This year, the WWE Hall of Fame inducted Sting, the Godfather, the Fabulous Freebirds, Jacqueline, Stan Hansen, and the Big Boss Man. Although the criteria to get into the Hall of Fame seems to have loosened, WWE has some of the most impressive alumni in sports. Part of the fun of watching the Hall of Fame ceremony is seeing the current Superstars dress up, as the event is wrestling’s Grammys or Oscars. The real treat though is the speeches, giving you the chance to see how your favorite wrestlers of yesteryear have aged.
Of course, the results aren’t always pretty. Sometimes you watch something old on the WWE Network, get curious what that ex-wrestler looks like today, Google them, and you’re pleased with what you see. This article is for those wrestlers, the alumni who have somehow found a way to pause time, to drink the fountain of youth, to turn back the hands of the clock, whatever it is they do to stay youthful. These 20 alumni transcend the ages, and we’re so glad they do.
20 AJ Lee
AJ Lee is the quintessential girl next door. While the majority of women in WWE are focused on glitz and glam, AJ (real name April Brooks) is down to earth, likes comic books and video games, and wore street gear in the ring. Of course, towards the end of her career she was treated unfairly because of who her husband is, but that’s neither here nor there.
19 Terri Runnels
Whether you remember her as Goldust’s real-life wife, the one who helped destroy Perry Saturn’s mop Moppy, as half of PMS, or for that time she was affiliated with the Hardy Boyz, Terri Runnels has had quite a career. Although WWE has phased out non-wrestling managers (maybe with the exception of Lana), that’s what Runnels was. Sure, she’d get in the ring sometimes, but she was a manager through and through, and she was good at distracting Superstars with her looks.
18 Daniel Bryan
Yes, it’s time to start thinking of Daniel Bryan as an alumnus. Arguably one of the best wrestlers in the history of the sport, Bryan (real name Brian Danielson) was an indie star as American Dragon, helping establish ROH as the prominent promotion that it is today. During his stay in WWE, he memorably teamed with Kane and held nearly every WWE title. Unfortunately, concussions, neck damage, seizures, and possibly even more undisclosed injuries led to his early retirement.
17 Brie Bella
Speaking of Brie, she’s the newest alumna to join WWE’s storied roster of retired pros. Luckily, at 32 years old, she has her health and was able to quit injury-free. She dodged the potentially career-ending neck and back injuries that have taken out her sister Nikki and is in much better shape than her husband. Brie (real name Brianna Garcia-Colace) retired to become a mother and to care for Daniel Bryan.
16 John Morrison
The glistening abs, the wild hair, the sunglasses with the studded crosses, the slow motion entrance: John Morrison (real name John Hennigan) seemed poised to become a big star in WWE when he debuted in 2005. A former Tough Enough winner, Morrison was a Tag Team Champion with Joey Mercury and the Miz respectively, a former Intercontinental Champion, and he even held the ECW World Championship.
15 Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn was a respected coach and an employee behind the scenes before getting entangled in steroid allegations, but the man born Monty Sopp is best-known to older WWE fans as Mr. Ass. As one half of the New Age Outlaws with Road Dogg, Gunn was obsessed with flaunting his derriere. However, it wasn’t all fun and games. This DX member collected tons of championships, 14 in all, including the WWF Hardcore Championship, the WWF Intercontinental Championship, and endless WWF Tag Team Championships.
You may know Kaitlyn better as Celeste Bonin these days, but that wasn’t always the case. The bodybuilder-turned-wrestler and AJ Lee’s BFF came up to the company the same way that AJ did, in the days when NXT was a reality-ish competition ala Tough Enough. Unlike AJ, Kaitlyn never seemed to get the same career opportunities. She was the Divas Champion once in 2013, but by the following year, she decided she was done with wrestling.
Speaking of athletes with a body seemingly chiseled out of marble, there’s also Dave Batista (whose real name is spelled Bautista but is otherwise the same). Although his most recent runs with WWE ended embarrassingly, Bautista knew when he wasn’t wanted and quit. In his glory days, he was a two-time WWE Champion and a six-time World Heavyweight Champion. He’s also making a go out of acting, having had a major role in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ivory (born Lisa Moretti) may have been an acquired taste for some since she was a…erm…bit of a loudmouth, but you absolutely could not deny her talent. Moretti wrestled in an era of WWE when women’s in-ring skill was discarded for bikini contests and pudding matches. Still, she was lucky enough to come in at the tail-end of the Attitude Era and stick around until 2005 when the women’s division turned around, wrestling the likes of Jazz, Trish Stratus, and more.
