It’s no surprise that wrestlers tend to lie a lot about themselves in the ring. That includes where they’re from. The obvious ones are characters like The Undertaker being from Death Valley or The Ultimate Warrior from “Parts Unknown.” There were also the slews of “Russian” wrestlers who were actually born Americans just putting on an act. Some guys can bill themselves from a totally different town although some are legitimate. Jerry Lawler really is from Memphis, Dusty Rhodes hailed from Austin, etc… Yet a few guys have different hometowns that may come as a surprise to their fans.
It’s not just different cities, it can be entirely different countries. It’s astounding how guys you think hailed from a certain land turn out to be from somewhere completely different. Even workers long associated with their “home” cities turn out to sometimes be from the other end of the country yet make that home part of their character so well. I mean, let’s face it, you wouldn’t really picture a guy like Kane being from Knox County, Tennessee, would you? Here are 15 wrestlers who lied about their home of origin but still managed to make it work to be hits in wrestling.
15. Randy Savage
Billed hometown: Sarasota, Florida
Real hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Among the more famous entrances of 1980s WWE was the Macho Man. He would come down to “Pomp and Circumstance” in a glorious robe with the gorgeous Elizabeth by his side as the announcers would call out him from Sarasota, Florida. He didn’t make a huge deal of his home but it was still accepted as his origin as Savage became one of the biggest stars around. In reality, he was born to Angelo Poffo in Columbus, Ohio. Because of his dad’s work, Randy moved around a lot, graduating Downers Grove High school in Illinois and later residing in New Jersey. He had a tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals but an injury in the minors led to him moving into wrestling as his career. It led to his huge fame and he would make Florida his residence, only in Seminole instead of Sarasota.
14. Jake Roberts
Billed hometown: Stone Mountain, Georgia
Real homwtown: Gainesville, Texas
Between his amazing ring skills and his astounding work on the mic, Roberts was a star rising up well. The Snake added to it by inventing the DDT and taking off in Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic before his major success in WWE. Roberts had been born in Gainesville, Texas and had a good run there but didn’t think the Texas roots were helping him. So he decided to be billed from Stone Mountain, Georgia simply because it sounded cooler. It worked out as it sounded pretty cool and Roberts used it to become a notable star. He has had his famous issues with drugs and alcohol and more than a few bad times in wrestling and real life but in retirement, the Snake looks to be doing better and whatever his home, was still a notable star.
13. The Road Warriors
Billed hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Real hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Throughout their careers, the Legion of Doom made a lot of their Chicago roots. They were billed as street fighters from the Windy City, talking of their tough upbringing and fighting off other gangs. A common bit in both WCW and WWE was Hawk and Animal taking part in a “Chicago Street Fight” match, brawling against other teams and would do videos of themselves in run-down areas of the city to talk about it. In truth, Hawk was born in Minneapolis while Animal was born in Philadelphia and only moved to Chicago as a kid. They spent a bit of time there but then moved to Minneapolis together to form their friendship, work as bouncers and then taking off as a tag team. They made the Chicago motif work as a key part of their act but in reality the LOD only spent a minor bit of time in the Windy City.
12. The Rock
Billed hometown: Miami, Florida
Real hometown: Hayward, California
Whenever The Rock pops up in Miami, he gets a huge ovation as he declares “Finally…The Rock…has come…Home.” Dwayne Johnson’s rise in wrestling has been well chronicled from the babyface fans loathed to the arrogant heel they loved to mega-star and Hollywood action hero. The Miami connections are clear as Johnson attended the University of Miami and did well there with talk of him going pro before an injury pushed him into the family business of wrestling. Johnson still talks a lot of the city, even going to Heat games and of course Miami Hurricanes games.
But The Rock’s life actually began in Hayward, California and he moved around a lot from Pennsylvania to even New Zealand. He would make Miami more of his home and owns a large mansion although he also has a place in L.A. for his movie and TV work. Yet The Rock happens to be California born despite how he boasts of Miami being home.
11. Jinder Mahal
Billed hometown: Punjab, India
Real hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Currently, Mahal is a huge focus of conversation due to his sudden elevation to the main event scene. This was a man who was pushed in WWE as being from India, complete with wearing turbans and speaking Punjabi. He was soon in feuds with Ted DiBiase, Sheamus and Kane. He had a good run in the reborn NXT but failed to connect with WWE, soon lowered to being with 3MB. He was released in 2014 and that appeared to be the end of it so it was a surprise when WWE hired him back in late 2016. That led to the huge shock of him suddenly becoming the number one contender for Randy Orton’s title.
