It’s a long way to the top of the wrestling world. Thousands upon thousands have tried to become a professional wrestler at some point in their life, and few have ever even gotten the opportunity to receive pay for their efforts. Even worse are the ones who have all the talent in the world, become heroes of minor promotions and still never receive that big break that catapults them into household name status. It’s a sad fact of life that the very best in professional wrestling don’t always reach the heights that they deserve to see.
On the other hand, you have wrestlers whose careers are like hangovers. They come along, achieve the kind of stardom that few could ever dream of and retire with the love and affection of everyone that witnessed them do their job. Shortly thereafter, however, we all start to feel dizzy when we try to comprehend what just happened. In retrospect, it’s hard to understand just how these wrestlers that were so often a step behind the very best in the industry were able to achieve so much with so little. The term overrated is a highly subjective and controversial one, but at the same time, it’s the only word that feels appropriate when describing the careers of wrestlers that had the world handed to them despite never measuring up.
But what happened after those careers ended? When the spotlight was turned off and it was time for these performers to start looking at the next stage of their life, what became of them? Did they find success in another area, or simply fade away into a normal life while occasionally taking advantage of the glory days to reap some extra cash? What are the 20 most overrated wrestlers of all time up to now?
20 Koko B. Ware
Koko B. Ware spent much of his early career touring the territories working a variety of uninspiring gimmicks. He was a solid hand that could work a gullible crowd if called upon to do so but didn’t possess anything that really set him apart from a couple dozen other guys that fit that billing. It wasn’t until he entered WWE and was graced with his famous “Birdman” gimmick that Koko finally started to separate himself from the pack. Still, his meandering ring and mic skills don’t explain how the man made it into the Hall of Fame.
Today, Koko still makes the occasional indie wrestling appearance and is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the WWE over concussions.
19 Mikey Whipwreck
Paul Heyman was something of a genius when it came to making the most out of the talent he was given, but Mikey Whipwreck is undoubtedly his masterpiece in that respect. Despite being a scrawny young man with little real talent to his name, Mikey was still able to win the hearts of the ECW faithful thanks to an innovative “lovable loser” gimmick that was booked to perfection. Mikey even won the ECW World Championship because of the success of his booking.
You’d barely recognize the 42-year-old Whipwreck today as he’s lost his hair, put on some considerable weight and has stayed out of the limelight since his last wrestling appearance in 2015.
18 Billy Kidman
The one thing that nobody can ever take away from Billy Kidman is that the man knew how to perform one hell of a shooting star press. Aside from that particular skill, the wandering Kidman was always a step or two behind the other high-flyers of his era. Following a brief main event run in WCW, Kidman spent a few years in WWE without a noteworthy moment to his name. After that, Kidman bounced around indie promotions before settling on playing some on-screen bit roles for WWE from time to time in between his job duties as a road agent.
17 Greg Gagne
It’s kind of difficult to work your whole life and not have at least one story about someone who got to where they were because of their family. Greg Gagne may be the ultimate case of that nepotism effect in wrestling. Legendary wrestler Verne Gagne just couldn’t resist booking his son Greg to the top of the card when he ran the AWA and the result was a series of uninspiring matches that had fans rolling their eyes at the sight of Greg wearing championship gold. Greg sold cars for some time after a run with WCW before taking a job as a WWE road agent. He now manages a trading fund for former wrestlers
16 One Man Gang
If you were a big enough, mean enough looking guy in the 80s, you could usually find work as a professional wrestler. That seems to be how the physically intimidating One Man Gang found his way into the scene, but it doesn’t explain how this uninspiring wrestler found so much work over the years. After a run as a top heel in UWF, George Gray found his way to WWE during that period when Hulk Hogan was squashing big guys. After dealing with that awful “Akeem” gimmick, he spent a little time working worse ones in WCW and continued to make sporadic appearances up until 2009.
According to the most recent reports, he now works as a correctional officer.
15 The Sandman
Long before Steve Austin began knocking back beers and sticking it to the man, The Sandman was doing the same in ECW. As something of a blue-collar hero armed with a kendo stick, The Sandman climbed up the ECW ranks even though he lacked just about every traditional wrestling skill you can name. As a matter of fact, The Sandman was so popular he became a record five-time ECW World Champion. Sandman had a brief run in WCW in 1999 followed by a return to ECW that lasted until the promotion’s dying days.
