As children, professional wrestling looked like a live action comic book where a unique collection of heroes and villains battle it out in the war of good and evil in the squared circle. They are larger than life with a lot of different personalities that entertain. But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that they are humans who are portraying fictional characters.
They might seem superhuman because of the work schedule they have; especially the WWE superstars having to work up to 300 per year and no offseason. Many adult fans of today’s generation might be surprised to see how some of the wrestling stars from when they were children have changed. Role models and athletes who seemed unstoppable have taken a turn for the worse physically.
Many have lost their muscle mass after years of inactivity from the ring. Age is also a factor, added with the compounding factor of numerous injuries. Athletes who were once thought to be invincible don’t look the same 20 years later. Some have let their struggles with substance abuse overtake their lives and others have struggled with piled up injuries.
Then there are those who didn’t save money through their career, leading to poor decisions that have affected their physical wellness. It happens to the best of every professional athlete. Just because professional wrestling is “scripted” doesn’t mean they are an exception to the rule. The following are the top 15 professional wrestling stars from the 1990s who have aged terribly over the years.
It’s sad when a former WWE superstar receives more popularity from becoming an internet meme than he did when he competed for WWE in the 1990s. Virgil was only the second man to hold Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Championship and is remembered by many wrestling fans for his work in the early 1990s. However, his small impact was still small and led to the viral “Lonely Virgil” meme.
He still had the look of a WWE superstar back in the 1990s with a decent physique. But age has certainly taken away some of that. Fans and WWE officials certainly noticed that when Virgil was brought back to help Ted DiBiase, Jr., around 2010. Obviously, the independent circuit hasn’t been too kind financially to Virgil. Why else would he set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money for himself?
Sunny was once considered the most beautiful woman in professional wrestling during the 1990s. She was a managing valet who certainly drew a lot of attention. But the woman behind the character certainly had her personal issues as she went from WWE to ECW and WCW through the decade. In the past few years, Sunny has found herself behind bars almost as much as she’s been found at small independent wrestling events.
Tammy Sytch has also apparently had money issues as she would accept a deal to do an adult film with Vivid Entertainment. Many fans might have been excited about this news if it was in the 1990s. But the now 44-year-old former WWE Diva is certainly not in the same physical shape that garnered so much positive attention in the late 1990s.
13 Dan Spivey
When Windham Rotunda was developing a character years ago at the WWE Performance Center, he would meet Dan Spivey; known during the 1990s as Waylon Mercy. He helped him create the Bray Wyatt character that is currently on WWE television. Fans can easily draw the comparisons. Spivey was a long-tenured wrestler who had worked for a couple of different promotions.
However, the business took its toll on Spivey as well. While he’s a little more than 60 years old, he certainly looks a lot older based on photographs of him found online. Part of that is a drug addiction that he admitted to in 2011; noting marijuana and cocaine. Since retiring, he’s also had to have a hip and knee replaced, as well as having neck fusion surgery. Physically, he has seen better days.
Maybe he wasn’t a major champion in the WWE during the 1990s, but James Harris came into the WWE as Kamala, the Ugandan Giant. The gimmick was somewhat frightening for small children, but it was also a unique character. Unlike many of the wrestlers on this list, Kamala wasn’t necessarily a physical specimen. He wasn’t a bodybuilder. But he was certainly a larger-than-life monster.
But after 30 years of professional wrestling, his health took a turn for the worse. Battling with diabetes and ignoring doctors’ requests to start dialysis treatment, he would lose the toes of his left foot in 2011, then the entire left foot altogether one month later. Over time, he lost both of his legs as he is confined to an electric wheelchair. Harris has found a new calling in life by making chairs in his personal workshop.
11 Ahmed Johnson
After playing football, Anthony Norris would enter the world of professional wrestling and receive an initial push when he joined the WWE in the 1990s. As Ahmed Johnson, he would become the WWE Intercontinental Champion in 1996 and seemed to be destined for great things. However, he would leave for WCW in 1999. The stint there would be short after being released due to weight issues.
It’s a shame because he certainly showed some potential in the WWE. But those weight issues continued as he would enjoy life after retiring from professional wrestling. Norris would find life after the ring as he would complete a degree in criminology from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. He’s also one of the former wrestlers named in the recent class action lawsuit against the WWE regarding brain injuries.
10 Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty was once part of one of the biggest tag teams in professional wrestling with The Midnight Rockers. The tag team was big in the 1980s in American Championship Wrestling before signing with the WWE in 1988. But Jannetty had some success that included winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship from former partner Shawn Michaels in the 1990s. However, Jannetty’s career took a dive while Michaels was on the rise.
But Marty Jannetty is one of more than 50 former WWE wrestlers who are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company for traumatic brain injuries. In recent years with the WWE and also on the independent circuit, there’s no denying that Jannetty’s health had certainly declined. It looks as if the wrestling business has affected him with brain injuries.
9 The Sandman
The Sandman is someone who worked in a lot of vicious, hardcore matches throughout his career. He was easily one of the biggest stars in ECW during the 1990s. He was never able to make a big impression during his time with both WCW and WWE, but he did seem to look a lot better for his WWE run when the company had their ECW brand. However, his in-ring work looked sloppy.
His condition seemingly deteriorated during the last few years both in TNA Wrestling and independent bookings. The Sandman may also have a drinking problem of his own or at least a very short fuse. He was involved in an altercation back in 2008 at a New York restaurant where he threw glasses towards police officers who were responding to the disturbance call.
