The 1990s was a time of glorious triumph and unfortunate failures for professional wrestling. Just as the business was on a downward spiral in the early parts of the decade, it rose like a phoenix and went out with a momentous bang. It can be argued that there’s never been another period of time of such dynamic quality in wrestling, especially for WWE which started off with its fair share of troubles but clocked out on top in 1999.
Just as many of the most memorable moments in wrestling’s colorful past came to be in the ‘90s, so did a sizeable portion of its most beloved stars. The WWE Hall of Fame is built on the legs of ‘90s Superstars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall and more. It was a time when the cartoonish nature of wrestling began to fade and once WCW became legitimate competition for WWE and the Monday Night Wars began, both companies became edgier in order to outperform one another in the ratings.
The decade that brought us Friends, Forrest Gump and The Backstreet Boys also brought us some of the best, worst, and downright weirdest wrestling we’ve ever seen. With so many of these personalities playing such a large role in our childhoods it is human nature to wonder what has become of some of them.
Many unsung stars of the 1990s still work with WWE in some capacity, but those who don’t still sometimes follow some very interesting paths. Let’s take a look at where some of these stars are today.
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If you watched wrestling in the mid 90s then you know Sable. She and then-husband Marc Mero were involved in a storyline that defined the early years of The Attitude Era. The couple’s bread and butter came when Mero began mistreating Sable and found a new girlfriend in Jacqueline. Sable’s popularity went through the roof and WWE reinstated the defunct Women’s Championship for the sake of the storyline. The WWE Universe was captivated with Sable’s personality and, even more so with her body, as evidenced by her wildly successful Playboy magazine appearance. Sable left WWE in 1999, but returned a few years later for another brief run with the company.
In real life she’s married to former WWE Champion and UFC fighter Brock Lesnar. She is a stepmother to Lesnar’s children and has a daughter of her own, even becoming a grandmother in recent years. Little else is known as both Sable and Lesnar prefer a quiet life away from the cameras, but Sable was shown briefly on television celebrating her husband’s big win at UFC 200 in 2016.
14 Val Venis
At the height of WWE’s Attitude era in the late 1990s, Monday Night Raw was getting pretty raunchy and it’s safe to say the programming was not aimed toward children. One perfect example of WWE’s adult mentality around this time was the introduction of Val Venis, an adult star character whose entrance video consisted of various risque shots best left for late night viewership.
Val found plenty of success in WWE, at one point capturing the coveted Intercontinental Championship. These days, though, he’s less concerned with his wrestling career than he is with the legalization of pot. Venis is an outspoken cannabis activist and even has his own marijuana business. He has an apparent interest in many other political issues, too, with his official Twitter account denoting him as a Libertarian.
13 Hardcore Holly
Whether you’re more familiar with the “Spark Plug” or the “Hardcore” side, you likely know all about Bob Holly if you watched WWE in the mid to late 90s. Some of Holly’s biggest success came when he became known as “Hardcore Holly” and started teaming with his on-screen cousin Crash Holly. As a team, the Holly cousins would carry a scale to the ring and, calling themselves heavyweights, made their opponents weigh in to see if they were worthy of fighting them. The cousins would frequently fight among themselves and both would go on to win the WWE Hardcore Championship many times.
These days, Bob is still involved with wrestling at smaller independent shows, but as recently as 2014 he noted in an interview with WWE.com that he also enjoys working on cars and competing in video game racing competitions, as well as driving across the country with his wife. Holly also released an autobiography in 2013 titled, The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story.
Between the fangs and the goblet of blood he would drink from before a match, it’s easy to see why Gangrel was one of the most easily identifiable faces of WWE’s Attitude Era. Known mostly for his stints with Edge & Christian as The Brood, then with Matt and Jeff Hardy as The New Brood, Gangrel was a sight to behold. He and his partners would make their entrances each night by rising from underneath the stage into a ring of fire to one of wrestling’s most popular theme songs of all time. Gangrel was terrifying and was one of the most underrated personalities in late 90s WWE.
He’s not been heard from by the WWE Universe in a long time, though, and despite being deserving of a Hall of Fame induction it may not happen anytime soon. This is because Gangrel, whose real name is David Heath, participated in some adult films years after leaving the company (allegedly the same thing keeping Chyna out of the Hall of Fame). But the vampiric grappler has far from retired from the ring, as one glance at his Twitter account tells the world he’s still “fangin’ and bangin’.”
