In professional wrestling, one of the most long-standing traditions throughout the history of the sport is that the young wrestlers on the roster have to pay their dues in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s carrying bags, setting up the ring, buying veteran talent dinner or picking up a bar tab, it is known that respect isn’t given; it is earned.
One of the biggest ways to make your way up the totem pole is by being a jobber. While it isn’t a choice to be a jobber, if you perform admirably in the role, it will open the eyes – and hopefully open the doors – of some decision makers.
For those who are unfamiliar, a jobber – or enhancement talent – is the title for a wrestler who is generally put into matches against established talent, with the point being to make the veterans look stronger and more credible in front of the live audience.
Some wrestlers never have to go through that transition, which typically is reserved for blue chip prospects, like The Rock, Kurt Angle or Brock Lesnar. It was so obvious they were going to be big stars that the WWE didn't bother having them go through that ordeal. They came onto the main roster and stormed through the competition right away.
Although they are rare in today’s world of wrestling, squash matches pitting top stars against young jobbers were what were typically portrayed on television. While bouts pitting known wrestlers against one another were saved for pay-per-views, it was jobbers who played the roles as opponents on the weekly programs.
If you look back on a list of wrestlers who portrayed jobbers, more names than not would be unrecognizable. However, there are select few wrestlers who began their careers as jobbers and ended up having great careers – championship victories and Hall of Fame inductions notwithstanding.
With that being said, take a look at these 15 wrestlers who began their wrestling tenures as jobbers, but ended up turning into stars in their own right.
16 Justin Credible
Before becoming one of the mainstays of the original ECW, Justin Credible worked for the WWE as a jobber named P.J. Walker. However, after enhancing talents for two straight years, Credible earned a pinfall victory over Irwin R. Schyster and received a full-time talent contract soon thereafter. After initially getting a push as Aldo Montoya, it only took a couple of months until Credible was, yet again, used to put others over.
Although he was the forgotten member of the infamous Kliq, even his friends in high places couldn’t help him get a better standing on the card. Once he joined ECW, Credible was able to be himself, thus gaining much success. Not only was he a two-time Tag Team Champion with Lance Storm, but he also held the World Heavyweight Championship as well.
15 Christopher Daniels
Although Christopher Daniels is best known for his time with Total Nonstop Action and Ring of Honor, the Fallen Angel was once a jobber, smack dab in the middle of the Attitude Era. After signing a developmental deal in with the WWE in 1998, Daniels jobbed to different talents before episodes of Shotgun Saturday Night, Jakked and Heat. Although he slightly made his way up the card, as he wrestled on the actual shows mentioned above, Daniels was never used as anything more than to get others over with the crowd.
While the WWE never saw much in Daniels, he garnered a lot of success in both TNA and ROH, as he became an X-Division and Tag Team Champion for the former company, while winning Television Championship for the latter.
14 Curt Hennig
Yes, even someone as “perfect” as Curt Hennig had to pay his dues and work as a jobber in the beginning of his career. Before Hennig’s career skyrocketed into stardom with the WWE in the late 80s, he wrestled for them for two years starting in 1982, where he and Eddie Gilbert were paired together to help elevate the various tag teams the company was using at the time. Once he got passed that stage of his career, Hennig was arguably the best athlete during his time, and he is regarded as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions in WWE history. His historic career continued in WCW, where he won many mid-card titles while also being a part of the NWO. In 2007, the deceased Hennig finally took his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
13 Samoa Joe
Nowadays, you can catch Samoa Joe on NXT each week on the WWE Network. While fans were happy to see Samoa Joe in WWE for the first time, it's not the first; he used to be a jobber for the company many years ago. For a brief time in 2001, Samoa Joe wrestled as an enhancement talent on the WWE’s smaller shows during their working relationship with wrestling company Ultimate Pro Wrestling.
His stay was short, and for good reason; shortly after appearing in the WWE, Samoa Joe went on to dominate the independent scene, en route to an illustrious career with TNA, which saw him capture every title in their company at least one time. In what is now a full circle, Samoa Joe is now a top name on the WWE’s hottest program.
12 Mikey Whipwreck
Yes, Mikey Whipwreck was the resident jobber in ECW. And while his status never really changed with the promotion, he earned the respect from his peers and the audience, which brought him moderate success in his career. Starting out as a crewmember who would assemble the ring, Whipwreck offered to job to wrestlers just so he could say that he participated in matches. The result of that was Whipwreck being involved in some of the most lopsided contests in recent memory.
However, because of his efforts, Whipwreck actually became the third Triple Crown winner in ECW, all the while still being positioned as a jobber. After earning a contract with World Championship Wrestling, Whipwreck returned to ECW shortly thereafter, now portraying a fire-loving nut job.
In terms of Sean Waltman, his jobbing career can be seen as slightly similar to that of Mikey Whipwreck. Although he impressed on the independent scene, Waltman, known as the Lightening Kid, earned a WWE contract in 1993. While he was at first positioned as an enhancement talent, he easily impressed the decision makers, and his fluke win over Razor Ramon on Raw led to a successful run as a key member of the Attitude Era wrestling scene.
After three years in the WWE, Waltman moved to WCW as one of the first members of the original nWo. After a two year stint with the company, he returned to the WWE and joined Triple H in the second – and most popular – incarnation of D-Generation X, which saw him become one of the most popular wrestlers on the entire roster.