11 CM Punk
What can you even say about Phil Brooks, aka CM Punk? He tore up the wrestling world with his outspoken views, endless tattoos, and indie wrestling know-how. Against all odds, he ascended to the top of a company that seemingly would have been happy to hold him down, and, as of this writing, has still held the WWE Championship longer than anyone in today’s era of wrestling. He and WWE came to a crossroads in early 2014 and Punk exited. He’s going to become a UFC fighter but has yet to compete.
If Brock Lesnar and Sable (real name Rena Greek) seem like some sort of weird fan fiction pairing, you wouldn’t be the only one to think so. However, somehow it’s real. Sable was arguably the hottest woman of the Attitude Era and one of the first Divas. She didn’t really wrestle, but that wasn’t a requirement back then. She did appear in Playboy, regularly wore very little clothing, and helped WWE win the Monday Night Wars in some way.
9 The Rock
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is better-known today as a film and television actor than he is perhaps for even his wrestling career, but he can still bring a WWE audience to its feet in seconds. He’s probably the most popular wrestler of all time, he’s part of a long lineage of Samoan athletes, he's an eight-time WWE Champion, and he’s the biggest and most successful wrestler-turned-actor.
Lita is one of the most impactful wrestlers in the history of the sport. Forget the Divas Revolution; what she and Trish Stratus, Jaqueline, Victoria, and others did for women’s wrestling allowed the Divas Revolution to even happen. Lita, real name Amy Dumas, had fiery red hair, a visible thong, and a high-flying style. What’s not to love? Although she ducked out of WWE after her real life cheating scandal broke, she was welcomed back with open arms, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014 and often appearing on WWE pre-shows.
7 Eve Torres
Eve Torres arrived in WWE in 2007 as part of that torrent of women who were pretty faces and little else. Torres had experience dancing and modeling. However, she gradually improved, really hitting her stride in 2009. She’s a three-time WWE Divas Champion. By 2013, she decided to depart from WWE and wrestling in general, choosing to lead the Gracie Women Empowered Self-Defense program with her husband Rener Gracie.
Captain Charisma, one of the Los Conquistadors, the other half of Edge and Christian. Just don’t call him Christian Cage. Jason Reso certainly had a good career in WWE, but it always could have been just a bit better. He and Edge are still one of the most beloved tag teams in pro wrestling history, but once the lifelong BFFs became singles wrestlers, Christian never ascended to the same levels of fame as Edge. Perhaps it was his stint in TNA, but the brass ring was always pulled from Reso at the wrong times.
5 Shawn Michaels
One of the biggest wrestlers of the 1990s and one of the most beloved Superstars of all time, Shawn Michaels (real name Michael Shawn Hickenbottom) is remembered for a lot. Perhaps you fondly recall his days as one half of The Rockers, a tag team with Marty Jannetty that most modern tag teams aspire to. Maybe you remember him as one of the founding members of D-Generation X with Triple H and Chyna. You probably can’t ever forget the Montreal Screwjob or his days as the official Raw Commissioner.
4 Stacy Keibler
The leggy Stacy Keibler isn’t necessarily beloved so much for her in-ring prowess, but she was a pretty good manager in a day when managers were hit-or-miss. As Miss Hancock, she could always tantalize with her short skirt and dance moves. When she transitioned to WWE, she worked with The Hurricane, Scott Steiner, The Dudley Boyz, and Test. She’d also sometimes tussle in the ring.
3 Torrie Wilson
Stacy Keibler’s real-life bestie Torrie Wilson began her career in a similar fashion. The blonde beauty wasn’t much of a wrestler, but due to her physique, she ended up in WCW. She would sometimes get in the ring, just like Keibler. She too stuck around through WWE’s purchase of WCW, but unlike Keibler, Wilson became a huge star in the Divas Division, appearing in Playboy two times, trying to seduce a returning Sable, and forming a group called Vince’s Devils.
The Rated-R Superstar Edge had humble beginnings, starting his WWE career in the late 1990s in the vampiric and silent stable The Brood with Gangrel and Christian. He and Christian had a huge tag team career once they dropped all vestiges of their old gimmick and let their true selves shine. After that team naturally ended, Edge went on to be ridiculously successful, earning 31 total titles during his WWE career, including becoming a seven-time World Heavyweight Champion and a four-time WWE Champion.
1 Trish Stratus
It takes a lot to be considered the greatest women’s wrestler in WWE, but it’s a distinction that Trish Stratus (real name: Trish Stratigeas) still holds to this day. The Canadian goddess started off her career in fitness modeling before WWE came a-calling. She was very green in the ring, but she trained hard to learn how to wrestle, and it more than paid off. Stratigeas won the WWE Hardcore Championship once and held the WWE Women’s Championship a record-breaking seven times before retiring.
Trish has since returned to her fitness roots, selling DVDs and fitness equipment. She’s ditched the blonde hair and implants that made her so popular in the '90s, but she’s still insanely beautiful.
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