A big aspect of the WWE machine is to keep kayfabe alive, even to this day. Blending in the reality aspect is an element WCW added into the mix back in the mid 90s. While the WWE continued on with the fictional route, WCW found success implementing real-life scenarios, and before they knew it, WWE completely changed their philosophy to match WCW.
Looking at the company nowadays, the most talked about storylines deal with a real-life element. Take Brock Lesnar for example, his bad attitude off-screen has us talking and we buy into the persona. That’s exactly what the WWE wants as it gets more eyeballs on the product. In this article, however, we look at the opposite scenarios featuring stars that hurt their gimmicks off-screen and that includes Brock Lesnar. The rise of social media hasn’t helped the integrity of the characters we see on-screen as you’ll see that throughout this list.
Enjoy folks and like always, be sure to share the article with a friend. From Asuka to Brock to Undertaker, these 20 real-life photos that run the gimmicks of these WWE stars.
20 The Undertaker – Proud Papa
Here’s a question, how can a Deadman have a child? Well, when it comes to The Undertaker’s personal life, the legend has four children. Three of them come from past relationships and we rarely here any mention of them at all, mainly due to the fact that he wants to protect his gimmick. Such hasn’t been the case during his relationship with Michelle McCool. She’s humanized the legend showing us pictures of Taker working out and, as you see in the photo above, being a proud papa like many others.
At the age of 53, yes it hurts the gimmick but at the same time it really isn’t all that bad given the amount he has left to give inside of the squared circle. We thought this year was his last run but as it turns out, he might have one last encounter against John Cena. It remains to be seen if that’ll take place at Survivor Series or next year’s WrestleMania.
19 Gran Metalik – Unmasked... Kind Of
Looking back at the Cruiserweight Classic one of the standout names was Gran Metalik. He dazzled throughout the tournament and made it all the way to the finals. Metalik was the favorite to win it all, though TJ Perkins shocked the WWE Universe by taking home the grand prize.
Lots of us thought Metalik would head back to Mexico or flee for New Japan, instead, he stayed on board and hasn’t really been utilized all that much lately aside from a tag match here and there. It looks like he also doesn’t take his persona too seriously outside of the ring as this photo shows him to be completely unamsked, something that isn’t the norm for masked luchador type wrestlers. You might recognize that dude posing for the pic with him - of course, that’s New Japan icon Okada.
18 Ronda Rousey – Emotional With The Bellas
The WWE loves to stir up controversy behind the scenes. The element of realism makes us, the Universe talk about their product. It appears as though they used this tactic once again during the recent WrestleMania main event. It is being said that the McMahon Lesnar altercation was all a work.
This photograph above is another example of this. It was reported just months prior that the Bellas had heat with Rousey stepping into the WWE and getting a push that quickly. Well, that was another WWE work as the Bellas filmed a segment for their YouTube channel celebrating with Ronda Rousey after her match. The Bellas were blown away by her performance and it led to actual tears from the former UFC fighter. So much for heat huh...
17 Dean Ambrose – The Soft Side
One of the biggest reasons why Dean Ambrose became as popular as he did is due to the fact that the fans buy into his gimmick. Behind the scenes, it is said that Ambrose is just as bizarre usually isolating himself from the other WWE stars. Dean claims that when he enters the WWE cafeteria, he’s usually in and out while making minimal conversation. We appreciate his devotion and how seriously he takes his job.
However, a spot on Total Divas has humanized him a little bit. You can tell he’s uncomfortable when the cameras are around, a sentiment echoed by his wife Renee Young. Renee recently shared a pic showing us his soft side once again as he continues to rehab from the injury. He doesn’t look like a lunatic but instead, a loving husband.
16 Asuka – Pre-WWE Loss To Cheerleader Melissa
This fact does hurt the legitimacy of Asuka’s gimmick. Prior to her first defeat, The Empress was being booked to perfection, usually squashing her opponents. However, back in her pre-WWE days, that was not the case. What the WWE wouldn’t want you to see is some of her loses, including a defeat to indie veteran Cheerleader Melissa. Back in October of 2014, Asuka failed to capture the championship following a loss at the Volume 67 event for Shimmer.
During her final indie stages, Asuka took part in lots of tag matches with Reina Joshi Puroresu. Even in the promotion she had her fair share of defeats, something Hunter doesn’t want us to research. Some argue that the Goldberg streak was a little more special due to his perfect run from the ground up, never having competed on the independent scene.
15 Jason Jordan – With His Real Dad
Looking back at 2017, the worst storyline hands down had to be Jason Jordan announced as the son of Kurt Angle. The idea had Vince McMahon written all over it and of course, the fans reacted poorly to it. It almost buried Jordan’s career and some believe his injury actually saved his WWE run. It remains to be seen whether or not the WWE will continue with the story once he returns, knowing the company’s tendencies, it really wouldn’t shock us.
