Back in the 1980s, bigger was always better when it came to the top stars of the WWF. Larger than life heroes like Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, and Randy Savage reigned supreme. A lot of the time wrestlers would have the look before they had they skills. Superstars like Lex Luger and Sting were plucked from the world of competitive bodybuilding, where they showcased their incredible looks. They were overly muscled workers who resembled something out of a comic book more than an actual human being. Then came the great steroid trial of 1993 and things began to change.
After this, the top guys were smaller wrestlers. Yes, people like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were still in better shape than 90% of the world, but there was something more obtainable about their looks. This would inspire a new generation of fans. Fans who were more impressed with a wrestler’s moveset than their muscles. We began to see a vast array of body types within the WWE. Especially since the mid-2000s, when people who started as fans got into the business.
Today, you can see just about every type of body on television. There are wrestlers like Kevin Owens, who has made it to the top of the business without look like “Ravishing” Rick Rude, proving that as long as as you are a competent wrestler in between the ropes, you have a shot in the business. That doesn’t mean that impeccable physiques are out of fashion. No, we still see the majority of wrestlers within the WWE with amazing builds and six-pack abs, like Finn Balor. So let’s compare the two. Let’s take a look at eight wrestlers who appear to be out of shape and stack them up next to eight guys who look like a million bucks.
16 Terrible Shape - Rowan
There’s a reason why Erick Rowan… Sorry… Rowan (since wrestlers can’t have two names anymore) is always covered up as much as possible, he’s got a bland and boring body. Even when he was in Florida Championship Wrestling and wore generic trunks, he seemed like he was trying to hide his appearance. His old gas station attendant look tried its best to hide his build by covering him from neck to ankles like a modest southern debutante. But this wardrobe had the unfortunate distinction of showing sweat marks in all the wrong places by the time his matches had ended. His current look is still a mess, just throwing everything together to hide what is underneath. His new gear includes a huge, hooded patchwork duster over another full body getup that uses a sash and belt to try its hardest to create a slimming illusion. It’s a shame that his partner, Harper, who is in much better shape has to follow suit.
15 Great Shape - Finn Balor
Sure, when he is in his full on Demon-mode, the neck-teeth, eyeball on his back, and symbiote-inspired tongue aren’t the real deal, but everything else is. There’s nothing airbrushed about Finn Balor’s build. He is the perfect example of what a modern-day wrestler should look like. He has achieved his lean and muscular look without the aid of performance enhancement drugs. After having the relinquish the Universal Championship the day after winning it, Finn was even able to bounce back from what could have been a career ending injury without losing an ounce of muscle. Ever since his debut in NXT, Balor has been over big time with his fans, the Balor Club, soundly behind him. It boggles the mind that the higher ups within WWE have apparently lost faith in the Demon King. Let’s hope Vince McMahon and company will see what the audience does and gives Finn another shot.
14 Terrible Shape - Bray Wyatt
Upon first look, Bray Wyatt appears like he’d feel more at home at the 1999 edition of Ozzfest than inside a wrestling ring. He looks like any chubby, dreadlocked man who wanders around the local Hot Topic in search for Slipknot incense. Despite possessing a rotund(a) figure, this third-generation superstar is capable of performing some impressive feats of athleticism in his matches. Between his eerie spider-walk and running crossbody, which combines his incredible mass with his surprising speed to utterly flatten his opponents, the New Face of Fear is an in-ring anomaly. He could definitely tighten things up and add more muscle than fat to his frame, but his portly appearance totally works in favor of his character. I mean, they don’t call the former WWE Champion the Eater of Worlds for nothing. If only he could stop eating as many pins as worlds, maybe he would be taken seriously once again.
13 Great Shape - Seth Rollins
CrossFit, baby! The Architect of the Shield attributes his fantastic look to today’s current exercise craze. He also claims that, barring the knee injury from 2015 that forced him to relinquish the WWE Championship, his workout regimen has been able to keep him injury free. Only one major injury in a twelve-year career is actually pretty impressive. Especially, when you consider the type of blood-soaked matches he would sometimes find himself in while wrestling for Ring of Honor. I’ve never tried CrossFit (I’m more of a DDP Yoga guy, BANG!), but it seems like it has done wonders for Rollins. He is currently in the midst of having some of the most intense tag team matches Raw has seen in a long time, pairing up with Dean Ambrose to take on Sheamus and Cesaro of the Bar. Seth definitely has another singles run in him, as long as he can stay healthy with the help of his beloved training of choice.
