This WWE Giant Was Billed As The World’s Largest Athlete. Now He’s Undergone A Major Transformation

Since the 1990s, Big Show has more than lived up to his stage name. Yes, standing at over seven feet tall and weighing in at over 400 pounds for much of his career, the WWE star has often towered over – and outbulked – most of his opponents. Now, though, the sports legend looks very different from the man who made his Wrestlemania debut all the way back in 1999. And when you see how Big Show has completely transformed himself, your jaw may just drop.

Big Show entered the world in February 1972 as Paul Donald Wight II. And as a child, he had acromegaly – a disorder that is typically a result of the pituitary gland making too much growth hormone. Owing to the condition, then, Wight was much larger in stature as a youngster than other kids his age.

Indeed, Wight measured more than six feet and weighed 220 pounds at the tender age of 12. Seven years later, moreover, he was recorded as being over seven feet tall in his profile for the Wichita State University basketball team. In the early 1990s, though, Wight had a surgical procedure on his pituitary gland, and the effects of his acromegaly slowed down as a consequence.

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Nevertheless, Wight was still gigantic at this point; he not only boasted a 22 5E shoe size and a ring size of 22, but also a chest that measured an incredible 64 inches. Thanks to that imposing physique, then, he was perfectly poised to become a famous wrestler.

Yet Wight’s journey to the ring wasn’t exactly straightforward. And prior to becoming a star, he’d actually been employed in a number of jobs – including bounty hunting and bouncing. It would be a gig answering phones that would unexpectedly give him his big break, however.

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While working as a call handler for a karaoke business, Wight had encountered Danny Bonaduce through a contest on the actor and professional wrestler’s morning radio show. In turn, Bonaduce had introduced Wight to his buddy Hulk Hogan – undoubtedly one of the most famous wrestling stars of all time.

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After that, Wight took part in a basketball game to advertise a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) match that would be taking place at the Rosemont Horizon in Illinois. And during the promo event, Hogan noticed Wight’s rapport with the audience, leading the legend to put the fan’s name forward to WCW vice president Eric Bischoff.

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Wight subsequently met Bischoff at the Rosemont Horizon show and signed a deal with WCW. And this must have been a dream come true for the South Carolinian. You see, Wight had previously expressed his desire to join the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) – the entertainment company that would later become known as WWE.

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Before joining WCW, Wight had only appeared in one professional wrestling match. And his 1994 debut bout in Clementon, New Jersey, hadn’t gone smoothly, either, as he had ultimately been defeated by the World Wrestling Association heavyweight champion Frank Finnegan. But the rookie wouldn’t make a habit of losing in his subsequent career.

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Furthermore, when Wight first entered the WCW, his enormous stature likely captured the imagination of wrestling fans. At seven feet tall and ranging from 383 to 500 pounds in weight, Wight was a monster of a man who possessed the ability to psych out his competitors with his epic size and icy glare.

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Wight was able to intimidate in the ring, too. In his debut WCW match – at which time he was known as “The Giant” – he immediately made a big splash, defeating the mighty Hogan to become the promotion’s world champion. That said, the win was later nullified.

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Yes, Wight was stripped of the title after it emerged that Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart had intentionally gotten his client disqualified. After that, Hart had then jumped ship to The Giant’s team. Yet all was not lost for Wight. During his time with WCW, he went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions.

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Ultimately, Wight decided to leave the WCW in 1999 after a dispute over money. He had reportedly claimed that he’d earned only a portion of the cash given to his co-stars; in addition, his appeal for a pay rise had apparently been declined. So, Wight allowed his contract to expire on February 8, 1999 – which happened to be the day he turned 27.

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Then, the very next day, Wight joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on a ten-year contract. And it was during his time with the promotion that he relaunched himself under the ring name Big Show – and became a wrestling sensation to boot.

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Over the course of his career in the ring, Wight has scooped seven world championship titles as Big Show. Alongside his two WCW heavyweight titles, he has also won the WWF/WWE Championship twice, the WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship two times and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. To date, he’s the only male athlete to have laid claim to all four of those titles, too.

