What Happened to These Popular WWE Superstars?
WWE superstars from Hulk Hogan to The Undertaker have entertained millions of fans for decades, but many have left wrestling over the years. Some of them have made surprise returns, but many others stayed away from the ring. So the question must be asked: Where are they now? You’d be shocked to see what some of the biggest talents in wrestling have been up to!
Standing 7 feet tall and weighing in at more than 380 pounds, Big Show catches everyone’s attention as soon as he appears on screen. A seven-time world champion in the WWE, the giant wrestler has gone on to pursue a second career — this time, in acting.
Despite focusing much of his attention elsewhere, Big Show has still stuck around the WWE over the decades. He appeared on WWE SmackDown and WWE Raw as recently as 2018. Big Show’s success as Captain Insano in the 1998 classic The Waterboy has led to many more roles throughout the years, both in TV and film.
During her time as a WWE Diva, Molly Holly became a two-time WWE Women’s Champion and one-time WWE Hardcore Champion. Her losses were often just as entertaining as her wins, like the time when she was hit in the face by a door to lose the Hardcore Championship — right after winning it, or the time she got her head shaved as a match stipulation.
Since her departure from the ring, Molly Holly has dedicated her life to philanthropy. The former Diva still dabbles in the wrestling business, but most of her efforts have gone into charity and volunteering. She has volunteered in Guatemala at an orphanage and a church, and she has worked with charities that focus on addiction recovery and drug prevention.
One of many WWE Divas to get her start on WWE Diva Search in 2004, Candice Michelle captured fans’ attention immediately. She began to enjoy stardom outside the ring just as much as she did in it, starring as the first GoDaddy Girl in the company’s now-infamous Super Bowl commercial. In 2007, she earned Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s (PWI) Woman of the Year title and bagged a Women’s Championship.
Michelle was eventually released from the WWE in 2009 after dealing with a string of injuries. Since retiring, she has shifted her focus to family life with her husband, Ken Gee Ehrlich, a Los Angeles chiropractor whom she married in 2005. Together, they have three daughters.
Wrestling legend Ric Flair, otherwise known as “The Nature Boy,” is one of the most recognizable names in WWE history. With more than two decades of experience in the ring, Flair claimed the World Tag Team Championship, WWE Intercontinental Championship, and WWE World Heavyweight Championship 16 times. He also won the Royal Rumble. Wooo!
Flair has been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice and has become a pop culture icon over the decades. In 2017, Offset released a rap song titled “Ric Flair Drip,” which took the internet by storm and went viral. Flair’s daughter has followed in her father’s footsteps, becoming a successful WWE Superstar in her own right.
Indisputably one of the most successful WWE Divas to have ever competed in the ring, Trish Stratus is one of the Divas’ biggest success stories. Her accolades include WWE Diva of the Decade, WWE Hardcore Champion, four-time PWI Woman of the Year, and seven-time WWE Champion.
Though she called it a career in 2006, Stratus has been busy in her retirement. The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee married her high school sweetheart of 14 years just two weeks after her initial retirement, and the pair has had two children. Stratus did some work as an actress and a yoga instructor, but she made a big return to the WWE in 2018.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage
A household name even beyond the world of wrestling, “Macho Man” Randy Savage is believed by many to be one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot in a ring. Savage won two WWE Championships, four WCW World Championships, and reigned as Intercontinental Champion for 14 months.
The Macho Man became the celebrity spokesman for Slim Jim in the late 1990s, and he appeared on a wrestling-themed episode of Baywatch alongside many of his wrestling competitors. His most famous role was that of wrestler “Bone Saw” McGraw in the 2002 film Spider-Man. Savage passed away in 2011 after suffering a sudden heart attack.
Chyna was a trailblazer for women in the WWE, first entering the scene in 1997 as a member of the iconic D-Generation X stable with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Rick Rude. She set the tone for female wrestlers throughout her career, claiming several victories — many of which were against men — until her departure in 2001.
