Jesse Ventura Is One Of Hollywood’s Tough Guys, But His Military Service Raised A Lot Of Questions

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Professional wrestler, media personality, Governor of Minnesota: Jesse “The Body” Ventura undoubtedly has many strings to his bow. But before he conquered the WWF and the world of politics, the multi-skilled star spent six years serving in the U.S. military. Though in what capacity has since become a source of much debate. And unfortunately for Ventura, the rumors around his time with the armed forces have refused to go away. Now, however, the truth has finally been exposed.

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So how did these rumors get started? Well, Ventura was a vital part of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) for many years. Not only did he compete in the ring, but he also commentated on the action, too. And he then put his performance skills to good use on the big screen – showing up alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in both The Running Man and Predator in 1987.

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In the early 1990s, though, Ventura made a surprise detour into politics when he became Brooklyn Park’s Mayor. The former wrestler went on to serve as the 38th Governor of Minnesota – the first-ever Reform Party candidate to land a major position in the government. And today, Ventura reportedly even has ambitions of becoming U.S. president.

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But long before Ventura set his sights on the White House, he experienced life in the military. Yes, for almost six years from December 1969, the man nicknamed “The Body” served in the Vietnam War. Yet some have disputed his claims that he rose to the rank of Navy SEAL. And it takes a closer look at the star’s career and his veteran life to finally separate fact from fiction.

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Jesse Ventura was born James George Janos in Minneapolis in 1951 to parents of Slovakian and German descent. He began wrestling in the mid-1970s. The star also used his strength as a bodyguard for The Rolling Stones. But Ventura soon became a celebrity himself when he adopted the brand new persona of a bleached blond bully.

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Yes, Ventura certainly didn’t mind playing dirty. His catchphrase became, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.” And wrestling fans lapped it up as he performed across the Central States and Pacific Northwest territories. Ventura twice won the title during his stint in the latter – before moving back home to compete in the American Wrestling Association.

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In Minnesota, Ventura joined forces with Adrian Adonis, and the pair went on to hold the World Tag Team Championship Title for almost 12 months. Both parties then became contenders for the singles title when they transferred to the WWF. In fact, Ventura came agonizingly close to being crowned champion during bouts against Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan.

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But Ventura’s wrestling career was derailed in 1984 when doctors discovered several blood clots in his lungs. He did return to action a year later, however, as the tag-team partner of Randy Savage. And Ventura also participated in a memorable six-man bout involving a wedding ceremony on Saturday Night’s Main Event IV. But he was never the same and shortly after, he moved from the ring to the commentary box.

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Ventura proved to be just as popular with viewers talking about wrestling, too. Unlike most commentators, “The Body” typically favored the villains of the piece. So his entertaining, contrasting style saw him become a regular co-host of WrestleMania and Saturday Night’s Main Event. Ventura also returned to the ring to guest referee during the inaugural SummerSlam.

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In 1992 Ventura left the WWF for the WCW – but was fired two years later after reportedly falling asleep on the job. Nevertheless, The Body returned to his old stomping ground in 1999 as a guest referee and then a color commentator. But by this point, Jesse Ventura had achieved success in a very different field.

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In 1990, you see, Ventura launched a successful mayoral campaign in the Minnesota city of Brooklyn Park. He held the position for four years, too, before switching his attention to further up the political ladder. Indeed, in 1998 Ventura decided to run for Governor of Minnesota as a Reform Party nominee.

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Ventura then built up a loyal following, thanks to a grassroots campaign that eschewed the political norms. In his unconventional adverts, for instance, the star implored Minnesota residents not to “vote for politics as usual.” And much to the dismay of his Republican and Democratic rivals, these unorthodox tactics struck a chord with the public.

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So, despite spending significantly less cash on his campaign than his opponents, Ventura was announced as the new Governor in November 1998. And in his passionate victory speech, the ex-wrestler declared, “We shocked the world.” But his election success didn’t go down too well with much of the press.

