Being a scripted facsimile of a sporting event, what happens inside a World Wrestling Entertainment ring is closer to a Hollywood film than an actual fight. Sure, the men and women of sports entertainment are indeed putting their health and well being on the line, but they aren’t actually trying to hurt one another in doing so. In this sense, WWE superstars are some of the greatest actors in the world, presenting the exact opposite emotions of what they’re feeling while performing death defying stunts and maintaining an incredibly fast pace at doing so.
As impressive as this is, there are some wrestlers who have an easier job of it than others. Although the industry is scripted, this doesn’t necessarily mean the performers' true personalities are entirely disconnected from their in-ring personas. In fact, improvisational performers in general have long been contending the easiest roles to play are those closest to life.
That said, plenty of wrestlers have managed great success using roles that are totally opposite to everything they stand for in the real world. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether a wrestler is like their character or not, yet fans still may find it surprising to learn who is and isn’t the way they seem. Keep reading to learn about 8 wrestlers who are exactly like their characters and 7 who were playing complete opposites.
15 EXACTLY THE SAME: CM Punk
Wrestlers are allowed to say pretty much whatever they want in the name of kayfabe without having to justify it in real life. However, certain statements require more than a passing knowledge on the subject, like “I’m the best in the world at what I do” or “straight edge means I’m better than you.” Both of these CM Punk catchphrases pack a considerable message, and it helped immensely that the Straight Edge Superstar fully believed what he was saying. Granted, the whole thing about straight edge making him superior was mostly his character, but Punk actually did live the lifestyle while using the gimmick. Later, he became a pretentious egomaniac who felt he was better than everyone else, and left WWE in part because the company didn’t treat him that way. Although Punk probably isn’t as much of a jerk about things in his day-to-day life as he is on camera, the broader strokes are all there.
14 TOTAL OPPOSITES: The Undertaker (Classic)
It goes without saying that the more supernatural characters in wrestling are fairly divergent from the real lives of the superstars performing them. No one performer better exemplifies this than the man from the Dark Side, The Undertaker. Obviously, the real Mark Calaway is not an undead zombie, nor does he possess any sort of magic powers whatsoever. Even taking a step away from the mystical elements of his character and looking and it from a personality perspective, Calaway is a far cry from the stoic and deadly figure he presents on television. Sure, he cares about the wrestling business a whole bunch, but that’s about where the similarities end—whether or not he has any interest in the macabre whatsoever is unclear, but unlikely. The real Undertaker is more like a cliché tough Texan biker, which serves as the perfect segue to our next entry.
13 EXACTLY THE SAME: The Undertaker (American Bad Ass)
During the conclusion of Judgment Day 2000’s main event, wrestling fans were left speechless as The Undertaker made his return from months of injury to attack Triple H at the end of his WWE Championship match against The Rock. Contrasting the demonic appearance Undertaker was known for, at this event, he rode to the ring on a motorcycle wearing a denim vest and bandana, accompanied by the bombastic cries of Kid Rock’s “American Bad Ass.” For as out of place as it all felt, the truth was this persona was much closer to the real Undertaker than anything he had ever done before. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, the Undertaker genuinely rode his motorcycle all the time and dressed very similar to his ABA character throughout most of his life. Though some fans look down on this era of his career, Undertaker himself never seemed to regret it, probably because he finally got to be himself.
12 TOTAL OPPOSITES: Vader
Hailing from the Rocky Mountains and destroying everything in his path, Big Van Vader was a monstrous bully pretty much throughout his entire career. While most people praise Vader for his above-average agility, his brute strength is what made him a star. Whether wrestling a powerhouse like Sting, a madman like Mick Foley, or a flashy technician like Shawn Michaels, Vader’s strategy was always to knock them out as quickly and viciously as possible with hard punches and devastating power bombs. In real life, however, Vader has always been described as a total softy, with onetime manager Jim Cornette even describing him as a “teddy bear.” Unlike his character, which goes into a rage when hurt, the real Vader actually has a reputation for crying and experiencing emotional pain deeper than the physical kind.
