The downside of being a pro wrestler is the fact that at one point you realize that all you really know is how to be just that: a wrestler. With this being said, options seem to be rather limited following your time in the spotlight, as most wrestlers either continue to perform as long as they possibly can, or make full time appearances at wrestling conventions in an attempt to further sell their past fame to a huge wrestling fanbase.
Former WWE star Simon Dean, has vocalized this problem claiming the new era of wrestlers need to be educated and develop a backup plan after their run is up. Simon did so, and now has a prominent position in the world of finance.
Most wrestlers have not followed this path though, and have instead opted to continue to bask in their past glories. This list will highlight 15 of these wrestlers who still haven’t quite moved on. So without further ado, here are 15 wrestlers you wouldn’t believe still hang out at wrestling conventions. Enjoy!
15 The Sandman
The Sandman’s illustrious gimmick was a perfect example of how some personas would only work during certain periods of time. In today’s wrestling program, which is modernizing a new era approach based on talented wrestlers, would certainly have no room for someone like Sandman who had horrible in-ring skills and a gimmick that was for a mature audience only. However, at that point in time during the mid 90s, the quality of matches wasn’t the biggest need like it is today. Fans were instead drawn to controversy and rule breakers such as The Sandman. His career would blossom and fans would fall in love with his reckless style. It took the guy longer to get in the ring than stay in it for a match. Nevertheless, it thrived and he built a great legacy for himself. His four year feud with Raven is regarded as the best rivalry in ECW history.
After years of taking a serious beating, The Sandman eventually faded away. As of 2014, he was still taking independent bookings sporadically. Today, he spends most of his time meeting fans and selling his memorabilia. The ECW legend was one of the first names to be announced for WrestleCon, set to take place in the near future.
14 Gene Snitsky
I think it’s safe to say Gene’s career took a couple of odd twists and turns following his stint with the WWE. The company had high hopes for Snitsky, and why wouldn’t they. He was the prototypical Vince McMahon guy standing in at 6’8, weighing 300 pounds. Despite his overpowering size, his believability factor in the ring just wasn’t there. His matches ran rather awkwardly and he never really had a flow to anything he did in the ring. Eventually, his serious gimmick was scrapped and he was relegated to a lower card comedic role with the company. After a five year run with the WWE, Gene asked for his release in December of 2008. He continued working in the wrestling business branching out independently with a brief TNA run. His most noticeable contributions took place outside of the squared circle, as Snitsky became the spokesperson for a Pressure Cooker product on YouTube. In addition, he also appeared on the ABC hit show What Would You Do?
Despite these successes, Snitsky is still selling his five years of fame making small autograph sessions and appearing at conventions. You can find Gene at the Icons of Wrestling event this upcoming August.
13 Jim Ross
JR is probably the only person on this list you’d still want to meet. His knowledge for the business is quite refreshing, Ross has managed to stay relevant using his wisdom on his weekly podcast The Ross Report. Unlike countless others on this list, Ross has found ways to make more than a buck in other ways and not just rely on a meet and greet with fans. Ross is also currently playing an active role with New Japan Pro Wrestling, signing to become the company’s English commentator. The wrestling show is set to play on AXS TV.
In addition, his relationship with the WWE isn’t completely dead, and many believe that Ross will officially patch things up with the company and earn a role in some shape or form. With all this being said, Ross is also very active at wrestling conventions. He is set to appear at the NWA Legends FanFest which takes place in August.
12 Jim Cornette
If there’s a wrestling convention, chances are Jim Cornette will probably be there. Give the guy some props though, at the age of 54, and despite not being with the WWE for over a decade now, Cornette has managed to make a living because of his loud mouth on various social media outlets and on his podcasts. This factor alone has allowed Jim to make a living and continuously sell his fame through autographs, merchandise and meet and greets at various wrestling conventions across the United States and in the UK. He has also branched off into comic book conventions.
In regards to his recent schedule, he is still involved with various independent promotions including Jarrett’s newest project with Global Force Wrestling. For the most part, Cornette continues to sell his fame on his podcast and various wrestling conventions throughout 2016. He is scheduled to attend various other conventions this year.
