Pro wrestling seems so glamorous from the outside, but on the inside, it can become quite dark for those involved. Darkness can arise from many different things; whether it’s depression and turning to drug abuse, or a career ending injury, wrestling can be very harsh and leave many wrestlers backed into a corner with limited escape options.
Accidents or drug use are things that became very dangerous for these 13 wrestlers. What’s crucial about most of these situations is that these wrestlers survived. Not only did most of them survive but they also thrived and changed their lives completely, despite some harsh and cruel times. Let’s now dig deeper at who these wrestlers are. Here are 13 wrestlers that almost lost their lives.
13) Bret Hart: Motorcycle Accident
Wrestling fans received a big time scare in June of 2002, when it was reported that former WWE Champion Bret Hart had suffered a serious stroke after hitting his head in a motorcycle accident. Hart reportedly hit a pothole and flew off his bike, landing on the back of his head.
Hart was paralyzed on his left side; thankfully through physical therapy he was able to get rehabilitated. Bret still does suffer from emotional imbalances, something very common amongst stroke survivors. Bret was not only able to escape the situation, but would later return to the WWE in 2009 on a semi-full time basis.
12) X-Pac: Relapse
Throughout his career, Waltman not only faced opponents in the ring but also had to deal with demons outside of it. X-Pac had a hard battle with a drug and alcohol addiction, which began way back in his WCW days. Problems worsened and Waltman was sent to rehab. Before getting the chance to return, Waltman was released by WCW. After turning a fresh page with the WWE, problems persisted down the road.
After leaving North America on a deal with AAA Wrestling in Mexico, Waltman would continue his dark ways infused with drugs and alcohol. Things would later spiral out of control for the former European Champion when he almost committed suicide. It took a conversation with his former partner Alicia Webb, to save his life. Waltman himself admitted that he came seconds away from ending his own life while in Mexico.
Before things could get any worse, Kevin Nash, Waltman’s long-time best friend, flew to Mexico and brought Waltman to a rehab facility in Texas. Sean came out a changed man and admits that the facility was very effective and likely saved his life. After getting clean, Waltman would receive a Legends Contract with the WWE.
11) Jerry Lawler: Montreal Scare
It was a very scary sight that night in Montreal when Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack live on the air during an episode of Monday Night Raw. Lawler collapsed during the broadcast, where he immediately received CPR by the paramedics on hand which ultimately saved his life. Lawler later underwent an angioplasty to improve the blood flow to his heart. One week later, Lawler finally left Montreal and headed back home to Memphis. Two months later, Lawler would make his long anticipated return back to the commentary booth.
10) Goldust: Three Day Binge
Runnels was in a very dark place following his release from the WWE. He was very bitter and turned to drugs and alcohol to add fuel to his deep pains. Runnels himself admitted that his time out of the WWE consisted of wrestling for $1,000 a night, driving home and spending money on narcotics. In his book, he admitted that he had been taking drugs before matches, something that is a sin in the wrestling business.
Problems only got worse for Runnels, as he later hit rock-bottom by going on a 3 day binge in his room, and it was at this point where Runnels finally realized things were getting out of control. He was now not only in a battle against addiction, but also in a battle for his life. He desperately called his late father Dusty, for some help and thankfully his father saved his son before things could have gotten worse. Runnels agreed to enter rehab and made remarkable progress (he has officially been clean since May, 2008).
Following rehab and some training and conditioning, Goldust made his long awaited return to the WWE, most notably joining forces with his brother Cody. What a great turn around for this future Hall of Famer who is still actively wrestling for the WWE today.
9) Lex Luger: Finding The Light
It took a spiritual type of intervention to save the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Lex was spiraling out of control, consuming drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. Luger officially hit rock bottom when his partner Miss Elizabeth died of an overdose. As if this wasn’t enough to endure, Luger was charged with 5 years probation for the possession of illegal drugs.
Luger was officially backed into a corner, where he had two choices; one, give up; or two, get fixed up. Thankfully, Luger chose option two and turned to a spiritual type of healing becoming a Born Again Christian. Today, Luger’s goal is to spread his story so that people can learn from his failed experiences.
8) Droz: Career Ending Injury In The Ring
On October 5th, 1999 during a SmackDown taping, Droz’s life changed forever. After receiving a botched Powerbomb by D’Lo Brown, Droz went completely numb landing on his neck. Droz was rushed to the hospital, where it was said that he had two fractured disks on his neck. After hours of surgery, it was announced that he had no movement below his neck. Today, the former WWE superstar has regained movement in his upper body and arms. This is regarded as one of the most devastating injuries in WWE history.
7) Kurt Angle: Saved By Rehab
Sometimes you have to admit your mistakes; for Kurt Angle, constantly turning down rehab not only lost him his job with the WWE but almost cost him his life. Angle’s alcohol abuse only got worse once he left the WWE and joined TNA Wrestling. Angle had countless DUIs and was escaping death on a daily basis it seemed.
