The behind-the-scenes existence of WWE and their wrestlers creates a fascinating ecosystem of egos, personalities and their real lives. You can see superstars you never thought you’d see interacting having a laugh or a meal together and it can sometimes blow your mind. Seeing the weekly shows and also catching a glimpse behind the curtain is something wrestling fans have gotten more and more of since the turn of the century and the breaking down of kayfabe. Between shows on the network like Ride Along, WWE 24, and Total Divas we see further and further into the superstars we appreciate. There’s always more to see though.
WWE has a staff of photographers as well as hiring freelancers to document and capture the hidden moments we used to only guess at. Furthermore, with every superstar now carrying a phone and able to post anything they want the shots we get nowadays are more candid than ever. WWE couldn’t avoid this technological minefield if they wanted to so now pictures fly out of the formerly sacrosanct backstage environment daily, and with a little digging, you can find pictures and pairings you never really considered before. If you’re anything like us, you find this stuff endlessly endearing and compelling, so we’ve gotten together 20 recent photos from the WWE that make us want to know all the stories behind them.
20. Old Rivals, Now Peers
For those who know the history between these two, this image is almost shocking. For those who don’t, back in the WCW days Goldberg and Chris Jericho weren’t exactly the best of friends and that came to a head when an argument between the two devolved into an actual fight. If you bet on Goldberg you’d be handing over your money, because the alumni from the Hart Dungeon snagged Goldberg in a headlock and took him to the ground before they were broken up.
Years later, having gone through the Kevin Owens vs. Goldberg storyline together it appears they’ve patched any animosity between them. No doubt they’re separate successes inside and outside wrestling made the egos less prickly, and it gave us this interesting moment before WrestleMania 33 last year.
A moment between friends isn’t usually something to shock, but it’s the curious getup of Shawn Michaels wig that was definitely worth capturing here. During WWE’s recent partnership with KFC as a sponsor it was usually Dolph Ziggler donning the colonel getup and looking goofy but here Shawn Michaels somehow got talked into taking on the role. You can see that Road Dogg and Triple H can’t look the guy in the eye (difficult at the best of times) due to the white wig he’s sporting.
Looking more the game show host than Mr. WrestleMania, he’s clearly cracking up his two friends when they’re the ones supposed to be running a lot of Raw and SmackDown. Since Shawn has taken more acting gigs recently, perhaps this small role gave him the acting bug.
18. UCE! GLOW!
A personal capture from Naomi on her Instagram, she is showing off her ridiculous abs while her husband and his brother cement that pissed off aura they’ve mastered in the year since turning heel with their Day One Ish revamp. Naomi’s caption is right on the money as well, since the trio looks ready to grace an album cover or star in a new tv show where a pair of twin cops and their smoking police chief hit the gym and then club some bad dudes into dust.
It is pretty funny that (I’m going to go with…) Jey is sporting a festive looking beanie with a puffball on top though. A San Francisco 49’s looking badge tops off the weird little accoutrement, but who’s going to tell him it looks dumb when he’s fired up like this?
17. Dustin’ Off The Old Gear
This one is a great little moment from right before Goldust, AKA ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes emerged to honor his father at WWE’s revival of Starrcade this year. Dusty Rhodes is synonymous with the event and so it was fitting that WWE not only allowed Dustin to provide this callback to his late great father but that he was clearly in good enough shape these days to pull it off. The struggles of Dustin are well known and documented at this point, and as the only remaining Rhodes in WWE he was the perfect candidate to go back in time to give the WWE fans in attendance for this special show a treat. Who’s to say we won’t see The Natural gracing regular WWE television in the future based off of how well this one night went. It happened to Cactus Jack.
16. Diamonds Are Forever
If there’s one WWE Hall Of Famer who appears to have almost everything together it is Diamond Dallas Page. The former WCW Champion and the founder of DDP Yoga has not only turned around the lives of struggling veterans like Jake Roberts, Scott Hall, and Mick Foley, he has kept his outlook on life decidedly positive to the point his book was named Positively Page. Here we can see him goofing around backstage, showing off some wacky socks and shoes while the makeup artist is clearly pursing her lips waiting so she can get back to doing her job. The master of the Diamond Cutter is known to be endlessly upbeat, so whether it rubs you the wrong way or not, having him roaming the backstage has got to be a blast.
15. New Day, Old Souls
This one just warms your heart because it’s a glorious blending of the old and the new, with two of WWE’s current stars highlighting their reverence and respect for the greats who paved the way. Xavier Woods sporting the NWA Championship holding Ric Flair shows the respect and esteem he holds the 16-time World Champion in, but it’s Kofi’s classic Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan shirt that might just bring a tear to your eye. Taken just a few scant months before the greatest manager of all time passed away, this shows that those accolades and memories he provided mean just as much, and his legacy is ironclad. Clearly coordinating here as Bobby and Ric worked together many times, The New Day know their history and look to create some of their own.
