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  • Writer's pictureBen Veal

"I Lost 20 Years" - Buff Bagwell Shares Addiction and Inspiring Sobriety Journey

Five-time tag team champion Marcus 'Buff' Bagwell' had a remarkable run in World Championship Wrestling. As one of only a handful of wrestling talent who didn't jump to the competition during the 'Monday Night Wars' of the mid 1990s, Bagwell built up a loyal fanbase that, over two decades after WCW closed its doors, continues to follow his journey.

Buff Bagwell nwo

Perhaps most synonymous with the New World Order (nWo), the anti-hero super-faction that took the wrestling industry and mainstream culture by storm and propelled WCW to incredible heights of popularity, Marcus Bagwell's personal goals are now getting set to eclipse his professional accomplishments, as the pro wrestling star is focused on helping others battling with addiction and sharing his story of recovery with the world.

On the cusp of reaching a milestone 500 days of sobriety, Marcus Bagwell joined Ben Veal on the #WrestlingLifePod to reflect back on his WCW run, share memories of the nWo's insane popularity, and talk about how alcohol and drug abuse adversely impacted his life and health.

Wrestling Life with Buff Bagwell: Spotify | YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Amazon Music 

Buff Bagwell: "I was heavily sedated"

"It's the story you tell yourself; that's what DDP always talks about," reflects Bagwell on episode 010 of Wrestling Life with Ben Veal. "The story I told myself was ... I'm doing something that nobody [else] is doing. I'm doing cardio everyday, working out everyday, I'm in really incredible shape. It's OK for me to reward myself with some alcohol and pills. That was the story I told myself, and I believed it."

"Before I knew it, I lost 20 solid years doing this. I wasn't, like, passed out for twenty years, but I was heavily sedated ... looking back on it, I [ask] could I have done something to fix it then? My whole group, my whole clique, was doing the exact same thing, and they'd have been no way not to. It wouldn't have made sense."

"I wish there could've been a camera on me every once in a while at midnight [as we] went off the air. Everyone else has something to eat, takes some melatonin ... I am on the fortieth level of the elevator, I've just hit someone with a Blockbuster for the 1,2,3, and the cameras go off ... you are still there in the moment. The first thing I wanted to do, is I wanted to go down ... and so we thought we had that figured out and we told ourselves this is OK. That's the story you tell yourself."

"I was taking 60 pills a day"

"Step one [of sobriety] is that you admit to yourself and to God that your life has become unmanageable ... I was taking 60 pills a day for 20 years. I would say four out of seven days a week, it was exactly 60 pills. A regimented bodybuilder like myself regiments their drug addiction as well."

"It was regimented; my mom and dad would take my pills from me and leave them in ziplock bags, and hide them in my one million dollar mansion that I built. Here's a millionaire pro wrestler ... climbing on my furniture to go after my first ziplock bag in the morning [and then] I'd make some kind of lie up to get my second ziplock. No matter what we tried to do, [as] an addict, it became unmanageable."

The nWo: "It was really something special"

"[Life in the nWo] was unbelievable," reflects Bagwell of his run with the anti-hero faction that began in late 1996. "The nWo, it meant something, bro. I mean it was the NEW WORLD ORDER, the ultimate gang, it was the ultimate group. I mean there were people, [mainstream] superstars like Jay Leno and Dennis Rodman, that were part of this thing called the New World Order. It was fantastic. It was unbelievable. And to be part of that was really something special."

Now in his 60s, and with the world of in-ring professional wrestling competition in the rearview mirror, Bagwell is now a proud grandfather and continues to receive support and friendship from a close community of former WCW colleagues, including Diamond Dallas Page, Marc Mero, Lex Luger and Scotty Riggs. For an industry that is driven by ego and fuelled by competition, perhaps this is the greatest achievement of all in his life.

"I parallel pro wrestling with high school. You know, you get out of high school and you think you're going to stay in touch [with your] friends, and then life happens. Life can be tough when it comes to friendships, and you don't [always] stay in touch ... the same thing happens with wrestling. We see each other at these events all the time, and we get to see each other a little bit, but we don't get to do it enough."

"There's a lot of egos in this business ... it just pours out of certain talent ... in that locker room, it's a really tough locker room. I was twenty years old in a locker room with Rick Rude and Ricky Steamboat and Sting and Lex Luger ... you've gotta be just tough enough and not too tough [to survive in that environment]. But Lex, Mero, Sting, Riggs and those guys I've really stayed in touch with, it just comes down to the fact that they really know Marc. They know Marc Bagwell ... they're super good friends and I think we'll always stay in touch."

Episode 010 of Wrestling Life with Ben Veal is out now: real talk from real talent.

Join the conversation on social media: #WrestlingLifePod

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