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What’s more, Wight has enjoyed success in wrestling’s tag team division, with a further 11 world champion titles to his name. He has earned the WCW, WWE and WWF World Tag Team Championships on numerous occasions and alongside a variety of partners. But that’s far from all.

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You see, Wight has additionally claimed the Hardcore, the United States and Intercontinental championships. He also stormed to victory in WCW’s World War 3 event in 1996 as well as the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31 in 2015. And thanks to his impressive record, Wight has fronted a number of pay-per-view wrestling events.

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Wight remains a goliath of the sport, too. As of 2019, he was still signed to WWE – 20 years after he first joined the entertainment company. But the icon seemingly hasn’t been content with merely chokeslamming opponents into submission. He’s also enjoyed success outside of the ring as an actor, bringing his huge frame to both the big and small screens.

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Over the years, Wight has starred in a number of films, in fact, including the comedies The Waterboy and Jingle All the Way. Most notably, he has also appeared in the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, Psych, Royal Pains and Burn Notice.

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Yet Wight has managed to carve out some time for a personal life, too, and to date he has been married twice. On Valentine’s Day 1997 he initially tied the knot with Melissa Ann Piavis, with the couple going on to have a daughter together. Wight and Piavis ultimately separated in 2000, however, and finalized their divorce two years later. That left the wrestler free to wed Bess Katramados in 2002, and the pair now have two children of their own.

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Still, after making his name as the Big Show, Wight may have shocked his fans when he debuted an impressive new physique. You see, after being known as the “world’s largest athlete” for the majority of his career, the sports star had decided that the time had come to shed a few pounds – or 70, to be precise.

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And Wight opened up about his weight loss journey in an interview published on the WWE website in 2017. In the article, the star revealed that his transformation was all down to a “conscious” effort on his part to overhaul what he described as “40 years of improper diet and improper training.”

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In the piece, Wight explained, “I wanted to make a change, and I was given the time and opportunity to make a change, so I took advantage of it. I’ve worked a hard schedule for 22 years. Five days a week, 200-plus days a year on the road. With that time off, it was a chance for me to re-evaluate what I want to do with my future.”

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In order to sculpt his new body, then, Wight employed Dodd Romero, who has helped a number of other celebrities and athletes get into shape. And while the wrestler found some of the Miami-based trainer’s methods a little unconventional, ultimately they appeared to work.

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Wight told WWE, “We had a lot of unique opportunities between swimming, biking and weight training. And [Romero] put a lot of challenges in front of me that, at the time – I thought he was out of his damn mind, to tell you the truth. But there wasn’t one challenge he put in front of me that I wasn’t able to accomplish with some dedication and some discipline.”

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Owing to a few existing injuries, Wight was unable to incorporate too much cardio into his new fitness regime, however. To slim down, then, he’d have to do it mostly through dieting – and this naturally meant giving up some of his favorite high-calorie junk foods.

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Consequently, Wight revealed to WWE, “I’ve lost 70 pounds mainly through diet. I’ve done very little cardio because I’m dealing with hip injuries and knee injuries and rehabbing that. If I had to equate it, I’d say 90 percent of losing weight and losing body fat is all what you put in your face.”

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And after shedding that fat, Wight possessed an impressively chiseled torso. Along with pecs of steel, he boasted bulging biceps and a ripped stomach that highlighted his toned abdominals. It didn’t take long for his wrestling buddies to notice his new look, either.

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One of the first people to compliment Wight on his transformation, in fact, was apparently one of his fellow WWE wrestlers. The star revealed, “The biggest reaction so far is from John Cena. [He’s] always been a very committed athlete. [Cena] sets the bar pretty high for every Superstar, and I’m not just kissing his butt because he’s John Cena.”

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Continuing to praise his co-star, Wight added, “Professionally, John Cena has my respect more than anybody I’ve ever been around in the ring and out of the ring. He’s a hell of an individual, and we were joking one day. We were talking about getting in shape and I said, ‘Ah, what the hell is a giant gonna do with abs?’”

