WWE Superstars and Divas have all worked very hard to creat their easy to recognize looks, to the point that it’s hard to imagine them being normal people leading normal lives. However, they all had to start somewhere, right? Just like when you might look at an old high school photo of yourself and cringe at how bad you looked, you’d have to think the WWE stars do the same thing. After all, despite their larger than life personalities, the WWE Superstars were once just commoners as well. And just like normal folk, when the Superstars were young high school students, they also looked awkward and were trying to find their way in the world.
From the beginning of their careers, the men and women of professional wrestling spend years and years cultivating an image to market and sell to the WWE Universe. In the pre–internet days, that would be fine enough, but with the power of our PCs, we can search out what these men and women looked like before stepping inside a ring and becoming the household names that we want to learn more about.
So let’s take a trip in the Way Back Machine (Mr. Peabody, not needed) and go back to a time before the Superstars ever entered a wrestling ring. Back to a time when they were just fans and fresh–faced youngsters with dreams and aspirations of championship gold and headlining WrestleMania. Back to that wonderfully awkward time in all of our lives where people might even make fun of you for being a wrestling fan, much less the aspirations to actually be a professional wrestler. Welcome to the WWE version of “Before They Were Stars.” Here are 20 of the most embarrassing high school pictures of pro wrestlers.
20. Most Likely to Join a Cult – Luke Harper
How does one go from being a squeaky clean kid to a family cult member with crazy eyes? As Luke Harper, he has become one of the most menacing forces the industry has seen since Bruiser Brody. With a picture like this, you’d have to think that traveling the world has driven Harper to the brink of insanity. At this rate, you’d imagine Harper cowering in fear if someone showed him this picture.
19. Most Likely to Be Neglected – Raven
The late seventies and early eighties gave us all some interesting hairstyles; hence the bird’s nest on top of Raven’s head. With that hairstyle, it’s easy to see how he’d go from a spoiled rich brat to grungy wrestling God who thinks no one cares about him. That face reeks of a guy who thinks he’s better than anyone, which would be where early gimmicks like Johnny Polo and Scotty the Body might’ve come from. However, he must not have gotten a lot of attention in high school, which would be why he always asked “what about me?”
18. Most Likely to Prove Everyone Wrong, Eventually – The Miz
There’s a word for kids who looked like The Miz: herb. As in The Miz is a herb. He looks like that kid who so desperately wanted to be one of the cool kids but was decidedly not, so his folks went and bought him all the cool clothes and got him the cool haircut so that other kids would like him. But all of the so–called cool kids saw right through the act and little Mike Mizanin was branded a herb. The Miz would take all of this ridicule and use it as his driving force to cultivate and find success in the WWE.
17. Most Likely to Keep Them Guessing – Kevin Nash
For years, wrestling critics have been divided on Kevin Nash and his place in the business. Is he one of the best big men ever or just a lazy big man with friends in high places? Well he’s both actually. Kevin Nash has used every gift he was given, God given or otherwise in his Hall of Fame career. He may look a little like actor Peter Krause, but with a smirk like that, it seems the big man even knew way back when that he’d be successful.
16. Most Likely to Know He’d Be on an Embarrassing Picture List – Xavier Woods
Born in the mid–eighties and a child of eighties and nineties pop culture, Xavier Woods was raised on shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dragon Nall Z. Clearly wrestling would become a part of that fandom too. Just like many other people Woods’ age, he clearly doesn’t know which way to go in this picture. His glasses indicate how bookish he might be (Woods is currently pursuing a PhD.), his pose shows he might want to be more of a mixmaster than a wrestler. But considering Woods in TNA used a James Brown/Apollo Creed inspired Consequences Creed character, it’s no wonder Woods doesn’t know which way to move, since his mind probably moves a mile a minute.
