Top 15 Wrestlers Who Made Successful Career Changes

When a wrestling career is all done and the glory days of yesteryear are long gone, what do wrestlers do and how do some of the best keep themselves busy? Life after wrestling is a struggle for many ex-pros, but when you’re out of the game, away from all the glitz and glamour -- the razzmatazz and fan frenzy that surrounds the business -- many wrestlers cannot just sit idle and twiddle their thumbs in the hope that something will come along. What’s that famous saying? “You can’t just sit there and wait for life to come to you, you’ve got to go and get it.”

Rather than watching their post-wrestling days pass in humdrum fashion, the wrestlers on this list weren’t content to just wait for opportunities to fall into their laps. They kept themselves busy, worked hard and made things happen. When one door closes, another one opens, and today these wrestlers have their feet firmly planted in the doors of other careers. They were successful in the ring and have used this to spur them on and find success elsewhere. So what are these ex-wrestling stars doing today and how have they kept the ball rolling? Check out this article - some of what you read may surprise you.

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15 Stone Cold Steve Austin

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The former “poster boy” of the Attitude Era, Austin was certainly the main man at the turn of the century. He won a plethora of titles during his 14-year career and is certainly a deserved Hall of Fame inductee, but what’s Austin been doing since his last match in 2003? He’s been retired for well over a decade now, during which time he dabbled in an on-screen GM role with WWE and continued to make some sporadic appearances. But what’s Austin been doing outside of the world of wrestling?

Wrestling is entertainment, so it’s unsurprising that many wrestlers make the transition into the movie industry at some point. Many do so playing bit roles here and there in some small movie or TV show – just a little something to keep them busy. But Austin has an extensive filmography and has certainly made a success of his acting career. From appearing alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone and the glut of other stars in the 2010 The Expendables movie, to playing the lead role in the sports drama Knockout, Austin can certainly be called a “proper” actor. At the age of 51, the success just keeps coming.

14 Rick Steiner

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Rick Steiner, although he had a very successful tag team career, was probably overshadowed in many respects by his younger brother, Scott – although he might have something to say about this! The siblings dominated the tag team championships of NWA, WWE, ECW and WCW during the late 1980s and much of the 90s, but his solo career after the duo split brought less success. Rick still hasn’t officially called it quits, but his days in the limelight are long behind him – in wrestling terms that is.

Rick used his nous and business acumen to set up and run his very own real estate business out in North Metro Atlanta – Rick Steiner and Associates Real Estate Brokerage. Apparently, it’s been quite a lucrative venture too.

He’s also one of an elected seven members of a school board in Atlanta after winning and becoming a member in 2006. It's a big responsibility managing the schools in Cherokee County, GA, but Rick obviously thrives on such tasks. He certainly doesn’t seem to be missing life in the ring.

13 Chris Jericho

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Chris Jericho is still on the WWE roster, competes and occasionally hosts, but when he does step away from the ring, he’ll have no trouble getting accustomed to life away from wrestling. That’s because he’s already made a transition, of sorts, and has begun to place greater importance on other creative pursuits – music and acting. His music career in particular has taken off and he’s released a number of albums with his heavy metal band, Fozzy. Jericho’s their lead singer, and he’s also lent his vocals to other bands and artists around the world. We’re aware, because of wrestling, that Jericho likes the sound of his own voice, and it appears that others do too!

Jericho loves to get really involved in all aspects of his music. We’ve mentioned the singing, but Jericho’s also a songwriter and has played bass and the piano – a truly multi-talented man!

Among his other occupations – as if balancing two careers simultaneously wasn’t enough – he’s also starred in movies, TV shows, has done a bit of comedy, stage acting, and has written several autobiographies including A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex, Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps and The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea.

12 Trish Stratus

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Arguably the most decorated and beloved women’s champion to have ever been contracted with WWE, Trish Stratus has the skills and the personality to match. She was one dynamite diva you didn’t want to cross. In addition to her championship titles, this “Diva of the Decade” was also involved in some steamy scenes during her time at the company – notably with the boss himself, Vince McMahon; he probably knew that her star appeal would ensure people tuned in.

Trish tasted a tremendous amount of success inside the ring, but away from the wrestling industry, she’s always been a bit of a fitness fanatic – she was involved in the fitness and modelling industries before her time with WWE, and after her final match in WWE in 2006, her attention fell back into fitness.

