A train wreck is defined as a disaster or chaotic situation that holds a peculiar fascination for observers and in this case, when it comes to pro wrestling that notion is pretty much woven into the fabric of the business. Sometimes that chaos is a storyline, driven by characters that get fans to cheer or boo in almost a ping pong fashion; good guy overcomes, fans go nuts, back and forth we go.
The darker side of pro wrestling comes when the lights go down and the crowd disappears; what’s left for some wrestlers is the harsh reality of loneliness, addiction, and pain. To alleviate themselves from the negative, they tend to act out in bizarre fashion, usually with the help of alcohol, drugs, or just out of the basic need to survive.
The following group of wrestlers had some really down moments, but for a majority of them the bad times didn’t last forever; at some point they got clean, got hired and moved on to a more positive stage in their respective lives. Everyone loves a good comeback story, but this list will focus on when a collection of pro wrestlers hit some of their lowest points, so as you read through this list understand that this isn’t meant to just poke fun at other people’s expense, but rather show what some individuals can come back from, so with that said, here are 11 wrestling personalities that really went off the rails.
11. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
If you’ve ever seen The Wrestler, then you’ll get a relatively good idea of the life Jake Roberts lived in regards to strained family relationships, a star coming back down to Earth, addiction, and health issues. For years, Jake was a wrestler that fans fully expected to not make it into his fifties, but at 60 years old “The Snake” is still alive and kicking.
Thanks partly to Diamond Dallas Page (who now runs DDP Yoga), Jake was able to kick the drug/alcohol habit, drop over 50 pounds and begin living a more healthy life. Once he cleaned up, the WWE came calling and made him a Hall of Famer in 2014.
10. Jeff Hardy
It’s been said before, but pro wrestling is a very difficult career and at 38 Jeff Hardy has been doing it since he was a teenager, actually working for the WWE at 16 (they thought he was 18). Aside from just doing it for decades, Jeff’s style isn’t exactly a methodical mat game; he’s always been a high flyer and a risk taker. So it shouldn’t be a huge surprised when WWE let him go for refusing to go to rehab when his drug habits came to light. No showing events and just general “burn out” from the business didn’t help much either.
Jeff’s other big misstep was when he was arrested in 2009 for trafficking controlled prescription pills and steroids along with having small amounts of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia in his house. Also, there was that one time he tried to wrestle Sting on TNA heavily under the influence.
9. William Regal
What? One of the most well respected minds in all of pro wrestling makes this list? Yes, even Regal had his dark periods of drug addiction, which mostly was to help deal with the physical pain of being a pro wrestler. Regal also had drinking problem, which led to his infamous flight when he got drunk and urinated on a stewardess, when he finally came to, he was in a jail cell in Anchorage, Alaska.
Regal was also named in Sports Illustrated as one of many wrestlers who received steroids between 2004 and 2006. With all of this in his past, Regal is now the NXT General Manager and trainer, along with being one of WWE’s best scouts for incoming talent.
8. Lex Luger
Always known for having one of the best physiques in wrestling, it was quite a shock to fans when Luger had a spinal stroke, initially making him a quadriplegic (he regained use of his arms and legs over time) and causing him to drop an incredible amount of weight.
Before that, Luger had a really rough time between 2003 and 2005 when he was involved in domestic depute (with Miss Elizabeth, who lived with him at the time), a DUI, and 13 felony counts of drug procession when police searched his house after Miss Elizabeth passed away from an accidental drug and alcohol overdose. Since those days, Luger has found God and is living on the straight and narrow.
7. Scott Hall
What’s there to be said about Scott Hall, he’s had his alcoholism actually played out on TV during his time with WCW, numerous health issues (some of which came from drug overdoses). Until DDP got a hold of him, Hall just wasn’t taking care of himself in any shape or form.
