Professional wrestling is a really big industry, one that is chock full of big, bad dudes with even worse egos and attitudes. It also does not escape rumors of drug abuse and assault allegations, which means the industry is peppered with criminal records. Sometimes we forget that these larger than life characters on television are played by real, flawed people. Whether it is stress from travel, addiction or some other unseen circumstances, many wrestlers tend to find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
If we were to attempt to have a discussion about all the pro wrestlers who have ever had a run-in with a police officer or been involved in a fender-bender, we’d be here until Vince McMahon retires (which is to say we’d never leave). If talking about wrestlers who had been arrested for minor infractions, you would have to include situations like the harmless Emma being taken in for accidentally forgetting to pay for an iPhone case.
But when we scrape the bottom of the barrel, we find the really juicy stuff, and if we’re being honest, that’s what you are here for. We start to run into those who have either done some really bad, nasty stuff or who have just been arrested so many times even they begin to lose count.
15. Big Show
Paul Wight has been a pro wrestling mainstay for over twenty years. He first played the role of WWE Hall of Famer Andre the Giant’s son in WCW, known then as only “The Giant,” before moving to WWE in 1999 and eventually becoming the legend we know today as the Big Show. Throughout his career, he has held a plethora of championships, including all the current active titles in WWE. He also became the first and only Superstar to have collectively held the WWE, WCW and ECW Championships.
You may be surprised to know that Big Show also holds the distinction of having a storied history with the law. His two arrests, both hotel-related, came in the late ‘90s. To start things off, he was taken in for assaulting a man at a Marriott hotel in Uniondale, New York after being provoked. The second arrest came when he allegedly unzipped his fly for another “big show” in front of a clerk at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Charges in both cases were dropped.
The younger generation of the WWE Universe might know Vader as the old guy who went on Twitter to bully independent stars Will O’Spreay and Ricochet because he thought their match was a little too modern. What that generation may not be aware of is that Vader is actually a well-respected legend in the industry of professional wrestling. Known for his incredible athleticism at his 400-plus-pound size, he has captured the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on three occasions.
There is a lesser-told story from his past about how he was arrested during a WWE tour of Kuwait back in the 1990s for assaulting a television show host. The circumstances surrounding this situation were notable, however, for the fact that Vader was supposedly just roughhousing the guy (who had asked if wrestling is fake) and also wasn’t aware that Kuwait has strict laws regarding this type of thing. Vader was also arrested in 2002 for drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
13. Scott Steiner
As half of the Steiner Brothers tag team with his brother Rick, Scott Steiner saw some success in the WWE in the 1990s when the duo won the WWE Tag Team Championship. His career really peaked in WCW when he embarked on a solo career and eventually became the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He then later returned to the WWE in the main event picture. But despite his in-ring success, nothing has outshone his famous short fuse and penchant for getting into trouble.
Steiner has been arrested on at least two notable occasions. The first happened in 1998 when he made threats to a road worker and then assaulted him by hitting him twice with his vehicle after the worker informed him of a road block ahead. In 2001, Scott Steiner was arrested for attacking an EMT during an episode of WCW Monday Nitro whom he thought was being played by an actor. Those charges were dropped, but there’s no denying there are some anger issues at play.
12. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
His daughter Natalya may have been wrestling circles around every Superstar under contract with WWE for a decade now, but Jim Neidhart has his own legendary past. Having been a two-time WWE Tag Team Champion alongside his brother-in-law, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart, Neidhart is known for being the rough side of the legendary Hart Foundation and is certain to one day be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
But Jim has a legal past that cannot be ignored. He was arrested in 1987, accused of punching a female flight attendant for U.S. Air. Neidhart claimed that he never hit the woman and eventually a settlement was reached. Neidhart found himself in some major trouble again in 2010 when he was arrested for two counts of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, trafficking illegal drugs, burglary and grand theft. He was sentenced to nearly six months in jail.
11. Ric Flair
Known as “The Nature Boy,” Ric Flair has been a notorious name in the wrestling industry for forty years. He is a sixteen-time World Champion and a two-time WWE Hall of Famer, as well as having been a part of the most revered faction of wrestlers in the history of the business, the Four Horsemen. His daughter, Charlotte, is now revitalizing the female division and is carrying on the Flair legacy.