In 2008, she opened the “Stratusphere” yoga studio in Toronto, Canada, turning her passion into a full-time venture. It’s certainly been successful; her yoga studio has won numerous awards since its inception, including: Top New Business and Top Yoga Studio. Stratus herself has won Businesswoman of the Year, and the "Stratusphere” team has been on the cover of Top Choice Magazine – no minor achievement and a sure sign of success.

11 Jesse Ventura

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Jesse Ventura has led a decorated life. He won numerous titles across various wrestling promotions during his in-ring days in the 1970s and 1980s and can certainly be considered to be one of the original rockstars of the sport. After he called it quits in his wrestling career, Ventura’s come back to the company now and again as a guest referee and commentator, but today it’s his career in politics that has kept him in the limelight.

He was briefly Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and then went on to become the 38th Governor of Minnesota, a post which he held for four years. His political career – much like his time in the ring – has not been without controversy, but he’s stood up for his views and also gained a lot of respect from a whole new fan base.

Ventura has also written many books, and has a pretty impressive filmography. In a way, Ventura can be considered to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of wrestling. It's remarkable to think that they both crossed paths in the Predator movie back in 1987, and both are still trying to make their way in the world after leaving their respective sporting careers.

10 Scotty 2 Hotty

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From the age of 14, wrestling was all Scott Garland wanted to do. Even at that tender age, he was driven; he called up Vince McMahon to inquire about getting a gig with the company, and although he only got to speak to McMahon’s staff, it must have stuck in McMahon's mind – “the balls of this kid,” he must have been thinking. Almost three decades later, Garland has lived his dream, but it’s onward and upwards for Garland, who after leaving WWE and having a stint on the independent circuit, decided to train to become a firefighter.

After causing havoc in the ring, Garland decided he wanted to put out fires and graduated from Florida’s Lake Tech Fire Academy in 2013.

One drastic career change wasn’t enough for Garland, who is now a Licensed Central Realtor and has made success out of helping those in Florida find the properties of their dreams.

9 Gene Snitsky

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Snitsky is a recognizable figure from his WWE days, mainly due to his various feuds with the company’s biggest superstars, Kane, John Cena and The Undertaker. He won a few titles here and there, but didn’t accomplish anything major in wrestling, and never got his hands on a world title or something similar.

Today it’s the movies – surprise, surprise – that take up a lot of Snitsky’s time. He hasn’t achieved anything on the scale of some of the other ex-wrestlers' careers in Hollywood, but Snitsky is slowly and surely making waves, building a name for himself. He’s appeared in a few films and numerous TV shows, such as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers project and has also tried his hand at producing a movie. He co-produced Manhunt, spending time behind the camera, though he loves to take center stage.

Movies aside, he spends time in front of the camera endorsing the Tristar Products' Power Pressure Cooker XL, and has shot a number of videos demonstrating its use.

8 Spike Dudley

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Dudley won a number of titles competing with ECW, WWE and TNA over almost two decades in the business. He was involved in some classic match ups, but in 2013 decided to call it quits – he probably had enough of his in-ring persona as the “little runt” of the famous Dudley family and wanted to branch out into other ventures. He did just that, and instead of taking up a management role/backstage role with the company – as most wrestlers tend to do to bridge that transition leading to life post-wrestling – he instead embarked on a career as a financial advisor – a far cry from the glitz and glamour of professional wrestling.

So what’s the reason for the drastic change? Security – Dudley wanted financial security for himself and his family, and a job with MassMutual provided him just that. He also probably wanted to help people who have been in his position – many ECW wrestlers weren’t paid for their work during a tumultuous time at Paul Heyman’s company.

7 Mideon

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During a 17-year career, Mideon won a few titles here and there and engaged in some pretty amusing gimmicks. He was a hog farmer, portrayed a deranged soothsayer, Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, and a monster – certainly a varied bunch of characters. Let’s be frank: Mideon wasn’t the greatest wrestler to have ever entered the ring. But he worked hard, stuck at it despite all the nonsense that working with such companies entailed, and was rewarded with a few titles and a pretty long career. Many wrestlers like Mideon disappear into the wilderness and are rarely heard from again. But Mideon has popped up post-wrestling in Clearwater, Florida, and is...wait for it, running his own catering business working as a chef.

Wrestler to chef isn’t a transition that would come naturally to many ex-pros, but credit to Mideon. He’s made it work for himself and is running the successful Dennis Knight Catering company.

6 Lita

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Lita called time on her wrestling career in 2006 after winning the women’s championship a remarkable four times. She's certainly a deserved Hall of Famer if ever there was one.