14. Raw’s Mightiest Duo
One of WWE’s strongest backstage friendships if you pay attention to social media, it’s still fun seeing these two goofing around since they’ve been almost exclusively enemies onscreen. The perfect ‘big-girl, little girl’ team, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax could probably make a case for WWE reviving the Women’s Tag Team championships and now that the Women’s Royal Rumble has been announced, the roster is deep enough that it could carry that extra load. Nevertheless, Alexa and Nia may butt heads on tv a fair amount but it’s clear that the two have a seriously goofy fun time backstage together.
We don’t know if Alexa will be participating in the Royal Rumble due to her currently holding the Women’s title on Raw, but Nia is surely one of the favorites and if Alexa does ‘have her back’ as shown here, perhaps that will play out come January’s PPV.
13. The Hour Of Tozawa
If you’ve been paying attention to the Cruiserweight Division this year (and it’s been really low-key fun) you know that this photo is rare just due to who is holding the Cruiserweight Championship right here. Akira Tozawa burst onto the scene shortly after the 205 Live show made its debut and his “HA!” chant helped him stand out, as did his wicked german suplexes and sentons from the top rope. Here we see him checking perhaps the most important laces on his gear right before heading out to SummerSlam to hopefully defend his newly won prize, although history tells us a different story. Akira Tozawa was able to end the impressive first title reign of Neville on an episode of Raw, but his own time with the title would be short-lived.
12. Kneel To The King
And here we see the aftermath of Tozawa’s attempt to create his own legacy with the Cruiserweight Championship. A full frontal bellowing from the renewed champion, Neville upon ousting the usurper of his Cruiserweight crown en route to him again becoming the King Of The Cruiserweights. Neville’s run as Cruiserweight Champion may have been swept under the rug recently due to his seeming departure from WWE, with the word being that talks between the two sides had stalled again, but that doesn’t diminish how good it was when WWE had him. Neville is surely going to be missed if he ends up officially leaving WWE and it’s moments like this photo that show how impressive he is as a competitor, a character, an athlete, and a champion.
11. All The B’s
A much more candid shot here of the Bella twins fawning over Daniel Bryan and Brie’s new baby, Birdie Danielson. It’s nice seeing the twins genuinely smiling together here, a little bundle like Birdie always breaking through to people just by being an awesomely cute kid. This shot also shows the continuing divergence between two twins, one now fully into her mother role, adopting the flannel and denim of her husband’s simpler lifestyle beliefs while Nicki is there in a designer outfit showing plenty of skin and basking in her fame and her man’s Hollywood ascension. It’s interesting for the differences between two people who began so similar, and how they’re brought back together through the new family in their lives. No word yet on whether Birdie will enter the Women’s Royal Rumble though.
10. The Queen Of Gianna’s Fandom
This is the type of stuff that you either love or hate. You might dislike it because Carmella is a heel and her being all chummy with a little kid might undercut that. But you can’t help but love it because it’s always nice to see the joy and happiness the superstars bring to kids who look up to them and aspire to bigger things because of them. Carmella has primarily played a heel since coming up to the main roster even though she had a short run as a face with her man Cass and Enzo down in NXT, so being that some kids see through that to her genuine nice side is good to know. Bonus points for Sin Cara trying to escape the scene before someone tries to start a fight with him though.
9. Solo Uso
Here we’ve got Jimmy Uso looking tired and like he’s recently woken up, but he’s got a big match coming up and he’s throwing the gear together so he and his brother Jey can steal another show with their tag team exploits. Trudging solo down the hallway when we’re so used to seeing the brothers shoulder to shoulder is rather interesting and gives Jimmy’s lack of bravado some depth. The Usos new outlook this year has done them wonders in refreshing their impact as a team, but pictures like this do raise the question of how each of them would go if singles competition ever beckoned.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how we can definitively tell that this one is Jimmy, it’s because Jey is the one with the cross on his right shoulder and Jimmy usually is the one wearing a hat. The more you know, ay?
8. Hall Of Fame Fathers
This shot is striking because of a few things, not least of which is when you suddenly realise that Ric Flair and Rikishi have the same hairstyles. Two men who physically couldn’t be more different and yet the platinum dye and slicked back look is working for them both. Who knew?
More importantly, this looks like a discussion between two of the proudest fathers roaming the halls of WWE events. Ric is always on social media pumping up his daughter’s accomplishments to the point you think he might need to dial it back a shade, while Rikishi’s twin sons and his daughter-in-law Naomi are tearing it up on SmackDown, both stealing the show and until recently both holding the gold in their respective divisions.