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Ventura was often criticized for his lack of preparation when it came to debates, for instance. The star, who labeled his politics as both “socially liberal” and “fiscally conservative” often admitted that he had no opinion on policy questions. In 2002, then, Ventura revealed that due to the alleged constant media vilification, he’d decided against running for another term.

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However, Ventura still managed to make significant changes before vacating his position in 2003. He played a major part in the state’s property tax reforms, for example, and the introduction of the sales tax rebate. The former WWF star also oversaw initiatives such as the METRO Blue Line light rail construction in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

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Then, after leaving office, the star landed his own short-lived MSNBC show titled Jesse Ventura’s America. And despite that series’ lack of success, TNT handed the star another vehicle in 2009: Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. The former Governor would also go on to host Ora TV’s Off the Grid and RT America’s The World According to Jesse.

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Of course, Ventura had already had plenty of experience in front of the cameras. As his WWF career began to wind down, in fact, the wrestler had decided to pursue his acting ambitions in Hollywood. As we mentioned earlier, he twice shared the screen in 1987 with another sportsman-turned-Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger – firstly in Predator and then in The Running Man.

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Ventura also enjoyed leading man status in the 1990 sci-fi movie Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. He added to his filmography with supporting turns in Demolition Man, Ricochet and the much-maligned Batman and Robin, too. Ventura then played himself in Repossessed, The Master of Disguise and Major League II.

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And Ventura’s talents don’t end at acting, either. He’s also published several books, including 2008’s Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me, in which he theorizes what would happen if he ran for President. Then, in 2012, he called for the abolition of political parties in DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government. While four years later he wrote a manifesto advocating the benefits of legalizing cannabis.

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Ventura has been supported throughout all of his endeavors by his wife, Terry. They married just three days after the wrestler turned 24 in 1975 and have two kids together: TV and film director Tyrel and a daughter named Jade. The star has worked with the former on several occasions – most notably on his Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura show.

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So few can dispute that Ventura is a man of many talents. However, some have accused him of embellishing at least one major entry on his resume. In 2014, you see, San Diego attorney Bill Salisbury claimed that the former WWF wrestler had lied about being a Navy SEAL before he rose to national fame.

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So what is the truth? Well, Ventura first joined the U.S. Navy and was deployed in the Vietnam War in 1969. The star spent then six years with the military – although he never saw combat. Ventura followed in the footsteps of his older sibling, Jan, who had signed up to the Navy SEALS a few years previously.

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Unsurprisingly, Ventura referenced his experiences in the military during his political career on many occasions. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001, “Until you have hunted men, you haven’t hunted yet.” And his comment drew criticism from both conservationists and hunters alike.

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However, Ventura has often kept the specifics to a minimum. In the same interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Mike Kaszuba and Pat Doyle, the star declared, “What I did there is between me and the man upstairs.” Yet Mike Gotchey, an old comrade, has stated that due to the timing of their military stint, their unit saw barely any action at all.

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In fact, according to an unnamed insider, Ventura had been far more interested in partying than serving his country. The star apparently enjoyed the odd tipple or two at many of the 350 drinking establishments situated near his Navy base at the Philippines’ Subic Bay. And he also reportedly had his fair share of luck with the women.

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An ex-Navy SEAL officer himself, Salisbury argued that Ventura had served with the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) as a frogman. This, Salisbury argued, was a position that meant Ventura didn’t see as much combat as he would have done as a Navy SEAL. And Salisbury believed he had plenty of evidence to back up his theory.

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Salisbury wrote, “[Ventura] took a screening test at boot camp to qualify for… Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training… Those who completed BUD/S, when [Ventura] was in training, were sent to either a SEAL or an underwater demolition team. Graduation did not, however, authorize the trainee to call himself a SEAL or a UDT frogman. He had to first successfully complete a six-month probationary period in the Teams.”

