A lot of us hope to one day be famous, but one part that goes with it is the fact that everyone wants to know about your past. Because of that, people will go snooping through all your old photos looking for something funny. Normally, the old embarrassing photos that we have of ourselves are contained to family events, and social media at the very worst where you can at least untag yourself.
Professional wrestlers are no exception to having some hilarious photos from their pasts, showing off some interesting fashion and hair choices. So now we’ll take a trip down memory lane to look at a handful of wrestlers that would end up making it big with wrestling’s largest promotion. They unfortunately can no longer delete these photos since they've already hit the internet with full force. If one thing is certain, it is that the internet never forgets. Especially when the photos are downright hilarious.
Many of these wrestlers are almost unrecognizable compared to their younger selves, which a lot of us can relate to. If you feel bad about your own photos, prepare to feel a lot better. At least we’re not putting yours on display! Thankfully, many of these wrestlers have embraced these old photos and are able to have a laugh at them. Now it’s your turn to do the same.
15 Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods would eventually get his PHD, and he certainly looked like someone that was more interested in that career path rather than professional wrestling early on. Woods went to Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia before he headed to Furman University. It was in college that Woods decided to make the switch from amateur to professional wrestling, adopting the name Austin Creed and starting at NWA Anarchy.
Woods would then get his chance at TNA as Consequences Creed, then made a stop at NJPW before being signed by the WWE in 2010. He would finally make his debut on the main roster in late 2013, and has since been teamed up as a member of The New Day. It’s also obvious that he’s dropped the glasses along the way.
14 John Cena
John Cena has always been known for having a tremendous amount of strength, and even at 40 years old is in incredible shape. However, it was before he started wrestling that he was even more muscular, entering into bodybuilding competitions. It’s strange to see a bronzed up Cena with a blonde flat top haircut flexing for cameras instead of wearing jean shorts and looking pretty pale.
It’s pretty well known that Vince McMahon has a soft spot for bodybuilders, and his background helped Cena get a shot in pro wrestling. Cena got his shot against Kurt Angle in June 2002 on SmackDown! and has never looked back. The former bodybuilder is still a huge draw today, and it looks like he’s well on his way to setting the record for most world titles won in the WWE.
13 Seth Rollins
Growing up in Iowa, Colby Lopez was a long way from being Seth Rollins, and even Tyler Black in Ring of Honor. Back then, Lopez looked like he would rather be at a Sum 41 concert, even if his favorite bands included more hardcore ones like Black Flag. Rollins described this time of his life as being introverted, where he would mostly just listen to his rock music and avoid drugs and alcohol (we’ll have another straight edge teen later in the list).
Rollins would then start wrestling in 2005 at just 19 years old, making his Ring of Honor debut two years later. After becoming a main event star with the promotion, he signed a contract with the WWE in 2010, making his main roster debut with The Shield in 2012.
12 The Miz
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin actually got his break to try out for professional wrestling thanks to his time as a reality television star. Before that even happened, Mizanin was just a typical high schooler in Parma, Ohio. Mizanin and fellow wrestler Dolph Ziggler even traded jabs online about their old photos after he posted a picture of Ziggler’s time with the Spirit Squad.
That’s when Ziggler retorted by posting Mizanin’s high school photo, showcasing the late 1990s hair that most of us had. Mizanin would eventually go to college but then dropped out to start his television career. From there, he was able to try out for WWE’s reality series “Tough Enough”, landing himself a job on the roster where he has been ever since.
When we said that some wrestlers on the list were going to be unrecognizable, we really meant it. It’s hard to believe that this photo shows a young Dave Bautista with long hair. One fan described Batista’s old look as a mash-up of Roman Reigns and Kevin Nash. Thankfully, Batista chopped most of his hair off, which may have helped him make it in pro wrestling.
Batista would sign with Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2000 after training and trying out with WCW before being told that he had no shot. Batista’s big break came in early 2003 when he became a part of the Evolution stable that included Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton. Now, not only has Batista become a big wrestling star, but he’s also a big movie star.
10 Triple H
Remember that episode of “The Office” where Steve Carell's character shows an old photo with his former boss and he has a fantastic mullet? Those are the vibes that you get from this photo that shows a young Triple H with his trainer, Killer Kowalski. If Triple H still had that same hairstyle in 2018, people would be laughing hysterically as he made his way to the ring.
Thankfully for Triple H, he would end up straightening out the hair and going with a darker colour, which did wonders for his look. He started off with WCW in 1994, eventually moving to the WWE the next year. Now a part time wrestler and certain Hall of Famer that has a large stake with the company thanks to his marriage to Stephanie McMahon, this photo seems like it’s from a lifetime ago.
9 Roman Reigns
Participating in athletic events makes our bodies do some pretty gross things, which includes massive amounts of drooling. Here we see eventually champion Roman Reigns getting caught in the act during a college football game when he played at Georgia Tech. Reigns had aspirations to make it into the NFL, but would only make offseason rosters with both the Vikings and Jaguars in 2007.
