Working for the WWE seems like a dream for millions of wrestling fans around the world; what can possibly be better than living your fantasy and being a role model for millions around the globe? With this in mind, what do you do when it’s all over? This is a question so many former WWE stars struggle with. Some find new career paths while others attempt to hang on for as long as they can by staying in the business with another promotion, or making a quick buck attending a wrestling convention trying to unload some old memorabilia. Yes, this is in fact the dark side of pro wrestling, the side the WWE never sheds any sort of light on.
As you will see in this article, this issue is a reality for these former WWE stars. Some in their 30s, while others are over 50. These past stars are still desperately trying to hang on to the fame they earned in the 90s and 2000s. Let’s get started; here are 15 former WWE stars still trying to live off their 15 seconds of fame. Enjoy!
15 Carlito Cool
Wrestling in front of crowds as small as 100 people, Carlito is still chasing the dream at the age of 37. Carlito was released by the WWE in 2010 after a 7 year run with the company. The WWE talent was released by the company after he violated the WWE Wellness Program. To make matters worse, Carlito refused to attend a rehabilitation facility for an apparent addiction to pain killers. After leaving the company, Carlito hit the independent circuit, a route all too familiar among former WWE superstars. Carlito is currently working for the WWC, and he just recently won the WWC Universal Championship. He is also still taking independent bookings and appearing at wrestling conventions from time to time.
14 Ezekiel Jackson
It seemed like just when we were finally getting familiar with Ezekiel Jackson, he was gone. After bouncing around some different gimmicks, Jackson finally found some success capturing the Intercontinental Championship. As you can imagine, his title run lasted a little less than two months before he dropped the championship and took a hiatus from the company. After yet another injury, the WWE and the South American native were forced to part ways. Since leaving, Ezekiel is still very active, spending a season with Lucha Underground and is currently working independently. He is also very active in wrestling conventions signing autographs and selling memorabilia.
13 Kevin Thorn
It’s very rare to see a wrestler who failed two stints with the WWE (one worse than the other). Fertig made his debut for the company in 2004 appearing under the gimmick Mordecai. Some actually believed he had future Undertaker potential. Ouch. Fertig didn’t even last a year on the main roster, and he was later sent down and released. After a year on the independent circuit, the veteran was resigned to a deal under the ECW brand, this time using a new gimmick, Kevin Thorn. Once again, Thorn was unsuccessful and quickly sent back down to development. This time however, Thorn refused to resign a deal with the company. He is entering his 7th year on the independent circuit.
12 Chris Masters
The days when Masters looked like he was sculpted from granite are certainly long gone. It is remarkable that this former WWE star was just 22 when he made his debut. Chris was released by the WWE after 2 years for failing the Substance Abuse and Drug Policy for a second time. Despite his short run, Masters is still trying to live off this brief success. The wrestler bounced around various promotions including TNA Wrestling, Global Force Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling and various promotions on the independent circuit. Crazy to think that this guy is still only 33, but despite his young age, a comeback to the WWE seems highly unlikely given his departure.
11 Ken Anderson
Always a smooth talker on the mic, Ken Anderson struggled in the ring, and this eventually cost him his job with the WWE despite his popularity as Mr. Kennedy. After a brief run independently, Anderson was signed to TNA; he would go on to wrestle for the company from 2010 to 2016. Anderson was recently fired after he failed a random Substance Abuse test.
Just recently turning 40, Ken is still wrestling working the independent scene. He is scheduled to work a live show coming up with another former WWE alumni, Rob Van Dam.
10 Mike Knox
His run with the WWE was quite forgettable; some wrestling fans forget he was even with the company. By 2010, it was rather evident that Mike’s career as a WWE wrestler was going nowhere. The company would mercifully end up releasing the 37 year old from his contract. After a two year run on the independent circuit, Knox was signed to a deal with TNA Wrestling joining the stable Aces & Eights. After his release in 2015, Mike surprisingly left North America to join Inoki Genome Federation, a Japanese wrestling promotion.