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Ventura was, in fact, assigned to a UDT team after undergoing BUD/S training. However, he was reportedly never given the necessary classification – nor did he undertake the relevant probationary period of six months – to be called a SEAL. Yet changes in the military system mean that Ventura might not have been exaggerating his position after all.

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Almost a decade after Ventura left the U.S. military, you see, the Underwater Demolition Teams were broken up. Those individuals affected were then given the option to undergo new training and take on new tasks under the guise of SEALs. And Ventura has used this significant restructuring as a form of defense against his detractors.

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A spokesman for Ventura responded to the claims that the then-Governor had been economical with the truth about his military life. They confirmed that the former wrestler had been a vital part of the UDT and argued that he’d never attempted to fool the public into thinking anything else.

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“Much ado about nothing.” That’s how Ventura himself described all the speculation around his military service in an interview with Minneapolis radio station WCCO in 1999. He went on to defend himself further by arguing, “Today we refer to all of us as SEALS. That’s all it is.” Luckily, the ex-WWF villain had plenty of others willing to fight in his corner.

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Brandon Webb, the editor of the SOFREP.com website and an ex-Navy SEAL to boot, was among the star’s most fervent supporters. Webb wrote in 2014, “I’ve heard the speculation and gossip about Jesse Ventura’s Navy SEAL status and wanted to set the record straight. Jesse Ventura graduated with Basic Underwater Demolition Class 58 and, like it or not, he earned his status.”

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Webb went on to argue that Ventura had every right to call himself a SEAL. He said, “The UDTs and SEALs are essentially one and the same. It’s why the UDT is still part of the training acronym BUD/S. [Ventura] did the pushups and put up with the cold water, just like the rest of us.”

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But whatever role he took on during the Vietnam War, Ventura claims that he would think very differently about signing up as a youth today. In 2017 he told Task and Purpose, “I will say this, and it hurts to say it. I think there’s a possibility that I wouldn’t serve in the military again, knowing what I know today. Since World War II, every war our country has fought in hasn’t achieved a thing.”

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Ventura’s anti-war sentiments have landed him in trouble on several occasions, too. None more so than in 2006 when he allegedly claimed, at a wake for fallen Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor, that the U.S. military “deserved to lose a few guys.” A nearby Chris Kyle, according to his best-selling book American Sniper, then punched Ventura for his show of disrespect.

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However, Ventura vehemently denied that an altercation with Kyle had ever taken place. He wrote on Facebook in 2012, “I have always opposed the war in Iraq, but I have never spoken or wished any ill will towards the soldiers. My heart aches that soldiers have died or been wounded because this war should never have taken place. I am perplexed over the agenda this man has and why a fellow Navy SEAL would tell a lie about an event that never happened.”

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When Kyle failed to retract his allegations, though, Ventura filed a lawsuit for defamation. Close friend and ex-SEAL Bill DeWitt and his wife supported the wrestler in his efforts, too. However, no fewer than five different former SEALS, as well as the moms of two others, backed Kyle up. Yet before the case went to court, tragedy struck.

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In 2013 an ex-marine suffering from PTSD killed Kyle at a shooting range. But the jury trial still went ahead, with Kyle’s wife, estate executor Taya, standing in as the defendant. And after deliberations lasting six days, Ventura was awarded a whopping $1.8 million for unjust enrichment and defamation.

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Yet the story didn’t end there. Over the next few years, Tara Kyle lodged several unsuccessful appeals in an attempt to overturn the verdict. Ventura also sued Harper Collins, claiming that the publishers of American Sniper had hugely benefited from the media attention surrounding the case. He eventually accepted a settlement in 2017.

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So what’s next for Ventura? Well, there’s still an outside shot that he could run for President in the 2020 elections as a member of the Green Party. And he fancies his chances, too. Ventura told TMZ Sports in 2018, “For one, Trump knows wrestling. He participated in two WrestleManias. He knows he can never out-talk a wrestler, and he knows I’m the greatest talker wrestling’s ever had.”

