Professional wrestling is built around eccentric characters of both massive size and ego, which can capture and entertain any crowd through their daring maneuvers and over the top antics. Wrestling promotions give the impression that only the biggest and baddest competitors can make their way to the top, because an average size guy would have an awful hard time actually beating a guy like “The Big Show” in a one on one match (or even a three on one match, that guy looks like he eats bones for breakfast).
While many people have spoken out about the use of steroids in professional sports over the years, Vince McMahon (current Chairman and CEO of the WWE) has said that professional wrestling is now completely clean. Whether it’s true or not that steroids can longer be found in the WWE locker room, wrestlers are still becoming increasingly massive over the years.
Bulking up to enter the ring has led to some incredible body transformations over the years, with some of wrestling’s biggest stars looking completely different than they did when they first started their careers; which ones have gotten the biggest? Take a look at the top 15 wrestlers that you might not recognize due to their incredible physical transformations.
#15 – Bret Hart
Some people know him as “The Hitman,” “The Excellence of Execution,” or even “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be;” before he adopted the longest and probably most inaccurate alias in sports history, he was a second-generation wrestler that was living in Canada and trying to follow in the footsteps of his family. Hart would go on to have a successful career in Japan, the WWF, and the WCW before finally retiring.
#14 – Andre the Giant
You don’t see many professional wrestlers make their way from France to the WWE, but Andre Roussimoff (Andre the Giant) did exactly that. Andre got his size as a result of gigantism, rendering him as a human marvel for the world to see. While he was growing up (and growing fast,) Andre wasn’t as massive as he was in his wrestling days; he was actually quite gangly as a tall and thin teenager. Other wrestlers may keep calling themselves a giant, but Andre doesn’t think it means what they think it means.
#13 – CM Punk
CM Punk has never been the biggest wrestler around, but he did beef up for a brief period of time in his early days at the WWE. Before he made it to the big time, Punk was just a kid from Chicago looking like an outcast of society; he was skinny, had strange hair, and more than anything he loved to watch pro wrestling. It’s hard to believe that Punk became such a huge star in wrestling, and that he maintains a massive following to this day, but that’s probably because he also signed a record deal with The Smiths.
#12 – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Alright, so Dwayne Johnson has always looked pretty strong, but his teenage years are nothing compared to what he looks like now. When he was “The Rock,” Johnson was the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, and has continuously been one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling history; he mainly works in film now, as he is one of the highest paid actors, but every now and again still makes the occasional return to the ring to show these pretenders that in a game of “rock paper scissors,” Rock beats everything.
#11 – John Cena
Before his days as a wrestler, John Cena was an esteemed bodybuilder. Before he was lifting weights the size of planets, Cena was just another teenager from Massachusetts, but he always had a dream of wrestling professionally. Cena would eventually make his dream come true, and has been the franchise player for the WWE for the last decade. Cena is massive these days, and is easily one of the strongest men on the current WWE roster, even if he used to look like Vanilla Ice.
#10 – Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has never had the problem of being small, since early on he was one of the tallest kids in his entire school. Nash was actually a basketball player, but he only played professionally in Europe before his injuries quickly ended his career. Nash bulked up while becoming a professional wrestler, did two stints in the WCW, and two more in the WWE. Nash was known as “Diesel” in the WWE, or “Big Daddy Cool” if that’s your preference, but it probably isn’t, and you should feel good about that.
#9 – Mick Foley
Most of the wrestlers on our list bulked up during their wrestling careers, but Foley took a different approach. Many people assume that Mick has always been the chubby and lovable daredevil who would do anything for his fans, including injuring himself in the process! Contrary to popular belief Foley was actually a pretty small guy growing up in New York, although he went on to become the “Hardcore Legend” we all know and love today.
#8 – Randy Orton
Randy Orton’s father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, was also a professional wrestler himself, so it seemed inevitable that Randy was destined for the big time. Randy Orton got pretty strong at a young age, but was still on the slim side for the majority of his life. These days, Orton is a huge and imposing figure that has held multiple championships over his run with the WWE. Orton’s most recent reign came to an end at “Wrestlemania XXX” at the hands of Daniel Bryan; they should probably change the name of that event, because it sounds like an all female championship which takes place at a WWE slumber party.
#7 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Randy Poffo was never supposed to be a professional wrestler, since he had always taken an interest in baseball, and was talented enough to pursue it as a career; coming out of high school, Poffo was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and got his chance to play in the minor leagues. Randy never made it to the big leagues, so ended up transitioning into professional wrestling instead; he renamed himself as “Randy Savage” and had a long and illustrious career (bulking up big time in the process). Randy Savage was eventually sponsored as the mascot for “Slim Jim Jerky,” but as the king said himself: “a man of my position can afford to look ridiculous at any time.”
#6 – Rikishi
Rikishi (whose real name is actually Solofa Fatu Jr.) played football for Balboa High School in San Francisco, California, before he auditioned as a professional wrestler. Fatu was actually a “high flyer” when he first started, but ended up gaining an incredible amount of weight throughout his career, and donning himself as the massive Rikishi. One of Rikishi’s signature moves was the accurately named “stink face,” where he would actually rub his posterior into his opponent’s face. Despite his questionable tactics in the ring, Rikishi is now in the Wrestling Hall of Fame; that isn’t all that surprising, I knew a woman who had mastered Rikishi’s signature move, and now she’s the assistant general manager.
#5 – The Undertaker
The Undertaker is as famous as professional wrestling itself, and even people who never watch the sport are familiar with the grave-digging powerhouse. The Undertaker (whose actual name is Mark Calaway) has been involved with the WWE since all the way back in 1990. Even though The Undertaker’s height is an imposing 6’10,” he was still missing his jacked physique in his earlier days. Calaway was much slimmer than he is today, but how are you going to choke slam someone six feet down, if you can’t even lift up a shovel to dig the hole.
#4 – Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner has always been buff, even back in his younger days at the University of Michigan, when he was first starting out as an amateur wrestler. Steiner was shockingly only 190 pounds at the time of his first match, but it wasn’t long before he was 275 pounds of solid muscle. Steiner’s television promos would often allude to his chiseled physique, as he portrayed the character of “The Big Bad Booty Daddy” (a title I thought belonged to Rikishi).
#3 – The Miz
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin had always wanted to be a professional wrestler, so while growing up he kept himself in good shape. The WWE provides unlimited access to nutritional supplements and high quality gym equipment for all of its competitors, so it wasn’t long before we got to see a noticeably bigger and muscular Miz. The Miz first made his first appearance in the public eye as a contestant on the MTV reality show “The Real World,” before being signed to his first WWE contract: I guess he thought nothing was more real than an arm bar.
#2 – Sheamus
Sheamus originally came from the Emerald Isle of Ireland as a Gaelic Football player, which required him to stay in good shape. Sheamus was also working as a bodyguard for the biggest celebs in Ireland prior to his start in pro wrestling (before deciding there wasn’t enough fighting in his standard work day). At one point Sheamus had gotten considerably thinner than he currently stands, but now the 6’4” superstar is clocking in at 267 pounds, and you better wish on a four leaf clover that you never face him in the ring.
#1 – Seth Rollins
This list wouldn’t be complete without the 2014 “Money in the Bank” winner, and current WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins. Rollins was an independent wrestler that originated from Iowa, competing in obscure matches across the nation, and looking rather thin while doing it. Rollins started doing Crossfit exercises once he became popular in the mainstream, and is clearly bigger these days (even if he is listed at only 217 pounds); he may have been a shrimp before, but these days Seth is “Rollin” with some serious strength.