Becoming a professional wrestler is a very risky career choice. Not only do wrestlers take a beating every night, it’s also not the most financially rewarding job unless you’re in the main event.
While the top wrestlers in the WWE make money comparable to other professional athletes, most wrestlers find that by the time their in-ring career comes to an end, there isn’t enough money left for them to fully retire.
As a result, wrestlers who achieved even a fairly high level of fame and success in the pro-wrestling business find themselves working regular mundane jobs.
Opportunities for pro wrestlers after their career ends nowadays are a little greater than they used to be, with events like WrestleCon, personal appearances, stand-up comedy, and similar opportunities – allowing ex-wrestlers options to earn a living without having to take bumps.
Mick Foley has now spent years on the road performing his one-man show, long after doctors told him he could never wrestle again. Jim Ross performs one-man shows across the country as well, and numerous wrestlers appear at comic conventions, wrestling conventions, or make money through personal autograph sessions.
But for many wrestlers who retired before such options were available, or who choose not to continue the life of a wrestler into their later years, having a good fallback plan is important. The people on this list are those who planned well, and were able to make a success out of their second careers once their time in wrestling was over.
15. Tito Santana – Spanish Teacher
Could you imagine Tito Santana being your Spanish teacher in middle school? Well, if you go to middle school in the New Jersey area you might be lucky enough to have the former member of Strikeforce as the guy teaching you Spanish.
Santana currently teaches Spanish and coaches the basketball team in a New Jersey area middle school. While in the WWF, Santana’s Mexican heritage was really a focal point of how the company marketed him. At first, Bobby Heenan would use every Mexican stereotype imaginable on commentary during any of Santana’s matches, and then the WWF just decided to go full-blown stereotype with him and renamed him “El Matador” – where his gimmick was that he was a bull-fighter.
14. Kamala – Wooden Chair Maker
The Ugandan Giant Kamala was a savage gimmick that wreaked havoc on all who opposed him. A big Mississippi man by the name of Jim Harris played the character of Kamala, though the character was supposed to be from the deepest parts of Africa.
Kamala would be a memorable character throughout the 80s, and by the 90s even wrestled briefly as a good-guy when he turned on his handlers.
Sadly Kamala had both his legs amputated a few years back as a result of untreated diabetes. Having his legs amputated meant Kamala could no longer wrestle, so now he is something of a craftsman. Kamala currently supports himself financially by making and selling his own wooden chairs.
13. Spike Dudley – Financial Planner
Little Spike Dudley was the runt of the Dudley litter. In ECW, there were many members of the Dudley family: Big Dick Dudley, Dances With Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley and of course the three Dudleys who eventually went to the WWE: Spike, D-Von, and Bubba Ray.
In both ECW and WWE, Spike played the role of the underdog – the little guy who could sometimes find a way to beat his much larger opponents.
A skinny short guy with almost no muscle on his body at all, it seemed completely unrealistic for Spike to make it in the world of pro-wrestling. He did make it though; he made a name for himself in pro-wrestling, got out, and then began a successful second career as a financial planner with Mass Mutual. Good for Spike.
12. Jimmy Wang Yang – Tour Bus Operator
It’s clear that the way WWE marketed Jimmy Wang Yang was based off of racial stereotypes, but it’s not altogether clear who should be offended by the specific racial stereotypes used.
Jimmy Wang Yang’s gimmick was that he was a down-home southern redneck Asian. That’s it. WWE figured that a redneck being Asian was all Jimmy Wang Yang needed to take off and become a big star.
People did like Jimmy Wang Yang, though, and he could really wrestle as well. During his career he won the Cruiserweight title multiple times, but smaller guys like him weren’t receiving opportunities to wrestle high on the card during those days.
The character has helped him with his new career however; driving drunk people around in a bus! “Jimmy’s Redneck Party Bus” is available to anyone in Cincinnati who wants to rent Jimmy Wang Yang as your redneck Asian driver for the evening. Sounds like an awesome time!
