Before WWE: 15 Wrestlers Who Looked Nothing Like They Did At Their Peak

Wrestlers come in all different shapes and sizes, but not many have possessed the same physique from the start. It’s not even solely about the physique; it’s about looks in general – many wrestlers change their appearances as the years progress and then move around different promotions, some looking unrecognizable from their former selves who stepped into the ring those many years ago.

It’s amazing looking at how some of these wrestlers have transformed, whether to fit a new character or just due to personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Some got older by the time they got into WWE and were at the peak of their powers and definitely looked so, while others piled on the pounds. Some packed on muscle weight and others got trimmer, leaner or covered their bodies with tattoos. Look at before and after pictures of some of these wrestlers and you’ll think you’re looking at different people.

On the other hand, there are a few wrestlers who go through their wrestling careers looking exactly the same, year after year, from promotion to promotion. But where’s the fun in that? Wrestlers are meant to be larger than life characters so they may as well experiment with being different characters and varying appearances in the process.

These are 15 wrestlers who look very different from the way they looked before their time in the WWE.

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15 Scott Steiner

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After the WWE Steroid Trial of 1994 which almost ruined Vince McMahon, it wouldn’t have been absurd to think that WWE may have subsequently chosen to avoid hiring guys who were obviously on the juice. But think of steroids in wrestling and you think of Scott Steiner, perhaps the freakiest muscle man of them all. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Scott was on something, and that that something wasn’t multivitamins, although I have to say nothing regarding Steiner and steroid use was ever proven. But Scott Steiner’s transformation and muscle gain in the late '90s was just ridiculous.

He returned to WWE in 2002 for his second stint with the promotion and the fans were just awestruck. Before WWE, he and his brother were always big guys, but during the late '90s, he transformed into a lean, ripped mass monster that would put any pro bodybuilder to shame. Add in the fact that he bleached his hair and goatee and started wearing that chainmail headgear and he looked totally different from his pre-WWE days. It’s an iconic appearance and something that he’s stuck with to this day; that looks synonymous with the beast that is Scott Steiner.

14 Neville

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The young Neville was lean, a tad muscular but also a little scrawny all rolled into one physique. But over the years, he started getting bigger and more defined, possessing rippling muscles rather than a skinny boy’s physique. Now with the WWE, the guy’s an Adonis. He hasn’t swelled up to the size of Scott Steiner, but there’s certainly a visible difference from his European competition days, to his current days as Cruiserweight Champion with WWE that is noticeable. He now has the physique to go along with the skills, which combined, makes Neville one awesome competitor. He’s certainly one of the biggest cruiserweights around too. Continue packing muscle onto that frame and pretty soon he’ll be competing with the heavyweights of the industry.

13 CM Punk

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CM Punk has always been rather lean with a slim build throughout his wrestling career. He’s never been a mass monster or a guy with rippling muscles, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a heavy hitter in the ring – due to his wrestling skills and his sharp tongue.

Punk’s physique might not have changed a whole lot from his Lunatic Wrestling Federation days to his time as WWE Champion, but his appearance certainly has. Over the years, we’ve seen Punk experiment with all sorts of hairstyles -- those long flowing locks when he was with Ring Of Honor and that spiky red hair which he then switched to blonde, during his younger days. In WWE, it was mainly just black, but he still experimented with long and short hair. Punk also started getting inked more regularly and he now has a tremendous amount of artwork covering his body.

12 The Undertaker

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When was The Undertaker at his peak? Well, pretty much throughout his WWE days. He’s been around for an entire generation, since 1984 when he debuted as Texas Red, but his name’s synonymous with WWE, a promotion for which he’s been a permanent fixture since 1990. He’s cultivated a legacy with the whole "Deadman" persona; he’s lived and breathed that character for decades and has consequently become a firm fan favorite and one of the greatest big men in wrestling history.

Mark Calaway looks totally different now compared to when he was in college. He had some size to his frame but was more athletically built and he was focused on pursuing a career in pro basketball. Rewind some more years, and he had ginger hair! It’s a far cry from his appearance today.

He’s now older and age seems to be catching up with him. But at his peak, he had the muscles, the black locks, those sinister eyes and all those other Deadman expressions -- chilling to say the least.

