14 Pro Wrestlers Whose Lives Fell Apart
As you can probably imagine, being a professional wrestler can be an incredibly rewarding job. It could bring fame, fortune and financial security for life once a wrestler gets to the top of their game. Although it can also be a pretty rough ride to get that point, with many of today’s stars having to struggle to get where they are today.
Despite the positive effects that pro wrestling can have on those involved, it can also take its toll on the wrestlers in a variety of ways. The constant battering of their bodies can lead to a wide range of health problems and injuries, while some might make bad decisions or let fame go to their head and get involved in activities they really shouldn’t. In other cases, they may live well outside their means and go on to suffer real financial hardship after they retire.
So, even though the vast majority of pro wrestlers will leave the sport as healthy and secure individuals, there are a few that have gone on to lose everything they worked so hard to get.
Better known by his wrestling moniker of Test, Andrew Martin blew several chances to make it big in wrestling. He was a rising star in WWE but failed to capitalize on his appearances, mainly due to a combination of poor representation and a failure to take part in the WWE Wellness Program. This program aims to detect health problems in wrestlers and ensure they are not using any illegal substances or abusing alcohol and prescription drugs. He would later move to TNA Wrestling but also failed to make a name for himself there. Sadly, Martin died in 2009 of an apparent overdose of oxycodone.
Shawn Michaels is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and was one of the biggest draws for fans in the late 1990’s. However, he sustained a career threatening injury in 1998 when he was taking part in a Casket match against The Undertaker. He herniated several discs in his back, crushing one completely, leaving him believing that he would no longer be able to wrestle professionally. Michaels went into a downward spiral and began to heavily abuse drugs and has since admitted that he almost died during this time. Fortunately for everyone, he eventually recovered from his injury and drug abuse, allowing him to re-enter WWE.
Despite achieving a good deal of success in WWE over several years, Jeff Hardy made life difficult for himself and constantly jeopardized his career. In 2003, WWE released him from his contract citing strange behavior and drug problems. After a three year hiatus from professional wrestling, he re-joined WWE but left in 2009 claiming that he needed rest to heal several long-term injuries. However, shortly after this, police apprehended him on charges of drug possessions and trafficking. This resulted in Hardy having to pay a large fine, go on probation and spend 10 days in jail.
Better known as Crash Holly, Michael Lockwood became highly popular in the WWF and became something of a star, defending the Hardcore Championship 22 times. He was released from the WWE in 2003 and then entered NWA Total Non-Stop Action as Mad Mikey but only competed in a small number of events. Lockwood was later found dead in the home of one his friends after taking the prescription drug Carisoprodol and drinking alcohol, with the death recorded by officials as being a suicide. One speculated reason for the suicide was that he had been having marital difficulties and had recently been served papers for divorce.
The British Bulldogs
Widely considered one of the best tag-teams in the history of wrestling, The British Bulldogs had considerable success in WWE. Made up of Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid, the pair both suffered serious health problems from their time in professional wrestling. Smith died as a result of a heart attack aged just 39, with suggestions that his abuse of steroids could have been a major contributor. Meanwhile the Dynamite Kid is now severely disabled due to the large number of back and leg injuries he sustained, leaving him unable to walk.
Although Hulk Hogan is arguably the most famous professional wrestler of all time, he has suffered significant hardships during his career. While earning vast sums of money during the peak of his fame, Hogan lived a lavish lifestyle wasting millions of dollars. He also went through a devastating divorce that saw his ex-wife awarded around 70% of his assets. Luckily for Hogan, he has since been able to recover and rebuild his finances thanks to new roles in WWE and a string of semi-successful businesses.
Matt Osborne has portrayed various characters in professional wrestling since 1985 but was most famous for his role as Doink the Clown. Despite his popularity and the fact that he was featured in a number of high profile fights, Osborne was unable to remain in wrestling consistently due to a number of drug problems. These issues eventually led to his death in 2013 when police found his body at his home. Tests shown that his death was the result of an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone.
Perry Saturn had successful spells in World Championship Wrestling and WWF until he left the organization in 2002. He then joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling tour and entered a number of independent events before he was involved in attempting to prevent the rape of a woman. The two men he was trying to fend off then attacked him, shooting the wrestler in the neck and shoulder. This event left him addicted to methamphetamine for a number of years, eventually leading to Saturn becoming homeless. During this time, he completely disappeared, with even his family not knowing where he was. In 2009, Saturn was found and has since gone clean and is living a more normal life.
Although he had much success across both WWE and TNA, Sean Waltman went through an incredibly difficult period in 2008. Suffering from alcohol and drug abuse, he got into an argument with his girlfriend Alicia Webb that ended in him punching her. Out of shame, he then took a number of Valium pills with rum, wrote a suicide note and then attempted to hang himself. Waltman has since recovered from these dark moments thanks to the help of WWE and several fellow wrestlers, including the likes of Triple H and Kevin Nash, and is now signed with WWE Legends.
Arguably one of biggest stars in WWE, Lex Luger was destined to reach the heights of other high profile names such as Hulk Hogan. This never happened though, thanks to a large number of legal problems and controversies. Chief among them was the alleged domestic abuse of Elizabeth Hulette in 2003, although he also faced charges of driving under the influence, driving while suspended, drug possession felonies and breaking his probation. These issues effectively halted his professional wrestling career and led to him facing large fines and spending several weeks in prison.
Kamala was a popular wrestler who took on the role of a Ugandan warrior, complete with face paint and spear. Although he never reached the heights of the superstars of the sport, he had memorable clashes with the likes of Hulk Hogan. Though since retiring, Kamala has gone through severe difficulties. Diabetes damaged his legs to the extent that he had to have both amputated, leaving him wheelchair bound, and the ex-wrestler also requires dialysis to help his kidneys. As he is unable to work and continues to face huge medical bills, both he and his wife have suffered financial hardship. Touchingly, fans set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help raise some money for him last year.
Known by the nickname Superfly, Jimmy Snuka was one of the biggest stars of professional wrestling in the 1970’s and 1980’s and benefited massively from the huge surge of popularity the sport went through in that time. However, the 71-year-old is now only worth an estimated $200,000. His financial difficulties began due to bouts of alcohol and drug abuse and escalated in 1983 when he was suspected of being involved in the death of his then girlfriend, Nancy Argentino. He was later sued by her family and ordered to pay $500,000 but has never paid it due to a lack of funds.
Having won a large number of championships in WWE, Scott Hall became one of the most well known stars of professional wrestling. His career never reached superstar status, though, because of a spate of legal issues that plagued his adult life. In 1983, he was charged with second degree murder but the charge was later dropped due to a lack of evidence before he went through a period of intense drug abuse in the 1990’s. Later, he faced further legal problems, including being arrested for disorderly conduct and a domestic disturbance as well as a number of health problems that have kept him in hospital for several lengthy stays.
Chris Benoit was involved in arguably the biggest controversy that has ever hit WWE in 2007. After spending several years abusing steroids and suffering from a number of brain injuries that came from taking multiple hits to the head, the superstar committed several heinous crimes that have seen him all but wiped from the history of professional wrestling. Over a weekend in June, Benoit killed his wife and then sedated and suffocated his son. He then committed suicide and his body was discovered several days later, with the tragedy coming to light.