When you run a pro wrestling business, or sports entertainment as Vince McMahon so often loves to call it, kayfabe is absolutely crucial. These are characters after all and they have to be consistent. Just like in a TV show like Game of Thrones, you can't have characters like Joffrey and Robb Stark being friends on camera. The same applies in wrestling. The good guys are against the bad guys both in the ring and out of it.
It's one of the reasons the Curtain Call was so controversial as the Kliq all hugged following a match in Madison Square Garden despite half of them being heels. It's also one of the reasons Triple H bore the brunt of that incident as it was pretty much a violation of the entire industry (plus, Shawn Michaels couldn't be punished as the champion and Hall and Nash were out the door to WCW). The wrestlers playing these characters have to be committed to the roles 100%, and one vital aspect of these characters are their hometowns.
Today, Lana plays a Russian, but if you Google her, you'll find out that she's very much American and just plays her role really well. While the age of social media and the internet has its benefits, it makes it difficult to create a character as fans simply can find the truth online. However, back in the day when the internet wasn't so prevalent, it was much easier to believe these characters and their stories as you wouldn't have a way to verify any of the aspects of the character's life. Not so today.
Here are 20 wrestlers who are exposed, as they really weren't from where they were billed, but instead were born elsewhere.
20 Stunning Steve Austin
When the glass broke, you knew someone was getting their butt kicked and that’s what Stone Cold Steve Austin did for the best part of seven years in the WWE. Winning the Royal Rumble three times, headlining multiple WrestleManias and ending his career in 2003 with six WWE Championships, Austin is by far the most popular wrestler in WWE history and helped the company defeat his old employer WCW in the ratings war.
It would have been extra sweet for Austin as he wasn't cast off at WCW, never reaching the heights he should have. If you didn’t know what his name was at the time, it was Stunning Steve Austin and WCW officials decided to bill him from Hollywood, California. Austin’s obviously from Texas as you can tell by his accent so his career in WCW was in a way doomed right from the start.
With everyone talking about the women's revolution today, it’s easy to forget how instrumental Chyna was in putting all of it in motion. A real pioneer of women’s wrestling, Chyna truly showed that women can hang with the men in the ring as she not only took out men and took part in the Royal Rumble, but she also won the Intercontinental title, notably having a feud with Chris Jericho in 1999.
Chyna went on to wrestle until 2001 winning the Women’s championship in her last WrestleMania before her contract would come to an end. Originally brought in as a part of D-Generation X, the ninth wonder of the world was billed from Londonderry, New Hampshire, but she was actually born in Rochester, New York.
18 Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko was the Iceman, the man of a thousand holds and one of the best technical wrestlers in the entire industry’s history, even being named the number one wrestler in 1997 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Finding the majority of his success in WCW, Malenko was a four-time cruiserweight, one-time tag team and one-time US champion with the company. However, he couldn’t emulate the same success when he joined WWE in 2000, eventually retiring in mid 2001.
Still, Malenko has left his mark on this business and was a role model to many, including Daniel Bryan, who was possibly the best wrestler on the roster during his career as a wrestler. Originally born in New Jersey, the Iceman however, was billed from Tampa, Florida, probably due to WCW hosting many shows there.
17 Shawn Michaels
The Heartbreak Kid, Mr. WrestleMania, The Showstopper. No amount of nicknames is enough to truly credit what an outstanding performer Shawn Michaels was. Regarded by many in the business as the greatest in ring performer of all time, Michaels, like a certain few in this list, had really done it all, winning multiple Royal Rumbles, headlining multiple WrestleManias, becoming the first grand slam champion, a four-time WWE champion and taking part in some of the most iconic matches of all time.
Since retiring in 2010, there have been rumors that HBK will return in January to fight AJ Styles. While it’s a long shot, we can definitely expect to see him there at least since it’s taking place in San Antonio, his hometown. Oh wait, Michaels was actually born in Chandler, Arizona.
16 Scott Hall
Say hello to the bad guy. Scott Hall found decent success in WCW, but it was in WWE where he really shined as Razor Ramon -- the original bad guy. He was a rising star in the company but weirdly never got one WWE championship reign and with no plans to move him up, Hall decided to jump ship to WCW again in 1996 for a better contract and less dates. It was there where he, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan formed the New World Order and the rest was history.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, Hall had a great career despite not winning the main belt. He was a two-time US champion, four-time Intercontinental champion and a nine-time tag team champion. As for where he was billed? Both as Ramon and himself, he was billed from Miami, Florida, though he was actually born in St. Mary's County, Maryland.
15 The Undertaker
The Undertaker is such a delicate character because you truly have to suspend your disbelief to acknowledge such a gimmick. While a gimmick like that would have probably failed today, it was paramount that the right person in 1992 was given the role and Mark Calaway took the ball and ran with it, forming arguably the greatest character in WWE history.
