TNA has long been seen as the place where wrestling careers go to die. It is a damaging image which has haunted the company pretty much since its inception. Sure, TNA has given guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode national exposure and a place to build their skills, but it has also employed former WWE superstars who were let go because they just couldn’t keep themselves in a good condition. According to many sources who have spent time behind the scenes in TNA, the company puts minimal if any effort into controlling substance abuse among its performers, meaning many are granted nothing more than a stay of execution, a place to make some money before their addiction takes total control.
While WWE has been known to pay for the rehabilitation of superstars who battled drug addiction after their time with the company, TNA has neither the funds nor the heart to do so, which has resulted in many former TNA superstars falling victim to the drug abuse and alcoholism after their time with the promotion. Many who have worked with TNA have also faced financial troubles after being released from the company, owing in no small part to TNA’s inability to pay its performers on time, if at all.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at 15 professional wrestlers who hit rock bottom after TNA.
15 Scott Steiner
Fans have been speculating about Scott Steiner’s mental health since his WCW days. Big Poppa Pump just doesn’t seem to be all there and his increasingly wacky antics suggest that he is only getting worse.
Steiner spent a number of years in TNA after his post-WCW WWE return didn’t work out. During his time with the company, Steiner’s struggles with alcohol, coupled with his short-temper, consistently got him into trouble backstage. After he left the promotion, he entered into a lawsuit with TNA, claiming he was owed royalties and that officials had put his health at risk by forcing him to wrestle and intoxicated Jeff Hardy (more on him later).
Steiner’s reputation has only worsened since he left TNA. Just last year, he was banned from attending the WWE Hall of Fame after he accosted Hulk Hogan’s wife at an airport, telling her that he would murder her husband if he ever saw him again.
14 Awesome Kong
Awesome Kong is one of the most impressive women’s wrestlers in the world today. She managed to find immense success at a time when the role of the woman in professional wrestling was to don makeup, a skimpy outfit, and basically look pretty.
Kong’s success in TNA was so great that she was eventually hired by WWE and renamed “Karma.” However, her time with the company was short-lived as she was plagued by mental health issues, many brought on from her turbulent past relationships.
In 2012, Kong announced that she had given birth to a healthy baby boy. However, it was later revealed that her child had died in the womb, a tragic turn of events which really did a number on her mental health. In later interviews, Awesome Kong explained that her lie about having a successful birth as the miscarriage had left her frightened and sent her into the toughest period of her life.
13 Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock is one of the only men to give them hell in both professional wrestling and MMA. The guy is a UFC Hall of Famer and it likely won’t be long before his wrestling career is acknowledged with an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. However, many feel that Shamrock has ruined his legacy over the past couple of years by refusing to accept the fact his best days are behind him.
After leaving TNA in 2004, Shamrock attempted to resume his career in mixed martial arts and it did not go smoothly. Despite suffering a number of embarrassing defeats, the inexplicably proud fighter refused to hang up his gloves.
Ken Shamrock reached an all-time career low earlier this year when he was easily disposed of by Royce Gracie in the first round of their fight. He was 52 years old at the time of the defeat.
12 Jeff Jarrett
When WCW was purchased by WWE, Jeff Jarrett was left without a job. A pay dispute with Vince McMahon back in 1999 meant Jarrett was left out in the cold when McMahon was choosing which WCW superstars would be hired and put on WWE television. With no place to go, Jarrett decided to create his own promotion, and so TNA was born.
Despite his role as a founder of the company, Jarrett’s relationship with TNA has been strained over the past couple of years. Numerous controversies plagued his final couple of years with the promotion and he finally left when he couldn’t stand to work with Dixie Carter anymore. Shortly after, Jarrett founded an entirely new company: Global Force Wrestling.
Unfortunately for ol’ Double J, GFW has not been as successful as anticipated and he has been forced to start selling gold like a third-rate TV pitchman. His gold distribution company is named Global Force Gold, a transparent attempt to trick his wrestling fans into signing up for a pyramid scheme.
11 Matt Hardy
Jeff Hardy’s personal troubles are well-documented, but his older brother Matt is not without his issues.
