The Golden State is home to four of the United States' fifteen largest cities, with Los Angeles coming in at second, San Diego coming in at eighth, San Jose taking the tenth spot and San Francisco claiming number thirteen. As a result, it isn't hard to fathom that a wide array of wrestlers call, or have called, California home.
California has not only provided us with upper echelon wrestlers who fans have grown to love and appreciate more and more, but also dismal acts that they would simply never like to see again or are ecstatic to see depart when they eventually do.
Here, we take a look at the eight best and seven worst wrestlers to come out of the state of California. For the record, this list consists of those who were born in California and does not include wrestlers who are fictionally billed as being from The Golden State.
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22 BEST: Vader
Before fans were introduced to agile big men such as Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt, there was Lynwood California's Vader, the original agile big man. Vader had more success in WCW then he did in WWE, and was only with the E from 1995 to 1998. In WCW Vader won the "big gold belt", the World Heavyweight Championship three different times and also added in a U.S. title reign for good measure. In 1993, PWI named Vader the second best singles wrestler in the world. In WWE, Vader had main event opportunities such as facing off against the Undertaker at Canadian Stampede. However, Vader never ended up winning the WWE's most prestigious prize. To add further disappointment, Vader never held goal at all with the WWE. WCW's Vader and WWE'S Vader endured varying amounts of success.
21 WORST: Tyler Reks
Sporting dreadlocks by way of San Francisco, California, Reks had a look unlike anyone on the roster during his tenure. Reks should be given credit for trying to make a number of gimmicks work such as his initial surfer gimmick or his stripper gimmick alongside tag partner, Curt Hawkins. The stripper gimmick was over after one week as Reks requested his release. However, despite trying to reinvent himself, Reks never seemed to find his footing in WWE. The highlight of his career is probably winning a Slammy for most menacing hair. In fairness, was there any competition for Reks in that department? Reks seems to be done with wrestling altogether as his focus seems to be on the marketing company, Local Marketing 2.0, which he founded.
20 BEST: Bayley
The twenty-seven-year-old resident hugger of the WWE has an endearing personality that comes off as genuine and is able to captivate any and every age group almost instantaneously, if not instantaneously. From San Jose, California, Bayley is often booked as the lovable underdog, especially in high profile feuds such as her NXT feud with Sasha Banks. Despite this, Bayley is a one-time NXT Women's Champion by way of defeating Sasha Banks. Her ring canniness is unparalleled as evidenced by PWI Rolling Stone, and WWE NXT all recognizing her and the forenamed Banks for having the best match of 2015 when Banks put up her NXT Women's Championship at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Realizing a childhood dream of being a WWE wrestler, Bayley looks to be a mainstay in the Women's division for years to come.
19 WORST: Ricardo Rodriguez
In fairness, Rodriguez was a ring announcer more so than he was a wrestler. To add on, he was arguably more over than the wrestler he initially managed, Alberto Del Rio. However, it doesn't change the fact that Rodriguez did wrestle on occasion as both himself and as the masked, El Local. Rodriguez hailed from Los Angels, California despite the fact that he was billed as from either Guadalajara or San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Their aren't many fond memories of Rodriguez in the WWE and the majority of the memories of him are questions as to why this ever occurred in the first place. For one, his pairing of announcing Rob Van Dam seemed as awkward a pairing as the WWE could orchestrate. Him coming out to save Tommy Dreamer from a beat down from the Shield was simply odd. Why would three heels be frightened by a ring announcer? Rodriguez was released in July of 2014 and he now works on the independent scene.
18 BEST: Rikishi
A member of the renowned Anoa'i family and the father of Jimmy and Jey Uso, Rikishi was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The San Francisco-born, four-hundred-plus pound Samoan is best remembered for having a finisher that was absolutely fatal for any who had the displeasure of being caught on the opposite end of it: the Stink Face. Rikishi was also quite over with the fans when he was a member of 2 Cool along with Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay as a result of the trio's dancing gimmick. He held gold with the company, as well, as he had tag reigns with the forenamed Scotty 2 Hotty along with Rico and Samu. In addition, Rikishi held the Intercontinental title once.
17 WORST: Cameron
The lesser talented of the now extinct Funkadactyls, was born and bred in Northridge, Los Angeles, California. Unfortunately for Cameron her most memorable moment may be telling Stone Cold Steve Austin that her favorite match of all-time was Melina versus Alicia Fox on Tough Enough. With a response like that one can easily and correctly infer that Austin was beyond baffled. Cameron never held the Divas or Women's title and was never a serious threat to the Women's top prize at any point of her tenure within the WWE. Cameron was released in May 2016 and it is hard to imagine her back any time soon considering the Women's division is stronger than it's ever been. To take a page out of Cameron's book, "Girl, bye"!
16 BEST: John Morrison
The "Prince of Parkour", John Morrison, the former Johnny Nitro hails from the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California. Early on in his WWE career Morrison had received quite the acclaim from certain critics who deemed him as the second coming of Shawn Michaels. Michaels shoes are big shoes to fill and Morrison wasn't able to be this generation's Heartbreak Kid, but he was impressive in his own right. For one, his finisher, Starship Pain, a corkscrew moonsault off the top turnbuckle was one of the fans favorite aerial moves. Morrison's held the ECW Championship one time, the intercontinental Championship three times, the tag belts five times (three times with Joey Mercury as part of MNM and twice with The Miz). Morrison now works for AAA and Lucha Underground and at thirty-seven years of age may not have the desire to work the heavy travel schedule of WWE anymore.
