Looking at the WWE today, it isn’t even close to being what it was back in the 90s. Although we critique the on-screen product, the WWE has grown leaps and bounds in terms of technological advances. For that reason, the ratings have become secondary, and the WWE is now a juggernaut online when it comes to its social media pull.
Adding to that, most wrestling fans get their information online, whether it be through rumor mill websites, or catching up on programming through YouTube or WWE.com. Today, options seem to be just a click away. Along with that, we now have the luxury to see what some of our old school favorites are up to nowadays. Some still look identical, while others leave us in absolute shock for how different they look. In this article, we take ten names from the 90s and 2000s, and showcase just how different they look. We’ll also do the opposite for the other five on the list that look identical today as they did in their glory days. Along with that, we’ll give an update on what they’re up to nowadays.
So without further ado, let’s begin. Here are ten former WWE stars you wouldn’t even recognize and five that look exactly the same. Be sure to share the article, and most of all, enjoy!
15 Wouldn’t Recognize: Jon Heidenreich
We like to associate the Attitude Era with some of the weirdest gimmicks we’d ever seen, but the Ruthless Aggression era in the 2000s also provided some mind-boggling personas that included this man, who was last seen in the WWE back in 2006; a decade ago.
Well, a decade later in November of 2016, Heidenreich was spotted by a fan at a Survivor Series party. The WWE alum is 44 years old nowadays, and it’s quite evident he’s aged quite a bit since his days in the spotlight. He had the size to succeed in the business and was even pushed to feud with the likes of The Undertaker at one point, but at the end of the day, fans just lost interest in the big New York native.
As of the summer of 2016, Jon was added to the list of former WWE Superstars suing the company for traumatic brain related injuries.
14 Wouldn’t Recognize: Adam Rose
We’re quite sure many of you didn’t expect to see a wrestler recently released on this list of Superstars you wouldn’t recognize. In fact, Rose was released just a year ago in May of 2016 due to a martial issue. Things were going downhill for the NXT star after he failed the Wellness Policy multiple times; the arrest was the last straw and he was ousted by the company.
Leaving the WWE, Rose completely changed his entire look cutting off the long chops he was famously known for. Nowadays, Rose has a shaved head while looking much thinner in comparison to his WWE days. Rose is still working in the business to date, appearing for small indie companies. He hinted at a WWE return at one point but it seems like that declaration fell through. In a recent interview, Rose discussed the fact that he’s likely to leave the sports and entertainment field at the end of 2017, in hopes of starting a new chapter in his life.
13 Same: Stevie Richards
Known as a wrestling journeyman, Stevie Richards was a valuable lower card commodity for the WWE throughout his run in the company. His most prominent push took place in 2000 when he was placed as the leader of the Right To Censor faction. At that point, Richards showed he could have not only gone in the ring, but was also a great asset on the microphone.
During the brand split, his name was brought up as a possible alum returning. Fans were puzzled by this considering his older age of 45, but if you dig a little deeper, you’re well aware that he’s still in fantastic shape nowadays, which is why the company had interest in the Philly native. Richards is the proud owner of his own fitness company nowadays, and it seems like he practices what he preaches, looking even better than he did years ago. Along with his fitness career, you can still find Richards at various wrestling conventions across the globe. If you don’t believe how great he still looks, you can see for yourselves!
12 Wouldn’t Recognize: Rico
Thanks to the great Chris Jericho Podcast, we were given an update on the status of the 55 year old Rico Constantino who made his name be known to the WWE Universe during his run in the 2000s. Y2J posted a picture alongside his former pal, and my oh my, does he look quite different nowadays!
Unlike other WWE Superstars, Rico decided to leave the business venturing out in a new career in law enforcement. As of 2006, the former WWE star was working as an inspector in the Nevada area. Sadly, in 2016, Rico received some unfortunate news as he battled ongoing concussion and heart issues. Constantino was desperate for some funding and that was made impossible as he didn’t contact his close friends for nearly nine months. Thankfully, the likes of Chris Jericho came to his aid by providing some funding and he seems to be doing much better today. His GoFundMe page is close to the 10K goal, almost at 7K today.
