Life as a wrestler isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. When your 15 minutes of fame are up many past wrestlers don’t know where to turn to, falling into a depression which ultimately leads to substance abuse to mask the pain they are dealing with. As you will see in this article, so many wrestlers faced this exact problem, struggling with life after the WWE.
Others fell into depressions for different reasons; The Rock shocked many of his fans when he discussed his very own battle with depression during an interview with Oprah. Could it really be that someone as positive and optimistic as The Rock actually hit depression? Yes, he in fact did, and we will have more on him and his battle with depression later on in this article.
The biggest thing to take from these situations is that there is always a way to get out of a difficult situation no matter how difficult it seems. The 14 wrestlers on this list are an example of this, no matter how bad things seem, you just have to dig yourself out. Here are 14 wrestlers that struggled with depression.
14) Shawn Michaels: Post WrestleMania 14 struggles
Yes, even the ‘Heart Break Kid’ himself fell through some pretty rough times. Following his loss against Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14, Michaels’ future was left in serious doubt. Many truly believed this was the last we would ever see of Shawn Michaels. 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 little son changed his life; Shawn’s son asked his mother why Shawn was sleeping all the time. This comment really hit the former WWE Champion, so much so that he got up and 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. Following this, his career took an unexpected turn heading back to the WWE. A cleaned up Michaels had a new lease on life. He would later return in the ring taking on his best friend Triple H at Summerslam 2002. The match tore the house down. 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. Now that’s how you battle depression!
13) Marc Mero: Marc’s story goes viral
Mero went through some rough times during his pro wrestling career. Marc turned to drugs as a way to cope with depression, and this ultimately lead to 3 major overdoses which almost saw Mero lose his life. His mother unfortunately got it the worst. Mero would always neglect his mother who would always try to help him throughout his struggles with addiction. One day Marc received a phone call no one ever wants to get, he was notified about his mother’s passing. Instead of hitting rock bottom and suffering from a worse depression, Mero changed his life completely. Not only did Marc proceed to get cleaned up, but he is now touring with a non-profit organization giving motivational speeches in high schools and colleges.
In addition to this, his inspirational YouTube video went viral, generating almost 12 million hits. His powerful message even left an auditorium of young middle school students to tears.
12) Kurt Angle: More than just some DUIs
An unwillingness to enter rehab ultimately cost Angle his career with the WWE. The WWE realized Kurt needed help after receiving several alcohol-related charges. His problem only got worse while he was working for TNA, picking up three additional DUIs.
Angle later entered rehab realizing his life was in serious jeopardy. After completing his time at the rehabilitation center, Angle realized his problems were much deeper than alcohol abuse. Kurt became aware that he was carrying around some serious emotional stress, and little did Angle know he was 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. The comeback will truly be complete when Angle sets foot back in a WWE ring.
11) X-Pac: Downwards spiral in Mexico
Despite several friends (including Triple H) advising Waltman to go to rehab, X-Pac simply went on with his drug-infused ways. Like many others in the past, Waltman turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape depression. Doing so almost ended his life during his stay in Mexico with AAA Wrestling. The former European champion almost committed suicide admitting he was in a very dark place in his life, and it took a conversation with his former partner Alicia Webb, to save his life.
Before things could get any worse, 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 potentially saved his life. After getting clean, Waltman later received a Legends Contract with the WWE.
10) Lex Luger: Turn to God
Like the ‘Heart Break Kid’ Shawn Michaels, Lex Luger turned to a spiritual approach in order to get him out of his long battle with drug and alcohol abuse. Luger hit a serious depression after the passing of his partner Miss Elizabeth, who overdosed in his home. Lex was charged with 5 years probation for the possession of illegal drugs.
In Luger’s tell all autobiography Wrestling With The Devil, Luger admitted he was backed into a corner with little choices. Realizing this, Luger turned to a spiritual type of healing becoming a Born Again Christian. Luger later wrote a book on his life intending to spread his story and save people’s lives learning from his failed experiences.
9) Goldust: 3 days of hell
Like so many other wrestlers have experienced in the past, the realization that your time with the WWE is up really hits hard. For Goldust this caused a great deal of distress, ultimately leading to drug and alcohol abuse. Runnels admitted that his time out of the WWE consisted of wrestling for $1,000 a night, driving home and spending money on drugs and alcohol. Runnels admitted in his book that he had been taking drugs before matches, something that is a sin in the wrestling business. Runnels later hit rock-bottom 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 desperately called his late father Dusty for some help. After heading into rehab, Runnels made tremendous progress (he has officially been clean since May, 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) Jake Roberts: The Resurrection of Jake Roberts
Roberts was diagnosed with depression and coped with this mental disease through constant abuse of drugs and alcohol. Roberts admitted in his documentary that he had completely given up on life and was just waiting for his death.