12 Terrible Shape - Kassius Ohno
Kassius Ohno made a name for himself on the independent scene wrestling under the name Chris Hero for over a decade before being signed to the WWE in 2011. He was a lean, mean knock out machine, winning gold in places like Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, and Juggalo Championship Wrestling with his parter Claudio Castagnoli (now known as Cesaro). Once he made it to developmental, things began to change. He slowly began putting on weight and was constantly told by coaches and producers that he should “tighten things up.” Unable to do so, Ohno was eventually released from his contract but told that the door would be open. He then went back to the indies and put on some of the best matches promotions like Evolve had ever seen. He also put on about 50 pounds. He has since returned to NXT as a large and in charge knock out machine and hasn’t missed a step, despite carrying around the additional weight.
11 Great Shape - Tino Sabbatelli
Not long after it’s inception, NXT became more of a place for established wrestlers from the independent scene to showcase their talent than a place where home-grown stars can shine. This is evident with their world champions being people like Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Samoa Joe, while folks like No Way Jose and Tye Dillinger, who were over with the audience, struggled for airtime. If they were going to give out pushes to talent based on their bodies alone, Tino Sabbatelli would be their longest reigning champion of all time. The former NFL safety has a crazy build that isn’t seen in WWE these days, especially not in their developmental system. If he was around fifteen years ago, Tino would have been pushed to the moon alongside Batista, John Cena, and Randy Orton. Hopefully, one day, his skills will catch up to his look and he former Breaking Ground star will find his way to the big leagues.
10 Terrible Shape - Rhyno
There are very few professional wrestlers who are built like Rhyno. Stocky is the best word that can be used to describe the former ECW Champion. I don’t think there are any animal-based wrestlers more appropriately named than Rhyno. The only other name that would suit the sturdy grappler would be the “Refrigerator” (too bad WWE Hall of Famer William Perry beat him to the punch). Like others on this list, time has gotten the best of Heath Slater’s cracker eating buddy. He used to be able to make his mass work in his favor, with a barrel chest and sculpted arms. Nowadays, the 42-year-old Man Beast is resigned to wearing a T-shirt while wrestling, not unlike a flabby kid in a swimming pool. Rhyno seems to keep getting wider and wider as time goes on. Although his most recent stint in the WWE has been a lot of fun, It would appear that his career is winding down now that his comedic run as one half of the Smackdown Tag Team Champions has ended.
9 Great Shape - Apollo Crews
What do you do when you have a wrestler who is not only jacked out of his mind, capable of dishing out tossing powerbombs to wrestlers way larger than him, but also has the ability to perform standing moonsaults? Do you A: Strap the rocket to him and let him put on matches that tear the house down with the biggest names on the roster? Or B: Pair him up with a perpetual jobber and have him lose just about every televised match? If you answered “A,” then you are a sensible fan who is capable of making rational decisions. If you answered “B,” then you work for the WWE. It’s truly a shame that a wrestler who looks like Apollo Crews is consistently an afterthought when it comes to Raw. Between his look and moves, he would be a great addition to the Intercontinental Championship picture.
8 Terrible Shape - Rich Swann
This one is a bit of a weird entry. Swann certainly isn’t fat or chunky like most of the poor physiques featured on this list. Although, he does have a little paunch going on. He just lacks muscle definition. It’s not the look you would expect from a professional athlete, especially one who has won his division’s top prize. This perplexing look is heightened even more every time he stands next to his current tag team partner Cedric Alexander, who has one of the most impressive builds on 205 Live. Rich Swann looks like he is simply a naturally gifted athlete who doesn’t pick up any weights during his down time but just gets “it” when it comes to flying around in the ring, delivering deadly kicks and awe-inspiring Phoenix Splashes. It looks like the most exercising he does is while he dances his way down to the ring.
7 Great Shape - Tony Nese
Now, to the opposite side of the 205 Live roster. If you happen to keep up with WWE’s cruiserweight programming and don’t fast forward through their segments on Raw, you may know that Tony Nese has 8-pack abs. That’s two more than people with great abs! That guy must be more crunches than man to get a stomach like that. I bet he saves a lot of money doing laundry (you know, because they’re washboard abs!). Ugh, sorry. Moving on. Nese is also a very capable in-ring performer, it’s just a shame he spent the better part of the year in the shadow of his British doppelgänger, Neville. He is always a great foil for smaller cruiserweight wrestlers like Tozawa or the aforementioned Rich Swann, where he can really just throw around the less muscly performers willy nilly. Now that Neville has abandoned his throne as King of the Cruiserweights, Nese may finally be able to set himself up as a star in the division.
