The world of professional wrestling is filled with noticeable characters, all blessed with various abilities and attributes. One would argue that certain prototypes have emerged over the years when developing new talent. There have been the giants: men larger than life who are seemingly invincible. Often not the most able in the ring, they serve almost as a circus side show act, and symbols of great force. The Diva’s Division has also been known to showcase beautiful women with heightened sex appeal. Sometimes, these women also lack the physical qualities necessary to thrive in the ring, though the WWE always finds a way to include them in their storylines. We have also come across athletes who have had success in other sports prior to arriving to the WWE. Their elite athleticism and aesthetics are highly coveted assets in the world of sports entertainment.
In an entertainment driven industry that requires star-power, appearance has become a foundation on which to be developed in order to cultivate superstars and Divas. Sometimes, the WWE will come across a character with a presence too significant to ignore. The aim is always to build personas as impressive as the first impressions made by their remarkable appearances. As we will see, the WWE has managed to turn some of these performers into lasting superstars. Other times, the hype would not live up to the expectations set by their appearance. Vince McMahon has rolled the dice on several occasions when it comes to developing a gimmick based on looks alone. Some have generated a positive return, while some remain lost in the shuffle.
14) Tino Sabbatelli
This man has the making of a Hollywood movie star. A former NFL safety, he possesses a chiseled, sculpted physique and lives the high life following several years in the NFL where he made millions of dollars. Currently in NXT, he is always draped in designer suits, and drives his Maserati to the performance center. He is the true embodiment of a hot shot, with his rugged good looks as well. His whole allure was enough to grant him a contract with WWE’s developmental territory, where a character is being developed based on his actual persona. However, Tino’s progression has been very slow. As highlighted in the WWE Network Series Breaking Ground, it takes more than Tino’s envious flamboyance and physical gifts to become a WWE superstar. He clearly talks the talk, but has yet to walk the walk in professional wrestling. It will be interesting to see how far he goes given more time, but it is safe to say that he was awarded an opportunity due to his razzle and dazzle image.
13) Summer Rae
The blonde bombshell gained notoriety during her career in the infamous Lingerie Football League (LFL) a few years ago. The WWE took notice of the blonde bombshell and her world class physique and recruited her as an in-ring announcer for NXT. While boasting a well polished fitness background, Summer has made her mark as a valet role for various superstars such as Fandango, Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze. Clearly yet able to perform adequately in the ring, the WWE has kept her in the eyes of the viewers with her revolving manager roles, as they prep her for perhaps bigger involvement in the near future. The Divas development has been a slow process, though WWE’s creative deem the investment worthy of patience as Summer packages a highly marketable image once her in ring skills improve.
12) Titus O’Neil
As many on this list, a pro-football career led to the WWE for Titus O’Neil. Titus is another physical freak of nature with a physique so impressive and raw that the WWE offered him a contract with no previous wrestling experience. Former football players tend to bring intensity over to the world of sports entertainment, and the necessary discipline to achieve athletic greatness. However, much like Titus, there is only so far a great physique can take you if the charisma does not match when developing a memorable character. Nonetheless, Titus has found his way from NXT to the main roster, though is still struggling to pierce the upper-mid card since his recent Singles push.
The ravishing Russian valet has yet to make her in ring debut, and quite frankly, I don’t think the WWE universe cares. As long as she accompanies Rusev or whomever, then the audience is satisfied. She generates huge responses from the crowd just with the way she struts her stuff down the aisle to the ring. She is the valet of a pro-communist Russian brute, but we don’t mind. The WWE has not seen a pair of legs like these since Stacey Kiebler. With previous experience in movies such as American Hustle, modeling gigs and a brief attempt at a singing career, Lana was built for the spotlight. I do not think the WWE ever had intentions of making her an in ring performer. They simply knew that her presence alone could bolster any superstar. While being booked as the valet of a super villain, she still generates face reactions from the crowd. That is a rare ability, and due in larger part if not entirely to the physical gifts she has been blessed with.
