A crushing thought entered my mind when I was a child; there is absolutely zero chance that comic books could ever exist in the real world. No matter how many trans-dimensional portals are opened or however many psychic beings project their minds onto others, Spider-Man will never spin a web in New York City, Wolverine will never hunt in the frozen lands of Canada and Batman will never glide across Gotham City.
So while comic book characters are safely locked away in their colorful pages, we still have a similar equivalent that occurs every week. In the wacky world of sports entertainment, heroes fight to protect the WWE Universe from those would control it for evil. Instead of relying on telekinesis and teleportation abilities, they have only their tactics and their athleticism to seize the day.
This list will attempt to pin a WWE performer, past or present, to their equivalent in the entire comic book medium. Unlike other lists that you may have seen before, I’m not basing this list off of physical appearances or any other superficial qualities like that. Instead, I’m going to take a long, hard look at the character of each performer and find their super heroic counterpart in terms of personality, role in their universe and how they have progressed through their fictional lives. Strap yourselves in; this is going to be one fun ride.
Note: This is only keeping in mind the performers’ kayfabe personas. Their actual real-life characters have little to no effect on their entries.
10. Mick Foley as Moon Knight (Marc Spector)
While not a big name in the Marvel Universe, Moon Knight is one of the more curious cases in comics. Due to multiple personality disorder, Marc Spector is sometimes a heroic figure based off of “babyfaces” like Captain America and sometimes he is a vengeful vigilante who is the avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian God of the Moon. His sickness has made Spector one of the most unpredictable and dangerous fighters in comics despite his limited power set.
Mick Foley is another man who has lived as multiple personas. He has played the role of violent psychopath as Cactus Jack, the goofy yet mad Mankind and the hippest cat in all of the land, Dude Love. His unhinged mind made up for his rotund physique, as he was willing to put his own body at risk just for the glory of victory. His violent outbursts could just as easily be followed by a PG joke. Mick Foley and Marc Spector is a match made in heaven and hell.
9. Trish Stratus as Wonder Woman (Diana Prince)
The pressures of being a hero is difficult enough as a man, so one can only imagine how hard it is for a woman to succeed in a male dominated game. Some women don’t crumble under that pressure, they instead welcome the challenge.
From a young age, Wonder Woman was tested on her Amazon home of Themyscira in combat training and was the best fighter in the realm. She was selected as the champion of her people and was sent to man’s world (Earth) as an emissary of Themyscira. She didn’t the language or the culture of our world but she learned it quickly and joined the Justice League where she seemed to fit right in with beings like Green Lantern and Superman. Her pivotal role in the Golden Age of comics opened doors for all other female heroes like Storm, Jean Grey and Supergirl years later.
Like her Amazonian double, Trish Stratus took to the waters of her new home incredibly fast. Coming from the world of fitness modelling, Stratus had to prove herself to the WWE that she wasn’t just a pretty face but also one of the best wrestlers on the roster. Stratus broke new ground for WWE Divas by competing in a Hardcore match at Survivor Series 2002 and main eventing Monday Night Raw with Lita on December 6th, 2004. In a profession dominated by hulking giants of men, Stratus became one of the hottest stars the company had ever seen. Her accomplishments paved the way for future Divas Natayla, Beth Phoenix and Mickie James to shine.
8. Bret Hart as Cyclops (Scott Summers)
Bret Hart and Cyclops are straight-laced heroes who have had trouble with the changing of times. For most of their lives they were the quintessential hero and shining hope to their people. Bret Hart was the beacon of light which Vince McMahon found in an era where the WWE would endure some of its darkest times. A smaller performer with more technical ability than any of his mega-star predecessors, Hart was McMahon’s most trusted soldier in his army of superstars. As a founding member of the X-Men, Scott Summers had responsibility thrusted on him by Charles Xavier at a young age and excelled at the role, displaying tremendous grit and tactical intelligence on the battlefield.
When the times began to change, both mutant and Hitman struggled to adapt. For Summers, the mutant known as Wolverine would enter the X-Men and began to win the favour of Professor Xavier and the rest of the X-Men. Cyclops historically has opposed Wolverine’s brutish demeanour and willingness to kill.
As the Attitude Era developed, Hart would struggle with adapting to the more hardcore and ruthless style of superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, a man with little regard for morals or being a role model despite being adored by fans.
