When it comes to the WWE, talent goes in and out on the regular. We’re usually aware with those currently in the company and what they’re up to, however we tend to lose track of those that leave the business whether they quit or got released by the company.
A classic move we have seen by released stars is completely altering their look. Some do it for a new gimmick and a fresh start on the indies while others change looks to conform to their new field; whether that be entering the entertainment business as a film star or working in the fitness industry. In this article, we take a look at some of our past favorites from the Attitude Era, Ruthless Aggression Era and the PG Era. What these 15 have in common is how different they look nowadays. For the most part, the transformations have flown under the radar due to the fact that they’re no longer employed by the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Enjoy folks and like always, be sure to share the article with a friend. Without further ado, here are 16 former WWE stars even true fans didn’t know completely changed their look. Let’s get started!
16 Gene Snitsky
Fans of the Ruthless Aggression Era likely remember this guy. Due to his size and stature, Gene was given a decent rub early on in his main roster career. Now his in-ring wasn’t the most polished, however he was an entertaining figure with a decent promo. We got a true glimpse of that during his feud with Kane and Lita. Sadly, he could not maintain such prominent programs and after switching over to ECW, his career took a bit of a hit. Surprisingly, it would be Gene who asked to leave the company back in 2008;
“Basically it was just creative differences. I didn’t like the direction my character was going, and for about six months I would go back and forth with the writers. They were always real big on incorporating your input, so I’d shoot them ideas, and week after week they’d get shot down, and I didn’t really like how they were taking it. It just got to the point where it was best to part ways, but I left on good terms.”
At the age of 48, Gene looks unrecognizable today and he appears to be in the best shape of his life. Along with the changed look, you can find Gene on lower-tier independent promotions nowadays.
15 Frankie Kazarian
He’s a popular name on the indie scene, however we can’t say the same about his run with the WWE. Despite signing the talent to a deal back in 2005, Frankie sat at home for most of his deal. His biggest matches with the company took place on Velocity. The irony in this situation? Kazarian left the company due to not wanting to cut his signature long locks. Well, take a look at the same dude nowadays, and he completely changed his look going bald. Yes, the wrestling industry can be quite wacky. Here’s what Frankie had to say regarding his WWE exit;
"The suggestion was to cut my hair, and, at that point, I wasn't mature enough to be there. All I knew about wrestling was some Japan, TNA, and Indies. I didn't know how to treat it as a business and that's 100% on me. They could have suggested, 'hey, switch your tights' and I would have done the same. It was literally like, 'no, I'm not going to do that. You brought me in to do this and I'm not going to do that'. And I have a rebellious spirit and it [has] cost me jobs and stuff. But I wasn't ready. If I would have stayed, I wouldn't have lasted long anyway, just because I wasn't mentally ready to treat it like a business."
Despite the failed WWE run he’s made a great career with Ring of Honor. At the age of 40, he’s still going strong.
14 Vladimir Kozlov
Towards the end of his career, Kozlov served as a comedic act with the company. Entering the main roster, his potential was quite different as the company had him challenge for the WWE Title. Big, strong and foreign, it shouldn’t shock anyone that he was given a push by Vince early on. Ultimately, he’s remembered more so for the comedic acts alongside Santino. However, when it comes to his post-WWE career, there truly isn’t anything comedic about it.
Kozlov looks unrecognizable today, completely altering his look. He’s also a Hollywood mainstay making appearances in prestigious films such as Fast & Furious 6 and John Wick. He even played a role in the film Wolf Warriors 2, which was a major hit overseas in China. Kozlov discussed how he got the role;
“They tried to find a strong character for this and saw my training video. The director, who also has the main part in this movie, he chose me from about 100 people. They tried to find somebody who can fight, who can shoot, who can do lots of stunts, who can fit for the character.”
At the age of 39, Kozlov continues to enjoy big time success. We think it is safe to say he won’t be returning to the WWE any time soon.
13 Serena Deeb
If you followed Serena Deeb during her initial WWE run, you’ll be shocked to realize how different she looks nowadays. Of course, her most prominent angle as a WWE superstar took place alongside CM Punk in the underrated, Straight Edge Society stable. She played a big role with the group, even shaving her head for the cause. However, the run ended on a bitter note. Deeb was spotted being not so straight edge, boozing up at a bar. Failing to keep kayfabe alive, she was released by the company.
