Some former and current WWE Superstars have battled life-threatening diseases, both publically and privately.
A few WWE Superstars are currently struggling with health conditions. Big E, for example, has a heart condition. Although doctors have assured the former WWE Champion that his health issue is not very serious, they have made it clear that it is something he has to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, a few former and current WWE Superstars have wrestled with life-threatening diseases over the past few years. While one battled with leukemia, another almost lost his life to diverticulitis.
Here are eight WWE Superstars who have battled life-threatening diseases.
#8. WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns
Before becoming a professional wrestler, Roman Reigns pursued a career as a football player. Nevertheless, he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was only 22 years old, which turned his life upside down.
In an interview with Muscle and Fitness, The Tribal Chief disclosed that getting diagnosed with leukemia felt like a death sentence:
"I signed with the Minnesota Vikings for my free agency rookie camp. That was where we had all of our physicals. That’s where I got my initial blood work, and that’s where I found out, at the time, that I had 70-80,000 white blood cells. I had no clue what was going on. They sent me back home, and that was where I was diagnosed with leukemia. For a 22-year-old with the carrots almost in my hand, all of these years of work and convincing myself that this was supposed to be what I was doing, it all slipped out. On top of that, my wife was pregnant. We had our daughter on the way; everything was falling apart. It felt like a death sentence," he said.
Reigns' football career eventually ended. The Head of the Table later went into remission from leukemia and joined WWE. However, the current WWE Universal Champion announced in 2018 that the disease had returned. As a result, he relinquished his Universal Title and took time away from wrestling.
Four months later, Reigns returned to the ring, revealing that he was back in remission from leukemia. The Tribal Chief is now the biggest superstar in WWE and is considered the face of the company.
#7. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar kicked off his wrestling career in 2000. The Beast Incarnate joined WWE and spent two years in developmental before making his main roster debut in 2002. However, he left the company in 2004.
Lesnar later became a big star in UFC. It was in the midst of his MMA career that the former WWE Champion was diagnosed with diverticulitis in 2009. In his book "Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival," The Beast Incarnate spoke about his struggle with the disease:
"The doctors diagnosed me with diverticulitis. I was told I had a hole in my stomach. I was being poisoned from the inside with my own body waste. No wonder I felt like death. The Bismarck doctors knew who I was, and what I did for a living. That means they knew that cutting me open would end my career (...) The doctors made a decision. They said I had eight hours. If the medication appeared to be working on the infection, they would give me some more time. If it wasn’t working, they they would be forced to recommend immediate surgery to remove a large chunk of my colon," he wrote.
Luckily for the former Universal Champion, the medication worked, and he avoided immediate surgery. However, he still had to fight for his life for nearly 11 days.
"Although I had avoided immediate surgery, it didn't change the fact that I still had a hole in my stomach, and that it was slowly killing me. I was dying. I spent the next eleven days in the hospital with no food or liquids. All I had was an IV solution and a ton of pain medication. I was living in a fog," he added in his book.
Lesnar eventually overcame his illness, and in January 2010, he completed his recovery. Two years later, The Beast Incarnate returned to Vince McMahon's company. He recently lost the WWE Championship to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 38.
#6. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss is one of the most talented female superstars on the WWE roster. She is also in great physical shape nowadays. However, the former RAW Women's Champion almost lost her life 15 years ago.
The 30-year-old struggled with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder in her youth. When Bliss was only 15 years old, she was very close to losing her life after her weight became dangerously low and her heartrate declined to 28 beats per minute.
The former SmackDown Women's Champion also went through a similar experience during her early college days.
In an interview with Off The Top Rope, Bliss opened up about her life-threatening experience, disclosing that doctors told her that she was 24 hours away from dying:
"When I was diagnosed with my eating disorder, the doctors told me that I was 24 hours away from dying. They told my parents that, with the way that my body takes to an eating disorder, that my organs weren't coming back. I was hospitalized for bradycardia, and they didn't let me sleep because they thought I would go into cardiac arrest when I would fall asleep. So it was one of those things just knowing that my life would just be a statistic. That one in every three people died of eating disorders and the doctors told me that I was closest to that one. And I had gone through it twice," she said.
Thankfully, Bliss overcame that scary experience and turned to bodybuilding before joining WWE in 2013. In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2020, The Wicked Witch of WWE stated that she now deals with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression day by day.
Bliss last competed in February when she participated in the Women's Elimination Chamber Match at Elimination Chamber. Earlier this month, she tied the knot with musician Ryan Cabrera.
#5. WWE EVP Triple H
Triple H joined Vince McMahon's company in the mid-1990s and competed regularly for nearly two decades. However, he took a step away from the ring and became a part-time competitor over the past few years.
The Game last competed in January 2021, when he went head-to-head against Randy Orton on Monday Night RAW in a match that ended in no contest.