But despite a golden career, Ric Flair has not always had it easy, especially in his personal life. Aside from several bad marriages and a plane crash in the ‘70s that almost ended his career before it got started, Ric has also had some run-ins with the law. In 1996, he was arrested for letting an underage girl drive his car while under the influence of alcohol. He was also arrested in 2005 after a very Ric Flair-like road rage incident.
Speaking of Ric Flair, his daughter Charlotte’s ex-husband has had his share of legal woes. Also a wrestler, known in TNA as Bram, he is a former TNA King of the Mountain Champion. He is also a former NXT competitor under the name Kenneth Cameron. His career is still young but if his history is any indication, he’ll be seeing a lifetime of personal troubles.
Bram, whose real name is Thomas Latimer, began running into trouble with Johnny Law in 2011 when he was arrested for a DUI. That was not his only incident though, in 2012 he was charged with assaulting a police officer which resulted in his WWE release. Bram was again arrested in 2015 for domestic assault and false imprisonment when he got into a physical fight with his girlfriend and refused to let her leave their home.
9. Jerry “The King” Lawler
WWE Hall of Fame class of 2007 inductee Jerry “The King” Lawler has come to be known more for his commentary than the wrestling career that preceded it. A former World Champion, Lawler saw huge success and many title reigns across major wrestling promotions like AWA and NWA before settling into his permanent home in WWE in the ‘90s.
But just as his commentary has overshadowed his in-ring years, his arrests have begun to overshadow his commentary. Lawler and his girlfriend were recently arrested in Memphis after a domestic assault situation and he was subsequently suspended from WWE, though later that suspension was lifted after charges were dropped. He was also arrested in 1993 after a fifteen-year-old girl claimed he sexually assaulted her (she would later admit she lied about the whole ordeal), and then again in 1999 when he was given a ticket and tore it up in the face of the cop before running over his foot.
Konnan might not be a familiar name to modern WWE fans, but he is still a wrestling legend that is better-known for his time in WCW, TNA, and more recently, Lucha Underground. While in WCW, Konnan held many titles including the United States Championship and the WCW Tag Team Championship on two occasions, once with his real-life close friend and future WWE Hall of Famer, Rey Mysterio.
As you can imagine based on the list, Konnan has also had quite a few incidents with police. He was arrested as a teenager for theft of a credit card and a motorcycle, and then again early in his wrestling career for an issue related to a work visa. In 2014, he was arrested at a San Diego Chargers game, apparently for being “rowdy.” Rey Mysterio posted a photo of the arrest on Instagram. The police reportedly thought Konnan was drunk, but Konnan claims that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.
7. Lex Luger
As a former member of perhaps the most revered wrestling stable in history, the Four Horsemen, Lex Luger has had a legendary career. Though the WWE failed to properly utilize him (initially calling him “Narcissus” and somehow evolving him into an American hero archetype), Luger became one of WCW’s biggest success stories. He has captured many titles including the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and the revered United States Championship, which the WWE still uses today.
Larry Pfohl, the man behind the master of the “Torture Rack,” has not been so lucky in his personal life. 2003 was a particularly bad year and saw him arrested on three separate occasions in a very short frame of time. He was first charged with assault of his then-girlfriend Elizabeth Hulette, better known as the most loved lady in wrestling, Miss Elizabeth. Days later he was picked up for a DUI, and then again a couple of weeks later for possession after Elizabeth passed away from an overdose. To top it all off, Lex Luger was arrested again in 2005 for violating the conditions of his parole by leaving the country.
6. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy and his brother Jeff saw a rise to megastar status in the late ‘90s with the birth of what is widely considered the golden era in WWE’s tag team division. Alongside the teams of the Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian, the Hardy Boyz went to war in a series of ladder matches that eventually saw the creation of a WWE phenomenon known today as the TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs) match.
