Unfortunately, what we don’t see (or rarely see) as wrestling fans is the dark side of pro wrestling. After the journey, many enter a deep and dark depression and turn to drug and alcohol abuse. Reasons vary as to why superstars feel they need to turn to substance abuse for help; whether it’s from having limited options after leaving the WWE, or simply needing an outlet to relieve the stress of being a superstar who is constantly in the spotlight. We’ve seen it many times before; wrestlers lose themselves and fail to get help and before we know it, it’s too late. There are still some wrestlers fighting this ongoing battle till this day. Chyna is a name that comes to mind. Despite hitting a wall for the last couple of years, she is finally focusing on getting better and perhaps making a return to the WWE, something wrestling fans would certainly love to see. Sadly for many though, they did not have the opportunity to get help, and the list of wrestlers that passed away from drug abuse is like reading a stat sheet for an entire sports league; the names sadly just keep on going. Thankfully for some, they got the help they required and made extraordinary changes to their lives. These wrestlers not only survived, but they also thrived after getting better. Here is the list of 11 wrestling stars that were saved by rehab.
11) Kurt Angle
The biggest step for people fighting an illness is admitting they have a problem, and this was the ongoing battle Kurt Angle once faced. After picking up his fourth alcohol-related arrest, Angle realized it was finally time to get some help before it was too late. Angle was released by the WWE after he apparently turned down an option to go to rehab in order to clean up his act. His antics got worse once he was released by the WWE, picking up 3 more DUI’s while under contract with TNA wrestling. Angle admitted that he learned a lot from rehab, particularly that he was carrying around a lot of emotional pain, something he just couldn’t deal with sober. Angle has cleaned up his act big time and hopes to have a farewell match with the WWE on day, something I’m sure the WWE universe would love to see.
10) Rosa Mendes
It was revealed during an episode of Total Divas that Rosa Mendes’ time away from the WWE was spent in a rehab facility. It’s been reported that Rosa was sent home from a European tour with the WWE after officials had enough of her excessive partying. Thankfully for Rosa she was able to hang on to her job while in rehab and also escape an alleged abusive relationship with Steven Slocum. Rosa is doing quite well today and is expecting her first child with Bobby Schubenski, a musician and clothing company owner. The couple is expected to have a girl.
In his tell all book Cross Roads: Goldust, Out of the Darkness, Runnels admitted he went through some very dark times during his run with TNA wrestling. Runnels admitted that his life consisted of wrestling for $1,000 a night, driving home and spending money on drugs and alcohol. Goldust admits the drugs took over his mind and he wasn’t thinking straight. Runnels admitted to taking drugs before matches, something that is a sin in the wrestling business. After hitting rock-bottom and going on a 3 day binge, Runnels finally realized things were getting out of control. He desperately called his father Dusty for some help. After heading into rehab, Runnels made tremendous progress (he has officially been clean since May, 20th 2008). In addition, Goldust made his long awaited return to the WWE, most notably joining forces with his brother Cody. Such a great turn around for this future Hall of Famer.
8) William Regal
When you’re urinating on a stewardess and waking up in jail, that’s when you know you need to get some help. All Regal recalled from this situation was waking up in jail cell in Anchorage Alaska. It was certainly a dark time for the former European champion. Unfortunately though, it was not this event that sparked him to get help. Regal continued to abuse drugs even after he joined the WWE for the first time. His addiction got so bad that he would reportedly lock himself in his room for weeks, attempting to see how far he can go without dying. Once again, Regal ended up in the hospital, though this time it was enough. Almost 20 years later, Regal is sober and working with young talent in NXT. Regal credits the WWE for saving his life and giving him a purpose to wake up every day. Such a great turn of events for this wrestling legend.
7) Joey Mercury
Joey Mercury’s story is one that is mixed with many twists and turns. Mercury admitted to having a severe drug and alcohol problem, and admitted to suffering from this problem since the age of 15. With this addiction came 3 overdoses and a handful of car accidents. After leaving for rehab, Mercury once again became addicted to painkillers upon his return due to a nasty face injury. The WWE had seen enough, and Vince McMahon (out of all people) had a huge intervention with Mercury before his release. Joey credits McMahon for saving his life. In 2010, Mercury would come out of retirement and join “the straight Edge Society”. He would later play a huge role in developing young stars in NXT. Mercury is responsible for creating the faction “the shield”, arguably the best faction to come out of the WWE in over a decade.
