Before you can finally land the career that you’ve always wanted, you have to cut your teeth working odd jobs that you probably don’t want any part of. Professional wrestlers are no different, as it can take years to make enough money to work as a wrestler on a full-time basis. When it comes to the women of the WWE, many were handpicked because of their backgrounds.
Many of the female members of the WWE over the years had backgrounds in modeling, dancing or fitness. For the ones that had to grind throughout their early 20’s before finally getting signed with the world’s biggest pro wrestling company, the jobs weren’t quite as glamorous. From working at fast food chains to waiting customers on airplanes, the ladies of wrestling have held some interesting jobs.
Let’s take a look at some of the current and former female wrestlers to see what types of jobs they had before landing with WWE. If you’re young and trying to make it, some of these will certainly cheer you up, as it’s a sign that you can always land your dream job no matter how you start.
15 Mickie James - Farmhand
More than a decade ago, Mickie James made her debut as Trish Stratus’s biggest fan, and a bit of a stalker. Now in her second stint with WWE (and several years at TNA in between), James has won a total of six women’s titles. It also doesn’t seem that the 37 year old has plans to retire anytime soon.
While James didn’t have a high paying job when going through high school, she definitely did work hard for her family. Growing up around horses, James worked on her grandmother’s farm where she saw her love for horses grow. Nothing has changed these days, as James is still often seen riding horses and working around the farm. Perhaps her history in farming inspired the terrible “Piggy James” angle.
14 Layla - Cruise Ship Dancer
We’ve seen a lot of British wrestlers in the WWE, but there surprisingly hasn’t been that many females from England. One of the rare ones is Layla El, who joined the WWE in 2006 as a Diva Search contestant. In her time with the WWE, Layla won two championships before leaving wrestling in 2014.
A lot of the current and former women in WWE worked in dancing, with many going straight from professional sports cheerleading to pro wrestling. Layla was a bit different, however, as she was working on the high seas. Layla worked with Carnival Cruise Lines in the early 2000s as one of the dancers for on-stage shows. She would then parlay her experience into dancing for the NBA’s Miami Heat before heading to the WWE.
13 Cameron - Behavior Therapist
While she might not have been the most technically sound female wrestler around, Cameron did make a splash on “Tough Enough” in 2011 before debuting with the WWE in 2013. It was then that she teamed up with Naomi to form The Funkadactyls. She was also featured on “Total Divas,” but didn’t win a title while with the company, leaving in 2016.
Now going by her real name of Ariane Andrew again, we’ve learned a bit about the former wrestler’s history over the years. After graduating college from California State University, Northridge, she moved down south to the Los Angeles area. Before heading to “Tough Enough” to earn her spot in the WWE, Cameron was working as a behavior therapist for autistic children. These days, she’s gotten back into modeling more.
12 Naomi - Flo Rida’s Backup Dancer
The other half of The Funkadactyls, Naomi was part of the third season of NXT that featured only female wrestlers. Though she didn’t win, Naomi would still see herself climb up the ladder in WWE. After splitting her up from Cameron, Naomi has had a successful solo career, winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania in 2017.
One of the many female WWE stars that once worked as a cheerleader, Naomi had a bit more of an interesting job in her previous dance career. Naomi was a backup dancer for famous rapper Flo Rida on stage, which played a huge part in getting her into the WWE. Since Flo Rida has performed so many songs for WWE pay per views and a dance gimmick opened up, Naomi was a natural fit that has stuck around.
11 AJ Lee- Janitor
Another member of the third season of NXT, AJ Lee quickly made noise in 2011 after making her debut. Between being teamed up with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, AJ Lee got a lot of love from diehard wrestling fans. Before leaving in 2015, AJ had already won three Divas Championships, and two Slammy Awards for Diva of the Year.
Since Lee had such a rough upbringing, she had to work many different odd jobs to support herself and her family. Out of the many jobs, Lee said that the best one was working as a janitor. Lee told the New York Daily News that “I liked being a janitor more than (working at a supermarket). You’re on your feet all day. People kind of look right through you.” These days, nobody’s looking away.
10 Molly Holly - Telemarketer
Molly Holly signed with the WWE in 2000 and became part of the Holly family stable that consisted of Bob and Crash. Molly Holly would eventually go solo, where she found further success by winning the Women’s Championship. She would stop wrestling full-time in 2005, but did win two titles in the women’s division, as well as the Hardcore Championship.
If you’ve ever had your dinner interrupted by a phone call from a telemarketer, there was a chance that it was Molly Holly on the other line back in the 1990s. To support herself while trying to make it big in pro wrestling, Holly worked both as a telemarketer and “sandwich artist” at Subway. Eventually, she joined up with Dean Malenko and was trained to be a wrestler, starting out with WCW before heading to the WWE.
9 Lita - Roadie
Now a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Lita was signed away from ECW in 2000 and was originally paired up with Essa Rios. Thankfully, she then allied with Matt and Jeff Hardy to form Team Xtreme. The trio made a big splash in both the tag team and women’s divisions, with Lita winning four Women’s Championships before retiring.
If you ever thought that Lita looked like someone that was more interested in rock music than wrestling, that’s because her early life was exactly that. After dropping out of college, Lita started playing in several different rock bands as a bassist, and was working as a roadie (setting up equipment) before even trying out wrestling. Once she learned the ropes in the late 1990s, it didn’t take long for Lita to achieve fame.
8 Lana - Girl Band Star
In 2013, the WWE signed Lana and teamed her up with Rusev in NXT as his valet. The duo would gain a lot of popularity in the developmental brand before heading up to the main roster later that year. The two also developed a relationship, which was added to the gimmick. Though Lana hasn’t won a title (despite two chances), she has been one of the more popular female stars.
