Enhancements have always played a major role in the history of professional wrestling. For decades, wrestlers have used them to help improve their physical look and in-ring skills. We all know the narrative about Vince McMahon believing the larger wrestlers with bodybuilding physiques had a better chance at drawing money than those that looked like normal human beings. The “larger than life” philosophy made drug use more prominent in the 80s and 90s. A vast majority of performers we loved watching during those eras have used enhancements and various other drugs to get their look at the level expected at the time.
The tragic trend of wrestlers passing at young ages has made us all question the once unknowing agreement of our favorite performers using PEDs. Specifically, the Chris Benoit incident in 2006 forced WWE to clean up the industry by introducing a serious drug testing policy. Wrestlers get suspended for violating the policy and lose their standing in the company. Just look at Roman Reigns today for the proof. The odd thing is PEDs usually don’t equate in improving the talents of a wrestler and is mostly just used for cosmetic purposes. We’ll look at the historic examples of fifteen names that visibly took them but were still terrible wrestlers.
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15 Scott Steiner
The most blatant evidence of a PED user in wrestling has to be Scott Steiner in the late 90s during the Monday Night Wars on the WCW side. Steiner embraced his singles push after turning on his brother Ric Steiner and joining the New World Order as “Big Poppa Pump.” The new look and character revamp saw him debut larger biceps. Steiner was always jacked but it gradually grew out of control in the last years of WCW.
As Steiner’s arms grew, his talent diminished and he could no longer keep up with the quicker opponents in the ring. His in-ring work suffered but the company finally gave him a chance at singles success. Maybe he knew what he was doing. The flaws came to the forefront more during his WWE stint in 2002-2003. Steiner was supposed to be one of the top stars but his PED use and larger mass took away from his work causing everything to fall apart quickly.
14 Vince McMahon
WWE owner Vince McMahon was never a full-time wrestler but he made himself a part of the show during The Attitude Era. McMahon engaged in a heated rivalry with top face Steve Austin. The story of the authority vs. anti-establishment worked to perfection and helped take Austin to the next level as one of the biggest draws in wrestling history. While McMahon was a strong character, his wrestling matches were a tough watch.
Many of the matches delivered from a violence standpoint but Vince was carried big time by his legendary opponents. The most impressive physical aspect of McMahon’s wrestling presence was his physique. Everyone was shocked when he took off the business suits to reveal huge arms similar to those of bodybuilders. Let’s be honest. Many believe that Vince played a role in PED distribution in the early 90s and had a connection to them. The most powerful man in wrestling used them to enhance his body, but still sucked when it came time to wrestle.
With a name like Hercules, you would expect the wrestler to live up to the name by using some sort of enhancement. The fact that the wrestler was used in WWE during the 80s gave you enough proof to know Hercules definitely was a big user of PEDs. Vince McMahon’s love of muscle heads featured many of them getting hired in that time frame. Hercules appeared in various magazines as a bodybuilder and that likely helped him get work in WWE.
The look of Hercules was everything you would have guessed with muscles larger than any human being should even dream of having. Hercules unfortunately couldn’t match his wrestling skills to his biceps and never gained success in with the WWE. The big man was given a title shot against Hulk Hogan quickly into his run due to his look but everything went downhill after the loss. WWE realized Hercules wasn’t going to be a big star and relegated him to the lower card for the rest of his tenure
The impact of Chyna on professional wrestling will always give credence to her legacy as a pioneer for women in the sport. Chyna achieved her best success as an on-screen character that could hold her own against the men in the ring. Her role in DX was quite important to the success of the group taking off. Chyna's career skyrocketed with huge opportunities as a singles wrestler and she made history by being the only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Most associated PEDs with Chyna due to her size and muscle. No other woman in the wrestling business looked like Chyna at the time and it worked to her advantage. While she was indeed successful, the pioneer lacked in-ring skills. Chris Jericho refers to his time working in matches against her as a trainwreck. The storylines, such as the DX drama and her relationship with Eddie Guerrero, made her a star but her wrestling was weak despite the enhancements.
11 Chris Masters
WWE had high hopes for Chris Masters during his initial push on the main roster. Masters had a long undefeated streak with his Masterlock submission being protected as unbeatable. The peak of his run came during a PPV match against Shawn Michaels. Masters was the most jacked wrestler on the roster during his push and ended up confirming our suspensions when violating the early stages of the WWE wellness policy.
Anyone with a history of following pro wrestling would have guessed Masters was using steroids and the suspension proved it. Following his return, Masters was humbled by falling lower down the card. One specific moment saw Triple H mock Masters during a backstage segment for the difference in his look following the suspension. Masters stopped "juicing" and his body saw the effects come back down to reality. Masters never impressed and he was only pushed for having a look Vince McMahon appreciates.
10 Brutus Beefcake
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake received almost all of his opportunities in the wrestling business due to his association with the powerful Hogan. His in-ring work was horrible with little to no entertaining matches on his resume. Leslie claims he never did any type of enhancements, but no one buys it.
One thing he always had going for him was his physique. Most of his close friends, including Hogan, were huge proponents of using PEDs to improve their physical appeal. Beefcake absolutely used them for most of his career, but it didn’t help him in the slightest. The only performance enhancing drug he needed was Hogan’s political power in the WWE and WCW. Beefcake will always be remembered for being one of the bigger goofs in the industry that never had much talent to match his opportunities or his physique.
9 Ahmed Johnson
One of the biggest pushes in the years before The Attitude Era went to Ahmed Johnson. Vince McMahon saw the prototypical top star in him, as Johnson had shoulders like boulders and one of the strongest physiques in the business. An intense demeanor provided enough rational for WWE to position him as a future World Champion. His unrealistic body made it clear Johnson at least experimented with PEDs in addition to his hard work. Unfortunately, Johnson had no aptitude for the important necessities to succeed in the WWE.
His in-ring work was among the worst ever to happen in a WWE ring and his promos were somehow worse. Johnson struggled to speak coherently and his promos are legendary on the internet today for the humor of trying to figure out his words. WWE realized it and stopped him from elevating to the next stage. Johnson’s stint in the company lasted shorter than anyone could have predicted and his PED use wasn’t enough to save him.
Andrew “Test” Martin is someone WWE always had high hopes for, but never pushed all the way to the top. Test always occupied a strong midcard spot and continued to get consistent television time. His physique played a huge role in the opportunities given to him. A second stint for Test in the company for the ECW brand in 2006 showed an even larger physique and we all knew it was through the power of enhancements.
The initial stages of the wellness policy and WWE cleaning up the drug use led to Test getting busted. A suspension thanks to PED use would eventually cause his release from the company.
7 Rob Terry
TNA makes their presence known on the list with their project of pushing Rob Terry. The massive human was physically at another level from everyone else in the wrestling business. Terry just managed to have nothing else going for him. His bodybuilding physique gave him an opportunity on television. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff predictably made him a favorite when entering the company and he continued to get chances to get over. It never worked.
Terry may have been the worst wrestler on the TNA roster and moved like he was wrestling in slow motion at times. None of the pushes helped his cause and his potential PED use may have hindered him from keeping up with the speedy athletes in TNA. Terry even had a repackaging as the “Freak” in The Menagerie as a masked man to just flex and show off his strength. It was the best role for Terry but his lack of talent was something fans never let the muscles make up for.
The wrestling career of Brakus goes down in the history books among the biggest failures in the history of the business. Vince McMahon recruited Brakus after a successful career in the bodybuilding industry due to his massive arms. Given the amount of PED use in the bodybuilding and wrestling communities during that time frame, it is likely that Brakus used enhancements to look that superhuman. The enhancement drugs couldn’t enhance Brakus’ skills in the wrestling ring however.
WWE realized Brakus was a disaster from early on and quickly pulled his vignettes off television. The muscle head was sent to ECW as part of McMahon’s working relationship with Paul Heyman. WWE hoped Brakus would become more polished working against talented performers in front of difficult crowds. It didn’t help and his only memorable moments came from getting destroyed by Taz. Brakus eventually made it back to WWE TV and flopped horribly. No amount of PEDs could help save him from suffering disaster in the wrestling world.
5 Hulk Hogan
An argument can be made that Hulk Hogan is the biggest star in wrestling history. Hogan dominated the 80s and was the face of WWE as they achieved new levels of success. WWE’s rise into the mainstream was led by Hogan as the first big crossover star that casual fans paid to see. Hulkamania may have been Vince McMahon’s greatest creation and there’s no doubt Hogan's look played a role in him getting the pushes of all mega-pushes.
Hogan has admitted to using PEDs in the past and his look through the years may indicate that he never stopped juicing. The star power of Hogan can’t be doubted but he was never the best wrestler. Hogan often lacked in-ring skills and just didn’t care about putting in his best effort all the time. He had a few classic matches during his career but most of his work is impossible to watch back with enjoyment today.
4 Lex Luger
Lex Luger is another classic example of a PED user benefiting for the enhancements to his physique but never could perform at a high level. WCW pushed Luger on numerous occasions and he did succeed to an extent. The only problem is Luger could never become the top guy WCW desperately wanted him to blossom into rather than another lower main event name. WWE tried even harder to make him the replacement for Hulk Hogan in the mid-90s.
The PED use of Luger is well documented and was blatant from his physique. There was never a time that Luger looked like a normal human, instead looking like the tanned version of The Incredible Hulk. If only the enhancements could have enhance improved his performance into bringing better matches, Luger would be remembered more fondly today. The Total Package had a higher percentage of PEDs that contributed to his success without the production or talent to match it.
3 The Warlord
The 80s was basically the best era for wrestlers using PEDs but performing terribly in the ring. A perfect story for this historical narrative was the career of The Warlord. Very few wrestlers looked as physically strong as Warlord but even less were as bad as him when it came time for the wrestling. Warlord teamed with Barbarian as The Powers of Pain for a few years but eventually split up making him a singles performer.
Any educated guess would name Warlord among one of the most common enhancement users during his prime. The muscles made his character, but it didn’t make him a success, as no one wanted to watch him once the bull rang. Old shows from the time expose Warlord as among the least enjoyable wrestlers in WWE history despite looking like a million bucks. PEDs were effective in getting him a job but did not help him thrive at it.
2 The Ultimate Warrior
WWE found a new Superstar with the ascension of The Ultimate Warrior. There was no depth to his character and he possessed little talent, yet he found a way to connect with the fan base. A mysterious face-painted muscle head running down the ramp to an outstanding entrance theme was enough to make Warrior the next big star. Warrior actually grew enough popularity to rival Hulk Hogan for the top spot in WWE.
The bodybuilding physique of Warrior definitely benefited from the use of PEDs and that sadly wasn’t the only drug he experimented with. For all of Warrior’s popularity and his fascinating look, he went down as one of the worst workers in the history of WWE. Rick Rude, Bobby Heenan and just about every other legend he worked with has gone on the record about the terrible in-ring work delivered by Warrior. No one wanted to work with Warrior and he made his way into the doghouse many times during his wrestling career.
1 Buff Bagwell
The physique of Buff Bagwell made impressive strides throughout his stint in WCW and it is pretty obvious he achieved with the help of enhancements. Bagwell had a great look that exemplified what promotions wanted their stars to look like in the 90s. The PED use and overall look played the biggest role in Bagwell keeping a job in WCW for so long with many opportunities being given to him. Sadly, his wrestling improvement couldn’t take place like his muscle growth.
Bagwell was a disaster in the ring and dropped the ball every single time he was put in a high pressure position. Bagwell's attitude also lacked and made him an enemy in the locker room to many of the boys. Following the purchase of WCW by WWE, Bagwell stunk up the joint in the first WCW match under the WWE banner bad enough to cause the plans of a WCW brand to end. WWE fired him shortly after and ended Bagwell’s time in the limelight as another steroid user that was absolutely terrible.
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