11 EXACTLY THE SAME: Ric Flair
Woooooo! Well, let’s be honest—anybody who has the chance to live life like “The Nature Boy” is probably going to take it. The reason Ric Flair bragged about being a limousine riding, Learjet flying, kiss-stealing, wheeling and dealing son of a gun is that pretty much everyone alive envied him for it. When fans and onlookers met him and treated him like it was real, why would he possibly deny that opportunity? Throw in the fact Flair’s success in the ring genuinely was second-to-none, thus bringing him extravagant wealth (at least until he wasted it all), and that’s a recipe for buying the whole bar a drink each and every night. Of course, there’s a downside to all the partying, in that Flair’s life after wrestling has seen him constantly in debt, clinging on desperately to the industry that made him famous.
10 TOTAL OPPOSITES: Raven
Dark, brooding, and always in a deep depression, Raven announced in one of his earliest interviews that his goal was in part to finish things where Kurt Cobain left off after the Nirvana bard’s suicide. From that moment onward, Raven set out at achieving this goal by being the most miserable, melancholic presence in ECW, WCW, WWE, TNA, and whatever independent promotion that would have him from there. According to no less a source than Paul Heyman, this description might fit perfectly, but none of it would describe Scott Levy in the slightest. In reality, Levy is a comedian and prankster, far more similar to his earlier personas Johnny Polo and Scotty Flamingo than the character he’s actually famous for playing. One thing that Raven did have in common with his character was rampant drug use, which sent him to real rehab multiple times.
9 EXACTLY THE SAME: Bayley
Rushing down to the ring while wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men dance in the aisle, Bayley is professional wrestling’s face of modern optimism. No matter what the situation, Bayley’s defining qualities are that she believes in herself and loves her fans, always preferring to give a hug to raising her fist outside of the ring. Based on all accounts, this is more or less exactly how Bayley is in her every day life, with borderline excessive friendliness permeating her every move. Practically all WWE superstars these days do plenty of charity and meet and greets, yet the joy Bayley takes in these efforts is palpable in her face. So is the gratitude she portrays in every interview, scripted or not, thanking her fans for their support and promising to always do her best in their honor.
8 TOTAL OPPOSITES: Kevin Owens
A huge bully always ready to screw over his friends and manipulate people all for want of glory, Kevin Owens is one of the biggest jerks in the WWE Universe today. Owens' entire career has been a succession of best friends getting beaten up and betrayed due to jealousy or simply for the attention, and with each subsequent beatdown of former allies like Sami Zayn or Chris Jericho, the audience hates him even more. Luckily, wrestling is the one medium where hatred can often equal success, and Owens has ascended all the way to the main event through this sort of behavior. However, anyone who knows the real Kevin Steen is aware this persona is nothing like his real self. In reality, Steen is a happily married family man with two children. On top of that, Jericho and Zayn remain good friends with him, along with plenty of others he never once bullied nor betrayed.
7 EXACTLY THE SAME: The New Day
Over the past 15 years or so, Vince and Stephanie McMahon have increasingly called for WWE to hire more writers and focus less on the wrestlers' own creativity. There have been a few positives to this trend from an executive standpoint, but few fans appreciate the changes it’s caused. Far too many wrestlers are feeling restricted and held back by these rules, unable to be themselves, and in the cases of Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods, it was kind of killing their careers. Feeling they had nothing to lose, the future members of New Day collectively asked management to team them up and allow them to start being themselves, almost instantly making them stars when the authority finally gave them the okay. Had New Day never spoken up and gotten real, WWE would have been deprived one of their greatest tag teams in modern history.
6 TOTAL OPPOSITES: Kane
Much like his evil brother The Undertaker, there’s really no logical way for Kane to actually be anything like his character. Even taking away the most bizarre specifics added later in Kane’s career, the mere concept of his character was already so outlandish the fact it wasn’t true should be taken with a sigh of relief. Had the real Glenn Jacobs endured a childhood involving getting trapped in a burning house by his brother and watching his parents die, the emotional scars would be far too deep for any sort of life in the public eye. Throw in Kane’s penchant for pyromania himself and it’s more likely he would find himself in a mental asylum than any sort of wrestling ring. All that said, the Corporate Kane character as it appears today isn’t that far off from reality, with the real deal ready headed towards the political spectrum.
