For all their prestige, gladiator-esque glory, and vain exhibitionism, WWE champions, when it comes down to it, are actually pretty amazing athletes. To be honest, they sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve in the field of real athletics. The amount of strength training required in wrestling, combined with an ability to perform expert moves in the ring that are probably more dangerous than motocross, actually takes a special sort of athlete— mainly one that is both agile and monstrously capable. Some of us may actually find it surprising that they don’t get injuries on the job more often (although that number has been rising in the past year). Some probably do and hide it. At any rate, what looks like fun and games on TV actually amounts to a staggering amount of work and training that probably puts off most applicants to the league. Plus, you need a bit of acting skills to make all the big talk deliver out on stage.
Currently, Roman Reigns holds the title in WWE as US champion, a title which could come under scrutiny if one actually checks the numbers on his weightlifting capability. But as you may know, strength is not everything in a fight (just take Bruce Lee, for example, at 141 pounds), so the outcome of any given battle or title is anyone’s guess. But for interest’s sake, here’s a rundown of WWE’s strongest bench pressers. It might surprise you that Roman Reigns is on the list, but not anywhere near the top.
14. Triple H – 315 Pounds
With the second most appearances in WWE history (second behind the Undertaker), Triple H has had an inordinately good run in pro wrestling, quickly becoming an icon of the sport in 1992 when he first debuted. Over two decades, he’s garnered 14 championship titles and is one of only two wrestlers to receive the laudatory and prestigious title of Grand Slam Champion and one of only seven to grab the coveted Triple Crown Championship. What’s surprising about Triple H, however, is that he’s not the strongest guy in the league, although he’s among the rivaled few elite who made it to the top 14 list in WWE for benching. Triple H is capable of benching 315 pounds, which is still a good showing but still isn’t upper tier for the league either. Triple H, however, is semi-retired at the moment and age 47.
13. Jack Swagger – 400 Pounds
A former amateur wrestler, Jack Swagger signed a contract in 2006 with the WWE, and since then has won a World Heavyweight Championship, an ECW championship, and a WWE United States Championship. Perhaps most memorably, Swagger established himself as a heel in 2008, starting a feud with Tommy Dreamer, when Dreamer tried to stop Swagger from confronting Chase Stevens. After weeks of feuding, Swagger ended his feud with Dreamer in an Extreme Rules match, which Swagger ultimately won in the end. Fans might not be surprised that Swagger, a perhaps more aggressive personality than most on the circuit, can bench pretty well given his size, about 400 pounds. Still, it’s not the highest anyone’s ever seen in the league, you might be surprised to learn. But as we’ve seen, aptitude on the weights isn’t everything.
12. Antonio Cesaro – 405 Pounds
While many people think of American pro wrestling and the WWE as a distinctly American-style sport, Antonio Cesaro, a Swiss by birth, has been credited with giving the sport a more Euro influence. A distinctive brand style of his wrestling technique includes the European uppercut, a divergent approach from the more typical uppercut (it involves a grapple and then an inside cut to the chin). Among Cesaro’s list of extensive credits in the WWE ring is his ability to tag team in the wrestling ring, and his 364-day reign, along with Chris Hero, as the Kings of Wrestling was the longest in history. Cesaro and Hero were also voted as 2010 Tag Team of the Year by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers. Cesaro’s benching ability is a bit better than Swagger but not by much— 405 pounds.
11. Roman Reigns – 445 Pounds
Currently the reigning US champion for WWE Raw, the gladiator-esque Roman Reigns was actually a pro football player in Canada before switching gears to pro wrestling. Before that, he also played football for Georgia Tech. Billed as an underdog in the battle for supremacy in his heroic underdog pursuit of the world crown, Roman doesn’t always get the applause many wrestlers desire, as crowds and critics have often lambasted his quest for ring ascendancy. This may partly be tied to his record number of eliminations in the WWE, both in the Survivor Series and in the Royal Rumble match. (In this last one he had a total of 12.) Regardless of his controversial and overtly negative tactics in wrestling, Roman Reigns is a powerful bench presser, but he’s hardly the best. Roman can press 445 pounds, which is impressive, but can it allow him to win the world title? Only time will tell.
10. Titus O’Neil – 445 Pounds
Now retired, Titus O’Neil played in the Arena Football League before moving into pro wrestling in 2009 on NXT. A notable controversy surrounded the latter part of his career just this past year when O’Neil got involved in an altercation with Vince McMahon, apparently hitting his own boss. For the incident, O’Neil was suspended from the league for 60 days. Over the years, O’Neil and his tag team have made several assaults at title winners, but lost to the emergence of Roman Reigns. Despite his almost near triumphs and brushes with WWE ultimate glory, O’Neil has never secured a championship. This despite being one of the strongest, biggest guys in NXT. O’Neil ties Reigns and can bench 445 pounds.
9. Dave Batista – 450 Pounds
A familiar spectacle in movies, including Guardians of the Galaxy and Riddick, Batista has won a total of six world champion titles and has established his cred with the longest world title reign ever. He’s also won the world tag team title twice. He’s also a mixed-martial arts fighter, which probably gives him a little extra added agility over the pack. An interesting feature of his career is that, like Prince, he has continually kept rotating and modifying his ring names for whatever reason. Some of his ring names include Khan, The Batista, Dave Batista, and Deacon Batista, all of which has perhaps added a layer of mystery to his persona. Not surprisingly, Batista, or Dave Batista, or whatever you want call him, can still bench with the best, however. His current bench weight is 450 pounds, plenty over his 290 pound frame.