15. Most Likely to Fall Off High Objects in a Single Bound – Mick Foley / Kevin James
Once Mick Foley opened up to the world and told his life story, the floodgates opened and he became wrestling’s most popular everyman. His physique does not tell that he has one iota of athletic ability. But when your dad is the local high school’s athletic director, you not only have to play sports, but you have to excel at them. Foley details in For All Mankind how he excelled at sports where there was an individual element, such as playing goalie. However, for a man known the world over, it’s hard to believe that Foley not only had an amateur wrestling background, but he would edge out the man on his left in this picture for a top spot on the team; actor Kevin James.
14. Most Likely to be the Most Polarizing Face in all of Sports Entertainment – John Cena
Ahh, prom. The most special day in the life of a teenager, where the girls spend so much time getting themselves dolled up, while the guys get tuxedos and get brand new haircuts. It seems that John Cena got himself too close a shave. Luckily, that poor girl had already agreed to let Cena take her to the prom, otherwise he might have had to find a cousin to take or go stag. For the flack he gets for the bright colors and the goofy catchphrases, Cena’s hair is actually a step up from his teenage years and the man himself has given himself flack over his current crew cut. Somehow, this man became that face that runs this place.
13. Most Likely to Electrify the World – The Rock
Ladies and gentlemen, hailing from Miami, Florida, the bastard son of Lando Calrissian! Look at that suave Samoan, the future of not just wrestling but Hollywood too. The most electrifying man in all of entertainment looked just as clueless as the rest of us. With a pencil thin mustache like that, even the Blue Chipper, Rocky Mavia looked better and his hair looked like Sideshow Bob’s at that point. Anyone trying to make it in the entertainment industry should keep this side–by–side picture in their wallet as a reminder to always stay humble and that it could definitely get better than it is now.
12. Most Likely to Say His Prayers – Hulk Hogan
How on Earth does a man with this face become the most recognizable sports figure on the planet and the reason wrestling took off in the eighties? We all look at pictures of the past and get a kick out of how strange people looked. The most recognizable face in wrestling history, Hulk Hogan, actually doesn’t look much different than he does now, but that also meant the guy started balding at eighteen. That’s not a knock on the guy, just an observation. What is strange is seeing a Hulk Hogan without his famous mustache and bandana.
11. Most Likely to be a Robot – Vince McMahon
For a guy who prides himself and his employees to have massive physiques, here’s a young Vince McMahon without a single bulge on his arms. But with a face that has not aged much over the years and a regiment based on the belief that sleep is the enemy, this picture of a young Vince McMahon looks like it could have been taken yesterday. The man just does not age. Considering how successful he and the WWE would become, perhaps we all should take a cue from the future owner and CEO.
10. Most Likely to Complain About How He Was Handled – CM Punk
As a punk kid, Phil Brooks no doubt had a bunch of strange hairstyles over the years. Even as he became a worldwide superstar, CM Punk would still have all kinds of offbeat hair colors and facial hair. However, a hairstyle that makes anyone look like a real life Beavis can’t cause much joy. It’s no wonder he got teased as a kid, as you have to wonder how many kids looked at him and quoted the Great Cornholio or asked him if he wanted to play Frog Baseball. What’s worse is if he died his hair blue, the debate would be whether Punk looked more like Beavis or Sonic the Hedgehog.
9. Most Likely to Star in a Remake of Falling Down – Brock Lesnar
Falling Down is a 1993 film from Joel Schumacher about a man on the brink of a total mental breakdown, thanks to personal issues and outside influences. The future Beast looks more like Michael Douglas in Falling Down than a monster that should be feared. But make no mistake about it, in his senior year, the guy went undefeated. Even now, Lesnar still looks like a man ready to snap at any moment, so if you ever see him, try not to make fun of him for this picture or point him to this article.