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Wight continued, “[Cena] looked at me with a straight face and said, ‘Yeah. A giant with abs. That wouldn’t be marketable at all.’ And he walked off. It was kind of a shot, but [later, he] reached out and congratulated me on the work I’ve done. That meant a lot. To have that respect from him was a big boost.”

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In his conversation with WWE, Wight also said that he had always felt his wrestling buddies had been unwilling to share the secrets of their fitness success. However, following his own weight loss journey, he’d had a change of heart – not least because he now realized how individual the process of training could be.

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Explaining what had worked for him, Wight said, “It took six to seven months of slowly eliminating things, doing research, finding out what I needed to eat [and] what nutritional products I needed, like pre-workouts and amino acids. It was a process for me, because everybody’s different.”

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Wight added, “It’s funny. I used to ask guys who were in shape all the time, like Triple H, ‘What do you do?’ It was hard to get information out of them, and I understand why now. When you take the time and do the research, it’s more about what suits you – not what suits everybody.”

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Wight then had some words of advice for those who may feel inspired to get into shape themselves. He told WWE, “That’s the thing I think people who want to make a serious commitment to changing their life should understand. You have to find out what works for you.”

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The star told others that they needed to practice willpower, too. He revealed, “For me, it’s mental. Completely mental… If you get tired, you’re not gonna want to go to the gym, and you’re gonna have to make yourself go. Even if it’s 200 sit-ups. Or if you only do a couple sets of arms. Make yourself go. You’ll feel better.”

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And given all of the effort that Wight had put in to get into great shape, he had no plans to scrap his new fitness regime. Describing his weekly routine to WWE, the wrestler said, “Right now my schedule’s pretty light, but if I’m home three days, I train every day. If I’m home ten days, I train every day. Right now, mostly, everything I count on is high-rep. Everything from 50 reps, 35 reps, 21 reps.”

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Wight added that he intended to switch to a routine with a smaller amount of reps and heavier weights in the future in order to build more muscle. For the time being, though, his main focus was to shed fat, increase his strength and boost his metabolism. The champion elaborated, “Right now, we’re just trying to burn it up and keep it high-energy so the fat doesn’t have a chance to stick and grow.”

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What’s more, while Wight now had every intention of staying in shape in the future, he nonetheless admitted that he had given up on his weight loss efforts in the past. This time, however, things were different, as he didn’t see his transformation as the result of a diet. Instead, he believed that he’d succeeded because of a complete lifestyle overhaul.

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Indeed, Wight told the folks at WWE, “For me, the days of slammin’ ice cream and enjoying pizza and meatball subs are gone. I just have to choose. Do I want to be healthier, live longer and look better, or do I want to enjoy really good food all the time?”

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Big Show has some pretty sound advice for turning your life around, but a health overhaul isn’t the only fix for burnt-out WWE superstars. The bad news for wrestling fans the world over, though, is that these 40 strong men and women simply couldn’t hack another round in the ring. And it seems that no amount of fitness coaching could have stopped them from tapping out for good.

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The likes of The Rock, John Cena and Dave Bautista may have all moved into Hollywood after their professional wrestling careers ended. But some of their peers simply returned to normality once they quit the theater of the ring. So here’s a look at 40 WWE stars who now make a living doing much more ordinary jobs.

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40. Spike Dudley

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“Little” Spike Dudley was certainly the trippiest wrestler ever to grace the ring. The man born Matthew Hyson would pretend as though he was on LSD whenever he competed. But since leaving the WWE back in the mid-‘00s, the star has acted a little more responsibly. As well as continuing to perform on the independent wrestling circuit, Hyson has also worked as a specialist in the field of financial transitions.

39. Maven

Maven once admitted that his time in the WWE had left him with various health issues such as severe middle and lower back pain. Despite his ailments, the star continued to work in a job that required him to use his muscles after hanging up his wrestling boots. And in order to make ends meet, Maven served as a nightclub bouncer.

