The road to becoming a WWE superstar is a long and difficult one. Many superstars had to endure years and years of countless hours of training, while wrestling matches in school gymnasiums with little or no pay. These struggles can make or break a person whose ultimate goal is to make it to the pinnacle of the wrestling industry. Several fall short of this goal, as the WWE is the most competitive wrestling promotion in the world. It takes many special attributes to be a part of this prestigious wrestling company.
Many superstars on this list took a path of pursuing a career as a professional wrestler, for some, pro wrestling was never even on their agenda. Some had other aspirations, such as becoming bodybuilders, working in the music industry, modelling or even becoming professional powerlifters. For others, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, which led them down the path in the wrestling industry. Despite their different paths to eventually getting that golden opportunity, a door finally opened for these 15 superstars who eventually became the household names we have come to know and love. Let us now take a look at who these 15 former and current WWE stars are and what jobs they did before becoming these incredibly famous wrestlers.
15. Cesaro: Data File Administrator
Working the independent circuit can be financially taxing. Most independent wrestlers don’t make much and have to get another job most of the time. Working independently is seen as a way to gain experience and get some type of exposure in the world of wrestling. After a successful run in Japan and Mexico, Cesaro brought his talents to North America. The “king of swing” got a job at Johnson & Johnson while still wrestling the indie circuit. What did he do at Johnson & Johnson, you ask? Well, he was a Data File Administrator. Administrator by day, wrestler by night; that’s how Cesaro made a living for many years in North America until he earned a stable paycheck working for bigger indie promotions.
14. Roman Reigns: Football Player
Roman Reigns was always a very talented football player. He won honors for best defensive player in high school. He then went on to set a record for most sacks in one season at Georgia Tech. After his successful college career was over, Reigns went surprisingly undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft. Reigns would go on to sign with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Roman only lasted a month with the Vikings before being released. Reigns was then picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars, only to be released once again a short week later.
In 2008, Reigns would leave the US signing with the Canadian Football League as a part of the Edmonton Eskimos. Reigns featured in five games and started in three of them. Despite some highs with the team, he was released in November of 2008, ending his one year term with the team. In 2010, Reigns signed a developmental contract with the WWE.
13. Sting: Bodybuilder
Sting excelled in football and basketball at a young age (he was known to be a very active child). Later on, Sting would develop a strong passion for bodybuilding. At the time, Sting had no interest or desire for the wrestling business as his knowledge about the field was extremely limited. Sting continued to pursue his bodybuilding career and eventually bought a Gold’s Gym with a friend. His commitment to fitness was his passion, but one night, that all changed. Sting attended a live WWE event which took place in Los Angeles. Following the event, the Stinger was absolutely amazed by the performers he saw that night. Sting changed his focus and decided to become a professional wrestler following that very night. Wow.
12. Trish Stratus: Gym Receptionist
This is a great example of being in the right place at the right time. Trish enrolled at York University, studying kinesiology and biology. However, due to a faculty strike her plans were changed. Trish got a job at a local gym as a receptionist, when suddenly she was approached by the publisher for MuscleMag International, who was interested in having her do a test shoot. The shoot was a success, and Trish would go on to sign a two year deal with the company. In May of 1998, Trish graced the cover for the magazine. Her exposure and working for a wrestling show on a Toronto sports radio station eventually got her a job as a manager for the WWE.
11. Wade Barrett: Bare Knuckle Boxer
Before he ever stepped into a ring, Barrett was a champion bare knuckle boxer. One night after defeating an opponent for a substantial cash prize, Barrett was stabbed with an eight inch blade by a robber trying to steal Wade’s earnings. Barrett escaped the attack with the cash and his life, despite significant blood loss. After this incident, enough was enough and Barrett left the world of bare knuckle boxing, earning a degree in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool. He worked in a science laboratory and as a recruitment consultant while he was training to become a wrestler. He has stated that if he wasn’t working with the WWE, he would still be in that very science laboratory.
10. Sheamus: IT Technician
Here’s a couple of things you probably didn’t know about Sheamus; one, he was a former IT Technician, and two, as a young lad the celtic warrior sang for the Palestrina Choir till he was 13. Now, I’m guessing most of you probably can’t picture Sheamus doing any of these things. Well, soon after things changed, Sheamus began working as a bouncer for a nightclub, and this gig would ultimately lead him to being a bodyguard for some high profile names including Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. Furthermore, Sheamus was also used as an extra for the WWE, he was dressed as a fake security guard in two episodes.
9. Charlotte: Personal Trainer
Charlotte was athletically gifted from a young age. Charlotte excelled at volleyball in high school where she won two state championships. After high school, Charlotte attended North Carolina State University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. Though, even after attaining her degree, Charlotte was never interested in working in public relations. She instead decided to pursue her passion for fitness and became a certified personal trainer. She worked as a personal trainer for four years until she decided to walk in her father’s footsteps, pursuing a career in the wrestling industry.
