WWE's Attitude Era may have been the greatest period in pro wrestling history. More people watched wrestling during WWE's not-for-kids years than even during the Hulkamania boom of the 1980s!
However, the Attitude Era also took place during a rough period for wrestlers. At the time, the industry was so competitive that wrestlers were working hurt just to stay on TV. In order to work through the pain, many performers became addicted to painkillers, recreational drugs, or alcohol.
As a result of the tough working conditions wrestlers faced at the time, many stars from the Attitude era are no longer with us. Sadly, many perished as a result of overdoses or enlarged hearts from taking performance-enhancing substances.
Those who still survive are either the smart or lucky ones. Some surviving Attitude Era stars look fit, healthy and happy. Others are no so lucky, however.
Though we'd like you to get a glimpse of how Attitude Era stars look like today, this article omits images of anyone from the era who have stayed in the spotlight. We don't really need to show you what The Rock or Steve Austin looks like today as you probably see them from time to time already. Instead this article focuses on the lesser-knowns and checks in on them to see how they're doing, and how they're looking these days.
Shown above at a recent independent event in British Columbia, David Heath was brought into WWE in 1998 at the urging of Bruce Pritchard and Vince Russo. The pair were high on the vampire character he had been playing in the USWA.
Gangrel led the Brood, a small faction of Gothic characters which included Edge and Christian. The group would later involve Matt and Jeff Hardy for a short period of time.
After WWE Gangrel went into directing pornography for a company named "New Porn Order." He directed 12 films for nPo. The 48-year-old is still out there on the indie wrestling scene these days as well, as his character always gets over strong with such crowds.
According to a recent interview, Gangrel claims Bray Wyatt pushed for him to be involved with the Wyatt family recently, though this never appears to have materialized.
The Florida native has two sons and has been divorced three times over.
19 Darren "Droz" Drozdov
It's been almost 20 years since Droz was paralyzed during an episode of SmackDown. Droz and D-Lo Brown combined to botch a powerbomb in 1999 and Drozdov fractured two discs in his neck, leaving him a quadriplegic.
Over the years, the 48-year-old Droz has gained movement back in his arms and upper body. He gets around in a decked out tank-like wheelchair which was designed personally for him by his friend from college. The friend just so happens to be the founder of Under Armour, a successful athletic clothing brand.
Droz and his girlfriend married just days after his accident, though the pair would divorce in 2005. He is said to have never held any ill feelings towards D-Lo for the incident.
After the accident Droz wrote articles and blogs for WWE's website and magazine. He has stopped this in recent years, however.
18 Spike Dudley
WWE.com caught up with the runt of the Dudley litter a few years ago. They reported Spike as a happy family man, working as a financial planner and retired from wrestling. What they didn't mention is that there is still a hardcore wrestler living inside Spike Dudley. One that has to be let out on the indie scene from time to time, as shown in the picture above.
Not long after the WWE.com article came out, Spike got back into the indie wrestling scene on a part-time basis. Financial planner by week and "Brother Runt" on weekends was the routine for Matt Hyson from 2013-2015. The 46-year-old seems to be cooling off on his wrestling appearances in recent years. Many had hoped he would return to WWE with Bubba and D-Von in 2016.
Hyson has a son and a daughter with his wife Vikki.
Sadly Vader's health isn't too good these days. After a car accident last fall, doctors alerted Leon White that his heart health was not good. Doctors have told him he only has two years left to live, but a third opinion was evidently not as gloomy. Recently, Diamond Dallas Page has contacted White about getting healthier through his DDP Yoga program.
The 61-year-old says he won't stop wrestling despite his diagnosis, and he has, in fact, been quoted as saying he would like to die in the ring. In April 2017, he even traveled to Japan to take part in the Tatsumi Fujinami 45th Anniversary Show in Tokyo, where he had, unfortunately, collapsed after a match. He appears to be in good shape after the incident, however.
Vader never hit the heights in WWE that he did in Japan, or even early-stage WCW. His victory over Antonio Inoki in 1987 caused a riot and resulted in NJPW being banned from the building. It was a huge deal in Japan at the time.
16 Marc Mero
Mero was the Randy Savage to Sable's Miss Elizabeth. He was the over-protective boyfriend who flew into a rage when Sable would attempt to take off her clothing in front of live audiences. He played a key role in getting Sable as over as she was.
Nowadays Marc Mero travels to schools as an inspirational speaker. His talks focus on anti-bullying messages and how to make important choices in life. In 2010, he authored the book "How To Be The Happiest Person on the Planet" in the self-development genre.
While it is difficult to tell just how happy Mero is, it can certainly be said that he looks healthy. The 56-year-old could easily pass for a healthy athlete in his 30s.
From Johnny B. Badd to self-help guru, Marc Mero has led an interesting life.
15 Road Warrior Animal
Road Warrior Animal still keeps his hair like that. The member of WWE's 2011 Hall of Fame class is also seen wearing a St. Louis Rams jacket in this photo, a team his son James played on for six great seasons. Previously, James Laurinaitis had been a two-time Jack Lambert trophy winner at Ohio State.
