4 current and 3 former WWE Women who had heartbreakingly tragic upbringings
Many of our favorite WWE women superstars had to overcome significant obstacles in their past. These ranged from alcoholism, depression, anxiety, drug addictions and even abuse at the hands of family members.
From tragic upbringings to champions of professional wrestling, their success stories are an inspiration for many.
Time has healed the scars, but the memories still haunt the superstars. Whether the pain was mental or physical, it left a lasting impression on them and their adversity fueled them to become stronger.
In this list, we will look at 7 current and former women who had tragic upbringings.
#7. Current Superstar: Shotzi had a tragic upbringing
The Ballsy Badass of WWE is known for her 'tanktastic' entrances and high-flying daredevilry. She has a volatile personality which reflects the type of life she had to endure in her childhood.
In an interview with Lilian Garcia on the Chasing Glory podcast, Ashley Urbanski revealed the sexual abuse she received from a family member during her adolescence. It continued for five years until she sought the help of her middle-school counselor and put her uncle in jail.
Regularly bullied by her classmates in high school, Shotzi was also molested as a freshman. The incidents traumatized her and she decided to hide from the world, seeking refuge in musical theater. Only after years of therapy did she battle her way out of depression.
Wrestling was also a “sort of a therapy” for her. Shotzi is now a famous WWE Superstar, having made her main roster breakthrough in 2021. The former NXT Tag Team Champion has a positive outlook on life and is aiming for higher accomplishments.
#6. WWE Hall of Famer: Madusa suffered a traumatic childhood
A revolutionary character, Madusa is immortalized for openly voicing her opinions on women’s wrestling. She even left WWE in 1995, citing how the division was going downhill due to its focus on objectifying women.
Being the only child of a struggling mother, Madusa Miceli had a traumatic childhood that has inspired many docu-series. She revealed that her survival depended on “welfare and food stamps” and how the lack of a mentor can multiply the hardships of life. She had to learn things on her own, and the “void” of not having a father crushed her inside.
On the WINCLY podcast, Madusa also opened up about the domestic violence she received at the hands of her mother in order to teach her a lesson. The experience adversely affected her psychological state and she developed mistrust in relationships throughout her life.
However, the 58-year-old is happy that she never looked in the direction of drugs and alcohol to numb her suffering. She is a role model for generations to come and the iconic legacy of the three-time Women’s Champion has earned a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Madusa is also a Monster Truck legend, and she won the 2004 co-championship at the Monster Jam World Finals.
#5. Current Superstar: Becky Lynch
One of the stalwarts of The Four Horsewomen of WWE, Becky Lynch, had a natural talent for wrestling. However, many fans won’t remember that Lynch experienced a downward trend in her adolescence.
Rebecca Quin was a drugs and alcohol addict. She associated herself with the wrong crowd and became disillusioned with her future. At the mere age of 14, Lynch worked in a bar to support her family. Later, she washed cars, waited tables, and was a pizza chef before becoming a flight attendant.
Luckily, Finn Balor found Big Time Becks and honed her skills while training in Ireland, but the problems were far from resolved. After suffering an injury in 2006, Becky Lynch decided to leave wrestling and went through an identity crisis.
The Man returned to wrestling after a six-year hiatus. She had a brief stint as a manager for Saraya (Paige) and Britanni Knight in 2011, which gave her recognition in WWE. One thing led to another and Becky Lynch debuted on the main roster on the brink of The Women’s Revolution in 2015. The six-time Women’s Champion has never looked back since.
#4. Former Superstar: AJ Lee
From her struggles with poverty, mental illness, and drug addiction to her eventual triumph in wrestling, the Geek Goddess’ life is nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. The former WWE Superstar has penned her whole story in the book, ‘Crazy Is My Superpower.’
AJ Lee had a rough childhood. Financial problems caused her family to live in motels, other people’s houses, and even in their cars. They were always on the move which adversely impacted their mental well-being. AJ was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was “barely out of her teens” and had witnessed family members with the same illness.
A dropout of New York University, Lee took to part-time jobs to support her family. She ultimately took a leap of faith in 2009 and invested a huge portion in traveling for the WWE tryouts. The life-changing decision saw her become one of the most successful superstars in the business.
The three-time Divas champion holds the record for the longest combined reign of 406 days. She even pioneered the Women’s Revolution in WWE alongside Paige and is currently married to AEW star Phil Brooks (CM Punk). AJ Lee regularly spreads awareness on mental health problems and wants people to perceive them in a brighter light.
#3. Current Superstar: Ronda Rousey
The Baddest Women on the Planet has punched her way to the top in the UFC as well as WWE. However, her battles are not limited to the ring as she had to overcome a 'rowdy' childhood to be where she is today.
A born fighter, Ronda Rousey managed to survive after the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. The incident reportedly left her with minor brain damage and she was afflicted with apraxia the day she was born. It left her incapable of forming sentences, but after years of therapy, Ronda managed to overcome its effects.
However, it was not the last of her troubles. Her father, Ron Rousey, became paralyzed after breaking his back while sledding. Depression and family burdens took a toll on him, and he eventually committed suicide when Ronda was nine years old.
At the age of 21, Ronda struggled financially and had to live in a car even after obtaining an Olympic bronze in Judo. During this time, she developed an addiction to drugs and parties.
Her life changed the moment she decided to join MMA and eventually became the first female UFC Champion in the Bantamweight category. A role model for many women, Ronda Rousey is also a two-time WWE Women’s Champion.
#2. Former Superstar: Mickie James
The ‘SmackDown’ return of Mickie James in 2017 was one of the most epic moments in WWE. However, The Attitude Era superstar is no stranger to problems, having had her fill before she debuted under the gimmick of a crazy fan of Trish Stratus in 2005.
Mickie has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. During a PodcastOne interview with Vince Russo, she revealed how a family took advantage of her from the age of nine to fourteen. The traumatic memories led to an awful battle with drug addiction and depression.
The five-time WWE Women’s Champion is now an avid supporter of mental health initiatives and spreads awareness on how to overcome child abuse.
Mickie James hasn’t ruled out wrestling from her life and could return for another brief stint in WWE.
#1. Current Superstar: Liv Morgan
The reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion has transgressed numerous problems on her path to success. Her struggle story captured in 'Liv Forever' has inspired many fans.
Gionna Daddio grew up alongside five siblings, who were nurtured by a single mother. Their father died when they were young.
Money was a recurring issue in her life and during an interview with WWE, Liv revealed the impact it had on her life. She never had fancy clothes to wear like other girls and naturally had the personality of a Tomboy. There were times when her family couldn’t even afford cable.
Liv Morgan’s sole purpose was to take her family out of the vicious cycle of drugs, abuse, and police. Wrestling was her lifelong passion, and she transformed it into a weapon to breakthrough from the miseries of her tragic life.