Reigns did make it into the Canadian Football League in 2008 with the Edmonton Eskimos, where he registered nine tackles. In 2010, he decided to get into wrestling, and immediately signed a developmental contract with the WWE. After starting out as Roman Leakee, he adopted the Reigns last name and became the third member of The Shield, and has perhaps had the most success of the three thus far.
8 Mick Foley
Mick Foley wasn’t always the portly, bearded underdog that we became accustomed to when he was Mankind, Dude Love or Cactus Jack. As for this photo, it’s not hilarious because of the fact that he looks goofy or anything. In fact, this is probably the least ridiculous photo of the entire bunch. What makes it so funny is that Foley looks so much different these days (and for the past 30 years) compared to when he was a young man that it’s ridiculous.
Foley had been wrestling since all the way back in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1991 that he finally got his shot at joining the WCW. From there, he spent some time in a few smaller promotions before signing with the WWE in 1996, having a Hall of Fame career.
7 Shawn Michaels
We’re pretty used to seeing Shawn Michaels with some hairstyles that were only popular in certain eras, but this old photo goes way back. Michaels always had a love for pro wrestling while he was growing up, but it’s surprising to see him wearing a football uniform. As it turns out, Michaels was actually a solid football player in high school, earning awards as a linebacker and playing as the team captain at Randolph High School in Texas.
Michaels would end up dropping out of college so that he could focus on trying to become a professional wrestler. It ended up being a good choice, though he did have to work for several years before he got his shot. In July 1988, Michaels debuted along with Marty Jannetty as The Rockers before he would find solo success.
Those that are in their mid 20s and younger will probably never know what it was like to have a mullet. For those of us that are old enough, there’s a good chance that you had one at some point, not knowing that it would make for some hilarious pictures down the road. Even massive tough guys like Glenn Jacobs were no exception, as he used to have a blonde mullet before he became a big name in pro wrestling.
Jacobs would go through some interesting gimmicks early in his career while trying to find something that would stick. From portraying an evil dentist to being the fake Diesel, it wasn’t until mid 1997 that we would finally see the Kane character. Eventually, the gimmick helped Jacobs win a WWE Championship.
5 Ric Flair
Early on in his career, Ric Flair was certainly a lot larger than he was when he became more famous. Flair trained under Verne Gagne back in the early 1970s, and this photo comes from that early part of his career. After adopting the Nature Boy gimmick, Flair would also change his character to something with a lot more charisma, and it helped him to become an international wrestling superstar.
The amount of awards that Flair has won throughout his career is nothing short of extraordinary. In the WWE alone, he’s won a total of six titles and has been placed into the Hall of Fame two times. Now 68 years old, Flair is retired from in-ring action, but is still one of the most popular figures in the profession to this day.
4 The Rock
When most of us were 15 years old, a lot of us were either incredibly scrawny or doughy, with no semblance of facial hair whatsoever. That was not the case for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who already looked like a full grown adult before he was able to drive. If he had a fake ID at the time, there’s little doubt that he could’ve gotten away with using it. Always athletic, Johnson would end up getting a scholarship to play football at Miami.
Johnson was even a starter on the defensive line with the Hurricanes in 1991 before an injury would sideline him. His replacement ended up being Warren Sapp, so Johnson didn’t get his spot back. With his football career over, Johnson turned to wrestling like many of his family members before (and after) him, debuting in 1996 as Rocky Maivia.
3 Bret Hart
No, this isn’t a photo from the set of “The Partridge Family” or “The Brady Bunch”, but rather a photo of a much younger Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Hart has been heralded by many as being the best professional wrestler in terms of talent, and it seemed that he was always destined for greatness because of his family’s history in wrestling. Yes, even when he looked like this as a teenager.
Hart never really was the biggest guy in wrestling, but his talent was able to overcome his very average size. After making his way through his family’s Stampede Wrestling for nearly a decade, Hart would make his debut with the WWE in 1985. He would stick around for 12 years before heading to the WCW in the late 1990s, then retiring from in-ring action.
While you could certainly say that Bill Goldberg already had a big break professionally by joining the NFL, he wasn’t exactly a known commodity. Here, we see the former Georgia Bulldog suiting up for the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent time from 1992 to 1994. Goldberg would play in just 14 NFL games over the span of five years as a professional, sporting a lot more hair than we were used to seeing when he became a wrestler.
Goldberg made a fairly easy switch to wrestling, becoming a huge name very early in his career thanks to a massive winning streak. It seems that Goldberg is now retired after wrestling in 2017, but it’s amazing the type of career path that he’s had over the years.
1 CM Punk
There’s nothing wrong with choosing to live a straight edge lifestyle (especially as a teenager), but it does make for some interesting fashion choices that were caught on photo. As you can tell, CM Punk was always a huge fan of professional wrestling, and here he is with his red spiky hair meeting Stone Cold Steve Austin. What’s even more interesting is that Punk’s favourite wrestler was one that chugged beers in the ring frequently.
Punk would have to work his way through the indy scene for years before he finally got his crack at making the WWE. In 2006, he made his way up to the main roster and became one of the top stars of the industry. It doesn’t look like he’ll be back in the ring, but if he did, it would become must-see television.