In the ring, WWE Superstars come off as larger than life characters filled with aggression and violence. Outside of the ring, it’s an entirely different story. While the WWE cameras are on, Superstars love to show off their macho attitudes and personas, but deep down, many of them are just nerds or geeks at heart no matter how hard they try to tell us otherwise. With the rise of social media and Superstars sharing their personal lives, it has become harder and harder to hide the geeky interests in their lives. Nerd culture has also grown and allowed these Superstars to open up about their passions outside of the squared circle.
While a lot of wrestlers love to show off their tattoos, sports cars, and guns, there are some that would rather geek out over the latest Star Wars trailer. Some WWE Superstars can hide their nerdom a little better than others, but it’s always fun to see what type of interests these performers have outside the ring.
Learning about their interests can make them easier to relate to and help garner new fans in all aspects of pop-culture.
Browse through 15 past and present WWE Superstars who have immersed themselves in the nerdy section of pop-culture. Some have even taken it so far as to write comic books, dress in cosplay, and wear ring gear inspired by their favorite superheroes or characters.
15 Zack Ryder
It only takes a few minutes of scrolling through Zack Ryder’s Twitter feed to see his nerd interests. Ryder is a Ghostbusters and Star Wars mega-fan, but he takes his interests even further by collecting action figures. He is constantly posting images of new purchases and adding classic parts to his already impressive collection. He also interacts with companies about specific figure requests.
Ryder’s love for action figures and toys has been highlighted in several different areas. His collection has been showcased on his former YouTube show Z! True Long Island Story and he’s worn ring gear inspired by both Ghostbusters and Star Wars. He’s also been in several WWE promotional videos showing off new action figures.
In addition to that, he even appeared on the reality TV series Toy Hunter where he purchased a mint in package Ghostbusters toy that he finally got after several years of searching. His love for the Ghostbusters and their collectibles even landed him a spot in the Netflix documentary Ghostheads.
It’s hard to imagine that the violent action movie star and one time MMA fighter is a nerd in real-life, but The Animal does have a geeky side to him. Out of all the nerdy things to collect, it may surprising many of you to learn that Batista is actually an avid collector of vintage lunch boxes. He owns dozens of classic lunch boxes representing all types of pop-culture movies like Star Wars, E.T., and The Lone Ranger. A majority of his lunch boxes are the classic metal ones and he proudly displays in his home.
Batista’s geeky hobby has popped up in numerous magazines, including the official WWE magazine. He also showcased a video of his massive collection on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Dave still collects the lunch boxes today, searching through antique shops and online auctions to find the best options out there today.
13 Xavier Woods
It didn’t long for WWE fans to realize that New Day member Xavier Woods was a nerd at heart. Shortly after his debut on WWE Raw, Woods wrestled with in-ring gear that was based off the black Power Ranger. If that wasn’t enough, he took his love for video games and turned it into a successful YouTube channel.
Woods runs the channel UpUpDownDown. The dedicated channel features daily posts relating to video games. This includes streaming games, game previews, and Woods opening up new gaming packages and accessories. His video game channel also features other WWE Superstars and special gaming tournaments that include titles like Madden and Mortal Kombat.
12 CM Punk
The self-proclaimed "best in the world" may also be one of the biggest GI Joe geeks as well. CM Punk has publicly showed his fandom for the GI Joe franchise, even wearing some custom ring gear during his time in the WWE. His nerdiness goes far beyond GI Joe, however.
Punk is also an avid comic book fan. He has even taken his love for comic books to the next level by writing for them. Punk has written official Marvel stories for both Thor and Drax the Destroyer. Punk uses both his real name, Phil Brooks, and his ring name for the credits that he is given for various issues. Punk has yet to appear in a comic-book film, but if his nerdiness expands to the world of cinema, then it'll only be a matter of time before he plays a heroic role on the big screen.
11 AJ Lee
CM Punk found true love in his wife and fellow-nerd AJ Lee. Lee is a proud self-proclaimed geek that fancies many different superheroes. She's also a comic book nerd and loves to play all types of video games. The retired WWE performer has been working on a memoir about her life and love for everything geeky. It's entitled Crazy is My Superpower and the book cover even has a comic design to showcase her love for superheroes.
During her time in the WWE, she has fought in several superhero inspired outfits. She was also featured in Marvel's Fighting Fangirls series. In the interview, she talked about collecting action figures and her deep love of the X-Men franchise. If AJ ever decides to return to the WWE, you can expect to see her appear in some sort of heroic fashion.
10 Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes played a comic book villain of sorts on WWE television in the form of Stardust, but he is true comic book hero and fan in real-life. Rhodes reads and collects all types of comic books. One of his favorite nerdy franchises is The Legend of Zelda. Rhodes is a huge fan of Link and the franchise, as he even wore custom Zelda ring gear to WWE events at one point and has the Triforce tattooed on his hand.
Rhodes is also a huge Disney nerd. Every year the former WWE star travels to Disney theme parks with other WWE Superstars like Zack Ryder. Rhodes loves the parks and the nerdy franchises seen at Disney World like Star Wars. He is also a big Harry Potter fan and loves to visit the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios.
9 Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston is not your traditional comic book fan. Kingston skips by those trendy mainstream comics like The Avengers and Batman to read smaller and more niche titles. Some of his favorite series include Son of Banner and anything involving the Spider-Man villain Venom. As the WWE travels overseas, Kofi has also purchased international versions of comic books to add to his personal collection. This includes more obscure comic series like Y: The Last Man.