Lita had no trouble adjusting to life post-retirement. Wrestling aside, music is her passion, and she’s gone on to form the punk rock band, “The Luchagors” – the name apparently given in homage to the Lucha libres of Mexico. She’s toured with the band, released an album, and with her singing prowess, she’s contributed her vocals to various other bands.

It’s said that if you hang around successful people, you too are likely to become successful, that some of their success and business acumen will rub off on you. Bearing this in mind, Lita’s close friendship with Trish Stratus could have only benefited this ex-diva, driven her on to make a success of her music and life in the media, something she’s certainly achieved.


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Think about yoga for a sec and why people may do it. Yoga’s touted for its physical, mental and spiritual benefits – perfect for life after – or even during – the testosterone-fueled sport of wrestling, a sport which many people may leave feeling beaten down, broken and mentally and physically exhausted.

DDP recognized the benefits of yoga, and started to develop his own programs after experiencing the benefits of yoga therapy first hand while recovering from injuries in 1998. He went on to work with his chiropractor to develop a unique set of yoga programs, which he published in book form in 2005 - Yoga for Regular Guys. This took off and became a success, so DDP made the decision to branch out further into the world wide web and develop a video series to go along with the book – a series of yoga workouts and some interviews with people who had reaped the rewards of DDP yoga.

DDP knows how to market his product and services and has made a great success out of it.

4 Edge

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Adam Joseph Copeland enjoyed a fantastic career in professional wrestling and won a stack load of titles – 31 in all – decimating opponents in the process. But Copeland has plenty of other strings to his bow and has had no problems acclimating to life away from the ring. His post-wrestling days have been kept busy with acting and television and that famous podcast he hosts with Christian.

Wrestlers are essentially performers, so step away from the sport, and many like Copeland still feel the urge to perform, to be in the limelight. Copeland’s done just that and has appeared in a number of movies and has had some strong television roles. He keeps churning out films and TV appearances, so Copeland fans never have to wait too long to see their hero on the big screen. At the age of 42, Copeland still has a long – and probably prosperous – road ahead in the movie industry.

3 Mick Foley

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Where do we start with Mick Foley? He’s currently the General Manager of Raw, deservedly so considering what he’s brought to wrestling over the years. He’s won a stack load of titles with various wrestling promotions around the globe, but his achievements away from wrestling are equally, if not even more, impressive.

Take one look at Foley, with his large frame, scraggly beard and mangy hair, alongside his in-ring persona and you certainly wouldn’t think that he’s made a successful career as an author. That just goes to show that looks can be deceiving because he’s a bestselling author and has written numerous books, not only about his own experiences in wrestling, but also books for kids.

Foley certainly has a softer side to his personality; he does a lot of charity work for children and helps fund educational establishments all over the world – an all-round good guy doing good.

2 Brock Lesnar

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Brock Lesnar's original tenure with the WWE lasted only two years, but it was an unbelievable run regardless. In two years, Lesnar managed to main event a WrestleMania, won multiple world titles and beat some of the greats in the business. He was touted as WWE's "next big thing" and it certainly appeared to be the case. Unfortunately, Lesnar never took to the strenuous nature of the business, despising the extensive travel. He left the business in 2004 and after an unsuccessful tryout with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, he took to the world of MMA.

Using his background as an NCAA wrestling champion, Lesnar quickly shot to the top of the mixed martial arts world, getting signed by the UFC after just one professional fight and winning the heavyweight championship in his third fight, defeating a legend of the sport in Randy Couture. Unfortunately, a bout with diverticulitis cut his fighting career short and he returned to WWE as a part-time talent. Still, going from WWE Champion to UFC Champion is something no other man can say they did.

1 The Rock

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We’ve mentioned Austin and his successful foray into the movie industry. Most wrestlers try and make it big in Hollywood once their wrestling days are behind them, but put all of their achievements together and they still won’t stack up against Dwayne Johnson’s.

To say Johnson has been successful in the movie industry would be an understatement of epic proportions. The guy’s been named as the biggest star to appear in movies since Arnie, high praise indeed, but a statement that is certainly justified. Today, Johnson is one of the biggest box office stars on the planet. He’s the world’s highest paid actor, and is arguably worth more – and demands more – than he was in WWE, no small achievement considering he was one of the best in the company's history.

The Rock still makes appearances in the ring now and again, but that’s just because Johnson loves the business of wrestling – he certainly doesn’t need the money.

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