Fans are still not sure of this move, not feeling Mahal is ready for the main event. Rumor is that WWE is trying to increase their popularity in India with the move. That would be ironic given that Mahal is actually Canadian, having been born in Calgary and getting his start there. While he brought a lot of his Indian heritage into the role, Mahal is a clear example of a guy who actually hails from a far different land than his billing.
10. Triple H
Billed hometown: Greenwich, Conneticut
Real hometown: Nashua, New Hampshire
Paul Levesque always had the potential to become a huge deal in wrestling. He started out slowly with bits in WCW like Terra Ryzing where he was billed as being from Boston. When he was hired for WWE, Vince McMahon decided he wanted him to be from Greenwich as McMahon was having issues with some of the people in that area. Yes, another case of Vince using his personal beefs for a big wrestling character. But Hunter Hearst Helmsley worked out, doing his best with this snobby character and backing it up with great ring work. Even as Triple H transformed himself into the wild leader of DX and then a main eventer, he continued to promote Greenwich as his home. In truth, Levesque was born in Nashua, the second largest city in New Hampshire. While he currently lives in Weston so at least he’s in the same state, Triple H has shown he’s more than a “Greenwich snob” in his success with WWE.
Billed hometown: Land of the Rising Sun
Real hometown: San Francisco, California
With his massive bulk up to 550 pounds, it was easy for Yokozuna to be pushed in WWE as a monster. But he was also much faster than one would expect of a man that size and lithe with kicks and other moves. This led to great success as WWE Champion and it was accepted to fans the man was Japanese with Mr. Fuji being his manager and the Rising Sun flag and such. However, Yoko was actually a member of the famed Anoa’i clan and was born in San Francisco. His early time had him billed being from Polynesia but WWE decided it was better to bill him from Japan to boost him as an evil foreign heel. It did work out for great success and Yoko played along with it, barely speaking outside the ring and learning some Japanese phrases. He died younger than expected due to health issues but still ranks as a guy who used a fake home for some big success in WWE.
8. Chris Jericho
Billed hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Real hometown: Manhasset, New York
A classic moment in 2009 has Chris Jericho in a match when a fan yells out “Go back to Toronto!” Without missing a beat, Jericho fires back at the man “I’m from Winnipeg, you idiot!” Jericho loved to promote his Canadian roots first in WCW and then in WWE. He bragged about the country, often pushing how great it was and “I am Canadian Cool!” Naturally, Canadian fans loved it with huge pops whenever Jericho showed up there and he’s regularly listed among the best Canadian wrestlers around.
Except he’s not. Jericho was born in Manhasset, New York on Long Island. Indeed, his father was a player for the Rangers and it was only after his retirement that the family moved to Winnipeg. Jericho became a citizen as he rose up and billed himself from the city regularly when he broke out into the business in the mid-90s. Jericho just shrugs it off as he considers himself Canadian yet the record shows he was born in the USA.
7. Ric Flair
Billed hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Real hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Throughout his career, Flair was synonymous with North Carolina. He boasted about his connections there with his home in Charlotte and bragged about the massive mansion he owned there. Flair’s fame was giant with Jim Crockett as most everyone agrees he was the reason folks kept tuning in to the product in the 1980s. He dominated as NWA champion and it just got bigger when the first Starrcade was held in Greensboro and the Carolina fans made it a success. For years, Charlotte was hailed as “Flair country” and the fans there going nuts for him.
Which is a bit amusing since Flair was actually born in Memphis, Tennessee. Famously, he was a “black market baby” who grew up in Minnesota and spent a few years in school in Wisconsin. It was in Minnesota that Flair began his training with Verne Gagne and when he traveled to the Mid-Atlantic area, latched onto the Charlotte motif. It’s become part of his life (his daughter’s ring-name is even named after the city) so it’s surprising to know it’s not where Flair hails from.
6. Dolph Ziggler
Billed hometown: Hollywood, Florida
Real hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
It was a long road for Nick Nemeth, starting off as “Nicky” in the Spirit Squad, the idiotic bunch of male cheerleaders WWE made to be a big deal in 2007. After time in OVW, he came back as Dolph Ziggler, his arrogant persona soon winning fans over big time. He’s had ups and downs, some repackaging of the gimmick but Ziggler remains a top notch guy for WWE with several runs with multiple titles. He bills himself from Hollywood, Florida, a fitting place for a wild and flashy character. In reality, Ziggler was born in Cleveland and even got his start in college wrestling for Kent State, winning a few state championships.
