the few wrestlers that are still stuck in the prior days of wrestling. Many want to continue to believe that they are still stars worth being on television and others just want to diminish the new stars as a way to prove their era was better. This is the dark side of pro wrestling and these are fifteen of the once popular wrestling performers that are unfortunately stuck in the past.
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15 Bill Goldberg
Bill Goldberg's downfall in pro wrestling happened because he had an ego too big to contain. Goldberg felt he was the most legitimate star in both WCW and WWE despite his limited skill. The wrestling legend does not wrestle anymore but is always involved in rumors around WrestleMania time. A recent commercial showing Goldberg as the face of WWE 2K17 has more buzz surrounding a potential WWE match. This will likely never happen due to Goldberg living in the past and demanding more than he is worth. Goldberg still criticizes WWE for their booking of him in 2003 and feels he’s above today’s industry. His ego will not allow him to realize he is just another legend rather than someone on the level of Steve Austin or The Rock.
Vader is arguably the best big man of all time with his spectacular moves and rebellious persona during the 90s. The behemoth still wrestles occasionally and was actually featured in a match against Bram on TNA Impact in 2015. The match was a disaster with Vader looking really bad given his age. Not only does Vader still try to hold on to the past days of success, but he takes shots at the current generation of wrestling stars on social media. New Japan’s recent popular match between Will Ospreay and Ricochet was met with controversy due to Vader saying they are what is wrong with the business today. The two young talents did a lot of high-flying moves that left Vader showing he was still stuck in the past.
13 Marty Jannetty
Everyone who watched The Rockers during their prime knows Marty Jannetty was almost as talented as Shawn Michaels, but his career would not follow the same path. Jannetty is a trainwreck these days and showed the dark side of pro wrestling at WrestleMania weekend this year in Texas. Many fans shared reports of Jannetty getting kicked out of multiple bars for reckless behavior. Jannetty also trashes many current wrestling personalities such as claiming he has proof Stephanie McMahon cheated on Triple H. The sad part is he likely is doing all of this to get attention and try to find some sort of reasoning to get back on WWE television to no avail.
12 Hacksaw Jim Duggan
The most likable person on this list will ultimately be Hacksaw Jim Duggan, but that doesn’t excuse him for his actions to get here. Hacksaw is friendly and fun to meet but he probably shouldn’t spend any time in the ring these days. The 62 year old still wrestles occasionally on the independent wrestling scene, despite his physical limitations. Duggan is definitely someone that enjoys the fun of being in the ring and entertaining others, but it should be in a vocal role at his age rather than a physical one. The days of in-ring competition should be far behind Hacksaw, but he’s still living in the past and all we can do is hope for his continued health.
11 Al Snow
Many wrestling stars of the past have a big issue with a lot of today’s stars. The current pro wrestling landscape sees more athleticism and action packed matches rather than a slow, methodical storytelling pace. Al Snow is one of the wrestlers who dislikes what the industry has turned into and is very vocal about it. Kevin Owens revealed in an interview that Snow once showed up to an ROH show to scout and ended up trashing everyone on the card. Snow found another way to live in the past by getting back into the ring on TNA Impact every week. Despite being in good shape, no one possibly wants to see Snow wrestle full-time in 2016 but he is doing it.
10 Greg Valentine
With an all-time great nickname, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine is always going to be remembered fondly by fans of the 80s. The 64 year old legend makes appearances on the independent circuit as a manager and tries to get involved in limited physical action. Valentine’s body has seen a lot of injuries and it is always an awkward situation seeing him try to relive his glory days, by attempting to do former moves of his. The Hammer also looked like a fool for some of his comments saying women shouldn’t be allowed to have matches because they were just taking jobs away from the men in pro wrestling. Valentine is the definition of being stuck in the past.
9 The Nasty Boys
The Nasty Boys struggled to keep up with other wrestlers during their prime, so the idea of them competing in the ring during their older years is a bit confusing. Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags still wrestle occasionally on the independent circuit and it always turns into a big mess. Both men are now 52 years old and have never been in the best of shape, so you can imagine how tough it is to watch them perform in the ring today. I can personally attest to being worried for their lives when The Nasty Boys wrestled at the Legends of Wrestling event at Citi Field in 2015. Knobbs looked like he was going to pass out during a five-minute match, all for a chance to live in the past.
