I think it just has to be agreed among wrestling fans, that the 80’s & 90’s era of the WWF was just the greatest thing ever. The theatrics, the feuding, not to mention the outfits. It was an OTT frenzy and we loved it. But where did these men who brought such entertainment to so many end up? We’ll see that there are many inspirational stories about what these men did following their days in the ring, but some a bit less so. Let’s find out:
Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart- Before
Bret Sergeant Hart was one of the most recognizable faces in wrestling. Famously described as the “Execution Of Excellence” by commentator Gorilla Monsoon, his famous Pink & Black clad outfit, wrap-around-shades and flowing locks and trademark ‘Sharpshooter’ finishing move made him a massively popular figure. He had tremendous success as part of the Hart Foundation Tag Team, with his Brother in Law Jim “The Anvil” Neidheart. He subsequently went on to have a stellar solo career, including a most wonderful year in 1991 beating Mr. Perfect for the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart- After
Brett Hart suffered a tremendous personal tragedy with the loss of his beloved brother, and fellow wrestler, Owen to a tragic accident at a WWE event in 1999. Understandably, Brett decided to call it quits soon after and retired from the WWE promotion in the year 2000. He suffered a stroke in 2002, after hitting his head following a bicycle accident. He managed to make a wonderful recovery and credits his thrice-weekly Brazilian Jujitsu training as something significant in his ability to regain physical mobility. He is one of Canada’s most recognizable and famous faces, having been voted 39th Greatest Canadian in a 2004 poll. He continues to be involved in professional wrestling and was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2006.
Andre The Giant- Before
Andre the Giant, known as the “Eighth Wonder Of The Word” was a literal Giant in Professional Wrestling in the 1980’s in every sense of the word. Standing at an incredible 7ft 4in and weighing over 500lbs, The French native, who suffered from the rare disease of Gigantism, at the tender age of 12 years old, stood at 6ft 3in and 208lbs. Andre had an epic long-running rivalry with Hulk Hogan that captivated the public during the 80’s and shot the WWF to massive viewing figures. He captured the WWF Heavyweight Title in February 1988, defeating Hulk Hogan in a controversial match on Live Tv.
Andre The Giant- After
Born to Polish and Bulgarian parents in France, Andre Roussimov was the Giant’s real name. He branched out into acting, most famously in the 1987 movie ‘The Princess Bride’, and finished with professional wrestling in 1992. Roussimov died of congestive heart failure in 1993 in a Paris Hotel, just after attending the funeral of his father. His ashes were scattered at his ranch in accordance with his wishes. He became the first man inducted into the then-WWF Hall-of-Fame and remains one of the most recognizable wrestling names of all time.
Macho Man Randy Savage – Before
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage is one of the most high-profile wrestlers of all-time, winning a massive 29 titles in his 32-year career as a professional wrestler. Known for his colorful costumes, over-the-top personality, and his glamorous wife ‘Miss Elizabeth’ he appears on top of many ‘Greatest Ever’ lists. He held the Heavyweight Championship 6 times between WWF and WWC. He had epic feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Honky Tonk Man, The Million Dollar Man.
Macho Man Randy Savage – After
Randy Poffo is truly one of the all-time greats. He had a near-lifelong on/off friendship with Hulk Hogan and a famous wife in Miss Elizabeth, whom he divorced in 1992, remarrying again shortly before his passing in 2010. He remained involved in wrestling until his sudden death from a heart attack while driving in Florida in 2011, at the age of 58. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2015.
The Ultimate Warrior – Before
An Amateur Bodybuilder before becoming a wrestler, winning the 1984 Mr Georgia title, The Ultimate Warrior was known for his face-paint, tied up biceps and high energy style of wrestling. Like Conor McGregor in the UFC, The Warrior became the first man to simultaneously hold 2 belts in the organisation, when he defeated Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI in 1990. He left the organisation in 1992, only to return again for a comeback period in 1996.
Ultimate Warrior – After
After his wrestling career had ended, James Hellwig was involved in many activities such as teaching wrestling in his ‘Warrior’ wrestling school along with motivational speaking. He also branched into somewhat controversial right-wing politics. He was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2014. Tragically, mere days after giving a speech at this induction, which would turn out to be his last public appearance, he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 54.
Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake – Before
Brutus Beefcake found success as part of ‘The Dream Team’ tag-team with Greg Valentine. After trying out a variety of characters for the WWF organisation, He undertook ‘The Beefcake’ persona in 1987 and began carrying garden shears to the ring to reflect his new character. He went on to have some epic feuds, for much of the mid-1980’s with Hulk Hogan and most notably, with Macho Man Randy Savage in the late 1980’s.
Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake – After
Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake (Real name, Edward Harrison Leslie), has unfortunately had mental health issues along with drug problems in retirement. In a bizarre 2004 incident, he inadvertently caused an anthrax scare by leaving a large bag of cocaine in one of Boston’s MTBA stations, where he was working at the time. He also famously confronted the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, in 2013 – showing up to City Hall with his trademark garden shears, offering to be Ford’s “Angel of Mercy”. Leslie continues to wrestle on small, local shows.
‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan- Before
Hacksaw Jim Duggan was famously known for the 2×4 plywood that he carried to the ring with the American Flag, as the true American Patriotic figure. He rose to prominence feuding with a USA v Soviet Union storyline involving Nikolai Volkoff (who was actually Croatian), he also had notable feuds with Colonel Mustafa aka The Iron Sheik. His clothesline finishing move and All-American persona made him a fan-favorite. He won the first ever Royal Rumble in 1988.
‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan- After
James Duggan was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2011. He continues to wrestle to this very day and is currently signed to the Global Force Wrestling Promotion. In 2014 he appeared in a reality show called ‘WWE Legends House’ along with starting in the Movie ‘Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies’ where he took on the supernatural creatures with his 2×4 plywood. He clearly has a loyal and loving fan base, as a recent crowdfunding campaign to cover his repair of a torn cuff rotator showed.
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts – Before
Jake ‘ The Snake’ Roberts was famous for 2 things – his classic DDT finishing move and his ever-present python, Damien, which he would often bring to the ring in a large bag, threatening opponents with its release. He had famous feuds with The Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, many of which entered the realm of the real world. Despite his villainous heel character, he experienced a huge surge in popularity during the latter part of the 1980’s.
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts – After
Aurelian Smith Jr. was the son of a professional wrestler, Grizzly Smith. He has tragically suffered from drug and alcohol problems in his retirement. He blames his ill health on a specific feud with the Honkey Tonk Man, in which he claimed a real guitar, rather than an imitation was smashed on his back. He continued to wrestle as recently as 2014 but has been plagued by health issues over recent years, as detailed in the heartbreaking documentary “The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake”. He was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2014.
The Million Dollar Man – Before
The highly glamorous and flashy person of 80’s and 90’s legend, Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, is one of the most famous villains in wrestling history. A technical wrestler, he assumed the character of being filthy rich and would arrogantly flaunt his wealth in order to demean his opponents. He was best known for his gold-studded, dollar sign suit, his bodyguard Virgil and legendary feuds with Hulk Hogan and Macho Man, Randy Savage.
The Million Dollar Man – After
Theodore DiBiase, whose three sons all went on to be wrestlers, is now an ordained Christian Minister, which is somewhat ironic given the villain that he played as a wrestler. He founded the ‘Heart of David Ministry’ 1999, and now travels the world ministering to churches, camps, and conferences. He has continued to wrestle sporadically in retirement and has worked for the WWE as a Creative Director. He was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2010.
Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura – Before
Jesse Ventura, former Navy SEAL, and Vietnam veteran, has been many very many things during his amazing career. Known as ‘The Body’, the trash talking bully persona adapted formed a successful, brief tag team partnership with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage in the 1980’s, along with the East-West Connection with Adrian Adonis. He eventually moved into commentary alongside Gorilla Monsoon for most of the early Wrestlemania’s.
Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura – After
In a wide and varied career later years, Ventura become a politician and held the role of Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, after a low budget political campaign promising a return to ‘Grass Roots’ politics which surprised both Republicans and Democrats, in its effectiveness. He also appeared in the smash-hit movie, Predator. He was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2004. He continues to be a public figure and has written several books on politics, and hosts a TV show called ‘Off the grid’
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper- Before
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was one of greatest wrestling villains of all time. Although a Canadian,
due to his Scottish Heritage, he was portrayed as coming from Glasgow, along with his signature kilt and bagpipe entrance music. Known for his trademark rage and quick wit, Roddy wrestled between the years of 1984 and 2000.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper- After
Roderick George “Roddy” Toombs passed away, at the age of 61 from a heart attack in his Hollywood home. He had an active career in acting after his wrestling Career, most notably the lead role of John Nada in the 1988 Cult Classic “They Live”.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude- Before
‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, known for his good looks and technical wrestling, was one of the biggest heel villains in wrestling in the 1980’s. He won the Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemania V in 1989, defeating The Ultimate Warrior. He co-founded D-Generation X alongside Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude- After
Richard Rood had to forfeit his title in 1994 due to a neck injury. While he made many appearances at the WWF after this point, he never wrestled again. At his death at the age of 40 in 1999, he was training for a comeback. He died of heart failure due to a drug overdose. He was widely regarded as one of the toughest men in the industry.
Big Boss Man – Before
Introduced to the WWF in 1988, The Big Boss man was a real-life former prison guard, with his trademark blue shirt, handcuffs and nightstick. He finished wrestling with the WWF in 2003.
Big Boss Man – After
Unfortunately, like so many other wrestlers on our list, Ray Washington Traylor Jr died from a massive heart attack at the young age of 41. He was inducted into the WWE hall of fame in 2016.
Earthquake – Before
Earthquake debuted in the WWF in the late-1980’s in an infamous segment where he was plucked from the crowd, only to turn heel on The Ultimate Warrior. He feuded with Hulk Hogan for much of 1989/1990 and delivered his signature Earthquake Splash to Hogan. He went on to experience great success as a tag-team with his friend Typhoon. ‘The Natural Disasters’ won the tag-team title in the early 1990’s.
Earthquake – After
John Tenta was a proficient sumo wrestler before becoming a star professional wrestler. He continued to wrestle until he retired in 2004 due to cancer of the bladder. He died of his illness in June 2006 at the age of 42.
Iron Sheik – Before
The Iron Sheik was one of the most famous ‘heel’/villainous characters in the history of Professional Wrestling. He would get on the microphone after bouts and bash the USA, leading to large boos from the crowd. He lost the Heavyweight Championship to the All-American Hulk Hogan in 1983.
Iron Sheik – After
Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Tehran, Iran. He continued to wrestle after his peak years until ill-health forced his retirement. He was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2005.
Mr. Perfect – Before
Mr. Perfect was a 2-time Intercontinental Champion and widely regarded as one of the most gifted, technical wrestlers of all-time. He returned to the WWF under the ‘Mr. Perfect’ gimmick in the late 1980’s and had the famous ‘Perfect-Plex’ finishing move. He had feuds with Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart towards the end of the decade.
Mr Perfect – After
Curtis Hennig Jr. was the son of a professional wrestler. He was an active wrestler up until the time of his death from a drug overdose in 2003.
Razor Ramon – Before
Although not appearing in the WWF until 1991, Ramon was a high-profile talent in the 1980’s. He wrestled for NWA alongside Mr. Perfect, Dusty Rhodes, and Marty Jannetty. His WWF character, Razor Ramon, was modeled on Tony Montana from Scarface. He had high profile feuds with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior.
Razor Ramon – After
Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon, was inducted into the WWF Hall-of-Fame in 2015. He continues to wrestle for the Promotion.
Sergeant Slaughter – Before
Sgt. Slaughter was one of the most popular wrestlers of the era. Initially a villainous heel, he became a much-beloved face character. He was known for feuds with Hulk Hogan and most notably, defending the honour of America against The Iron Sheik at the height of the real-life Cold War era. He won the Heavyweight Title in 1991 defeating Macho Man Randy Savage.
Sergeant Slaughter – After
Robert Remus has remained heavily involved in professional wrestling. He has long been signed to the WWE as an Ambassador for the brand and was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2004.