Here’s a gimmick breaker in the photo above as Jordan poses with his actual father. For those that were keeping track, his real dad was also featured during an episode of SmackDown Live as he sat ringside during Jordan’s first major title victory alongside Chad Gable. Obviously, the company wasn’t thinking about the story in the long-term...
14 Brock Lesnar – Having a Drink On Vacation
The WWE might be swerving us when it comes to Brock Lesnar. According to everyone in the company, he hates people. But seriously, recent examples tell us otherwise. Lesnar looked like a happy child when visiting the Winnipeg Jets locker room, he also rarely turns down candid photos with fans. And heck, everyone talks about heat between Brock and Vince but the two were caught play fighting just before WrestleMania 31. That doesn’t seem like hate does it?
The WWE loves to sell realism and that might be the case with Brock. Though he is savage let’s be honest, the guy kayfabe punched Braun Strowman in the damn ear! Nonetheless, this photo doesn’t help his gimmick one bit as he poses for a vacation pic alongside a fan while holding a drink in his hand. Isn’t he supposed to be isolated on a farm in Saskatchewan away from people?
13 Kevin Owens – The Loving Husband
As children, when our parents told us wrestling was fake, we instantly refused to believe it. Though later, we would get proof that it was in fact all a work. If you ever disclose such information to a young one and they don’t believe you, show them KO’s wife’s IG account. Her photos show Owens in a different light and one fans would never expect. It certainly doesn’t help his gimmick as the ruthless heel we see on-screen.
He looks to be a father of the year candidate on her IG photos. Not to mention, Owens also comes across as a loving husband. Elias normally posts photos of the two and her caption usually states how thankful she is to have KO by her side, the same dude that recently power bombed a wrestler that had been sidelined for a couple of years on the apron... twice.
12 Shawn Michaels – The Haircut
This particular entry hurt a wrestler’s gimmick for a different reason. Since his rise to fame as a member of the Rockers, we were accustomed to seeing HBK rock the long hair. It helped to promote his pretty boy persona and that’s the look we recognize HBK for all these years later.
Well, during the Hall Of Fame, fans were shocked to see HBK’s hair cut and rocking an all new short look. Photos actually leaked beforehand and Shawn was none too pleased. He even made the claim that he isn’t visiting the same barber anymore due to him posting the photo online. HBK looks good with the new haircut but it’s still shocking to see him without the ponytail. Who would have thought that Triple H would be completely bald while HBK would rock a dad haircut!
11 Kane – With His Wife Running For Mayor
One of the more hilarious parts of pro wrestling is linking Kane to a career in the world of politics. In fact, while running for a mayoral seat, he’s still actively performing. No disrespect to Kane, but how can we take his gimmick seriously nowadays when he’s running for mayor alongside his wife on his free time? Hell, at this point, it would make more sense to revive the Corporate Kane character.
Those that know the real Kane, aka Glenn Jacobs are aware of his brilliance; he’s typically labelled as one of the most brilliant minds in the industry. Kane’s also a family man out of the ring, the 50 year old has been in the same relationship to his wife Crystal Goins since 1995, a rarity in the wrestling business.
10 Baron Corbin – Consoling a Fan
Hate him or love him, we should give Corbin credit for excelling in his persona as a heel. Not only does he play the bad guy role on-screen but he tries to follow that up outside of the ring as well. It was recently reported that Vince is still high on his ability and that might be due to the fact that he lives the character 24/7.
However, we did get a rare occurrence that saw Baron break his gimmick. During an episode of SmackDown Live, Corbin consoled a young fan ringside when the cameras stopped rolling. It was a surprising moment and one that saw fans cheer for the Lone Wolf. Staying in character, he bashed the fans after the photo went viral claiming he doesn’t care about kids and only did it because it was family. Good save Baron, good save.
9 Bray Wyatt – Breaking Character With Stephanie & Renee
Unlike The Undertaker, Bray Wyatt hasn’t done his very best to keep his gimmick alive outside of the ring. Whether it be responding to fans online claiming he’s set to turn on Hardy or his recent divorce to his wife, we’ve seen the human side of Bray one too many times. Some would say these instances hurt his gimmick.
This photo didn’t help things either, we hope Vince didn’t see it. Just imagine a mystical character like The Undertaker posing for a similar photo. Bray’s featured alongside Stephanie and Renee pulling a funny pose, the pics truly light hearted and hilarious, though it doesn’t help his gimmick one bit. In the words of Broken/Woken Matt, this photo needs to be... DELETED!
8 Braun Strowman – Backstage With His Best Bud
Braun’s a monster in the ring but outside of it, he’s a total softy and we saw examples of that during his heel run as well. Strowman posts lots of pictures alongside his mom and dad, evidenced by the photos, he’s a papa’s boy that’s for darn sure. Braun got emotional posting a photo of his dad ringside at WrestleMania, it was one of his proudest moments.
We’ve seen other humbling photos, another featured Braun and his sister, it was the first time she was introduced to the gimmick attending a WWE show. This recent photo shared by Braun shows his best friend attending a WWE event backstage, it must have been quite the feeling to perform for all these close relatives. Such moments prove that he’s a different dude backstage.