If you remember the infamous call from Brent Musburger during the Florida State-Miami game back in 2005 where he pointed out several gorgeous women in the student body, you might remember that Lana was one of them. That was back when she was known simply by her real name (CJ Perry). Lana would use the 15 minutes of fame to try out a music career, joining a record label started by Ne-Yo with the band No Means Yes. They never made the charts, but Lana did land some minor acting jobs in movies such as “Pitch Perfect” before getting into wrestling.
7 Natalya - Vacuum Saleswoman
Out of the current female wrestlers in the WWE, nobody has been actively employed with the company longer than Natalya. Natalya signed a decade ago, and has been a full-timer ever since. It might comes as a surprise that over the long period of time, Natalya only held the Divas Championship once, and no women’s titles.
Even though Natalya had the family lineage that could have gotten her into pro wrestling easily, she had to cut her teeth as a teenager first. After turning 18 years old, Natalya enlisted as a door-to-door saleswoman for Kirby vacuums. It didn’t last long, however, as Natalya quit her job after just one week and decided that pro wrestling was her future. About the job, Natalya told USA Today that “I didn’t realize that you had to basically clean everyone’s house to sell one of those things.”
6 Trish Stratus - Receptionist
Perhaps the most famous female wrestler of the past 20 years, Trish Stratus had a slew of achievements while in the WWE. The now Hall of Famer made her debut back in 2000, and had two stints, including one as a part-timer. Stratus won a Hardcore Championship in her tenure, as well as seven Women’s Championships and was named Diva of the Decade.
When Stratus was attending college, she had aspirations to work in the science field. However, the faculty at her college went on strike and she found herself working as a receptionist at a gym in Toronto. A magazine publisher with extremely good taste spotted her, and asked her to appear in a photo shoot. After that, Stratus’s modeling career took off, leading to some needed recognition that got her into WWE.
5 Michelle McCool - Middle School Teacher
If you tuned out of pro wrestling during the Ruthless Aggression era and didn’t come back until the Summer of Punk, there’s a good chance you missed Michelle McCool. McCool wrestled from 2004 to 2011 with WWE after being in the Diva Search contest, and was one of the bigger names in the women’s division at the time. Overall, McCool won four titles, and was named 2010 Diva of the Year.
McCool’s parents were both teachers, and she had an aspiration to become one, as well. That was until college, at least, but found herself doing one day of substitute teaching and ended up liking it. While working as a sub, McCool landed her master’s degree so that she could become a full-time teacher, spending four years teaching middle schoolers in Florida. The WWE took her real life job and turned it into her gimmick when she re-debuted in 2006.
4 Paige - Bouncer/Bartender
It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve seen Paige in a wrestling ring, which is a surprise after such a strong debut. After breezing through the NXT competition, Paige won the Divas title in her first night on the main roster in 2014. Paige would win the title one more time, but has been on hiatus since she suffered and injury and then violated the wellness policy.
If you grew up with parents that owned a restaurant, you know how much time you end up spending at the restaurant and lending a hand. Paige was no exception, as her parents ran both a bar and a wrestling school at the same time. When the parents were busy with the school, Paige would stay behind the restaurant and work as both the bartender and bouncer. At the time, she was just 15 years old, which probably came as a shock to some patrons.
3 Asuka - Xbox Magazine Writer
One of the most well-known names in Japanese women’s wrestling in the 2000s, Asuka finally signed with WWE in 2015. Since then, Asuka has dominated as a member of the NXT brand, winning the Women’s Championship in April 2016 and is still reigning in the summer of 2017. It’s not clear when she’ll make her main roster debut, but wrestling fans are really looking forward to it.
Not many people know that Asuka really loves video games, and had a career in the industry long before landing in the WWE. Asuka worked with both Nintendo and Microsoft in a couple of different capacities. With Nintendo, Asuka was a graphics designer and has just about every console the company has ever made. With Microsoft, she worked in the Xbox division with the console’s magazine as a writer. When she started pro wrestling, Asuka even had an Xbox logo on her attire.
2 Summer Rae - Football Player
Summer Rae knew that she wanted to get into the wrestling business in 2011, and signed with WWE, starting in the developmental territories. She would then be called up to the roster as Fandango’s valet in 2013 and has been in and out of full-time status every since. There haven’t been any titles for Summer Rae yet, but it doesn’t appear that she has any plans to leave the WWE, so never say never.
While it doesn’t look like Summer Rae could deliver huge hits at just (a billed) 118 pounds, she started her post-college career playing football as a member of the Chicago Bliss in the Lingerie Football League. Summer Rae was a captain of the team and played at cornerback, but got burned out after two years. Since she always had a love for wrestling, Summer Rae decided to go in that direction, which wasn’t hard given her exposure in the LFL.
1 Becky Lynch - Flight Attendant
Perhaps the most beloved female wrestler in the internet wrestling community, Becky Lynch had spent years wrestling around the world before heading to NXT in 2013. Lynch would draw a lot of praise in NXT, but never won the developmental title. Since making the move to the main roster in 2015, though, Lynch finally won gold by winning the first ever SmackDown Women’s Championship in 2016.
We only listed one job for Lynch, but she had several odd jobs before making it to the WWE after many years. Among them was working as a flight attendant with Aer Lingus, and it was her mom that got her the job since she had been in the industry. In 2013 when a fan asked if it was true that she had the job, Lynch revealed that she spent “almost (four) years” in the profession. Lynch also studied at clown school, but then went to wrestling full-time before joining the circus.