Unfortunately, Chyna’s life after wrestling was tumultuous. The iconic wrestler appeared on several reality TV shows and eventually turned to a career as an adult film star. Chyna struggled with drug and alcohol addictions that eventually led to her premature death in 2016, at the young age of 46.
A memorable ally of Hulk Hogan at one point in his career, Tugboat was a dominant wrestler who struck fear into his opponents and became a household name in the world of wrestling. Later in his career, Tugboat was part of a group called The Natural Disasters, going by the name Typhoon.
After retiring from wrestling in 2001, Tugboat went back to the corporate workforce. He hasn’t completely left the sports world, however. Tugboat has three children, and he coaches their Little League baseball team. Tugboat is the brother-in-law of late pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes, and he’s also an uncle to Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
Making her official WWE debut in 2005, Mickie James was cast alongside Trish Stratus as a huge superfan of hers. The bizarre dynamic between the Divas created one of the more entertaining and odd feuds in wrestling, as James became downright obsessive about Stratus. By the time she retired in 2010, James had racked up five WWE Women’s Championship titles.
James’ career as an entertainer continued even after her retirement. She released her first country music album in 2010 and a second in 2013. Meanwhile, she found the time to compete in TCA, IMPACT! Wrestling, and Global Force Wrestling. In 2016, James made her return to WWE. The two-time Woman of the Year is still competing to this day.
The Ultimate Warrior
So committed to his craft that he legally changed his name, The Ultimate Warrior is a classic wrestler whose legacy will live on forever. The former WWE World Heavyweight Champion and two-time WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion was the first to hold both titles concurrently.
Warrior retired from wrestling in 1998. Prior to his retirement, however, rumors and conspiracy theories circled the wrestler. Some fans believed The Ultimate Warrior died and another wrestler was appearing under his name. Those fans were wrong, as in 2014, the wrestler suffered a heart attack that would prove fatal — just days after his WWE Hall of Fame induction and final public appearance on WWE Raw.
WWE Divas would not have grown to the popularity they have grown to without the woman who is widely considered to be the first Diva, Sunny. She first made a name for herself in 1995, managing The Bodydonnas. A year later, she won PWI’s Manager of the Year award. She was eventually dismissed from the WWE, with rumors of substance abuse surrounding her departure.
Post-WWE life did not treat Sunny well. At one point, she was arrested five times in a four-week span. She was arrested and jailed in 2016 following her sixth DWI arrest. In recent years, Sunny has starred in an adult film and released an autobiography.
Known for his lucha libre-style masks, Rey Mysterio dominated the 1990s and 2000s. The “King of Mystery” has won more than 10 titles in his WWE tenure, including the World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Cruiserweight Championship, and the WWE Championship. The masked man has been around the wrestling scene for decades and continues to bounce around various circuits.
Outside of wrestling, Mysterio has been seen at independent wrestling shows like House of Glory, Destiny Wrestling, and QPW. A father of two children and husband to his wife Angie, the former wrestling superstar has since devoted his life to his Roman Catholic faith.
Debuting in 1996 under the name Marlena, Terri Runnels played the part of the mysterious, cigar-smoking manager of Goldust. The longtime Diva was actually married to him in real life at the time, but they divorced in 1999. After the split, Runnels returned to the ring under her own name.
Runnels’ run in the WWE ended in 2004, and since then she has focused her efforts on a new mission. Since her retirement, Runnels has been heavily involved with a number of charity groups. She has done work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and more.
The Great Khali
It’s hard to miss The Great Khali, who towers over the rest of the world at 7 feet, 1 inches tall. The former WWE World Heavyweight Champion used his insane size and strength to submit opponents to his will. Prior to his professional wrestling career, Khali spent time working for the Punjab Police.
Over the years, The Great Khali has gradually made his way away from the wrestling world. He has made a few infrequent appearances in WWE programming, but Khali is focused on creating a wrestling school of his own. The school he opened in Punjab held its first event in December 2015.
