Though it’s not a legitimate combat sport, professional wrestling is highly respected by fans as an athletic art form. Part theater acting and part stunt work, wrestling involves a high level of meticulous coordination and choreography in order to compete in a ring in front of thousands of fans. Before ever stepping into the ring, extensive training is required to make sure wrestlers know all the tricks of the trade to make sure that what they perform in the ring is both convincing to viewers and safe for those competing to prevent injuries or worse.
When performing in a wrestling match, the wrestlers involved are essentially working as a team and have to have a level of trust in each other because they are putting their bodies in the hands of their fellow “dance partners” in hopes that they can put on a good show without getting seriously hurt performing elaborate moves. Going off-script and performing moves not discussed and practiced ahead of time is highly looked down upon and has resulted in fines, suspensions and terminations.
In such a high-risk form of performance art, it takes discipline, years of training and placing a high premium on being of sound body and mind when going out in front of big stage at a sold out arena with cameras on you. So when a wrestler performs under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are not only putting their own lives in danger, they are putting the lives of their fellow wrestlers in danger and risk embarrassing the company which employs them. Believe it or not, there have been notable superstars who have recklessly wrestled while high.
The Bizarre One doesn’t cease to impress in the squared circle. Debuting in the WWE in 1995, Dustin “Goldust” Runnels is still going strong over 20 years later as part of the main roster. A skilled worker and ring general, Goldust is using his years of experience to benefit the young generation.
Goldust wasn’t always like this however. It’s been well-documented over the years that Goldust had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction during the dark periods of his life. One particular dark period was his time in TNA Wrestling where he performed as Black Reign between 2007 and 2008.
Goldust details in his tell-all book, Cross Roads: Goldust, Out of The Darkness, his severe drug problem that developed while under contract to TNA. As Black Reign, Runnels had ballooned up over 100 pounds than in his prime as Goldust and was doing cocaine and painkillers to the point where he’d be under the influence before competing in matches.
14 Road Warrior Hawk
The Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal, were the dominant brutish marquee tag team of the 80s and early 90s. Their stiff style, massive physiques, facepaint and spiked shoulder pads made them stand out among the more vanilla tag teams during that era. After dominating the tag team landscape in the territories and internationally in Japan, they were signed by the WWE as The Legion of Doom.
The two seemed unstoppable, but unfortunately there was a chink in the armor of Road Warrior Hawk in the form of substance abuse. What many fans do not know is that at one point Road Warrior Hawk broke the cardinal rule by wrestling under the influence and he did so on the big stage, a sold out Wembley Stadium in London at SummerSlam 1992. Hawk's partner Animal revealed that his partner was extremely drunk heading into the match and sloppily lumbered through their match against IRS and Ted DiBiase.
13 Kurt Angle
The Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle had a storied career in the WWE with memorable feuds and contests with the likes of The Rock, Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Kurt Angle also was one of TNA's biggest company signings and had a longer career in TNA than he had in WWE.
Despite his talents and accolades, Kurt Angle has struggled over the years with alcoholism and drug abuse, being arrested on numerous occasions for driving while intoxicated. But has Kurt Angle ever wrestled under the influence? This may be the case and is the reason why WWE parted ways with him in 2006, which they stated was because they feared for his health. Kurt Angle had been wrestling hurt for a period of time and rather than taking time off, he soldiered through it with painkillers. Once WWE caught wind of it, they saw it in their best interests to cut ties.
While it's possible he was under the influence while in the ring in WWE, it's more certain that he was in TNA. During his first year in TNA, in 2006, he would slur during interviews, according to SEScoops.com, and was sent to rehab for a few months to deal with substance abuse issues.
12 Rob Van Dam
Is there any surprise that the "Whole Effin Show" is on this list? Rob Van Dam is regarded as one of the most exciting and popular superstars in WWE history and is known for his innovative offense and high flying maneuvers. Rob Van Dam is also known for his love for smoking pot to the point that it became a part of his character.
Though he openly enjoys smoking weed, Rob Van Dam also admits that his stoner habit has hurt his career, especially in WWE. In 2006, his main event push was derailed and WWE title reign was cut short when he was caught with possession of marijuana by highway patrolmen.
While WWE has implemented a stringent wellness policy in recent years, Rob Van Dam may have gotten by in the past competing in matches while high, masking it with his typical high octane offense and trademark laid back attitude.
