They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.
Yes, sometimes we can almost capture an entire story in just one frame. Sometimes, we’re made privy to people’s fate as they’re depicted in an instant that most often will be attributed to chance. In this case, it most certainly isn’t.
To point out the obvious: it’s not easy becoming a WWE Superstar. It takes hard work, sacrifice, and sometimes, a guiding hand. Or, since this is pro wrestling, sometimes it takes seeing a leap of faith and stiff hit to the face to really get your inspiration flowing.
These pictures of some your favorite WWE Superstars of all time depict the destinies that they all share. From meeting their heroes who would one day go on to be their peers and co-workers, to life-long friends meeting for the first time, to great legends being sparked in a moment of insanity. This piece takes a look at some of the most surreal photographs ever taken of a few of the best and brightest who have ever laced up a pair of boots for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Have a peak at these 12 incredible moments that the superstars and fans alike will never forget.
12. Tears of Joy: AJ Lee meets Lita
It was 2001 when a sobbing, young AJ Lee met her heroine, WWE star Lita.
Lita, of course, made her presence felt on the grand stage of North American pro wrestling while she was flanking the ground-breaking brother tag team, Hardy Boyz. While Matt and Jeff (along with Edge & Christian and the Dudleys) were redefining the tag team division on the men’s side, Lita was by no means slouching as she and Trish Stratus went on to shatter the status quo idea of female wrestling in the WWE at the time.
Lita had inspired a generation of young girls to take up pro wrestling, but none would have the impact that Lee had by the time she had left WWE. To see their history and legacy captured in a seemingly chance still frame picture is nothing short of fantastic.
11. Stone Cold Stunned: Kevin Owens meets Steve Austin
Look, damn near everyone loved ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. That’s no surprise.
That being said, not every single person who met him was destined for greatness. In the case of Kevin Owens though, he was.
Kevin Owens loved wrestling as a kid. So much so that he learned how to speak English from watching Jim Ross call Stone Cold’s matches during the Attitude Era (he thought “slobber-knocker” was an everyday expression). So, on one fateful day early into his independent wrestling career, it was simply a matter of fate that the current Intercontinental Champion met his hero at an airport. In the brief encounter Owens asked Austin for any piece of advice he could spare, to which the Texas Rattlesnake replied “never stop running your mouth.”
Owens took those words to heart and it changed his life forever. Looks like it worked out pretty well for him.
10. Super Kicks: Daniel Bryan meets HBK
Daniel Bryan and Shawn Michaels were in many ways cut from the same cloth.
The ability of the two superstars to steal the spotlight and put on great matches with just about anybody shouldn’t come as much of a shock to anybody as it was Shawn Michaels who in fact had a guiding hand in helping teach the upstart Daniel Bryan. It was at Shawn Michael’s wrestling academy that Daniel Bryan first cut his teeth in pro wrestling.
While many fans dreamed that there would one day be a match between the two wrestling geniuses, it simply wasn’t to be. However, there will always be a couple of solid in-ring promos between them and a great photo etched in time to leave us pondering.
9. Stratusfied: Emma meets Trish Stratus
Nowadays, NXT’s women’s division has become renowned place to catch a great bout between two tough female wrestlers, but before there was the “four horsewomen” to set the Full Sail faithful on fire, there was a chirpy, fun-loving Australian lady making things happen.
During an encounter on one of WWE’s rare Australian tours, Emma was able to snap up a picture of herself with one of her idols, the ground-breaking WWE Women’s Champion, Trish Stratus. This meeting must have had a lasting impression on the young Australian Diva and serves as a reminder to just how far she’s come.
While things may have not gone entirely Emma’s way as of this point, with her talent and tenacity, we’re confident she’ll find her way back to the top of WWE’s hierarchy in due time.
8. Larger Than Life: The Rock meets Andre the Giant
While not as much rooted in chance as some of the other entries here, this photograph of the two transcendent WWE icons is absolutely incredible. It’s hard to look at this and not think of how much influence must have been in the back of Rocky’s head when he started up in pro wrestling.
This moment undoubtedly will forever be frozen in time; a call back to the greatness of two landmark generations of professional wrestling.
7. Best in the World: CM Punk meets Daniel Bryan
Just after Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Co. had started to establish the idea of “underdog champions,” two men, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, would come into the WWE fold to build tenfold off of what the past masters before them had done to completely capture the imagination of a new generation of pro wrestling fans.
They had crossed paths a few times before they got called up to WWE and while they did cross paths on the biggest circuit, it was unfortunately not when they were both the A+ players they had become. Well, save for them teaming up in a short-lived, but very promising team in late 2013.
The picture of these two superstars well and truly captures the legacy they have left behind. Whether it’s the millions of fans or the disciples, of sorts, in the form of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and “Leaders of the New School,” these two guys have left an indelible mark on WWE and professional wrestling as a whole.