11 The Rock

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From the iconic photo of Dwayne Johnson posing with his fanny pack to the lean, mean wrestling machine we saw in WWE, Dwayne Johnson’s changed a lot throughout the years. When he made the decision to embark on a wrestling career, his aim was to emulate his dad, Rocky Johnson, physique-wise and with his skills in the ring. It’s safe to say he surpassed his dad; Rocky was good, but The Rock was amazing; Rocky was built, The Rock was built like an Adonis.

The Rock won so much during the course of his wrestling career, it’s tough to pinpoint an exact period which was his best, but throughout his time in the WWE, we saw him transition from a lean, ripped guy, to someone with one of the biggest and best bodies in WWE. He continued packing on size and added a few tattoos to his skin too. At times, his size would fluctuate, but that can be attributed to his movie commitments.

10 Eddie Guerrero

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The once-masked luchador spent a lot of time in the wrestling industry before signing the contract to take him to WWE. He spent the early part of his career wrestling in Mexico, and he also had stints in Japan, and with ECW and WCW.

During those first few years in Mexico, Eddie wasn’t the biggest, most muscular guy going around. He had long hair and was kind of tubby too. But over the years, he packed a considerable amount of size onto his physique, and consequently a few years into his time with WWE, Eddie was just massive. It would be naïve for anyone to think he achieved that look by taking vitamins, but it was still a mightily impressive physique.

It’s amazing to think that Eddie only spent five years with WWE but ended up achieving so much and cultivating a legacy for himself.

9 Randy Savage

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Savage is regarded to be one of the greatest wrestlers in history and he certainly had a colorful time of it during his time in the industry. He won titles wherever he went, and despite his strained relationship with Vince McMahon, he excelled in WWE and continued adding championship belts to his vast collection.

When thinking about Randy Savage, many of us think back to his days as "Macho Man" Randy Savage, a guy full of machismo and masculine to the core. The muscles, the long hair, the beard – Randy was wrestling’s rock star.

But during his younger days, he looked totally different. He wanted to make it in baseball, so during that period, he was slim and athletic. Then, when he got into wrestling, the hair became longer and he started growing facial hair which remained a constant on his face. During those early years, it was actually blonde, but pretty soon that peach fuzz was replaced with a full scraggly black beard, and the hair went black too as Randy began his transition into WWE’s resident hard man.

8 Wade Barrett

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After transitioning from bare-knuckle boxing on the streets of Liverpool and traveling around Europe fighting for cash to the U.S. and the world of wrestling, Wade Barrett’s become King Barrett after winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship five times. He’s currently focusing on his acting career but hasn’t ruled out a return to the ring, something which we’d all like to see happen.

Barrett’s always been a hard man – not surprising with him being a bare-knuckle fighter and all. During that period, he wasn’t exactly built, although he was still tough as nails. Bare-knuckle boxing left him with some serious damage, hence he’s now got a massive scar on his back and a nose, which is somewhat disfigured.

When Barrett began wrestling with WWE’s developmental territories, he had a normal physique. But then, as is the case when people spend a few years wrestling in WWE, the size grew and he now possesses a ripped and muscular physique.

7 Mick Foley

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Mick Foley spent a decade in the industry before joining WWE, gaining experience which served him well in WWE. In all he won 12 championship titles in WWE and became a much-loved figure amongst the fans and his peers within the promotion too. A deserved Hall of Fame inductee, think of Foley at his peak and you think of that long mangy hair and the scraggly beard. That look began during his WCW days when he wrestled as Cactus Jack, although back then, he was a lot chunkier. But during his college days, Mick Foley looked totally different.

Some may see he was actually quite handsome; he had shorter hair and cut quite a dashing figure. We can tell it’s Foley due to that cheeky smile; over the years that smile hasn’t wavered – it’s only gotten bigger as his title haul has grown.