In late 2021, The King of Kings suffered a cardiac event caused by a genetic heart issue. In an interview with ESPN, Triple H detailed his near-death experience:
"My wife saw some blood and stuff that I was coughing up, and I went and got checked, and it was coming from the viral pneumonia, but I had fluid in my lungs. I had some fluid around my heart so they followed up on it and did an EKG and Echo and everything. Basically, the way your heart pumps out 55-60 percent of your ejection fraction is a good number. I was at 30 percent. I got a quick text message saying don't take time, pack a bag real quick and head to the emergency room and I'll fill you in on the way. So, by the time I got to the emergency room, my ejection fraction had gone down to 22 percent, which, ya know, I was in heart failure."
The Game underwent surgery that saved his life. However, he recently announced his retirement from in-ring action, disclosing that he has a defibrillator in his chest. The 52-year-old is now the Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development.
#4. Michelle McCool
Michelle McCool is one of the most accomplished female superstars in WWE history. The multi-time Women's Champion spent nearly seven years as a regular competitor in Vince McMahon's company before retiring in 2011.
Five years after her retirement, McCool revealed that she was diagnosed with skin cancer in an Instagram post.
"Hey, kids! Wear yo sunscreen & you won't have to have holes cut out of your body due to skin cancer! #ifiknewnow #SUNSCREEN#alldayeveryday," she wrote.
Luckily, McCool quickly tackled the issue and got rid of the life-threatening disease. In an interview with Chasing Glory, the former Women's Champion gave more details about her condition:
"It was a place that I had cut out on my back. It was a little skin cancer spot, but I posted it on Instagram and said, 'Kids, wear yo’ sunscreen!' and I felt bad because even Mark Henry called me from Busted Open Radio the next morning. He calls me Cooler, he's like, 'Cooler! What's going on? We're so close, are you okay?' I'm totally fine, it's a big deal, I want people to be cautious about it, but it totally blew up," she said.
McCool has made several sporadic WWE appearances in the past few years. She recently participated in the 2022 Women's Royal Rumble Match. The former Women's Champion entered the bout at number 10 and lasted for over 20 minutes before getting eliminated by Mickie James.
#3. Matt Cardona
Matt Cardona (FKA Zack Ryder) kicked off his professional wrestling career in 2004. About two years later, he officially joined Vince McMahon's company. The former United States Champion spent nearly a decade and a half in WWE before the company released him from his contract in April 2020.
A few years before he started wrestling in the ring, Cardona had to win another fight outside the squared circle. The 36-year-old was diagnosed with cancer while in high school. He had two tumors in one lung and another in the other. Hence, the former Intercontinental Champion went through chemotherapy and surgery.
In an interview with Lucha Libre Online, Cardona opened up about his battle with cancer, disclosing that his mother was the first one to notice a tumor growing on his foot:
"She took me to the doctor eventually I had surgery and they did the biopsy and they knew was cancerous. (...) They thought they caught it early enough that I didn't need chemo or anything like that. But they knew with that type of cancer that if it were to spread it would spread to my lungs. So every month for the next year, I would get a an x-ray on my chest (...) and then the next year sure enough, there were two in one lung and one in the other, so that meant that the cancer was in my blood that I, you know, it was everywhere. So that's when I needed some more surgeries and eventually the chemo and everything like that and luckily, you know, I beat it," he said.
Since leaving Vince McMahon's company, Cardona has competed in several promotions, including GCW, NWA, and IMPACT Wrestling. He currently holds several championships, including the Impact Digital Media Title and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.
#2. Paul Wight
Paul Wight (FKA The Big Show) is one of the most famous giants in WWE history. However, like André The Giant, Wight suffered from acromegaly growing up. The rare condition meant the former WWE Champion had a tumor on his pituitary gland that produced too much growth hormone.
Acromegaly could be fatal if left uncured. Hence, Wight had to have surgery when he was only 19. In an interview with Hot 97, the former World Heavyweight Champion opened up about his experience with the disease:
"The pituitary gland is located under the front lobe of the brain (...) so it's basically brain surgery. (...) They have to go in, chip out that little pocket of bone with a laser, cut the tumor and hopefully not damage the pituitary gland because the pituitary gland runs so many senses: your eye moisture, tear ducts, nasal passages and your testosterone… it's like a governor for so many things in your body that - that surgery sometimes, if not done properly can damage other things so then you're on medication the rest of your life just to try and be normal," Wight said.
Wight left Vince McMahon's company in February 2021 after his contract expired. A few days later, he joined AEW. The 50-year-old is now a color commentator and a part-time in-ring competitor. Earlier this month, he defeated Austin Green on AEW Dark: Elevation.
#1. WWE Hall of Famer The Great Khali
Before pursuing a wrestling career, The Great Khali worked as a police officer in his home country of India. He kicked off his wrestling career 22 years ago. After competing in different promotions for a few years, Khali joined Vince McMahon's company, where he spent nearly eight years before leaving in 2014 after his contract expired.
Like Paul Wight, Khali also suffered from acromegaly. However, the WWE Hall of Famer did not treat it as early as Wight did. Instead, he underwent surgery in July 2012 to remove the tumor on his pituitary gland when he was 39 years old. According to ABC News, Khali's condition likely triggered long-term complications for his health.
Luckily for Khali and Wight, removing the tumor has prevented further complications. The same disease had previously caused the death of WWE Hall of Famer André the Giant in 1993 when he was only 46.
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