11 Alundra Blayze
The WWE Women’s Championship has had a rocky few decades, having been retired several times, but Alundra Blayze dominated the mid 1990s with three reigns as Champion and her battles with Bull Nakano are often cited by female Superstars today as inspiration for their own careers. She also broke down barriers in WCW, in many ways becoming the company’s version of WWE’s Chyna. Madusa often competed with the men of WCW, even winning the revered, male-centric Cruiserweight Championship.
Today, Alundra (or Madusa as she more commonly refers to herself) makes a career out of monster truck driving. She still keeps in touch with her wrestling fan base through social media and speaks highly of WWE’s current crop of women wrestlers. The former Women’s Champion, who made waves when she defected from to WCW in 1995 and threw WWE’s title belt in the trash on live television, was blacklisted from Vince McMahon’s wrestling corporation until 2015 when she was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame.
10 Scotty 2 Hotty
You may remember Scotty 2 Hotty more for “the worm” dance move than his actual matches, but he was indeed a very successful tag team wrestler in the 1990s. Scotty and his partners, Grand Master Sexay and Rikishi, entertained audiences as the team Too Cool, dancing before, after, and often during their matches. Scotty 2 Hotty’s signature money-maker came at the height of the match when he would do “the worm” and drop an elbow on a downed opponent.
But where is the master of dance today? Still wrestling, of course! Scotty has made a few sporadic appearances for WWE’s NXT, but he also makes appearances for smaller shows on the independent scene. In recent years he completed schooling to become a firefighter and an EMT, though as of 2015 stated he’s yet to use that training and plans to keep it as a fall back option in the case that wrestling doesn’t work for him anymore.
Whether you call him X-Pac, the 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx, or his real name, Sean Waltman, every wrestling fan of the ‘90s knows how big a deal it is for a wrestler to say he was one of the star members of both the New World Order and D-Generation X. Waltman may be most familiar to WWE fans as X-Pac, the persona which brought him the most success, but he’s been a show-stealer everywhere he’s been. As a former WWE Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion and having been part of so many legendary eras and factions, Sean Waltman is likely a shoe-in for the WWE Hall of Fame.
In 2016 Waltman continues to make appearances for independent wrestling shows and has made various special appearances for WWE, including a run-in spot at WrestleMania 31 during an nWo versus D-X segment. In 2014, he started a podcast alongside friend and fellow wrestling personality Johnny Fairplay. It’s clear the man who first rose to fame by surprising Razor Ramon with an upset victory in 1993 still has a passion for the wrestling industry.
8 Road Dogg
He’s a former WWE Intercontinental Champion, one-half of one of the most popular tag teams in wrestling’s history, and a former member of an iconic faction of legends we all know as D-Generation X. The “Road Dogg” Jesse James’ microphone skills were rarely matched as he could get the audience to their feet with just the start of his theme song, which directly incited fan participation. Whether wrestling beside Billy Gunn as The New Age Outlaws or flying solo, James was one of the architects of The Attitude Era.
After several years with TNA Wrestling, the Road Dogg returned to WWE. He and Billy Gunn saw a brief renewal of their tag team success in 2014 when they captured their sixth WWE Tag Team Championship. James often speaks of his Christian faith on social media and has successfully undergone rehabilitation for a drug problem. He works with WWE today in a creative role backstage.
Known for epic battles with wrestling legends like Sting and Mick Foley as well as for his uncanny agility at his size, Big Van Vader wrestled all over the world and became a ‘90s icon. His moonsault is still talked about today, memorable for the fact that Big Van Vader pulled off the move (usually reserved for much smaller wrestlers) while clocking in at well over 400 pounds! But that’s not to discredit one of the most popular finishing moves in wrestling: the Vader Bomb.
More commonly referred to as just Vader, the masked giant still competes sporadically in the ring, including as recently as 2015 when he had a brief stint in TNA Wrestling. Currently, Vader is scheduled to face independent star Will Ospreay, with whom Vader recently had a war of words with on Twitter over the quality of the modern indie wrestling style stemming from a wildly popular match Osppreay had with Ricochet. In other words, don’t expect Vader time to be over anytime soon.
