Although the title off this article says it all, a common theme in this article is how much a wrestler evolves over time, whether it be in looks, character, attitude or general personality. Superstars such as the Undertaker, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin have all evolved immensely on route to becoming some of the biggest household names the business has ever encountered. Before they hit super status, many of these wrestlers were simply unrecognizable, with rather questionable gimmicks. It is brilliant to see how much can change with a little tweak here and there. That said, some of these pictures will show you how much these wrestlers have grown, while some other pictures will simply make you laugh, and other pictures, well, they will leave you in absolute awe. Here are 15 hilarious and rare must see wrestling photos.
15) John Cena Signs With OVW
This picture was taken in 2001 when John Cena officially signed a developmental deal with the WWE. Early on Vince McMahon was not too high on Cena. His image physically was great but his blond tips were a little off putting. What made matters even worse for Cena was the class he was in with at the time. The OVW class featured himself, Batista, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. Cena struggled to find a gimmick, switching from “The Prototype” to “Mr.P” to finally John Cena. Cena has certainly come a long way from a jacked blonde headed kid with limited wrestling experience, to the face of the WWE.
14) The Undertaker and Theodore Long
To answer your question, yes, that is The Undertaker. And yes, that is Theodore Long by his side. Dating all the way back in 1989, The Undertaker made his WCW debut under the name of “Mean Mark Callous”, a name chosen by Terry Funk. Mean Mark Callous was identified as someone who wore black, listened to Ozzy Osbourne and had a soft spot for snakes (sounds a lot like Jake Roberts, if you ask us). Long joined The Undertaker to try and give his character a spark. After only a year, The Undertaker left WCW and signed with the WWE in October of 1990. Long, on the other hand, would join the WWE in 1998 as a referee, a role he would stay with till 2002.
13) Randy Orton As A Child
This picture of a young Randy Orton with braces and acne pretty much sums a misconception that a lot of people have about Orton. Randy was actually bullied as a young child, contrary to what many people actually believe. The misconception that people have of Orton today is that he was one of the popular kids in school, but this however was not the case. Orton had braces and was unfortunate to have a bad case of acne at a young age. Randy was often picked on and bullied throughout his high school days. Despite his lack of confidence, Orton faced his fears everyday and eventually became one of the greatest stars in wrestling today. Truly a great turn of events for Orton.
12) Edge at WrestleMania VI
As a young boy, Edge had an obsession with the world of professional wrestling. He vowed to all of his friends and family that one day he would make it to the WWE and become a World Champion. In this picture, you can see Edge amongst the masses in absolute awe of the spectacle that was taking place in front of 67, 678 fans at the SkyDome in Toronto. The venue was the location to WrestleMania VI. This event featured arguably the greatest main event in WrestleMania history, which saw The Warrior defeat The Hulkster and take home the WWE Championship.
11) Edge and Christian on Haven
These two best friends hold a really special bond, dating all the way back to the 5th grade. After Edge was forced into retirement due to injury, and he pondered what his next step would be. Literally two days later, Edge received a phone call to appear on the Syfy TV show Haven. After one episode appearance, the producers of the show liked him so much that they offered Edge a full time position as the sheriff. Edge obviously jumped at the opportunity. Christian would later guest star on the show playing the role of “McHugh”, Dwight’s (Edge) oldest and closest friend (like in real life). Christian signed on to do three episodes of the show.
10) Dolph Ziggler as NICKY
We have all got to start somewhere, right? Well, for Dolph Ziggler, unfortunately that somewhere was as a member of the “Spirit Squad”. Dolph performed under the name of “Nicky”, which he used in OVW. After the Spirit Squad failed miserably, they were all sent back down to OVW for repackaging and retooling. Unfortunately the only one who would survive and return to the WWE a year later under a new name and gimmick, was Dolph Ziggler.
9) Roman Reigns With Georgia Tech
Before becoming a household name with the WWE, Roman Reigns was regarded as a tremendous football prospect. His friends and family truly believed he would make the NFL one day. In this picture, Reigns was at the prime of his career playing for his College team “Georgia Tech”. Reigns was a starter for 3 years and the captain of the team. Despite his tremendous College success, Roman went undrafted. He would later be signed by the Vikings, only to be cut in the same month. After a year stint in the Canadian Football League, Reigns reassessed and began his new journey into the world of pro wrestling in July of 2010.
