The professional wrestling industry has long been one that featured a variety of different body types. While muscle-bound figures who looked more like superheroes out of movies and out of comics than they resembled athletes of their times have long dominated the business, the likes of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Vader and other such individuals also managed to get over among fans because of their work inside of rings and also due to their abilities to cut promos and attract attention from audiences whenever they were interviewed during shows.
With that said, wrestlers are no different than top-tier athletes in that they have to be able to perform for long periods of time during matches. Thus, being in good cardiovascular condition is a must for any wrestler regardless of if he has muscles on top of muscles or if he is potentially carrying some excess weight around his stomach. It is when the in-ring work of a performer begins to noticeably suffer that such weight becomes a problem, and there have, in history, been instances where wrestlers have not been able to right the ship in order to get the issue under control.
Not all of the wrestlers who let themselves go during their careers were all-time greats and superstars who were once atop main event cards for promotions such as World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling or Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Some cost themselves opportunities to make money by being unable to pack on the pounds, while others were able to drop the weight when asked en route to becoming big-time draws in the business. Remember, up-and-coming wrestlers, there is a difference between being a touch overweight and letting yourself go.
Just to be clear, a lot of these wrestlers got themselves back into shape, while some fell completely out of shape entirely. For the ones that got back into shape, we're just looking at a period where they had let themselves go.
15 Big Daddy V
The first story showcased in this piece is one that unfortunately comes with an unhappy ending. One did not need to be an insider or checking in with his weight on a daily basis to see that Big Daddy V, who also worked as Mabel and Viscera, had put on the pounds and let himself go to a point during his last days working with the company. Perhaps the saddest detail of all is that the big man had done well to get himself healthy, reportedly losing around 100 pounds in the last year of his life. What was done was done, however, and Big Daddy V passed away in the winter of 2014.
14 Adrian Adonis
There is a group of wrestling fans out there who probably first thought of Adrian Adonis as a wrestler who let himself go during his run in the business. Adonis was a well-skilled wrestler who was able to portray multiple characters seemingly with ease, and he won singles and tag team championships across several promotions. Weight became an issue as he evolved his “Adorable” persona, and it is believed that he was around 350 pounds in the middle of the 1980s. Jim Ross once described Adonis as “amazingly agile and athletic” even when the wrestler was carrying that amount of size.
Nobody who followed the original Extreme Championship Wrestling organization was a supporter of the Sandman because he was a five-star athlete who could run marathons. Fans cheered because he chugged beers before, during and after matches, and because he dealt and also suffered brutal punishments. So what if Sandman has not aged as well as have other performers who spent time in ECW and WWE? You have to at least give the man credit for living his gimmick and for sacrificing his body to please fans who paid to watch him perform.
12 Triple H
Triple H has not, to the knowledge of those of us who are on the outside looking in, ever failed a WWE Wellness Policy test. He did, roughly a decade ago, pack on some flab that was very visible to those watching in attendance and to viewers tuning in to watch episodes of Raw and SmackDown. It was unquestionably the worst that he had ever looked during his run with the WWE and it did raise the eyes of some skeptics wondering just what, if anything, was happening behind the scenes. To his credit, Triple H did manage to lose and keep those pounds off.
He has never quite gotten to the size of his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes during his pro wrestling career, but the artist who has been known as “Goldust” during his time with the WWE has undeniably seen his weight fluctuate over the years. What were some of his more darker days as it pertained to his outward appearance occurred during his stint in TNA Wrestling when he played the character “Black Reign.” Goldust should be praised for putting those days out of memory and dropping the excess weight before returning to the WWE and linking up with his half-brother Cody, en route to winning the tag team championship.
10 Kevin Steen/Kevin Owens
Anybody who has followed the career of Kevin Steen from his days on the independent scene to Ring of Honor could tell that he possessed the goods to be a star for a national promotion. Perhaps the only thing holding him back was his inability to keep his weight under control, but Steen managed to slim down before eventually being signed by the WWE. The wrestler who now works for the company as Kevin Owens has appeared to put on a few pounds over the months, and here is hoping that will not be an issue for the talented performer.
