The lifestyle of a professional wrestler is a difficult one to manage. Being on the road for nearly 300 days a year, barely seeing your loved ones and the punishment one’s body takes are all huge sacrifices wrestlers must make. The lifestyle has led many to turn to alchohol and/or drugs to cope with the challenges of their career. While the problem has subsided with WWE’s stricter wellness policy, many from older generations, who didn’t benefit from it, have gone through their problems.
Wrestling has had far too many early deaths, which are usually traced back to substance abuse problems. Once the problem arises, it’s a lifelong battle to overcome it. Some of these wrestlers (or former wrestlers) have fought off their demons, while some still struggle. The list will only include those who are still alive, as deaths have been mentioned countless times.
Many call her WWE’s first diva, and fans of the ’90s certainly have very fond memories of Sunny (Tammy Lynn Sytch). However, she has been battling drug and alcohol problems for much of her adult life.
Her appearance has altered several times. She looked as good as ever in her return to RAW on the show’s 15th anniversary and for her induction into the Hall of Fame three years ago. However her personal problems have kept mounting.
She was arrested five times in a four-week span a couple of years ago for violating a restraining order.
She spent a few months in jail, where she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Thankfully, following a hysterectomy, she was ruled cancer free. Let’s hope her personal life gets on the right path and stays there. After all, there’s still much she can do. She’s still a relatively young woman at 41 years old.
X-Pac (Sean Waltman) has always been very up-front with his drug problems. He has admitted to using crystal meth and abusing prescription drugs.
Back in 2002, before a high-profile match against AJ Styles in TNA, he injected himself with meth in the locker room. Triple H heard of the incident and he, as well as Vince McMahon himself, paid for Waltman’s rehab.
In 2008, Juventud Guerrera stated that Waltman had tried to commit suicide but was found by his girlfriend at the time, Alicia Webb, who saw him hanging by his neck and saved him.
In 2011, he turned himself in for possession of controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was released without jail time, paying a fine instead.
While on Stone Cold Steve Austin‘s podcast last year, Waltman revealed that he was pressured to give up his marijuana habit and turned to alcohol. He claimed that one day, while intoxicated, his girlfriend hit him and broke a picture of his son, goading him to hit her back. After he did, he felt so ashamed that he again tried to hang himself, but instead blacked out and woke up in a hospital bed. After the incident Kevin Nash brought his friend to rehab in a Houston, Texas facility.
8) Matt Hardy
While Matt Hardy once had the reputation of being the “in control” Hardy brother, he has gone through personal demons himself, with many now questioning who’s in a better place between him and Jeff.
Hardy was arrested in August 2011 on DUI and reckless driving charges. He was then released from TNA wrestling. Shortly after, he posted a cryptic YouTube video, implying he was about to commit suicide. Police were sent to his house and it was discovered Hardy had no plans of committing suicide and that it was all a hoax.
The next month he again was arrested with a DUI and police found 20 vials of anabolic steroids, one dose of ecstasy, drug paraphernalia and $1,900 in cash after conducting a search of his home. Hardy was sent to a WWE-sponsored rehab program, as WWE does with all its current and former employees.
Hardy was released from jail on the condition that he enter and complete rehab. He violated his rehab after failing a breathalyzer test. Hardy then got a second chance in rehab and completed it.
He reunited with Jeff earlier this year in TNA to reform the Hardy Boyz.
7) Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy has thrilled us fans many times in his career, taking extraordinary bumps and earning himself a daredevil reputation, but it’s had its cost.
In 2009, he was arrested on drug trafficking charges, including controlled prescription pills, anabolic steroids and a search of his home yielded 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a residual amount of powder cocaine, and drug paraphernalia. Hardy would eventually plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 30 months probation and was ordered to pay a fine of $100,000. He served the sentence in 2011.
Back in 2011 at TNA’s Victory Road pay-per-view, Hardy was set to main event against Sting, but Eric Bischoff and Sting called an audible in the ring, with Sting quickly pinning Hardy, as he was in no condition to perform. TNA then sent Hardy home.