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38. Marc Mero

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Marc Mero found WWE fame in the mid-‘90s when he was crowned the Intercontinental Champion. Sadly, the wrestler was forced to quit the organization due to injury within a few years of his victory. After retiring altogether from the sport in 2006, Mero reinvented himself as a motivational speaker. Drawing upon his own experiences of addiction, he tours community colleges and schools to warn youngsters about the problems of substance abuse.

37. Molly Holly

Molly Holly once rivaled Lita and Trish Stratus as the WWE’s leading lady, but she decided to quit the organization in 2005 after slipping down the pack. Holly continued to perform on the independent wrestling scene before changing career completely. She worked with the one-year substance abuse rehab program known as the Minnesota Teen Challenge and has also helped give back further by helping kids with special needs.

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36. Kamala

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With his warpaint, African mask and loincloth – not to mention shield and spear – Kamala was one of the most formidable-looking wrestlers of the 1980s. Sadly the man born James Harris paid a heavy price for his entertaining antics. The star refused to undergo dialysis treatment for his diabetes in order to continue with his wrestling career. Subsequently, he later had to have both of his legs amputated. To top up his disability check, Harris later began selling wooden handmade chairs.

35. Chris Nowinski

Chris Nowinski was forced to quit the WWE having experienced a number of concussions. And he’s since made it his mission to prevent other sportsmen from suffering the same fate. Nowinski founded the Concussion Legacy Foundation – an organization which uses treatment, research and education to help solve a problem that has plagued the sporting world.

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34. Harvey Wippleman

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Harvey Wippleman managed the likes of Giant Gonzalez, Bertha Faye and Sid Justice during his colorful wrestling career. But he also occasionally stepped inside the ring himself – most notably becoming the only male winner of the WWF Women’s Championship in 2001. Wippleman – aka Bruno Lauer – remains within the sport; but instead of taking the limelight, he now works backstage as a concierge.

33. AJ Lee

AJ Lee – or April Jeanette Mendez – was crowned Divas Champion on three separate occasions during her triumphant WWE stint. Following her retirement from the ring, the star revealed all about her experiences in a memoir titled Crazy Is My Superpower. And she’s continued to pursue a career in writing by working with Aimee Garcia on a comic book spin-off from Netflix’s wrestling dramedy GLOW.

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32. Bart Gunn

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A man of many names, Michael Polchlopek competed in the ring as Bart Gunn and Bodacious Bart as well as one-half of tag team The Smoking Gunns. The star had previously worked as an electrician before joining the WWF. And after retiring from the organization, the WWE said that Polchlopek decided to return to the exact same pre-wrestling job.

31. Val Venis

Val Venis was the innuendo-obsessed ripped wrestler who apparently spent his downtime shooting porn. The man behind such a risque persona – Sean Allen Morley – went on to focus on another very adult pursuit after leaving the ring. The ex-wrestler has since become a fervent advocate of the pro-legalization of marijuana movement and also has his own pot dispensary in Arizona.

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30. Muhammad Hassan

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Mark Copani gave up his degree studies in 2002 to pursue a career as wrestler Muhammad Hassan. But after being controversially booted out of the WWE in 2005 he decided to go back to SUNY Buffalo to finish his education. Copani later worked as a teacher of social studies before landing the role of principal at Fulton Junior High School in New York.

29. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. followed in the footsteps of his wrestling father Salvador when he joined the WWE in the early ‘00s. And the Texan native has continued to extend his family’s legacy since leaving the ring. Guerrero Jr. has not only appeared as El Mayordomo in Netflix hit GLOW but he’s also helped to train many of its actresses how to pull off their wrestling personas convincingly.

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28. Kane

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Glenn Thomas Jacobs couldn’t be further removed from the devilish Kane persona he created for the world of WWE. During his long-running stint in the organization, he also built up an insurance agency with his wife in Knoxville. And after emerging victorious in both the Republican primary and general election of 2018, Jacobs was named as the Mayor of Knox County.

