The WWE has developed into such a humongous platform in wrestling that it’s the dream of every aspiring professional wrestler to make it in the company, as the fame and money to be found in it is something nobody else can offer. So many young wrestlers try to break into the company quite early in their careers, often going through some time as enhancement talents, where their potential and quality are evaluated by the company, but not many of them actually make it in the company after this initial trial period.
Some of them are used as extras on WWE TV segments, such as playing the role of a security guard or an extra in an established wrestler’s entrance. These wrestlers appeared in the WWE early on in their careers, before they found mainstream popularity, but even the most diehard fans probably didn’t know it.
Let’s take a look at 15 wrestlers you didn’t know appeared in the WWE before they were stars.
15. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss might be one of the smallest women in the roster right now, but that didn’t stop her from claiming the Smackdown Women’s Championship as her own, as Bliss has come a long way from her time in NXT. Her transformation from a happy-go-lucky girl to this mean heel has done her a lot of good, as she actually appeared on WWE TV at the grandest stage of them all at WrestleMania XXX. She was an extra for Triple H’s entrance, as she can be seen to Triple H’s left side as one of his “servants”. Though she’s set to appear in the upcoming WrestleMania, Bliss has come a long way since her appearance as an extra at WrestleMania.
Raven is probably remembered by everyone for his mystical, sadistic gimmick which was at a high during his ECW days, but what many don’t remember is that he was in the WWE before he attained success in the Land of Extreme. Before he was known as Raven, he was Johnny Polo in the WWE who was this rich, spoiled kid who went onto manage The Quebecers whom he led to three WWE Tag Team title reigns. In between this, he’d also participate as a wrestler in some tag team or singles matches, while he also helped with a lot of backstage production stuff in the company as well. He’d leave to make a legacy for himself, but his days as Johnny Polo are barely remembered by anyone.
“The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus has come a long way since making his WWE debut in 2009 as he is not only one of WWE’s more experienced stars right now, but has also attained mainstream attention after appearing in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The Irishman might have enjoyed quite a lot of main event success in the WWE, but he had to work hard for it; before he’d appear in the company as this destructive force of nature, he was actually an extra acting as a security guard on an episode of Raw in 2006. Sheamus was a security guard who was trying to keep DX from causing much mayhem, only to eat a pedigree from Triple H. His past as Bono’s security-guard might have given him this opportunity, as he seized it and soon got into WWE’s developmental program and the rest, as they say, is history.
12. Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose has really come a long way in his wrestling career, as he wrestled for some low pays and put his body on the line to make ends meet and only after working rigorously for many years did he make it to the WWE, and he made sure to seize that opportunity. Ambrose is now one of the company’s top stars and one of the more popular ones as well, but that wasn’t the case for him in the past as he had a try-out match in WWE in 2004. He also appeared as a druid for The Undertaker’s entrance in Royal Rumble 2006. Ambrose really has come a long way since then.
11. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam might have become the “Whole FN’ Show” in ECW in the 90s, but he actually appeared in WWE before that in the most humiliating manner possible at the age of 16. Ted DiBiase would call upon random members of the crowd to do humiliating things for him, as Van Dam was called to come and “kiss his foot” for around 100$. Though nobody else actually went ahead with it, Van Dam actually came down to the ring and went ahead and kissed his smelly, disgusting foot. He might have become quite the star in the WWE afterwards, but this forgettable experience must’ve reaped a lot of taunts for him as he’d want to completely forget about the fact that he actually did this at one point in time.
10. Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page is renowned for his work in WCW, as he was probably the heart and soul of the company till its death and was probably their most faithful employee as well. Page was actually quite a late-bloomer in wrestling, as he did some odd jobs before focusing on becoming a wrestler and actually tried to become an announcer in WWE but failed. He’d actually get his opportunity to appear on WWE TV, as he was the driver to the pink Cadillac in which Rhythm and Blues were riding in. He was there to drive the Honky Tonk Man, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Jimmy Hart to the ring at WrestleMania VI as he was barely recognized or noticed by anyone at the time, and would later go onto join WCW where the rest is history. But this image of Page is quite surprising to realize what all wrestlers had to do to get a crack at the company in those days, as his first prominent wrestling appearance was quite the shocking one.
Lita was definitely one of the most exciting women wrestlers of the Attitude Era, as she and Trish Stratus made up for the Golden Era of women’s wrestling and helped it become what it is today. Lita might have been a great talent in the ring but didn’t break through in the WWE before some difficulty, as she had to do a lot of stuff as an extra which included being on The Godfather’s “Ho Train”.
Lita was one of the Godfather’s hos before she attained popularity as a wrestler in the WWE, as she often appeared as one of The Godfather’s valets during a time where no one barely even knew who she was. She might have become a WWE legend afterwards in her career, but this goes onto show what kind of stuff enhancement talent have to do before making it in the WWE.
8. AJ Styles
AJ Styles calls himself as the “Face That Runs The Place” right now in WWE, as he might as well be that right now as the Phenomenal One has had quite the debut year in WWE after debuting in the Royal Rumble earlier this year. Styles is at the top of the mountain right now as WWE Champion, but could break through in the WWE almost 14 years after his initial tryout in the company as Styles would try to get into the WWE in 2002. He even wrestled The Hurricane in a match on an episode of WWE Metal in 2002 which he lost, but watching this young, skinny Styles take on Hurricane is quite the surprising experience. Styles might be at the top of the ladder in WWE right now, but he was struggling back then which goes onto show how much hard-work it took for him to get to where he is now.