11. Nova – Bank Manager
One member of the Blue World Order can approve your mortgage if you are looking to buy a home in Kentucky. The man who often gets overlooked when one thinks of the Blue World Order (assuming that one thinks of the Blue World Order often) is Nova.
Mike Bucci played the role of Nova in ECW, and that character would adopt its own alter-persona as “Hollywood Nova,” the BWO’s version of Hollywood Hogan.
Bucci would later fulfill his childhood dream of competing in the WWE, when he debuted with the company in 2004. His first stint in the WWE was as Simon Dean, a fitness guru, but when the company re-launched ECW in 2006 Dean was back to portraying Hollywood Nova. Neither gimmick would last long in the WWE, however, as he was let go in 2007. Bucci didn’t dare test free agency, independent promotions or TNA, he launched immediately into a career in finance.
Nowadays, Nova is the branch manager of a Woodforest Bank location.
10. Scotty 2 Hotty – Fireman
Scott Taylor was originally brought to the WWE to compete in their Lightweight division. WCW was getting great reviews for their Cruiserweight division at the time so WWE decided to follow suit.
When the Lightweight division failed, Taylor stuck around and joined up with another lightweight named Brian Christopher. They both ditched their generic looks for a suburban rapper tag team gimmick. 2 Cool are former Tag Team Champions, and when they were joined up with third member Rikishi they became a big part of WWE’s programming from 1999-2001.
Taylor managed a 10-year career in the WWE before being let go in 2007. Since 2013 Taylor has been working as a firefighter, and is now training to be an EMT. No word on if he can still do the Worm, but probably.
9. Abdullah the Butcher – Restaurant Owner
Abdullah the Butcher is a scary man. For years, Abdullah the Butcher would feud with other hardcore wrestlers such as Bruiser Brody, the Sheik, Terry Funk and Cactus Jack. Often, Abdullah would reach into his tights to pull out a concealed fork to slice open his opponent’s head. He was a devious and violent man from the Sudan.
Abdullah the Butcher matches felt far more real and far more violent than anything else fans would see on the card that night. Now he sells Chinese food and ribs.
Abdullah would capitalize on his name by opening up “Abdullah the Butcher’s House of Ribs and Chinese Food” in Atlanta. It is speculated that the restaurants serves ribs and Chinese food.
8. Ivory – Dog Daycare Owner
Ivory was one of the top women heel wrestlers during the Attitude Era. Often overshadowed by the likes of Lita and Trish Stratus, Ivory got by with quality in-ring work and an easily hate-able heel persona.
The peek of Ivory’s heat came when she was the long skirt wearing member of Right To Censor, who would speak poorly of any woman wrestler who she felt dressed or behaved poorly.
Ivory retired from wrestling (a few independent appearances aside) in 2006 but found a new calling shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Ivory became involved with several animal welfare organizations that were helping pet populations impacted by the hurricane. It was during that time that she met some like-minded people and went into the doggy daycare business.
In 2007, she opened “Downtown Dog” which offers all kinds of pet-related services including taking dogs on daytime bus trips.
7. Glacier – Teacher
The Glacier character, portrayed by Ray Lloyd, was memorable, although not for very positive reasons. WCW, for all its faults, was not afraid to take chances and the Glacier character was an outside-of-the-box idea that the company decided to go with.
It didn’t work; in fact it failed quite badly, but you have to at least give them credit for trying something new.
Glacier was a Mortal Kombat-inspired character, and he feuded with Mortis and Wrath, who were both managed by Jim Mitchell. All four characters were dressed to look as though they were a character from a comic book, similar to how Lucha Underground does things now, but way worse.
After trying for several months to make it work, the WCW basically gave up on Glacier. By 2001, just five years after being pushed as a superhero by Eric Bischoff, Lloyd was teaching Health and coaching Lacrosse at a Georgia High School.
6. Shawn Stasiak – Chiropractor
Shawn Stasiak’s father was a former WWWF Champion, so the younger Stasiak decided he would give professional wrestling a shot as well.