11 Wouldn’t Recognize: Chris Nowinski
Coming out of the Tough Enough pipelines, Chris looked like a great future heel as he oozed charisma and for that, his persona excelled. Unfortunately, inside of the ring, he faced numerous concussion related injuries throughout his career and he was forced to retire young. Nowadays, at the age of 38, he’s a long way away from being that young kid, with the long curly hair.
Since leaving the WWE, Chris has made it his priority to research concussion related issues that affected people like himself throughout his pro wrestling career. He wrote multiple books on head traumas, as well as shooting documentaries, some of which even appeared on ESPN. Along with that, Nowinski also opened up the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a place of research intended to solve the ongoing concussion problems in all of pro sports. He might have suffered from concussion related issues, but it seems like he’s putting his brain to good use nowadays.
10 Same: Shannon Moore
It’s a shame that a great talent like Shannon Moore was pretty much only remembered by WWE fans for being the protégé of Matt Hardy during his run in the big company. Moore had tremendous talent and a great look, but it seemed like Vince wasn’t buying into his smaller size (we’ve heard that one before). Shannon would find greater success outside of the WWE, working with the likes of TNA and currently, the indie scene.
At the age of 38, Moore is still active in the wrestling business appearing at the occasional local show. If you see him physically, you’ll understand why he’s still going strong; Moore has hardly aged, still looking fantastic. Like some of the others on the list, you can find Shannon at numerous wrestling conventions throughout the year; again, you guys can see for yourselves how great the Cruiserweight still looks today. Someone tell Vince to hire him as a part of the WWE’s future “Broken Family”. Man, would that be something!
9 Wouldn’t Recognize: Essa Rios
If you’re a 90s kid, that name likely sent nostalgia feels down your spine; the Mexican worked in the lackluster Light Heavyweight Division during the late 90s. He was a great talent with decent skills, however, the division was a huge bust and not even close to WCW’s Cruiserweight class. For that reason, McMahon lost faith in the wrestlers from the weight class and he was extinct from the WWE sooner rather than later.
For those of you that didn’t keep tabs on the Mexican, Rios would continue back at home following his 2001 release. As of 2014, he was still being booked at local events in his native land. Rios spent the bulk of his career back at home working with AAA and Los Invasores. He even made a brief stop with TNA many moons ago back in 2004. Throughout the rest of his non-WWE days, he was known back at home as Mr. Aguila.
8 Wouldn’t Recognize: Rob Conway
You probably remember Rob from his time with the Tag Team La Resistance. The duo actually drew some serious heat, and had the look to be potential stars in the business. According to Rob, that dream went down in flames once Muhammad Hassan was brought into the picture, with fans showing their patriotism through his acts; the WWE didn’t want to overkill the national pride angles, so it hurt the duo's card status. He was a clean worker the WWE tried to salvage a couple of times with new looks but ultimately, his run came to an end in 2009 (roughly).
At the age of 43, Rob is still in the business working the indies and with NWA. Body-wise, the dude still looks great and he even competes in fitness competitions. As for his look visually, he doesn’t resemble the same guy from his WWE days, rocking a beard, along with long hair. Conway is another face on this list you can catch at a wrestling convention.
7 Same: Shelton Benjamin
Whether former WWE stars are aware or not, the company keeps tabs on their former talents. Those that have kept in good shape usually get a call back at one point, and that’s exactly what happened with Shelton Benjamin recently.
His initial release seemed like a kick to the groin for both the fans and Shelton. He was a tremendous talent in the ring, but the WWE didn’t value his overall work as much. Shelton was a part of several releases as the WWE underwent some budget cuts. The decision didn’t faze him, and he’d go on to showcase his talents with the likes of ROH, New Japan, Pro Wrestling Noah, and many other indie promotions. Shelton was ultimately welcomed back to the WWE during the summer of 2016, however, an injury dampened the return and it remains to be seen if he’ll join the company now that he’s fully recovered.
6 Wouldn’t Recognize: Rodney Mack
As we stated earlier in the article, we love to bash the Attitude Era for creating some of the worst gimmicks in pro wrestling history, but the 2000s were no slouch either providing the viewer with a plethora of forgettable personas, including this one in Rodney Mack. The Louisiana native was actually pushed to the moon initially, going on an undefeated streak. But of course, like the WWE loves to do, that streak got destroyed by Goldberg, out of all people, who wrecked the heel quickly. It was downhill from then on, and he’d work the indie scene for the rest of his career following his second release in 2007.