6 Sable

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When Sable started modeling and subsequently entered the wrestling industry in 1996, her appearance transformed into the blonde bombshell we all know and love. But before the blonde look, when Sable was younger, she was a brunette. But it wasn’t just the hair that was different; pretty much every aspect of her body and face looked different – apart from her nose – before she seemingly blossomed overnight into a stunning young woman on the covers of lads’ mags and kicking butt in the ring. When Sable won the Women’s Championship, her hair had that Dolly Parton look about it, and she was prone to strutting her stuff in very little clothing and those leather outfits. It’s little wonder the foxy vixen caught Brock Lesnar’s eye; she was – and still is – an absolute stunner!

5 Rikishi

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I’m not generalizing here, but Samoans are renowned for being big people, with American Samoans being the biggest. And when I say big, I mean carrying a lot of weight, and Rikishi’s the perfect example of that. In Japanese, Rikishi means Sumo, and he certainly spent his WWE days at sumo size.

Rikishi’s always had some size about him, but as a youngster, before WWE, he was actually quite muscular. During his younger days, he played football, and he was pretty lean; he even had an afro. He then started piling on the pounds. Initially, when he first started out in the wrestling industry, Rikishi had a physique similar to a powerlifter. He had muscle but had some fat too. As the weight gain continued, that muscle became hidden under layers and layers of fat and he began looking like an actual sumo wrestler.

4 Rey Mysterio

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Rey Mysterio’s always been one of the smallest guys on the roster, but that hasn’t stopped him winning a ton of titles with WWE and gaining a huge fan following. His athletic prowess leaves fans and his fellow wrestlers mesmerized and he’s still able to come up with the goods – albeit away from the WWE – after almost three decades in the industry.

One obvious change about Rey Mysterio is his mask. The masked luchador has been seen wearing a number of different masks in the ring over the years and has worn quite a few during his title wins and accomplishments in WWE.

Another thing that’s changed about Rey Mysterio from before he joined the WWE is the amount of ink he has on his body. Rey Mysterio’s a tattoo lover and he’s gradually accumulated more body art onto his frame.

He’s also experienced weight gain. Before WWE, he was pretty lean and muscular. When he started winning titles with WWE, he became a lot stockier; there were periods in which he was pretty big, ripped and muscular, but on occasions, it looked like he’d spent a bit too much time in the gym’s restaurant rather than the weights room.

3 Bray Wyatt

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Bray Wyatt’s a pretty scary-looking guy. He has that Mick Foley look about him combined with some of The Undertaker’s menacing personality traits. It’s certainly worked for him though as he’s been a consistent fixture of WWE .

Bray won a couple of Tag Team Championships with WWE’s developmental territories, but his greatest achievement by far would have to be his SmackDown Tag Team Championship triumph. At the time of this title win, Bray looked exactly as I just described.

But when he first started out in wrestling, Bray looked very different. He had long blonde hair, didn’t have that long mangy scraggly beard, but was still pretty big. He resembled a sumo wrestler, but he’s now lost a lot of that weight; he’s still a big guy but is more trim and hard compared to his pre-WWE days.

2 Scott Hall

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The young Scott Hall cut quite a dashing figure. Then he started wrestling and the muscle started to appear. He was a pretty big guy and that hair and mustache just enhanced his appearance and added to his persona.

Scott joined WWE for his first stint with the promotion in 1992, eight years into his wrestling career. By that time, he’d already gained quite a fan following and had made a name for himself, but when he debuted with WWE as Razor Ramon, the stylish Cuban-American bully, things just took off for Scott and his popularity reached greater heights. The wild hair and the stache were replaced by slicked-back, black hair, a tan and plenty of chains around his neck; the slimy, arrogant, bad boy of WWE was born.

1 The Iron Sheik

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Think of The Iron Sheik and you think of that famous mustache and that bald head under that Arab headgear. You also think of that powerful physique – that’s something that hasn’t changed. As a youngster in Tehran, he was into Greco-Roman wrestling and was a keen powerlifter. That’s what gave him his stocky, muscular build – something which held him in good stead during his WWE days.

The young Sheik had hair, wasn’t as stocky as he later became and his face was minus the stache. But 11 years into his wrestling career, he debuted in WWE as The Iron Sheik with that now-iconic appearance. He quickly became the Heavyweight Champion and added another championship – a Tag Team Championship with Nikolai Volkoff – at a later date.

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