5 EXACTLY THE SAME: The Rock
Wrestling insiders these days like to describe The Rock as having transcended the business, and this description has indeed been true for at least the past decade. Quite frankly, from the moment Rock headed for Hollywood he was poised to become a star due to his natural charisma, which had already made him the most electrifying man in sports entertainment today. Despite performing during the Attitude Era, Rock never relied too heavily on gimmickry, simply choosing to be the coolest guy in the room at any given, joking around with fans and cracking wise at his enemies. Though Rocky doesn’t have many enemies in the real world, this perception is otherwise accurate, as his charm is allegedly boundless and friendliness near universal. The only question left is whether or not he really sticks his boot up people’s candy ass, and we don’t really wanna know the answer.
4 TOTAL OPPOSITES: Bray Wyatt
Despite taking Kane and The Undertaker’s place as the most foreboding force in the WWE Universe, the basic concept behind Bray Wyatt’s Family is slightly more realistic than either of those two. That said, this hardly means the real Wyatt is anything like his cult leader character, and that was before he could apparently shoot bug videos out of his hands or whatever the hell WrestleMania 33 was. In any event, the real Bray Wyatt is obviously not a cult leader, though he does have close ties with his family. Born Windham Rotunda to former WWE Tag Team Champion Mike Rotunda/IRS and Blackjack Mulligan's daughter Stephanie, Wyatt is more like his brother Bo Dallas' friendly, optimist character than the evil and sinister mastermind he plays. Granted, this doesn’t mean he Bo-lieves, and his wife recently filed for divorce amid allegations he fooled around with ring announcer JoJo, meaning he’s no saint. But a cult leader? Of course not.
3 EXACTLY THE SAME: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Arrive, raise hell, leave. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had a whole lot of catchphrases throughout his career, and those four words were hardly his most famous, yet they do a great job at describing his character. If that doesn’t work, how about “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass?” Obviously, the real “Stone Cold” is less violent in his real life than in the ring, but the take no prisoners badass who loves drinking beer and taking names is very much based in reality. The vicious side of Austin was merely a small part of what made him famous, with the sheer joy he took in causing chaos always playing a bigger role in making him a star. This is the same joy at raising hell evident in Austin’s life in and out of the ring, whether giving casual interviews to spending time on the Broken Skull Ranch.
2 TOTAL OPPOSITES: John Cena
As the face of WWE, John Cena is probably more pressured than anyone else on the roster to act his best at all times. Given his character is a self-described “goody too shoes,” this means always shaking hands and kissing babies, being the nicest guy in the room and standing up for the little guy whenever he’s disadvantaged. On paper, Cena has been living up to this in his real life by answering more children’s Make A Wish dreams come true than any other celebrity in history. There’s no taking away that sort of charity work, yet it should be pointed out this alone doesn’t make Cena identical to his character. By his own admission, the real John Cena is far different from his character, far more interested in drinking beer and telling dirty jokes than playing around with kids. Sure, the kids' smiles are priceless, but a brew with friends? Now that’s a party.
1 EXACTLY THE SAME: Triple H
The King of Kings and COO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Triple H made his life’s goal turning his real life into his wrestling character. Introduced as a Connecticut blueblood, HHH soon re-established himself as a degenerate turned corporate opportunist, the latter of which being a perfect way to describe him in the real world. Twenty years ago, Triple H was a jobber in WCW without any true prospects in the business. After slowly climbing up the WWE Universe and meeting Stephanie McMahon, he was poised to take over the world. Wrestling announcers decry HHH for always putting himself above others while lying and pretending to do what he finds best for business, pretty much the exact same thing his real life critics have been saying from day one. The main difference is that in wrestling Triple H beats up anyone who stands against him, while in the real world he fires them.