11 Randy Orton
The Apex Predator has been a mainstay in the WWE for nearly 15 years and along with John Cena and Batista, Randy Orton carried the company as a marquee star after The Attitude Era came to an end. However, his tenure in the WWE has not been without controversy and disciplinary issues for both his attitude and substance abuse problems.
In WWE's latest Beyond the Ring documentary DVD on the former Legend Killer, Randy Orton – The Evolution of A Predator, Orton opened up about his drug problems and struggles, particularly early on in his career. Orton has been disciplined by WWE numerous times in the past for violating the company's Wellness Policy for both steroids and recreational drugs.
In 2006, he was suspended by WWE for what was deemed "unprofessional conduct." Though the company didn't specify details, it was reported that the suspension was because he was caught rolling a joint and smoking backstage at a Smackdown taping. Orton very well could've wrestled high on that night.
10 Evan Bourne
With his dazzling shooting star press and eye-popping innovative aerial moves, Evan Bourne burst on to the scene in WWE in 2008 on the ECW Brand and quickly became popular for his acrobatic feats. Bourne's wrestling style and boyish good looks was sure to make him and the WWE a lot of money had he stayed clean but the Superstar may have taken the term "high-flying" to a meaning it wasn't meant for in the wrestling ring.
Evan was busted in 2011 for violating the WWE's strict Wellness Policy for having synthetic marijuana in his system. This derailed the momentum he was having at the time as part of a tag team with Kofi Kingston known as Air Boom. Evan and Kofi were Tag Team Champions at the time so it didn't look good for the team when he was suspended 30 days. Evan followed up with a second violation which instituted a 60 day suspension and cost him and Kofi the tag belts.
We'd assume that because of these suspensions, subsequent release from the WWE and due to Bourne's admission that he was addicted to synthetic marijuana that Evan must've wrestled high more than a few times.
Sean Waltman started out in the WWE in the early 90s as the lightening fast underdog 1-2-3 Kid. His small stature, resiliency and penchant for high-risk maneuvers made him an instant fan favorite. X-Pac became fast friends with Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash and soon became part of The Kliq, the backstage fraternity of WWE Superstars who worked hard in the ring and partied hard after shows.
That partying lifestyle may have been what started a roller coaster of substance abuse and addiction that would plague the star for years. X-Pac would battle these problems in WCW as Syxx of the nWo. He would have a more successful second run in the WWE as a member of D-Generation-X but his addiction problems would follow him.
It was revealed by Waltman himself in an interview that he once wrestled on TNA in a match against AJ Styles was on meth. Waltman does not look at that reckless and dangerous decision proudly and counts himself lucky that he pulled the match off without seriously injuring himself or AJ.
8 Road Dogg
The New Age Outlaws' charismatic mouth piece, the Road Dogg Jesse James thrived during The Attitude Era as part of D-Generation X and specifically his partnership with Bad Ass Billy Gunn, where they captured the WWE Tag Team Championships on numerous occasions, even as recently 2014.
Just like his DX buddy X-Pac, the Road Dogg also suffered with a lifelong struggle of alcohol and drug addiction that flourished at the height of his career during The Attitude Era. Road Dogg has admitted to being on painkillers and smoking marijuana while wrestling on the road during that time. One could particularly note a time where Road Dogg competed in a Royal Rumble match and spent the majority of the time sitting or sprawled in the corner, not even trying to compete, though that could've been part of his tactics.
Road Dogg's substance abuse came to a head near the end of 2000 when during a tag team partnership with K-Kwik that was cut short because of Road Dogg being suspended indefinitely and subsequently released for what they deemed "personal problems," which Road Dogg confirmed was because his drug abuse was getting out of control.
Sabu has been coined as the "homicidal, genocidal and suicidal" superstar and for good reason. He regularly put both his life and the life of his fellow wrestlers at risk because of the crazy high-risks he would take during his matches. For someone to take and dish out the kind of punishment he did night in and night out, he may have had to been on something and often times he was.
Sabu was famously busted during a routine traffic stop along with Rob Van Dam in 2006 for possession of drug paraphernalia which hurt both his and Rob Van Dam's standing in WWE. In shoot interviews, Sabu has admitted to being on drugs while wrestling in ECW and argued that a good load of the locker room wrestled while under the influence in some type of way whether it was alcohol, marijuana or harder drugs.
6 Ken Anderson
Ken Anderson made his mark in the pro wrestling landscape as part of the SmackDown brand as "Mr. Kennedy." His brash, cocky persona and microphone skills made him stand out and got WWE management invested in him, putting him in high profile feuds with the likes of The Undertaker, Kane and Shawn Michaels.
