When it comes to professional wrestling, it’s hard to think of the entertainers doing anything else. Job listings rarely state “running around in multicolored spandex and beating people up in front of a huge crowd” as a desired skill, so former professional wrestlers must milk their glory years with convention appearances and ill-advised matches, or find another way to earn a living.
Sometimes those alternatives are way beyond what you would expect. Here are some of those wrestlers’ stories.
Mick Foley wasn’t exactly the most PG pro wrestler to come through the circuit. Foley lost teeth, an ear and probably quite a bit of blood as he brought “hardcore wrestling” into the WWE limelight. Fans may know him as Cactus Jack or Dude Love, but Mankind was by far his most popular alter ego. The deranged Mankind choked opponents with a sock and changed his attire from gothic leather to tattered business casual. Alter egos were sometimes around at the same time, giving Mick Foley, as a character, split-personality issues.
So what is the most edgy and violent persona in pro wrestling history doing now? Besides his irregular stand-up comedy appearances, Mick Foley has written four children’s books, none of which involve Mr. Socko. He is also extremely involved in various children’s charities.
Page Joseph Falkenburg Jr. is more known by his ring name, Diamond Dallas Page, and even better by his ring nickname, DDP. In his WCW years, DDP and his Playboy centerfold cohort/ring wife, Kimberly, took on “The Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, along with the rest of NWO. He then signed with WWE during the great buyout.
Besides suing people for using his officially trademarked Diamond Cutter hand gesture (Jay-Z had used the gesture to signify The Illuminati), DDP was recently pedaling a series of yoga videos with himself as the instructor. Most people assume that the Jay-Z settlement surpasses the yoga video sales by a large margin.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura was one of the bigger heels in pro wrestling. Taking on the persona of a Californian bodybuilder that Venice Beach could be proud of, James George Stanos touted the phrase, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat” in his earlier years only to later pose on an anti-steroid poster. It was a moment that really separated the entertainment of wrestling from the reality of the sports. Ventura also went into the WWE Hall of Fame without ever winning a WWE championship.
After retiring from wrestling and appearing in multiple Arnold Schwarzenegger action films, Ventura got involved in politics. He was mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, from 1991-1995, and was governor of the entire state of Minnesota from 1998-2003. Now with plenty of political controversy under his belt, Ventura is seriously considering entering the 2016 presidential elections. Hey, Ronald Reagan did it.
Known more by his nickname, “The Million Dollar Man,” Ted DiBiase was the sort of wrestling personality that fans loved to hate. This was because DiBiase used his money more than his athletic ability to win, a theme that WWE CEO Vince McMahon would undertake himself later. When a wrestler is buying his way into matches, buying easier spots in the Royal Rumble, offering other wrestlers money to take a dive, and even trying to buy championships, he isn’t going to get past the title of “ring villain” very often.
So what does a man who seems to worship money do when he isn’t wrestling? Oddly enough, he is organizing worship as a Christian minister. His congregation is Heart of David Ministry.
Thanks to Ken Shamrock, the bridge between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts was built big enough for Brock Lesnar to cross back and forth. Penned as “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Ken Shamrock forged a legendary career in MMA through his fights in the UFC and Pride, going 28-15-2 professionally in an age when MMA wasn’t quite so popular, or regularly scheduled. After Pay-Per-View UFC bouts were pulled from several cable providers in 1996, Shamrock retired to the WWE, where the fights were not quite so brutal. He succeeded in capturing the Intercontinental Championship, Tag Team Championship and a King of the Ring titles before the UFC became lucrative again. Shamrock eventually returned to his roots in the UFC, unfortunately mostly for bouts with Tito Ortiz.
These days, Ken Shamrock is making his rounds in other, less well-known MMA circuits and is even trying out bare knuckle boxing. His next bout is with Kimbo Slice as part of Bellator’s upcoming ticket. Hopefully Shamrock formally retires before it’s too late.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.