Not only is Vader still actively appearing at wrestling conventions to this day, but he is also making in-ring appearances on a part-time basis. He recently turned 61 years old, and yet is being billed for an in-ring appearance at an XWA event in Charter Hall Colchester, on August 14th, 2016. Laughable to say the least, that flyer promotes in the corner “As seen on WCW and WWE”. He’s aged quite a bit since his glory days with both promotions, so I’m not sure if “as seen” is the proper wording to use for the situation.
In any event, his is still active since 2010, working several matches in 2016. He also made a brief return to TNA in 2015 which was met with huge criticisms. Fans called his return segment laughable and just plain uncomfortable to watch (sums up TNA’s product). The California native is of course making various appearances and is also making specialized videos for fans which he promotes on his social media accounts.
10 The Boogeyman
Once again, the WWE focused on image and not in-ring ability. This eventually caused The Boogeyman’s demise, despite such high hopes from the WWE staff backstage. The company actually thought he could have possibly rivaled The Undertaker at one in point in time, but that was a major fail (if that was the plan). His gimmick found success with children, similar to Papa Shango, though the rest of us really didn’t care for it. Eventually, the company just kept him around for his marketable look, only to release him in 2009.
Today, he does make sporadic appearances for the company, appearing on two episodes of the WWE Network hit show, Swerved. It was later announced that The Boogeyman had signed a Legend's Deal with the company deciding to keep him around for Network purposes.
Outside of the WWE, he’s been given the right to work independently which he is still doing. Boogeyman also appears at several conventions and is usually a huge hit because of his look which still draws extremely well. Known as The Nightcrawler outside of the WWE, he is set for an appearance at the next WrestleCon in Orlando, Florida.
9 The Headbangers
The 90s was an era of wrestling that just about anything wacky seemed to resonate with the crowd. The Headbangers were another example of this, as they were wild, wore skirts and had pace paint. How this worked, I’ll never know. Only during a crazy Attitude Era would a gimmick as such manage to not only survive, but thrive at one point in time. After the Tag Team finally split, both wrestlers failed at possible single's careers. The two were released a year after one another with Thrasher being released in July of 2000, followed by Mosh in July 2001.
Mosh specifically voiced his displeasures, claiming the WWE gave him no chance to survive at the end of his career. He would go onto change professions for almost a decade only to make an in-ring return, reuniting the Headbangers in 2011 independently. As of 2015, the duo were still competing, wrestling for Championship Wrestling Entertainment. They are also still very active at wrestling conventions, set to appear at the next WrestleCon in Orlando.
8 Gene Okerlund
He will be remembered forever as the greatest backstage voice in the world of professional wrestling. Okerlund’s contributions will certainly be remembered forever, particularly during the late 80s into the early 90s. After jumping ship to WCW in 1993, Gene stayed with the promotion till 2001, believe it or not. After the WWE purchased the company, Gene was welcomed back with open arms by the WWE for all his prior work. Still to this day, the 73 year old remains a part of the company family, signing a Legend's type of deal. You can find Gene on various WWE Network programs like the Vintage Collection which sees Okerlund as the host of the program.
Like others under a Legend's Contract, he still has the right to appear with other outlets, signing autographs or meeting fans. Gene has done so for the longest time and is still a mainstay at several wrestling conventions per year. He is also very popular with his fans and is able to make a living comfortably.
7 Bruce Prichard
At one in point in time, you could have made the argument that Prichard was destined to be a WWE family member for life. He started off in 1988 with his own show with the WWE, and he later transitioned into The Undertaker’s manager; certainly his most noteworthy accomplishment on-air. After a controversial release in 1991 due to personal problems, Prichard was brought back shortly after in 1993, this time he would stay for much longer. Bruce would work as Vince’s righthand man creatively during the 90s, and his contributions helped shape the product greatly. After a run lasting over two decades, Bruce was released by the company in 2008 after a 22 year run. Ouch. Like everyone else tends to do, Bruce took his talents to TNA in hopes of helping the brad creatively. Though once again, TNA did nothing for his career and he was released shortly after.
Today, you can find Prichard at various wrestling conventions. He is also promoting a company called Pro Wrestling Tees on his social media outlets.
6 Howard Finkel
Similar to Gene on this list, Finkel has taken his talents outside of the WWE and into the hearts of wrestling fans around the world at various wrestling conventions. At the age of 66, the Hall of Fame Ring Announcer is still basking in his former glory. His announcing career with the WWE began way back in 1975 (if you can believe), when Finkel signed a deal with Vince Sr. According to the record books, he’s been with the company for over 35 years; certainly crazy to think about.
