Barry Bonds currently sits atop the MLB all-time home run list with 762 long balls hit throughout his career; surpassing the previous mark of 755 set by legendary ball player, Hank Aaron. In the minds of baseball purists, Aaron remains the Home Run King as Bonds' numbers are plagued with an asterisk due to his use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. Of course, for those of us who follow the San Francisco Giants religiously each season, this pesky little symbol and crooked circumstance are overlooked for the benefit of the team we love so well. This is simply how it goes: does Bonds have a tarnished legacy? To everybody else, absolutely ... to Giants fans, Bonds remains a hero.
Such a case will be made once Tom Brady hangs up his cleats and retires to his millions and supermodel. New England Patriots fans will never think of Brady as anything less than the hero Quarterback who brought years of glory to their beloved franchise. Meanwhile, to everybody else, Brady will always be the football-deflating cheater who didn't deserve those Super Bowl victories. The Patriots are a polarizing bunch with Brady leading the way through all their past scandals. However, each season New England come out strong and consistently pose as a threat and Super Bowl contender. There has to be something more behind Brady than just ill-gotten glory.
While many do not consider professional wrestling on par with the likes of baseball and football, the industry has developed its own loyal following over the years and has established its own unique crop of Superstars. However, much like the aforementioned athletes, many professional wrestlers have tarnished their own legacies. In wrestling, championships are predetermined therefore it is not necessarily performance in the ring that can ruin one's reputation but rather their actions backstage and out in the real world; when these wrestlers step out of the tent and away from the circus to mingle with normal society and where they often find themselves tangled up in havoc.
These are the top 15 tarnished wrestling legacies:
15 "Superstar" Billy Graham
"Superstar" Billy Graham would help take the wrestling character away from tradition and introduce the audience to a new form of performance; one that would pave the way for future characters to reveal more flamboyance and charisma.
However, the former WWE Champion has always found a way to make more headlines by going to war with the McMahon family; speaking out on a number of occasions against the family.
14 Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka
While not quite Rey Mysterio, many wrestling fans consider Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka the original high-flying wrestler, at least in terms of performing in front of the North American audience.
Jimmy Snuka's dive from the top of a steel cage at Madison Square Garden is one of the most replayed clips in the WWE archives. However, Snuka has seen his troubles; in particular those involving the death of his girlfriend.
13 CM Punk
It seems as though CM Punk cannot avoid having his name included on wrestling-related lists. Punk is always going to be a topic of conversation among the wrestling community, whether or not he ever returns.
As the longest reigning WWE Champion of the Modern Era, CM Punk played the part as best he could while still finding himself overlooked in favour of John Cena for the main event spot.
It would prove quite difficult to forget Sunny and her contributions to the early days of the Diva in WWE. In the eyes of many, Sunny is the "original Diva." The first woman to truly wield power.
Sunny aligned herself with those who held the gold and introduced sex appeal into WWE while the company was on the cusp of entering the Attitude Era. In terms of the wrestling valet, Sunny helped change the image.
11 The Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz were once the most popular tag team in WWE. Matt and Jeff were innovators who participated in the revolutionizing of tag team wrestling within the company while posing as a rockstar duo.
The brothers from North Carolina have placed themselves right up there at or near the top of every "greatest tag team" list. However, with all that cool and charisma came along many personal demons.
10 Scott Hall
Scott Hall is best known to WWE fans as "The Bad Guy" Razor Ramon while WCW fans will remember Hall best as a New World Order pioneer. Either way, Hall made an impact in both companies.
In a strange twist, Scott Hall would end his wrestling career having never won the WWE or WCW World Heavyweight Championship. However, that does not diminish from his contributions.
9 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
In modern WWE, it has become increasingly difficult to find that one true heel. That one guy who captures the essence of the role better than anybody else on the roster ... and maintains that position.
Prior to a face turn later on during his WWE tenure, Jake "The Jake" Roberts was a heel to the core. "Never trust a snake" would prove true as Roberts became one of the greatest villains in WWE history.
8 Bret "The Hitman" Hart
One of the greatest technical wrestlers to have ever laced a pair of boots is undoubtedly Bret "The Hitman" Hart. The mat specialist was one of the finest performers WWE ever presented to its audience.
However, the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels/Vince McMahon/Montreal story has become somewhat of a WWE fairytale over the years and one which Hart will never avoid as Survivor Series 1997 is discussed to this very day.
7 Ted Turner
Ted Turner you may ask? Yes, old "Billionaire Ted" has left behind a wrestling legacy. In the 1990s, Turner wanted to go to war with Vince McMahon and thanks to Eric Bischoff, that's exactly what happened.
So what exactly was Ted Turner's role? Turner sat back and signed checks while Eric Bischoff did his very best to put WWE out of business; an endeavor which of course failed down the line.
6 Vince Russo
The common thought when discussing Vince Russo is: "for all the good Russo has done for the wrestling industry, he has contributed twice the bad." Russo once worked as a writer for WWE and helped with the formation of the Attitude Era.
However, when Vince Russo was placed in charge of creative in WCW during its downfall, Russo did more to sink the ship than resurrect the product as it became evident that Russo needed the filter of Vince McMahon.
Women in wrestling: if there is one who stands out more than any other it has to be Chyna. The first woman to enter the Royal Rumble match and win the Intercontinental Championship. Quite simply, Chyna changed the game.
During her stint in WWE, Chyna would also pose for Playboy magazine, proving that women in wrestling really can do anything. However, these were the good years and the impending doom was near.
4 The Ultimate Warrior
Did you enjoy The Ultimate Warrior as a child? The face-paint and high-energy provided the young with an certain intoxication unlike the one they would experience years down the road when Warrior was no longer a hero.
The truth about The Ultimate Warrior is that he wasn't great in the ring. Warrior was a character and nothing more.. However, Warrior did manage to leave a legacy in WWE, for better or worse.
3 Ric Flair
"The Nature Boy" has not only been the best but has also partied with the best. Ric Flair has a personality truly larger-than-life. Flair is currently strutin' that backstage area in WWE as the coolest grandfather around.
The sixteen-time World Champion managed to piece together one of - if not the - greatest professional wrestling career of all time. Flair made the business better simply for existing within the industry.
2 Hulk Hogan
When all is said and done, Hulk Hogan is always going to be known as the man who made wrestling a mainstream attraction. Hogan was the unquestioned face of the industry for many years.
With such a position comes much controversy and Hulk Hogan's career has been riddled with questionable decisions. However, the recent racist rant which cost Hogan his spot in WWE has been the worst.
1 Chris Benoit
Let's begin before the tragedy: Chris Benoit was an amazing technical wrestler who was going to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Benoit was Hall of Fame bound and his legacy would have been celebrated.
Then Chris Benoit lost his mind and decided to take the lives of his wife and son before ending his own in the most horrific of circumstances. This event was not only horrible but heartbreaking as innocent lives were taken.
Chris Benoit will never again be held in the same light. Gone are the days of the underdog wrestler who fans would cheer. Benoit is now, and will forever be, a monster with a completely tarnished legacy.
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