How many times do we hear about famous figures discussing their stories, and telling us that their successes didn’t come around after one simple attempt? Well, this article pretty much dictates that if you don’t succeed at first, don’t stop believing and don’t stop trying. It’s true that it would seem easy to just give up on your dreams after being rejected, but the ten superstars on this list certainly didn’t let initial rejection effect them in any significant way. These wrestlers continued to pursue their dreams, despite being put into very minimal roles; whether it was a fake security guard or a fake “hoe”, these wrestlers didn’t let these insignificant roles stop them from believing they can eventually achieve their dreams. Enjoy this list of 10 wrestling stars that appeared in the WWE even before they became the WWE superstars they are regarded as being today!
10) Diamond Dallas Page
Before he became one of the most iconic wrestlers in WCW history, winning the World Heavyweight Championship three times, DDP spent some time in the WWE. Oddly enough, DDP wasn’t in the WWE as a wrestler; his first try out with the company was to make it as an announcer, which as you might imagine, failed. He then later appeared on camera for the first ever time at Wrestlemania VI. DDP found himself playing the role of a driver for the Honkey Tonk Man, Greg Valentine and Jimmy Heart. DDP drove a pink Cadillac to the ring, and the duo he drove to the ring debuted their new song, “Honka Honka Honka Honky Love” at Wrestlemania. After this brief appearance as a driver, Page would reunite with his long time friend Dusty Rhodes, who was booking for WCW. Page would debut for the rival organization and end up being one of the most memorable WCW superstars of all time.
9) Lita and Victoria
Before these two stars became tremendous former women’s Champions, they were doing something rather different. They were filling in as a couple of “hoes” for The Godfather. The two legendary Divas were forced to come out in pretty much prostitute outfits and were forced to dance around the Godfather. Lita would officially make her debut managing Essa Rios in 1999, while Victoria would only debut in 2002. Who would have known a pair of “hoes” would become a crucial part in the women’s division years later?
8) Sheamus and Wade Barrett
Well, everyone has to start somewhere, especially when you’re chasing your dream, and for Sheamus and Wade Barrett, that somewhere was acting as security guards during an episode of RAW. During a feud between Team Rated RKO and DX, a security team which consisted of Sheamus and Barrett, was asked to escort DX out of the building. Later on (this time in England), Sheamus would once again work as a security guard, this time his role was more prominent though, eating a Pedigree by Triple H on RAW. After making these little cameos, who would have ever thought Triple H would end up being a huge advocate for making Sheamus a huge star in the WWE? Seems like his time as a pretend security guard really paid off.
7) Zack Ryder
Coming out of former ECW Champion Mikey Whipwreck’s training school, Zack Ryder began to wrestle under the name of Brett Matthews. He would debut on Smackdown in 2005, where he would get squashed in a match against Matt Morgan. Despite the end result of the match, Morgan would be released by the WWE less than 3 months later, while Ryder would earn himself a contract with the WWE. Ryder would go on to win the WWE Tag Team Championships with long time friend, Curt Hawkins. Zack would also later go on to win the United States Championship and become a social media icon.
6) Bray Wyatt
On June 1st, 2010, it was announced that Husky Harris (aka Bray Wyatt) would be competing in the second season of NXT, under his mentor Cody Rhodes. Harris would end up getting eliminated with another fellow rookie during the August 17th episode. Harris would later return to the main roster as a part of the “Nexus” angle. A disguised Harris would help Wade Barrett defeat John Cena, forcing Cena to join Nexus. After his stint with Nexus, Randy Orton would use his trademark “punt” following Harris’ match on RAW. The punt was used to write Harris off of the show indefinitely, and to send him back down to FCW. Harris would return to the WWE a couple of years later, under his new identity Bray Wyatt, a member and leader of the Wyatt family. What a turn of events for the career of Windham Rotunda becoming one of the most feared superstars in the WWE today.
5) The Hardy Boyz
Before they revolutionized the Tag Team division, the Hardy Boyz were just two kids looking for any type of opportunity in the WWE. Matt would typically wrestle under the name Matt Hardy, while his brother Jeff, would wrestler under the identity of Jeff Harvey. Yes, the name that former wrestling commentator, Mike Adamle botched, actually used to be Jeff’s wrestling name when he debuted in the WWE. The two usually wrestled in singles matches to put the other wrestler over, facing the likes of Razor Ramon, Owen Hart, King Kong Bundy, The Undertaker and many other former stars. The duo competed as a Tag Team for the first ever time against “the New Rockers”, featuring Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy, in 1996. Despite having to put opponents over on most nights, the Hardy brothers stuck with it and ended up becoming one of the most revolutionary Tag Teams in wrestling history. Truly a great story of perseverance paying off.
4) Mick Foley
Mick Foley certainly paid his dues as well during his time in the WWE. Mick was shocked to find out he’d been asked to wrestle during the second edition ever of WWE Superstars, in 1986. Mick fought under the name of “Jack” Foley, using his father’s name. Foley teamed up with Les Thornton; they took on the “British Bulldogs”. Foley learned an early lesson in a career filled with injuries in his debut match, nearly breaking his jaw after receiving a thunderous clothesline by the Dynamite Kid. Foley was unable to eat solid foods for several weeks following that match. Mick stayed (that year) for three more matches, in which he would put other opponents over. After spending some time in WCW and ECW, Foley would return to the WWE in 1996, where his road to stardom would finally begin.
3) Dean Ambrose
A surprise to most people, Dean Ambrose debuted in 2006, 7 years before he debuted with ‘The Shield’. Ambrose debuted on Velocity, taking on WWE Tag Team Champions MnM, which featured the duo of John Morrison and Joey Mercury. After losing that match, Ambrose was spotted at the Royal Rumble in 2006. How? Ambrose found himself all covered up, dressed as a druid carrying a torch to the ring during the Undertaker’s entrance. You can’t make this stuff up. Shortly after, Ambrose would depart from the company and wrestle for numerous independent promotions before returning to the WWE’s developmental territory FCW, in 2011. In late 2012, Ambrose would finally debut onto the main roster as a part of ‘The Shield’.
2) Daniel Bryan
Many believe Daniel Bryan’s debut took place as a rookie during the first season of WWE NXT. If you were one of those people, well you were mistaken. Going way back seven years earlier, before his tenure in NXT, Bryan got to perform on WWE television under the names “Bryan Danielson” and “American Dragon”. Bryan took on Jamie Noble during an episode of Velocity and then later that month, took on Rico. His most noticeable match up was against impressive new comer John Cena, who he put over that night (years ago). Quite remarkable to think that Cena would put Bryan over almost a decade later, in the main event slot.
1) CM Punk
Believe it or not, CM Punk first debuted in the WWE as an extra. CM Punk, along with former WWE wrestler Ken Kennedy, were used as “marks” during an episode of Smackdown in 2003, which saw Lesnar greet fans backstage after his Wrestlemania title win against Kurt Angle. A couple of those fans happened to be Punk and Kennedy. In 2005, Punk would enter the WWE ring, wrestling twice in the spring during episodes of Sunday Night Heat. Punk wrestled under the name of Chad Collyer and tag teamed with Chad Simpson; oddly enough, the duo’s name was “Team of CM Punk”. After a couple of matches on Sunday Night Heat, Punk would reappear in 2006 at Wrestlemania XXII. CM Punk played the role of a gangster during John Cena’s entrance, hanging off the car. Hard to believe the guy working as an extra during Cena’s entrance would become one of John’s biggest rivals. It’s also hard to believe that this was one of the ways Punk got his foot inside the WWE’s doors.