Professional wrestling, like most other entertainment mediums, is not just about the ability of the talent involved. For a long, long time now there has been one common fact about any company that does business in front of a camera and that is the unmistakable notion that sex sells. As a result, anyone who steps in front of a camera – especially in an environment like WWE where so much focus is put on the physique of the performer in question – is scrutinized to the fullest extent as it relates to their form. Women no doubt bear the brunt of this criticism, but men are certainly not exempt from it.
We’ve discussed the changing bodies of the likes of Tammy “Sunny” Sytch and the “Big Red Machine” Kane and taken a glaring look at the alterations the Big Show has made to his own form over the years and – let’s face it – it was a lot of fun. So let’s venture back into those waters and look at fifteen more of the most shocking WWE Superstar body transformations, only this time let’s try pointing our fingers and specifically talk about the worst of the worst in the changing bodies of our favorite wrestlers.
15 Candice Michelle
Despite the fact that men have received nearly as much criticism in wrestling at times as women any time their bodies have slightly fallen out of perfect shape, it is still astounding the double standard society holds when it comes to comparing what makes a woman “too fat” in a sport like wrestling to what makes a man “too fat.” Wrestling is an industry that has celebrated big wrestlers for decades, but in the case of Candice Michelle, just a few extra pounds made all the difference.
She was as trim and fit as they come when she entered WWE as a model and she eventually won the Women’s Championship, but when Candice began putting on a bit of weight the company lost interest in her quickly and released her from her contract.
14 Triple H
Triple H rose to fame as a member of the legendary stable of wrestlers known as D-Generation X, but truly arrived on the main event scene in 1999 when he aligned on screen with his future real life wife Stephanie McMahon. Ever since there has been no stopping the man known as “The Game” and the multiple time world champion is all set to inherit the keys to the WWE kingdom.
He is recognized as a bit of a wrestling mastermind in 2017 with the massive success of NXT, but what got him to the game was his vicious in ring style and his incredible physique. However, sometime in the mid-2000s his body apparently began to give way to age and although he has rebounded now, that less than perfect body will live forever on the WWE Network.
13 Mickie James
Men might get a lot of the weight related criticisms in professional wrestling but no one gets it like the women of the sport. Despite the strides made in women’s wrestling over the years, there is still a disproportionate focus put on looks for any female looking to become a big success in the ring, especially if that ring is owned and promoted by WWE.
A few years back Mickie James had the misfortune of putting on a few pounds and it made news all around the wrestling world, mostly because WWE was calling attention to it by making fun of her through on screen storylines which referred to her as “Piggie James.” She was eventually released from her contract and although she has returned and bounced back, her weight gain was rumored to be the reason she was let go from the company.
You would probably be correct in thinking when Steve Borden began his career as a professional wrestler he had no idea he would go on to become one of the biggest icons in the history of the industry. That’s exactly what he became when he began painting his face and calling himself “Sting,” as he would go on to have some of the greatest matches of all time with some of the most infamous performers in the entire industry, most notably the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
In his prime Sting was one of the fittest guys in the ring, which made sense when considering his endless talents as a technician. However, as his career ventured well into the 2000s age began to take over and he frequently wore t-shirts in the ring to cover his body.
11 Ahmed Johnson
You could be forgiven for not remembering Ahmed Johnson, especially if you are a younger fan who didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying the Attitude era in all of its glory in the late 1990s. Johnson was a massive brick wall of a man who seemed poised for greatness in the World Wrestling Federation. Unfortunately, his stint in the company didn’t last long enough for him to reach main event status and become a huge star, but fans of the time will likely have fond memories of this big man.
And now he is even bigger than before, if you can imagine. Ahmed was built like a granite statue during his wrestling years, however, today he’s big in a totally different way. The man has put on an enormous amount of weight and is barely recognizable.
10 Sean Waltman
It’s hard to say which name you’re more likely to recognize Sean Waltman by. He originally rose to fame as the 1-2-3 Kid when he picked up a surprise victory over Razor Ramon early in his WWE career and he later jumped ship to WCW as a member of the New World Order and became known as Syxx. His eventual return to the World Wrestling Federation during the Attitude era saw him joining D-Generation X and renamed as X-Pac, but if there’s one thing all of these personas have had in common it has been their association with the famous “Kliq.”
Waltman made a name for himself as the tiny pest who went in as an underdog and often came out looking like a winner, but he’s been seen in recent times not looking so tiny.
9 Jillian Hall
You might not remember Jillian Hall and that is perfectly understandable. If you’re trying to remember the mark she left in the ring then you’re heading in the wrong direction as she was used primarily for comedy at a time when women’s wrestling was a side show attraction in WWE. Initially, Hall was known for her association with JBL during his main event run with the WWE Championship on SmackDown, during which time she had a hideous “growth” on her face which the Boogeyman would eventually eat off. You read that right.