Shawn Michaels – Before
Shawn Michaels initially found wrestling stardom as part of a tag-team, The Rockers. Alongside Marty Jannetty, they introduced a fast-paced, high-octane style of wrestling not often seen before. Michaels went on to superstar status through his ‘Heartbreak Kid’ persona and feuded with the who’s who of wrestling stars, including Bret Hart and Randy Savage.
Shawn Michaels – After
Michael Shawn Hickenbottom was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2011. He serves as an Ambassador for the WWE and has been heavily involved in multiple storylines over the past decade.
BamBam Bigelow – Before
Bigelow was part of Hulk Hogan’s team at the first-ever Survivor Series in 1987. He outlasted many more high-profile stars before being eliminated by Andre the Giant. He would later go on to have memorable match-ups against The Big Boss Man and Bret Hart.
BamBam Bigelow – After
In July 2000, Scott Bigelow courageously rescued 3 children from a house fire. He suffered serious burns in the act of heroism. He went on to open a restaurant, which closed down soon afterwards. Bigelow died in January 2007 of a drug overdose.
The British Bulldog – Before
The British Bulldog, Davey ‘Boy’ Smith, was the most famous British wrestler of the era. As part of The Bulldogs, they had a long-running feud with the Hart Foundation that was one of the biggest tag-team storylines of the 1980’s. He went on to capture multiple titles in the WWF, most notably the Tag-Team Title at Wrestlemania 2 and the Intercontinental Title at Summerslam, London 1992.
The British Bulldog – After
Davey Boy Smith was a brother-in-law of Bret Hart, having married his sister Diana Hart. He continued to wrestle until his death in 2002 of a heart attack. Bret Hart attended the funeral, before Smith’s body was returned to Wigan, England for burial.
Tugboat / Typhoon- Before
One of Wrestling’s ‘Biggest’ stars, Tugboat featured in the WWF from 1989 to 1993. He formed one half of the winning tag team ‘The Natural Disasters”, with ‘Earthquake’
Tugboat / Typhoon- After
A positive character, inside and outside the ring, Fred Ottman now resides in Florida where he is a safety manager for a building cleaning company. He also coaches the little league team for his two sons and daughter.
The Bushwhackers – Before
The Bushwhackers were a legendary tag-team hailing from New Zealand. Originally they wrestled under the name “New Zealand Kiwi’s”. They had a high-profile feud with The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, which saw the 2 teams compete against each other in the 1989 Survivor Series and 1990 Royal Rumble.
The Bushwhackers – After
The Bushwhackers were inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2015. Real names, Luke Williams and Butch Miller, both have continued to wrestle well into their 60’s in regional shows in New Zealand and Canada.
Ric Flair – Before
Widely regarded as the best wrestler of all-time, Ric ‘The Nature Boy’ Flair, won an incredible 16 World Championships across many promotions. He feuded with most of wrestling’s top stars at one point, including Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Ric Flair – After
Richard Morgan Fliehr was inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame in 2008. Both his son and daughter went on to become Professional Wrestlers. He’s very much active in the wrestling scene to this day.
The Honkey Tonk Man – Before
The Honkey Tonk Man, one of the WWF’s most popular figures, held the intercontinental heavyweight belt for a record 64 weeks before losing it to the Ultimate Warrior. Billed as an Elvis type figure, The Honky Tonk Man made up another half of the ‘Rhythm & Blues’ tag team with Greg Valentine.
The Honkey Tonk Man – After
Roy Wayne Farris continues to wrestle on the independent circle to this day. An avid golfer and a first cousin of Jerry “The King” Lawler, he lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife since 1993.
Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan – Before
For many wrestling fans of the era, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan was the voice of wrestling. His colour commentary complimented Gorilla Monsoon’s lead play-by-play commentary. He was a wrestler himself and involved in many feuds, most notably with The Ultimate Warrior.
Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan – After
Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. In later years, he remained involved in wrestling. Health problems, including throat cancer, has limited his involvement in the sport. He remains a very-loved character in the world of wrestling.
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