8. Brock Lesnar – 475 Pounds
One of the more intimidating presences in the ring in WWE, Brock Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and four-time world title champion. He’s also had a brief stint in the NFL as a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, so he’s no stranger to the world of mainstream athletics. ESPN has said that Lesnar is “the most accomplished athlete in pro wrestling history.” Some of his more historical performances in the WWE ring surrounded his rise in 2002 when he started a feud with the Undertaker at the Unforgiven. The match led to a double disqualification of the Underaker, enabling Lesnar to retain his title as King of the Ring. Before this, Lesnar had become the undisputed champ after he defeated The Rock, becoming the youngest ever to hold the title at age 25. Lesnar can bench a lean 475 pounds.
7. John Cena – 480 Pounds
John Cena isn’t only a wrestler but also a reality TV show host, professional artist, and even a rapper. Cena debuted in 2002 by calling out Kurt Angle, after telling the audience he possessed a “ruthless aggression,” a pronouncement that almost cost Angle a loss in the ensuing fight. Once described as the most polarizing figure in wrestling (since people either like or detest him), Cena, however, often describes himself as a “goody-two-shoes Superman,” an epithet we may or may not attest to and one that may be aimed at endearing his opponents back to fandom. Since his debut in 2002, Cena has won 24 championships and reigned 15 times as world champion, so we might expect him to reign in the weight room as well. Maybe, but not quite. Cena benches a cool 480, not a small number nor top of the league either.
6. Big Show – 500 Pounds
When you get to bench pressing weights of 500 pounds and above, you begin to imagine a pretty big dude. That is, at this point in strength, the weightlifter is usually becoming more of brute-boy versus an all-around athlete, like The Rock or John Cena. That’s exactly the case with Big Show, aka The Giant (his former ring name with WCW). At 490 pounds and seven feet tall, Big Show is a truly a sight to behold on stage, a sheer monstrosity of a guy. For that matter, it’s probably not surprising that he’s one of the bigger lifters in the WWE. Big Show’s terrible strength has helped propel him to seven world champions, including the 24th Triple Crown and 13th Grand Slam.
5. Great Khali – 550 Pounds
At 7 foot 1 inch and 360 pounds, the Indian wrestler Great Khali is one of the bigger guys in the WWE, so naturally his bench press ability is quite high as compared to other wrestlers in the league. Currently, Great Khali can bench a tremendous 550 pounds, which is no small feat even given his huge physique and powerful stage presence. After an initial loss to the Undertaker in his early goings in his career, Khali eventually made his way to the top, eventually ascending to a World Heavyweight Championship title in 2007 after successfully eliminating Kane and Batista in one move. Initially Great Khali worked as a Punjab state police officer before coming to wrestling. Despite his tough-talking feuds in the ring, Khali reports that he’s a Hindu who meditates every day and that he abhors alcohol.
4. Ryback – 550 Pounds
Before his departure from the league in 2016, Ryback was a one-time Intercontinental Champion for the WWE. He’s been described as a combination of Goldberg and Ultimate Warrior both in his personality and wrestling persona, although Goldberg has stated that the comparison between he and Ryback “offends” him. In contrast, Ryback says he doesn’t mind the comparison and allows crowds to chant “Goldberg” at any wrestling event. Since leaving under a firestorm of controversy last year, Ryback has pivoted over to the independent circuit and has done some ring events recently with Northeast Wrestling. Before that, Ryback was the subject of much controversy, and some have criticized him for being too reckless, as in 2014 when a clothesline of Dolph Ziggler resulted in Ziggler’s concussion. For what it’s worth, Ryback is immensely strong for his size. He can bench a total of 550 pounds, tying Khali.
3. Goldberg – 565 Pounds
Like some wrestlers we’ve seen before on here, Goldberg has dabbled in both professional athletics (professional football) and choreographed wrestling in WWE. A WWE Hall of Famer along with the likes of The Rock and Hulk Hogan, Goldberg carries stature in the minds of many legions of WWE fans. The former defensive tackle for Los Angeles Rams made a startling and historic entry into the WWE in 2003 when he single-handedly defeated The Rock in his debut match in the league. The win signified much of what was to come of Golderg’s much-talked about career in the spotlight of WWE, where he has been a two-time world champion. Many have likened Golderg’s notoriety at his peak to that of the Hulk and The Rock. These achievements may partly rest on his strength training. Golderg can bench a little above Ryback at 565 pounds.
2. Big E – 575 Pounds
Big E has been a powerlifter and also a USA Powerlifter Champion, so it’s only natural that the guy can punish the weights when he wants to. Benching 575, Big E barely surpasses Goldberg when he’s in the zone with the big weights but only by a small margin of 10 pounds. All that strength training seems to have also paid off in the ring as well, as Big E has been a one-time Intercontinental Champion, a two-time (RAW) Tag Team Champion, and one-time NXT Champion at varying points in his career. Big E made his debut in NXT in early 2012. It took him only a year to propel himself to top of the ranks in the league, after beating out The Shield in a no-disqualification match for the title.
1. Mark Henry – 585 Pounds
Since Mark Henry is an Olympic-medal weightlifter, we’d probably expect him to do very well in any powerlifting comparisons applied to the WWE. In fact, we might expect him to win, since he was a gold, silver, and bronze medal finalist at the Pan American Games in 1995. He also holds the record for the heaviest raw squat by a drug-tested athlete, regardless of any weight class, which happens in this case to be over 400 pounds. After a successful bout in weightlifting, Henry turned his sights next on the WWF, where he donned a funny name to audiences— Sexual Chocolate. In 2011, he held the World Heavyweight Championship for a year. Not surprisingly, he’s the heaviest bench presser in the WWE with a bench of 585 pounds.