A huge fan favorite in the early days of women’s wrestling, Sable took the scene by storm in 1996. She became only the second WWE Women’s Champion after the company reinstated the title. Sable’s popularity caught on outside the wrestling world, and she graced the cover of Playboy on three separate occasions.
Sable surprisingly quit in 1999, filing a $110 million lawsuit against her former employer for alleged sexual harassment, which was eventually settled out of court. Sable made a shocking return to the ring in 2003. But it was short-lived, as she left about a year later to spend more time with her family. Sable has three kids, and she married Brock Lesnar in 2006.
Perhaps the most well-known wrestler in the history of the sport, Hulk Hogan helped shape the WWE landscape into what it is today. The decorated wrestler has had success in the ring, as well as in acting, entrepreneurship, television, and even music. Even after his WWE career, Hogan still remains at the center of the spotlight.
In 2007, Hogan went through a messy divorce which put him on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2015, the wrestler became the focal point of multiple public scandals, and the WWE terminated its contract with the superstar. But the wrestler returned in 2018 and even stepped back into the ring in 2019. Hogan remains an icon in American media to this day.
Named PWI’s Woman of the Year in 2004, Victoria was one of the most dominant Divas at the peak of her career. Considering she made her wrestling debut as one of The Godfather’s girls, that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. The two-time Women’s Champion developed a heated rivalry with Trish Stratus, making for some great battles.
Though she left the WWE in 2009, Victoria’s wrestling career wasn’t quite over. Going by a new name, Tara, she won five TNA Knockout Championships. She has also ventured into the realm of business, opening a pair of restaurants and even a custom car shop.
Six-time world champion Batista was dominant throughout his wrestling career, setting the record for the longest reign as World Heavyweight Champion at 282 days. Competing from 1999 to 2019, he had massive success at the individual level, as well as at the tag-team level, where he won championships with Ric Flair, John Cena, and Rey Mysterio.
In 2012, Batista signed a contract to fight in the MMA, winning his only fight via TKO in the first round. He has also made performances in several movies, from, The Man with the Iron Fists to Riddick, Spectre, and others. He also plays the role of Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Torrie Wilson was a heartthrob, without a doubt. She stood above the rest as one of the most desirable WWE Divas from the time she entered the ring in 2001, until her eventual departure in 2008. During that time, Wilson graced the cover of Playboy in ’03 and ’04 and was featured on reality shows, in video games, and even in music videos.
Even after retiring in 2008, the blonde bombshell still looks more than capable of jumping in the ring today. From 2011-15, Wilson dated another heavy hitter: former MLB star Alex Rodriguez. Wilson still keeps plenty busy as a fitness trainer and model.
Whether you know him as Mick Foley, Dude Love, Cactus Jack, or Mankind, you probably remember some of the wrestling legend’s iconic fights, many of which involved him putting his body on the line. The Hall of Famer is more than a WWE talent, however. He has made radio appearances, and he’s performed in movies as well as TV series.
Foley left the WWE in 2001, but he has since made multiple return appearances, his most recent happening in 2018. Foley has become an accomplished writer, publishing more than 10 books over the years. He has also continued his career in acting. Foley is happily married to his wife, Colette. They have had four kids together.
“The Weapon of Mass Seduction” was more than a pretty face in the WWE. Stacy Keibler was known throughout the WWE universe for her unusually long legs, but she was also a capable wrestler in her own right. She left the WWE in 2006 to compete in the second season of Dancing with the Stars, in which she placed third.
Since her time in the WWE, Keibler has dated George Clooney, modeled for several magazines, and begun a second career as an actress. She has been on shows such as George Lopez, How I Met Your Mother, and Psych. Keibler got married in 2013, and she is now the mother of two children.
It’s incredible that there are now generations of young Americans who exclusively know The Rock for his acting career and might be unaware that he was once a superstar wrestler. The Rock is not only one of the best wrestlers of all time, but his acting career has made him a household name throughout the world.
