WWE currently boasts 16 Champions over their three rosters and all these champions have stories about their past that have helped to mould them into the Superstars that they are today.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura have both had careers and reached legendary status at promotions before they were brought to WWE. AJ is best known for his run with TNA that lasted more than a decade, while Nakamura had a respectable run with New Japan Pro Wrestling before he was signed by WWE and sent to NXT.
Many of the current Champions had been in WWE for quite a while before they have been given the opportunity to fight for their title. Kofi Kingston has won many Championships in WWE and being a Champion with a more than 400 day reign is definitely a highlight of his career.
The Miz has also been with WWE for the past decade and has definitely reached his peak since he won the Intercontinental Championship the night after WrestleMania back in April when his wife Maryse returned to help him to victory.
WWE has mentioned many times that the current era is looking towards the future and supporting the next generation, which shows through the current Women's, Universal, and NXT branded Champions, but where did these Superstars come from? The following list is here to explain.
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16 Asuka: NXT Women's Champion
Asuka burst onto the scene with WWE back in 2015 and has since become the woman to beat in NXT. But before Asuka was known by this ring-name, she was known as Kana and had a reputation as a rather stiff wrestler during her career in Japan.
Before Asuka found her calling in wrestling, she had a background in Badminton and Figure Skating and even began working as a video game journalist and freelance graphic designer. It was while Asuka was working as a video game designer that she decided to switch careers to professional wrestling, and made her debut in all female wrestling promotion AtoZ back in 2004. She has since become one of the best-known female wrestlers in the world and the top Women in NXT.
15 AJ Styles: WWE Champion
AJ Styles is perhaps one of the most recognizable wrestlers in the world, but he grew up in complete poverty with his family and with an alcoholic for a father. This was a lot for AJ to fight out of but when he left school, he gained a partial wrestling scholarship for college and decided to pursue it as a career.
Styles became a legend in TNA in the 12 years he spent there since his debut back in 2002. He held every Championship available to a male wrestler and had nothing left to complete with the company. AJ left in 2014 and had a brief stint with ROH before heading to NJPW where he famously became a member of The Bullet Club after Finn Balor's departure to join WWE. He then followed Balor to the company just over a year later.
14 14: Xavier Woods - Tag Team Champion
The current Tag Team Champion has been a part of WWE for many years, but before he signed on the dotted line for WWE, he was a part of TNA's roster.
Known as Consequences Creed, Xavier held a Tag Team Championship during his tenure with TNA. Xavier then headed over to NJPW where he briefly appeared for the Japanese promotion before WWE came calling. Xavier Woods has a PHD in Psychology and is widely considered to be one of the smartest wrestlers on the WWE roster. Xavier is also an avid gamer and has his own Youtube Channel called UpUpDownDown, where he often battles other WWE Superstars in video games. Xavier has found himself a rather comfortable home in WWE and could find himself as one third of the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in history.
13 Roman Reigns: United States Champion
Roman Reigns' ascension to WWE has been one that has been documented by many of the WWE Universe over the past few years. Roman was a part of the 2007 NFL Draft and was signed to the Minnesota Vikings. Reigns was then released less than a month later. After just one season with the Canadian Football League, Roman retired from football and decided to pursue a career in wrestling.
Roman was signed to WWE in 2010 and sent to FCW where he trained for two years before WWE called him up to NXT. His run in NXT lasted just two months before he was brought up to the main roster and made his debut with The Shield. From there the current United States Champions would become a three-time WWE World Champion.
12 Scott Dawson: NXT Tag Team Champion
Scott Dawson is one half of The Revival along with Dash Wilder, but before Dawson was brought into NXT and helped revolutionize the Tag Team Division he began his career back in 2004.
Dawson floated around the Independent Circuit for a number of years before he made an appearance for Ring of Honor in 2010. Dawson signed with WWE in 2012, was given his new ring name, and partnered up with Judas Devlin. The current Champion then went through many other tag team partners before he was eventually teamed up with Wilder in 2014. The Tag Team have since gone on to hold the NXT Tag Team championship twice after winning them back from American Alpha just two months after losing them. This team should find themselves on the main roster soon enough.
11 Kofi Kingston: Tag Team Champion
Kofi Kingston had already become a huge star in WWE in his own right before he joined The New Day and they embarked on their 400 plus day run as Champions. Kofi found singles success on the mid-card.
Kingston has won 12 different Championships since his debut with WWE back in 2006. Before Kofi was signed by WWE, he had only debuted as a wrestler a few months prior so WWE sent him down to their developmental territory. Kofi went through Deep South Wrestling and FCW before he was finally allowed to debut on ECW TV back when WWE owned the company in 2007. Kofi currently holds the record for the combined amount of days reigned by a Tag Team Champion with 741 plus days so far.
10 The Miz: Intercontinental Champion
The Miz had a successful TV career before he joined WWE back in 2006 after being a part of MTV's The Real World in 2001. It was during this TV Show that The Miz first unveiled his alter-ego before going on to pursue a career in wrestling.
The Miz joined Ultimate Pro Wrestling and trained at the Ultimate University before making his in-ring debut later in the year. The Miz became a member of WWE Tough Enough in 2004 and lasted all the way to the final round before he was eliminated from the competition. Despite losing the contest, The Miz was still signed by WWE and offered a developmental deal. The Miz then went on to make his debut as The Host of SmackDown in 2006 and has been a main fixture in the company ever since.
9 Kevin Owens: Universal Champion
Kevin Owens is currently the face of the Raw roster and is also a former Intercontinental and NXT Champion. Before he put his stamp on WWE, Owens was known as Kevin Steen on the Independent Circuit.
