Professional wrestling, for better or for worse, has always paid heavy attention to the physiques of those who step into the ring. The fans like extremes, or at least that’s the theory. They want to see absurdly muscly performers battle it out with ridiculously overweight opponents, which has led to some pretty interesting bodies over the years.
However, chiseled physiques are quite difficult to maintain and fat bodies are inadvisable to maintain, which means for every awe-inspiring body in pro wrestling, there has been an awe-inspiring body transformation. Because of the fact that pro wrestlers, especially those who perform for WWE, are constantly in the spotlight, these body transformations are usually impossible to hide and often times are the cause of unwanted attention and mockery.
Superstars like Matt Hardy, Randy Orton, and Kevin Owens have all been the subject of cruel jokes for their struggles to maintain their bodies, while female competitors like Paige and AJ Lee have been abused online by “fans” who deemed them too skinny to perform inside the ring. Lee’s husband, CM Punk, has also detailed his battle with weight issues and body image, referring to himself as “Mr. Body Dysmorphia”.
We should note that, in this article, we will be looking at the body transformations of WWE superstars purely out of interest. We are not doing this to give anybody a hard time or to mock those who have given their lives – and bodies – to entertain us.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are 15 of the most shocking WWE Superstar body transformations in history.
When Glenn Jacobs first appeared in WWE as Kane, he was pretty ripped. In fact, he was probably in the best shape he’s ever been in. Unfortunately for him, none of the world wide wrestling audience got to see this as he was forced to cover his torso with that ridiculous one-sleeve red and black lycra top. By the time 2003 rolled around and Jacobs finally began competing with his shirt off, he was no longer in prime physical condition. As the years progressed, Kane gained more and more weight until his belly hung over his tights like jam leaking out of a doughnut.
Jacobs began covering his torso again in 2011 after returning as “classic Kane”. He returned to topless performance shortly after aligning himself with the Authority. This time, however, Jacobs was ripped. In the short period of time he had been covering his torso, he overhauled his diet and began hitting the gym with greater ferocity than before. Jacobs’ renewed interest in his health led to a renewed interest in the Kane character and propelled him to the top of the card, where he enjoyed what was probably the final main event run of his career.
14 Chris Hero
Chris Hero was never the most ripped guy in the wrestling business, but he had managed to maintain a pretty good physique while competing on the indie scene. In 2011, WWE officials decided Hero had the right look to become a WWE Superstar and signed him to a developmental contract. This should have been the beginning of a career with WrestleMania main events and world championships for Hero, but it didn’t pan out that way.
Not long into his WWE run, Hero began to experience weight problems. At first, his weight gain was hardly noticeable, but as time went on it became harder and harder to deny that he was looking increasingly less impressive. In 2013, NXT officials gave Hero an ultimatum: lose weight or kiss his dreams of being a WWE Superstar goodbye. Hero attempted to shed the excess fat but his efforts proved unsuccessful. He was released from his contract on November 8th of that year but has since stated the door was left open for him to return as soon as he got himself back into wrestling shape.
The son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Runnels - better known to WWE fans as Goldust - never had the DNA for the best physique. That being said, he managed to keep himself in some sort of shape for the first half of his career. By the time he began appearing in TNA in 2007, however, Runnels had ballooned in weight. He was in the midst of a serious drug addiction during his stint as Black Reign and it would not be until after he left TNA that he managed to kick his vices.
Today, Runnels can be found once again portraying the Goldust character in WWE. Sober and clear-minded, he has established himself as a good hand that Vince McMahon can rely on whether he needs a dark heel or a goofy comedy babyface. Since making his way back to the company, Runnels has gotten himself into the best shape of his life and has put on some of the greatest performances of his career, including a breathtaking bout with Randy Orton on Monday Night Raw.
12 Stephanie McMahon
During the McMahon-Helmsley Era, Stephanie McMahon made a habit of squeezing her petite body into figure-hugging leather outfits, allowing both her husband and her fans to bask in the glory of her physique. In the mid-2000s, however, Stephanie’s body began to transform. Three pregnancies left her looking like an inflated version of her former self and she struggled to shed the post-baby weight.
When it was decided that McMahon would be returning to WWE television as part of the Authority storyline, she set about getting herself back into performing shape. With the help of her husband and a team of personal trainers, Stephanie reclaimed her jaw-dropping figure and went on to proudly display it in one of her classic racy outfits during her 2014 in-ring return.
11 The Big Show
For a long time, it seemed like The Big Show was in a state of perpetual weight gain. For almost two decades, he competed inside WWE rings without shedding a single pound, which is actually quite impressive when you think about it. By 2016, Show was arguably in the worst shape of his career, filling his singlets with a body that looked like it made of melted Play-Doh rather than flesh and bones.