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And have you ever wondered what happened to your favorite wrestlers once they left the world of atomic drops, full nelsons and jawbreakers behind? Well, wonder no more. Featuring beloved household names and cult heroes, this list reveals what 39 other stars from the WWE, WCW and ECW got up to once they exited the ring for good.

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39. The Great Khali

The man born Dalip Singh Rana – a.k.a. The Great Khali – achieved a major WWE feat in 2007 when he was crowned the federation’s first world champion to hail from India. Yet the former state police officer left the WWE in 2015 to found his own wrestling school in his Punjab hometown. But the lure of professional wrestling’s biggest stage proved to be too much, and in 2017 The Great Khali made a WWE comeback at pay-per-view event Battleground.

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38. Triple H

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A man of many names, Triple H dominated WWE’s “Attitude” era as a solo wrestler and a member of supergroup D-Generation X. And the one-time heavyweight champion has been just as pivotal to the WWE since he hung up his wrestling boots. In fact, Triple H now serves as the executive vice president of talent, live events and creative for the organization. The man otherwise known as Paul Michael Levesque also set up the WWE Performance Center, which now serves as a talent-nurturing platform for wannabe pro wrestlers.

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37. Jake the Snake

Jake Roberts struck fear into the hearts of his fellow wrestlers and audiences alike – thanks to his penchant for entering the ring with snakes. But sadly, seemingly like many of his peers, the star also battled with substance abuse issues. And his attempt to get clean was later documented in the 2015 movie The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.

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36. Mick Foley

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Mick Foley was a master of the tag-team championships. In fact, the star won no less than 11 during his illustrious career across various wrestling organizations. And the man previously known as Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mankind has since proved that he has brains to go with his brawn. After all, Foley’s penned several bestselling autobiographies and has acted in films including Dixieland, Anamorph and Big Money Hustlas. He also made a WWE comeback in 2018.

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35. Shawn Michaels

One of the most charismatic wrestlers of his generation, Shawn Michaels shot to fame in the WWE as a member of The Rockers tag team before achieving considerable solo success. And following his 2011 “retirement,” The Heartbreak Kid served as a commentator, referee and WWE ambassador. He also showcased his passion for the outdoors as the star of TV series Shawn Michaels’ MacMillan River Adventures. But then in late 2018, Michaels actually returned to the WWE for more in-ring action.

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34. The Honky Tonk Man

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The Honky Tonk Man is best known to WWE fans for his impressions of The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. But in the ring, Honky Tonk was more than just a novelty performer. In fact, he once spent a year and a quarter as the WWE Intercontinental Champion. And the man born Wayne Farris continued to wrestle on the independent circuit even after parting company with the big boys. Then, in 2019, The Honky Tonk Man was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

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33. Goldberg

Known by his surname, Bill Goldberg became one of the biggest WCW stars of the 1990s – winning the Triple Crown in the process. And like many wrestlers, the Oklahoma native has also forged a successful TV and film career outside of the ring. He’s hosted DIY Network series Garage Mahal, for instance, and acted in prime-time shows The Goldbergs, The Flash and NCIS: Los Angeles.

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32. Booker T

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Renowned for his “Can you dig it, Sucka” catchphrase, Booker T rose to fame in the 1990s in tag-team duo the Harlem Heat before becoming the first ever African-American WCW title winner. And the pioneering wrestler has remained within the field in-between various comebacks too. He’s served as a commentator on SmackDown, for example, and as a general manager for the same show. Booker T also now offers words of wisdom as a pay-per-view event panelist.

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31. Bret Hart

Bret “The Hitman” Hart is generally described as Canada’s biggest ever wrestling export. After all, Hart managed a highly impressive 32 different titles during his five decades in the ring. And since retiring, the icon has appeared in numerous documentaries about the sport and even created his own podcast. The Hitman’s also worked tirelessly for several cancer awareness and stroke recovery charities having personally suffered from both illnesses.