As of last year, Mack was still being advertised for local matches performing in front of smaller sized crowds. He’s 46 today, and as documented in a couple of recent pics, he looks quite different to his WWE days. Like some of the others on this list, Mack joined the lawsuit against the WWE for brain injuries back in the summer of 2016.
5 Wouldn’t Recognize: Mark Jindrak
Kudos to Mark Jindrak for turning into a megastar overseas in Mexico, however, his time with big promotions like the WWE didn’t go as swimmingly. Mark was labelled as a big time future star, however that didn’t turn out as planned. He was scheduled to be part of Evolution in what could have been a career defining moment for the big man, however, that was scrapped as Batista would end up taking his place. Just to give you an idea, they even shot Evolution vignettes with Jindrak in the stable, that’s how close he was.
To his credit, he completely changed his look and became a huge star in Mexico, working for CMLL. The Auburn, New York native has called Mexico City his home for years now. He’s even thriving as a soap opera star appearing on various different Mexican TV shows (as recent as 2017). It seems like a fresh start both look-wise and feel-wise benefitted the former WWE Superstar greatly.
4 Same: John Morrison
Age 37, John Morrison literally looks identical to his days in the WWE which ended back in 2011 due to creative frustrations from both sides. Morrison opted for creative control, while the WWE wasn't willing to give him that kind of power. It hurt the relationship and he eventually agreed to leave the company. He’s thrived since leaving, becoming the face of Lucha Underground, along with gaining creative control over his gimmick. His work rate hasn't suffered one bit, and it seems likely he’ll return to the WWE at some point.
John has expressed his desire to return and admits that when the timing’s right, he’ll be back. For now, he continues his brilliant work on the indie scene with Lucha Underground, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and other promotions. You can follow Morrison via Twitter and Instagram to get an intimate look on just how great he still looks today, despite the fact that he’s slowly inching towards his 40s!
3 Wouldn’t Recognize: Val Venis
Venis was cringeworthy during the Attitude Era days as he really pushed the button when it came to selling s*x. If you watched Venis as a child, you likely turned the channel when he was out there and your parents came into the room, as his gimmick was more suited as an adult star than an actual wrestler at one point in time.
Well, those days are long gone and as you see in the picture, Venis no longer looks like a ladies’ man, cutting off his long chops. Nowadays, Venis is known for being a big advocate for the legalization of marijuana, owning his own medical practice over in Phoenix, Arizona. You might recognize the other two dudes beside him the picture; one is Dave Hero and the other, another cringeworthy act from the Attitude Era, The Godfather. In terms of 90s nostalgia, this is a top of the line picture.
2 Wouldn’t Recognize: Mean Street Posse
All in their mid-40s nowadays, the group looks unrecognizable. Surreal to think that both Rodney and Pete Gas had no prior experience in the business, and basically signed on as friends of Shane. Joey Abs was the only member with a wrestling history, although even his work inside of the squared circle wasn’t the cleanest. The trio can be still found today at the casual wrestling convention. If you were a fan of the 90s, meeting these three would be such a treat (some fans are likely nodding their heads in disapproval).
It was cool to see Pete Gas and Shane together, still as friends till this very day. The two were spotted side by side during an NXT event sitting ringside, scouting the future talents of the business. Pete is living a quiet life nowadays away from the wrestling business as a Senior Sales Executive for W.B. Mason.
1 Same: Beth Phoenix
A three-time Women’s Champion and one-time Divas Champion, Beth was a huge piece of the female division during her time in the company. Getting inducted at such a young age, Beth made history becoming the youngest Hall of Fame inductee of all-time, surpassing Trish’s mark which was set at the age of 37. She also set other marks, including being the only inductee to be born in the 80s, along with being the quickest member of the Hall upon retiring less than five years ago. So yes, her induction was a pretty big deal.
As you saw on her HOF night, she was a pretty big deal in the business and that’s especially apparent through the eyes of her peers. Along with that, the 36 year old looked absolutely flawless, and pretty much exactly the same in comparison to her in-ring days. Even her husband Edge, still looks really fantastic today, showing no signs of aging since leaving the WWE.
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