Unfortunately, things are not great between WWE and Animal (Joseph Laurinaitis) at the moment. He is currently part of a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging WWE withheld information regarding the long term risks of head injuries. Several names from WWE's past are part of the suit.
The Legion of Doom were still popular during the Attitude era, though their old-school gimmick failed to resonate with the new breed of fans as it got later in the 1990s. Angles poking fun at Hawk's real-life substance abuse issues didn't help either.
Brought into feud with the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita, Victoria is now a budding business owner!
A little known tidbit regarding Victoria's WWE debut was that she was actually The Godfather's "Head Ho". This was a short-lived angle (as most prostitution-related storylines are) in which Victoria tried to free all the Godfather's Hos. Then they just called her Victoria, put her in the ring, and hoped everyone would just kind of forget (which they did).
Victoria had run a wrestling-themed restaurant in Chicago named The Squared Circle, which seemed to get positive reviews. It closed recently after four years in business. Yet she indicated on Twitter a new location could open at some point in the future.
She was a great hand during an important period for women's wrestling, having had great matches with Trish Stratus and others. Her credibility helped take the division out of the "Puppies" and "Bra and Panties matches" phase.
Similar to Victoria, Ivory was brought in to play the heel to Trish Stratus and Lita. Ivory was brought in a year earlier, in 1999, where again, like Victoria, she was one of The Godfather's Hos. This fact was promptly ignored when she would wrestle her first match not long afterwards under the name "Ivory".
From 1999 to 2005, Ivory was a top heel in WWE women's divisions. Much like Victoria again, she was not a "T & A" Diva, but rather a wrestler, and a pretty decent one.
Ivory now runs a unique animal wellness business in Washington State. In addition to grooming services, her business also owns a bus and takes dogs on day trips.
She is a former three-time Women's Champion, and could potentially go in the Hall of Fame someday.
12 Savio Vega
Savio Vega is still Savio Vega. He wrestles in Puerto Rico and everyone loves the guy! He represented Puerto Rico on wrestling's largest stage from 1993 to 1998, and the fame he earned has kept him popular still today at 52 years of age.
Vega had a few different roles in WWE, but during the peak of the Attitude Era, he was the leader of Los Boricuas, a Puerto Rican street gang that feuded against the Nation of Domination and the Disciples of Apocalypse, and to a lesser extent, the Truth Commission. This was during a period when the company felt factions were what the fans wanted to see, and there were tons of them at the time. After he left WWE, he took the stable name with him. Los Boricuas has ended up being an active stable in four different Puerto Rican based wrestling companies. The Truth Commissions can't say that!
11 Taka Michinoku
Remember 20 years ago when Taka Michinoku was an innovative junior heavyweight? Well, he's still doing that, only back in Japan now.
Now a 43-year-old veteran, you can find Taka competing in New Japan Pro Wrestling. While he is a little bit slower, he is still capable of highly exciting matches when called upon.
Currently, Taka is part of the Suzuki-Gun faction led by Minoru Suzuki. The faction had been in Pro Wrestling NOAH until a new ownership group took over last year, and NJPW pulled their loaned talent back.
Taka was never charged for his role in attempting to "choppy choppy" Val Venis' "pee pee" back in 1998. At the time, Taka was a member of the Kaientai stable, as they feuded with the popular porn star.
10 D-Lo Brown
46-year-old D-Lo Brown has been working in pro wrestling for over 20 years. He is best known for his time in WWE during the Attitude Era, however. Brown joined Faarooq's Nation of Domination stable in 1997. At first D-Lo was more of a prop for the group, silently standing in the background while wearing a bowtie.
After Faarooq fired Savio Vega and Crush from the Nation, D-Lo found himself a more active member of the group. He became a four-time European Champion, and also won the Intercontinental Championship on one occasion as well.
Brown was released from WWE in 2003, though he would briefly return in 2008. He also had a run in TNA as part of the Aces and Eights angle. He still makes appearances for various promotions across the country. When he's not wrestling he is the father of two girls with his wife Jennifer.
9 Val Venis
Real name Sean Morley, Venis discovered that marijuana is a healthy alternative to pain medication after his wrestling career ended. He has developed something of an affinity for the substance.
Nowadays Venis runs a marijuana dispensary in Arizona named "Health For Life." He also refers to himself as Kaptain Kannabis on YouTube and releases videos on various marijuana-related topics.
Venis was a big part of the Attitude era. His porn star gimmick was one that conveyed to the audience that this was no longer the wrestling they had grown up with. Unfortunately when WWE was forced to tone down the content of their shows, it left Morley without the gimmick he had become famous for.
8 Steve Blackman
Steve Blackman didn't last long in the world of pro wrestling, but he tends to be someone fans remember. After bringing Ken Shamrock into WWE in 1996, the company realized that martial artists could be a good talent pool to draw from. They ended up bringing in Steve Blackman and Dan Severn as well.