6 Terrible Shape - Kane
When Kane first came to the WWF in 1995 as Isaac Yankem, DDS he was in tremendous shape, especially for a man his size. You generally don’t see anybody standing close to 7-feet-tall with six-pack abs. That was when he was 28 years-old. He was able to maintain an impressive physique for the bulk of his career, but age seems to have gotten the best of the Big Red Machine. Unlike fellow long-term big man, the Big Show, who is currently in the best shape of his life. The hardened ring veteran is now 50, and it shows, almost exclusively in his gut. Currently embroiled in a rivalry with WWE’s new favorite big man, Braun Strowman (they call him The Monster Among Men, have you heard?!), it would seem this could be Kane’s last hurrah in the spotlight.
5 Great Shape - Bobby Roode
At 40-years-old Bobby Roode is in the best shape of his 19-year career. There has gotta be something in the water down at NXT that helps established performers step up their appearance (see: Johnny Gargano). Roode had been kicking around TNA since 2004 and always had a decent physique, but he was nowhere near as cut as he is today. Look at those abs, there aren’t many men in their 40s that can achieve a stomach like that. After being signed to NXT in 2016, it originally seemed like he would be used to help put over up and coming talent since he has always been seen as a good hand. Everyone underestimated just how well Roode would connect with the Florida crowd. The combination of his look, charisma, and proof that a good theme song goes a long way proved that Bobby Roode may have been “glorious” the entire time.
4 Terrible Shape - The Ascension
This bad boy is a two-for-one-special. Both Konnor and Viktor have some of the worst bodies in WWE today, and yet they are so different. Konnor is a doughy giant with no visible muscle definition. Which is particularly surprising for a guy who has two Talent Wellness policy violations under his large belt. Viktor, on the other hand, is that skinny-fat. You know, where a dude used to be slim and lanky, but now has a beer belly that hangs over his pants. Their choice to keep their chest hair also doesn’t help the entire situation, making them look like even more out of place during their matches. It’s no surprise that these guys went from being NXT’s longest reigning Tag Team Champions to a pair of comedy jobbers. It’s kind of crazy, that when you rip off a team like the Road Warriors, you forget to replicate their massive physiques.
3 Great Shape - Sheamus & Cesaro
After tearing down the Ascension for their awful body types, that somehow compliment each other, it is only fair to shine the light on two people that are doing it right. Sheamus and Cesaro definitely surprised a lot of fans with how well the two were able to mesh as a tandem after feuding for what seemed like an eternity. It makes a ton of sense, even when they were both singles competitors, the duo was always known for giving it their all, both in the ring and the gym. This proved especially true for Sheamus who, early on in his career, became workout buddies with Triple H. Once the two started teaming as the Bar, the instantly clicked. Their technical abilities, in addition to their strength, and exceptional physiques prove that they might not be the mismatched duo we thought they were a year ago.
2 Terrible Shape - Kevin Owens
Arguably, never has anybody in worse shape accomplished as much as Kevin Owens. He is a former Universal, Intercontinental, United Staes, and NXT champion, he’s main-evented multiple pay-per-views including 2017’s Hell in a Cell, and is constantly the focal point of many episodes of Smackdown. That being said, Kevin Owns does not look like your textbook definition of a professional wrestler. He is short and pudgy, and possesses little to no muscle mass. However, gone are the days when you had to look like Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior to be a top star. Owens relies on his charisma, mic work, and astonishing athleticism to get the job done. He may not look like it, but he can wrestle circles around folks who only have the freakish bodies of yesteryear. Call me crazy, but I’d rather watch a Kevin Owens match than a Warlord match any day of the week.
1 Great Shape - Jinder Mahal
I’m not one to speculate about or buy into rumors about who has done what to achieve their look, but if you were to tell me that Jinder Mahal has a Dorian Gray-esque portrait of himself looking out of shape and unemployed in the attic of his house, I would 100% believe you. That is the only viable explanation of how the Modern Day Maharaja has been able turn his career around in 2017. He attributes it all to diet, exercise, and cutting out alcohol, but man, there has to be at least a little bit of witchcraft involved. Since his days as the fourth most important member of 3MB (yeah, even under Hornswoggle), Mahal has come a long way. Even when he returned to WWE in 2016 with his incredible physique, I don’t think anybody would have believe he would one day be the WWE Champion. Hats off to him. Whatever he did, it worked.