Along with his health issues, he’s been arrested multiple times, usually thanks to alcohol, and has even had to shoot a man in self-defense (he wrestled the man’s gun away from him). Both Hall and close friends have said he’s been unable to put that incident in his past and is a large reason for the substance abuse. More recently, Hall is looking in great shape, making appearances both in and outside of the WWE, while also supporting his son Cody Hall, who wrestles for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
6. Iron Sheik
First off, to fully understand Sheik’s amazing story, go check out his documentary, The Sheik, which shows how he was a star at such a young age before pro wrestling even came about. Sheik has said time and time again how hard the wrestling business has been, and that’s clear as he’s been forced to be in a wheelchair thanks to his ailing knees.
Sheik had a tough time balancing his professional and family life as wrestlers are on the road nearly 300 days out of the year. Initially staying clean, the pressure got to Sheik and drugs moved their way into his life. One binge was so bad that it led to a mild heart attack that nearly killed him had he boarded a plane, luckily for him, he was too messed up to be allowed on. In his later years, sadly, his daughter was murdered by her boyfriend, which led to his depression and continued use of drugs. Lately, he’s found a resurgence of popularity thanks to his rants on Twitter and random media appearances, staying clean along the way.
Not that every exit was because of something dramatically bad, but just found it interesting that Goldust has had six individual runs with the WWE (going to WCW, TNA or the indy circuit in between each one). When his book came out, Goldust elaborated on his addictions during his time away from WWE. He would take up to 40 pills a day, having to buy painkillers from drug dealers because he went through them so fast.
Coke, alcohol, among other things would get Goldust through the day (the picture above is during his Black Reign gimmick, which was right around this time) until he finally realized he needed help. First getting help from his Dad, Goldust has been clean for nearly a decade, shedding about 150 lbs. that he gained during that low point in his life.
Well, that’s a nice picture of Sunny with her husband – oh, that’s not her husband? Must be a former boyfriend, right? Nope, that would be just a random fan who paid money to get a picture with her in bed and he wasn’t the only one to line up for this privilege. Fair to say, Sunny was in a tough spot if this is what she did for a couple bucks, unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg for her.
Amazingly, Sunny was arrested five times (yes, five!) in a month for crimes ranging from third degree burglary to disorderly conduct. She also has had multiple DUI related charges and has recently gotten back into adult entertainment to support herself. If you’re wondering the overall time frame for all of these things, it’s been in the past four years.
3. New Jack
Known to most fans during his time with ECW, New Jack has always had a reputation of being a wrestler that is not to be messed with thanks to his proclivity to go off-script during matches. One of the more famous ones was the Mass Transit Incident where a inexperienced/untrained wrestler Eric Kulas (known as “Mass Transit”) was beaten badly needing fifty stitches after the match.
New Jack was charged with aggravated assault, but was later acquitted, although this was not the last time New Jack went nuts in the ring. Against William Jason Lane, New Jack stabbed him fourteen times with a metal blade, which led to multiple felony charges. New Jack also has openly talked about drug use (coke and acid, among other things) throughout his wrestling career.
2. Teddy Hart
Trained in the world famous Hart Dungeon, Teddy could have been one of the greatest wrestlers ever, getting a chance with the WWE at 18, he was released after a few years due to his bad attitude. It didn’t get much better as he bounced from promotion to promotion; burning bridges every single place he went.
He’s worked pretty much everywhere in the world and right now is working in Mexico with his emotional support animal (“Mr. Money”) that goes all over the place with him. He’s had rape charges brought up against him, which he says was two women colluding against him in a marijuana grow gone bad, yeah, he sells weed. The guy has so much talent, but so much baggage that brought him down during most of his wrestling career.
1. Matt Hardy
2011 was a really tough year for Matt Hardy, not only did he have a bad drug addiction that led to being released from both WWE and TNA, respectively, but went to a WWE sponsored rehab where he got drunk and was quickly booted out.
Things seemed to turn around until in 2014 where Matt got into an alleged nasty brawl with his wife (Reby Sky), both were arrested for assault/battery. Then later that same year he was arrested for a DUI and a week after that for prescription drugs (along with steroids and ecstasy). Since then, Matt has been able to recover thanks to focusing on wrestling and being a father to his first child.