WWE makes their performers look like larger-than-life stars. Even without pyro, WWE knows how to create a spectacle, and how to make all of their Superstars seem special. When you've promoted 33 WrestleManias, you tend to get good at that kind of stuff.
That's why taking a look at WWE Superstars when they're outside the promotional limelight is often so startling. Finding out that WWE's performers are just regular people really puts their production and makeup teams on a pedestal. They do such a great job at showcasing their talent as flawless, even when that is far from reality.
WWE's amazing ability to showcase their talent is most apparent when comparing how wrestlers come-off to live audiences in other promotions versus how they do in Vince McMahon's company. Let's use the Hardy Boyz as an example. They spent years in TNA and nothing they ever did for Dixie Carter felt 1/10th as important as when they performed at this year's WrestleMania. The same goes for WWE's female performers. In WWE they're superheroes, anywhere else they're professional wrestlers. Not that there is anything wrong with professional wrestlers!
Here are 15 pictures of WWE's current female roster looking unrecognizable compared to what you see on TV, enjoy!
Before she was putting James Ellsworth in the "friend-zone", Carmella was a professional cheerleader. After graduating University, the future Ms. Money in the Bank joined the New England Patriots cheerleading squad. She would remain with the team for three seasons. Considering Triple H and Stephanie are big Patriots fans, this probably helped her future with the company.
In 2010, Carmella auditioned for a spot as a Laker Girl. She would perform with the NBA team from 2010 to 2011. WWE would come calling shortly after that, and she was assigned to NXT in 2013.
Carmella is also a second generation wrestler. Her father, Paul Van Dale, used to work matches for WWE as a jobber. Perhaps Carmella is honoring her father's jobber roots by allowing an enhancement talent like Ellsworth to be her valet.
14 Becky Lynch
Rebecca Quin, aka Becky Lynch, began her pro wrestling training at only 15 years of age. Now 30, Lynch spent a lot of time on the independents trying to get noticed. In doing so she was forced to work a few side jobs to help pay the bills. It is entirely possible that the above photo came from a modeling gig that Lynch did for no other reason than she needed the money.
This is just speculation, but the above photo looks to be placing great emphasis on Lynch's bare feet. There are several websites available online that cater to what we will cautiously refer to as "female foot enthusiasts". If that is the case, she would not be the first WWE performer to dabble in this foot-centric industry.
Lynch worked as a flight attendant as she waited for her big break as well.
That is Paige and Rosemary hanging out in the picture above. It was taken at a Shimmer after-party in 2011. Paige was only 18 at the time, but she had been wrestling for many years prior.
Paige was born to parents Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya. Both her parents were in the wrestling business, as are her brothers, so naturally, Paige went into the business herself. She was not in Shimmer long, however, as WWE would sign her after just a few months with the promotion. During her time in Shimmer, Paige and her mother ran an angle where Sweet Saraya disowned her own daughter. This led to a No Disqualification match between mother and daughter, which Paige won.
Paige was a can't miss prospect, but unfortunately, it seems a never-healing shoulder injury, and a tumultuous marriage is preventing her from returning to WWE at the moment.
12 Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks wasn't always "The Boss". In fact, when she started out in the business as Mercedes KV, she seemed like the lowest ranking person in the office.
Banks' real name is Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, and she didn't waste any time getting into the wrestling business. A fan from a young age, Banks began her career wrestling around local Massachusetts independent shows in 2010. She was only 18 years old when she began her career and was 20 when WWE signed her in 2012.
Despite winning the Women's Championship in the Massachusetts local Chaotic Wrestling Federation, Banks lacked the ring presence and star quality she would become famous for. Over time in NXT, Banks would become more confident and she eventually became "The Boss". Since then she has gone on to main event PPVs, win numerous championships, and become one of the most recognizable female wrestlers in the world. She's come a long way from the photo above.