Not only did The Undertaker succeed with the gimmick, but he constantly changed with the times and pretty much lived the gimmick, recently pictured at the Cleveland Cavaliers game wearing his full attire. His WWE accomplishments aren’t so bad either, winning seven world championships, being a 2007 Royal Rumble winner and having a 23-1 WrestleMania record. Being billed from Death Valley was clever, but Calaway wasn’t from California, but rather from Houston, Texas. In fairness, when he was The American Badass, he did claim to be born in Houston.
14 The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior was the ideal successor to Hulk Hogan back in the early 90s. A two-time Intercontinental champion and a one-time WWE champion, his look, passion and energy was enough to win the fans over as well as Vince McMahon. A dispute with McMahon saw him leave the company in 1992 before returning again in 1996 only to leave again after a year, and many thought he’d never be in a WWE ring again.
However, Warrior and Vince reconciled and he was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, just three days before his eventual death. Warrior’s legacy will still live on, though it’s interesting to note that Warrior was billed from Parts Unknown as well as Queens, New York when he was actually born in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
13 Chris Benoit
He who must not be named. In all seriousness, Chris Benoit, his final few days aside, was really one of the best and most entertaining wrestlers of all time. Trained from Stu Hart’s Dungeon, Benoit had to struggle and claw his way out from the midcard in WCW and WWE to eventually get his crowning moment in 2004, when he beat Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Winning every title WWE had to offer as well as being a 2004 Royal Rumble winner, The Crippler was the pride of Canada. However, early in his career, he was billed from Atlanta, Georgia, though he would eventually be billed from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, though that too doesn't reflect where he was born. Benoit in fact, was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
12 Santino Marella
Santino Marella had one hell of a debut at a live show in Italy where Vince McMahon set an open challenge -- any member of the crowd could come to the ring and challenge Umaga for his Intercontinental championship. While he struggled, with help from Bobby Lashley, Marella beat the monstrous Umaga to surprisingly win the title on his debut.
At the time, everyone thought this was an actual Italian fan who won the title as Santino, billed from Calabria, Italy, went on to become a comedic act for the rest of his career (and not in a bad way either as he was very over with the fans). Anthony Carelli was actually born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, going to college in Montreal and is now living in New Jersey.
11 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is one WWE superstar who had so much potential, but in recent years, it seems like he’s been declining as each month goes by. Stuck in terrible feuds and story lines, and constantly losing matches, there was talk of Ziggler possibly retiring when it was announced that he’d face The Miz in a title vs. career match.
Ziggler ended up winning, swerving the entire WWE universe and it looks like he’s back on the right track now. His character is still miles away from his initial showoff gimmick, where he’d introduce himself to everyone and just be flamboyant -- to the extent that he was even billed from Hollywood, Florida when he was actually born in Cleveland, Ohio. Ziggler also currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
10 AJ Styles
It seems like just yesterday but the Phenomenal One debuted in WWE at the Royal Rumble 10 months ago and has gone on to have a standout debut year for the company, putting on an impressive showing in the Rumble, taking part in his first WrestleMania in a match with Chris Jericho (albeit losing), defeating John Cena at SummerSlam, before winning the WWE championship from Dean Ambrose at Backlash.
Many skeptics thought AJ would struggle on the mic, especially without The Club, due to his southern accent, but he’s fared pretty well so far. Because of that accent, you could be forgiven for thinking he was actually from Gainesville, Georgia, because while he lives there now, he was born in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
9 Ric Flair
What more can be said about Ric Flair? The man is an icon, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, a true legend and of course, infamously the dirtiest player in the game. When WCW was crushing WWE in the ratings war thanks to their anti-hero stable in the NWO, the 16-time world champion was one of the few non members who was still insanely over with the crowd, with commentators always mentioning that we were in Flair Country, especially in North Carolina from where Flair was billed.
However, Flair was born in Memphis, Tennessee and when he was adopted, he grew up in Minnesota. In fairness, Flair does live there now and even considered making a run for governor of North Carolina, but still.
8 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is a veteran who is still going strong today. The son of a hockey player, Y2J is the first undisputed champion (in case you somehow forgot about that), a six-time WWE champion and the fourth grand slam champion in WWE history. Despite being 45, he has constantly reinvented himself and is the hottest act on RAW today, possibly doing his best work to date.
The funny part about this entry is that Chris Jericho actually just recently replied to a fan on Twitter about where he was born. We all know Jericho is from “Winnipeg, you idiot!” as that’s where his character is said to hail from, but Y2J was actually born in Long Island, New York. He, however, claims it does not matter.