Later she did compete in the ring and received a short, honorary run with the Divas Championship, but was famous mostly for the annoying pop singer gimmick the company gave her. Since leaving wrestling, Jillian has ballooned and doesn’t look much like her old self.
8 Kevin Owens
In the scant few years since Kevin Owens first signed on to work with WWE he has made a remarkable impact. Owens has quickly become one of the most decorated young stars in the entire company with reigns as the NXT, United States, Intercontinental and Universal Champion, and he has had numerous classic battles with the likes of some of the greatest of the modern day like Chris Jericho and John Cena.
He’s gotten a little bit of flack, though, for his weight. One glance at Kevin Owens tells you he’s not meant to be a small guy but plenty have criticized him for not getting a bit more fit for his career choice. Before coming to WWE he was a huge star on the independent circuit as Kevin Steen and, as seen here, he was once quite a bit smaller than he is now.
7 Tommy Dreamer
If you were ever a fan of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling – the one birthed by professional wrestling genius Paul Heyman – you know a thing or two about Tommy Dreamer.Many men and women helped make ECW the cult phenomenon that it was, but if there were ever one person who could lay claim to being the face of the brand it would have been Dreamer. He was the ultimate underdog and became known for being willing to go more than the extra mile to make a hardcore match memorable.
He has had a few runs at different times with WWE and still wrestles on the independent circuit, but he’s far from the same man he was back in the late 1990s as he has put on a considerable amount of weight.
You probably know her better as Awesome Kong or Amazing Kong, two names she’s used for years between the independent wrestling scene and Impact Wrestling, but in WWE Kia Stevens was known as Kharma for a very brief time. Her intimidating presence led to her being one of only a handful of women to ever participate in the annual Royal Rumble match and she was all set to reshape a Divas division that was incredibly stale at the time, but an unplanned pregnancy and weight gain led to her early departure from the company.
Stevens famously lost a ton of weight after her WWE release a few years ago and was in remarkable shape, but has apparently gained it all back. She seems to be doing well for herself though, with continued work in the ring and a role on the hit Netflix wrestling comedy GLOW.
5 Randy Orton
Randy Orton quickly established himself as a face we’d be looking at for decades to come in professional wrestling when he made his debut back in the early 2000s for WWE. As the son and grandson of two respected wrestling legends, there were high expectations for Randy as he embarked upon his wrestling days, but he did the unthinkable and far surpassed anything that anyone could have ever predicted from him.
Randy Orton is now one of the most decorated world champions of all time, but his physique looks a lot different now than it used to. Before WWE enacted its strict wellness policy to ensure its athletes weren’t taking any performance enhancing substances Orton was stacked with muscles for days, for whatever that’s worth.
4 Matt Hardy
The Hardy Boys will forever be known as the daredevils of WWE’s tag team division. They helped revolutionize the ladder match in the Attitude era, but seeing Matt Hardy in recent years wouldn’t have lead you to naturally come to that conclusion. It’s strange to see Matt at his size these days and imagine the wild stunts he pulled to make himself famous so many years ago and he has gotten quite a bit of criticism in recent years for his expanding physique.
Though Hardy has reinvented himself and rejuvenated his own career with his “Broken” gimmick, he looks nothing like he did when he and his brother became one of the most popular and successful tag teams in the history of the wrestling business.
There have been a lot of really large men to hold the prestigious WWE Championship. After all, big men were the focus for so many decades until smaller, more athletic wrestlers became the popular thing at some point over the past few years. As late as the Attitude era athleticism wasn’t so important when compared to pure awe inspiring size, and no one embodied that notion better than the late WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna.
In the early 1990s Yokozuna was a force to be reckoned with and one of the top heels in the industry. He had famous run-ins with Lex Luger, Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, but couldn’t stand toe to toe with any of them athletically. He was massive, which made it all the more shocking when WWE finally had to say enough is enough and let him go after he surpassed 600 pounds and showed no signs of stopping.
2 Jeff Hardy
When Matt Hardy began stacking on the pounds so much noise was made of it that few people paid attention to the fact that his brother Jeff was going through the same thing. Both of the Hardy Boyz were small wrestlers when they burst onto the scene and became ladder match icons in the late 1990s, but Jeff was certainly the smaller and more athletic of the two.
Jeff Hardy became known for his high flying style and although he never left that behind, he eventually gained so much weight he couldn’t pull off many of the impressive moves that made him famous when he was younger. He’s certainly still a daredevil, but Jeff Hardy is a shade of his former self when it comes to his past slim physique and his athleticism.
There are few bigger icons for female wrestlers than the late, great Chyna. It is widely regarded as one of wrestling’s great injustices that she has never been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, especially considering it is likely personal reasons keeping it from happening, because Chyna isn’t just one of the most popular women to ever step inside of a wrestling ring, she’s one of the most influential professional wrestlers of all time.
She was one of the faces of the Attitude Era until her issues behind the scenes with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon led to her departure from WWE, and following her wrestling career her life sort of fell apart and never got back on track, something that was echoed in her aging physique over the years.