Before these 15 superstars became a household name amongst wrestling fans, each of them had a different journey en route to getting there. For some of the superstars on this list, becoming a pro wrestler was never even on their agenda, and some had other (very different) aspirations, such as becoming a bodybuilder, working in the music business, modeling or even doing professional power lifting competitions. Despite their different paths to eventually getting that golden opportunity, a door finally opened for these 15 superstars who eventually became the household names we have come to know and love. Let us now take a look at who these 15 former and current WWE stars are, and what jobs they did before becoming these incredibly famous wrestlers.
15) Lana: Dancer, Musician & Actress
At the age of 17, Lana returned to the United States after living in Latvia for the majority of her life. Upon arriving to the US, Lana initially settled in New York, where her previous experience in dance earned her gigs with the Alley American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Theater and the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. In 2009, Lana moved to Los Angeles in order to gain more exposure and opportunity. That year Lana signed a deal with Ne-Yo’s record label with her girl group “No Means Yes”. The group went on to record one single entitled “Would you like that”. The group ended its brief run together in 2010. Later on, Lana spent most of her time as a backup dancer in music videos. Lana took part in videos for popular musicians such as Nelly, Pink, Usher and Akon. Finally, Lana also got an opportunity to act in 2012, where she played a part in the musical comedy Pitch Perfect, and she also took part in the sequel which was recently released. Quite a journey for the new beloved WWE diva.
14) Sheamus: Bodyguard & IT Technician
So, here’s a couple of things you probably never knew about Sheamus; one, he was a former IT technician, and two, at a young age Sheamus sang for the “Palestrina Choir” till he was 13. Those are a couple of things you probably could not picture Sheamus doing before his WWE career began. Now, on to some other things you are more likely to have pictured. Sheamus began working as a bouncer for a nightclub, and this gig would ultimately lead him to being a bodyguard for some high profile names. These names included Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. From U2 and Denise van Outen, a popular English actress, singer and presenter. In addition, Sheamus was also used as an extra for the WWE; you can see him dressed as a fake security guard in two episodes.
13) Kurt Angle: Sportscaster
After leaving amateur wrestling, Kurt Angle looked elsewhere for a new adventure. In 1996, fellow Pittsburgh native Shane Douglas convinced Angle to attend a taping of an ECW show. In attendance, Angle did an in-ring interview and also provided some guest commentary. All was going well till this: Following a match, Raven crucified a bloody Sandman onto a cross wrapped in barbed wire. Angle was so disgusted by the scene that he immediately left the building and told Paul Heyman that he would sue him if footage of him on the show ever came out. Following that incident in 1997, Angle left wrestling and became a sportscaster for a local Fox outlet in Pittsburgh. Angle would stay one year as a sportscaster, and in October of 1998, he would sign an eight year contract with the WWE.
12) Rusev: Competed in Rowing & Power Lifting Competitions
Born in Bulgaria, Rusev put his enormous size to work at a young age. The former United States Champion enrolled in a sports school, where he specialized in power lifting and also as a member of the school’s rowing team. Rusev would continue on with these passions, entering competitions for power lifting as an adult. In the 2000s, Rusev left Bulgaria for a new opportunity- he wanted to become a professional wrestler. Rusev was initially trained by Gangrel and Rikishi at the “Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy”. In 2010, Rusev was signed to a developmental contract, and he later made his debut for the main roster years later at the Royal Rumble. Rusev became the first ever Bulgarian to wrestle for the WWE.
11) Trish Stratus: Local Gym Receptionist
The case of ‘being at the right place at the right time’ was key for Trish and her rise to fame. After attending York University, Stratus changed her plans after a faculty strike. While she was working as a gym receptionist, Trish was suddenly approached by the publisher for MuscleMag International, who was interested in having her do a test shoot. Her test shoot was a success, as she later signed a two year deal with the company. In May of 1998, Trish graced the cover for the magazine. Her exposure and working for a wrestling show on a Toronto sports radio station, eventually got her a job as a manager for the WWE.
10) Michael Cole: Journalist for CBS Radio
Michael Cole began his journey working as a journalist for CBS. During his time with CBS, Michael took on many high profile cases. His coverage included reporting on Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign and the presidential campaign in 1996 of Steve Forbes and Bob Dole. Cole also spent over 9 months in Yugoslavia covering the civil war. In 1997, Cole was recommended by former WWE official Todd Pettengill, and made his debut alongside Jim Cornette hosting the wrestling show LiveWire.
9) Sting: Bodybuilder & Co-Owner of Gold’s Gym
At a young age Sting was very active, excelling in football and basketball during his high school days. Later on, Sting would develop a strong passion for bodybuilding. At the time, Sting had no interest or desire to be a professional wrestler, as his knowledge about the field was extremely limited due to his television access. Sting continued to pursue his bodybuilding career and eventually bought a “Gold’s Gym” with a friend. His commitment to fitness was his passion, but one night, that all changed. Sting attended a live WWE event which took place in Los Angeles, and following the event, the Stinger was absolutely amazed by the performers he saw that night. Sting changed his focus and decided to become a professional wrestler.