8 Vince Russo
Vince Russo's writing style has always been met with great controversy and he's using that to gain monetary success today. Russo was released from TNA after years of service on the writing and advising teams. The former Attitude Era writer has become a wrestling personality, shilling his opinions in the form of podcasts and video blogs on a subscription based service. Russo basically charges fans to hear him trash everything going on in wrestling today. The bitterness is mostly shown when discussing the WWE due to the fact that they won’t bring him back. Russo claims he could fix the ratings and make the company a juggernaut like they were in The Attitude Era, but he’s the only one delusional enough to believe it.
7 Jim Cornette
You can’t discuss Vince Russo without bringing up his arch nemesis, Jim Cornette. The two pundits absolutely hate each other despite having many similarities. Cornette also hates the current wrestling scene and trashes many of the most popular stars today. The Cornette Experience podcast airs audio of him ripping Kevin Owens, The Young Bucks, Joey Ryan, and basically the entire wrestling industry. While Jim has been doing this for years, it has started to seem more ridiculous lately with him playing into the gimmick everyone sees him as. Cornette is trying to keep his name value at a high and is doing so by demeaning today's hard workers.
There’s no doubt Raven is one of the better wrestling minds, when you look at his success in ECW. His character and performances were spectacular, but the rest of his wrestling career went down as one of the biggest underachievers in the business. Raven is very critical of the stars of today and tries to proclaim his vision of wrestling as superior. The art form of wrestling is very subjective, but Raven thinks it should be more one-dimensional in the way he learned it. It doesn’t help his credibility when he does shoot interview series of him “guiding” wrestling trainees by giving them gimmicks for his own personal amusement by mocking him.
5 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan could be argued as the biggest star in wrestling history. Following his massive success in the 80s and 90s, Hogan is still a household name today but manages to bring shame to his name. Aside from the controversy of racist tirades and sex tapes, The Hulkster has one of the biggest egos in wrestling. Hogan recently helped destroy any momentum TNA had when he was put in charge and buried multiple of their younger stars. Hogan's ego is always on display when saying things like CM Punk was a quitter for leaving WWE and even insulting Edge for retiring instead of working through a serious neck injury. Hogan always finds time to make sure to praise himself in-between burying others, as he lives in his past days of success.
4 Scott Steiner
The most unpredictable and terrifying person in the wrestling industry is Scott Steiner. No one has gone off the handle more than Steiner but he still finds a way to live in the past at his older age. Big Poppa Pump is unable to compete frequently in the ring at the age of 53 but talks like he’s the biggest star in the business. Steiner trashes the WWE product and thinks wrestlers like him would have saved the company from seeing their ratings decline. The former WCW star actually still wears nWo shirts during his rare matches. That’s the best visual sign of knowing someone is still living in the past.
3 Honky Tonk Man
The memorable Intercontinental Championship reign of The Honky Tonky Man will forever be his legacy but he has been trying to taint it for years. Honky Tonk Man was already limited in the ring with very little athleticism during his successful years and it’s ugly to watch him try to perform today. As one of the older active performers on the independent wrestling circuit, Honky Tonk does very little during his matches. His shtick is humorous but it does come off as embarrassing on shows where younger stars are giving their all and he strolls in for a few minutes of gaga. The Honky Tonk Man is also one of the most outspoken guys who talks down about the current product and claiming his day was better.
Sabu deserves credit for his role in revolutionizing wrestling with awe-inspiring moves and dazzling action in the ring. ECW’s ascension was definitely in part thanks to Sabu putting out memorable performances in a time when no one could match his work. The sad fact today is Sabu is forgotten and tries to return to the glory days on smaller shows around the world. Sabu is often in hardcore matches still brutalizing his body, in a way that just makes you feel bad for him when you see the poor shape he is in. The extreme legend is allegedly battling with drug issues and may be the real life story of “The Wrestler,” unless he cleans up his life soon.
1 Ric Flair
One wrestler that adamantly denies the concept of aging is Ric Flair. The 67 year old still thinks he is in his 30s and would still be wrestling in the ring if WWE allowed him. Flair takes bumps and tries to get involved in physical action during segments involving his daughter Charlotte. His partying and wild life is still alive and well, as he has a very active life on the road. Flair is often viewed as embarrassing for the way he behaves in public but he embraces who he is and won’t change at this stage in life. Instead of trying to have a normal life in his later years, Flair refuses to stop living in the past and it has led to many ugly incidents.
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