The above photo is from Bayley's first ever photo shoot with WWE. It was taken before she would adopt her current "hugger" gimmick.
The 28-year-old from San Jose spent four years on the independent scene before WWE came calling in 2012. Under the name Davina Rose, Bayley attended training classes organized by local Northern Californian promotion, Big Time Wrestling. She would wrestle her first match for the promotion later that year.
Bayley was 22 when she signed with WWE in 2012, though she wouldn't report to developmental until January 2013. She even started her NXT career wrestling under a mask! Eventually, the mask gimmick was dropped and she competed in a tournament to crown the inaugural NXT Women's Champion. She lost to Alicia Fox in the first round.
As of this writing, Bayley was scheduled to receive a title shot at SummerSlam, but a shoulder injury cost her the title bout.
10 Nia Jax
Nia Jax is, "not like most girls". Her entrance theme makes this very clear. She also doesn't fit the mold of your typical WWE female wrestler. Larger than most members of WWE's Women's Division, Nia Jax has changed the game somewhat for plus-sized female performers.
She's The Rock's cousin, though WWE doesn't take advantage of this fact in storylines. For the most part, she is booked as a giant, with her much smaller foes having to use their wit to be able to chop her down to size.
Real name Savelina Fanene, the 33-year-old was working as a model before being signed to WWE in 2014. Her unique appearance proves modern standards of beauty are changing.
While in developmental she roomed with current Raw Women's Champion, Alexa Bliss. The two have been close friends ever since.
Followers of Emma's Instagram account will note that the above picture is not Emma at her finest. In fact, the above photo is actually a mug shot!
Emma was arrested for shoplifting at a Wal-Mart in Hartford, Connecticut in 2014. She had been using the self-checkout aisle and evidently forgot to pay for an iPhone case. Wal-Mart isn't fooling around when it comes to their self-checkout aisles it appears, as they had Emma arrested for shoplifting.
WWE originally fired Emma when they heard about her arrest, but after being filled in on the rest of the details they re-hired her the same day. Let this be a lesson to anyone, Wal-Mart is watching you at the self-checkout aisle!
Currently the 28-year-old is attempting to get Raw GM, Kurt Angle, to give her more opportunities in the ring.
8 Mickie James
The above photo might look like a little known forth member of the Legion of Doom, but it is actually Mickie James. Before she was signed to WWE, James went by the name Alexis Laree on the independent scene.
Her first major gig in wrestling came in TNA in 2002. Under her Alexis Laree gimmick, James joined Raven's "Gathering" along with CM Punk, Julio Dinero, and Cassidy Riley.
In 2003, James was signed to a WWE contract and reported to Ohio Valley Wrestling, which at the time was a WWE developmental territory. She would make her main roster debut in 2005 and began an epic program with Trish Stratus. The angle would conclude with James defeating Stratus for the Women's Championship at WrestleMania 22. James was re-hired by WWE in 2016, and she currently competes on the Raw brand.
7 Alexa Bliss
Apparently, the world of bodybuilding doesn't have height restrictions because Alexa Bliss was once a professional! Bliss was involved in multiple sports as a child including gymnastics and cheerleading. When she was a little older she began competing as a bodybuilder as well. She would later state that bodybuilding helped her overcome an eating disorder she developed as a young teenager. Bodybuilding taught Bliss that it was OK to gain weight. She even competed in the Arnold Classic, one of the sport's most recognizable events. While she might seem ridiculously tiny for a bodybuilder, the sport does have weight divisions.
The 25-year-old from Columbus has only been on the main roster a little over a year but has already won the SmackDown Women's Championship twice, and the Raw Women's Championship on one occasion. Not bad for someone who didn't even win an NXT Championship.
6 Summer Rae
Danielle Moinet is the real name of WWE performer Summer Rae. Before WWE signed her in 2011, Summer was a cornerback in the Lingerie Football League.
