We have sadly seen this in every major sport. Athletes not being able to deal with life after their respective careers is something that has afflicted many of some people and their families. It must be very hard to go from being in the spotlight every week, to then feel as though you have dropped off the face of the earth after leaving it. Maybe this feeling of sadness is not the case, maybe the problem is with all the money made and the free time on the hands of the athlete, some bad ways to fill the new found time can lead to a downwards spiral.
Wrestling is one of the hardest businesses to stay relevant in considering it is always evolving, and new and younger talent is being brought in constantly. When the time finally comes for these wrestlers to hang it up, staying in a healthy set of mind is very important and for some, a harder thing to do then most people think. With all of the physical impact wrestlers take during the course of their career, there may be a correlation between the decision making the wrestlers after their run in the physically demanding company.
Whether there is a correlation or not, there is no doubt that the WWE has produced a lot of troubled stars who have hit rock bottom after their run in the promotion. In this article, I have compiled 15 people who have hit record lows after leaving the WWE. This doesn't mean they still need to be on a bad path in life, it is possible for them to have made it back on the straight and narrow afterwards. However, if they were at the bottom of the barrel at one point after the WWE, they may just be on this list.
Here are the top 15 wrestlers whose lives fell apart after leaving WWE.
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Chyna was one of the most influential and successful wrestlers of all time, but that doesn't change the fact that she couldn't handle herself after her career was over. Chyna appeared in numerous of adult films after leaving the WWE, and had even stated she had loved cocaine on The Howard Stern Show. In 2005, she was arrested for domestic assault on Sean Waltman, who later confessed that Chyna was battling a drugs and alcohol addiction. Chyna sadly died this April at the age of 46, most likely due to an overdose of her medication, for her anxiety and insomnia.
Virgil didn't have a very impressive wrestling run, as he never grew into one of the big stars that he badly wanted to be. After not winning any championships during his career, let alone even getting close to one, his wrestling career ended in 2000. He did return to the WWE in 2010 but was fired by Ted DiBiase Jr. as his personal assistant, ending his return. Virgil has since been attending conventions and even been seen set up at subway stations selling autographs. The "Lonely Virgil" meme was even created after a picture was taken of him at a convention with nobody lining up to see him. In June 2015, Virgil created a GoFundMe campaign to help him become a millionaire. As of April 2016, the campaign has raised $880.
Even though Sunny is in the WWE Hall of Fame, her life after wrestling has sadly been anything but award worthy. Sunny was fired by the WWE in 1998, due to her being a frequent disruption backstage and her alleged drug problem. After some quiet time for a while, it all started to go downhill for Sunny in 2012, after her breakup with her boyfriend, Damien Darling. In only a four weeks span, Sunny was arrested five times with acts even as serious as burglary.
The WWE has stopped funding her trips to rehab, when they said it "obviously isn't working". At one point it was even claimed that she would Skype with her fans, performing various acts for different amounts of money. In February of this year, she released an autobiography, A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall & Rise of Wrestling Diva Tammy “Sunny” Sytch.
14 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jake "The Snake" Roberts was one of the most enthralling and popular wrestlers we have ever seen. His downward spiral after wrestling was very disheartening to many fans over the world, who are big supporters of Roberts. In the wrestling documentary, Beyond The Mat, there is a clip of Roberts smoking crack and talking about his inner demons. He explained how he turned to drugs and alcohol due to his problems outside of wrestling. Roberts is now apparently sober, and even exercises regularly as he tries to heal his mind and body. Hopefully The Snake can stay on the right path down the road.
13 Matt Hardy
Due to his incredibly high-flying run in the WWE in his duo "The Hardy Boyz", Matt became addicted to painkillers because of all the damage he took in the ring. After gaining a solid amount of weight, he was released from the roster. He has since threatened to commit suicide and has been involved in a multitude of car accidents where he was under the influence. He was released from TNA in 2011 because of the accidents. After allegedly getting clean through rehab, Hardy made a return to TNA in 2o14.
Umaga was a pretty successful wrestler who had been apart of a lot of great feuds and storylines. Despite his success however, it was found out in 2007 that Umaga had been battling substance abuse. He failed a WWE drug test in 2009 which led to him being fired from the company. Sadly that same year, Umaga was found dead inside of his home due to overdosing on hydrocodone, carisoprodol, and diazepam. He was only 36 years old at the time of his tragic death.
11 Hulk Hogan
Possibly the most polarizing and popular wrestler ever, you won't find someone who doesn't know the name Hulk Hogan. The fall from grace for Hogan may have came when his wife, Linda, divorced him in 2007. Losing millions of dollars from the divorce to the point he was almost bankrupt, Hogan has even stated he almost took his own life after the divorce.
