WWE strongly believes in having a diverse roster today. The global branding has made the product available in many countries all over the world. Representation is important in connecting with the viewers from different places rather than just loading up on all Americans and only appeasing that audience. Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Rusev and many others prove variety is the spice of the WWE. The nice mix gives a great variety of styles and backgrounds as well. Part of the magic in wrestling is knowing everyone doesn’t have the same story and they don’t perform the same way.
Only lately have WWE started to promote the non-American backgrounds of wrestlers for the benefit of reaching out to their home countries. There have been many wrestlers from other countries that didn’t get it discussed on WWE television. Some had their home towns changed to the state in America they resided in at the time. Many others have just had their backgrounds lost over the years with time passing and them being away from the spotlight. We’ll take a look at the various stories of quite a few great talents that may have their birthplace misremembered by wrestling fans. These are the top fifteen wrestlers that you may not know are actually not American.
15 15. Trish Stratus: Canada
The hiring of Trish Stratus was obvious given her look. Stratus appeared to have the All-American look WWE wanted in their female performers despite the fact that she isn’t even American. We tend to assume every wrestler without an accent or gimmick about their background is from the United States. Trish falls under that umbrella, but she proudly represents the country of Canada. Aside from the times WWE brought it up for shows in Canadian cities, it is easy to forget where she’s from.
14 14. Neville: United Kingdom
Neville rarely speaks on WWE television and it becomes a bit confusing to figure out where he is actually from. The tremendous high-flying daredevil has wrestled all over the world in numerous countries, so various people believe he is from different places. Neville is from the United Kingdom, specifically Newcastle. The long journey saw Neville wrestle locally before making his name in Japan and on the United States independent wrestling scene.
13 13. Konnan: Cuba
WCW signed Konnan to a great contract in the mid-90s and he’s been a fixture in the American wrestling scene since then. Konnan developed a reputation in Mexico as one of the biggest stars in the country before making the jump to the United States. Most wrestlers hope to make it to the U.S. with the potential to make the most money wrestling. The popular belief is Konnan is either from the United States or Mexico, but he’s actually from Cuba.
12 12. Ezekiel Jackson: Guyana
Ezekiel Jackson's WWE career wasn’t exactly a memorable one, but he did have quite a few accomplishments. Jackson is the only wrestler from Guyana to become a WWE Superstar. The West Indian culture community doesn’t have many mainstream stars in the United States, so Jackson’s role on WWE television during his career was a big deal. Jackson would give them big moments, winning the final ECW Championship before retiring the title and becoming Intercontinental Champion.
11 11. Val Venis: Canada
The Attitude Era experimented with many peculiar gimmicks. Val Venis was the perfect example, with Canadian wrestling standout Sean Morley receiving an opportunity as an adult star. Fans enjoyed the ridiculousness of it and it made sense given the nature of the Attitude Era providing edgy content. Venis delivered with solid in-ring work and the portrayal of the character working to perfection with a risky proposition that could have killed his career.
10 10. Justin Gabriel: South Africa
Justin Gabriel had great potential during his early days on WWE television but he rarely was presented as such. The Nexus’ early success came thanks to the intrigue of the group and a few talented performers. Gabriel had arguably the most exciting in-ring skills thanks to his dazzling aerial display. Following The Nexus, Gabriel failed to develop any momentum as a singles star. Part of the reason for the disconnect with the audience is that Gabriel barely spoke and Vince McMahon likely didn’t like his accent.
9 9. Norman Smiley: United Kingdom
Norman Smiley's wrestling career has been a very interesting one with many twists. Smiley is currently known for his role as one of the lead trainers down in WWE’s Performance Center. The upcoming stars of WWE learn under Smiley and many credit him for their success on the main roster today. Smiley’s WCW tenure in the hardcore division stands out among the most popular stints in his career but it paled in comparison to his work elsewhere.
