Back in the 80s and 90s, the world of pro wrestling had a huge substance problem. On the road for countless days each year, the wrestlers needed to find ways to sustain such larger-than-life images. The answer was simple for most: enhancement use.
The WWE was almost forced to close its doors because of the allegations. Things would only get worse in 2007 when Sports Illustrated provided a list of wrestlers that were on the secret sauce. It forced the WWE to finally reconsider starting a Wellness Policy in the company. We’ve seen countless names suspended in the past, including the WWE’s current face, Roman Reigns being slapped with a suspension.
In this article, we take a deeper look and speculate which wrestlers might have been off “the gear” at one point throughout their careers. Some were off before hitting stardom, while others went cold turkey later on in their careers. Again, for some, we’re only speculating as concrete proof of enhancement was not made public for a select few, so please, read this article with an open-mind. It’s also possible that they missed a couple of gym days at that point... Without further ado, here are 15 pictures of former and current WWE stars that looked soft off “the gear”. Enjoy!
15 Jinder Mahal
Debuting with the company down in FCW back in 2010, Jinder Mahal had one strong attribute going for him and that was the fact that he was decently tall at a height of 6’5". Asides from that, physically, he was average at best. His initial run was nothing to write home about and very few even noticed that he departed in 2014.
Well, he’d make an unlikely return in 2016 and the first thing many people noticed was the fact that his body was completely revamped, looking leaner and bigger than ever in just two years. On top of that, he’d end up getting pushed to the moon and back winning the WWE Title. Throughout his run, it seems like the dude is getting bigger and bigger while still managing to say ridiculously lean. Jinder doesn’t have a history of failed Wellness Exams, however, we do have reason to believe that some sketchy activity might have taken place while he was away from the company. What do you guys think?
14 Scott Steiner
Throughout his career, Steiner looked exactly like the “Genetic Freak” he proclaimed himself to be. Similar to Jinder, during Steiner’s time in the spotlight his physique was reaching new levels. During the final days of WCW, Scott was pushed to the forefront of the company. During that time, the guy literally looked chiseled. Of course, he wasn’t able to maintain a similar physique throughout the years and slowly, that eight-pack began to disappear.
During his WWE and TNA runs, the physique stayed intact, however in the recent years, the Michigan native has turned a little softer and that’s quite evident through indie pictures and even meet and greet photos. At the age of 55, we may assume Steiner finally put "the gear" away. To his credit, he still looks great for his age.
13 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto’s situation is very comparable to Jinder’s. However, in this case, it seems as though Del Rio was far more effective off “the gear” than on it. Making his WWE debut in 2010, McMahon had high hopes for Del Rio as he was pushed as an upper-card act winning the WWE Championship. His run was finally put to an end in 2014 as he fled back home to Mexico.
Shortly after, he would return to the WWE, this time looking more jacked than ever at an older age. With such a quick transformation taking place, many eyebrows were raised at the validity of his physique. Body aside, his run was awful as the creative team soured on his talent early on due to a failed US Title run. His faith was cemented with the company when he failed a Wellness Exam and decided to end things with the company.
12 Nicole Bass
She passed away this year in February, sadly, of a stroke at the age of 52. Emulating a Superstar like Chyna was nearly impossible back in the day, however, the WWE thought they found gold in Bass who was just as physically imposing as Chyna was. However, her run was not sustained due to lackluster performances and controversy backstage. Bass ended up quitting on the company and taking them to court as she filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment at the work place. Bass would continue working independently till her wrestling career slowly fizzled out in the early 2000s.
As the years went along, so did her physique as sadly the muscle turned into fat. Bass had a severe steroid problem back in 2006 when she was brought to the hospital for pancreatitis, which was caused by enhancement use.
11 Chris Masters
Signing with the WWE as a youngster in 2003, the company had high hopes for Chris Masters. Once he made his main roster debut, he was rightfully named the Master Piece for his flawless physique. Seriously though, the guy didn’t have an ounce of fat on his body. Just based on his debut, you knew something wasn’t adding up in terms of his conditioning (which seemed impossible to achieve naturally).
It seems like the speculation was all merited as Masters was suspended a second time for violating the Wellness Policy back in 2007. With his second offense on the record, he was released by the company just days later. Chris would return in 2009 with the same gimmick, however this time, his physique looked a lot smaller than what we had witnessed prior. He’s currently working on his craft with GFW looking a lot softer today in comparison to his “geared” days. Though to his credit, he still looks decent.
Similar to Nicole Bass earlier in the article, Chyna’s physique suffered once she left the WWE. Signing with the company back in 1997, Chyna was by far the most built female Superstar then (and would still be to this day). Seriously speaking, her body fat was in the single digits back in the day. Press slamming females and even some males with ease, the WWE Universe had never seen such an athlete before.
Of course, she would end up parting ways with the WWE in the early 2000s and following her release, she spiraled. Chyna put less of an emphasis on her body, instead, she infused her life with drugs and alcohol. During 2005 when her 'tape' came out with Waltman, Laurer admitted things were spiralling out of control. Sadly, she never got her life or body back together and in April of 2016, she tragically passed away in what’s being labelled as an accidental overdose.
9 Lance Cade
Sadly, Lance Cade was another former WWE Superstar that passed away far too early. In fact, he didn’t even reach his 30s as he was found dead at 29. For Cade, his career came with a lot of potential as he was trained by the great HBK Shawn Michaels. Lance’s stock would come crashing down following an incident in where Cade suffered a seizure while on a plane. He was released shortly after as some believe an addiction to certain medical substances led to the seizure.
