The 10 Biggest Falls from Grace in Wrestling

Andy SoucekFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2013

The 10 Biggest Falls from Grace in Wrestling

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    Not many people can understand the pressure of being famous.

    The millions of fans, the money, the expectations of maintaining a certain look.

    Some are able to handle their time under the spotlight. Many cannot.

    With every type of celebrity (sports, music and acting) plenty of people have fallen from great heights. Wrestling is no exception.

    In fact, wrestling may have the highest percentage of beat down, broke and deceased stars in any field of entertainment.

    Due to the brutal schedule, the drugs and the way they put their body on the line, they often end up a shell of their former selves on the way out.

    Here are 10 cases of wrestlers who seemed to have it all but fell from grace.

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

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    If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on what Jake has been up to after leaving the WWF, check out the eye-opening documentary Beyond the Mat.

    In that film, Roberts is shown on camera smoking crack and openly talking about his demons. His strained relationship with his daughter is also focused on, making it hard to watch what has become of yesterday's hero.

    Roberts is one of the best remembered wrestlers from the 1980s. He cut compelling promos in an age of cartoonish yelling and gave the wrestling world the DDT.

    His name is also one that is often brought up for stars who never held a world title. There may have been a good reason for that: Jake was unreliable.

    Jake spiraled out of control post-WWF from one embarrassing independent show to the next and seemed to hit rock bottom many times over.

    There may be hope though.

    Currently, Roberts is living with Diamond Dallas Page trying to get in shape for one last run. He's eating healthy and is on DDP's Yoga workout program.

    According to Arda Ocal, who spoke with Jake, has said he has lost over 75 pounds and has been drug- and alcohol-free for over three months.

Lex Luger

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    At one point, Lex Luger was destined for a run with the WWF Championship.

    With his Lex Express bus, he was the heir apparent to Hulkamania. It never quite worked out for him in the WWF, though he did eventually capture the gold in WCW.

    For a time, Luger was one of the biggest stars in wrestling during the late '80s and throughout the '90s.

    Once WCW folded though, Luger’s life went to some dark places.

    He was never brought back into WWE as a wrestler, and only had one match in TNA—before fading away from the spotlight.

    In 2003, he was arrested for domestic dispute after allegedly beating up his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth and later for driving under the influence.

    Things got even worse for Luger as Elizabeth later died of an overdose inside his house.

    Luger ended up serving five years probation but slowly began to turn his life around when he found religion.

    In 2007, he then suffered a nerve impingement, and was a quadriplegic for over two months.

    These days, Luger physically looks like a shell of his former self, but mentally he seems to be doing better than ever.

Sunny

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    Before there was Sable, there was Sunny.

    Sunny was perky and beautiful. She worked her way up as the manager of the Bodydonnas to becoming one of the most popular characters in the WWF.

    Her relationship with her long-time boyfriend Chris Candido was often rocky though, as tales of drug abuse seemed to get them kicked out of every major company they passed through.

    Sadly, Candido passed away in 2005, leaving Sunny by herself.

    Understandably, she didn't seem to be doing too well.

    Eventually, Sunny appeared to get her act together. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 and looked stunning.

    Since then though, it sounds like her life has been a disaster. At one point, she was arrested five times in a matter of weeks.

    WWE put her through rehab, but she was having troubles with the law as soon as she got out. WWE then publicly announced that they would no longer pay for her continued treatment, which is the first time that has ever happened. 

    Let's hope this story can still have a happy ending.

Matt Hardy

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    For years, many fans were waiting for Matt Hardy to get his shot at the big time.

    But he was always cast in the shadow of his younger brother, Jeff. Still, there were signs that he could break out. After his feud with Edge, though, he seemed destined for a life in the midcard.

    After years of taking crazy bumps, Hardy became addicted to pain killers.

    His constant online presence went from entertaining to downright bizarre. He looked out of it in these videos and came across as very vindictive against the fans and wrestling news websites.

    In response, WWE seemed to try to shame him into getting his life back together and even had Cody Rhodes call him out for his weight gain on SmackDown before a match.

    Hardy then got his wish and was released from the company.

    Things only got worse for him as he was involved in multiple car accidents, was arrested and teased that he was going to commit suicide.

    His run in TNA was also very short lived and embarrassing.

    After multiple arrests, Hardy was forced to go to rehab. He was then kicked out for alcohol use which he blamed on mouthwash.

    Fortunately, Hardy does appear to be doing better these days.

    He’s been open about his drug abuse and sounds far more coherent in his online videos. He also seems in better physical condition judging by his recent Ring of Honor appearances.

Ric Flair

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    Ric Flair may be the greatest wrestler of all time but he continues to make one big mistake after another in his personal life.

    As evidenced by Shane Ryan's brilliant but devastating piece on the Nature Boy, Flair just can't change his partying and playboy ways.

    He has also reportedly been beat up by his last three wives, been kicked out of his own home and is a financial mess.

    At one point, he owed $700,000 to one of those ex-wives.

    For newer fans, it may be hard to believe that Flair is held in such high regard. When he does show up on TV these days, he comes across as a caricature of his former self.

    He dances around, drops some elbows, and "woooos" all over the place. It doesn't make money like it used to, though.

    Had Flair not lived such a crazy lifestyle, he could have had a respectful slide into his 50s and 60s. It's not hard to imagine he would always have had a TV presence,

    Instead, Flair's continuing story has devolved into an increasingly strange and sad one with each passing year.

Tyson Tomko

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    At one point, Travis "Tyson" Tomko looked to be a breakout star in TNA (well, as much of a breakout star that can be made in the company).