Shortly after WrestleMania 32, it was announced by multiple sources that WWE was planning to have The Big Show face NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal at the following year’s pay-per-view. In anticipation for what he expected to be his final WrestleMania encounter, the former WWE Champion began hitting the gym regularly, ridding himself of excess weight and turning what was left over into muscle. Although the encounter ended up being called off, Show should be grateful to O’Neal for giving him the motivation to better himself and give fans a more flattering final image of him.
10 Michael Cole
The voice of WWE, Michael Cole, has no obligation to work out or even attempt to stay in good shape. All he has to do is sit behind a desk for three hours every Monday and infuriate fans by not talking about what’s going on in the ring. At WrestleMania XXVII, fans were exposed to Cole’s body for the first time, when he squeezed himself into a bright orange singlet for his WrestleMania in-ring debut. It wasn’t pretty. Cole’s flab oozed out of his ring gear and he looked to be out of breath before the opening bell of his match with Jerry Lawler.
In 2015, WWE ran an article on the company website entitled “The Incredible Shrinking (And Shredded) Michael Cole”. The article looked at Cole’s hitherto unmentioned weight loss and noted that he had successfully shed 65 pounds thanks to a change in his diet and regular sessions with a personal trainer. Speaking of his body transformation, the Voice of WWE stated that he felt better at 48 years of age than he did when he was 21.
9 Mick Foley
For this entry, I’m not going to focus on the weight Mick Foley gained after his retirement from active competition. Nor am I going to look at his struggles with staying upright. This is supposed to be a list of shocking body transformations, and it is nowhere near surprising that The Hardcore Legend ended up in the condition he did after years of throwing himself off really high things and onto really hard things.
However, Mick Foley did manage to shock pro wrestling fans the world over at WrestleMania 32 when he appeared before the kayfabe crowd of 100,000 fans in the best shape he had been in years. No longer was he hunched over like a 90-year-old arthritis sufferer. No longer did he move like a remote control car about to run out of batteries. No longer did he look like a mince pie stuffed with other mince pies. Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy showed up in Dallas and had dropped a significant amount of weight and regained a significant amount of energy. He even managed to get into the ring and get physical with The League of Nations. Foley attributes his weight loss to Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga, which has saved many a wrestling legend from life in a wheelchair.
8 Roman Reigns
Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny the fact that Roman Reigns has a fantastic body. The guy is built like a WWE Superstar of the 1980s, which explains why Vince McMahon has put so much effort into turning him into the face of the company. Of course, McMahon’s attempts to make Roman the next big thing in the world of pro wrestling have not exactly been successful. Fans, not wanting to have another John Cena on their hands, have almost unanimously rejected Reigns and have made it clear that they have no intention of sticking around to watch the ship go down should he be made the WWE poster boy. Still, McMahon refused to give up on his Roman Reigns experiment. That was, of course, before Reigns was found to be in violation of WWE’s wellness policy and suspended for 30 days.
Although it was never made clear just what banned substance Roman Reigns tested positive for, many reports claimed that he had been using steroids to maintain his gargantuan size. When Reigns made his return to the ring 30 days after his suspension, his physique had gone through some noticeable changes. He wasn’t quite as ripped as he had been before and it looked as though his swat vest was fighting to disguise a beer belly lurking just below the surface. Whether these changes were a result of steroid withdrawal or just Reigns being lazy during his time away remains unclear.
7 Ric Flair
During the height of his fame, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair had one of the best bodies in professional wrestling. With his long blonde hair and bulging biceps, he came across as a slightly more natural, significantly more talented version of Hulk Hogan.
As time went on, however, Flair’s incessant partying began to take its toll on his physique. Combined with the general wear and tear veteran wrestlers must deal with, it limited what the 16-time world champion could do in the ring and left him looking tired, sluggish, and flabby.
Although the now 68-year-old Flair rarely appears on WWE television today, when he does he must attempt to hide his beer belly beneath expensive cashmere sweaters which look ready to pop at any moment.
In the mid-1990s, Tammy Sytch was the first crush of many young wrestling fans. As Sunny, she revolutionized the role of women in what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation. With long blonde hair and even longer legs, she pretty much invented the concept of a wrestling diva. Whether that was a bad thing or a good thing in the long run, is up for a debate, but it did play a hand in helping WWE come out on the winning end of the Monday Night Wars. However, Sytch wasn’t with the company when it defeated WCW and cemented itself as the number one wrestling promotion in the world.
Sunny left WWE at the end of the 90s and her drug use spiralled out of control. She was forced to hit the indies to support herself and her drug habit, though with her diminishing looks she wasn’t much of a name to have on your show.Today, Sytch is pretty much unrecognizable. Her battles with drugs and alcohol have left her seriously overweight, though the extent of her weight problem was not fully known until she starred in an adult film several months ago. Sytch has also resorted to selling “sexy” Skype chats, but even her most loyal fans are reluctant to pay to see her current body.