27. Skinner

Steve Keirn shot to WWF fame in the early 1990s as the tobacco-chewing alligator hunter Skinner. He’s since helped a whole host of other wrestlers to build a career in the sport as the founder of the Professional Wrestling School of Hard Knocks. Furthermore, Diamond Dallas Page, Dennis Knight and Mike Awesome are just a few of the stars who have benefited from Keirn’s expertise.

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26. Trish Stratus

Patricia Anne Stratigeas has pursued various careers since semi-retiring from her role as Trish Stratus in the mid-‘00s. But one of her biggest successes has been as the owner of an eco-friendly yoga studio hailed as the largest in all of Canada. Stratigeas opened up Stratusphere in Toronto in 2008 and it has since picked up a whole host of coveted business awards.

25. John Nord

Would you buy a car from a man who once named himself The Berzerker? John Nord also competed under the equally fearsome moniker of Nord the Barbarian during his long-running wrestling career. After quitting the ring, the former WCW star took a job at an auto dealership run by his brother in their home state of Minnesota.

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24. Brutus Beefcake

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WWE Hall of Fame inductee Brutus Beefcake may have been nicknamed The Barber, but the wrestler born Edward Harrison Leslie didn’t turn to cutting people’s hair after retiring from the ring. Instead, the ex-WWF World Tag Team Champion took a position with the public transit system to make a living.

23. George Gray

George Gray hasn’t had the best of luck since retiring from the crazy world of wrestling. The man known as One Man Gang lost his entire house to the floods that devastated Louisiana in 2016. And he was forced to retire from his post-wrestling role as a prison guard due to major back problems.

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22. Glacier

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Raymond M. Lloyd has admirably focused on giving something back since quitting the sport that launched him to fame. The man best known as masked wrestler Glacier has used his fame to help promote various charitable organizations engaged in the fight against cancer. But to put food on his own table, Lloyd has also taken a full-time role at a Florida marketing company.

21. Tugboat

One half of tag team The Natural Disasters, Fred Ottman competed as a wrestler under the guises of Typhoon and Tugboat. Since leaving the ring, Hulk Hogan’s old ally has served as the safety manager in the Florida city of Lakeland. Ottman also kept one foot in the sporting world – coaching both of his two sons’ Little League teams.

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20. Gene Snitsky

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Gene Snitsky famously once kicked a baby doll out of the ring while taunting fellow wrestler Lita. Let’s hope, then, that the former WWE star takes better care of the people he’s hired to bodyguard. Yes, Snitsky has put his muscles to good use since exiting the sport by protecting the likes of New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez.

19. Tonga Fifita

You’d have gone out of your way to avoid Tonga Fifita during his stints in the WCW and WWF. But since leaving the sport, he has become a much more approachable character. He’s had to be, in fact, as Fitita has since gone on to work as a manager at a Toyota garage in Florida.

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18. Diamond Dallas Page

Diamond Dallas Page may have left the world of wrestling, but his current day job is still very much a physical one. The one-time WCW champ teaches his very own yoga program – with some of his students including wrestlers both past and present. Page’s brand of yoga reportedly helps to improve joint flexibility and aid weight reduction.

17. Ivory

Former WWE women’s title holder Ivory was used to dealing with animals in the ring. And as a result, a canine-inspired career change following her wrestling retirement wasn’t too much of a stretch. The star opened an animal grooming and dog-sitting operation following her departure from the sport in 2007, and she’s also since expanded to a bus service that takes her furry clients on days out.

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16. Beulah McGillicutty

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Beulah McGillicutty got both male wrestlers and ECW fans’ pulses racing thanks to the racy outfits she wore while portraying Tommy Dreamer’s valet. However, since getting hitched and giving birth to twin daughters, she’s adopted a more toned-down image. McGillcutty is now a published author as well – having written a kids’ book.

15. Ted DiBiase

Best known as The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase has swapped revering cold hard cash for worshipping God in one of wrestling’s most surprising career reinventions. After leaving WCW in 1999, the star took on the new role of Christian minister by forming his own Heart of David Ministry.