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30. Kevin Nash

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Kevin Nash enjoyed success in the WWE as Diesel before forming supergroup NWO when he moved to the WCW. He also followed in his tag-team partner Hulk Hogan’s footsteps by gracing the big screen. In fact, Nash played the villainous Super Shredder in 1991’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. And the former wrestler has also appeared alongside Channing Tatum in Magic Mike and its hit sequel, Magic Mike XXL.

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29. Batista

Multi-talented Dave Bautista had already established himself as a martial-arts maestro by the time he made his WCW debut in 2002. And the four-time WWE World Heavyweight champion has continued to display his versatility since leaving the ring. Not only did he briefly embark upon an MMA career, but he also starred in several Hollywood smash hits. These include Riddick, Blade Runner 2049 and, most notably, the Guardians of the Galaxy films in which he plays Drax the Destroyer.

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28. Kane

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Glenn Jacobs, a.k.a. masked man Kane, made an instant impression in the mid-1990s with a memorable appearance at the Hell in a Cell match at Bad Blood. Yet the Undertaker’s half-brother has made quite the career change since leaving the sport in 2016. You see, in 2018 the Republican was crowned the mayor of Knox County in Tennessee.

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27. Edge

Adam Joseph Copeland enjoyed almost 20 years in the WWE ring under the moniker of Edge – winning no less than 31 championships in the process. And Copeland has since embraced his love of acting with roles in superhero adventure The Flash and historical drama Vikings. Both he and wife Beth Phoenix have also achieved a milestone as the first spouses ever to have each received inductions into the WWE Hall of Fame.

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26. Steve Austin

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An instrumental figure in the Attitude era, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is regarded by industry boss Vince McMahon as the sport’s biggest star. WWE World Heavyweight Champion on six occasions, the catchphrase-heavy wrestler has since unsurprisingly parlayed his tough-guy reputation into a thriving acting career. His most high-profile role has so far been as Eric Roberts’ sidekick, Dan Paine, in The Expendables franchise.

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25. Hulk Hogan

Possibly the most famous wrestler of all time, Hulk Hogan established himself as a legend thanks to his various WrestleMania bouts with Andre the Giant. Of course, younger audiences may now be more familiar with his reality TV work. The Hulkster appeared with his wife and two kids in the fly-on-the-wall series Hogan Knows Best, after all. And more recently, he’s voiced characters in the likes of American Dad! and Robot Chicken.

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24. Sgt. Slaughter

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Having previously been an All-American hero, Sgt. Slaughter later became public enemy number one. That’s because the wrestler turned on Hulk Hogan to win the WWE Championship in the early 1990s. Since retiring from the ring, though, the man whose real name is Robert Rudolph Remus has stayed within the sport. In fact, Remus engages in charity work as an ambassador for the WWE – helping out with the likes of the Special Olympics and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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23. The Rock

Undoubtedly the biggest wrestling star of the 21st century, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson won 17 different titles during his illustrious WWE career. But he’s now far more renowned as a bona fide Hollywood action star. After impressing in 2002’s The Scorpion King, in fact, the People’s Champion has enjoyed huge success in The Fast and the Furious films and the Jumanji reboot. He’s also twice appeared on Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list.

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22. Scott Hall

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Also known as Razor Ramon, Scott Hall is perhaps best remembered for his time in WWE supergroup NWO alongside Hulk Hogan. But the star actually won the WWE Intercontinental Championship four times and lifted the WCW Heavyweight Championship, too. Hall later battled a substance abuse addiction in the 1990s but, like Jake the Snake, has found help from fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.

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21. Tito Santana

One of the few wrestlers never to move over to the dark side, Tito Santana was among the most popular wrestlers of the 1980s. Yet the WWE icon, known as El Matador, has swapped the ring for the classroom since hanging up his wrestling boots. Yes, the winner of the very first WrestleMania bout now spends his time teaching Spanish to disadvantaged students at Eisenhower Middle School in New Jersey.