    Instead, in a classic Vince Russo swerve, Tomko didn’t turn babyface when all signs pointed to it. He went back to playing a heel, but the fans no longer cared and his character never recovered.

    Later, Tomko left TNA to rejoin WWE. He signed a contract with the company, but never showed up on TV.

    When he returned to TNA, he looked like he’d put on a bit of weight and was noticeably slower. This run didn’t last long either and he found himself without a job.

    Tomko became desperate, and robbed a pharmacy to steal Oxycodone. He then went to a nearby Chili's and allegedly shot up in the men's bathroom.

    He has entered WWE rehab, but at the age of 36, it's hard to believe he'll get another shot in a major wrestling company again.

Scott Hall

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    Scott Hall was one of the most naturally gifted wrestlers on the planet.

    He had the looks, wrestling ability and the intangible “it” factor that is so hard to come by.

    His career, though, was highlighted by one big mistake after another. Perhaps no wrestler has received as many chances to clean up their act as he has been given.

    The ESPN documentary series E60 may have finally shed some light on why Hall is so troubled.

    While working as a bouncer, he got into a fight with a man and shot him in self-defense. Hall was cleared of all legal wrong-doing but never recovered psychologically.

    It didn’t matter how much money he made or how popular he became, his personal life was in shambles.

    Along with his tag partner Kevin Nash, Hall helped usher in a new boom period in professional wrestling in 1996.

    But over the next 17 years, it's been one tough ride.  

    He was suspended on a couple of occasions in WCW, hired and shortly released from WWE, released from TNA multiple times, got divorced, been in and out of rehab more than any other WWE talent and was also arrested on multiple occasions.

    Hall doesn’t show up in any form for the WWE these days.

    He wasn’t there for HBK’s Hall of Fame induction, he didn’t participate in the new NWO DVD and it’s doubtful he’ll get his own induction to the Hall anytime soon.

    For his family, friends and fans it’s hard to watch what Scott Hall has become.

    There is some hope, though.

    Just like Jake Roberts, Hall has recently joined Diamond Dallas Page's "Accountability Crib." He's been alcohol free, and working out for weeks now. An Indiegogo drive has also raised over $80,000 to help get him a hip replacement so he can get back in shape.

    Here's hoping that "The Bad Guy" can be a good guy once again.

'Gentleman' Chris Adams

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    Fans familiar with the Monday Night Wars may only remember Chris Adams as a jobber in WCW.

    Older fans may recall his time in World Class Championship Wrestling where he held their heavyweight title multiple times. He also had a great run in Dynamic Duo, a tag team with Gino Hernandez.

    "It was fun, and we were making so much money that we didn't care," Adams once said about his time with Hernandez.

    Due to the death of his tag partner and spending time in jail after head-butting a co-pilot on a plane, Adams' career started to stumble.

    He wasn’t pushed as aggressively but became an influential trainer. Steve Austin and Scott Hall were among his students.

    Those good times didn't last. Adams had other run-ins with the law. He was arrested for drunk driving and for beating his wife.

    Sadly, Adams’ dark side only grew later in life.

    In 2000, Adams and his girlfriend both overdosed on drugs. While Adams recovered, his girlfriend died.

    From this fallout, he was indicted on manslaughter charges. He never faced trial, though, as he was shot to death shortly after.

    Adams met his end in a drunken fight with an old friend, but it was ultimately ruled self-defense.

    Chris Adams had so much potential and was able to achieve a high level of success, but he never became the star he should have.

Dino Bravo

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    It was just over 20 years ago that Dino Bravo died.

    In 1993, at the age of 44, Bravo was shot 17 times while sitting in a chair at home.

    As outlined in Wrestling Observer Newsletter, He found himself involved in an alleged illegal cigarette smuggling and was believed to have been taken out by the mafia.

    The former WWF tag team champion was wrestling's "world's strongest man" before Mark Henry.

    He faced off against some of the company's top names in the '80s. At one point, it was rumored that he'd take on Hulk Hogan in a face vs. face showdown in Montreal, but the match was cancelled as there were fears that the crowd would cheer for Bravo more. 

    The very muscular strongman's body began to break down and he retired to pursue a life of training, and crime. 

    The details of Bravo's death are sketchy but two things are certain: it was a violent way to go, and his murder has never been solved. 

Chris Benoit

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    During his time, Chris Benoit was one of the most widely respected wrestlers on the planet.

    No one could match his intensity in the ring, and he truly seemed to give it his all every time out. During his run in WCW though, fans were frustrated with his lack of a push.

    Once he came to the WWF, things began to change.

    Over the course of a few years, Benoit worked his way to the top, and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 20.

    It was one of the most emotional wrestling moments of all time as the show ended with him and Eddie Guerrero embracing. It capped things off on a perfect note.

    Benoit finally reached the top and earned the respect he'd deserved.

    That was eight years ago.

    Today, the name Benoit brings up a variety of other emotions.

    In 2007, Benoit skipped a WWE pay-per-view and went home to care for his family who he claimed was very ill.

    Anyone familiar with wrestling sadly knows what happened next. Benoit murdered his wife, young child and then committed suicide.

    It was a disturbing, shocking incident that has left a black eye on wrestling to this day.

    After realizing that their tribute show was uncalled for, WWE decided to never mention Benoit's name again on their TV shows.

    They’ve essentially tried to erase him from history. Some DVD releases have edited out all mentions to Benoit in the commentary for matches he's in.

    Benoit was a surefire future inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame but instead he’ll be remembered for acting out the most horrifying crime in the history of professional wrestling.