Professional wrestlers, like many athletes, have to live a very strict lifestyle when active in their careers. The best of the best have been able to maintain great physical conditioning, with a physique to match. This kind of personal health not only comes from an active workout schedule – regardless of how many shows a wrestler is booked for in a single year. It also comes from maintaining a strict diet and supplement regiment.
So when a wrestler is no longer competing in front of large crowds across the globe, it might not be too much of a surprise to see one of the best gain a few extra pounds. Some would say they’ve earned the right to let themselves go a little bit. Then again, there are limits to consider if someone wants to have a long life after they’ve finished up their runs in the squared circle.
Many wrestlers have been able to keep themselves active and busy through various programs and projects. Diamond Dallas Page was able to become a fitness guru with his patented “DDPYoga,” which has become a very popular workout program. Shawn Michaels is still active through his own hunting television show – MacMillan River Adventures.
Even the likes of The Rock and Batista, both north of 40 years old, have kept themselves in tremendous shape after wrestling and into the world of film. The following 15 wrestlers have or did not had the same luck after leaving mainstream wrestling television. In fact, they seemed to enjoy retirement a little bit too much.
16 Ahmed Johnson
There was once a time when it looked as if the WWE was giving Ahmed Johnson a giant push in the 1990s. He was the WWE Intercontinental Champion in 1996 and looked like he was likely destined for big things, even if it was a brief moment that might have been true. But he was in decent physical shape at six feet and two inches, and weighing in the high 200s. Johnson would leave the WWE in 1998 and had a brief run with WCW in 2000 before retiring in 2003.
Since then, Johnson earned a degree in criminology for a career change. He’s also seen a bit of a physical change. Long gone is the muscular physique. But he’s likely still around, or above, the 300-pound mark he was billed under in the ring. Unfortunately, that 300-plus pounds looks to be mostly fat.
15 Nicole Bass
Nicole Bass is not the kind of female wrestler that won a lot of beauty contests. But she made a name for herself as a bodybuilder that could kick many a men’s asses at a little more than six feet tall and around 240 pounds of muscular femininity. Bass first debuted in ECW in 1998 and spent a very brief amount of time in the WWE’s Attitude Era in 1999 – noticeably in a storyline with Val Venis.
But in recent years, Bass’ physique declined with a combination of age and long-term effects of steroid use having taking a toll on her body. She even spent time in the hospital in 2006 due to pancreatitis from the effects of her steroid usage. But she didn’t necessarily make an attempt to stay in respectable shape. At age 52, she suffered a heart attack this past February. She spent about a week on life support before the plug was pulled and she passed away.
14 Don Muraco
Even as a larger heavyweight, “Magnificent” Don Muraco was a well-built 270-pound grappler who stood tall at six feet and three inches. He wore the weight pretty well as he was often compared to the great Jack Brisco when he joined Championship Wrestling from Florida in 1974. In addition to winnin the ECW Championship (back when it was Eastern Championship Wrestling), he also won WWE’s King of the Ring in 1985 and won the Intercontinental Championship twice.
Muraco has done a few things in wrestling from co-founding Hawai’i Championship Wrestling to inducting peers into the WWE Hall of Fame. But he’s noticeably added some weight. While he was noted for being a bigger wrestler, those muscles have not held up with his increasing age. It was noticeable for fans who saw him pop up online the last few years talking about Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
13 Greg Valentine
Greg Valentine came from an era of professional wrestling when a lot of big names didn’t have the look you would expect a main event start today would have. But Valentine was still in decent shape with a six-foot frame containing about 255 pounds; winning championship gold in WWE, WCW, NWA and other territories since the 1970s. While Valentine is still taking on independent bookings, he’s essentially retired from a full-time schedule.
With that in mind, Valentine is an example of a wrestling veteran refusing to retire, but not exactly maintaining an ideal physical condition to compete in the ring. He doesn’t have the muscles he used to and he’s certainly become a lot more rotund. While someone in their 60s usually gets some benefit of the doubt, Valentine has seemingly allowed his body to slide since he isn’t on television that much anymore.
12 Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie was never quite the icon of women’s wrestling in the 1990s and early 2000s. At least not like someone who set the bar for the current wave of superstars – i.e. Trish Stratus and Lita. But Marie was one of the best during her time with ECW, followed a brief stint in the WWE from 2002 to 2007. Still, she had a few noteworthy moments like seducing Torrie Wilson and marrying her father.
But her WWE career came to an end after some controversy with the pregnancy of her first child, Matthew. She’s had a second child in her daughter Katelyn Marie. And like many mothers who have multiple children, Marie has allowed some baby weight to stick around. Usually, it’s hard to be critical of any mom. But there are a number of former athletes who find ways to work off the extra weight after delivery.
11 Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer was considered the heart and soul of Extreme Championship Wrestling. While only holding the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once, he was considered one of the top guys in the company. When the promotion folded, he still found consistent work through major promotions like WWE and TNA. While certainly retired from the full-time schedule, he’s still let his body gain some extra weight at age 46.
Dreamer has commented about his weight through social media, as fans couldn’t ignore his additional pounds in recent years. There’s been some humor from Dreamer has he has had some back-and-forth on Twitter with fellow ECW original Bubba Ray Dudley about weight. But it seems like Dreamer is making efforts to improve his health. He has recently been posting pictures of low-calorie meals from the company Sensible Meals.
10 Captain Lou Albano
Before becoming one of the best managers in professional wrestling history, Lou Albano was an in-ring competitor from the 1950s and into the early 1980s. While he wasn’t one of the wrestlers who had the bodybuilder physique during that time, Albano did not have the same look as he did when he retired from in-ring competition. In the years after he stopped wrestling, he began to gain weight.
