The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Grass is green. The wrestling business has a long history of workers using performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Each of those statements are regarded these days as being factual. Pro wrestling organizations such as World Wrestling Entertainment have, over the years, taken steps to eliminate performers taking those substances, so much so that the company has parted ways with money-making stars who were incapable of following the rules that dictated what those individuals could and could not put into their bodies. It may be silly to say that the WWE is completely clean, but things are certainly better regarding the matter than what was the case in days of old.
The list of wrestlers who used steroids during their stints in the World Wrestling Federation/WWE is long, and it is one that has seen the light of day thanks to reports, websites and Internet wrestling forums. Pro wrestling is a business that is largely based on looks, and thus it is understandable that guys would want to be as jacked as humanly possible to impress a promoter. It was not all that long ago, in fact, that the perception out there was that a wrestler who did not have a superhuman physique would have next to no shot at becoming a star in the business.
20. Vince McMahon
It all starts at the top. The WWE Chairman who has won championships while wrestling for his own company admitted in 1994 that he had distributed steroids to performers and that he had also used them himself. Vince McMahon, who will turn 70 years old later this summer, continues to have an impressive physique that has landed him features in magazines, and thus there are people who believe that McMahon must still be on something to be so jacked at his age. McMahon is no longer an active on-air talent, and thus we may never know just what he is doing to say so…fit…these days.
19. Chris Masters
The wrestling industry is weird in many ways, and the WWE career of Chris Masters is an example of the hypocrisy that plagued the business for decades. Masters, who has admitted to using steroids in order to get big and increase the likelihood that he would get signed by WWE, was twice suspended by the company for violating its Wellness Policy, and yet he was mocked during television segments when he dropped the excess muscle mass for being smaller than he was when he debuted. The former “Masterpiece” has parted ways with the company, most likely never to return.
18. Lex Luger
Go back and look at pictures of Lex Luger during his runs in WCW and the WWE. Is it really all that surprising that he used steroids to maintain his physique for decades? Luger has openly talked about his issues with substance abuse, including his use of steroids, and how those issues nearly cost him his life. The man formerly known as “The Total Package” has cleaned up, and he has credited his Christian faith for helping him turn his life around. Luger, who has written a book about his career and his life, has worked behind the scenes for the WWE.
17. Shawn Michaels
Years before he found Christianity, saved his life and had an incredible second run of his WWE career, it was well known that Shawn Michaels was an abuser of all kinds of substances. There have, for years, been rumors that Michaels was a big steroid user in the 1990s until he suffered a serious back injury. Michaels has admitted that he once failed a drug test for steroids, something that supposedly caught him by surprise. The “Heartbreak Kid” may not have been the biggest guy in the industry, but it is hardly a shock that he would experiment with steroids during that time of his career.
16. Gregory Helms
It is a common tale in the worlds of sports organizations and pro wrestling: An individual suffers an injury or some other setback, he is prescribed something, he takes that medicine and then fails a drug test before claiming that he had no idea that he was doing anything wrong. That was the case for the man known as “The Hurricane,” who let his feelings on a famous SI.com wrestling article known to the world via a blog post. Was Gregory Helms merely, to steal a line from The Three Stooges, a victim of circumstance? You decide.
15. Randy Orton
Randy Orton once cautioned fans to not believe all that they read about him on the Internet. He did not, however, take any legal action against SI.com when that website posted a story claiming that Orton “allegedly received eight prescriptions for six different drugs — including stanozolol, nandrolone and testosterone — between March 2004 and August 2004.” Orton’s physique has noticeably changed at times during his career, and it is widely believed now that he is no longer using steroids or any other similar substances.
14. Eddie Guerrero
It was clear to anybody who had followed the career of Eddie Guerrero before and during his run in WCW that he was doing something to help him bulk up and keep on the additional muscle weight while working for WWE. Those suspicions were proven to be accurate when it was reported that Guerrero “received the steroids testosterone and nandrolone, along with the estrogen-blocker anastozole, a drug commonly taken by men on steroids to prevent developing breast tissue.” Guerrero sadly passed away in November of 2005.
13. Dynamite Kid
The downfall of Dynamite Kid is one that is well-known by those in the wrestling industry and by fans. Kid, real name Tom Billington, has lost the use of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair. He will never walk again. Billington has blamed the bumps that he took during his career for his body betraying him, and he has also publicly talked about using steroids. The use of steroids is probably responsible for some of the hardships that he has endured, but Billington performing moves such as the diving headbutt did his spine and his brain no favors.
Edge often had what would be considered to be a slender build for a pro wrestler when he was teaming up with Christian and also during his time as a solo act. Nobody had to guess on whether or not he used steroids after what became somewhat of a famous interview on TSN program Off the Record in 2005. Edge openly admitted during that television segment that he had used steroids to the surprise of many fans. You cannot judge a book by its cover, or so the story goes, and that is the case for many athletes who may be on certain substances despite not “looking” like they do so.
