Knowing how easy it is to get enveloped in the complex storylines developed by WWE Creative, it is easy to forget that every WWE superstar has a life outside of the industry. Many genuinely nice superstars are asked to play heel roles while some superstars who are not so nice are pushed as the company's top baby faces. In order to examine this paradox, this list will show you 15 WWE Champions In and Out of the Ring.
The ability to show these superstars outside of the squared circle allows us to paint them in a completely different light, and their interactions with other superstars as well as fans can be hugely telling in regards to who these superstars are in their personal lives. If nothing else, this list provides some pretty cool pictures of your favorite WWE superstars and legends out in “the real world.”
All facts and stories listed in this article are taken from the firsthand experience of the author or from Lordsofpain.com.
Is it just me or has Kane gotten less weird looking over the years? When Kane was first unmasked in the early 2000’s (and even as late as when See No Evil debuted) the dude was pretty scary looking. But lately, as the Raw “Director of Operations” or in the pictures above he just looks like a normal dude.
Historically it has been said that Kane did not require any makeup or special effects to create his monstrous look, so I’m not sure how he has transitioned into the average Joe in the picture above.
Is it really just the fact that now his has a small amount of hair on his head? Though if you're rocking out with a fanny pack, that's definitely going to also reduce your intimidating factor. This is definitely one of the more striking before and after pictures to make our list.
14 The Rock
Has anyone ever done more for WWE recruitment than Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson? One of the most popular WWE superstars of all time, the Rock was able to transition into a very lucrative Hollywood career. Not only did WWE grant him the notoriety to make this jump, but they even supported and publicized many of his early films. Films like The Rundown and Walking Tall would not have been nearly as successful if the Rock hadn’t come with an already built-in fanbase.
Despite the criticism he received (cough cough, John Cena), it was a very respectable move by Rock to make his return to WWE, even if it’s only on an occasional basis. Best guess is that he will make another appearance at this year’s WrestleMania and set out to steal the show.
13 Roman Reigns
I think a big component of the failure of Roman Reigns as WWE’s top face is that the “good guy” personality doesn’t mesh up quite right with Roman’s actual personality. Not to say that Roman’s not an okay dude, but he’s certainly not the always smiling puppy dog that true WWE faces need to be.
If WWE would actually commit to the bad ass Samoan personality that they have previously toyed with, Reigns might be able to make this character his own and truly raise his popularity with the WWE Universe. WWE officials, and Vince McMahon specifically, love to talk about “the look” when discussing top WWE superstars, and Roman certainly has that covered (see above). But until they put him in a role that he feels more comfortable with, he will always be doomed to fail.
12 John Cena
John Cena has been criticized throughout his career for the Boy Scout nature of his character. In an ever-evolving landscape, the refusal (or perhaps the inability) of Cena to enter into a heel role with the company has caused his character (in many people's opinion) to become stale.
A major issue I have with these criticisms is that Cena is merely presenting his own personality to the WWE Universe, through the lens of his heroic character. An all-around good guy (all you have to do is look at the work he’s done with the Make a Wish Foundation), Cena in many ways truly is the hero that he represents himself as on TV. While this may not make him the most interesting guy inside the ring, it certainly makes him an outstanding guy outside the ring.
11 Seth Rollins
I’m surprised there hasn’t been more publicity about how “exciting” Seth Rollins' life is outside of the WWE. For those of you who don’t know the story, in the midst of his first WWE Title reign, Rollins Twitter account tweeted a series of revealing photos of himself and former NXT Divas Zahra Schreiber.
It was later revealed that it was Rollins wife sent out these photos. For some reason, she was pretty upset when she found the revealing pictures of Schreiber on Seth’s phone along with some scandalous messages (heavy sarcasm). There is no greater wrath than a woman scorned.
It appears that Rollins received little (if any) punishment from WWE for this incident, which has allowed this hilarious chapter in his career to fade into obscurity. It definitely helps that he can be great with the fans!
10 Dean Ambrose
This list is full of superstars who’s real life personality is vastly different than their in-ring persona. I know present to you a man whose in-ring persona is almost exactly who he is in real life, Dean Ambrose. One good thing about independent wrestlers is that their character is already largely developed by the time they get to WWE. Such was certainly the case with Dean Ambrose, as in his NXT days (and even to some extent during his time with the Shield) you can see the foundation for the “lunatic fringe” character.
In real life Ambrose lives in Vegas, is dating Renee Young (though thanks to the Miz most of you already knew that) and spends a lot of his days hanging out at his pool, going ATVing, and pretty much anything else that allows him to wear his shades.
9 Lex Luger
With so much of this list being about physical transformations, I couldn’t help but include what most be the most shocking physical transformations in WWE history. It’s a sad fact of life that when athletes have been away from their sport for too long that their bodies start to lessen. A lack of inactivity and simple old age will turn even the most toned superstars into chubby old men.
However, I don’t think any WWE Champion has undergone a more drastic aging process than Lex Luger. During his time with WWE, Luger was widely applauded for his impressive physique, and this granted him many championship opportunities that he would not have had otherwise; as he certainly wasn’t valued for his promo skills. Therefore, it was shocking to many to see Luger after his retirement looking less like John Cena and more like James Ellsworth.