8 8. Edge and Christian: Canada
Longtime WWE fans have fond memories of Edge and Christian for their respective careers in the wrestling business. They dominated the tag team division during their early WWE years and could easily be argued as the greatest duo in company history. Edge and Christian each went on to have highly successful singles careers, but will always be linked together for their partnership and friendship. Many younger fans that only know them from the WWE Network or final years of their in-ring careers have no idea they are Canadian.
7 7. Jimmy Snuka: Fiji
Jimmy Snuka is celebrated by 1980s wrestling fans for his impressive matches. The Superfly Splash shocked fans as top rope moves were quite uncommon at the time before the high-flying moves evolved over time. Snuka was born in Fiji but moved to Hawaii with his family and that’s where he would learn the basics of his future profession with wrestling training. His wrestling career would take him all over the country, but there’s a misconception he’s from Hawaii rather than Fiji.
6 6. Renee Young: Canada
The 30 year old seems to be everywhere at the moment, from backstage interviews, to being a WWE panel host, to even having her own show on the WWE Network which is extremely popular entitled Unfiltered. The show began as a 15 minute segment and later turned into a full 30 minute program.
She seems like your beloved American girl next door type, but Young is actually of Canadian decent. As a matter of fact, her first experience with pro wrestling came on the The Score, a Canadian sports network, in where she served as the host of the wrestling program Aftermath. Shortly after, the Toronto native would ink a deal with the WWE and work in NXT. She would quickly make history becoming the first female color commentator in over a decade when she worked alongside Tom Phillips on WWE Superstars.
Look for big things out of the Canadian as the WWE is extremely high on her.
5 5. Bruno Sammartino: Italy
Bruno Sammartino’s iconic run in WWE over the 1960s and 1970s made him a huge success. The company sold out Madison Square Garden frequently with Sammartino as their World Champion. No one has reached anywhere near Sammartino’s record for 4,040 cumulative days holding the WWE Championship. Bruno’s first title reign lasted nearly eight years and he followed it up with another reign that lasted over three years. Considering most didn’t watch and only know of him from WWE Network footage, it is a relatively unknown fact he’s from Italy.
4 4. Roddy Piper: Canada
The late great Roddy Piper is always going to be in the discussion when talking about the greatest villains in wrestling history. Piper had a unique ability to portray the villain to perfection and get you to cheer for anyone he faced. Wrestling promotions all dream of finding a performer like Piper to bring in the emotional investment from fans watching the product. No one has a bad word to say about Piper because he always gave his all to the business and treated everyone with respect.
3 3. Kofi Kingston: Ghana
The legitimate background of Kofi Kingston is still very confusing to wrestling fans. Kingston made his debut on the ECW brand for WWE pretending to be from Jamaica. His accent was endearing, but it was purely an act, as he had no relation to the island country. Kingston is actually from Ghana in West Africa but moved to the United States at the age of three. Kofi grew up in New England making it impossible to guess he’s from Ghana without finding out more information.
2 2. Andre the Giant: France
Andre the Giant will always be remembered by the WWE for what he added to the company. Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre is a highlight moment in the historical importance of WWE at WrestleMania III. As their most successful giant character, Andre added that attraction appeal that was pivotal to WWE becoming a mainstream entity in American pop culture. The success of Andre’s wrestling career came in the United States but the big man was actually not American.
1 1. Kane: Spain
Ready for the biggest shock of the list? Kane is not from hell!
In all seriousness, most fans assume Glenn Jacobs is from the United States, but the man to portray Kane is actually from Spain. The family of Kane was stationed in Spain due to his father being in Air Force. Kane was born in Spain before moving back to the United States to have a life there growing up. It is almost as interesting as his WWE storyline of setting everyone on fire as The Undertaker’s evil brother.
The work ethic and reliability of Kane has allowed him to hold a roster position in WWE for nineteen years now. Kane has never been “the guy” like many others, but could hold down any spot needed. We’ve see him go from the main event to the lower card, play both face and heel, pull off varying characters from serious to comedic. Kane is the model employee, a legend and shockingly from Spain.
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