What diff does it make where I was born? I was born in Long Island, NY, but I would NEVER claim to be from there. https://t.co/SmC6nmWAm2
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) November 14, 2016
No two ways about it, Kane is an absolute legend of this business. Like his kayfabe brother, constantly reinventing himself (at least appearance wise in this case) and working very well for a big man, Kane has been a constant in the company ever since the dawn of the Attitude Era. With his background as the deranged brother of The Undertaker who burned their home, killing their parents, Kane needed to be billed from a fitting location.
If The Undertaker is from Death Valley, it’d have made sense for Kane to be from there as well, but instead WWE billed him from Hell or Parts Unknown. Obviously, Kane is not from there, but even in his previous gimmick as Isaac Yankem, he was billed from Illinois when in fact, Glenn Jacobs was born in Madrid, Spain.
6 Muhammad Hassan
Muhammad Hassan is a classic case of "what if?" That’s because he had potential to be arguably the greatest heel in the history of this entire industry. Donning an anti-American gimmick a couple of years after the 9/11 tragedy, Hassan had real heat and was booed in every arena. He provoked so much heat that even heels despised him and they teamed up with faces to eliminate him in the 2005 Royal Rumble.
Unfortunately, the gimmick was too controversial as real life circumstances such as the London bombings along with Hassan’s personal issues with other wrestlers backstage meant that the character had to die. The funny thing is that Marc Copani, the wrestler portraying Hassan, wasn’t even Arabic and was in fact, an Italian American. Billed as an Arab American from Detroit, Michigan, Copani was actually born in Syracuse, New York.
Yokozuna is one of the all time greats when you consider the giants of this business. Yokozuna headlined WrestleMania more than once and was a two-time WWE champion.
However, you’d be forgiven for actually thinking he was a sumo wrestler from Japan as he was actually a Samoan, with his real name being Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi, of the famous Anoaʻi wrestling family.
So while he was Japanese in character, he was actually the first Samoan to ever win the WWE Championship as well as a Royal Rumble match. And while he was born in San Francisco, California, WWE billed him as being from Japan, and later, from Polynesia. Back then, we all believed it, but today we know better. Still, it was a fitting portrayal.
In 2014, Carmella (real name, Leah Van Dale) would debut on NXT and become a part of Enzo and Cass’s tag team group as their manager, donning an Italian American accent to go along with their gimmicks and dub herself as the Princess of Staten Island. The now SmackDown Live member actually does a good job of pulling off the gimmick (mostly the accent) and is shining in her feud with Nikki Bella.
What you will find interesting is that Carmella isn’t even from the Big Apple like her former partners (Enzo is from New Jersey so it kind of counts). Van Dale is actually from Worcester, Massachusetts and currently resides in Orlando, Florida, which only makes her more deserving of credit. Admit it, you’re a bit surprised.
3 Triple H
Triple H is the king of kings. It’s no secret now but the 14-time WWE champion, 2002 and 2016 Royal Rumble winner will definitely have control of the company at some point in the future (assuming Vince McMahon dies, but then again, he is immortal).
The Game’s just about done it all, from being humbled in 1996 to being a rising star in 1998 to becoming the top guy in 2003 and the rest is history. Marrying into the McMahon family helped his cause, but definitely wasn’t the only reason for his success.
With Vince McMahon being billed from Greenwich, Connecticut and WWE headquarters also located in Connecticut, Triple H too was also billed from Greenwich, Connecticut, though it’s not confirmed when he started getting billed from there. Regardless, The Game was actually born in Nashua, New Hampshire, though he does reside in Connecticut right now.
2 The Rock
The Rock is arguably the most entertaining and charismatic superstar in WWE history, and with his Hollywood success, he is definitely the most successful WWE superstar. An eight-time WWE champion, 2000 Royal Rumble winner and headliner of multiple WrestleManias, The Great One can truly be proud of his achievements in the squared circle.
Whenever his music hit, the fans erupted, anxious to either hear the magic that would come from The Rock holding a mic or waiting to see which superstar would get a People’s Elbow. Every time he’d come out, we’d hear “From Miami, Florida," but actually, The Rock was born in Hayward, California. Growing up, The Rock also lived in New Zealand and Hawaii, and it was only until he decided to attend the University of Miami that he actually started living there.
1 Hulk Hogan
If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, we probably wouldn’t even be writing about this topic as it was the Hulkster who really helped make pro wrestling not only mainstream, but the global phenomenon that it is today. The poster boy for Vince McMahon’s WWE, Hogan carried (willingly on most accounts) the company on his back for 10 years until 1993 when he decided to make movies.
He wouldn’t be away from wrestling for long as he joined WCW in 1994, and two years later founded the infamous New World Order that resulted in wrestling’s hottest angle that nearly put Vince out of business. Billed from California in both companies (Venice Beach and Hollywood), Hogan was actually born in Augusta, Georgia -- which is all the more ironic considering most fans hated him in WCW since he was from “up north.”