8) Batista as “Leviathan”
Despite being rejected by the WCW “Power Plant” Batista continued to follow his dream and eventually got a developmental deal with the WWE. Batista made his debut under the gimmick of “Leviathan”, a dark and mysterious character who would later join forces with Synn as a member of the “Disciples of Synn”. Despite the amazing response that this gimmick received, Leviathan was changed to Batista. When he made his debut in the WWE, McMahon felt like there was no market for a Leviathan gimmick. Many OVW heads were very displeased, claiming that Leviathan could have been the next generation Undertaker or Kane.
7) Bray in Nexus
Bray made his debut in NXT’s second season under the name of “Husky Harris”. Harris was eliminated midway through the show, and after his elimination, Husky made an unsuccessful run at the tag team titles. Unfortunately, after this, Harris was written off television. After returning to FCW, Harris was in desperate need of a new gimmick, and in April of 2012, the Wyatt Family was born. The new face of fear has come a long way since debuting as Husky Harris.
6) Candid Photo Of Real Life Friends
Early on in his career, Orton was reportedly not easy to deal with. It seemed that becoming champion at the age of 24 got to his head, and Randy was clearly not ready to carry the weight of the company on his shoulders. Later, Randy turned to drugs and a party life, and while living this kind of lifestyle Orton was unapproachable. One person who can attest to that is John Cena. Cena recalls Orton as being a real “prick” and someone who was strongly disliked by his peers. After Orton’s daughter was born, the former WWE champion began to see clearly again and finally changed his ways. On route to changing his ways, Orton became very close friends with John Cena. The two are not only great friends, but also regarded as the faces of the company today.
5) Before Razor and The Phenom Were Born
Before these two icons revolutionized the business, the two were wrestling around the world trying to make a name for themselves. The duo tagged together in Japan, frequently challenging for the IWPG tag team titles. The Undertaker fought under the name of “Punisher Dice Morgan”. The two began to develop a strong friendship. After both failed to catch heat in the WCW, they both headed out to the WWE in search of a fresh start and new gimmick. This decision changed the career of both Hall and Taker.
4) Vince McMahon Marries 17 Year Old Linda McMahon
The high school sweethearts met at a very young age, and once they were a couple Vince McMahon eventually lived with Linda and her mother because of a string of abusive step-fathers. After Linda graduated from high school, McMahon did not hesitate to ask Linda to marry him. This picture was taken on August 22, 1966. As you see in the photo above, the baby faces married extremely young, McMahon was 20, while Linda was only 17 years old. Next year will mark this couple’s 50 year anniversary. Quite an achievement.
3) Hogan and His Band ‘Ruckus’
Before becoming one of the most iconic wrestlers in pro wrestling history, Hulk Hogan had a promising future in the music business. Hogan was a very skilled fretless bass guitarist. In fact, Hulk ultimately dropped out of University to tour with his band full time. The band eventually became huge amongst the locals in the Tampa area. Later on, the Brisco’s would persuade Hogan into joining the wrestling business. He would end up quitting the band for a chance at becoming a pro wrestler. We think he made a good decision.
2) A young Steve Austin and Paul Heyman in WCW
Managed by Paul Heyman, Austin looked to be a superstar on the rise. In his early WCW days, Austin wrestled under the name of “Stunning” Steve Austin. This picture shows Stunning Steve with his manager Paul Heyman, and the belt he is holding is the Television Championship. Austin won the Television Championship a total of three times and held the belt for a combined 431 days. Despite his success though, Austin and Bischoff never saw eye to eye, and eventually Austin was released over the phone by Bischoff (something Steve Austin was extremely bitter about). Heyman quickly contacted Austin and offered him a job with ECW. A bitter Austin used ECW as a platform to develop his 3:16 attitude gimmick. Just as Heyman set his sights on crowning Austin as the champion, McMahon hired Austin to the WWE, thanks to Jim Ross and Kevin Nash. In 1995, the Ringmaster was born.
1) WWE and WCW Reunite At The Peak Of The Battle
The internet would have certainly blown up back in the 90’s if this picture had a bigger platform. Most of the prime superstars from both promotions are featured in this picture, from Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Big Show, Billy Gunn, British Bulldog and the face of the WWE at the time, Steve Austin. This picture is iconic in the hearts of wrestling fans for so many reasons; most notably, the particular era it was taken in has changed the landscape of pro wrestling forever. A true once in a lifetime type of picture in the prime of the battle.