10) The Great Khali
While this mythical creature from India debuted briefly in the independent circuits and as a body builder, he too would use his abnormally large frame to punch his ticket to the WWE. Not only was the Great Khali a mammoth 7 foot 2 inches and nearly 350 pounds, he also served as viable channel for the WWE to pierce a previously under reached Indian market. Let’s face it, the Indian giant made Big Show look like Rey Mysterio with how incapable of moving he was. Add to the fact that he could barely speak English, this was a true maneuver on the WWE’s part to sign a circus freak show act, and use him long enough to gain momentum in the Indian market, where a significant amount of the population resides. His most memorable feud with The Undertaker was marked by a series of listless matches which included way too many knife-edged chops.
9) Braun Strowman
Another mammoth of a man with a power lifting background caught the eyes of the WWE. Braun Strowman is a towering beast, standing at 6 foot 8 and weighing upwards of 380 pounds. With traditional big men such as The Undertaker, Kane, Mark Henry and the Big Show on the back end of their careers, it was time to introduce the next generation of titans. With no previous wrestling experience, the WWE performance center wasted very little time getting the monster TV-ready. In fact, after only nearly two years in developmental, Strowman debuted on the main roster as the newest member of the Wyatt family. This is a case of being booked properly to play into Braun’s strengths. He spends little time on the microphone, and most of his time hammering and choking his much smaller adversaries as a pawn in Bray Wyatt’s ultra villainous stable.
8) Baron Corbin
Standing in at 6 foot 8 inches tall, and weighing in at an impressive 278 pounds, former NFL offensive lineman Baron Corbin (Tom Pestock) made the transition to professional wrestling. Covered in tattoos with his impressive and intimidating frame, he is not a man you want to engage in a bar fight with. Corbin also comes from a professional boxing background which would be integrated into his character upon arriving in NXT. He is a rare breed of men who carry such size yet are mobile enough to perform in the ring. He has all the physical attributes to become a super heel, though the WWE preaches patience with their raw talent. With no previous professional wrestling background, Baron’s bada** appeal was worth taking a risk on when WWE signed him to a developmental deal in 2013.
7) Mark Henry
Dubbed the world’s strongest man due to his numerous world power lifting records, Mark Henry has enjoyed quite the illustrious career in the WWE. His successes in the Olympics, PAN-American games and in the collegiate ranks have helped build his reputation as a powerhouse. Those real life accomplishments and accolades tie directly into his in ring persona. Hovering close to 400 pounds, Henry established himself as a heavyweight for close to 20 years now. His undeniable strength and accomplished athletic background earned him an unprecedented 10 year contract signing with the WWE in 1996, with no previous wrestling experience.
6) Big Show
Dubbed as the world’s largest athlete, Big Show (Paul Wight) surprisingly didn’t make it to pro wrestling solely based on his seven foot 400 pound plus frame. In fact, it was Big Show’s mic skills and crowd arousal which caught the eye of Hulk Hogan during the time Big Show was working for a mutual friend’s karaoke company. Some time later, after being rejected by the WWE due to lack of experience, Eric Bischoff took a chance on the Giant and sent him to the WCW Power Plant to train. With such intangible skills on the microphone and a physical presence that could not be overlooked, Big Show has since solidified a future hall of fame career.
5) Andre the Giant
He is the original giant of professional wrestling. His big ticket attraction along with his feuds with Hulk Hogan helped propel the WWE to new heights. While he did receive conventional wrestling training in various independent circuits before arriving to Vince McMahon’s promotion, there is no doubt to why Andre had such a successful career. There has never been a bigger billed wrestler standing in at 7 foot 4 inches and weighing 520 pounds. He didn’t even need to wrestle, he just needed to be there. His size out-shined his broken English and very limited mobility in the ring. His different managers such as Bobby the Brain Heenan and Ted Dibiase did all the promo work for him, much like Paul Heyman does for Brock Lesnar today. At the time, no one had ever seen something like Andre the Giant in mainstream wrestling. He was too large of an act to miss out on, and the WWE found ways to integrate him into their storylines successfully despite how very inept he was in the ring given his unprecedented girth.