When Matt Hardy left WWE in October of 2010, it wasn’t long before TNA came calling and he joined his brother in the promotion on January 9th, 2011. During his first run with TNA, Hardy began to develop a greater reliance on alcohol than before and it wasn’t long before he was suspended by the company. Hardy tried to downplay the suspension as him simply taking some time off, but fans didn’t buy it. He was eventually released by TNA after being arrested for a DUI in August, just a few months after he signed his deal.
Thankfully, the Matt Hardy story has a happy ending. Matt managed to get himself cleaned up and eventually returned to TNA where he captured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship before adopting the “Broken” Matt Hardy gimmick and completely rejuvenating his career.
X-Pac has been dealing with substance abuse issues his entire life. A troubled childhood saw him turn to drugs at an early age and his time with WWE in the 90s served only to increase the seriousness of his addictions.
In 2002, X-Pac began competing for TNA under the name Syxx-Pac, despite the fact he had not tackled his personal problems since leaving WWE. His various stints with TNA from his debut to his departure in 2006 were marred by substance abuse and he often no-showed events.
After leaving TNA, X-Pac’s problems only worsened. He attempted to take his own life on two occasions, once in 20008 and then again in 2013. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful and longtime friend Kevin Nash eventually managed to get him to check into a rehabilitation clinic, where he finally kicked his drug and alcohol habits.
9 Tyson Tomko
“The Problem Solver” Tyson Tomko is not as adept at solving problems as he would have you believe, at least not his own problems. After a stint in WWE, Tomko signed with TNA, dropped his first name, and aligned himself with Christian Cage. Though his time in TNA was not all that memorable, it was relatively extensive as Tomko did not part ways with the company for good until 2010.
However, after leaving the company, Tomko’s life began to fall apart. His troubles with alcohol and drug abuse increased tenfold and he was eventually arrested for robbing a pharmacy in 2011. According to the pharmacist’s statement, Tomko threatened physical violence if he was not given oxycodone. After the pharmacist handed over the drug, he went to a nearby bathroom and injected himself with over 100 crushed and melted pills.
Tomko was arrested the following day but managed to make bail shortly after. He then entered a rehabilitation program sponsored by WWE.
Test is one of the modern tragedies of professional wrestling. He was once so full of promise than many believed he would eventually be the face of WWE, though that never happened. There were also some who believed he would be the face of TNA when he signed with the promotion in August of 2007.
However, Test’s time with TNA was not all that memorable and his ability in the ring appeared greatly diminished. This was largely due to his reliance on painkillers and steroids, which he had been taking in copious amounts for some time. He was eventually released from the company due to his drug problems.
In 2009, not long after retiring from the ring, Test was found dead in his home Tampa, Florida. He had been battling drug addiction up to the moment he died and his death was determined to be caused by an accidental overdose of oxycodone.
7 Jeff Hardy
I’ve mentioned Jeff Hardy a couple of times already, but now let’s look at him in more detail. Hardy’s first stint in WWE came to an end due to his drug problems, which were infamous at the time. Shortly after this, he wandered on down to TNA, where he reestablished himself as a serious competitor. He was brought back to WWE after it was determined he had successfully kicked his drug habit.
However, Hardy had not kicked his drug habit. He had it under control and it was not dictating his life as it had done in the past, but it was still there. After Hardy left WWE in 2009, his drug issues came back with a vengeance. Despite this, he was rehired by TNA.
During his second stint with TNA, Hardy experienced what remains the most infamous moment of his career. In a highly anticipated main event bout with Sting at Victory Road, Hardy appeared too intoxicated to compete and the match was cut short, with Sting forcefully pinning him moments after the bell rang. Hardy was subsequently suspended and sent to rehab.
Since returning to WWE to fight for his brother’s job, Goldust has done some of the best work of his career. His return bout with then-WWE Champion Randy Orton was breathtaking and served to prove he had successfully recovered from his crippling issues with drug and alcohol addiction.
Goldust had been grappling with those issues for years and they spiraled out of control during his time in TNA. He would spend the majority of his paycheck on pain killers, cocaine, and alcohol, pumping himself full of all three until it was time to go to work. The effects of his addiction were clear on television, as he appeared far heavier than he had during his time with WWE.