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14. Scotty 2 Hotty

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Scotty 2 Hotty – or Scott Taylor – enjoyed 24 years in the wrestling world before finally retiring in 2013. Since then he’s pursued a number of jobs, including those of an EMT, a firefighter and a realtor. In 2016 he returned to the sport that made him famous, however, when Orlando’s WWE Performance Center appointed him as a coach.

13. Rick Steiner

And Scotty 2 Hotty isn’t the only ex-wrestler to try selling houses after leaving the sport. Having obtained his real estate license, Rick Steiner set up his very own eponymous realtor company in Georgia. The one-time WWF and WCW tag-team title holder also assisted in the opening of his sibling Scott’s Shoney’s restaurant.

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12. Mideon

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Dennis Knight competed in the WCW and WWF under various guises – including Mideon and Phineas I. Godwinn. But the man of many names has moved from dishing out moves in the ring to serving food since retiring. You see, after refining his skills at Cafe Ponte in Florida, the star founded a catering firm.

11. Steve Blackman

Steve Blackman briefly enjoyed stints as an MMA equipment salesman and martial arts tutor after hanging up his wrestling boots. However, he appears to have found his calling in the bail bondsman business. And you certainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of a guy with no fewer than half a dozen WWF Hardcore Championships to his name.

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10. Rico

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Before finding fame as a WWE wrestler, Rico had spent time with the Las Vegas SWAT team and in military training. So it’s perhaps unsurprising to find out that the star has followed another colorful career path since leaving the ring. Rico has since worked as an officer with the U.S. Marshals.

9. Vickie Guerrero

Vickie Guerrero still makes the occasional WWE cameo – there was her 2018 appearance at the Royal Rumble, for example. But the ex-Smackdown GM now spends most of her time working in a considerably quieter environment. That’s because, after saying goodbye to the wrestling world, Guerrero took a job as a medical administrator.

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8. Jimmy Wang

Jimmy Wang initially tried exterminating bugs for a living after quitting the WWE. But after finding that the profession wasn’t to his liking, the ex-wrestler decided to pursue something a little more fun. Interestingly, Wang set up his own redneck-themed party bus – on which he once took RAW stars TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese out to paint the town red.

7. Eve Torres

And Wang isn’t the only WWE star who’s now making a living ensuring that people have fun, as Eve Torres is now an accomplished party events coordinator. The 2007 Diva Search winner turned to the profession after leaving the wrestling world behind six years later.

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6. Paul Burchill

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Paul Burchill has enjoyed three very different careers over the years. He first worked in his U.K. homeland as a teacher before relocating to the States – where he enjoyed a spell in the WWE. Then, after leaving the franchise in 2010, he changed direction once again by becoming a firefighter.

5. Trevor Murdoch

Trevor Murdoch first caught people’s attention as a member of TNA and ECW tag team The Dupps before reinventing himself as a hick trucker with attitude in the WWE. The man born William Mueller also opened a restaurant while still competing in the sport. After retiring completely in 2017, however, he landed a fiber optics installation job with a firm specializing in heavy equipment.

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4. Shawn Stasiak

As the child of WWF champion Stan “The Man” Stasiak, Shawn Stasiak was perhaps always destined to compete in the wrestling ring. But after becoming disenchanted with his comic persona, he decided to opt for a more serious profession: Stasiak is now reportedly one of the finest chiropractors in America.

3. Simon Dean

Simon Dean enjoyed stints as part of the ECW’s Blue World Order and as the WWE’s conceited fitness guru. But since those days, Dean has become more concerned with getting people into financial rather than physical shape through his role as manager of a branch of the Woodforest National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky.

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2. Sean O’Haire

Sean O’Haire is responsible for one of the wrestling world’s most unlikely career transitions. You see, after being let go from the WWF in 2004, the star reinvented himself as a hairdresser. Sadly, though, O’Haire committed suicide ten years later.

1. Barry Buchanan

With his 275-pound, 6’6” frame, Barry Buchanan was one of the wrestling world’s most imposing figures back in the late 1990s. Since leaving WWE, however, the star has worked in the field of law enforcement, and he now serves Georgia’s Carroll County as an investigator.

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