9 Tyson Tomko
Things went downhill pretty fast for Tomko after his WWE departure in 2006. A couple of years later in 2011, Tyson was arrested on robbery charges, when the former WWE star attempted to rob Oxycodone from a CVS Pharmacy. After the arrest, Tomko entered a WWE-sponsored rehabilitation program. Following his recovery, Tomko jumped back into the ring two years later in 2013. The Florida native is still presently wrestling for various promotions at the age of 40.
8 Justin Credible
After almost 25 years of in-ring abuse, Justin finally decided to hang up the boots for good. In 2015, Credible finally announced his professional retirement after a final match on the independent circuit against long time ECW rival, Tommy Dreamer. Credible was quite the journeyman in the wrestling business making his debut with the WWE way back in 1993. Despite his retirement, Justin is still very active at wrestling conventions signing autographs and selling old memorabilia.
7 Shane Douglas
This is regarded as the darker side of pro wrestling; at the age of 51, Shane Douglas is still putting his body on the line wrestling with various independent promotions. He is also one of the most consistent wrestlers to attend wrestling conventions. Several wrestling fans have pictures of Douglas signing autographs or trying to sell some of his older memorabilia. In 2014, Douglas announced he was partnering with a wealthy investor to launch a new wrestling promotion, but two years later there is still nothing to report on this matter.
6 The Honky Tonk Man
Remarkable to think that The Honky Tonk Man last wrestled with the WWE 25 years ago (minus his sporadic appearances in ‘97). Despite this, Honky Tonk has tried to hang onto his former glory still to this very day. At the age of 63, the former Intercontinental Champion is extremely active independently, still taking work on a consistent basis. He is also very active in selling his memorabilia online and at wrestling conventions. You can also request a video message personalized to you from The Honky Tonk Man himself! Seems like this guy's going to go on forever at this point.
5 Jim Cornette
First to show up and last to leave, that pretty much sums up Jim Cornette at a wrestling convention. Give the guy props though, because despite a gimmick based on outside the ring work, Cornette has managed to stay relevant with a heck of a lot of activity via social media. His rants discussing the current WWE product are outrageous and quite laughable, and for the most part he actually makes some good points. If you ever need a good laugh, Cornette’s your guy. Meeting him isn’t too difficult, because as we discussed, Jim is a mainstay at various wrestling conventions across the US.
4 Marty Jannetty
At the age of 56, Marty Jannety is still taking independent dates wrestling across the US. Like other old WWE alumni members, Marty is frequently spotted at wrestling conventions talking to fans, taking pictures and signing memorabilia from his glory days (over two decades ago). According to recent news, Jannetty was kicked out of several bars during this year's WrestleMania weekend in Dallas. Witnesses claim Jannetty was completely out of it, and he apparently walked through a hotel fountain at one point, as you can see in the picture above… Oh Marty.
3 Buff Bagwell
Wrestler by day, and gigolo by night? Bagwell made headlines when it was revealed that he was in fact working for a company as an adult gigolo. Other than that, the 46 year old is still in the wrestling business making frequent appearances at signings and wrestling conventions. Some videos just show Bagwell randomly shirtless at wrestling conventions; pretty weird. He’s currently taking on bookings and appearances (for wrestling) online via social media.
Not sure if there’s a worse situation out there than Virgil's situation. Things got so bad for the former WWE star that he stared a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to become a millionaire. As of April, the fund has raised a whopping $880 dollars. Ouch. You can find Virgil just about anywhere setting up a booth in an attempt to make a quick buck; he’s been spotted at metro stations, conventions, lobbies and even parking lots. You can visit lonleyvirgil.net for more on this curious case.
Tammy Sytch left the WWE more than 15 years ago. How she is still managing to make headlines baffles many wrestling fans across the world. Sunny has managed to stay relevant after all these years via social media. Her comments about former WWE stars were very controversial, drawing many fans towards her, which seems to be the reason why she constantly stays relevant. She recently made headlines once again for a deal with the adult company Vivid Entertainment. Sunny is a mainstay at wrestling conventions being one of the more popular attractions. You can also find her doing adult Skype sessions online.