Before becoming one of the most iconic figures in professional wrestling history, Bill Goldberg spent time in the NFL. In 1997, Goldberg was spotted in a gym by WCW stars Lex Luger and Sting while rehabbing a football injury. The two legends saw potential in the athletes hulking physique and the un-coachable intensity in which he performed his training. To his own admission, Goldberg was never a fan of professional wrestling, though he searched for alternative options as his pro football dreams began to dissolve with recurring injuries. After his training at the WCW Power Plant, he was booked as an unstoppable force who ran through the roster, making quick work of his opponents. By making him seem so invincible, the WCW succeeded in building his reputation as a powerhouse. At the same time, his quick matches masked his lack of experience in the ring, which often were exposed during lengthier matches with more experienced superstars. Who can forget the undefeated streak? It was also fitting that Goldberg bared a striking resemblance to the WWE’s own bada** in Stone Cold Steve Austin. There is just something so very intimidating about bald heads, goatees and muscles.
3) Eva Marie
Eva is a fiery red head with previous experience in modeling and acting. She sports a unique signature look, with her long, luscious red hair, and a physique that has won her accolades such as features in Maxim Magazine, as well as cover pages on many popular fitness publications. In fact, more precisely, Maxim ranked her #84 in the top 100 hottest females on the planet. She is physically gifted, a true amazon of a woman. With the proper seasoning, she could become a generational Diva (much like Sunny and Sable were of their era’s). The WWE has gone through a noticeable shift when it comes to their female performers. Much more is expected of them in the ring, and much more is expected than sex appeal. However, Eva Marie was simply too much to overlook, and they offered a contract with no previous sports entertainment experience. Some have claimed her development was far too rushed, debuting on the main roster. She has been since sent down to NXT for more training.
2) The Bella Twins
The twins have owned the Diva’s Division for the better part of 10 years now. They rode their aesthetics all the way to the top of totem pole. After college, they moved to LA and began waitressing in fancy hotels while looking for a talent agent. They then began doing promotional work, modelling and taking acting classes. They found work with Budweiser, a fox reality TV series (Meet My Folks) and then entered the 2006 WWE Diva Search. However, they were cut from that competition. Nonetheless, their hustle generated enough momentum for the WWE to extend them contract offers in 2007 to their then developmental territory FCW. It only took 4 months from the time they signed their contracts to make their debuts on the main roster. Some spend years travelling and training and wrestling before even getting noticed by the WWE. The Bellas bypassed this in large part due to their highly marketable and aesthetically pleasing appearances. Throw in a little charisma and feistiness, and the Bella Twins have become quite impressive performers all things considered.
1) Roman Reigns
Roman hails from a strong Samoan wrestling lineage. His relatives include The Rock and the Usos, amongst others. Beyond that, he also played professional football, making practice squads in the NFL before playing a full season with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football league. After his release, he decided to pursue a career in professional wrestling, much like his other relatives. Roman benefits from a prototypical WWE superhero look. He is tall with bulging muscles, long hair and a goatee and a full tattoo arms sleeve that resembles a sort of Samoan body armors, adding to his machine-like allure. After signing with FCW in 2010, it was only 2 short years before Roman made his main roster debut. Anyone who follows the WWE closely can appreciate Roman’s work in the ring but would unanimously agree he is very raw and inexperienced on the mic. Yet, the WWE seems to want to push straight to the top, wanting to bank in on his cyborg Samoan superhero look while just entering his prime. Clearly, WWE creative have plans beyond what Roman is capable of right now, based primarily on the hero blueprint Reigns represents.
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