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The action may be scripted, but the pain is as real as it gets.

Though it has descended into the valley of forgotten fads in the recent decade and a half, there was a time, from the late 90s up until about 2001, where pro wrestling was as mainstream as mainstream can be.

Wrestling terminology made its way into the popular vernacular – phrases such as to ‘open a can of whoop-ass’ was coined by Stone Cold Steve Austin, the biggest star in wrestling history and to lay the ‘smackdown’ – a word now in all English dictionaries – was coined by The Rock.

Even if you don’t know anything about wrestling, you know who Hulk Hogan is, such was his mainstream popularity. But professional wrestling is a strange business, often seen as the step-child of the entertainment world. It is a business that lives in a paradox: it is one that tries to take itself seriously when nothing that happens within it is real.

If you haven’t seen the Oscar-nominated 2008 film The Wrestler, I suggest you watch it. So touching and powerful is the film, one doesn’t even have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy it. And though it is based on a fictional character, many situations that the protagonist – Randy “The Ram” Robinson – finds himself in are sadly all-too-real for some former wrestling stars that saw their fortune’s slip through their fingers, and now only have faded memories and broken bodies to show for it.

As former WWE and WCW star Kevin Nash once said “There are only two things that are real in this business: the money and the miles.”

Some wrestlers, thankfully, saved their money, invested wisely and now live very comfortably. Some, however, fell right down to the bottom of the well – such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall – due to various demons such as bankruptcy, drug addiction and alcoholism. Fortunately, some find their way back to the surface and are better for it. But others never find their way back to the top, and now find themselves either broke, addicted or worse, dead.

The wrestling curse is as simple as it sounds. Wrestling can be a cursed business, because life inside the ring is a hard, unforgiving one. And as such, here are some of the biggest names in the business who have fallen victim to the dark side of the cartoon world of professional wrestling.

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