9 Samoa Joe
What exactly kept Samoa Joe from being picked up by the WWE for years when the company's product was so stale may never truly be known. Speculation among wrestling journalists and fans was that Joe would be given a chance to flee TNA Wrestling for greener pastures if he would only lose some weight, but he instead went the opposite direction during his final years in TNA. Joe and WWE are on the same page as of the spring of 2015, however, as he is currently working for the NXT brand, before he'll eventually be called up to work for the WWE main roster.
8 Scott Hall
The time of worrying about Scott Hall being in “wrestling shape” as it pertains to his outward appearance passed long ago. Hall, who had the tools inside of the ring and on the microphone to be a world champion in WCW and the WWE, began to lose control of his life back in the 1990s when he was a member of the new World order. It has been just one downward spiral after the next for the “Bad Guy,” and multiple reports surfaced in the spring of 2015 that he had again relapsed. Hall has since stated that he has checked into a “detox facility” and we wish him all the best.
7 Jake Roberts
The man himself and even the WWE have all documented the personal demons that Jake “The Snake” Roberts has battled for decades, even back to when he was in the prime of his wrestling days. It was first visibly noticeable that Roberts had begun to let himself go during his return to the WWE in the 1990s, a run that included that legendary King of the Ring battle with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Roberts could, even at the time, “slither” around the ring with the best of them and he has since taken steps to get himself in better shape and save his life.
6 Chris Harris
Chris Harris was seen as one of the standouts of the lackluster TNA Wrestling promotion in the first several years of that company's existence, and thus it was little surprise to wrestling fans and to industry insiders that those running WWE decided to give the former tag team champion a shot. A funny thing happened in the time that Harris become the ECW character Braden Walker: He put on a noticeable amount of weight, to the point that it almost appeared as if he had stopped doing cardiovascular work altogether. His time in the WWE did not last long, as he never dropped the weight before he was released.
5 Ahmed Johnson
When Ahmed Johnson first entered the WWE, he was a powerhouse worker who was more so a well-built athlete than a guy who needed to lose a few pounds. There were, during his last days in the company, signs that his weight could eventually be a problem, and that would end up being the case by the time he made his way over to WCW. Wrestling fans had to look twice when the “Big T” character was introduced, as Johnson was barely recognizable. He went on to continue to pack on the pounds once WCW was consumed by the WWE in March 2001.
Yokozuna was signed by the WWE to be a larger-than-life heel persona. Playing the role of a sumo wrestler, Yokozuna crushed several babyface opponents with his “Bonzai Drop” and his victims included: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Undertaker and even Hulk Hogan. His weight went from being an advantage to his wrestling career to a liability in his professional and personal life, to the point that Yokozuna literally could not perform inside of rings near the end of his life. That he sadly passed away of a heart attack inside of a hotel room was hardly a surprise to those who had watched his weight balloon during his final years.
3 Andre the Giant
This is an instance of a wrestler who let himself go not being able to do much about the weight gain. Andre the Giant was known to be in pain during the final days of his WWE career and thus his weight skyrocketed to the point that he could seemingly barely move inside of rings. His enormous size coupled with the damage that he took thanks to a career inside of the wrestling business was too much for Andre to slim down during the closing years of his life, and the man billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” passed away in his sleep in January of 1993.
2 Matt Hardy
Would Matt Hardy had made the ascension into a main event player and a world champion during his final singles run in WWE had he kept the weight off? Possibly, but we will never get an answer to that question. Hardy blamed such weight gain on “intestinal problems” and other health issues, claims that did not sell well with wrestling insiders and with fans who nicknamed him “Fatt Hardy.” Hardy has since done well to have solid runs on independent scenes and in TNA Wrestling, but one cannot help but wonder if he could have been a bigger star in the WWE.
1 Big Show
Big Show was deemed to be one of the biggest signings of the “Monday Night Wars” when he made the switch from WCW to the WWE in the 1990s. Some unfavorable booking accompanied with the once-named Giant packing on the pounds after accepting WWE money slowed his push, and things got so out of hand that the WWF sent Big Show to Ohio Valley Wrestling to work on his conditioning. Show, to his credit, did well to get himself back into shape, and he has since had a successful WWE career that has included multiple title runs.