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20. Kurt Angle

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Four-time WWE Champion – and Olympic gold medal winner – Kurt Angle was once described by John Cena as the “most gifted all-around performer we have ever had step into a ring.” Yet the wrestler has since tried and sadly failed to transition to other physical sports, including Greco-Roman Wrestling and MMA. But Angle’s had more luck as an actor – appearing in the likes of Pain and Gain and The Last Witch Hunter.

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19. Mr. Ass

As his name suggests, Mr. Ass wasn’t exactly one of the most likable wrestlers of the 1990s. But the character we all loved to hate still enjoyed a lengthy career in the WWE. And since quitting the professional game, the man whose real name is Billy Gunn has opened up his own wrestling school. Then in 2019 he was appointed as a producer of All Elite Wrestling.

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18. Mark Henry

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You certainly wouldn’t want to mess with Mark Henry. In addition to his time in the WWE, you see, the Texan has also competed as an Olympic weightlifter and U.S. powerlifter. And in 2008 he was crowned the second strongest man ever by Flex magazine. After retiring as a wrestler, then, Henry took on a behind-the-scenes role mentoring various emerging talent.

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17. Virgil

Virgil shot to fame as Ted DiBiase’s right-hand man before going rogue and beating his former boss to the Million Dollar Championship. But after several years of taking the spotlight for himself, the wrestler was let go by the WWE in 1994. Since then the man named Mike Jones has become renowned for causing trouble on social media. He was also the subject of 2015 feature-length documentary The Legend of Virgil & His Traveling Merchandise Table.

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16. Jim Duggan

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With his American flag, two-by-four and grizzly beard, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was one of the most rugged characters ever to grace the wrestling ring. The man renowned for shouting “Hoooo” appeared in the WWE and WCW throughout the 1990s and has twice returned to the WWE in the 21st century. After retiring, though, Duggan serves as an ambassador for Jeff Jarrett’s promotion, Global Force Wrestling. He has his own podcast, too, and in 2017 launched a miniseries of comic books based on his life.

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15. Greg Valentine

Greg “The Hammer” Valentine first achieved WWE success in the 1980s as a blonde-haired solo performer. Then later he reinvented himself as The Honky Tonk Man’s jet black-haired tag-team partner. Now, the one-time Intercontinental Champion occasionally joins fellow golden-age wrestler Ted DiBiase for various college and high school talks. And in 2008 he appeared alongside George “The Animal” Steele in short film Somethin Fishy.

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14. Scotty 2 Hotty

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Renowned for performing “The Worm” in the ring, Scotty 2 Hotty is one of several wrestlers who took an everyday job after leaving the ring. Indeed, in the 2010s the man born Scott Garland qualified as both a firefighter and an EMT. The star couldn’t stay away from the WWE too long, however. That’s because in 2016 he landed a trainer role at the organization’s Performance Center.

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13. Hillbilly Jim

Hillbilly Jim didn’t win any major championships. Yet thanks to his alliances with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, feuds with King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd and various family dramas, Jim was still one of the most entertaining wrestlers of the 1980s. The man born James Morris has since enjoyed success as a SiriusXM Radio show host too. And in 2016 he reflected on his time in the ring when he published his memoir.

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12. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

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Many consider Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat to be one of the finest ever wrestlers without a WWE championship title to their name. And the 1980s legend continues to be a major influence on the contemporary scene. Steamboat serves as an ambassador for the organization, you see. And he was also instrumental in the development of his wrestler son, Richie Steamboat.

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11. The Godfather

Charles Wright became one of the WWE’s most colorful figures during the Attitude era thanks to his pimp alter-ego, The Godfather. And the former Intercontinental Champion’s post-wrestling career isn’t too far removed from his previous persona. After his retirement, in fact, the Hall of Fame inductee now spends his time running a gentleman’s club in his native Las Vegas.