The real scandal for Hogan was in 2015 though. His contract with the WWE was terminated after a controversial sex tape was released where Hogan was seen sleeping with his friend's wife. With the tape itself being bad enough, Hogan also made some very racist remarks on the video, which ultimately led to his legacy being tainted forever. The WWE pulled his merchandise from being sold and even removed him from their website.
10 Perry Saturn
Wrestling for the WCW, ECW, and the WWE, Saturn built up a pretty impressive resume mostly in the 90s wrestling world. After leaving wrestling in 2004, Saturn came up on some hard times in his personal life. He has admitted that he was living on the streets and even became addicted to crystal meth. He says that his addiction came about because after an injury he got in the WWE, he became addicted to the pain medications. Possibly on a better path, Saturn has since made some appearances at wrestling promotions, as Perry has explained that his dog had been the reason to him getting sober.
9 Lex Luger
As one of the most dominant and popular wrestlers in the WCW and the WWE in the 80s and 90s, Lex Luger had a great career. But when WCW ended its run, and Lex wasn't brought onto the WWE to wrestle, he only made it into one match in TNA. Life after the spotlight for Luger turned bad after some questionable actions from Lex. In 2003, he was arrested for a domestic abuse with his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth, and also for driving under the influence of alcohol. Things worsened for the couple when Miss Elizabeth died of a drug overdose in Lex's house.
In 2007, he then suffered a nerve impingement, and was a quadriplegic for over two months. He now looks nothing like he once did before, but after finding religion, he may be healthier in the mind than he ever has been.
8 Curt Hennig
Known as Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig was a pretty successful wrestler in the 90s and early 2000s. Even joining the Four Horseman in 1997, Hennig had a lot of interesting feuds with the nWo stable. Most likely due to his professional career in wrestling, his father said he became addicted to steroids and painkillers. On February 10, 2003, Hennig was found dead in a Tampa Bay hotel room. It was declared he had overdosed on cocaine, which was the cause of his death. He was only 44 years old.
7 Ric Flair
In the ring, Ric has had one of the greatest wrestling careers ever, but out of the ring, Flair's personal life has been anything but perfect. Since retiring from WWE competition in 2008, Flair has had problems with money as he has been evicted before and has been a part of many lawsuits. At one point, he has even owed $700,000 to one of his exes. He has also been kicked out of his own house by some of them as well. The Nature Boy has also had run-ins with alcohol addiction, which may be present when he makes appearances at WWE events, as he seems like a shell of the man who he once was.
6 Tyson Tomko
Tyson Tomko was looking to become a breakout character in TNA and was starting to become a fan favorite. After staying heel when a babyface turn was in order though, the fans lost interest in Tyson which led to his departure with TNA for the WWE. After never appearing on TV with the WWE in 2008, Tyson joined the TNA again which didn't last long, as he was soon without a job. Tyson even resorted to robbing a pharmacy for Oxycodone. He has since entered WWE rehab, and the chances we see Tyson wrestle again at the age of 40 is very unlikely.
5 Scott Hall
Scott Hall was one of the most beloved and talented wrestlers to ever enter the ring, but being suspended multiple times in WCW, his short second run with WWE, and him being released multiple times from TNA, Hall's wrestling career fizzled out very quickly, at least in charisma and talent wise. He has been arrested on multiple occasions and has been in and out of WWE rehab more than any other wrestler.
He has since apparently turned his life around, as he has joined Diamond Dallas Page's "Accountability Crib," which he has been alcohol free and working out regularly. Being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014, it looks as though Hall's life could be back on track.
4 Tony Atlas
Tony Atlas made history in his first WWE run, as he and Rocky Johnson became the first African American tag team to hold the Tag Team Championships. Following his departure from WWE in the mid 80s, Atlas soon became addicted to drugs and witnessed the fatal stabbing of Bruiser Brody, which left a scar on him. By 1989, Atlas was homeless. One day, while sleeping in a park in Maine, Atlas was awoken by a woman, who invited him into her home. That woman is his wife.
Atlas soon got called by Vince McMahon to return as Saba Simba. While the gimmick was a complete fail, the gesture by Vince was still a blessing. "Before I went homeless I was 280 pounds. When she found me, I was 190 pounds and when I went back to Vince I was 240 pounds. Saba Simba saved my life."
2 Miss Elizabeth
Nicknamed the "First Lady of Wrestling," Miss Elizabeth was one of the most respected and revered female wrestlers and managers of all-time. After her divorce with Randy Savage after many years, Miss Elizabeth left the WWE which may have led to her hitting rock bottom. Alongside Lex Luger, her boyfriend at the time, Elizabeth got entangled with drugs and alcohol. She sadly died at the age of 42 due to a combination of vodka and painkillers.
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