Goldust finally left TNA in 2008, when his drug problems became too much to bear. He spent some time living in despair, searching the carpet for hours on end if he dropped a single pain killer, and refused to see his own daughter. However, he eventually agreed to go to WWE sponsored rehab, which allowed him to defeat his demons and resume his wrestling career.
5 Scott Hall
Scott Hall has spent the majority of his adult life trying to forget about a harrowing incident which occurred prior to his professional wrestling career. While working odd jobs, Hall was involved in an altercation outside a nightclub in Florida. At some point, Hall’s opponent produced a gun which Hall managed to wrestle away from the man before fatally wounding him.
Hall has said that this murder contributed to his drug and alcohol abuse in WWE and WCW, which is in many ways understandable. The vast amount of drugs and booze which he consumed during his prime left him in barely passable condition by the time he arrived in TNA.
Hall was released from TNA in 2010 amid a barrage of legal troubles, which only served to worsen his drug and alcohol problems. His life fell apart during this period as no major wrestling promotion wanted to touch him. Thankfully, Diamond Dallas Page managed to resurrect Hall’s career using his DDP Yoga system, the same exercise program which saved the life of Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
4 Ric Flair
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair had a beautiful send-off when he retired from professional wrestling in 2008. The night after WrestleMania XXIV, a cavalcade of wrestling legends came to thank Flair for his contributions to the business and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Then Ric bid farewell to the WWE Universe and went to TNA, where he continued to wrestle.
Flair’s time in TNA was memorable in the same way you make note of how painful it was to step on a plug and resolve never to let it happen again. He engaged in a variety of bloody battles, one of which was against Mick Foley in what has to be the saddest match of all time.
Although Flair took the TNA gig because it paid well, he was in serious financial trouble by the time he left the company. He had a series of creditors and a number of legal issues which needed to be resolved. To make matters worse, his son Reid passed away from a drug overdose in 2013, which sent Flair back into depression and alcohol abuse.
Chyna has been used a cautionary tale for those who get involved in the wrestling business to teach them about the dangers of drugs. Although she was a talented competitor and strangely attractive, Chyna’s career was derailed by substance abuse. This forced her to star in a series of adult films, which in turn lead WWE to completely remove her name from its history books.
Chyna began competing for TNA in 2011, alongside Kurt Angle as part of a storyline in which she was revealed as Angle’s mistress. Her TNA run was largely forgettable and lasted less than a year. The failure of her attempted return to the ring may have been the final nail in the coffin for Chyna, as shortly after she left the company she returned to abusing alcohol and drugs.
Chyna’s substance abuse issues plagued her for the remainder of her life and she was found dead in April of this year. She had been taking medication for insomnia and anxiety and had recently been found drunk outside her apartment.
2 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan’s various falls from grace have been satisfying and heartbreaking in equal measure. For many, Hogan’s troubles have been payback for years of ruining the careers of others, but they have nonetheless been hard to watch.
Hogan’s greatest downfall came after his infamous run in TNA. After destroying the company beyond repair, The Hulkster left TNA for higher ground, although he didn’t exactly find it. Hogan returned to WWE for a brief period and made appearances at WrestleManias 30 and 31, along with a couple of other minor appearances on television. However, he was released from his contract after the transcript of a series of racist remarks he made was made public.
After being released from WWE, Hogan began the process of rebuilding his image, which has not been all that successful. Despite many interviews and carefully worded apologies, the world is yet to forgive Hulk Hogan. It is possible that The Hulkster will go the rest of his life without ever returning to WWE, although he might be able to use his Gawker millions to purchase TNA (not that it would cost that much).
Kamala may just be the saddest case in all of professional wrestling history. Jim Harris is a shadow of the man he once was and gets by on what little money he can gather from his disability check and his minor crafts projects.
During the later years of his career, Kamala worked briefly with TNA, though he was far from the Kamala fans remembered. After this, he returned to working the independents, with his move set becoming more and more limited with each appearance.
In 2011, Kamala was forced to have his left leg amputated below the knee, which robbed him of his livelihood. Not long after that, he lost his right leg, confining him to a wheelchair and rendering him virtually unrecognizable. He has been in a tough spot since then, relying on various crowdsourcing campaigns to pay for his medical bills as neither WWE nor TNA has been willing to help.
Sources: wrestlinginc.com, tmz.com, bleacherreport.com, dailymail.co.uk
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