Management soured on him after complaints from stars like Randy Orton and John Cena about Anderson being reckless in the ring. Anderson was unceremoniously released from the WWE soon thereafter, but managed to have a semi-successful stint in TNA, capturing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. He has since been fired from TNA after wrestling a match while under the influence. Anderson was wrestling with Eric Young who quickly ended the match before complaining backstage about Anderson's odd behavior. This led to an on-the-spot drug test which Anderson failed.
5 The Sandman
The beer-swilling, cigarette smoking Sandman was beloved by rabid ECW fans for his rugged and reckless persona and the unashamed way he carried himself. The Hardcore ECW legend didn't appear to be a seasoned wrestler and his main appeal was his prolonged entrance, where he would come from the crowd, drink cans upon cans of beer and smash them over his head. The question that should be asked is: has Sandman every wrestled a man where he WASN'T intoxicated?
A notable time that Sandman wrestled under the influence and put both his life and his opponents life in danger was in 1997 at ECW's November to Remember PPV where he took on Sabu in what was a clumsy disaster of a match. Both Sabu and Sandman have confirmed that the match went so poorly because Sandman was high on acid at the time.
4 Jake Roberts
WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts is lauded as one of the masterminds of ring psychology as well as one of the greatest promo men the WWE has ever had. His DDT finisher is iconic as was his character of being the methodical, sadistic yet articulate villain who carried a python to the ring.
Jake would be the first to tell you that he was no role model and his struggles with drugs and alcohol have been a major problem in his life that only recently, through the help of DDP and his Yoga and rehabilitation program, was Jake Roberts able to bounce back from.
Jake's lowest point must have been in October 1999 at the Heroes of Wrestling PPV when Roberts made a full blown disgrace of himself while intoxicated. A slurring, incoherent pre-match promo preceded a staggering Roberts coming down to the ring for a match he was unfit to carry out.
3 The British Bulldog
Davey Boy Smith is another Hall of Famer who tragically had his life cut short from years of substance abuse and drug usage. What may be shocking to most people is that what may be one of the top five greatest matches ever in WWE history carries with it the stink of drug scandal because the British Bulldog competed while zonked out of his mind on crack.
At SummerSlam 1992, The British Bulldog competed against Bret "The Hitman" Hart in front of a massive crowd of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The match made history as Bulldog captured the Intercontinental Championship from his Brother-in-Law.
Bret Hart revealed in his 2007 autobiography regarding the match that Bulldog had "smoked crack all night before boarding the plane to England" and that Bulldog was messed up so badly from the drug usage that Bret had to carry the match because Bulldog forgot most of the plan. It's pretty remarkable that this match has gone down as a wrestling classic knowing that Bulldog wasn't all there.
2 Scott Hall
Scott Hall is another one of those sad stories that has recently shown a glimmer of hope. One of the original outsiders, Scott Hall made a name for himself as Razor Ramon in the WWE before jumping ship to WCW and changing the industry as we knew it by forming the nWo along with Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan.
Hall's problem with alcohol and drugs have plagued him most of his adult life, which he attributes to self-loathing over accidentally killing a man before his days of stardom when he was a nightclub bouncer. His alcoholism led to numerous firings over the years with TNA and WWE, but his lowest point may have came in 2011 when Hall was scheduled to work an Independent show and arrived clearly under the influence.
Hall could barely walk, much less wrestle in this tragic video, that went viral. Fortunately for Hall, that incident was the catalyst for tackling his problems once and for all.
1 Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma tops the list for his epically embarrassing performance where he tried to compete in a main event match on a TNA pay-per-view while high. Hardy has had a long battle with drug abuse dating back to his time in WWE.
Hardy has had numerous stints and go arounds in the WWE which always ended in him being released or suspended because of his erratic behavior and drug usage. WWE tried to get Jeff Hardy to attend rehabs but he would refuse so he was released. When he was signed by TNA in 2010, he became TNA's problem.
Hardy's out of control drug use would find its way onto television as Hardy was set to face Sting for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the 2011 PPV Victory Road. Hardy would take what was noted as an unspecified cocktail of drugs and made his way to the ring clearly not all there. The match was decided to be cut short on the fly as Sting immediately put him down for the count, outraging fans who paid to see a competitive contest. The incident has gone down as TNA's most embarrassing moment and Jeff Hardy's most damaging blemish to his wrestling career.
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