But in the years since his WWE career came to a close, Matt Hardy has seen plenty of legal troubles. First came a series of three arrests mere weeks apart. In 2011 he was arrested for a DWI, then weeks later a DUI. The third arrest came a week later when his wife Reby Sky, also a pro wrestler, made a 911 call that resulted in Matt being arrested in a drug raid. Finally, in 2014, both Matt and Reby were arrested following a physical altercation at a motel.
5. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams competed all over the world in several organizations, including a brief stint in WWE that didn’t go so well. He had his share of championships on his resume, but what he became legendary for, however, was a ten-year undefeated streak as he wrestled in the NWA and in Japan. A streak that came to an end in ECW when he was finally pinned by ECW World Heavyweight Champion Raven.
Williams, who passed away in 2009, also became known for having been arrested on some pretty serious charges. He was arrested after an incident in a bar alongside other professional wrestlers, as well as for being behind on child support, and for possession of pain killers, all on separate occasions. But the biggest arrest for Dr. Death came in 1988 when he was found with cocaine and marijuana in an airport and charged with intent to sell.
4. Buff Bagwell
Unless you were a wrestling fan in the ’90s you may not be totally familiar with Buff Bagwell, but there is no denying that he was a big deal in WCW. Bagwell was a multiple time WCW Tag Team Champion and one of the most recognizable characters in the entire company. Unfortunately for him, his stint in WWE, which happened when the wrestling giant bought WCW in 2001, lasted only a week. As a result, his WWE legacy may only be remembered for when he put his mother up for grabs as a prize during a wrestling match. (Does “Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match” ring a bell?)
Buff Bagwell will also be remembered for his slew of arrests. The first of which came in 2000 when he punched a co-worker in the neck at a WCW show. He was then taken in for a DUI in 2004, 2006 and 2012. Bagwell was also arrested in 2014, though it is unclear on what charges.
3. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014 as a legendary and influential figure in professional wrestling. The kicker is that he never won a single championship in his years with the company in the 1980s and ‘90s. His influence came from redefining the wrestling promo and introducing a level of wrestling psychology unheard of before. He inspired droves of future WWE Superstars who would become the stars of today and for those gifts to the wrestling world, he will never be forgotten.
But Jake is also notorious for having one of the toughest personal lives of any pro wrestler in history. While he has had his share of ups and downs, many of those downs saw him get into a lot of legal trouble. He was first arrested in 1989 for assault and again in 2001 for a hit and run. In 2004, he was charged with and found guilty of animal cruelty when he let one of his signature pet pythons starve to death. And finally, in 2005, he was arrested twice, for cocaine possession and for an old warrant for non-payment of child support.
2. Scott Hall
During the ’90s, Razor Ramon exploded onto the scene as one of WWE’s most iconic wrestling characters in history. With a cheesy, fake accent, greased-back hair and golden necklaces draped into a nest of thick chest hair, Ramon had all the makings of a sleazy, self-professed ladies’ man. He was also one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions in history before jumping ship to WCW, using his real name, Scott Hall, and setting the wrestling world on fire alongside Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan with the New World Order. The nWo effectively dominated the infamous “Monday night wars” between WCW Nitro and WWE Raw and all three of the original members of the trio have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
But if there was a Hall of Fame for arrest records, Scott Hall would certainly need to be considered for membership. He has at least seven arrests to his name, including a charge of second-degree murder from way back in 1983. Charges were dropped due to lack of evidence, but Hall has seemingly continued to spiral out of control over the years with arrests for property damage, groping a woman, a DUI, probation violation and assault on at least two occasions.
WWE Hall of Famer Tammy Sytch, formerly known as “Sunny” in WWE, has been quite the controversial figure. Popular for her managerial skills and her good looks, Sunny excelled in the 1990s. In fact, Sytch often credits herself as being the original WWE Diva and has made many rude comments about current Superstars, such as calling the Bella Twins fat and Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch ugly.
But what is really ugly is her criminal record. In an industry dominated by men like professional wrestling, and on a list which is also dominated by men, Sunny stands bright above the rest. This classy lady was arrested five times in a four-week period back in 2012 for issues related to the violation of protective orders. And if that was not bad enough, she was arrested three times in 2015 for suspension-DUI related charges. Now that’s definitely Hall of Fame worthy.