By Rob Fee and Andrew Harding
The ‘80s and ‘90s were, without question, the strongest time period for professional wrestling. From Hulk Hogan to the nWo to the WWE Attitude Era, ratings and money were never higher. Unfortunately many of our favorite superstars have passed away or are struggling with drugs and alcohol.
The stress put on their bodies has caused significant harm to them both physically and mentally. That isn’t to say that they’re all struggling, many have moved on to new ventures beyond the mat. Here’s a look at some of our favorite wrestlers and where they are now.
'Mankind' is responsible for so many of wrestling's most thrilling stunts, it's hard to pick the most dangerous. Was it the 16-foot plunge from the top of a cage? Maybe it was the time he endured 11 chair shots straight to the head (courtesy of children's movie hero Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson). All in all, he won 17 championships -- at terrible cost. The hardcore legend himself estimates he suffered over 100 concussions. Today you can find him on the New York Times Best Seller List, but that may change soon as doctors told him he can no longer look at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time due to his many head injuries.
The grandaddy of them all -- literally. Both in and out of the ring, there are few things you can accomplish in wrestling that Ric Flair hasn't already done.
The 16-time champion has fans both young and old from his 40 years in outlandish tights. But 'The Nature Boy' has been messily divorced four times, is constantly in debt and recently lost his son Reid to unknown causes at just 25.
Sadder still, these days Flair is only 'semi-retired.' If you turn the TV on at the right hour, you might just see his 64-year-old body slamming into the mat just one more time.
Formerly known as 'Razor Ramon,' Scott Hall was one of the most popular wrestlers ever to appear on television. As a founding member of the infamous nWo, he helped ratings skyrocket in the '80s and '90s before succumbing to a crippling drug and alcohol addiction that left him broke, broken and frequently in jail. Though he's in rehab now, Hall has attempted to get his life together several times before to no avail. Sadly, he's still been known to wrestle in recent years, and videos of his pill-addled performances are some of the saddest things you can find on the Internet.
Rick and Scott Steiner's wild antics made them into one of the biggest tag teams ever. The former amateur wrestler's prowess brought him eight championships as a teammate and one United States Heavyweight Championship as a solo act in the WCW. He continued for 20 years until he made a very surprising decision -- he retired in 2004 to a relatively happy and successful life. He now sells real estate and is even a member of his local school board. Way to go Rick!
Tammy Lynn Sytch
Back when she was known as 'Sunny,' Sytch became one of the first prominent ladies of the '90s era (or as WWE calls them, 'Divas'). After spending years managing her boyfriend Chris Candido, she became a breakout star of her own. But in 2012, she pulled off the impressive stunt of being arrested five times in four weeks for burglary, disorderly conduct and more.
Few wrestlers have as much gold as this guy. To this day the five-time champion owns all sorts of records in the wrestling world, plus he was a member of the Four Horsemen, one of the first 'stables' in the industry. But it was a brutal industry back then (oh, and also today too). Like everyone else he suffered greatly, but his injury was worse than most. In 2007, he suffered a spinal stroke that temporarily put him in a wheelchair. A few years later he recovered the use of his limbs, and is currently working with the WWE on their wellness policy.
No high school guidance counselor could ever have predicted the strange career of 'The Body' -- not even a really good one. He was enormously huge as a wrestler (in terms of both mass and popularity), but by 1984 he could no longer compete due to blod clots in his lungs.
Unlike many of his colleagues, though, he got even more famous after hanging up his tights. First he won over hearts and minds everywhere as the menacing villain in the 'Running Man.'
Then, similar to the path of co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, he became governor of Minnesota (yes, that Minnesota) in 1999.
Known as Johnny B. Badd in the WCW and The Wildman in WWE, Mero was a three-time WCW Television Champion and was named PWI’s Rookie of the Year in 2001. Since his retirement, he founded a non-profit organization called Champion of Choices where he speaks at schools and churches encouraging teens to make positive choices and pursue their dreams.
It's difficult to overstate just how big 'Jake the Snake' was in his day. His career has been so overshadowed by its bizarre aftermath that many forget how beloved he once was.
Unfortunately, no amount of ratings or innovation can erase reports of his crack addiction, animal abuse and broken family.
On the plus side though, Roberts enrolled in a WWE-sponsored rehab program in 2008 and according to announcer Jim Ross is slowly recovering.
Saturn saw success in multiple companies including three tag team championships with John Kronus as part of the Eliminators. He resurfaced in 2009 after disappearing from wrestling and the public eye for several years. He revealed that he had struggled with an addiction to meth and was homeless for a few years.
His famous brother Jeff has had his share of problems as well, but Matt's legal troubles are hard to ignore.
Matt gained huge respect with the fans for his high-flying stunts, pulling off dangerous moves at a breakneck pace.
But in 2011, everything fell to pieces when he crashed into a tree and got arrested for DUI. After that, he posted a number of odd videos to YouTube which show him clearly under the influence of ... something.
Then he dropped a suicide note (which he later claimed was fake) and everything just got awkward.
Few who saw her 'back then' can ever forget the most fearsome female wrestler of all time.
She earned major respect as the first female to ever enter the Royal Rumble, but after a tumultuous personal relationship with WWE star Triple H she chose to leave it all behind.
One Playboy appearance and several adult films later, she ended up on 'Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. Unfortunately even the impeccable treatment of Dr. Drew proved to be inadequate, and she was hospitalized two years later for an overdose.
Next: Rock Stars Age Terribly
So Virgil isn't the most famous wrestler on this list.
You may not even remember him. But he earned his spot handily by being possibly the saddest ex-grappler around.
Like many of his former colleagues, you can find him at depressing conventions around the country.
But unlike anyone else, he's been known to beg people to buy his items while creeping out fans of all ages and gender with weird stories about days gone by.