8) The Bella Twins: Waitresses
After moving to San Diego to attend college, the Bella’s moved to Los Angeles in search of an agent. While in LA, the twins worked as waitresses at the “Mondrian Hotel”. The hotel is a very popular spot, and often holds some very popular guests; such as pop star Britney Spears, who filmed her documentary at the hotel, as well as the cast of Entourage, who used the hotel for numerous episodes. Eventually the twins began to do modelling, acting and other work. They made their debut on television during the Fox reality show Meet My Folks. They were also Budweiser sponsors for the World Cup. In 2006, the duo participated in the Diva Search, and a year later, they were signed by the WWE and began in the developmental system in FCW.
7) The Undertaker: Played College Basketball
Before making his wrestling debut in 1984 for “World Class Championship Wrestling”, The Undertaker had a passion for playing basketball. Graduating from high school in 1983, the Undertaker attended Waltrip High School, and was also a member of the school’s basketball team. In college he would follow his passion for basketball and make the team at “Texas Wesleyan University”. He played for the team during the 1985-1986 season.
6) Randy Orton: Enlisted in The United States Marine Corps
At a young age, Randy Orton had a strong desire to become a professional wrestler. Despite his passion though, his family strongly discouraged him from taking that path. His father stressed how difficult the way of life was for pro wrestlers, living life on the road and constantly being away from family. After graduating high school, Orton enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, although things didn’t go so well for Randy during his training. Orton received a bad conduct discharge after several counts of abandoning duty and disobeying a commanding officer in charge. Randy was convicted by a special court and sentenced to 38 days in a military prison. After his failed stint, Orton returned home and made his debut for “Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Sothern Illinois Conference Wrestling” in 2000. Orton was trained there by his father, Bob Orton.
5) Triple H: Worked at a Gym
As a young man Triple H had a strong passion for wrestling and bodybuilding. At the teen age of 14, Triple H began bodybuilding. Hunter loved to train and loved the people that were training, even though they were usually older than him. Hunter was at the gym every day, and he eventually decided to start working there since he was always there. He began to develop friendships and bonds with older people that had similar interests to his own. His hard work and passion for bodybuilding paid off, as in 1988, Hunter won the “Teenage Mr.New Hampshire” competition. A couple of years later, Hunter decided to take up wrestling and joined Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school. In March of 1992, Hunter made his pro wrestling debut for Kowalski’s promotion, and wrestled under the name of “Terra Ryzing”.
4) Roman Reigns: Played in The CFL
Roman Reigns played football throughout his time in high school. He won the honors of best defensive player during one season. After a promising college career and setting a Georgia Tech record for most sacks in one season, Reigns surprisingly went undrafted. However, the same year in 2007, Reigns was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. Roman lasted a month before being released. He was later picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars, only to be released once again a week later. In 2008, Reigns signed with the CFL as a part of the Edmonton Eskimos. Reigns featured in five games and started in three of them. Despite some highs with the team, he was released in November of 2008, ending his one year term with the team. In 2010, Reigns signed a developmental contract with the WWE.
3) John Cena: Limo Driver
Growing up with four other brothers in West Newbury Massachusetts , you can imagine that John Cena was very active at a young age. While attending Springfield College in Massachusetts, Cena was a Division III All-American center for his college football team. Cena also graduated with a degree in exercise physiology. Additionally, Cena pursued a bodybuilding career and while doing so, he needed to make some extra money to support his goals. John earned extra money by working for a limousine company as a driver. It was a sufficient way to pay his bills at the time. Along with being a limo driver, John also spent some time working as a bouncer.
2) Vince McMahon: Purchased Cape Cod Coliseum & Cape Cod Buccaneers of The Atlantic Coast Hockey League
When Vince first met his father at the age of 12, he was immediately drawn into the wrestling business and wanted to walk in similar footsteps as his dad. In 1968, McMahon graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in business. After some time spent in different wrestling promotions, Vince and Linda decided to purchase the Cape Cod Coliseum, along with its Atlantic Coast Hockey team; a purchase that is often forgot about. After purchasing the arena, McMahon brought some high profile names to the venue, names such as Van Halen and Rush. This investment lead to McMahon joining the “International Association of Arena Managers”. Learning all the details of the business through this association was huge, something Linda calls “a great benefit” to the WWE’s success. In 1984, McMahon bought the company from his father who passed away shortly after. And well, the rest as they say is history.
1) Hulk Hogan: Musician
During his teen years, Hulk Hogan was a very skilled musician playing the fretless bass guitar (believe it or not). After gigs kept on getting in the way of his studies, Hogan decided to drop out of University. Hogan and two other musicians from the Tampa area formed a band called “Ruckus”, in 1976. Shortly after, the band became huge amongst the locals. During his free time away from Ruckus, Hogan was extremely passionate about weight lifting. Many wrestlers in the Tampa region would visit bars in which Ruckus would be playing, and one night, Jack and Gerald Brisco showed up and were really impressed with Hulk’s physique. They approached Hogan after the show and asked him if he was interested in becoming a pro wrestler. Hogan, being a huge fan of the industry, was very interested. After Hogan took the training, he decided to quit Ruckus and pursue wrestling. On August 10th, 1977, Hulk made his wrestling debut.
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