7 Randy Orton – The Family Man
Randy’s different dude these days. Back in the early 2000s, on route to his championship victory, Randy was a handful whether it was due to his poor attitude with his peers or his reckless ways of living the party life. It matched his gimmick to a degree as an arrogant champion.
Nowadays, things are totally different outside of the ring and the many photos posted by himself and his wife hurt his ruthless persona inside of the squared circle. Randy’s now a loving family man to his new wife Kimberly Kessler. The couple had a daughter together along with three boys from Kim’s previous relationship. Orton in such a light is something we never thought we’d see.
6 Kalisto - Unmasked
Kalisto takes his masked gimmick very seriously; even in candid photos while he’s out Kalisto goes the extra mile to bring the mask. In this situation however, his gimmick took a serious hit when Del Rio was a little too aggressive when attacking the mask. Fans online zoomed in closely at the exchange and it showed Kalisto’s mask actually completely coming off during the aggressive exchange. It’s a moment that hurt his gimmick and one we won’t see the WWE replay anytime soon.
For Kalisto, ironically, that was his biggest program with the WWE. He and Del Rio feuded over the US Championship. The storyline was a complete dud and due to Kalisto’s inability to cut a promo, he was lowered down the card. He’s currently on 205 Live serving as a mid-card act on the show.
5 Sabbatelli, Moss & Matha – WrestleMania Gladiators
It’s a classic move we’ve seen countless times in the past, the WWE loves to use up and coming stars in these types of situations during entrances. The likes of CM Punk, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss all took part in such scenarios.
This year, a trio of NXT stars took part in Charlotte’s entrance playing the role of gladiators. Tino Sabbatelli, Riddick Moss and Dan Matha all appeared. You couldn’t establish them during the entrance due to how dark it was and because their faces were hidden. The WWE should have kept it that way and revealed their identities years later. Instead, the company instantly pulled the trigger even showing us a photo of the clan getting ready backstage. We credit Riddick Moss for making no mention of the moment on his IG account, though we can’t say the same for Tino who re-tweeted a picture of the moment.
4 Velveteen Dream – The Patrick Clark Days
It’s hard to believe that Patrick Clark aka the Velveteen Dream is only 22. He recently took part in a TakeOver ladder match looking like a veteran, completely comfortable with his surroundings. Dream’s one of the most over acts in the entire developmental brand and some rumors even indicate that he’ll make the jump to the main roster soon rather than later.
His gimmick became the main selling point to his success. However, what hurts that character a little bit is going back in time and re-watching his prior work on Tough Enough, playing his real-life self. Clark was all about WWE during the show and his knowledge exceeded anyone else. He didn’t win the show and after a brief indie stint, Clark was signed to the WWE. Velveteen lost under his generic Patrick Clark gimmick in his opening match to Austin Aries, a part of his career the company wants us to forget about.
3 Rezar – All Smiles With His Parents
Similar to Baron Corbin, the duo of Rezar and Akam have done a great job thus far of keeping kayfabe alive. The WWE has high hopes for the young team still in their early 20s and they’ve done a fantastic job on selling themselves as actual heels both in and out the ring.
Social media has changed everything nowadays. Because of it, we’re given greater access to the personal lives of Superstars. Not everyone uses the platform, though most wrestlers do and that includes the heels. Heck even baron Corbin posted a photo showing him smiling from ear to ear alongside his wife. This was also a rare occurrence showing Rezar, with a smile like a kid on Christmas morning alongside his parents. Some fans be like “hey, isn’t Paul Ellering your dad?”
2 Kurt Angle – Where’s Jason?
It seems like Kurt himself forgot about the storyline during a recent Instagram post. Of course, the WWE Universe made Angle hear about the photo, comments were filled asking where and why Jason Jordan wasn’t featured in the photo. Kurt posted a picture to IG alongside his five children, two are from his prior marriage and the three girls are from his current relationship. A noticeable omission was Jason Jordan, Angle didn’t help his cause writing “The Angle Clan all together”. Come on Kurt! We hope Vince didn’t see this post, he would be none too pleased.
Let’s give Angle a break, the guy’s turning 50 in a couple of months and we know his memory isn’t the greatest these days. Who can forget his countless botches during Raw promos, nevertheless, we still love you Kurt, oh it’s true, it’s damn true!
1 The Undertaker – Smiling Backstage After WrestleMania 34
The Undertaker staying in character is the reason his gimmick has lasted so long. Normally, such a gimmick has a short shelf life but due to how he perfected the persona in and out of the ring, he’s still going with it almost three decades later.
This photo however was quite shocking and something we’re not accustomed to seeing. Taker went out of his way to meet one of the Hall Of Fame inductees, the inspirational Jarrius Robertson who won the Warrior Award during the Hall Of Fame. It’s another rare moment that humanized Undertaker showing that he’s a regular dude off camera. Such moments have been few and far between throughout his career which makes it so shocking given his longevity in the business.