He’s still up for the occasional indie wrestling cameo that allows him to parade the old gimmick in-between some run-ins with the law over public intoxication and bar fights.
14 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett always seemed to have the good fortune of finding himself in the right place at the right time. After snatching up the World Class Championship Wrestling promotion in the late ‘80s, he managed to book himself to the top and catch the attention of WWE. Here, Jarrett benefited from a number of over-the-top gimmicks that successfully created the illusion that the man had personality. J
arrett was able to hustle himself to the top of the card wherever he went (usually as the result of a behind the scenes position), and he continues to hustle to this day as the founder of Global Force Wrestling and possible accomplice in a cash for gold system operated by the promotion's parent company.
13 Kevin Nash
Never underestimate how far a well-liked big man can go in the world of pro wrestling. Kevin Nash worked under the guise of some of the worst characters wrestling has ever seen during his time in WCW, but thanks in part to a friendship with Shawn Michaels, he was able to work his way to the top of the WWE card before becoming a founding member of the nWo upon his WCW return. During this lengthy run at the top, Nash never really put on a good match with anyone not named Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart, but was reportedly one hell of a backstage politician.
Nash is known to make the occasional B-movie or WWE appearance these days but has lived a pretty quiet life since leaving TNA in 2011 outside of a dropped domestic battery charge in 2014.
12 Larry Zbyszko
Once upon a time, Larry Zbyszko took part in a brilliant angle that saw him turn against his mentor Bruno Sammartino. It was such a classic wrestling moment that Zbyszko spent the next few decades parlaying it into a healthy and lucrative wrestling career. Zbyszko was good at drawing boos, but they were always the kind of “please just go away” boos that are misinterpreted for actual heat.
Larry would settle into announcer/on-screen authoritative roles in the latter part of his career, but remarkably still worked matches as late as 2012 at the tender age of 60. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 and occasionally does odd jobs for WWE behind the scenes.
11 King Kong Bundy
Could you imagine a guy like King Kong Bundy finding his way into WWE today? Put mildly, King Kong Bundy broke into the world of professional wrestling because he was one shockingly large individual. While nobody ever really expects someone of that size to be a skilled worker, Bundy also happened to lack the personality and character that made guys like Andre The Giant so memorable.
Bundy left WWE on shaky terms in 1995 and only made sporadic independent wrestling appearances since that time. Instead, Bundy spent most of his post-wrestling years focusing on his acting career and stand-up comedy.
10 Buff Bagwell
Due to his simply ridiculous physique and complete lack of wrestling skills, Buff Bagwell could very well serve as the poster child for the era of steroid-fueled wrestlers. His success is something of a sign of the times, as Bagwell was able to get over in an era that saw well-built loudmouths with bizarre senses of style and a catchy names become stars. Buff made a brief run with WWE following the fall of WCW, but was released due to a reported altercation with Shane Helms and other general attitude issues.
He continued to wrestle for smaller promotions thereafter and was involved in a nasty car crash that he barely walked away from in 2012. His new career is perhaps the most interesting post-wrestling career out there. He is now a male gigolo, as part of Cowboys4Angels. His services are reportedly worth quite a bit according to the owner. Charges for time with Bagwell are $800 for two hours, $3,000 for an overnight visit, $8,000 for a weekend and $25,000 for a week.
9 Jim Duggan
As a member of Mid-South wrestling, Jim Duggan became something of a territorial legend following an extended feud with Ted Dibiase. He was one of wrestling’s hottest prospects at the time he entered WWE, but his skills were never really on display as WWE preferred to emphasize his America loving, 2x4 wielding character instead. Duggan settled into a professional rut because of his work in this role, though he was still able to convert it into a job with nearly every major American promotion. He currently helps Jeff Jarrett promote Global Force Wrestling and makes appearances in such fantastic media as Duck Dynasty and the film Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies.
8 Ahmed Johnson
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why WWE had such high hopes for Ahmed Johnson. The man was a natural athlete and had the kind of physique that promoters of the era believed could sell out stadiums. The problem was that everyone was so obsessed with Johnson’s physical attributes that nobody ever really bothered to acknowledge the fact that he couldn't wrestle and cut some of the worst promos that human ears have ever had to suffer through.