When Kofi's not reading or collecting comic books, he's often flying around the ring like some sort of superhero. His styles and attire designs as a part of the New Day have embraced his love for the nerd culture.
He's also an avid video game player. You can often see him on Xavier Wood's YouTube Channel UpUpDownDown playing in a variety of video game tournaments.
8 Sasha Banks
The multi-time Women's Champion loves to wear her brass knuckles that have the word “Boss” written on them, but maybe she should change that for the word “Nerd,” which seems to be better suited. Sasha Banks is a huge fan of the anime franchise Sailor Moon. Her social media often references Sailor Moon and she even played the video game side-by-side with Xavier Woods.
Sailor Moon fans are often referred to as "Sailor Scouts." Sasha has taken her nerd love for the franchise and calls out her fans as Sasha Scouts. Just wait for the Halloween edition of WWE Raw where the Diva will likely show up dressed as one of the Sailor Moon characters.
Along with Sailor Moon, Banks is also a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and loves to play all types of video games. Oh, and she loves anime!
While a lot of WWE stars love to play video games or read comic books, "The Big Red Machine" will likely be backstage watching the latest headlines on Fox News. Kane is a huge political nerd and loves the world of economics. When he's not donning his mask, setting opponents on fire, or battling in the ring, Jacobs is an informed politician, following the news and expressing his views on a daily basis nowadays.
The Libertarian has written guest blogs and articles for several different publications and blogs around the United States. He has appeared as himself on several political shows to date as well. Don't be surprised if his political prowess eventually leads him to a seat in a public office one day. His knowledge and ability to express opinions can go a long way in getting him elected.
6 Gregory Helms
Gregory Helms is like the OG nerd of the WWE. Long before it was cool to be a part of the nerd culture, Helms was proudly showcasing a Green Lantern tattoo on his arm. He took his nerdiness to a whole other level by debuting as WWE's official superhero, The Hurricane. Taking a page from Clark Kent, Helms would appear as his alter-ego backstage and then appear in costume during his in-ring performances. The green colors and designs of the hero were directly inspired by the Green Lantern character.
Helms is naturally a huge fan of comic books and superhero movies. On his Highway to Helms podcast, the wrestler often discusses comic book news and information coming out from huge conventions like Comic-Con. He also features several superhero inspired gear and images on the website.
5 The Rock
Asides from being the star of action franchises like Fast and the Furious and G.I. Joe, The Rock is actually a huge video game nerd. Dwayne loves to play all types of video games, especially action titles. He took his love for video games one step further by appearing as the main character in Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run and the lead role in the film Doom.
The Rock has played video games since he was a child. He grew up playing the Madden NFL series and still plays the newest versions of the game when he has time. The Great One continues to show his love for video games by choosing related projects such as the movie based off the classic title Rampage.
Former WWE Superstar Hornswoggle has a very specific nerd obsession: The Muppets. Hornswoggle collects all types of Muppets memorabilia including movie posters, stuffed animals, and collectible toys.
The star has demonstrated his love for the Muppets through social media and he even got to showcase his passion for them through WWE programming appearing on Raw with Kermit and Miss Piggy. In addition, the former WWE star has several character tattoos of the Muppets appearing all over his body, with the likes of Fozzy Bear and Gonzo getting inked on him.
Hornswoogle's love for the Muppets has also opened up various opportunities. One of his biggest was the chance to have a small featured role in the Disney film Muppets Most Wanted. Hornswoggle plays the role of an inmate in jail.
3 John Cena
John Cena has always come off as a “man’s man” through his tenure in the WWE. He is tough, strong, and showcased his action skills for films like The Marine and 12 Rounds. No one would actually label Cena as a nerd with all this in mind but it turns out that the Superstar is actually a big Star Wars geek. Cena is a huge fan of the film franchise and collects various pieces of memorabilia from the series.
Cena revealed a little bit of his fandom during his feud with John Laurinaitis. In a promo, Cena went on to compare the WWE to the Star Wars universe and even broke out a remarkable Yoda impression. With such a huge love for Star Wars, it’s strange that Cena has never joined the dark side and gone full heel in recent years.
2 Nikki Bella
The other half of John Cena is actually a nerd herself. Nikki Bella comes across as tough and gritty in the ring, but she a has a little nerd in her. One of the biggest differences between Nikki and her sister is that she is an avid video game player. She loves all types of video games, especially the Super Mario franchise.
This was showcased during a special Halloween Battle Royal featuring the WWE Divas. The Bella Twins dressed as Mario and Luigi, giving a special nod to her love for Mario. Along with the Super Mario Bros, Nikki Bella loves to play the Tony Hawk franchise and several of the Mortal Kombat games. Like many other Superstars, she has appeared on Xavier Woods’ YouTube gaming channel.
1 Seth Rollins
You a know you’re a true nerd when you’ve starting naming some of your moves off of geeky franchises. For Seth Rollins, he has chosen names based off geeky franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars. One of Seth's earlier finishing moves was the "Avada Kedavra." The move is a superkick performed to a kneeling opponent and the name comes directly from Harry Potter books.
Another signature move that Seth Rollins has is the "Standing Shiranui." This modified DDT has been used by Rollins for years and was originally referred to as the "Skywalker" on NXT. Naturally, the Skywalker name comes directly from the Star Wars franchise.
Along with his love for Star Wars and Harry Potter, Rollins is the reigning champion of the Madden NFL video game tournament held by the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel.