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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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