11. Kurt Angle
It is well known that Kurt Angle was a legitimate athlete who won a gold medal in wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Angle is also one of the many wrestlers who was punished by the WWE for using steroids during his time with the company. He discussed the matter back in 2009, explaining that he does not look back at the portion of his career fondly: “But I paid the price, both financially – I got fined $125,000 – and reputation-wise. I was a pure athlete, an Olympic champion. And all of a sudden, I’m like Kurt Angle the cheater? It really sucked. You can test me right now. I’ll come up clean. But there was a time when I did it.”
10. Ultimate Warrior
“I don’t think it would be a surprise to know he took steroids for a long time, and I don’t know if he ever stopped.” Those were the words said by Bret Hart regarding the Ultimate Warrior after the legend of the WWF passed away. The relationships that Warrior had with the company and with many of his peers was complicated and downright non-existent in some cases. Whether or not Warrior was using any such substances up through his final days does not take away that it is only a positive that he and the WWE made amends and that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame before his death.
9. Ahmed Johnson
While he was never known to be the best worker in the industry capable of putting on five-star matches with any opponent, the man known by WWF fans as Ahmed Johnson managed to break into the industry in the 1990s at a time when having a great body was enough to get at least a look from those running the organization. It was learned after his stint with the WWE that Johnson was one of may performers who had obtained steroids from prescriptions that were improperly handed out by a doctor. His time as a performer worthy of working for a massive promotion was up even before WCW closed its doors in 2001.
8. Louie Spicolli
The performer who is often falsely credited for having invented the “Death Valley Driver” finishing move wanted to be a pro wrestling star, but he never got to that level despite the fact that he worked in promotions such as the WWE, ECW and WCW. Louie Spicolli, who had multiple characters during his time in the business, was found dead at the age of 27 years old, and the young man who had a history of substance abuse reportedly had a bottle of the hormone testosterone and also other drugs in his possession. Spicolli never got to truly live his dream as a wrestling superstar in part because he could not conquer his demons.
7. Davey Boy Smith
Bruce Hart, brother-in-law of Davey Boy Smith, did not dance around the issue when speaking about the death of Smith, saying the following: “Davey paid the price with steroid cocktails and human growth hormones.” Smith, known as “The British Bulldog,” looked more like a bodybuilder than an in-ring technician during his time working in companies such as WCW and the WWE, and there was not much doubt that he used some substances during his career even before Hart gave the public a look at Smith’s life. Smith was just 39 years old when his body succumbed to years of abuse.
6. Chris Benoit
The disgusting murder-suicide case involving Chris Benoit and his family put the WWE under a worldwide spotlight. Benoit, who had suffered multiple injuries during his wrestling career, was found to have had steroids and other drugs inside of his system at the time that he murdered his wife and his young son. While some immediately pointed to what is commonly referred to as “’roid rage” for why Benoit committed those hideous acts, the truth of the matter is that the story is more complicated than that. That nobody within the WWE realized just how unwell Benoit was in 2007 is a tragedy.
5. Curt Hennig
Do not let the fact that Curt Hennig may not have looked like a superhero as did wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan fool you into thinking that he did not get boosts in his training. The man known by WWF fans as “Mr. Perfect” was truly a gifted natural athlete, but it is also public knowledge that Hennig used multiple substances during his career. He was 44 years old when he passed away from what was reported to be cocaine intoxication. Hennig’s own father claimed that his son’s death was the result of “a lethal combination of steroids and painkillers.”
4. Rick Rude
The man who had the nickname “Ravishing” in part because of his impressive physique admitted in the 1990s that he had dabbled with taking steroids. Rude was a tremendous heel performer who could have worked in any era, and he wrestled for the WWE, WCW and ECW among other companies. He was 40 years old and reportedly eying a return to the ring when he passed away because of heart failure. While taking steroids was not the only reason for Rude’s demise as such a young age, the strain that doing so put on his heart most likely did not help his cause.
3. Road Warrior Animal
The Road Warriors were a tag-team act that found fame and fortune working all around the world and featuring in organizations such as the NWA, WCW and the WWE. It is no secret that both Road Warrior Animal and Road Warrior Hawk used steroids when they were one of the hottest teams in the business in the 1980s. Animal has offered looks into the life and times of his career, including his personal steroid use, in books and during interviews. While he is fortunately still with us, the same cannot be said for the man who served as his partner.
2. Road Warrior Hawk
Road Warrior Hawk passed away at the young age of 46 years old due to what was reported to be a sudden heart attack. Some credited his death as a result of years of steroid abuse and also other actions that he took over the years, but tag-team partner Road Warrior Animal said otherwise during an interview that occurred in 2011: “Steroids wasn’t the reason that Hawk died. Steroids had nothing to do with Hawk dying. I want to make that perfectly clear. Because when we took steroids in the younger part of our career they were legal and we took them under doctor supervision. They told us that we couldn’t take them anymore, that they were against the rules, so we stopped taking them.”
1. Hulk Hogan
One did not need to hear testimony from the wrestling icon known as Hulk Hogan that the man Terry Bolea had, for years, used steroids leading up to the famous trial that threatened the existence of the WWF. It is a safe bet that Hogan has little to no regrets about the choices that he made in those situations. Hogan remains arguably the most recognized wrestling personality in the history of the business, and his “24-inch pythons” helped make him an international superstar who made millions of dollars during his career. Risking your long-term health is sometimes worth it if the money is right.