A release was never discussed or spoken about, but some speculate that he is under a Legend's type of deal, although that has not been made public as of this point. Howard rarely appears on WWE TV nowadays, but is still vocal with involvement pertaining to the product via social media. In addition, like we previously mentioned, you can still find Finkel at various conventions signing picture portraits or snapping a photo with a fan.
5 Tony Atlas
Credit Atlas who was a major underdog in his personal life, as he transitioned from living on the streets to becoming a successful WWE wrestler. He made an unlikely return back in 2008, adding brand value to Mark Henry’s heel gimmick. Atlas later became his full time manager. After his role slowly diminished, he was signed to a Legend's contract by the company and later, Tony was signed off as a cast member for the WWE Network Series Legends’ House. He was viewed as the heel of the house, but his presence was well documented throughout his stay. The show received great reviews and helped to once again put him on the WWE’s radar.
Today, Atlas hasn’t been on WWE television since his run with the Legends’ House, although there are rumblings of a second season. As of right now, Atlas is making appearances for several independent promotions, as well as attending several wrestling conventions including WrestleCon which he is already confirmed for.
4 Greg Valentine
I had to look twice when seeing Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine’s name being promoted for the next WrestleCon convention. At the age of 64, the WWE Hall of Famer is still selling his fame at wrestling conventions, something he’s been doing for almost two decades now.
His wrestling career was one of the prototypical journeyman wrestling everywhere throughout a long career. It all began back in the 70s, with small local promotions and he later received his biggest break joining the National Wrestling Alliance. Following his success he’d sign with the WWE and then bounce around like a bingo ball between NWA, WWE and WCW, until he finally worked strictly independently.
Like so many others, it gets to a point where you know nothing else asides from being a pro wrestler. This is certainly the case with Valentine who continues to pursue these appearances on a full time basis today. His appearances will continue as planned throughout 2016.
3 Marty Jannetty
He just recently appeared at the same convention as Shawn Michaels, as the two were both at the Day of the Dead Wrestling Convention. Both men who were at one time working together, took very different paths. One will be remembered forever as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time, while the other spiraled and continues to fall. Jannetty has fallen on some tough times as of late, continuously ranting on Twitter in regards to the current product, and still not being a member of the Hall of Fame.
His rants are just a small portion of his downwards spiral, and alcohol has also played a severe role. During WrestleMania weekend in Texas, Marty was seen being kicked out of several bars, and to top it all off he was seen fully clothed in a lobby fountain of a hotel. Oh, Marty. Today, the former Rocker is still selling his fame as one of the most common faces you’ll find at any wrestling convention across the United States. He is also still actively wrestling at the age of 56.
Fans were very happy earlier this year when it was made public that Sunny was finally headed to rehab facility. After she came out, Sunny confused many of us when she claimed to be clean and heading back to work as a Cam Girl. According the Hall of Fame Diva, she had over 5,000 requests for Skype sessions since she hit the rehab facility. She plans on fulfilling these needs while hitting the road, set to appear at various conventions which includes an appearance at Icons of Wrestling in September. She will join the likes of Sting, Bret Hart, Damien Sandow and Ricochet, just to name a few.
Since leaving the WWE way back in 1998, Sunny has made a bulk of her money via wrestling conventions. As you might expect, she doesn’t plan on stopping this anytime soon and to her credit, she remains one of the most sought after personalities at wrestling conventions.
No wrestling convention related article is complete without a mention of Virgil. If there’s a space, Virgil will put a booth. The former WWE star has been spotted anywhere from parking lots to metro stations to hotel lobbies, in an attempt to sell his fame by any means possible. He’s also gotten into some serious trouble in the past with various wrestling conventions, making claims that he would be appearing alongside The Million Dollar Man. What would really happen, is Virgil would make this up for a spot at the convention, once it came time for the show, Virgil would claim that DiBiase was a no-show. Once Ted found out, he was furious and rightfully so. Virgil hurt DiBiase’s brand name, and because of this factor Virgil is finding it hard to find a seat at these bigger conventions like WrestleCon. Not to mention the guy doesn’t care about his fans, and just wants your money.
His reputation took a major blow with all of these stories surfacing online in the past couple of years. Instead of improving the situation, he has instead encouraged it by starting a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to make him a millionaire... As you can imagine, that hasn’t happened.