7. The Rockstar And The Artist
Since Shinsuke Nakamura arrived in WWE, one of the universally applauded elements of his presentation has been the insanely good entrance music he was given, and the man you see in the photo here somehow made it even better. Lee England Jr is an esteemed violinist who has accompanied Nakamura on three of the biggest nights of his career so far. He played him to the ring the night Shinsuke won his first NXT Championship, and again when he made his main roster debut on Smackdown in the last year, and this shot was taken before Lee played him out for his WWE Championship match at Summerslam. Shinsuke Nakamura may not have been successful on this night in trying to capture WWE’s biggest prize but his entrance was utterly sublime thanks to the pairing of the eccentric grappler and the compelling musician seen here.
6. Ninja Day
When Michael Cole usually says a wrestler or team is ‘just having fun’ it almost always means WWE is ruining them. In the case of The New Day, it is the one thing you can tell just by looking at them. Between Kofi Kingston’s experience, Big E’s goofiness and Xavier Woods’ intelligent, geeky outlook the trio are clearly enjoying every moment together and this photo shows one of those moments. I think we all can admit that if we knew where to get one of those Waffle House arm socks we would be doing it right now. This ‘Ninja’ New Day shot shows the group’s unending penchant for goofiness and enthusiasm which has made them such big stars the last few years. Neon green ninja’s throwing cereal and pancakes never made more sense than this.
5. The Heir Is Woken
Perhaps a glimpse into the ‘Woken’ WWE future, Matt Hardy’s son Maxel made his WWE debut at Starrcade and for the fans who knew the ‘Broken Saga’, they were witnessing a ring veteran of sorts who may one day become a legend. Maxel has featured prominently in the Impact and independent scene as The Heir to the Hardy Throne and it’s clear from those skits and this heartwarming shot that Matt prizes his son as much as any father could, and is determined to give him great moments before he can even remember having them. It’s also a nice redemption for Matt himself who half a decade ago was struggling with a few things but now he has turned it all around and is re-introducing the world to his Broken/Woken Brilliance.
4. Half Of Wrestlings Mt Rushmore
The most recent Hall Of Fame headliner sharing a laugh with the only two-time Hall Of Famer was captured perfectly on WrestleMania weekend this year. Considering the hardships these two have gone through before and since (Ric Flair’s recent health issues and all) it’s always great to see them looking in such good spirits. Captured around the time of Kurt’s actual speech on the night before WrestleMania, the two champions and legends look right at home enjoying the fruits of their decades of labor, basking in the adulation as well they should. You’ve got to appreciate these moments while we still get them. It’s also just a nice reflection of their characters, with Kurt having a goofy bowtie and Ric ‘Stylin’ and Profilin’ as he always does.
3. The Maharaja’s Mane
If there’s one thing that we can agree on about Jinder Mahal’s meteoric and sudden rise in WWE, it’s that despite his other shortcomings the guy has worked on his look like no one in recent times. Going from unremarkable to chiseled from stone in short order, he’s put in the work to look the part and Vince and Triple H are subject to that working on them. Here we see one of the small moments that goes into keeping that visual acuity on point, with The Modern-Day Maharaja sitting in the chair as his facial hair is trimmed just-so for his SummerSlam main event performance against Shinsuke Nakamura. Say what you will about the guy’s in-ring skills, but he worked with what he had and somebody in WWE decided it was enough.
2. Usos, CRUSH!
Probably the best photo of a faction you didn’t know you wanted, ‘Uce-ev’ looks like a trio that could challenge The Shield or The New Day given the opportunity. The Usos, as mentioned earlier, have exploded out of their ‘fun with fingerpainting’ phase to become THE definitive tag team in WWE. Their tandem promos are remarkable and should be a goal for other teams to aspire to. Rusev meanwhile has found himself embroiled in recent tag team success with Aiden English, but if he turned on the Mozart of Melody (isn’t that wildly redundant?) this team pictured here coming to life could be the cornerstone of Smackdown heading forward. Rusev seems like a modern-day Kurt Angle with his ability to be dangerous and goofy back to back, and having the Usos at his back as he went for the top prizes in WWE might finally get him over that last hump. Uce-ev Day, anyone?
1. Looking Back, Seeing Forward
Kurt Angle’s journey back to WWE, into the Hall Of Fame and finally to becoming Raw’s General Manager is well documented for it’s toiling, winding road and Kurt here looks like he’s drinking all that in. Captured prior to Wrestlemania, The Olympic Gold Medallist looks simultaneously small among the stands, but still recalling the massive legacy he was able to construct despite everything he went through. Seeing Kurt finally come home to the WWE was cathartic for many fans who hadn’t followed his career when he left for Impact Wrestling, but even for those who did seeing him emerge with his familiar trumpeting theme brings a tear to the eye. A man who gave his body, even past the point of common-sense, Kurt deserves to have these moments where he can look back on a career well done, and plan those last few chapters to cap it off in style.
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