6) Lex Luger
Lex Luger recently wrote an autobiography, which included his experience battling drug problems, Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption.
Luger said in an interview with Forbes that his drug problems were prevalent during his career. He saw prescription drugs and alcohol as a social thing, as wrestling was a work hard, play hard mentality.
Following his retirement, his addictions caught up with him. A dark period in 2003 included him allegedly striking Miss Elizabeth, who was his girlfriend at the time, and being arrested on a DUI. Elizabeth would then overdose on drugs a few weeks later, with Luger being arrested that same day, as a search of his home revealed a number of illicit controlled substances, including anabolic steroids, OxyContin, synthetic growth hormone, testosterone, and Alprazolam. He was charged with 14 drug possession counts, 13 of them felonies. In 2005, he was sentenced to five years probation, as well as a fine.
In 2006, Luger declared himself a born-again Christian. He attributed religion as being the force that helped him turn his life around.
5) Randy Orton
Randy Orton has actually violated the WWE Wellness Policy twice. An amendment to the policy in 2013 prevented Orton from being one strike away from being released. It would have been disastrous, considering the amount of stock WWE has placed in him.
Orton has revealed in interviews that there was an incident back in 2006 where he overdosed, and his wife had to call an ambulance to save his life. Orton discusses the incident in more depth on the WWE DVD: Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator.
Drugs that have been found in connection to him include Stanozolol and Nandrolone, which are anabolic steroids, as well as Somatropin, a Growth Hormone drug.
4) Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle was on a destructive path. While he is perhaps the most gifted athlete in the history of professional wrestling, his intense style has led to a lot of pain, with several neck surgeries having been required to lengthen his career.
Angle’s many surgeries have led him to take prescription drugs for recovery and he has been linked to painkillers as well.
Angle also had his issues with alcohol, which led to four DUI arrests. His fourth came last August, after which Angle immediately announced he was entering a rehab facility. Since then, Angle has said he’s been sober since completing rehab.
He even reportedly has aspirations of jumping back to WWE and finishing his career where it started. It would be a great tale of redemption for the Olympic hero.
Goldust (Dustin Runnels) has had many drug problems throughout his career.
He has revealed that he used to take coke before matches, telling himself drugs were simply medicine for the tough, gruelling industry he was in. He also took many painkillers and muscle relaxers, saying he’d take three Vicodins or Lortabs just to get moving in the morning.
He was up to 40 pills a day at one point, even buying painkillers in the street, as he would run out of his prescription well before he was due for another. He finally cleaned up his life after a three-day binge.
Goldust now has a steady job in WWE and seems to be enjoying teaming up with his brother Cody, or Stardust. He also looks very sharp in the ring when he does wrestle.
2) Jake Roberts
Jake Roberts has battled drug and alcohol addiction for decades, but seems to have finally overcome his demons, thanks to his old buddy Diamond Dallas Paige putting him on a strict program known as DDP Yoga.
He had been in and out of rehab several times, once claiming to have found religion in helping overcome his problems, but he relapsed time and time again.
His Hall of Fame induction speech was perhaps the most beautiful speech ever delivered at the ceremony because it felt so genuine and honest. You truly felt his relief in overcoming his problems. Roberts looks a thousand times better than he did 12 to 18 months ago. We just have to hope he continues to do the things that got him better.
1) Scott Hall
Imagine. A year and a half ago, Diamond Dallas Paige made a call to his old friend Scott Hall, who was hoping for death and on a non-stop drinking binge.
DDP convinced Hall to start his yoga program and clean out his body of all the toxins he had been abusing it with for so long. Paige even began a fundraiser, asking wrestling fans to donate to pay for hip replacement surgery and dental work for Hall. The drive raised $110,000, surpassing their goal of $80,000.
This year, Hall was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame, looking better than he had in years.
It feels like a miracle that Hall survived through his darkest days, which included him being estranged from his son Cody, who’s a professional wrestler himself. Paige continues to work with Hall in helping him stay clean.