She worked the indie scene following her release along with taking a liking for yoga. Looking back, Serena appreciates the tough love by the WWE as it helped her develop a thicker skin. She’s now back in the company signing on as a trainer back in February. She discussed the process in getting back with the company during a WWE.com interview;
“The offer presented itself initially almost a year ago. It was pre-Mae Young Classic. I knew of the tournament and was aware of it, and then I was contacted by the company to see if I had any interest in being one of the talent in the tournament, but it was also coupled with the idea of potentially coming in as a coach following the tournament. The tournament was the first stop on the tracks, and following that, I came back in a week in the fall for an official coaching tryout, and following that, it was pretty quickly offered.”
12 Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Walking in his dad’s footsteps, Davey Boy Smith Jr. joined the WWE back in 2006 reporting to the developmental branch. He looked like a big time prospect early on given his big size, however he wasn’t utilized to his full potential and his most memorable gig came as a tag team wrestler. Everything from his look to his storylines seemed so bland at the time. He was in need of a change and that’s exactly what he did leaving the WWE in 2011.
He has completely changed his look nowadays. Smith looks a lot leaner and muscular. These days, the unrecognizable wrestler is spending time with New Japan. He was also recently spotted backstage at a WWE show visiting old friends such as Tyson Kidd.
His name has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons on multiple occasions. For one, he took a shot at Stephanie McMahon via Facebook, here’s what he had to say;
"Well I love to hear how WWE doesn't like hiring talent with "prior experience" since their awesome system can "develop" and gel guys into what they want them to be."
He took things a step further most recently throwing a cup of coffee in the face of Jake Roberts at a signing event. Police searched for Davey Boy following the altercation.
11 Mark Jindrak
Mark Jindrak serves as an early example that the WWE isn’t the 'be all end all'. He started with WCW and he transferred over to the WWE following the merger. The company had big plans for Jindrak, so much so that he was featured in a promotional video alongside Flair, Triple H and Randy Orton as a part of Evolution. He looked very different at the time rocking a long head of hair. Ultimately, he was replaced in the role as Batista swooped in instead. Although that was a huge blow, Jindrak claims immaturity had a lot to do with it.
Given all of Batista’s success, you would figure Jindrak had lots of sleepless nights. However, that hasn’t been the case at all. Mark completely altered his look and found tremendous success as a star in Mexico. Not only is he a popular name in the ring but he’s also commonly featured on popular soap operas. Yeah, his success is no joke.
Even ESPN took a liking to his success over in Mexico writing a story about his current life away from the US wrestling scene. At the age of 40, he continues on as a massive star with the look of a champion.
10 Enzo Amore
The most surprising departure in 2018 took place prior to Raw 25. Due to an ongoing investigation pertaining to a past assault charge, Amore was released by the WWE and vacated his Cruiserweight Champion. According to the rumors, Amore was already on rocky terms with the company and not telling them about the offense was the last strike.
He’s kept quiet till days ago when he issued a statement from his lawyer that the charges were finally dropped. A photo also recently surfaced showing Amore rocking a completely different look, shaving his face completely. He seems unrecognizable compared to his WWE days.
Whether or not he decides to return to wrestling remains to be seen. However, Don Callis of Impact Wrestling recently kept the door open on a possible Enzo debut with the company;
“Never say never,” Don replied. “You evaluate talent based on need and what you’re looking to do. We have a long term plan for how we engage with talent in terms of who’s gonna be on the roster, what roster spots we need filled, etcetera. It’s not as much of a random thing. So, um, ya know … as with any other talent, I think time will tell.”
9 Orlando Jordan
One of my Favorite meals on from the New Orlando Jordan Online Nutrition Program! Quick San Choy Bow (Large Serve) OVERVIEW Yield 2 serves Time 20 minutes Dietary Info Dairy Free Perfect For Lunch NUTRITION INFORMATION Calories 823.00 Kj 3457.00 Protein 50.00g Carbohydrates 84.00g Fat 32.00g Sugar 13.00g @orlandojordansimplythegreatest #MakeMyGymYourGym #simplythegreatest #wwe #impactwrestling #wweuschampion #fitness #health #bodytransformation #progress #workoutmotivation #fitnessmotivation #fitnessjourney #fitlife #fitfam #fitspiration #drinkgorilla #upsdriven #spartansuppz #metabolicconditioning #strengthandconditioning #orlandojordan #orlandojordannutrition #simplythegreatest #weighprotein #bcaa #preworkout #supplements #nutrition
Comparing Orlando Jordan today to his run with the WWE, most wouldn’t even be able to recognize the former member of JBL’s cabinet. Jordan got booked as a big deal early on working alongside JBL in the upper card of SmackDown. He also holds the distinction of beating an opponent that not too many stars from his time can say they did and that’s defeat John Cena. Not only did he beat Cena but he won the US Title from him.