Summer played three seasons for the Chicago Bliss and was even named the defensive team captain. Her final year in the league she also qualified for the All-Star game. The league has since been renamed and the uniforms have become less lingerie based nowadays. Summer competed in the league's first three seasons, however, when such changes had yet to take place.
If you're wondering why you haven't seen Summer Rae on television recently, you aren't alone. There's no good reason for her absence other than creative is having trouble finding something for her to do. The 33-year-old has been with the company for six years.
Asuka is a frightening woman. This fact has only been loosely alluded to in NXT, but when the gloves are off, Asuka might be the evilest character in the promotion. She has spent most of her career wrestling as Kana, a character somewhat darker than Asuka.
The 35-year-old is currently on a record-shattering long run with the NXT Women's Championship and could be the first undefeated person to be called up to the main roster from NXT. Normally a champion is required to lose their title before being called up to either Raw or SmackDown, but it's possible WWE makes an exception with Asuka. They could simply choose to draft her to one of the main roster brands and vacate the NXT Women's Championship.
Asuka is set to defend her title at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III, against Ember Moon.
4 Ruby Riot
Here is Ruby Riot before she became even more covered with tattoos and piercings. Now one of the top female performers in NXT, Riot has really embraced her punk rock persona, giving her a unique character.
Ruby Riot is 26 years old but has been wrestling since she was just a teenager. Known as Heidi Lovelace, she wrestled for Ohio Valley Wrestling, Shine, Chikara, and Stardom. She was signed to a WWE deal in January of this year, however, and debuted on NXT just a few months later.
Before WWE came calling, Riot won championships in nearly every promotion she competed for. She won the Young Lions Cup in Chikara, the Alpha-1 Male Championship, and won the Shimmer Tag Team Titles along with her partner, Evie.
Nowadays, Ruby Riot is one of the bright spots in NXT Women's Division, but how long until she receives a main roster call-up?
3 Renee Young
Young began working for a television station in Toronto in 2009, before that however, she gave the world of comedy a try. Ultimately, she was better suited for a career in broadcasting. TheScore would air the show Aftermath following Raw and SmackDown with hosts Renee Young, Arda Ocal, Mauro Ranallo, and Jimmy Korderas. Nowadays, the network has been renamed Sportsnet 360 and Santino Marella, from nearby Mississauga, is a regular guest. It was there when Young really broke out and was spotted by the WWE.
WWE signed Renee in 2012. She would change her last name from Paquette to Young for her wrestling persona, as a nod to Canadian rock star Neil Young.
Young might not be in WWE forever. From a very young age, she has wanted to be a comedian, a field she may revisit.
2 Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair is living her father's life. At only 31 years of age, she has already been married and divorced twice, and has won five World Championships. It's the exact same pattern!
The above photo is Charlotte's mugshot from an incident that took place just after she graduated college in 2008. At the time, Charlotte was working as a personal trainer and had no plans to get into wrestling. Police were called to her residence where Charlotte's boyfriend and Ric Flair were also present. For reasons not altogether clear, Charlotte decided to attack the police officer and was arrested. She would later accept a plea bargain which required only a fine and a small probation period.
Charlotte wouldn't decide to follow in her father's footsteps until she was 26 when she was almost immediately signed to a developmental deal by WWE.
1 Stephanie McMahon
40-year-old Stephanie McMahon has given birth to three children, though we rarely ever saw her while she was pregnant. We haven't seen Stephanie since WrestleMania this year, although she's set to return sooner rather than later.
Perhaps the above photo is why we don't see pregnancy pictures of Stephanie too often. She tends to balloon up a little during such periods as the photo above attests. Stephanie has always managed to take the weight off, however, and appeared to be fit enough to compete at WrestleMania this year if she wanted to. Of course, she didn't, but did manage to crash over a table which was quite the moment. She hasn't been seen since, doing most of her work in the office. Again, she's set to return soon, likely rekindling her friend/foe relationship with current GM Kurt Angle.