Comic books and professional wrestling actually have a whole lot in common. Both are bright and colorful stories of good battling evil, with bombastic personalities in over the top costumes regularly stealing the show. Still, the idea of a wrestler stepping out of the ring and immediately sitting down to read the latest Batman seems a little bit unlikely. Surprisingly, quite a few wrestlers are actually huge fans of comic books, and some of them might even make fun of us for being so obvious and using Batman as the example.
There has been a growing perception of wrestlers as a new type of nerd, with WWE claiming most of their superstars are big fans of video games and other child-friendly PG entertainment, and for quite a few wrestlers that has included a genuine passion for the wide world of comic books. Not only have several wrestlers purported to be fans, some have incorporated comic references into their wrestling characters and ring gear, and a few even branched out in the other direction and wrote some comic books of their own. Read on and find out which wrestlers can’t wait for Free Comic Book Day on May 7 with our list of 15 wrestlers who you didn’t know were comic book nerds.
15. Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus is known as one of the greatest and most beautiful female wrestlers of all time, but no one ever accused her of being a “girly girl,” so maybe it isn’t too shocking she considers herself a huge comic book fan. It doesn’t hurt that her brother-in-law owns a comic book shop, which is where her fandom began to blossom when she was 18 years old. Stratus says she’s been Wonder Woman for Halloween more often than not, and when she was younger she was a fan of Betty and Veronica, but as a young adult it was Danger Girl that made her a full-blown comic fan. More recently, Stratus has also claimed to be a big fan of The Amazing Spider-Man and the recent Iron Man films starring Robert Downey, Jr.
14. Cody Rhodes
On the surface, Stardust is Cody Rhodes’s answer to his famous older brother’s Goldust, but on a deeper level, the character is actually a reflection of the youngest Rhodes’s lifelong love of comic books, as well. Before he became Stardust, Rhodes was well known for his mustache, which he compared to that of Tony Stark and Dum Dum Dugan in an interview with Marvel.com. Cody’s real favorite seems to be the X-Men, with a particular personal resonance towards Cyclops. Rhodes finally got to become the super villain he always wanted Stardust to be when he briefly feuded with Stephen Amell, who plays The Green Arrow on the CW series Arrow. A few years earlier, Rey Mysterio dressed up as Captain America to battle Rhodes as well, showing the villainous streak may even predate Stardust. Speaking of Mysterio…
13. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
Rey Mysterio hasn’t made his love of comic books a particularly huge part of his character, but during his time in WWE it was almost a promise he would indulge in his fandom at least once a year. Most people wait for comic to dress up as their favorite hero, but Rey did so each year at WrestleMania. His first appearance at the show was WrestleMania XIX in 2003, when he dressed up as Daredevil. Costumes inspired by The Flash, Avatar, The Joker, and the aforementioned Captain America all followed. Now that Rey works for Lucha Underground, it looks like he won’t need to change things up to be a comic book character at all, since Lucha’s El Rey Network has also begun producing a comic book with Rey as the main character.
12. Mike Quackenbush
Mike Quackenbush is a wrestler in his own right, but he earned his true stake in wrestling history as the founder of CHIKARA. CHIKARA is an independent promotion, which in Quackenbush’s own words “makes pro wrestling more like the live-action comic book [he] always thought it was.” Quackenbush has taken that mentality to the limits, blending everything he personally loves about comics with the world of pro wrestling and creating a product that has strongly resonated with its fans since 2002. He’s obviously a huge comic book fan, and in interviews, he easily drops references to obscure plot lines from every comic imaginable, showing his fandom extends far beyond a mild influence. Quackenbush has recently been extending his influence to NXT as a consultant, trainer, and producer. Plenty of CHIKARA’s top stars are big comic fans, too…
11. Christopher Daniels
Christopher Daniels is one of the biggest names in modern wrestling never to be a success in WWE. Daniels usually competes under his own name, but he briefly found success in CHIKARA and around the world as the fun loving, flashy, comic book inspired Curry Man. His regular persona is darker and more brooding, but it was apparently enough to inspire a comic book anyway, as Daniels and his fellow wrestler Frankie Kazarian produced their own comic titled “Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics!” Daniels co-wrote the comic, while Kazarian was simply a producer. Daniels has always been a huge comic book fan and regularly offered suggestions for Kazarian to expand his fandom with while they promoted their comics. So, on that note…
10. Frankie Kazarian
Kazarian is the quieter partner in “Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics!,” but fans shouldn’t take that to mean he isn’t a big comic book fan, too. As a tag team, Kazarian and Daniels call themselves Bad Influence, but Daniels’s personal influence on Kazarian as a comic book fan hasn’t been anything but positive. Kazarian openly admits he isn’t nearly the fan his partner is, but he’s always open and willing to learn about the new and obscure books Daniels tries to send his way. Reflecting on the comic book they created together, both men seemed open to the idea of creating more comics together once they retire from the ring, proving once and for all Kazarian is a true fan, and isn’t simply along for the ride.
9. James Mitchell
When looking at James Mitchell, known in WCW as James Vandenberg and in ECW as The Sinister Minister, one can definitely envision a demonic comic book super villain. That’s no surprise, as Mitchell says he crafted his character based on his various comic book characters as a child, and unsurprisingly Mitchell says he always kind of hoped evil would triumph over good. Mitchell’s favorites included The Joker and The Green Goblin, and he says fans should be able to see the obvious influence those characters played in his wrestling character. Mitchell very briefly hosted a segment in WCW Vandenberg’s Odditorium, which was clearly influenced by Tales From the Crypt, another comic he claimed to have been a huge fan of when he was younger.