Following his release, Jordan made a brief pit-stop with TNA. Most fans don’t even remember the run, however Jordan was grateful for the chance in the company;
"I enjoyed my time there. I was a little bit disappointed with the progression of the character because we started out where I wanted to go – and I laid out how I wanted this character to start and develop – because I believe a character should grow. Every character evolves and I wanted this character to evolve. That was the understanding…When you work for a company, you can't get everything you want. You have to compromise. And I compromised with the character on what they wanted and that was part of the deal. That was a hard thing. That was a challenge. Trying to do what I wanted and trying to give what I wanted the way I knew it could be delivered and then also what the company wanted to present – that was a challenge there. In the end, I was a little bit disappointed in that area and stuff."
8 Al Snow
A theme in this article is performers from the past looking better nowadays. Al Snow is another example of that. At the age of 54 the guy’s looking more jacked than ever before. As evidenced by his Instagram account, he’s putting in lots of work inside of the gym these days.
He’s still involved in the business today. You can find Al on the indie circuit or even at wrestling conventions. He was a prominent name in the 90s and that keeps his name value alive to this day. You would think Snow might be grateful for the fans, however he claimed otherwise in an interview a couple of years back; here’s what he had to say about the fans;
"They're the goofiest bunch of people I ever met," Snow said regarding wrestling fans. "I genuinely hate them. I really do. I love the fact that they're fans, but I hate them.
"Opinions is the lowest form of human knowledge, there's no ifs ands or buts about it. You can form an opinion with little or no actual information and then you can go out and spout it off like it's a real fact. But it's nothing more than theory, conjecture and assumption. That's all it is."
So post-WWE Al Snow seems to be jacked, and also seems a little bitter....
An underrated tag team act during the Ruthless Aggression Era featured the duo known as Cryme Tyme. Of course, the team was comprised of JTG and Shad. Although success was limited, the duo provided the show with some stellar entertainment. However, off camera, it was said that Shad didn’t have the greatest reputation with his peers and it led to the team’s downfall. JTG recalls his first exit from the company after getting yelled at by John Cena backstage;
"They didn't like that in the back, we got a lot of heat for that. Our agent Barry Windham told Shad, he didn't speak to me because it wasn't me that had the problem, he called Shad to the back of the locker room and yelled at him, then when he came out of being yelled at by my agent Barry Windham, John Cena let him have it. He let us both have it. On the way back John Laurinaitis called us, let us have it, then we got released at RAW."
Despite the tough release, JTG would return for another run. He’s still wrestling today and is still shockingly young at the age of 33. He appears a lot different nowadays adding a lot more muscle compared to his prior days during the Ruthless Aggression Era.
6 Essa Rios
If you watched during the Attitude Era then surely, you remember Essa Rios or Aguila. At just the age of 19, the performer was asked to lead the Light Heavyweight Division as the WWE attempted to rival WCW’s booming Cruiserweights. Aguila took part in the first Light Heavyweight Title match against Taka Michinoku at WrestleMania XIV. Fighting for the title was a huge step, however the division could not sustain such momentum. Rios gained momentum alongside Lita, however he was a pre-show act for most of the run. He fled in 2001 and started working in Japan.
At the age of 40, he’s keeping the dream alive back home wrestling in Mexico. Seeing Rios today, the dude looks absolutely unrecognizable under his Mr. Aguila gimmick. Everything from his hair to the wacky paint on his face, Aguila is far from the same dude that we saw back in the 90s on WWE television. He’s also filled out significantly since that time, looking more like a heavyweight than a lightweight in terms of his current stature. We likely won’t be seeing him in a WWE ring, however he’ll always be remembered for his great contributions despite the shortcoming of the Light Heavyweight division.
5 Rob Conway
You can add Rob Conway to the list of wrestlers that are jacked today, however to his credit he’s managed to maintain such a physique since his WWE run. Most fans remember Conway as a member of the La Resistance act. Nowadays, still wrestling on the indie scene, Conway looks unrecognizable rocking a long beard and a different look.