15 WORST: Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak aka currently works as a chiropractor and has been out of the WWE since 2002. Stasiak provided viewers with a number of questionable segments. In one instance, Meat presumed the role of a Halloween character named Fobia (yes, with an "F" and not a "Ph") who demonstrated safety protocol for trick or treaters. He was inserted into a kayfabe relationship with The Kat (Stacy Carter, not Ernest "The Cat" Miller) and he introduced her to his kayfabe mother Mae Young. He played the role of Jacqueline and Terri Runnels' (the Pretty Mean Sisters) boy toy most prominently as the Meat character. His father, Stan "The Man" Stasiak was a former WWE Champion. He also once recorded an argument between the British Bulldog and Steve Blackman. By the way, Meat was from Hayward, California (kind of hard to remember with his list of failures).
14 BEST: Sasha Banks
The Legit Boss represents Boston, Massachusetts, or as she calls it, BOSSton better than any superstar past or present. Yet, despite residing in Boston currently and for the majority of her life, Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado actually hails from the Golden Stats. Born in Fairfield, California, Banks is from a region which is considered to be the halfway point between Sacramento and San Francisco. Banks is a mere twenty-four years of age and likely has numerous years ahead of her in the business. With the Women's (not Divas) division being as stacked as it has ever been Banks has the opportunity to be placed in compelling feuds with the likes of Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch, along with the upper echelon NXT Women's talent of Asuka and Ember Moon. Banks is a two-time Raw Women's Champion as well as a one-time NXT Women's Champion.
13 WORST: Duke "The Dumpster" Droese
You couldn't expect the Lodi, California-born Michael Droese to succeed with a gimmick of Duke "The Dumpster". Duke appeared in the WWE from 1994 to 1996 and depending on who you ask his biggest accomplishment is either winning a Slammy (along with Henry O. Godwin) for being the most smelliest superstar in 1994 or earning the coveted number thirty spot in the 1996 Royal Rumble. Duke never claimed a title in WWE and quite frankly it isn't too surprising, and probably isn't even surprising to Duke himself. Droese also grabbed the unenviable #500 spot on PWI's 1995 best singles wrestler list. For those that don't know, #500 is the last spot on the list. Duke has traded in his sanitation wardrobe for classroom attire as he currently works as a Special Education teacher in Tennessee.
12 BEST: Samoa Joe
With Joe it isn't about if he makes it to the WWE's main roster, it's about when he's called up to the main roster. Joe is the first ever two-time NXT Champion as he dethroned the Demon King Finn Balor to claim his first championship and avenged his defeat to Japan's Shinsuke Nakamura for his second reign. Joe's from Orange County, California and has been with NXT since March of 2015. The thirty-six year old has made quite the mark in all other promotions he has been involved in, most prominently TNA. Joe is a former ROH World Champion and TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Having the ability to resonate with fans as both a face and heel, Joe is likely to strive in the WWE ranks as long as the opportunities are presented to him.
11 WORST: Rosey
The former Super Hero In Training (commonly referred to as S.H.I.T. by WWE) from Samoa, California must not have the easiest time when at family gatherings. A member of the renown Anoa'i family, Rosey's accomplishments (or lack that thereof) pale in comparison to that of his family members. For one, his real life brother, Roman Reigns is a three-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time U.S. Champion and a one time Tag Team Champion with Seth Rollins. He was once apart of the tag team, 3 Minute Warning along with cousin, Umaga. The duo may have not gone anywhere but Umaga ended up holding the IC belt and was booked as a monster heel at the top of the card. Rosey did end up holding the tag belts with The Hurricane once, but he was nothing more than a comedic character throughout his run.
10 BEST: Rey Mysterio
The 5'6", 175 pound high flyer Mysterio was born in Chula Vista, California which is located in San Diego. Mysterio worked for WWE from 2002-2015 and is currently working for the Lucha Underground promotion. While working for WWE, Mysterio was a fan favorite as a result of his highflying aerial skills and his 619 finisher which represented a San Diego area code. Mysterio padded his resume with a number of accolades which included holding the World Heavyweight Championship twice, the WWE Championship once, the Intercontinental Championship twice, the Cruiserweight Championship three times and the Tag Team Championship four times (once with RVD, once with Edge, once with Batista and once with Eddie Guerrero). Mysterio is now 41 and his best days are behind him but his success in WWE is firmly solidified.
9 WORST: Eva Marie
Had the fiery redhead entered the WWE in the late nineties or early 2000s she would've been welcomed with open arms. However, in today's era women are expected to be competitive in the ring and aren't exploited for their sexuality as they once were. When you're thirty-two years old and you frequently are berated with chants of "please retire" you know you're doing something wrong. Eva has drastically improved since she first started with the WWE (kudos to Brian Kendrick), but that isn't saying much as she is leaps and bounds behind the fellow women. The Walnut Creek, California born and Los Angeles, California resident may want to take the advice of the fans and retire as her limited skill set isn't quite cutting it.
8 BEST: The Rock
At first glance, seeing the former Miami Hurricane's name on this list may seem as a surprise considering Miami is often cited as not only his hometown in the HBO series, Ballers, where he plays Spencer Strasmore, but also in real life. The Rock was actually born in the Bay Area of California in the town of Hayward. He moved around quite a few times as a child, residing in places such as Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The Rock's accolades in WWE speak volumes as he's an 8x WWE Champion, a 2x World Heavyweight Champion, a 2x intercontinental Champion and a 5x Tag Team Champion. The Rock has been winning gold for the Bay Area long before Steph Curry's Dubs or the new Light Heavyweight kingpin, Andre "S.O.G." Ward.
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