Wrestling as a career is anything but stable. This means that many stars don’t take full advantage of their time in the spotlight and are left without a plan when their career comes to an abrupt end. WWE often keeps it’s members around as trainers, producers, or even on-screen characters after their in-ring career ends. However, this is only the case for those lucky few who have left their mark.
There are many stars from the past generation who have been forced to set up GoFundMe pages to help with costs of medical bills or to help pay for accommodation that they can no longer afford now that their wrestling career has come to an end. It seems that for some of these stars, the higher they climbed, the harder they fell and then continued to fall. Many fans have forgotten about them, but their problems have piled up and they struggled to survive in the real world when the WWE no longer became their source of income.
Of course, this isn’t the case for every ex-wrestler, there are many who have been able to capitalize on their popularity from when they were part of the wrestling circuit and go on to start interesting career paths of their own, which is a stark contrast considering the numbers who have fallen off the wagon in recent years.
The following list looks at 10 of the saddest stories when it comes to former wrestlers as well as five stories that look at superstars who have done much better since they decided to retire from the business.
15. Sad: Justin Credible
Justin Credible was once seen as a legend by many ECW fans, but his return to the company back in 2006 for the revamped ECW didn’t go to plan and he was released merely months later.
It’s been a sad few years for the star who retired from in-ring competition back in 2015.
He has since sought help with the hope that he could once again get his life back on track. It seems that Credible was able to return to wrestling last year and was booked on Blitzkrieg Pro’s event back in December, but he turned up after having a few too many and tried to commandeer the whole show. The video of this has since gone viral which shows him being heckled out of the building as his wrestling career has now definitely come to a sad end.
14. Sad: Matt Cappotelli
WWE fans will remember Cappotelli from Tough Enough where he won the competition and went on to become OVW Champion. He was definitely a star that WWE was looking at when it came to signings for the main roster until it was reported that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The former star underwent surgery and even though it was successful he was unable to return to the career he had worked so hard for. It was revealed last year that the star was once again diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour and would have to undergo another process. Some of this tumour was considered inoperable and it has left Cappotelli in a position where he is once again looking at an uphill battle when it comes to his health.
13. Better: Edge
There have been a few occasions where WWE Superstars have been forced to walk away from the company because of health issues that cut their career much shorter than it should have been. Edge is a former 11-time World Champion and he was forced to retire from the company back in 2011 when it was revealed that he was suffering from cervical spinal stenosis.
The WWE Hall Of Famer has since been able to create quite a successful acting career for himself outside of wrestling.
He has guest starred in a number of shows including The Flash and Private Eyes as well as landing recurring roles in Haven and Vikings. Edge has also made a number of appearances for WWE over the past few years and created The Edge and Christian Show alongside his best friend on the WWE Network.
12. Sad: Dynamite Kid
There are a lot of stories circulating about Dynamite Kid and the things he would do both backstage and to his wife throughout his wrestling career. It was said that one of the cruel pranks that he played including waking his wife up with a gun to her head, this continued until the Rougeau brothers got even and broke his jaw, which led to him leaving WWE not long afterwards.
He has since stayed away from public attention over the past few decades, but it is reported that he suffered a major stroke back in 2013 that has left him in a care home. He also lost use of his legs because of injuries suffered when wrestling. His family have reached out to WWE to help to send money to get him back home, but it is unknown if the company has stepped up to help the former Champion.
11. Sad: Virgil
One of the saddest stories in professional wrestling is that of Virgil, who wasn’t that much of an iconic star in WWE to begin with.
He has tried everything possible to continue to squeeze money out of fans over the past few years.
There was even a website set up called Lonely Virgil where fans would post pictures of Virgil at Conventions or public places where he had set up a table and was hoping to sell pictures to fans for extortionate prices, but he would always be alone since fans have clicked into what he was doing. It was also reported that his former friend Ted DiBiase had to take action to stop him from selling photos of him and making money from them and using his name to get bookings at conventions when he wasn’t even told about the booking.
10. Better: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus retired from WWE back in 2006 as a seven-time Women’s Champion before she later became a WWE Hall of Famer. The wife and mother of two has since been able to open her own Yoga Studio which is called Stratusphere and is located in Toronto.
Stratus has also appeared in a number of TV shows. So much so that she had to miss her honeymoon to begin filming Armed and Famous back in 2006 and was also the main star of the film Bounty Hunters a few years ago. She recently appeared as part of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble back in January. She showed that she is also still in incredible shape. Stratus has been a role model to women ever since she first stepped into a WWE ring and she has continued to be an inspiration over the past few years.
9. Sad: Vader
Big Van Vader was a star in the 1990s in WWE but backstage politics led by Shawn Michaels were one of the reasons why he left the company back in 1998. Vader was originally supposed to become Champion but Michaels ensured that this didn’t happen.