Johnson left WWE in 1998, gained a considerable bit of weight before joining WCW in 1999 and worked the indies for a few years starting in 2000. He spent his retirement earning a degree in criminology and training young wrestlers at the Pro Wrestling Alliance school.
7 Billy Gunn
Do you know that kid in school that became infamous for accepting any dare that was put in front of them? Billy Gunn is pro wrestling’s version of that kid. Billy managed to get some pretty incredible mileage out of some truly awful gimmicks and became an Attitude Era star despite that whole “he secretly sucks at professional wrestling” handicap. Following his WWE departure in 2004, Billy Gunn spent a few years in TNA as a boytoy to the Beautiful People before settling into a backstage job for WWE in 2012. Gunn was released from WWE in 2015 and suspended from powerlifting competitions as the result of a failed drug test.
6 Val Venis
Vince Russo often cites the Val Venis videos as the prime example of how proper pre-debut promotion can help a star to get over, and he is not wrong. Val’s adult film star turned pro wrestler gimmick was perfect for the Attitude Era and helped Venis become a bonafide star. Once the character began to fade, however, the deficiencies of Venis’ ring work became that much more obvious. Remarkably, Venis actually made in-ring appearances for WWE as late as 2008 before the company formally terminated his contract.
Following his release, Venis made a brief run for TNA in 2010 but ultimately became a well-known advocate for cannabis reform in his latter years. He now runs his own medical marijuana business, entitled "Health for Life", located in Mesa, Arizona.
Whether you call him Sid Justice, Sycho Sid, Sid Vicious or simply Sid, the man born into the world as Sidney Eudy never managed to live up to the main event chances he received in several major wrestling promotions. Sid fit that “big guy with an intimidating demeanor” wrestler role perfectly, but was a painfully limited in-ring performer who was incapable of working a good match with anyone that wasn’t a hall of famer. His last run in a major promotion was with WCW from 1999 to 2001, but that came to an end courtesy of one of the worst wrestling injuries ever witnessed.
Sid makes the occasional low-budget film appearance and hasn’t been seen in a wrestling ring since appearing on Raw’s 1,000th episode in 2012.
4 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner has had an interesting career to say the least. As part of the Steiner Brothers, he and Rick Steiner spent a good few years as arguably the best tag team in the world. In fact, you could argue that they’re the best team of all time. The trouble started when Scott Steiner embarked on his long awaited solo career, bulked up to cartoonish degrees, cut some indecipherable promos and generated enough backstage heat to bake a cake.
After spending a couple of years in WWE putting on some truly awful matches, Steiner enjoyed a fairly uneventful run in TNA from 2006-2010. His personal life is highlighted by his ban from attending the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 for allegedly threatening Hulk Hogan’s wife. He currently runs a Shoney’s restaurant in Georgia and still wrestles on the independent scene.
3 Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer had trouble getting over with the ECW faithful in his early days with the promotion, but quickly discovered that fans loved seeing him take beatings that would kill other men. He parlayed this willingness to endure incredible violence into a long wrestling career that saw him continue to endure incredible amounts of punishment while failing to produce quality matches outside of his eternal feud with Raven.
Dreamer formally ended his WWE career in 2010 and began to bounce around various federations (including TNA) as a sort of “gun for hire” whenever anyone needed their local star to go hardcore.
You’d be a fool to deny Bill Goldberg his rightful status as one of the hottest properties in wrestling during one of wrestling’s most popular eras, but his work hasn’t aged gracefully. He’s not much more than three power moves, some occasional yelling and a win streak that did not end gracefully. His run in WWE during 2003 highlighted his weaknesses and served as a fairly underwhelming farewell to the once major star.
Beyond that, Golderg spent a little time as a color commentator and began a popular podcast entitled “Who’s Next?!” His wrestling appearances have been few and far between, but he did spear Scott Steiner at a Legends of Wrestling event in 2015.
1 Shane Douglas
Wrestling has no shortage of generic performers that have somehow found a way to churn a respectable career out of the business, but none are quite as undeserving of their success as Shane Douglas. Shane may have faded away into wrestling history as a white bread performer, were it not for his involvement in the famous 1994 NWA Title shaming that helped him become a beloved superstar. Shane remained an unimpressive professional wrestler in the big leagues all the way up to 2009 when he left TNA. He produced the 2013 film Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies and is currently working on starting a wrestler friendly promotion that offers performers real benefits.