Professional wrestling has a fan base like no other sport and – through the years – the WWE has given us some extremely memorable stars. At one point in time, these brawlers were beloved by many and ruled supreme as kings and queens of the ring. But every reign has to end, and these wrestlers have changed a lot since leaving the profession behind. Here’s what some of the WWE’s biggest personalities have been doing since performing their final finishing moves.
20. Ric Flair
After debuting in 1972, Ric Flair made a huge dent in the wrestling world; indeed, he was even once named by Sports Illustrated as the greatest wrestler in history. But while he may be retired now, the Nature Boy can still wow audiences with his feats of strength. In fact, he recently demonstrated his ring-worthiness on Twitter by filming himself lifting a colossal 400 pounds.
19. Jesse “The Body” Ventura
While his trash-talking alter ego The Body is still fondly remembered by wrestling fans, Jesse Ventura’s career was only just beginning when he left the WWE. Following the discovery of a pulmonary embolism in 1986, Ventura retired from the ring and would appear in Predator and The Running Man alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then, after a term as a mayor, he was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. He has since released a number of politically themed books.
18. Shawn Michaels
Best known as “The Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels left the ring as one of the WWE’s most respected stars. In 2010, however, the brawler announced his retirement to concentrate on his family and was inducted into the Hall of Fame soon after. Currently, the star is working as an actor and recently appeared in The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
17. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
After an errant kick to the head from Bill Goldberg during WCW’s 1999 Starrcade event, Bret Hart retired in 2000. Further drama would follow the former WWE champion as he suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the years after. Nonetheless, the star beat both illnesses and at 59 now enjoys a clean bill of health.
16. Adam Copeland (Edge)
Most famously known by the moniker of Edge, Adam Copeland walked away from the WWE with an incredible 31 championship belts. And though a 2011 injury forced the brawler to retire, Copeland is still involved in the WWE through his comedy program The Edge and Christian Show.
15. CM Punk
Given that he has moved from the WWE to the UFC, Phil Brooks – a.k.a. CM Punk – hasn’t strayed far from his wrestling roots. In 2014 the long-running championship holder quit Vince McMahon’s company to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. And while he lost his first match against Mickey Gall in 2016, he’s set to make a return to the sport later this year.
14. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
Although some wrestlers have little in common with their in-ring alter egos, John “Bradshaw” Layfield has lived his businessman persona to the full in real life. Following his 2009 retirement, in fact, the brawler has provided financial analysis for the likes of CNN and Fox News. In addition, he has since returned to the WWE as a commentator.
13. Booker T
Winning fans over thanks to his patented Spinaroonie move, Booker T gained WWE kudos after he was appointed SmackDown’s General Manager in 2012. And he now focuses much of his efforts outside of the ring, as a commentator and analyst.
12. Mick Foley
More sensitive than the average brawler, Mick Foley has forged a successful career as an author since departing the WWE. Following his 2000 retirement, the heavyweight champion began writing children’s books and made it onto the New York Times bestseller list as a result.
11. Trish Stratus
Perhaps the most famous female wrestler of all time, Trish Stratus has many trophies to her name, including a Diva of the Decade award from 2003. These days, the fabulous fighter is a mother of two and runs her own yoga studio in Toronto.
10. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
As the leading figure during the WWE’s halcyon days, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin earned the company new fans in the 1990s. But a decade and a half after announcing his retirement, the six-time champion is still a major player in the entertainment industry as the host of the successful reality shows Redneck Island and Broken Skull Challenge.
9. Jerry Lynn
Active in the wrestling community for 25 years, Jerry Lynn gained fame in the WCW before jumping ship to WWE. Following his 2013 retirement, though, the brawler began a career backstage as a road agent for Ring of Honor. He was also able to fix years’ worth of ring-related spinal injury thanks to a successful 2015 GoFundMe campaign.
8. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Jerry “The King” Lawler began a career of regal ass-whupping way back in the 1970s. But following a long and storied life in the ring – which included an infamous feud with comedian Andy Kaufman – Lawler has since settled into a life of color commentary.
7. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Never seen in the ring without his pet python, Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a fearsome competitor throughout the 1980s. Sadly, drug use took its toll on the star during the latter part of his career. But he’s since bounced back through sobriety and has taken his road stories on tour.
Standing a menacing 6’6” tall, Batista left many opponents trembling with fear in the noughties. Indeed, his imposing frame caught the attention of Hollywood and has seen him cast in box office hits like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre. And with a Guardians sequel soon hitting theaters, Dave Bautista’s film career is showing no sign of slowing down.
5. Corey Graves
With his plethora of tattoos and punk-inspired clothing, for a time Corey Graves was one of wrestling’s most rebellious stars. But the wrestler’s reign was cut short by a concussion in 2014, leading Graves into a new career as a WWE announcer where he sports a surprisingly sober image.
4. Razor Ramon
Like fellow brawler Jake Roberts, Scott Hall faced severe problems with drugs and alcohol during his wrestling career. Also known as Razor Ramon, the four-time intercontinental champion in fact nearly knocked himself off the rails with alcoholism. However, after years of rehabilitation, Hall achieved sobriety just before his 2014 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
3. Kevin Nash
As a six-time World Champion, Kevin Nash was due respect every time he stepped into the ring. And like many of his wrestling contemporaries, the star found work in Hollywood after departing from the WWE in 2004. In recent years, he has appeared in films such as John Wick, Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL.
2. Hulk Hogan
He was once one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, but Hulk Hogan has had mixed fortunes in recent years. The wrestler was notoriously fired from the WWE over racist remarks made in a leaked sex tape. Nevertheless, Hogan won the subsequent $115 million legal fight against Gawker, which was found to have infringed his privacy by publishing a video of him having sex with the wife of a friend. And rumors still abound that he will someday return to the WWE.
From ring legend to Hollywood sensation, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has traveled further in his professional career than any other wrestler. Following his 1996 WWE debut, Johnson won ten World Heavyweight Championships before jumping to cinema. He now reigns supreme as Hollywood’s highest-earning actor, appearing in the Fast & Furious, G.I. Joe and DC franchises.