Check Out These Famous Professional Wrestlers Before They Were Stars
There’s nothing more enjoyable than laughing and mocking photos of celebrities before they were famous. Why should professional wrestlers get off easy?
Here’s a look at some of the all-time biggest wrestlers to ever step inside the squared circle — before they were all-time anything.
John Cena wasn’t always the guy on the Fruity Pebbles box. Before he was hustling so loyally and respectfully, John Cena was working a cyborg gimmick. If you thought his white rapper gimmick was lame, be happy you didn’t have to watch him pretend to be a Terminator rip-off known as The Prototype.
Glenn Jacobs has had a few missteps along the road to professional wrestling stardom (and film acting mediocrity). First, Kane portrayed an evil dentist named Issac Yankem D.D.S. He was thrust into an angle with Jerry Lawler and Bret Hart, which sounds like a good thing for his career, but wasn’t the case. Issac Yankem was systematically beaten into obscurity by The Hitman.
Next, was an even more difficult gimmick to get over, Fake Diesel. Vince McMahon was on one when he decided to fight Scott Hall and Kevin Nash’s invasion with fake WWE versions of them, hence Jacobs was imposter Kevin Nash.
Kane proved he could stand-in for Kevin Nash physically, who was a monster at the time, and that probably caught Vince’s eye more than anything.
What started out as a Andre The Giant Jr. gimmick has become one of the most successful careers in wrestling.
Big Show debuted as a member of Kevin Sullivan’s ‘Dungeon of Doom’, and actually won the World Heavyweight Championship off of Hulk Hogan in his first match. The problem is, this was a rush job, and The Giant wasn’t ready to be world champion.
The Giant made the jump to WWE by his real name, Paul Wight, in one of the lamest debuts ever. He attacked Steve Austin during a cage match at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre against Vince McMahon. He threw Austin into the cage, it broke, and Austin won. Eventually Paul Wight was sent down to WWE developmental, where he learned to work his trade properly.
CM Punk has been CM Punk forever, but few people know what the “CM” stands for. Years ago, in a backyard somewhere in Illinois, Phil Brooks took on the name Chick Magnet Punk to team alongside Chick Magnet Venom as ‘The Chick Magnets.’ Punk slowly made his way through the American independent wrestling scene and crossed paths with all sorts of faces you may know now, like TNA’s Samoa Joe, WWE’s Kassius Ohno, and even deceased wrestling great Eddie Guerrero.
Eventually, Punk was signed by WWE, placed in their FCW developmental territory, which was run by Paul Heyman, and the rest is wrestling history.
Charisma didn’t always ooze out of Chirs Jericho’s pores with extreme regularity. Before he was ‘Y2J’ in WWE, and even before he was the ‘Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla’ for WCW, Chris Jericho was battling all over the world as ‘The Lionheart.’
The formative years of Chris Jericho’s career were spent wrestling guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Rey Mysterio years before they would all meet up in WCW, and again in WWE. Jericho didn’t get over using his comedic gifts, but instead with his physical ones. He was bigger than the guys mentioned and just as quick and agile. Amazing the mullet didn’t slow him down.
‘HulkaMania’ didn’t just happen overnight. Terry Bolea had to take his vitamins, and say his prayers for years, while paying dues. As the story goes, one day Jack Brisco handed Hogan a pair of wrestling shoes, and told him he was wrestling the first match of the night. No training, other than weight training, and Hogan was being thrown into the mix.After gaining momentum in the National Wrestling Alliance, and then WWE, Hulk Hogan took his act to Japan in 1980.
In Japan, ‘The Hulkster’ was king. He had a look unlike anything the Japanese had ever seen, and he did business the right way, which ended up in a hugely successful run for Hulk. HulkaMania truly began in America toward the end of Hulk’s trips across seas, but he was already a household name in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Kurt Angle has the most frequently discussed background outside of wrestling. You can’t catch a pro-wrestling match of Angle’s, past or present, where they don’t put over his amateur wrestling background. We all know Kurt Angle won an Olympic Gold Medal with a broken neck in the 1996 games, but did you know Kurt worked a show for ECW? That’s right, before he was with the WWE, Kurt Angle did a one-night commentary deal with Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Angle only covered one match, but instantly quit when he saw former WWE wrestler Raven crucifying fellow journeyman The Sandman. Kurt Angle did some sportscasting before joining the WWE and eventually TNA.
Duane Johnson was fresh off a stint in the Canadian Football League when Vince McMahon plucked the failed pro-football player, who had extensive wrestling lineage in his blood, and tried to make him a baby face straight out of the gate. It didn’t work but Vince and Duane learned a valuable lesson.
It took joining the Nation of Domination, WWE’s radical political stable, and eventually getting heated in an interview with Michael “It Doesn’t Matter What Your Name Is” Cole, to finally get The Rock over. This was all just a sign of things to come, as now the grey area between faces and heels is as wide as ever.
‘The King of Kings’, as Lemmy Kilmister enthusiastically refers to Triple H, wasn’t always a faux-viking with horrible fashion sensibilities and a hot wife. Quite the contrary, actually. Triple H used to go by two names, Jean-Paul Levesque and the non-abbreviated form of his current name, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Actually, he was known as Terra Rising in WCW before anything, but that didn’t last long.
Anyway, Triple H was all about playing prissy Europeans during the 90’s. Thankfully that “game” eventually ended.
Despite popular belief, Undertaker wasn’t always the master of psychology that he has become throughout years of working alongside Vince McMahon. Remember ‘Mean’ Mark Callous? Mark is none other than WWE’s own resident motorcycle riding dead-man, The Undertaker.
Undertaker has had more failed gimmicks, by far, then anyone on this list. Ironically, he was even billed as Kane The Undertaker for a short time. Taker was also known as Texas Red, The Commando and The Punisher. None of those names stuck, but for the better part of five years, Jim Ross was stuck calling him Booger Red. Go figure.
It looks like things worked out just fine for Mark.