Cesaro might be the wrestler who is being held back by the WWE right now, but there’s no denying that he can entertain audiences around the globe regardless of whoever he is to wrestle. The Swiss Superman has been amazing us for the fast couple of years, but he actually made an appearance in the company before joining in 2011 as he played the role of a security guard on an episode of Raw. Posing as a security guard for Shane McMahon during his feud with D-Generation X, the bearded Cesaro (with hair!) can be seen alongside another prominent wrestler in EC3 as they are there to protect Shane from harm. Cesaro would impress officials enough to hire him years later, but this appearance of him is pretty hilarious and surprising as well, which goes onto show that even a Superman like him has to do silly work before making it big.
6. The Hardy Boys
Jeff and Matt Hardy have attained quite a lot of success and popularity together, as they are still very popular as the “broken” brothers and are definitely one of the best things about wrestling right now. But before they could make it big in the WWE, they actually worked a lot as enhancement talent in the company and even as extras when needed. After the monstrous Mabel won the 1995 King of the Ring tournament, he’d often be carried to the ring on a throne and the Hardys were actually one of the guys who once carried him to the ring. As it can be seen above, a very young and unrecognizable Jeff can be seen carrying Mabel to the ring as Matt was also there with him in this back-breaking effort. The Hardys wouldn’t make it big in the WWE until a few years later, but they really worked hard to get the opportunities later on and made sure they capitalized on them.
5. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan might have started his WWE career as somebody who not many paid much attention too, but the way he built himself to get to the main event level with his “Yes!” movement is remarkable. His journey was topped off with him winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX by beating all 3 members of Evolution, but his career would go down after that because of injuries. But what not many people know about Bryan is that he appeared in WWE in 2003, as he wrestled John Cena on an episode of WWE Velocity in a try-out match. The Leader of the Yes! movement would not get into the WWE afterwards, but made quite the impact when he was signed years later as watching this young, almost unrecognizable Bryan wrestling is quite surprising and goes onto show how he developed as a wrestler in the next years.
4. Mick Foley
Mick Foley has had quite the hardcore wrestling career, as he did the unthinkable at times and took unbelievable bumps to put his body on the line for the entertainment of others, earning him the popularity he had. With separate gimmicks like Cactus Jack, Mankind (the most popular one) and Dude Love, he had the amazing ability to portray just about anyone on screen and deserves his status of a “Hardcore Legend”.
But before he was taking ridiculous bumps and wowing the crowds, Foley started his career like any other wrestling graduate as he also applied in the WWE early into his career and got a chance as an enhancement talent in the mid 80s. He actually appeared on WWE TV on an episode of Superstars where a young Foley and Les Thornton jobbed to the British Bulldogs, as a clothesline from the Dynamite Kid left him unable to eat solid food for weeks. Foley took the difficult road to success but did reap his rewards soon after. Foley’s first ever WWE experience was quite the surprising one as watching this young Foley is pretty surreal.
3. Samoa Joe
Before he was the “Samoan Submission Machine” who dominated over TNA and recently WWE NXT, Samoa Joe was training to be a wrestler under WWE’s affiliate Ultimate Pro Wrestling where he even feuded with John Cena. This led him to get an opportunity to appear on WWE TV, as he appeared on an episode of WWE Jakked where he faced Essa Rios in a match. He’d job to Rios in the end, but he pulled of some impressive moves in the match but sadly this didn’t let him make it to the WWE. So Joe would prove his talent wrestling all around the world and got into the WWE a few years back and as he’s ready to make his main roster jump now, he can remember that match against Rios which kick-started his urge to make it big in the WWE which he’ll now be aiming to do.
2. Tye Dillinger
“The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger might just one of the most over wrestlers in NXT right now, but he has had to work for a lot of years in order to get where he is now. Dillinger first signed with the WWE in 2006 as an enhancement talent, as he did his training in WWE’s “Ohio Valley Wrestling” developmental and made his first WWE TV appearance in the weirdest way. He was part of a backstage segment where an irate Shawn Michaels was quarrelling with Triple H, when he came upon Stan (Dillinger) and superkicked him down. That “Stan” has now turned into the “Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger almost a decade after that appearance in WWE TV which will be remembered by Dillinger for a long time as it was quite the experience for him and looking back at it, it looks odd to see Dillinger like that.
1. CM Punk
CM Punk became a sensation in the WWE ever since his “pipebomb” promo as Punk lashed out on the company for not giving him enough opportunities, leading to an amazing push which landed him a 434 day WWE title reign. Punk really did have to dig deep for years in order to become a star in the WWE, as he was used as an extra in 2006 when he signed with the company’s developmental territory. This was none other than being an extra for John Cena, as he’d come out dressed as a gangster with a tommy gun as Cena had this gangster themed entrance for himself. Punk looks pretty weird dressed as a gangster here, but this goes onto show that someone even like Punk had to do these things in order to get into the WWE as his rise ever since that day is nothing short of remarkable.
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