Conway actually credits his WWE departure for changing him as a performer. Here’s what Rob had to say about his post WWE life;
“When I left the WWE I didn't stop wrestling. I wrestled every week at least two to three times. It's just that without National television other than where you are wrestling at that night they really don't know and can't follow what you are doing. I stress this, I loved the WWE and just about everything that I have I owe to them. Getting to be in the NWA and be in New Japan is because they knew who I was from WWE. There is life after the WWE, the guys now that are on television in a prominent spot are young guys. So you aren't even at your best yet. When I left the WWE I had been wrestling for right about ten years and back when I grew up watching a lot of times guys didn't get a big break in the wrestling business until they had been wrestling for ten or twelve years. You weren't really good yet. I feel like I got better. I learned a lot wrestling in WWE and I took that and wrestled independently”.
4 Renee Dupree
Renee was a classic example of how giving too much too soon to a performer can hurt their growth. By the age of 19, Renee was already a Tag Team Champion and at the time, he was the youngest title holder in all of the company’s history, a mark recently shattered by Braun Strowman’s tag partner, Nicholas. The company tried to salvage Dupree by sending him down to developmental, however that would be the last of the talent with the company; he then asked for his release.
These days, the 34 year old is still working his craft on the indie scene. He’s also looking quite different rocking a leaner look and supporting a long head of hair. Dupree has made the headlines in the recent years for a lawsuit against the WWE. Renee wanted royalties for his involvement on the WWE Network;
“I wish they would pay me for the WWE Network because I think everyone who is on it should get some type of royalty off of that. Because I guess you are still part of the company in some way if they are showing your stuff, but at the same time they say that nobody watches the ‘old stuff.’ Well take off all the old stuff off and watch your (expletive) subscriber count drop within six months.”
3 Mike Mondo
Yup, the dude you see in the photo above is in fact Spirit Squad member Mike Mondo. He’s changed his look completely nowadays opting for a bald head compared to his spiky blonde locks from back in the day.
Fans tend to forget but the Spirit Squad was booked as a big deal early on. Not only did the group capture the Tag Team Titles but they also got the chance to work with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Ric Flair. Now that’s some pretty good company. DX basically ended their run as a group and they were shipped off to OVW in search of a new gimmick. Ultimately, Dolph Ziggler was the only one to get successfully repackaged and the rest of them were shown the door. However, Mondo has nothing but good things to say about Dolph’s WWE career;
"The fact that he's had a lot of success with the Intercontinental title, and winning the World Title and the Money in the Bank, that's really cool. So if was not going to be me, I'm glad the next guy in line was Dolph."
Now 35, Mondo continues his pro wrestling journey nowadays. You can find him at indie shows alongside his fellow Spirit Squad members Kenny and Dolph’s brother, Ryan Nemeth.
2 Celeste Bonin
A former Divas Champion, Kaitlyn decided to retire young despite her popularity with the company. She planned on switching things up and entering the world of fitness alongside her ex-husband PJ Braun. In doing so, Kaitlyn completely altered her look going completely brunette. She also changed her physique looking like a top tier fitness model. She became known as Celeste Bonin, her real name.
Although it all seemed so great, things were reaching lows behind the scenes. Bonin discussed her struggle following her WWE retirement;
"Over the past few years I was in a terrible marriage, an addict and not true to myself. It took me so long to admit I had a problem... and then to admit how serious the problem was. I used to pretend to be and to live a certain way for social media. It's everyone's hi-light reel."
"I remember getting out of the hospital feeling like death, with a medical taper plan of meds and thinking "what have I done to myself?" I celebrated my 30th birthday 5 days later and I remember wanting to stop living.”
She has since divorced and is back on track making a return to the wrestling industry. Who knows, maybe we’ll see her back in a WWE ring at some point.
1 AJ Lee
We now transition to one of Celeste’s best friends and that’s AJ Lee. Still only 31, she continues pursuing interests outside of the WWE. Not only that but she also looks completely unrecognizable nowadays altering her look quite a bit.
Her interests span a lot further than CM Punk and his UFC career. Lee’s book Crazy Is My Superpower became a monster hit on the New York Times bestseller list. It is said that Lee is now working on a series dedicated to the book. That’s massive news for the former WWE star who’s still only 31 years old. Yeah, that’s what happens when you leave the industry so young. She’s got her entire life still ahead.
She hasn’t fully ruled out a return to the ring though she is content with her current life. Here’s what she had to say about a WWE return;
“I never would say that because I've personally said never to things before and done them. But I am so happy where I am right now and I feel like I had such a pitch perfect career that I would be nervous about tarnishing that. I feel like it's kind of full-circle and perfect for exactly what I wanted. But who knows?”