6. RVD’s Million Dollar Dream: Van Dam kisses DiBiase’s foot
Rob Van Dam always was, for lack of a better expression, one of a kind.
“The Whole F*****g Show” is definitely; an innovator in the ring, a free spirit, all-around good dude, and kind of a rebel. However, before he shaped his identity, he was more than willing to “sell-out” for some money.
In a serendipitous encounter, Rob Van Dam was once one of the audience members who offered to kiss Ted DiBiase’s foot for $100. It’s funny to think that “Mr.ECW” would ever do such a thing, but, it happened. Look back on this segment now, it’s hard not to smile and think about how silly it was.
5. Hulkamaniacs: Edge and Hulk Hogan win Tag Titles
It’s not very often in life that people get to play alongside their sports idols, let alone win a championship with them, but for life-long fan turned WWE Superstar, Edge, it was a dream come true.
Like so, so many children growing up during the “golden era of pro wrestling,” Edge loved Hulk Hogan. So much so that he and best friend/fellow WWE Superstar Christian were able to score floor tickets to catch the Hulkster go head-to-head with Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI in Toronto. By chance, the cameras caught the young “Rated-R Superstar” and his ecstatic reaction to Hogan’s entrance.
Years later, Edge would get to realize his boyhood dream when on (American) Independence Day 2002, he and his childhood hero would pull out a shock victory to win the Tag Team titles. A giddy Edge couldn’t help but melt back into a kid right before our eyes. In doing so, we were given two iconic images, to prove for all time, that dreams really can come true.
4. A New Hope: Leaders of the New School
Kevin Owens. Finn Balor. Neville. Sami Zayn. Hideo Itami.
It reads like a who’s who of today’s top-tier of professional wrestling. The WWE themselves dubbed this group of world class wrestlers as the “Leaders of the New School” upon their historic meeting at the WWE Performance Center in the late summer of 2014.
There were more than enough reasons for the entire pro wrestling world to get excited about the addition of these stars. Primarily, it was that people thought, like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins before them, they might be able to break boundaries and give the fans some world-class wrestling that the WWE had grown to neglect.
The wrestling community certainly wouldn’t be disappointed as Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville kicked down the door upon their arrival in NXT, followed quickly by Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. The guys that would have never before been given a chance in the WWE were quickly rising to the top and changing the face of the company.
It’s very possible years from now we’ll be looking back on this pivotal moment the way we look back on the ‘Four Horsemen,’ ‘DX,’ or the ‘Kliq.’
3. Super Fly: Mick Foley watches Snuka’s jump
No one ever flew in the WWE before Jimmy Snuka. His high-flying, death-defying antics captured the imagination of fans everywhere. None took to his flight as much as Mick Foley.
If you’re a fan of Mrs. Foley’s baby boy, then you might know the story by now, if not, here’s the gist of it: a young, fanatic Mick Foley goes to Madison Square Garden, watches Jimmy Snuka leap off the top of a steel cage and decides that is what he wants to do too.
From that moment on, he’d never be the same again. From his dive off the top of his roof to getting flung off the top of the “Hell in a Cell” cage, Foley would never stop doing the unimaginable in his quest for immortality… and it all started after one fateful night watching the Samoan high-flyer defy gravity.
2. Snake-bitten: CM Punk meets Steve Austin
In the lead up to WrestleMania 30, many fans were clamoring for all sorts of dream matches to be on the card with arguably none bigger than a bout pitting two of the most beloved anti-heroes in WWE history against each other… but one man was thinking about that long before anyone else.
CM Punk’s longstanding admiration for “The Toughest S.O.B.” is no secret. He cites him as a guy who broke a glass ceiling in the WWE and a game-changer. In fact, during his now legendary “pipebomb” promo, he donned a ‘Stone Cold’ shirt in homage to the WWE legend.
While the two laid promotional groundwork a few times for a potential match-up, nothing ever came of it. In all likelihood, nothing ever will. That being said, fans can always look back to this surreal picture of the two stars and wonder “what if?”
1. Their House: Paige and Becky Lynch make it together
While the “Leaders of the New School” are out changing the boys’ game, Paige and Becky Lynch have been hard at work on their mission to make the women’s division in the WWE (“Diva’s division”) far more incredible in the world of pro wrestling.
While the two women are now battling their way to the top of the division, their shared dream started years ago in the relative obscurity of the UK and Irish independent scene. Lynch would eventually cross paths with Paige when she wrestled for the Knight’s (Paige’s parents) wrestling promotion.
Ultimately both their careers took them to the biggest wrestling company in the world. So, in the fashion of “started at the bottom, now we’re here,” we have this great picture of the young ladies in their career infancy – a wonderful image of dreams coming true.