Additionally, Albano began to allow his appearance to go in other ways beyond his weight gain. His beard was only organized by a few rubber bands. His attire was meant to make him look more of a slob than someone who acts as a representative in the wrestling world. It was reported that he did it on purpose. It certainly helped his heel status though the years as he was one of the best heel managers before passing away at age 76 in 2009.
9 Honky Tonky Man
Roy Wayne Ferris might have been a one-hit wonder with the Honky Tonk Man gimmick in WWE, but he made it last with the longest reign as WWE Intercontinental Champion (June 1987 to August 1988). Despite becoming synonymous with a silly Elvis Presley impersonator character that never elevated him beyond the mid-card status, he had a pretty good career. Ferris was in decent shape during the prime of his wrestling career at a little taller than six feet and weighing less than 250.
Years later at the age of 64, he’s gained some noticeable pounds and doesn’t look as fit as before. While it’s true that those with older age have a tendency to gain some extra pounds, it’s certainly a large transformation for the man who once held a championship that was like a second world title in the WWE.
8 “Cowboy” Bob Orton
While he may not have had as illustrious of a career as his son Randy, “Cowboy” Bob Orton was able to establish quite the name for himself starting in 1972 and through the years of WWE’s growth. He was even part of the first main event at WrestleMania I – granted, he was in the corner of Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. But Orton had a decent build of six feet and one inch and around 240 pounds. But he lost some of that physique after his 2006 retirement.
As he supported his son in an on-screen role during a long feud with the Undertaker in 2005. He had a noticeable gut. Again, one can credit some of that gained weight to his body having aged a little poorly from a long career that spanned four decades. Nonetheless, he noticeably packed it on during his brief stint in WWE with his son ended in 2006.
7 Wendi Richter
Long before the Montreal Screwjob made the real-life feud between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in 1997, Wendi Richter was the victim of the first ever “screwjob” in 1985. She was forced to drop the WWE Women’s Championship to The Spider Lady – who turned out to be The Fabulous Moolah. This led to her leaving the WWE with a lot of tension. But she was still considered one of the best women during the 1980s; earning her induction in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
But when she appeared to accept her induction, Richter looked to have added a few pounds over the years since her retirement from in-ring competition in 2005. While she is now in her 50s, Richter made a name for herself in the squared circle as one of the most fit women wrestlers on the roster at the time. Since retiring, Richter have gone into physical and occupational therapy and competes in dog shows.
In all fairness, Taz was a very stout competitor when he was active in ECW and WWE. While standing at about five feet and nine inches, Taz weighed about 240 pounds in his prime. Don’t let his height fool you; he was one of the most dominant men in the wrestling ring with his technical skills making him two-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion. But his injuries forced him to make the move from in-ring competitor to the commentary table in 2002.
Through the years as a color voice of SmackDown and then with TNA Wrestling, Taz became more noticeably round. Now focusing more on his syndicated radio show – “The Taz Show” – he hasn’t necessarily been shedding a lot of pounds. Then again, plenty of people who work in radio can have difficulty maintaining a completely healthy lifestyle.
5 Mick Foley
Mick Foley’s physique prior to this past year cannot be fully blamed on enjoying a life of retirement. His body certainly maintained some of the effects of being the hardcore icon that he is. It’s kind of hard to imagine someone’s body not regressing after falling through steel cages, off steel cages, onto tables, thumbtacks and even exploding barbed wire. The man even lost his right ear in a match with Vader. So his body was going to gain some weight when it can’t move as well or as often as before.
But Foley gained weight over the years, especially since the late 2000s and prior to his run as the acting Raw general manager. Fans would be interested to see the videos of him competing as Cactus Jack in WCW and ECW in the early 1990s, then seeing his body slowly gain fat over the years. Fortunately, Foley looks better than ever now after undergoing a strict diet and taking up DDP Yoga.
4 The Iron Sheik
When Iron Sheik debuted in the WWE, he had an impressive physique that quickly put him in line for a main event spot in 1979 – competing with the likes of Bob Backlund, Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino. The Iranian-born wrestler was a solid 258-pound, six-foot tall frame. The man known for utilizing the Camel Clutch submission hold would earn him one WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
His body certainly went on a decline over the years, especially after his retirement in 2000. His physique turned more into a ball of dough. He developed an addiction to crack cocaine and he’s had noticeable health problems. He’s now considered an unhinged senior citizen who is known for violently offensive social media posts; even if they are written by a team of comedy writers.
3 Scott Hall
There was a time when Scott Hall was one of the biggest names in pro wrestling during the 1990s. He was a star in WWE as Razor Ramon and became a bigger star when he helped form the New World Order in 1996 at WCW. But during his career, Hall became addicted to drugs and alcohol – which have been famously highlighted by the ESPN documentary aired in 2011. His once chiseled physique was faded to fat.
His health declined greatly to a point where he was on several different medications in an effort to stay alive. But like you'll see in our next entry, Hall’s entry in this list includes another happy ending. After moving in Diamond Dallas Page, Hall would see a transformation in health and sobriety. A recent picture on his Twitter account shows the 58-year-old in the best shape he’s been in several years.
2 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
There was a time when Jake “The Snake” Roberts was considered the perfect example of a wrestling legend who allowed addition to take over his life and career. Having begun his career in 1974 and became one of the best ring phycologists in the WWE, he was let go from the WWE in 1997. Part of the problem was that he had dependence on alcohol and drugs, including crack cocaine. This led to not only trips to prison and rehab, but also led to him gaining weight in his later years.
Roberts looked like he was closing in on death when his former protégé, Diamond Dallas Page sought out for him in 2011. Page would invite Roberts to come stay with him, where Page would get him on the right track to healthy living and sobriety. Now while Roberts let himself go, this story does have a happy ending. Roberts has lived sober and has a slimmer look as he takes the road to different comedy clubs.