Both Hart and Cyclops are undoubtedly some of the technically proficient fighters in their worlds, but they can both be moral sticks in the mud.
7. Stone Cold Steve Austin as Wolverine
They’re the best at what they do, and what they do ain’t pretty. After drifting through life for years, both Wolverine and Austin only needed an organization that would be able to channel their raw ferocity and talent in a single direction.
The Texas rebel found that place in the WWE, a home where his beer swilling, finger gesturing and anti-authority ways were cheered by millions of fans. Wolverine met the leader of the X-Men Charles Xavier and finally found a positive cause worth fighting for; mutant rights. While slinging back several shots of whiskey and bottles of beer, Logan emerged as one of the most respected and feared people in the Marvel Universe, a mutant that none could ever count out in a battle.
Their fighting styles are similar to each other as well. Despite possessing a base of technique, both men choose to instead to brawl, eschewing their training in favour of sheer brutality. Few have survived their assaults, and even fewer have bested them in combat. You would be hard pressed to find any superior fighters in the WWE and the Marvel Universe than Stone Cold and Wolverine.
6. The Rock as Thor
The God of Thunder is not Triple H, but instead one of HHH’s greatest rivals Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. If arrogance were to have physical manifestations, they most likely would look like Asgard’s favourite son and The Brahma Bull. Referring to themselves in the third person is second nature to both men but despite their brash nature, they’re able to back up their bold words every time they step onto the battlefield.
Their family heritages is another thing worth noting. When Rocky entered the WWE in 1996, he was the first 3rd generation superstar. Thor’s father Odin was the most powerful God of Asgard and Thor was tasked with living up to that lineage.
After stumbling a bit at the start of their careers, both Thor and The Rock made their families proud. Thor became one of the most accomplished heroes in the multiverse and also recreated the realm of Asgard on earth and became its ruler. The Rock also crafted a legacy that far surpassed his family’s accomplishments, winning the WWE Championship eight times and defeating icons Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan and John Cena.
5. Daniel Bryan as Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
It’s no surprise to me that my favourite current WWE superstar is so similar to my favourite superhero, but I will justify this comparison.
Peter Parker and Bryan Danielson grew up from modest means, one the nephew of the humble Uncle Ben and Aunt May in New York while Danielson grew up in the tiny town of Aberdeen, Washington with his logger father. Throughout their young days in high school and on the independent wrestling circuit, Bryan and Parker were mocked for their size and their nerdy demeanour. Beneath their modest bodies, both men had hidden talents. Peter Parker was a brilliant scientist since high school and Bryan was one of the most technically proficient wrestlers in the world.
Eventually, Parker and Bryan would get respect they deserved from pockets of people, but nobody with authoritative power was impressed. Since Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Spider-Man, the Daily Bugle newspaper and its editor in chief J. Jonah Jameson would smear his reputation at any chance they could. Spidey was also rejected by the Fantastic Four as they thought he was too inexperienced to be a part of their family. Bryan, despite being a renowned independent superstar was continually thought to be nothing but a two-bit player by the wrestling superpower the WWE.
Through hard work, persistence and the just enough luck, Spider-Man and Daniel Bryan reached the top of the mountain. Spider-Man became not the most powerful hero, but one who always could rely on his reflexes, speed and iron will to defeat foes much more dangerous than himself. In the ring, Bryan is one of the craftiest men ever to compete in WWE, able to out manoeuvre and out-think seasoned veterans like John Cena, Randy Orton and Triple H.
Above all else, Bryan and Spidey reached personal happiness. They never got the girls in high school, but Daniel Bryan and Peter Parker both married way above their league with Brie Bella and Mary Jane Watson being their respective spouses.
There are no other underdog stories in the Marvel and WWE Universes which could compare to the dramatic masterpieces of Daniel Bryan and Spider-Man. They’re truly the pound for pound best heroes.
4. Shawn Michaels as Iron Man (Tony Stark)
No I didn’t call Shawn Michaels Iron Man because he won the first ever Iron Man match or due to his incredible legacy at WrestleMania. No, Shawn Michaels and Tony Stark are one in the same due to their storied lives as ultimate highs and soul-draining lows.
Both men began their solo careers as arrogant blowhards who spoke of their accomplishments to anybody with the capability of hearing. For Michaels in the early 90s, he proclaimed his dominance in the WWE due to his boy toy good looks and Intercontinental Championship.