8. Most Likely to Not Think This is a Bad Picture – Chris Jericho
The 1980s were quite possibly the poppiest pop culture decade of all time. It was the birth of Nintendo, MTV, “bad 80s music” and pro wrestling as we would know it. But the accursed mullet gained popularity in the eighties as well. If you’ve ever listened to the Talk is Jericho podcast, you know that Jericho has an affinity for many facets of pop culture and, apparently, he liked the mullet too. Chris Jericho rocked that mullet here in his graduation picture and knowing how he likes to put himself over, he probably looks back fondly on his mullet days.
7. Most Likely to Desperately Need a Makeover – Lita
Considering what she would eventually look like, you’d have to wonder if even Lita herself would recognize herself in this picture. It’s so quintessentially eighties, that it makes Jericho’s picture look like it was taken today, with the short girl’s coif, the unassuming striped polo hiding any possible feminine features and the stilted pose that probably took a photographer twelve times to get right. Like a few of the ladies on this list, we all know Lita would transform herself into a more bankable star, but here she looks a lot more like the lady wrestlers of the day than the group of buxom beauties she’d become a part of that would revolutionize the business.
6. Most Likely to Render Her Old Self Extinct – Chyna
You can read another list on this site to learn how Joanie Laurer went from this bright eyed happy teen who was aspiring to be an FBI agent to the walking TMZ headline we know her as today. However, seeing as how she never used the eighties staple of a side ponytail in either of her future careers, the future Chyna probably wants this picture erased from the internet, which is kind of sad, as there are far worse pictures of Chyna that should be erased from the internet.
5. Most Likely Taking This Pic to Please His Dad – Shane McMahon
The first thing you think about when seeing this picture is that Shane-O-Mac actually had muscles. Despite phenomenal matches in the ring, Shane McMahon definitely never looked like a superstar, which was part of his allure. However, after seeing musclebound freak after musclebound meathead careen through his house during his formative years, you can’t blame the guy for trying to get as jacked as he could to try and impress dear ol’ dad.
4. Most Likely to Be the Best Nobody Ever – Zack Ryder
And they claim there are no jobbers anymore. Zack Ryder did all he could do to get over, which is always what the WWE claims they want their stars to do. However, it was seemingly the fact that Ryder got over on his own without the help of the WWE marketing machine that seemingly did the guy in. However, it’s possible this picture that did the guy in. Here, Ryder looks like a wannabe boy band member, which, when combined with his love of actual boy bands, probably got back to Vince McMahon, who decided liking boy bands is not a trait of a WWE superstar.
3. Most Likely to Paint Over His Own Picture – Jeff Hardy
It looks like Jeff Hardy, but compared to the face painting, rainbow–haired charismatic enigma he would become, this guy is decidedly not Jeff Hardy the wrestler. Maybe he’s Jeff Hardy, the motocross star or perhaps he’s Jeff Hardy, would–be musician that Scott Hall would nickname “Ice” after Vanilla Ice. In high school, none of these personas would sneak through in this picture, as here is just a squeaky clean Jeff Hardy full of hopes, dreams, and aspirations that you couldn’t tell from this picture. Print it out next time you’re going to a Jeff Hardy signing and ask him to make some art on his teenaged face.
2. Most Likely Need to Take A Few Double Takes to Guess Who – Sable
The girl next door in this picture was born Rena Greek and she happens to be very cute. Aesthetically speaking, any man would be jackpot luck to be with her. Not one, but two wrestlers hit the jackpot, as both Marc Mero and Brock Lesnar would marry her. That’s right, this brunette with bright eyes would take all of the steps to erase this girl from memory and become the vivacious vixen, Sable.
1. Most Likely to Bury You for Bringing Up this Picture – The Undertaker
The most unlike his high school picture is The Undertaker, as the young Deadman didn’t even have long hair. If you had to take a guess as to what this boy might become, you’d think accountant or some other corner office position, but certainly not a professional wrestler, let alone surpassing Andre as the best big man the sport has ever seen. Thankfully for the WWE and The Phenom, he decided to alter his look from Opie–esque to the Reaper of Wayward Souls. Can you seriously picture this man striking fear into every superstar he’s ever faced?!
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