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10. Steve Blackman

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Steve Blackman had to put his wrestling ambitions on hold for six years after contracting malaria in South Africa in 1989. But he later bounced back to win six Hardcore Championship titles in the WWE in the early 2000s. Since retiring from the sport, though, Blackman has founded his own self-defense school, launched his own fighting system and created a line of clothing. And if that weren’t enough, he now makes a living working as a bail bondsman in his native Pennsylvania.

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9. Shawn Stasiak

Shawn Stasiak lifted no less than 15 Hardcore Championship titles during his various stints in the WWE. But after quitting the sport in 2002, the man born Shawn Stipich decided to prove that there were more strings to his bow. As well as serving as a chiropractor in his native Texas, then, Stipich also tours the motivational speaker circuit.

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8. Diamond Dallas Page

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Winner of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on three occasions, Dallas Diamond Page was one of the biggest wrestling figures of the 1990s. And since quitting the ring, he’s dedicated his life to the art of wellbeing. In fact, Page created a style of unsurprisingly yoga known as DDP, which has been adopted by several wrestlers. He’s also helped the likes of Jake the Snake and Scott Hall in their roads to sobriety.

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7. The Iron Sheik

Famously anti-American, The Iron Sheik was the villain that every WWE fan loved to boo and hiss at during the 1980s. Born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, the Iranian wrestler has since proved on Twitter that he’s still very much a controversial figure too. He’s also acted in films such as The Tale of the 3 Mohammeds and Operation Belvis Bash. And in 2015 Vaziri was the subject of a crowdfunded documentary titled The Sheik.

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6. Mike Bucci

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Mike Bucci competed in the ECW under various guises but is best known for his stint as Simon Dean in the WWE. Yet the New Jersey native, who famously made his way to the ring on a Segway, quit the sport in 2007 to pursue a career perhaps even more cutthroat than wrestling. Yes, Bucci served as a licensed mortgage broker before utilizing his financial knowhow as a bank manager.

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5. Marty Janetty

Despite his relatively small size and stature, Marty Janetty still made a major impact in the WWE as one half of tag team The Rockers. Then, following his stint alongside Shawn Michaels, the wrestler enjoyed solo success in the WWE – even winning the Intercontinental Championship. Janetty’s since worked outside the ring for the likes of the ECW and Chikara as a trainer for various future wrestling stars.

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4. Spike Dudley

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Spike Dudley first made his name in the ECW before jumping ship to the WWE in the early ’00s. The acid-tripping wrestler initially performed solo but achieved his biggest success as a member of the Dudley Boyz alongside half-brothers Bubba Ray and D-Von. After being let go by the organization in 2005, though, Dudley took to the independent circuit and later forged a career as a financial transition specialist.

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3. Ted DiBiase Jr.

Ted DiBiase Jr. initially followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the WWE in the mid-’00s. He twice won the World Tag Team Championship alongside partner Cody Rhodes too. But after six years with the organization, DiBiase Jr decided that he’d had enough and started exploring other ventures. So the former wrestler later hosted his own YouTube show and founded a non-profit foundation. He also took up executive positions with business development company One Life and e-commerce site CollegeGarageSale.com.

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Image: via WWE

2. Paul Burchill

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Following in the footsteps of British Bulldog, U.K. wrestler Paul Burchill found fame on the other side of the Atlantic when he made his SmackDown debut in the 2000s. The Englishman underwent several personality transplants during his time in the WWE too. But once his career came to an end in 2010, Burchill decided to embark on a full-time role as a firefighter.

Image: Instagram/cm.punk

1. CM Punk

Straight-edged rebel CM Punk enjoyed the sixth-longest reign as WWE Champion in history before calling time on his wrestling career in 2014. The ex-wrestler, born Phillip Brooks, then joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship that same year. And in 2019 the multi-talented performer made his big-screen debut in horror movie The Girl on The Third Floor.

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