In his younger days, Stark was set for greatness before even leaving his teenage years. Once his parents died, Stark inherited the company and transformed it the most powerful weapons maker in the United States. Along with his business power, Stark had any women he wanted at his beck and call. After being kidnapped by revolutionaries during a weapons demonstration in Vietnam, Stark created his first “Iron Man” suit to escape his confinement. Realizing the power his weapons held, Stark decided to instead use his gifts to protect the world as Iron Man. He almost instantly became one of the most respected heroes in the Marvel Universe.
Then it came crashing down for both men. As HBK ascended to World Champion status, his drug addictions and injuries derailed his once-promising career. In his place, protege Triple H took the ball and ran with it in Michaels’ absence. The stress that comes with being a hero and businessman led Tony Stark to turn to alcohol, to the point where Stark turned over his Iron Man duties to his friend James Rhodes. Both Michaels and Stark were finished.
They returned as new men, with Michaels would sober up, discovering religion, marriage and family life, while Tony Stark recovered from alcoholism and regained control of all he has lost, both coming back better than ever.
3. The Undertaker as Batman (Bruce Wayne)
Not all heroes have to be smiling, colourful figures. When speaking of dark entities in comic books and pro wrestling, there is no debate on who are the best in their fields.
Since his debut in 1990, The Undertaker has been considered the single most feared superstar in the WWE. The mere mention of his name has paralyzed numerous superstars in terror. His entrance is such a powerful mental attack that most of his opponents are defeated even before he steps into the ring. Undertaker isn’t a supernatural being, but he appears so in the minds of his enemies. Nobody is more dominant in the squared circle than the man from the dark side.
The DC Universe is filled with bright characters but standing in the darkness is the figure which evil fears the most… Batman. Though he is a human being like you and I, Bruce Wayne has honed his body and mind to the point where he regularly defeats adversaries of greater power on a regular basis. With his use of stealth and ridiculous arsenal of gadgets, Batman has made criminals cower in fear of a bat light in the sky. When all hope is lost, the Dark Knight is the one person which Gotham City can depend to save it.
Both characters’ iconic statuses have etched themselves as icons among icons. Even if they’re shrouded in darkness, there is nobody in the light who can outshine these heroes.
2. John Cena as Superman (Clark Kent)
For as much as the IWC jokes about John Cena being the Man of Steel, there is a lot of truth in that argument. Both Cena and Superman are indestructible beings who have dominated their respective domains essentially since they started their careers. Time and time again Clark Kent and John Cena have endured the absolute worst thrashings from monsters like Umaga, Metallo, Kane, Great Khali and Darkseid but got up every single time to save the day.
Maybe even more impressive than their physical gifts is their iron wills. For years, John Cena has been tempted to join the dark side. Not only have fans been repeatedly begging Cena to turn into a villain but he hasn’t given in. Superman has a different sort of dilemma. The Last Son of Krypton has the power to totally control the entire universe in his titanium hands but he chooses not to. Both Cena and Superman stay true to the morals and never forget who they are and they will never betray themselves.
1. Hulk Hogan as Captain America (Steve Rogers)
If John Cena as Superman was obvious, this one is a huge blinking neon sign of pick. Captain America and Hulk Hogan began their heroic careers in World War II and the WWE as the shining examples of patriotism. While Rogers was off in Germany punching Nazis in the face, Hogan was dropping the leg over foreign evils like Iron Sheik, Roddy Piper (he’s Canadian eh!) and Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter.
Then they went away. Cap fell into the icy waters of the English Channel where he would remain frozen for years. In 1993, Hogan would leave the WWE in order to begin his acting career and later sign with WCW. When both men returned to action years later, they were good as new. Captain America joined the group known as the Avengers and defeated opponents who threatened to destroy the entire planet. The Hulkster was also impressive in his return, main-eventing WrestleMania X-8 with The Rock and capturing the WWE Championship a month later. Heck, Hogan was even Mr. America for a while.
If all other comparisons fail, they were both powered by drugs. The Super-Soldier serum granted Rogers his awesome physical and mental gifts while various steroids gave Hogan the amazing strength needed to lift Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III. Captain America and Hulk Hogan: the two most fantastic drug-fueled, American ass-kickers in Marvel and WWE.
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