While Edge is now seen as one of the greatest wrestlers over the last 10 years, he too was once a jobber. Known as Damon Striker, Edge was on the wrong side of squash matches against the likes of Meng, amongst others, on different episodes of WCW B-shows. However, after being noticed by different WWE officials on the television show, Edge was contacted and signed in 1998.
He never looked back, as Edge went from being one half of one of the best tag teams in recent memory to branching out and succeeding as a singles competitor, in which he worked as both a heel and a face. After winning 14 Tag Team Championships, five Intercontinental Championships, 12 World Championships, a King of the Ring, a Royal Rumble win and two Money in the Bank contracts, Edge was forced to retire due to neck issues and was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
9 AJ Styles
AJ Styles, an extremely talented professional wrestler across America in the independent circuit and in TNA, got his start with WCW back in 2001, right before the company went out of business. When the WWE bought WCW, Styles originally wasn’t offered a contract. However, he eventually was offered a developmental deal to grow with the company. While decided if he should join or not, Styles competed as a jobber on WWE Jakked and Metal, and eventually declined their offer. Styles ended up becoming arguably the greatest wrestler to grace a TNA ring, as he has done literally everything he could have done with the group. Nowadays, Styles is regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world for New Japan, and fans, to this day, are still wondering when he will showcase his true talent for the WWE.
8 Hardy Boyz
When you look back at the history of tag-team wrestling, there aren’t many teams that are ahead of the Hardy Boyz. Whether it’s charisma, in-ring ability, connection with the crowd or crazy moments, the Hardy Boyz will never be forgotten. And just like many others, they too got their start with the WWE as jobbers. While Jeff wrestled the likes of Razor Ramon and Rob Van Dam, Matt had the opportunity to get in the ring with Nikolai Volkoff and Owen Hart, amongst others. However, once they had the opportunity to showcase their true talents, the brothers gained huge success, as they had six reigns as Tag Team Champions. On top of that, Matt went onto win the United States, European, Cruiserweight and ECW Championship, while Jeff captured the Light Heavyweight, Intercontinental and WWE Championship.
7 Daniel Bryan
When Daniel Bryan was making a name for himself across the country, the WWE’s partnership with Memphis Championship Wrestling gave Bryan the opportunity to sign with the company under a developmental deal. Although they two groups severed ties a little while after, the WWE used Bryan, first as an enhancement talent on Heat and Velocity, and then as someone who would gain longer matches on those shows, yet still lose.
As it is now, Bryan went on to have a great independent career before becoming arguably the biggest fan favorite since Stone Cold Steve Austin, which sent him to the main event of WrestleMania XXX where he captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Although he has struggled with concussion issues in recent years, he is still beloved by the WWE Universe.
6 Mick Foley
When Mick Foley made his highly anticipated debut in the WWE in 1996, many fans were happy because he finally had his chance to make it on the biggest stage in professional wrestling. However, what people don’t know is his actual WWE debut came 10 years prior. While he was still undergoing training, Foley was chosen amongst others as a jobber, usually going under the names of Jack or Nick Foley.
During his time, he wrestled the likes of the British Bulldogs – and in a match with them, Dynamite Kid actually broke Foley’s jaw. Little did fans know that they would be watching one of the most prolific, bizarre, successful, comedic and beloved wrestling characters in history, which culminated in a Hall of Fame induction in 2013.
5 John Cena
No, you’re not reading the name wrong. John Cena, the man who currently beats every single wrestler on the roster once made a living by losing to everyone he faced. During the same time when Samoa Joe was used as an enhancement talent, Cena signed on and worked various house shows and Heat and Velocity tapings that resulted in losing efforts.
Just 15 years later, and Cena is now regarded as the second coming of Hulk Hogan; a sure fire Hall of Famer in due time, Cena has won the WWE Championship 15 times, while also having the esteemed honor of being the company’s poster athlete, most popular talent de-facto spokesperson and also holds the record for granting the most Make-a-Wishes in the foundations long and storied history of helping sick children.
4 Bret Hart
Bret Hart had become a big name in his father's Stampede Wrestling, but when Vince McMahon bought the territory, Hart found himself in the WWE. Hart was seen as undersized when he went to the big company, so he was given a cowboy gimmick, and regularly jobbed to inferior talents who were higher than him on the food chain. Teaming with Jim Neidhart to form the Hart Foundation saved his career. He would use that success to break out as a singles star in the early 90s, where he became the best there is, was and ever will be.
2 Shawn Michaels
If Shawn Michaels has a spot on this list, it means that any wrestler could be a jobber at some point. The Heartbreak Kid, who is widely considered as the greatest in-ring performer of all time, used to help elevate established talent in NWA territories back in the early-to-mid 1980s.
After impressing many as he would graciously take beatings, Michaels eventually found his way to the WWE, where he went from one-half of a modern tag team, to a breakout singles star, to hard-to-deal-with yet popular star of the company, to obscurity, to a triumphant return where he was better than ever. The four-time WWE Champion now has a rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
1 Triple H
Rounding out the list of famous jobbers is the man who is currently running the entire operation. Yes, Triple H was used as an enhancement before he broke out with the WWE. Although he had a character, Triple H, then known as Terra Ryzing, was predominately used a bad guy to help put over the good guy characters.
After plateauing in the company, Triple H jumped ship to WWE, where, after paying his dues, became one of the top names in the company throughout the decade of the 2000s. Many complain about the way Triple H used to bury the talent he faced, and rightfully so; however, no one can deny that the 13-time WWE Champion paid his dues.