6 Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock joined WWE in 1997, already an MMA star, as a special referee in the infamous WrestleMania 13 match between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Bret “Hitman” Hart. His in-ring career soon blossomed and Shamrock became one of the many hands that helped build The Attitude Era. He became an Intercontinental Champion and was so popular WWE gave him a fictional sister, Ryan Shamrock, and he was involved in storylines with many of the biggest names in wrestling, including The Rock.
Since leaving WWE in 1999, Ken has been occupied mostly with his continued MMA career. In fact, he is probably most recently remembered for a big scandal where he failed a drug test, testing positive for anabolic steroids and methadone. This came after Shamrock disputed the outcome of a fight with his longtime rival Royce Gracie, so to say “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” has kept busy would be an understatement.
5 Jeff Jarrett
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett had endless successes in his wrestling career during the 1990s. He competed in both WWE and WCW, but Jeff’s defining moments of that decade came in the form of a string of battles with the late Chyna over the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Jarrett’s character was that of a sexist jerk who liked beating up any woman he crossed paths with, even his own valets Miss Debra and Miss Kitty, and Jeff playing the ultimate villain provided the platform for Chyna to save the day and become the first female in WWE to hold a men’s Championship.
After his WWE run, he became a WCW and TNA World Heavyweight Champion, the latter of which was Jarrett’s own wrestling promotion. Today he’s in the midst of starting up a whole new organization called Global Force Wrestling, but he’s not limiting himself to the business man position as he still wrestles to this day.
Male wrestling fans of the ‘90s will remember Sunny as the biggest childhood crush they ever had. Sunny, whose real name is Tammy Sytch, should be regarded as perhaps the most charismatic wrestling manager to ever serve the sport, garnering a huge following by captivating viewers with her stunning good looks and confidence. Known for her tag team managing prowess, she saw teams like The Bodydonnas and The Legion of Doom achieve great success.
Sunny is also one of the most outspoken and controversial individuals WWE has ever employed. She’s seen her share of legal troubles and seen a scandal or two, but the classic Sunny confidence remains intact. She still makes wrestling appearances and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. 2016 is proving to be a big year for Tammy Sytch, as she completed an autobiography and signed on for an adult movie with film company Vivid Entertainment.
3 Ted DiBiase
Everyone knows the maniacal cackle that kicks off the entrance music of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, as it’s iconic. DiBiase’s wrestling career certainly started before the 1990s but spanned the duration of it and saw him play many different roles. He held the WWE Tag Team Championship with Irwin R. Schyster (or simply IRS) as the team Money Incorporated, and then managed a plethora of other wrestlers such as King Kong Bundy and Sycho Sid in The Million Dollar Corporation. DiBiase is also known for managing “The Ringmaster,” who later came to be known as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In WCW, Ted became the fourth member of the legendary New World Order.
But the man who once carried his own Million Dollar Championship belt around now carries the Bible. Ted DiBiase has been a Christian minister for some time and even started his own ministry. When he’s not busy in the church the Million Dollar Man still occasionally makes appearances at smaller wrestling shows.
2 Bret “The Hitman” Hart
As undoubtedly one of the most celebrated WWE Champions of all time, Bret “Hitman” Hart was at the pulse of professional wrestling in the 1990s. Hart won title after title in WWE and throughout the course of the decade helped build WrestleMania into the grand spectacle it is today by competing in some of the most memorable matches in the annual event’s history, such as a bloody war with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and perhaps the greatest match of all time, a sixty-minute Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels.
No doubt, Bret Hart is one of the most respected wrestlers to ever compete, but we believe he deserves even more credit than he receives for his work in the 90s. Many current wrestlers were inspired by Hart and Hart should be even more revered for his work.
Recently he’s been fighting another type of battle. In February of 2016, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful surgery. For now, it appears Hart is beating the disease, and in the mean time he still making occasional wrestling appearances and has started his own podcast.
1 Diamond Dallas Page
As perhaps the unsung hero of WCW, Diamond Dallas Page became a megastar in the mid to late ‘90s as one of the few home-grown main event talents in the company. WCW became known for building its show around former WWE stars, so when DDP came along and rocked the WCW audience, he became a bit of a rarity. His Diamond Cutter finishing move as well as his popular hand gesture and “Self High Five” theme song helped make DDP an icon before even stepping foot in WWE years later.
Today Page has become something of a yoga guru, launching his own successful fitness program called DDP Yoga. The program has been used by several top wrestling names such as Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Scott Hall and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Roberts in particular claims Diamond Dallas Page is responsible for saving his life, having battled addiction for many years.
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