It’s probably no surprise he changed it as Cleveland doesn’t quite scream out “mass success” for many. He currently resides in Phoenix but somehow, Hollywood is a more fitting “hometown” for this flashy guy.
5. Santino Marella
Billed hometown: Calabria, Italy
Real hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
When he debuted in Italy, Santino Marella was pushed as a babyface, a “fan from the crowd” who won the IC title off of Umaga. It didn’t take well but when he turned heel, he became a marvel on the mic. Portraying himself as a total buffoon, Santino was soon a success as IC, tag team and US champion with fans loving his wild antics and the “Cobra.” Many believed he really was Italian and just acting up the clichés of a bad accent as his voice sounded so real.
So it may be a surprise to know that “Santino” is actually Anthony Carelli and while he is of Italian descent, he was born and raised in Ontario. He latched onto the character in OVW and boosted it up in WWE and even acted Italian out of the ring to make this goofball a winner for fans.
4. Razor Ramon
Billed hometown: Miami, Florida
Real hometown: St. Mary’s County, Maryland
Born in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and currently residing in Duluth, Georgia, Scott Hall was a guy who always had the looks and skill to be a good star. However, he was saddled with rough stuff like an afro and thick mustache and not getting good opportunities. He did get a makeover as the Diamond Studd in WCW with slicked hair and his great power bomb finisher but the politics of the company drove him out. Moving to WWE, Hall embraced the idea of Razor Ramon, billing himself from Miami. Adding a five o’clock shadow, gold chains and a “Cuban” accent that sounded like a reject from a high school production of “West Side Story,” Ramon was pushed off the bat.
Thanks to his skill, size and the Razor’s Edge, Hall was over right off. He kept the gimmick up well hanging around Miami a lot and selling being this slick guy. It led to huge success with five reigns as IC champion and he became a huge star. It was such a big deal that when Hall moved to WCW under his real name, he still kept the accent up and while his real-life problems are known, Hall made his fake city a key part of his success.
3. Shawn Michaels
Billed hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Real hometown: Chandler, Arizona
For a guy known for his Texas motifs, HBK was actually born in Chandler, Arizona. Raised in a military family, Shawn actually spent time in England and various other bases in his childhood, moving around a lot. They finally settled down in San Antonio where Shawn started out in wrestling and would bill it as his hometown for his break in World Class. That worked for his time with The Rockers then his terrific run as a singles star. Shawn would play with his “Texas roots” at times like cowboy hats and some stuff in San Antonio. He didn’t make too big a deal of it but it got him a huge pop from the Texas crowd at WrestleMania 32. Michaels ironically ended up wrestling his final match in his home state of Arizona at WrestleMania XXVI.
2. Ricky Steamboat
Billed hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Real hometown: West Point, New York
With his tanned looks, it was no wonder it was so believable Ricky Steamboat was from Hawaii. He used it as his hometown as he broke out in Mid-Atlantic with feuds with Ric Flair and his fantastic partnership with Jay Youngblood. It also led to his run in WWE with his classic feud with Randy Savage. Some nutty bits included him training as a ninja and later spewing out fire but it carried Steamboat for another great WCW run with multiple titles and while he lived in North Carolina, continued to bill Honolulu as his home.
So it might have been a surprise to fans when in the opening chapter of his WWE DVD, Steamboat acknowledges he was actually born in West Point, New York. Originally Richard Blood, he changed his name so he’d be promoted as a relative of popular Hawaiian-born star Sammy Steamboat. Steamboat himself jokes on how much he had to integrate Hawaiian stuff into the act when he barely even visited the state but it helped him become a popular star.
1. Hulk Hogan
Billed hometown: Venice Beach, California
Real hometown: Augusta Georgia/Tampa Bay, Florida
Any child of the 1980s WWE can remember that entrance. The rocking guitar chords of “Real American” hitting as fans came to their feet cheering. With it came Howard Finkel’s booming voice with “From Venice Beach, California….” as Hulk Hogan came down the aisle for a big match. Hogan loved to boast about his California roots, especially in matches taking place in the state. He would do stuff at the beach and be seen training at gyms in vignettes to boost his fame and connections to the town.
But in reality, Hogan was born in Augusta, Georgia. Yep, he’s a Southerner as his family moved to Tampa, Florida when he was a year and a half old. There, Hogan spent time in baseball and a would-be rock guy before getting into bodybuilding. He started off as “Terry Boulder” before Verne Gagne opened up his skills in the AWA. That led to him in WWE and the rest is history. However, whenever you see Hogan fighting, don’t forget the man’s true roots are in the South, not California.
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