Blackman left WWE in 2002 and opened up a MMA gym in Harrisburg, PA. He's hosted four MMA events at his gym but he also has a side gig as a bail bonds officer. Like Dog the Bounty Hunter, Blackman attempted to parlay this into a reality TV show. Sadly, after producing a pilot it does not appear there was much interest in Blackman's Bounties.
The 53-year-old does hold one interesting WWE statistic. Blackman holds the record for most combined days (172) as WWE Hardcore Champion.
7 The Jackal/Cyrus/Don Callis
It appears as though The Jackal, a.k.a. Don Callis in real life, cut off some of his hair, and nature helped him out with it.
During the Attitude Era, The Jackal managed the Truth Commission for a period. This was during the height of WWE's "gang wars" period, when the DOA and Los Boricuas were also active. The angle never really led anywhere, and the faction was disbanded after a short run.
After the Truth Commission angle, Jackal was the short-lived managed of "the Parade of Human Oddities". This faction involved a re-gimmicked vision of Kurrgan, John Tenta as Golga, and the Insane Clown Posse also got thrown in there at some point. Callis was eventually fired and went to ECW.
Nowadays Callis is back doing commentary as one-half of the english commentary team for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He also co-hosts a podcast with Lance Storm titled Killing the Town.
First, Kurrgan was a giant South African military man in the Truth Commission. Then he was a big giant guy in the Parade of Human Oddities. Now he makes a living playing big giant guys in films. He's a professionally tall person, kind of like Manute Bol was for the Golden State Warriors back in the day.
He was in 300, Pacific Rim, Monster's Brawl and a few other films that required giant-sized characters. Most recently he has been featured on the TV show The Strain as the Master.
While Kurrgan had a gigantic and unique look to him, he was awkward in the ring. It required some bells and whistles to make a Kurrgan match look good. His Iron Claw finisher also left something to be desired.
5 Skull and 8-Ball (DOA)
The former bikers who joined Crush and Brian Lee in the Disciples of Apocalypse were Ron and Don Harris. The two had gone by the Bruise Brothers and Blu Brothers names previously.
The "gang wars" period of the Attitude era is largely forgotten, and with good reason. The angle started after Faarooq fired Crush and Savio Vega from the Nation of Domination, and the two each started their own faction in response.
The pair would sign with WCW and were featured as part of Vince Russo's period as booker. Using the names Gerald and Patrick (as in Vince McMahon's "stooges" Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson), they trolled WWE as the tag team Creative Control, before becoming members of the revamped version of the nWo in 2000.
After wrestling they began to work for a marketing and production firm named Aroluxe. The company was most recently linked financially to Impact Wrestling, and even attempted to purchase the company outright in 2016.
You might not believe this one, but the guy once known as "Naked Mideon" is now a successful chef! Real name Dennis Knight, he retired from the ring for good in 2006 and began looking for work in the culinary world. Knight caught on with Cafe Point in Clearwater, Florida where the head chef took him under his wing.
His new career is certainly a stretch from his old one. Knight spent nearly 20 years as a pro wrestler, having debuted in 1988. He was signed by WWE in 1996 and dubbed Phineas I. Godwinn (PIG), one-half of the Godwinns tag team.
While the Godwinns would win the tag team championships on two occasions, Knight is perhaps better known for his time as Mideon, the eyeball-in-a-jar carrying member of Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness.
3 The Patriot
During the peak of the Hart Foundation's Canada vs. USA feud in 1997, WWE brought in "The Patriot" Del Wilkes. The character even scored a victory over then-WWF champion Bret Hart. The two would have a rematch at a later In Your House PPV and Bret would avenge his loss.
After Bret left WWE in late 1997, the Canada vs. USA feud ended, leaving Wilkes without much to do. WWE released him in early-1998. Tricep injuries would force him to retire shortly afterwards.
He struggled after leaving wrestling, mainly due to his addiction to pain pills. Wilkes served nine months in jail in 2002 due to forging painkiller prescriptions. He now works as a car salesman in South Carolina.
2 Ahmed Johnson
Ahmed Johnson was supposed to be a much bigger deal during the Attitude era than he was. He would feud with the Nation of Domination, then join the Nation, and then again start feuding with them again all in a span of a few months at one point.
He would align with the Legion of Doom to take on the Nation, but afterwards WWE sort of gave up on the big guy. Rumours of his being dangerous to work with may have prevented him receiving a bigger push.
He toiled in WCW for a brief period when Vince Russo was booking, though few noticed. He went back to school and a got a degree in criminology, and is also a trainer for Booker T's wrestling school.
While 44-year-old Tamara Lynn Sytch has become something of a distasteful joke in recent years, she was a valuable member of the Attitude Era.
When she was appearing on Monday Night Raw almost nobody on the roster got a pop as big as she did. Her work on the mic and even in guest spots on commentary always drew a big reaction.
Her contributions to the industry are somewhat overshadowed by her sketchy recent behaviour, however. Sunny just got out of prison in February, stemming from numerous DUI arrests. She is said to be currently staying at a sober living residence.
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