6) Lex Luger
Lex Luger turned to a different kind of rehab to find himself. He turned to a more spiritual approach, finding God. Luger claims this saved his life. During an interview, Lex admitted to being a born again Christian, and that the downward spiral in his career and personal life led him to finding God. Lex went through a dark stage in his life where all he knew was drugs and alcohol. Things got worse for Luger after his partner Miss Elizabeth passed away from a drug overdose in his home. Luger was later charged with 5 years probation for possession of illegal drugs. After finally deciding to turn the page on his horrible chapter, Luger found God and began to help people. Luger spread his story in an attempt to change lives for the better, and used his book Wrestling With The Devil, as a platform to do so.
Despite his tremendous wrestling abilities, X-Pac usually found himself in trouble outside of the ring, abusing drugs and alcohol. Long time friend Triple H, even reached out to Waltman many times asking if he needed help and offering to pay for rehab, as Waltman was spiraling out of control. During his time in AAA wrestling, Waltman came close to his death, but on the verge of suicide, Sean was saved by his former partner Alicia Webb. His situation only got worse, though. His peers urged him to leave Triple A wrestling and to get his life back on track. Finally, long time best friend Kevin Nash flew to Mexico and brought Waltman to a rehab facility in Texas. Sean came out a changed man and admits the facility was very effective and changed his life.
4) Marc Mero
His inspirational YouTube video went viral, generating over 11 million hits. His powerful message even left an auditorium of young middle school students to tears. During his motivational seminars, Marc Mero discusses his drug addiction and how he nearly died 3 times overdosing on drugs. Marc discusses how many times he neglected his mother who would always try talking to him. Then one day it was too late, and Mero received news that his mother had passed away. This experience led Mero to change his ways drastically, not only did he get cleaned up, but he is now touring with a non-profit organization giving motivational speeches in high schools and colleges. Mero also went on the record saying that the WWE doesn’t do enough to prevent drug use. He claims so many former wrestlers are dying because the WWE constantly fails to intervene. WWE did not react to his statements and rarely show any footage of Mero, but despite this, Mero’s contributions have been overwhelming. His turnaround is definitely something to look up to.
3) Randy Orton
Yet another story of a young promising talent spiraling out of control. Although, the good news this time around was that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, something Randy desperately needed to find. Orton was simply out of control, often late to work and showing no respect to any of his co-workers. It was simple, the fame got to Randy. The WWE had seen enough and decided to strip him of his Championship (something WWE officials admit giving him was a bad idea in the first place). Orton was too young to carry around such pressure. His situation later only worsened and the WWE was forced to suspend him for violating The Wellness Policy. After serving his suspension, Orton came back a changed man, one with maturity and simply ready to work at a professional level. Randy seems to be in great condition and drug free, saving a promising career and legacy.
2) Shawn Michaels
Like Luger, Shawn turned to a more spiritual version of rehab in order to find himself. Shawn was in a very dark place; unemployed, injured and addicted to drugs. Everything changed one day, when Shawn’s son asked his mother why Michaels was always sleeping on the couch. Those words spoken by his son hit Shawn really hard, so much so that he got up and realized it was time to change. After finding God, Shawn became a born again Christian. Michaels got cleaned up and found a new lease on life. He later contacted Triple H and made one of the most anticipated returns to the ring at SummerSlam, putting on a 5 star match against Triple H himself. In addition, Michaels mended many fences when he returned, particularly with Bret Hart, something many wrestling fans thought would never happen. Michaels returned as a new man and left with the proper legacy, as one of the best in the history of pro wrestling.
1) Scott Hall
When you think of pro wrestlers and rehab, you usually think of Scott Hall. For Hall, it was literally to the point where it was either rehab or death. Hall made a tremendous turnaround initially, where he was also helped by former wrestler DDP, who aided with his yoga practices in order to rehabilitate him. Hall later returned to WWE television in tremendous shape, shocking the WWE universe. Despite this, Hall has unfortunately sustained some setbacks. In June, Scott re-entered a rehab facility after he showed up drunk to a meet and greet. Hall is confident he can once again get over this and get cleaned up. It is reported that the WWE has already spent a hundred thousand in order to keep Hall clean. DDP believes Hall will once again overcome this and rise from it. Let’s hope this time around it will be permanent.