SS: Life After Wrestling
Documentaries typically give one perspective on a story. As we watch these films, there are things we are left to ask ourselves about. As it pertains to wrestling and the life of a professional wrestler, wrestling documentaries often focus on the cruel underbelly of wrestling, and how wrestlers that once made a career achieving greatness are relegated to competing in school gymnasiums or bingo halls for a couple of hundred people. Fans will remember the fictional film ‘The Wrestler,’ that showcased Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of a once popular wrestler who was competing and taking bumps in an attempt to maintain a career that had long since passed him by. In the documentary ‘Beyond The Mat’ we saw what life had become for Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and how addiction to drugs and alcohol left him in no condition to compete, let alone live.
It’s a harsh reality for a number of men and women, but it isn’t the only story either. For every sad story, or death caused by heart failure, there are those that make it through and lead very significant lives after their time in the ring has come to an end. Take, for example, one half of the former WWE tag team the Killer Bees, B Brian Blair. Blair’s career has seen him act as the director of distribution for one company, he is a former owner of a Gold’s Gym, and is currently the President and CEO of the Cauliflower Alley Club. For those unaware, the Cauliflower Alley Club supports wrestlers that have fallen on difficult times.
We often think that a wrestler’s life after their career is over is filled with anger and self doubt, when it could be spent giving back to others and providing them with direction and assistance. Another wrestler that was notable during his time in the ring was WCW wrestler Lodi, who is now known as Brad Cain. After his wrestling days were over, Cain created ‘Your FLEX Appeal,’ which is a private fitness facility that specializes in one-on-one and small group training. It is Your FLEX Appeal’s goal to provide education and motivation to help their clients succeed. Your FLEX Appeal has been in existence for over eleven years and its a testament to Brain Cain’s continued dedication that it has been as successful as it has been. A post wrestling career doesn’t have to be filled with thoughts of suicide or pain.
Another prominent wrestler during his time that took wrestling and parlayed it into something more was former WWE tag team champion, and one half of The World’s Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas. Haas has dabbled in a couple of different ventures, but has currently settled on one thing in particular. He has focused on nutrition, and currently acts as a spine specialist. His current role sees him in the sales department of a company producing spine and cervical medical devices. He had a successful in-ring career, and was a prominent character in not only the WWE, but as part of Ring of Honor as well. It would be easy for someone to feel as though there is nothing left when they’ve achieved their initial career dreams. It isn’t, however, the be-all and end-all when it comes to life. For Charlie Haas, he could have easily settled on living the life he had rather than committing to the life that there was still to be.
We can go even further back to find another prominent WWE wrestler that competed for the company in the 1990s. Chris Chavis was a talented in-ring performer that competed as the native American ‘Tatanka’. While Tatanka does compete periodically, he has made a name for himself not only through Tatanka Enterprises, but also as the President of Funny Bowls Inc. His role in Funny Bowls Inc. is to oversee e-commerce, social media networks, social media marketing campaigns, and business negotiations both internationally and within the US. He is also responsible for sales, marketing, inventory and product fulfillment as well. He has been able to use the Tatanka name, and still maintains his popularity with the wrestling community. His longevity and notoriety is attributed to thinking outside the box and making it a commodity that others will invest their time in.
Wrestling doesn’t have to be the end of the line, especially if you have set yourself up for a post wrestling career. A few months back I had the opportunity to speak with TNA’s Elijah Burke. One of the best things he shared was how Mickie James inspired him to pursue his degree while still wrestling. When there is down time in their schedule there comes a time where the consideration of what they will do next certainly crosses their minds. James finished her degree and in turn Burke was inspired to pursue his.
Pursing a university or college degree may lead to an opportunity during a wrestler’s career. It could be as easy as taking a personal interest or appreciation of a particular thing and turning that into a career once a wrestler’s career is over. One particular activity that seems to have caught the interest of a couple of former wrestlers is assisting others in maintaining a positive and healthy lifestyle. Yoga has continued to grow in popularity among the wrestling community, most importantly among wrestlers looking to prepare themselves for after their career is over. Both Diamond Dallas Page and Trish Stratus have opened and operated Yoga studios or programs that have helped many in need.
In the case of Page, his work with DDPYoga certainly stands out because it was DDPYoga that helped get Jake The Snake Roberts and Scott Hall’s life in order. Before it, their lives were in a darker place, however today both Hall and Roberts have found themselves. For anyone that is unaware, DDPYoga provides cardio, strength and flexibility training, along with incorporating a proper nutrition plan. It is a program that promises to be dedicated to you and ‘turn back the hands of time’. In ten years of operation, Page has made DDPYoga a brand that is synonymous with success. It could have been easy for him to rest on his laurels, but he built a solid foundation for himself and created a company that many have turned to and use. Page is also a motivational speaker who has been able to inspire others to find themselves and look for better options for their life.
indexTrish Stratus has made a career for herself after her wrestling career was over. Stratus opened a Yoga studio in the Greater Toronto, Ontario Area known as Stratusphere Yoga. Her Yoga studio offers clients options between corporate programs, private lessons and sports programs. She also sells a number of merchandise items as part of her studio as well. It has won awards for Best New Business and Business Woman of the Year, along with Best Yoga Studio. Stratus’ career was never just about wrestling, as she had a fitness modeling career prior to getting into the ring. Stratus has also maintained a film and television career. It can easily be said that she looked to be more than just a pretty face. She was determined to create a legacy that will stand out well after her career is over.
A post wrestling career can also include still being involved in the sport and entertainment they loved in a different capacity. For example, former WWF Women’s champion Leilani Kai is actively involved in helping to coordinate bookings for wrestlers on the independent circuit. She also acts a trainer for wrestlers. Kai is involved in BookProWrestlers.com, along with independent wrestler Steve Stasiak. Their roster of talent is a who’s who of people that have competed for either WWE or WCW. Kai provides an income for herself by providing wrestlers with a service. She is giving them with an opportunity to not have to worry about coordinating their own events, and do it on their behalf. She knows that wrestlers are more likely to trust her because she has been where they have been and will think about them.
Career opportunities for professional wrestlers are plentiful once their careers are over. In the case of ‘Leaping’ Lanny Poffo, much like Diamond Dallas Page he has become a motivational speaker and an author of children’s books; he has been doing motivational speaking for over twenty years. Former WCW wrestler Nikita Koloff he has been providing support for people for over seventeen years. As a life coach, Koloff’s role is also to act as a motivational speaker through his ministry. Often times religion will play a part in redirecting a wrestler’s career once it has come to an end.
What if, in a blink of an eye, your career was cut short? What if plans were put in place for you to have had a significant push, but then all that was cut short because of injury, rather than time? For Terry Allen, his promising career in the NWA was cut short because of injury. If the name Terry Allen doesn’t ring a bell, fans may remember him by his wrestling name Magnum T.A. Allen’s classic look and name was inspired by the popular ‘Magnum P.I’ television series starring Tom Selleck. In his six-year career, Allen’s accomplishments were many. But in 1986 he was in a car accident and subsequently retired as a result of the injuries he sustained. Allen worked as a commentator for the NWA, and even as a manager for a time as well. What happened after that? Today he is a Senior Manager at MasTec Network Solutions, making him one of the most knowledgeable in his field as it applies to telecommunications.
A number of former wrestlers pursue a career in entertainment. Obviously their work in front of the camera and ability to create a character prepared them for a field that is not unlike what they have already done. Will this mean all wrestler’s will make the transition well? No, but a life after wrestling is possible. We just need to keep that in mind the next time we will see something that present the point of view that wrestlers can’t cope with their careers ending.
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