When Raven worked for ECW and WCW during the 1990s, he was certainly one of the best mid-card wrestlers in the industry. He might not have been a world champion outside of ECW, but Raven was a United States Champion in ECW and a Hardcore Championship division staple in WWE for a few years. But fans could notice that he was slowly gaining weight through the 2000s – both in TNA Wrestling and on the independent circuit.
In 2011, he also announced that he was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes. He has also been diagnosed with having a personality disorder. Now past the age of 50, Raven looks like someone who the wrestling industry has taken quite a physical toll on. He might not have found himself at the level of disarray as other wrestlers on the list, but he’s not the slim superstar he once was.
7 Dynamite Kid
While the Dynamite Kid wrestling in the WWE during the 1980s, he was still a star of his own right during the 1990s. Tom Billington was competing both in the United States and also for All Japan Pro Wrestling. There, he was consistently competing in sold out events at some of the biggest venues in Japan. But he would be forced into retirement in 1996 as his body had essentially degenerated.
The once muscular wrestling star had lost almost all of his muscle and could barely fill out his tights. The former Dynamite Kid would eventually deal with additional spinal injuries that built up to paralyze him. He also suffered a stroke in 2013. His name came up in the news recently for being one of the more than 50 former WWE wrestlers in a lawsuit over concussion-based injuries.
6 Lex Luger
During the 1990s, Lex Luger was billed as “The Total Package.” That’s because he looked the part of someone who was the total package. He had the look and was able to work naturally as a heel; most notably during his time with WCW. Over the last 10 to 15 years, fans have noticed that Luger’s physical condition deteriorated. It started with the loss of his signature muscle mass, followed by walking around on crutches.
In February 2016, Luger was honored with the Frank Gotch Award after years of dealing with a nerve impingement that led to paralysis. At one point, he was a quadriplegic after suffering a spinal stroke. In recent years, he’s started to slowly work his way back to walking regularly. Despite the recent recovery, age has not been kind to The Total Package.
5 Jake Roberts
During the 1990s, Jake “The Snake” Roberts was one of the biggest villains in the WWE. He was an inspiration to current superstars like Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. Very few men were able to cut a promo like Roberts. But as the years continued, his health would become a concern. Roberts certainly had his share of issues involving habits with drugs and alcohol. He ballooned with weight and, at one point, was thought to be on death’s door.
But fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page would step in around the fall of 2012. A fitness expert with a popular DDP-Yoga workout program, Page helped Roberts lose weight and begin a new life of sobriety. Unlike many of the wrestlers on this list, Roberts’ story has a happy ending that allowed him to have a great moment being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.
4 Scott Hall
Scott Hall was considered a big star in the 1990s. As Razor Ramon, Hall was holding the WWE Intercontinental Championship during a time when it was viewed as a second world championship in the promotion. Hall would also become a big part of WCW as part of the New World Order. But his second stint with the WWE after the sale of WCW saw a different company that opened up drug testing.
His substance abuse was well-documented, including showing up to independent wrestling events while obviously intoxicated. Hall was also brought in by Diamond Dallas Page and was receiving a similar treatment regimen to Jake Roberts. However, Hall still shows up in the news with missing independent bookings and doesn’t quite have the same happy ending that Roberts is enjoying.
3 Ric Flair
When someone has been active in professional wrestling for about 40 years, there are going to be lingering health concerns. Throw in the fact that someone like Ric Flair has been known to still live a party lifestyle in recent years. It was well-documented during his time with TNA Wrestling and he was quite intoxicated when part of the infamous WWE video game symposium in 2013; which cost Jim Ross his job with the company.
Considering that Flair isn’t getting any younger, there are concerns about how he continues to drink and party. This has led to Triple H and other WWE officials to worry over Flair’s health and well-being. The news comes out around the time that Flair signed a new deal with the WWE, but there’s a good chance his status is on thin ice due to concerns about his partying attitude.
2 Hulk Hogan
Hulkamania ran while not only through the 1980s, but also through the 1990s. Hulk Hogan went from the WWE to WCW during the height of the Monday Night Wars as the leader of the New World Order. But over the years, Hogan would begin to deal with a number of back problems. Obviously, a long wrestling career with in-ring action as recently as 2014 with TNA Wrestling. There’s no surprise that his back would not be in great condition.
Hogan apparently attempted to have his back fixed, but filed a lawsuit with a surgeon in Florida for medical malpractice in 2013. Hogan claims he had multiple procedures over the course of 19 months. Hogan felt that his back’s condition was continuing to deteriorate. However, Hogan has had other problems to deal with in recent years outside of his back – including the sex tape and racial comments that led to a lawsuit filed against Gawker Media.
1 The Undertaker
The health of The Undertaker seems to be an ongoing discussion as the Road to WrestleMania begins. Every year, fans are worried at the physical condition of The Phenom as the rumors about who he is possibly scheduled to face at WrestleMania. He’s been one of the most popular superstars in the past 25 years, but one has to think that his body is not going to be able to get through another match.
In October, The Undertaker was seen at a coffee shop holding crutches. At age 51, he’s been known for having some injuries in the past and this photo doesn’t give fans a lot of optimism. It looks like he could be facing John Cena at WrestleMania 33, but that’s been an ongoing rumor for a few months. Considering his age and the ongoing concerns for his health, this probably should be his last WrestleMania match.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!