8 Triple H
The selection of Triple H for this list is interesting because it in many ways matches up to what WWE has been doing itself with its recent storyline with Seth Rollins. On one hand, Triple H is one of the most intense WWE superstars of all time, and on the other, he is an extremely high ranking executive for the WWE Corporation and the son in law of principal owner Vince McMahon.
You can imagine that anyone who is scheduled for a match with Triple H feels the added pressure of performing with someone who is essentially their boss. Not only this but imagine the added challenge for Triple H to be tasked with building up Seth Rollins as a legitimate main event talent, while his character has to degrade and belittle Rollins talent at every turn.
7 Bray Wyatt
I think one of the best things about the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Bray Wyatt, is the overall commitment he has to his character. Perhaps the best example of this is the fact that he does all interviews (including those not affiliated with WWE) in the Bray Wyatt character. While this is frustrating for some interviewers (Wyatt was, of course, formerly Husky Harris and is also the brother of fellow WWE superstar Bo Dallas, so he has a lot of cool non-WWE related stories), it certainly adds to the overall authenticity of the character.
With the recent collapse of the new Wyatt Family, it will be interesting to see what direction WWE Creative takes Wyatt. Whether Bray prevails against future Hall of Famer Randy Orton at WrestleMania will have an immense impact on the direction this young superstars career is headed.
6 Brock Lesnar
Can you imagine standing in line at a Dunkin Donuts, glancing behind you, and seeing the monstrous Brock Lesnar standing behind you? The good news (or bad news depending on your outlook) is that this is highly unlikely. Living up to his “I don’t like people” reputation, Lesnar lives (with his wife former WWE Divas Sable) on an isolated farm in Minnesota.
In the few fan pictures we do have of Lesnar, it’s clear how uncomfortable the Beast Incarnate is interacting with the public. Given Lesnar’s ability to easily rip car doors from its hinges, I don’t know if I (as a fan) would feel very comfortable standing close enough to be photographed to a man who is so clearly uncomfortable interacting with me.
5 The Undertaker
A large part of Undertakers career is the incredible aura that he was able to create with his character. Even as his advanced age, when that famous gong hits signaling his entrance, the very atmosphere in the arena changes. As such, WWE has done its best to keep Taker’s personal life separate from the mystique of his character. For instance, who would have imagined that the Devil of Death Valley would be married, much less to former Diva’s Champion Michelle McCool.
With the mystical nature of his character, it’s hard to imagine this guy sitting down for dinner at a nice restaurant or going to the beach in his swimming trunks. The way that Taker has managed to indoctrinate himself into his legendary character is just one of the reasons why he is one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time.
4 Chris Jericho
The entries on this list were chosen due to the sheer awesomeness of the pictures accompanying them. Everyone knows that Chris Jericho is one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time and that he is one of the few men who has seemingly accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the WWE. What most people do not know, however, is that Y2J is a pretty cool guy. His wrestling career could make a very compelling WWE movie, and those who have worked with him at WWE can testify to how much fun it is on the road with the Ayatollah of Rock.
Recently Y2J has begun to revert back to his over the top personality, and the WWE Universe has responded by making him one of the most popular superstars on the Raw roster.
Am I the only one who has noticed how much larger Goldberg has gotten since he made his return to WWE? When I first saw him in the WWE 2K17 commercial, I was shocked by how much muscle mass he had lost since his career with WCW.
In his appearances since then, however, Goldberg has gotten noticeably bigger, culminating with his physique at FastLane being on par with what it was in his prime. Many WWE fans (including myself) have drawn ire with Goldberg being handed the Universal Championship after two lackluster matches, but it’s hard to argue his commitment to the business after seeing how much effort he has put into at least looking the part of a WWE Champion.
2 The Miz
I think the overall perception of the Smackdown/Raw brand split is a positive one, but perhaps the most notable achievement of that decision was the progression of the Miz. A longtime WWE presence, before this year Miz was perhaps best known for his lackluster WWE Title run (including the main event match at WrestleMania where he was very much an afterthought). With the additional TV time granted to him by the brand split, however, Miz has transformed into one of the most entertaining heels in recent memory.
With his status as a top heel, it is surprising to many just how nice of a guy Miz is outside the ring. Countless fans have commented on his willingness to take pictures and autographs, thus signaling the positive outlook the former Real World star has on all aspects of the wrestling business.
1 AJ Styles
I think perhaps the greatest testament to AJ Styles in-ring ability is the fact that people know so little of his personal life. As a lifelong wrestling fan, and someone who has become increasingly impressed with Styles over the past year, I myself don’t know very much about the Phenomenal One.
As a bit of a bio, Styles was born into a military family and spent much of his life living in the southern portion of the United States (hence the accent). Styles had the chance to sign a developmental deal with WWE in 2002 but turned it down in favor of a contract with TNA. From 2002-2013 Styles would become the face of TNA, and is one of their few examples of “homegrown talent”.
While you can imagine it wasn't an easy decision in 2002, you can imagine Styles is ecstatic with how his life turned out.