Then out of nowhere (no, not an RKO), DDP intervened and attempted to save the life of Roberts, despite not speaking to him for the last 5 years. 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. This remains one of the most inspirational Kayfabe stories in pro wrestling history.
7) Joey Mercury: Intervention with Vince
Joey Mercury admitted to being addicted to alcohol and drugs since the age of 15. As you can imagine, being addicted for so long leads to a dependency which eventually leads to depression. After entering rehab, Mercury once again relapsed after becoming addicted to painkillers following a brutal eye injury. Following yet another drug addiction, the WWE had seen enough, and Vince McMahon (out of all people) had an 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”, making an improbable return to the WWE. He would later play a huge role in developing young stars in NXT. Mercury is responsible for creating the faction ‘The Shield’, arguably the strongest faction to come out of the WWE in over a decade.
6) Chyna: Post WWE Spiral
Following her WWE departure, Chyna spiraled out of control. Chyna left the WWE on horrible terms after it was discovered that Triple H was having an affair with Vince’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. Chyna not only lost her boyfriend, but in addition lost her job through a fax message by the CEO Vince McMahon. As you can imagine, this led to a serious depression for Chyna who would end up turning to substance abuse to ease her pain.
Following a horrifying interview with Howard Stern, it was clear Chyna needed some serious help after slurring her words throughout the interview. Following the guest appearance, Chyna entered a special rehab facility specializing in depression. This unfortunately didn’t do much, as she later appeared on an episode of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008. On the show Chyna admitted even her family relationships were spiraling.
Despite many ups and downs after the passing of her father in 2014, Chyna was finally able to restore her relationship with her family. In addition, she finally looks like she is cleaned up and ready for a WWE return. It remains to be seen if the WWE will ever accept her back.
5) Eddie Guerrero: Struggled with depression
In his autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life, Guerrero openly discussed his problems with dealing with depression and experiencing various substance abuse problems. Despite overcoming these issues and winning the WWE Championship, Eddie Guerrero once again struggled before his passing. His brother Chavo admitted Eddie was in rough shape.
At the age of 38, Eddie passed away as a result of an acute heart failure.
4) Ryback: Saved by The Secret
During an interview on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk is Jericho, Ryback admitted that a negative mindset caused his initial failed stint with the WWE. Ryback discussed being depressed and ashamed to go back home following his first release from the company. Once he got back home, Ryback turned to alcohol for one year straight.
Finally, former WWE wrestler Luke Gallows, advised Ryback to read the book: The Secret. This ended up changing the former Intercontinental Champion’s life. He quickly beat depression and was later signed to a deal with the WWE once again. What a spectacular turn of events for Ryback.
3) Bret Hart: Post WWE struggles
Following his release from the WWE, Bret admits to walking around with a chip on his shoulder following the events that transpired through the Montreal Screwjob, all the way back in 1997.
Things got a lot worse for Bret later on, not only did he have to deal with the passing of his brother, but in 2002 Hart suffered a severe stroke after hitting his head in a bike accident. Remarkably Bret was able to recover but still had some emotional imbalances. In order for Bret to fully heal he admitted he finally needed to put the Screwjob behind him.
On January 4th, 2010, Hart shocked the world by confronting Michaels live on RAW. Bret was finally able to put the events aside and accepted Shawn’s apology. Following the encounter, Bret admitted that a huge weight had finally been lifted off his back.
2) Hulk Hogan: Devastating Divorce
In November of 2007, Hulk officially hit rock bottom when his wife Linda Hogan, filed for divorce. Hogan admitted during an interview with Oprah that things got so bad that he contemplated suicide. Hogan confessed to consuming large doses of alcohol and Xanax, while doing so Hogan sat with a gun to his head contemplating what to do. It was a call from 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 married Jennifer McDaniel, in 2010.
1) The Rock: Admits to depression on Oprah
Just a couple of days ago, The Rock appeared on Oprah discussing his battle with depression. The interview was very emotional and quite candid. The Rock discussed being depressed at one point in his life, and having no one to turn to feeling alone and isolated. The Rock admitted through his fight with depression that the hardest part was realizing that he actually needed help. Having someone by your side is key according to the former WWE Champion.
The Rock suffered from depression when he was 23, living back home with his parents and being uncertain about his future. Despite his father telling him he was making a huge mistake, Rocky still decided to pursue wrestling. This changed his life and taught him so many lessons along the way. Dwayne encourages those who are battling with depression to speak about their problems, as there is no better remedy according to The Rock.