8. Sasha Banks
When she steps into the ring, Sasha Banks exhibits a personal style influenced by Kanye West and Beyoncé, but when she takes to Instagram, her style looks less like The Boss and more like The Sailor—Sailor Moon that is. Sasha is a huge fan of the Sailor Moon anime series, which is based on a Japanese manga series, so we have to imagine she’s a fan of the comics as well. She also posted pictures of herself dressed up as The Joker one Halloween, and has showed off her rendition of a Ninja Turtle, as well. Sasha might be more into cosplay and anime than actually reading the comic books her favorite characters originate from, but that doesn’t change the passion with which she obviously supports them.
Rusev might seem like the more obvious super villain of the duo, but apparently it’s Lana who reads the comic books inspiring his evil Russian mannerisms. Lana has worked in almost all forms of entertainment, and when she was younger her only real career aspiration was to work in show business, so maybe an interest in comic books is a natural extension of her love of all things show. She hasn’t spoken about her secret interest in comics at any great length, but once posted a photo of herself admiring comic-inspired Japanese art on Instagram, and has regularly posted jokes about wanting to be either a cartoon or comic book character. More tellingly, Lana has also made posts about her side projects as a writer, which included writing some kind of a comic book of her own.
6. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
Most of the wrestlers on this list either possess a certain joie de vivre that makes them appear eternally youthful, or they actually are quite young, so “Hacksaw” might seem a little bit out of place. It’s true he didn’t get into comic books as a child as intensely as most of the others on the list, but he eventually grew to appreciate them after making countless appearances at various Comic-Cons around the world. He also was a fan of the obvious names such as Batman and Superman when he was a kid, and Duggan even claims these heroes inspired his virtuous babyface persona. Explaining how he became so enthralled with comic book conventions, Hacksaw explained to him they were “more than comic conventions, [they were] more like pop culture conventions.” With that mentality in mind, maybe Duggan isn’t out of place on this list at all, since just about everybody can appreciate pop culture.
5. CM Punk
CM Punk famously left WWE and retired from wrestling in 2014, amidst a great deal of controversy. Fans have been long awaiting his eventual debut for UFC, where he intends to transition into a potentially lengthy MMA career, but they might not realize he’s already been hard at work on yet another project. Punk started in the comic book industry by writing an introduction for Avengers vs. X-Men and he called it a dream come true, so we can’t even imagine what kind of dreams he fulfilled when he was the writer of the first issue of Thor Annual in 2015. Marvel Comics have since kept Punk’s dream alive by announcing he would be the writer of Drax, Punk’s first ongoing series. Punk always screamed, “It’s clobbering time!” on his way to the ring, referencing The Thing and preparing his opponents for what was next to come. We have to wonder what he screams before he gets to work writing the comics.
4. Rob Van Dam
We’re not saying you need to smoke weed to enjoy comic books, but there are definitely some people out there who enjoy combining the two habits. Rob Van Dam could easily be the poster child for such a combination. Some other men on this list wrote comics, or were heavily inspired by them in their everyday life, but RVD is the only one who owned his own comic book store. Unfortunately, RVD’s 5-Star Comics closed its doors in 2006, but we have to give the Whole Damn Show some serious points for effort on this one. Van Dam also briefly wrote and produced his own comic series, an original creation called Twisted Perception. Although his shop closed and his series didn’t exactly take the world by storm, Van Dam is undeniably one of the biggest comic book fans out there.
3. The Hurricane
Okay, so maybe this one shouldn’t be too surprising. Shane Helms debuted in WCW with his real name as a member of Three Count. After WWE purchased WCW, Helms began wrestling for that company as Hurricane Helms, but quickly dropped his last name and became a full-blown superhero. As the heroic Hurricane, he won the WWE European, Hardcore, Cruiserweight, and Tag Team titles. He had a variety of super sidekicks including Rosey, Mighty Molly, and Super Stacy. The entirety of The Hurricane gimmick was inspired by Helms’ genuine appreciation of The Green Lantern, of which he is such a huge fan of he has a tattoo of the logo on his arm. At the height of his fame as a wrestler, Helms was claiming he read 30-40 new comic books a month, a pretty high average for even a hardcore fan.
2. Stevie Richards
Stevie Richards has somehow become one of the wrestlers most synonymous with the world of comic books, but according to him, he actually came into the world of comics a little bit late. That didn’t stop him from quickly becoming a huge fan of Batman, and later on The New 52. Stevie’s reputation as a big fan of comic books probably comes from the fact he was a member of the bWo and regularly teamed with The Blue Meanie, a wrestler who seemed more like a comic book character than arguably even The Hurricane. This makes sense, but isn’t entirely fair. Maybe it would make more sense to look at the guy who invented the Blue Meanie’s gimmick, and call him the huge comic book fan…
Raven has a reputation as one of the darkest, most violent, and most vicious wrestlers ever to step into the ring, but he also has a reputation as being one of the smartest. Raven has always been a huge comic book fan, regularly wearing shirts advertising Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and he would occasionally even quote Gaiman’s words in his famous promos. Raven also professed himself as a huge fan of Inhumans, Watchmen, Daredevil, Swamp Thing, and surely plenty of other comics. Not only is he a fan, but Raven is a comic book writer as well, beating all of the others to the trend by writing an issue of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web in 2002. Raven might have taken his love of comic books a little too far when he married a model named Selina Kyle in 2007, especially considering the couple later divorced in 2013.