Since retiring from wrestling in the early 2000s, The Rock has starred in too many movies to count. He has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he’s been included in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World lists, and he’s won numerous other awards. He also founded the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, which aims to help children with terminal illnesses.
Making her debut on WWE Raw Diva Search in 2004, Michelle McCool took seventh place. Despite the finish, however, McCool would go on to have a long, successful career in the WWE. In her seven-year wrestling run, McCool left a strong impact on the sport. In 2010, she won PWI’s Woman of the Year, and a year later, she was named the Slammy Awards’ Diva of the Year.
McCool retired from the WWE in 2011, but not before marrying The Undertaker. The superstar wrestling couple welcomed a daughter to the family in 2012. In 2016, McCool underwent treatment for skin cancer. She and The Undertaker now spend their time focusing on their family.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is an unforgettable WWE legend with perhaps the best entrance of any wrestler in history. Austin was known for his glass-breaking entrance, brash persona, and beer-chugging ability. The wrestler’s iconic “Austin 3:16” slogan made him one of the most recognizable stars in the industry.
Since retiring in the early 2000s, Stone Cold has made sporadic appearances in the WWE here and there. However, he has found a new level of success, hosting the wildly popular The Steve Austin Show podcast. He has also appeared in several films and TV shows over the years.
One of the most talented WWE Divas to ever compete, AJ Lee became a household name in the world of WWE when she competed in the third season of NXT in 2010. Lee was dominant from that point forward, winning and defending a WWE Divas Championship title. She was named the Slammy Awards’ Diva of the Year and PWI’s Woman of the Year in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Lee left the WWE in 2015, citing multiple reasons for her departure: her husband CM Punk’s controversial exit from the WWE, and spine damage she’d suffered over the course of her career. In 2017, she offered these insights and more in a New York Times Best Seller memoir, titled, Crazy Is My Superpower.
Known for his perfect streak of 21 unbeaten matches at WrestleMania, The Undertaker is an integral name in the history of the WWE. The Undertaker’s infamous streak finally came to an end in 2014, when Brock Lesnar surprisingly defeated the notorious WrestleMania champion for the first time in what felt like decades.
The Undertaker has phased out of the WWE since 2015, but he still remains involved. In fact, in 2019, he teamed up with Roman Reigns to defeat Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre in a tag-team match. Outside of wrestling, The Undertaker does real estate investing and spends time with his wife (Michelle McCool) and kids.
In 2008, Nikki Bella kicked off her WWE career in a way few people ever could. Her sister, Brie Bella, hid under the ring in the middle of a fight. Out came Nikki, who put a beat down on Brie’s opponent, Victoria. The twins joined forces and dominated as The Bella Twins for a long time.
Nikki has starred in two reality shows, founded a clothing line, and runs a YouTube channel. Despite branching out so far, she still held down her title as the longest-reigning WWE Divas Champion. Since retiring in 2017, The Bella Twins have created their own beauty line and now host a podcast together.
Making his WWE debut in 1996, Triple H was a key figure of the Attitude Era. He was a member of the D-Generation X faction, fighting alongside Shawn Michaels, Chyna, and Rick Rude. Triple H racked up 14 world championships throughout his career, and he remains a vital member of the WWE to this day.
Triple H married on-screen wife Stephanie McMahon — Vince’s daughter — in 2003, and his involvement in WWE management changed very quickly. He’s now on the business side of wrestling, serving as the executive VP of talent, live events, and creative direction for the WWE. And yes, he will step back into the ring every once in a while.
Making her amazingly memorable WWE debut alongside her sister Nikki, Brie Bella became one of the biggest names in WWE Divas history up until her decision to take a break from competing in 2016. Brie competed under her own name for a portion of her career, and she won the Divas Championship.
In 2014, Brie married another pro wrestler, Daniel Bryan. She gave birth to a daughter in May 2017. Since then, she has been involved in several projects and ventures, which includes serving as a WWE ambassador. In 2019, The Bella Twins created their own beauty line, and they now host a podcast together.