He would join the WWE once more later on, only to get released once again shortly after. Sadly, he ended up passing away due to an accidental overdose (mixing a variety of substances into his system). He would still be in his 30s nowadays and he’d likely still be involved in the pro wrestling business in some capacity.
8 Mr. Kennedy
Kennedy’s WWE stock all came crashing down and it wasn’t due to his enhancement use, instead a botched maneuver on one of WWE’s top stars Randy Orton, made the company question his overall ring prowess. He was released shortly after.
However, enhancement use was also a problem. During an interview, Ken claimed he took “the gear” before entering the WWE, however that was proven to be false as Anderson’s name was included in a Sports Illustrated article. According to the reports, Anderson infused his body with various enhancements.
The problem reoccurred with TNA in 2016 when he was given an on-the-spot-drug-test. Failing the exam, Ken was released shortly after. Looking at the photographic evidence, you can clearly see his body getting softer following his WWE days.
7 Ahmed Johnson
For fans of the 90s, this one might be the most shocking on the entire list. During the mid 1990s, Johnson was heavily pushed by the WWE. In fact, he was the first ever African American IC Champion. He wasn’t the greatest in the ring, however his look was certainly marketable. The guy was made out of muscle from head-to-toe weighing at least over 260 pounds at the time. Transforming all of that into muscle isn’t the easiest thing to do and judging by the way he looked, it was nearly impossible to sustain or achieve something of the sort naturally.
His body would end up crumbling once he joined WCW. The company warned him about his physique and once it became evident that he wasn’t sustaining a similar body to his WWE days, WCW cut him loose. Years later, shocking pictures would surface online showing Johnson looking absolutely unrecognizable. You can see for yourselves in the picture above.
Everything about Batista’s 2014 return was completely wrong. He showed up on Raw January 20th and literally two weeks later, he won the Rumble match cementing his spot in the main event of WrestleMania XXX. Of course, fans didn’t like that one bit and this time around, the WWE Universe let their voices be heard literally adding Bryan into the main event themselves. No disrespect to Batista who performed decently in the ring, but the crowd just wasn’t buying into a dude that rushed onto the scene and in his 40s all that quickly.
His return was ultimately a major bust in every single way imaginable. Even his physique wasn’t close to what it was, but perhaps age was a factor in that. He was offered a WrestleMania return a couple of years ago, though that time he wisely declined.
5 Kurt Angle
Obsessed with being perfect, Angle’s enhancement addictions got the best of him. The WWE pleaded that Kurt get help, however he refused which ultimately led to his WWE departure. He’d be gone from the company for more than a decade following the shocking exit. Sports Illustrated added insult to injury featuring Kurt in the long list of names taking enhancements. Other names included alongside Kurt was none other than the late great Eddie Guerrero. Like Eddie, Angle’s body was breaking down at the time.
His vices persisted with TNA and he would end up taking time off entering rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, at that point, his life was clearly spiraling out of control. Thankfully, rehab was successful and Angle is now back in the WWE serving the role as the current General Manager on Raw.
4 Brock Lesnar
His traps literally reached the top of his ears; Lesnar was an absolute beast making his WWE debut back in 2002. With such a look, the WWE salivated at his potential and he was rightfully pushed to the moon early on. With problems behind the scenes and potential interest in other fields, Lesnar left the WWE in 2004 and would not return for a long time.
After a brilliant run with UFC, Lesnar would return to the WWE in 2012. This time around however, his physique looked much softer compared to what we were used to seeing from back in the day. However, as his run rolled along, Lesnar would begin to fill out and many questioned whether or not “the gear” had something to do with it. He recently failed a drug test with the UFC, so we do have reason to believe something might be taking place behind the scenes.
3 Randy Orton
Randy is literally the only WWE Superstar to fail the Wellness Policy Exam on three different occasions, yet he remains in the company. Back in March of 2007, the WWE’s golden boy was added to the list of wrestlers using enhancements by Sports Illustrated. Orton used a plethora of substances and that was quite evident judging by his flawless physique. Standing in at 6’5", Orton was sculpted with massive quads and an abdominal section many of us can only dream of.
Complying with the Wellness Policy, Orton’s body has struggled to maintain the same form compared to his past days. Granted, nearing his 40s at 37, age does have something to do with it, however we’ve also seen some instances from earlier on in his career when his body was looking a little softer, as you can also see in the photo above.
2 Lex Luger
Back in the early 90s, the WWE was all about image. Hulk Hogan wasn’t the greatest inside of the ring, however his look was enough to drive him to all the success he managed to sustain. With such a mind-set, Luger was pegged as the next in line to take over once Hulk departed from the company. Like Hogan, Luger’s body was absolutely flawless.
Sustaining such a look is impossible, but Luger managed to do so to a degree throughout both his WWE and WCW runs. Sadly however, it wouldn’t last as Lex would face a plethora of health issues later on in his life.
In 2007, Luger hit the biggest low of his life as he was faced with temporary paralysis. Lex was forced to utilize a wheelchair as it was uncertain that his limbs would be functional. Thankfully, he’s able to walk on his own nowadays, but visually, he looks unrecognizable.
1 Triple H
Before he entered the pro wrestling field, Triple H had a passion for bodybuilding. Today, that same passion is still very much alive. We’ve seen The Game look tremendous in the past, though many question if he’s been immune from taking any type of exam given his look and company status throughout the years.
The picture above is a rare glimpse at Triple H back in 2010 looking extremely soft compared to his prime, or even compared to his recent WrestleMania appearance this year against Seth Rollins. The photo made many question if in fact The Game has been on “the gear” in the past, and many would find it laughable to claim that he’s been clean throughout his WWE run. In any event, his name has stayed out of any drug allegations in the past, so for what it’s worth, this is only speculation.