He has since continued to wrestle all over the world, even though his health has continued to decline.
He actually passed out in the ring during a match in Japan last year. Vader revealed that he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure back in 2016 and recently stated that doctors haven’t given him long left to live. This could be why he refuses to sit around and wait and still continues to wrestle despite his mounting health problems.
8. Sad: Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty was once part of The Rockers alongside Shawn Michaels but when he was super-kicked though that barbershop window, his career went along with it. Jannetty has remained on the wrestling circuit over the past few years but has reached the point where many fans refuse to pay to watch him wrestle anymore.
Most recently it was revealed that Jannetty found out that he had a daughter, but when the DNA test results came back that they were not actually related, it seems that the former WWE star took to Facebook to ask if it was OK for them to become lovers now. Fans have lost a lot of respect for Jannetty since then and it’s no coincidence that he hasn’t been booked on many wrestling shows since.
7. Better: AJ Lee
AJ Lee retired from WWE following WrestleMania 31 back in 2015 and even though she worked her entire life to become a wrestler, she has been able to find her feet outside of the company as well. The former Divas Champion who is married to UFC star CM Punk released her autobiography last year entitled “Crazy is my Superpower” which has become a New York Times Bestseller.
AJ recently took to Twitter to announce the news that her book was about to be turned into a TV series as well.
She continues to raise awareness for mental health issues and people with bipolar like herself. AJ has become a role model for many of the younger generation of the WWE Universe over the past few years and has continued to be a worthy role model since her retirement.
6. Sad: Sunny
The story of WWE’s first Diva isn’t considered to be a happy one. Sunny has fallen so low over the past few years that even her own mother has taken out a restraining order against her because of her erratic behaviour and the fact that she has become reliant on many chemical crutches.
Sunny has struggled when it comes to income as well and it seems that she became so desperate for money that she began giving fans private Skype sessions online. WWE appears to have decided to give up on the former star given the issues she has had in recent years. It comes as no shock that she wasn’t invited back to the company to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of a show that she was once part of.
5. Sad: Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake Roberts is a WWE Hall of Famer and considered to be one of the best wrestlers who never won a WWE Championship, but it seems that there was something that plagued Roberts throughout his career. Roberts began drinking when he was just a teenager and this gradually moved on to an addiction which saw him forced to ask for help from Diamond Dallas Page when it became too much for him to deal with.
Robert’s health issues have been well documented and his recent battle with cancer was one that he was able to overcome before it was revealed that he had a number of abnormalities in his brain which were caused by years of taking bumps. Roberts has had a time with his health over the past few years.
4. Better: Diamond Dallas Page
WWE Hall of Famer and former Champion Diamond Dallas Page has created quite the life for himself outside of wrestling over the past few years since his ex-wife first introduced him to Yoga. The star has since been able to unveil DDP Yoga which has been able to help a number of wrestlers fight addiction and get their lives back after they have asked the star for help.
DDP is someone that WWE has always got time for since he was able to help so many former wrestlers in recent years and the company have called on him for assistance in recent years. DDP has even managed to inspire his daughter Brittany to take up Yoga as well, something that she herself has since turned into a career.
3. Sad: Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn was never a superstar that was going to be pushed to the top of the company, but he is remembered as a mid-card star that was forced out of the business following an incident back in 2004.
Saturn stepped in to help a woman who was being attacked and was shot twice. The injuries from this led to him becoming addicted to painkillers that caused him to lose everything. Last year he set up a GoFundMe page to ask fans for help because he was about to be made homeless because he had fallen behind with his bills. It was also revealed that he is struggling with a brain injury that dates back to his wrestling days and is causing him a number of other problems as well.
2. Sad: Kamala
Kamala’s story has to be one of the saddest when it comes to former professional wrestlers and the position they currently find themselves in. Back in 1992, Kamala was diagnosed with diabetes, but the issues surrounding this condition didn’t begin to affect his life until 2011 when he was forced to have his leg amputated because of high blood pressure and a number of complications.
The following year Kamala was forced to have his other leg amputated and asked fans for help because he was struggling with his medical costs. Late last year his health took another dangerous turn when it was revealed that the former star was forced to undergo life-saving emergency surgery to clear fluid from around his heart and lungs, after the surgery he was placed on life support for two days.
1. Better: Batista
Former World Champion Batista returned to WWE back in 2014 and won The Royal Rumble, before he main-evented WrestleMania 30. It was later revealed that Batista only returned to the company because he was promised a World Championship reign, but it seems that when it was made obvious that this wasn’t going to happen, he walked away once again.
Batista has since become a star in the acting world as a Bond villain in Spectre a few years ago as well as one of the main stars of Guardians Of The Galaxy. The star has continued to branch out in the acting world in recent years but the more successful he becomes, it seems that speculation of a WWE return continues to heat up as fans want the former champion back in a wrestling ring.
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