Angle awoke and realized his life was in serious jeopardy, and with this in mind Kurt finally turned to rehab. After completing his time at the rehabilitation center, Angle started to realize that his issues were much deeper than just alcohol abuse. Kurt became aware that he was carrying around some serious emotional stress, and little did he know he was also battling depression. The former WWE Champion realized through rehab that alcohol was only a way to suppress this pain. Thankfully, entering rehab potentially saved his life and Angle was able to get out of his long bout with depression without any further harm.
6) William Regal: Downwards Spiral
Regal’s drug infused days began way back in WCW. Regal would remember waking up in a jail cell and not remembering why. In one instance, he was thrown in jail after urinating on a stewardess (yes, that’s right). Things only got worse for Regal down the road. His addiction got to a breaking point when he refused to leave his room for weeks in an attempt to see how far he can go without dying. Regal would once again end up in the hospital from this, though this time around it was enough.
After entering rehab Regal miraculously got cleaned up and saved his life. 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.
5) Marc Mero: Learning The Hard Way
Sadly for Marc Mero, it took the death of his mother to save his life. Marc was on a dangerous binge, reportedly escaping death three times due to overdoses. Although he was in a bad place, his mother never left his side trying to help her son get better. Mero would refuse to listen and constantly take out his frustrations on her.
One day Marc’s life completely changed after he got a phone call regarding the passing of his mother. Luckily, instead of hitting rock bottom and suffering from a worse depression, Mero decided to make some changes Not only did Marc take it upon himself to get cleaned up, but he is now touring with a non-profit organization giving motivational speeches in high schools and colleges.
4) Scott Hall: 6 Figure Rehab
Perhaps no wrestler has escaped death as many times as Scott Hall. Things spiraled so badly for Hall that it came to the point that he literally had to choose between death or rehab. Problems for Hall began all the way back in early 90s, where he would consume drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. It later started to affect his personal life as well, and in 1998, Dana (Hall’s ex-wife) divorced the wrestling star. She blamed the divorce on his inability to control his drug use.
Things would later spiral even worse for Hall, so he was put into a rehab facility paid for by the WWE. Stephanie McMahon claims the WWE has spent 6 figures on his health in the past.
Despite many stints in rehab though, Hall would have many near death experiences, including a cardiac arrest which was caused by an overdose. Hall was in and out of the hospital between 2010 and 2012. In 2013, Hall finally made some real progress working with former WWE and WCW star DDP, though in 2015 it was reported that Hall was intoxicated at a New Jersey bar. It remains to be seen of Hall can finally beat this illness that destroyed his life and career.
3) Jake Roberts: Waiting For Death
Like Hall, Roberts went through a lengthy battle with drug abuse, and this battle almost cost him his life. Roberts himself admits he was just waiting to die. Jake used drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with depression, something very common amongst former pro wrestlers.
Unlike Hall though, Roberts would make a miraculous recovery because of former pro wrestling star DDP. Page ultimately saved Roberts’ life (you can watch the inspirational journey through the documentary: The Resurrection of Jake the Snake). Three years later Roberts is still sober, having lost over 80 pounds. Jake has come a long way from not being able to get up off a chair. Today, Roberts’ goal is to help and inspire others to change just as he did. Many truly hope that Hall can eventually go through the same outcome as Roberts.
2) Shawn Michaels : Born Again Christian
Early on in his career, Michaels admitted in his book that he went through some very dark times in his life. Shawn would typically go out to get drunk and do drugs on a nightly basis. Things later got worse for Michaels when thoughts of suicide began to creep in the back of his mind. Wrestling in front of small crowds got to Michaels’ head, as he began to think about his self worth. Michaels says a lot of this struggle was due to the fact that he had no one to talk to.
After the thoughts went away, things once again took a dark turn for Shawn following his exit from the WWE in 1998. During his departure, Michaels fell into a deep depression, turning to drugs while he was nursing a potentially career-ending back injury. A comment made by his young son changed his life forever. Shawn’s son asked his mother why his father was sleeping all the time. This comment reportedly really hit the former WWE Champion, so much so that he finally realized it was time to snap out of it. Shawn turned to a spiritual path in order to get him out of his depression. Michaels found God and became a born again Christian. Those who knew Michaels admit that he made a complete 360. He would later shock the world by making one of the most unlikely returns in WWE history, taking on his best friend Triple H in 2002. Michaels would go on to wrestle for another 8 years before finally giving the fans a proper send off following his defeat to The Undertaker.
1) Hulk Hogan: Suicidal Thoughts
Despite his massive success in the ring, it all fell apart for Hulk outside of it. In November of 2007, Hogan officially hit rock bottom when his wife Linda, filed for divorce. Hogan admitted during an interview with Oprah that things had gotten so bad that he started contemplating suicide. Hogan confessed to consuming large doses of alcohol and Xanax, and while doing so Hogan sat with a gun to his head contemplating what to do.
It was a call from his American Gladiators co-star Laila Ali, that saved Hogan from his suicide attempt. Thankfully, Hogan was then able to get back on his feet and would eventually marry Jennifer McDaniel, in 2010.