Only the business had changed quite a bit since his father was champion.
Shawn Stasiak’s WWE career included being the male pet of the devious duo of female wrestlers Terri Runnels and Jacqueline (aka Pretty Mean Sisters, abbreviated to PMS). He would go by the ring name “Meat” while teamed up with PMS.
Stasiak must have seen the writing on the wall in regards to his career in the WWE, and he made arrangements for a successful fallback career as a chiropractor. Stasiak now works with the Advanced Comprehensive Medical team out of Texas.
5. Molly Holly – Charity Worker
Quite possibly the best human being to ever come out of the professional wrestling world is Nora Greenwald, better known by the name Molly Holly.
Greenwald started her career as a valet for Macho Man Randy Savage in WCW, but would later debut in the WWE as a cousin to Crash and Bob Holly. The Holly Family would feud with the Dudleys, while secretly Spike Dudley and Molly Holly were dating. It was all very Romeo and Juliette.
She would ask for her release from the WWE in 2005, and immediately began working with charities and volunteering.
Greenwald would volunteer in Guatemala, and get involved with the charities “Teen Challenge,” and “Know the Truth” helping to keep kids away from drugs.
4. Rick Steiner – Real Estate Agent
The Steiner Brothers are one of the greatest tag teams of all time. They won championships in WCW, WWF and in Japan. Next to the Road Warriors, you would be hard-pressed to find any tag team in the history of wrestling that has the same pedigree as Rick and Scott Steiner.
The Steiners won the WCW Tag Team titles on six occasions and the WWF Tag Team titles on two occasions. Rick prepared himself well for a career after wrestling, and in 2004 began selling real estate.
Steiner settled in and became a productive member of his community, even having been elected to the Cherokee County School District board in 2006.
3. Mideon – Chef
Those who remember the fleeting appearances in WWE of a character named “Naked Mideon” would never let the guy anywhere near their food.
Dennis Knight, formerly Mideon of the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness, is now a chef in Florida.
Knight was also a member of the Godwins, a hillbilly tag team that was briefly managed by WWF Legend Hillbilly Jim. After the Godwins ran their course Knight became a follower of the Undertaker during the Attitude Era’s satanic twist on Taker’s dead man gimmick.
After the Ministry of Darkness concluded, Mideon would appear sparingly as “Naked Mideon” wearing only a thong, boots, and a fanny pack.
Knight left the WWE in 2001, and became a chef in 2006.
2. Diamond Dallas Page – Yoga and Health Expert
DDP is an interesting guy. Following a series of back injuries that threatened to end his career, he developed a system of low-impact workouts combined with yoga that has really caught on with a lot of people. Page would turn the workouts and diet plan he used into a program that he would then sell online.
Originally titled “Yoga for Regular Guys,” DDP Yoga has become a big hit amongst wrestling fans and non-fans alike, and has received plenty of mainstream coverage.
Page also brought Scott Hall and Jake “the Snake” Roberts, two frequent rehab visitors, to live with him in Atlanta to take part in a live-in version of the program. The results have been fantastic for two guys that were thought to be beyond repair. Both Roberts and Hall, thanks to Page’s help, look better than they have in years.
1. Chris Nowinski – Concussion Expert
The WWE alumni who has probably had the biggest impact on the world of sports is Chris Nowinski.
Nowinski was a featured cast member of the original Tough Enough series. During the series, the WWE made Nowinski out to be a stuck-up Harvard graduate, which eventually led the company to signing him even though it was only supposed to be the series winner (Maven) who received a contract.
Nowinski would wrestle only briefly with the WWE, his career derailed early due to concussions. After suffering with post-concussion syndrome symptoms Nowinski wrote the book Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis which was released in October 2006.
He also helped found the organization now known as the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which has been a pioneer in the field of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and the impacts of concussions on the brain.
Chris Nowinski has played a very important role in helping to make the impacts of concussions more widely known across society.