5 Scott Hall
When Scott Hall first began appearing in WWE as Razor Ramon, many fans assumed he would become a world champion sooner rather than later. This assumption was not based on any actual in-ring talent Hall possessed, but because of his physique, which was the kind of physique WWE management had favored in the past. Had he not left for WCW in 1995, it is likely Hall would have become the WWE World Champion at some point throughout his career. It is also likely he wouldn’t have destroyed his body quite as much as he did.
While in WCW, Hall’s drug use worsened. With nobody to tell him no or keep an eye on him, he had access to all the drugs and alcohol he could want and it proved a near-fatal combination. Hall gained weight and continued to do so until his muscle was almost entirely replaced by flab. By the time WCW shut its doors in 2001, he looked like a melted version of his early 90s self. Over the past decade and a half, Hall has continued to abuse his body and gain dangerous amounts of weight. He has worked extensively with Diamond Dallas Page as part of DDP Yoga but just hasn’t been able to revive his body like Mick Foley did.
4 Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has never had the best body in professional wrestling – likely why his first WWE character was named Husky Harris – but that isn’t all that important because his manic cult leader character is just so entertaining. However, having a good body is never a bad idea in WWE and it seems the leader of The Wyatt Family realized that while he was out on injury this past summer.
While rehabbing a leg injury, Wyatt began hitting the gym more intensely, possibly with the determination to finally capture the WWE World Championship or possibly just to pass the time while he was off the road. Whatever the reason, a picture of Wyatt posted on social media ahead of his in-ring return shocked everybody who saw it. Not only did Wyatt look thinner than the last time fans had seen him, he looked positively ripped. Since his return, it seems Bray has let his physique slip and return to its pre-injury condition, but hey, it was cool while it lasted.
3 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts has been through the ringer the past couple of decades. Years upon years of drug and alcohol abuse drove him out of the wrestling business in the 1990s and he pretty much dropped off the radar until he managed to score some indie bookings in the 2000s. However, most of these appearances ended up with him getting too inebriated to wrestle and on at least one occasion involved him exposing himself to the audience. Videos of these appearances were posted on the internet in large numbers and showed the wrestling legend to be several dozen pounds overweight and unable to remain standing. Things got so bad for Roberts that he couldn’t stay upright for more than a couple of minutes at a time, which pretty much forced him into retirement.
In 2012, the general consensus was that Roberts was a lost cause and wasn’t long for this world. However, Diamond Dallas Page came to the rescue (he really is a saint). Page used his DDP Yoga system to drive Jake back into shape. His no-nonsense approach to training was exactly what Jake needed and within a year he was sober and well on his way to reclaiming his life. Today, Roberts is an entirely different man. He is healthy and content and has embarked on a career as a public speaker, traveling around the world, sharing stories of the pro wrestling world and his long road to redemption.
2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker’s career has been one long body transformation. When he first appeared in WWE at Survivor Series 1990, he was thin, bordering on lanky, and almost void of tattoos. As his body grew, however, so did his ink collection and by the end of the Attitude Era, he was the tattooed giant many of us so fondly remember. ‘Taker gained a significant portion of weight at the beginning of the 2000s, which he then lost before getting into the best shape of his life around 2007. However, it is The Undertaker’s body transformation prior to WrestleMania 30 which stands out as his most shocking.
In the lead up to his bout with Brock Lesnar at the biggest WrestleMania event of all time, it became clear that The Undertaker was in no shape to be stepping into the ring. His muscles had retreated and his arms looked wet toilet paper rolls. Taker has stated that he suffered a concussion early in his match with Lesnar and therefore doesn’t remember the bout, a luxury most of us can only dream of.
1 Rey Mysterio
A common criticism of Rey Mysterio towards the end of his WWE run was that he had let his body slip. The once lean cruiserweight became a pot bellied mid-carder who had long lost whatever it was which made him so special in the eyes of the fans. This late period Rey Mysterio was frequently out of action due to injury and was thoroughly uninteresting and uninterested whenever he did manage to step foot in the ring.
When Rey made his debut in Lucha Underground last year, he seemed to have a new lease on wrestling life. He looked to finally be enjoying himself inside the ring again, but his weight problem was still there. This past August, however, the luchador shared a picture of himself looking drastically different. In it, Mysterio has not only shed the weight which made him so unimpressive during his final years with WWE but replaced it with bulging muscles, giving him the impression of a mini Brock Lesnar. He is undoubtedly in the best shape of his life and looks ready to go for at least another couple of years.