Steen wrestled in Ring of Honor under his Christian name and even faced the likes of Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk, long before they left to join WWE. Steen began his career in Combat Zone Wresting back in 2004, before moving to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla the following year. He then joined Ring of Honor in 2007 and his feud with Sami Zayn/El Generico truly began. WWE signed Steen and renamed him Kevin Owens in 2014 and he was placed on the NXT roster, where he easily became Champion merely months after his debut.
8 Sasha Banks: Raw Women's Champion
Sasha Banks is widely considered to be one of the most talented female wrestlers in WWE right now. She won the Raw Women's Championship for a second time this past week on Raw, and is also a former NXT Women's Champion.
Shockingly, Sasha only made her wrestling debut six years ago back in 2010 when she joined Chaotic Wrestling. She stayed with the promotion for a few years before she then bounced around the Independent Circuit until she was signed by WWE in 2012. Sasha attended a WWE try-out and was given a contract to NXT. She made her debut on the brand in December that year before she was knocked out of the Women's Championship tournament which saw Paige become the inaugural NXT Women's Champion.
7 Big E: Tag Team Champion
The final member of The New Day on the list and the biggest member as well. Formerly known as Big E Langston, E was previously an Intercontinental Champion and NXT Champion in his short WWE career.
Before he pursued a career in WWE, Big E had a successful career as a powerlifter and even entered the 2010 United States Open Championships. Big E was officially signed by WWE a year before in 2009 and was sent to their training facility that was known as FCW at this point. Big E went on to make his debut in NXT in 2012 and would pin Seth Rollins to become just the second NXT Champion. Big E debuted on the main roster and aligned himself with AJ Lee and World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler.
6 Becky Lynch: SmackDown Women's Champion
The Irish Lasskicker and only member of the Four Horsewomen to have not held Championship gold in NXT comes in next. Becky Lynch has been in the wrestling business almost her entire life and often states that wrestling put her back on the right path.
Becky had been involved with the wrong people and alcohol before she found wrestling, as it helped her to give it up. Becky found the gym in Ireland that was run by Finn Balor and decided to train with him. She made her in-ring debut just five months after she signed up in 2002 as a part of the Independent Circuit. Much like Balor, Becky headed over to Japan before she was signed by WWE and made her debut with the company in 2013.
5 Rhyno: Tag Team Champion
Rhyno may currently be the Tag Team Champion on SmackDown, but before he returned to WWE earlier this year, Rhyno had a four-year stint with WWE between 2001 and 2005, where he is a former Hardcore Champion.
Rhyno then moved over to TNA following his WWE release, where he is a former NWA Heavyweight Champion. He then moved on to Ring of Honor where he spent two years before he was signed back to WWE on their NXT brand. Rhyno then became Heath Slater's much needed partner on SmackDown Live and helped the former 3MB member to earn a contract with the Blue Brand when they won the Tag Team Championships at Backlash. Now, we're left to wonder just how long this unusual tag team will last as champions?
4 Dash Wilder: NXT Tag Team Champion
The other half of the NXT Tag Team Champions who are all about forearms and not about flips, Dash Wilder had a slightly different route into the company than his tag team partner.
Wilder made his professional wrestling debut back in 2010 and has appeared for OMEGA, Resistance Pro Wrestling, and Dragons Gate USA before he was signed to a WWE developmental contract in 2014. Wilder came straight into the fold and teamed with Scott Dawson, who has proven to be his best tag team partner to date. The duo proved their worth when the unorthodox pair lifted the Tag Team Championships for the first time when they defeated The Vaudevillians. How much longer until these guys appear on Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live?
3 Heath Slater: Tag Team Champion
A lot can be said for Heath Slater and his desire to reach the top in WWE. He has already been with WWE for over a decade and been a part of The Nexus, 3MB, The Social Outcasts and now a union between himself a Rhyno. Which of his Slater's pairing comes across as the most odd?
Despite being with WWE for more than ten years, Slater has only won the Tag Team Championship with Justin Gabriel (prior to Rhyno) and is often overlooked, despite the fact that he is one of WWE's most talented and versatile wrestlers. Before he made his debut in WWE, Slater was signed to WWE's developmental territory, which was known as FCW and didn't actually debut on the main roster until 2010 when he joined The Nexus.
2 Shinsuke Nakamura: NXT Champion
The hype that surrounded the debut of the King of Strong Style is second to none when it comes to NXT debuts. Since arriving Shinsuke Nakamura has actually managed to live up to the hype during his short career with the company and now holds the biggest Championship in NXT.
Nakamura became a household name during his time with NJPW where he was a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and the winner of the 2014 New Japan Cup. In 2015 before he was signed to WWE, Nakamura was inducted into the Westling Observer Hall of Fame. He is also the youngest ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion ever. Someday Nakamura will receive his call up to the main roster where hopefully WWE can preserve the aura surrounding Nakamura.
1 TJ Perkins: Cruiserweight Champion
TJ Perkins is the newest WWE Superstar on this list, having only debuted in WWE during their recent Cruiserweight Classic. Perkins went on to win the tournament and the Cruiserweight Championship before successfully defending it at Clash of Champions against Brian Kendrick last weekend.
Before Perkins was signed to WWE he had a semi-successful stint in TNA where he was known as Manik. He also spent time on the Independent Circuit under various guises. Perkins had previously appeared on WWE TV in a match against Sheamus back in 2009 before also spending some time at WWE's FCW development territory. Perkins has discussed on multiple occasions, even during his CWC victory speech, that he has been homeless in the past. Fortunately for Perkins, he has found a home in WWE.
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