8. The Undertaker: Basketball
Before making his wrestling debut in 1984 for World Class Championship Wrestling, The Undertaker followed his first passion of playing basketball. Graduating from high school in 1983, The Undertaker attended Waltrip High School, where he would go on to join the school’s basketball team. In college, Taker would receive a scholarship with Texas Wesleyan University. He was the team’s starting center during the 1985-1986 season. Taker later dropped out of school to focus on a career in sports, and he contemplated going overseas to play basketball in Europe before deciding to focus on professional wrestling.
7. Big E: Powerlifting
Big E was graced with some serious talents in football and amateur wrestling because of his size and mobility, something still very apparent in his in-ring work today. Big E won a high school state championship in wrestling and also played football for the University of Iowa as a defensive lineman.
Big E would go on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, but he would later once again change focus, this time into powerlifting. Big E won two powerlifting competitions and set numerous records in squat, bench press, deadlift, and powerlifting totals. These impressive feats got the attention of the WWE. Soon after, Big E was offered a developmental contract from the company.
6. Randy Orton: Gas Station Attendant
Knowing the hardships of a life as a professional wrestler, Orton’s parents (especially his father), former wrestler Cowboy Bob Orton, warned Randy to stay away from the wrestling industry. Randy agreed and after graduating high school enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Orton’s military career was quite disastrous though, as he received a bad conduct discharge after going completely nuts on two separate occasions, not to mention disobeying an order from a commanding officer.
Orton spent 38 days in a military prison, and after serving his sentence he left the Marine Corps. After the military, Orton was working at a local gas station. Orton later got the courage to ask his father to train him. His father went against his own advice to his son because he saw how much wrestling meant to Randy. Things worked out pretty well…
5. Vince McMahon: Owner of Cape Cod Coliseum
Vince was introduced to the wrestling industry at the age of 12 (at this same time he met his father), and was immediately drawn to the wrestling business, wanting to walk in the same footsteps as his father.
McMahon graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in business. After spending some time working with different wrestling promotions, Vince and Linda purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum, along with its Atlantic Coast hockey team. After purchasing the arena, McMahon brought in high profile musicians to the venue, such as Van Halen and Rush.
McMahon would later further his business education by joining the International Association of Arena Managers. Vince learned many details about the business through this association, something his wife Linda calls “a great benefit” for today’s success of the WWE.
4. Hulk Hogan: Musician
This may surprise many, but the Hulkster was a very skilled musician during his teen years. After late night gigs kept on getting in the way of his studies, Hogan decided to drop out of university and pursue a career as a musician. Hogan and two other musicians from the Tampa area formed a band called Ruckus, in 1976. The band became huge amongst the locals, playing in nightly gigs around the city.
During Hogan’s free time away from Ruckus, the Hulkster enjoyed weightlifting. The bar Hogan played at was a popular place for many wrestlers in the Tampa region. One night Jack and Gerald Brisco showed up and were really impressed with Hogan’s massive physique. They approached him after the show and asked if he would be interested in becoming a pro wrestler. Hogan, who was a fan of wrestling, was obviously very interested. After Hogan went into training he put aside his music career and quit Ruckus. On August 10th 1977, Hulk made his wrestling debut.
3. AJ Styles: Ambulance Driver
Growing up in poverty limited AJ’s ability to watch wrestling on TV. It wasn’t until he enrolled college that Styles tried his hand at pro wrestling. His college friends at the time entered a professional wrestling school, and as a result, Styles decided to find out whether or not he had a natural aptitude for it. While balancing schoolwork and wrestling, AJ mowed lawns and drove ambulances for extra income to support his tuition and his passion for wrestling.
2. Triple H: Bodybuilding
At a young age, Triple H always had a strong passion for wrestling and bodybuilding. When he was only 14 years old, Triple H began bodybuilding. Hunter loved to train and loved the atmosphere the gym provided, and even though most of the people he trained with were much older, he grew close relationships with his training partners. Hunter was at the gym every day, so he eventually decided to start working there since he was constantly around. Hunter’s hard work and passion for bodybuilding paid off in 1988 when he won the Teenage Mr. New Hampshire competition. A couple of years later, Hunter joined Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school in an attempt to make it in the wrestling business. In 1992, Hunter made his pro wrestling debut for Kowalski’s promotion wrestling under the name Terra Ryzing.
1. John Cena: Limo Driver
Cena graduated with a degree in Exercise Physiology. Yet, it was his passion for fitness that would make Cena pursue a career as a bodybuilder instead. Bodybuilding is an expensive sport to take on, so while doing so, Cena earned extra cash by working for a limousine company as a driver. Along with being a limo driver, Cena also spent some time working as a bouncer. Although he wasn’t paid all that much for being a bouncer, the place he worked at fed him as well, and at the time it was a deal Cena simply could not refuse. Man oh man, has he come a long way.