There are many career that are very difficult to see success in. Comedy and Wrestling (Sports Entertainment) are two examples of professions where someone can spend years busting their butts and never get the big break. Times are even harder for wrestlers now due to the existence of one giant, Vince McMahon’s WWE. Busting one’s butt does not always simply pay the bills, as many wrestlers have had to have real world jobs to get by. Some of these jobs are really cool, as today we look at the top 20 wrestlers, or people involved with wrestling, who’ve held interesting other jobs.
Our list is weighed based on the success of the person in the industry and the shock value involved with the actual job. Some of these jobs are mundane, while others might have held gigs to get by that were highlights for that person. The point is that some wrestlers get paid very little, if anything at all, and have to do odd jobs to survive. More importantly, some have families and doing outlandish gigs to get by to balance things out is necessary. Sacrificing a body for the hopes of succeeding at something you love takes a lot of courage.
It seems a bit easier nowadays for talent to get brought into the professional ranks. You see a lot of entertainers given the opportunity because their parents were hugely involved with the industry. People like Charlotte, Cody Rhodes, and The Usos are a few that certainly caught a break. Thankfully, there is NXT now to help emerging superstars get their name out there quicker. It might have taken Kevin Owens (Steen) nearly fifteen years to get to where he is at, but if there was no NXT, there may certainly be a chance that he would not be where he is now. Here is our list of wrestlers who have held interesting jobs.
20. Kofi Kingston – Staples
I had a friend who worked at Staples who had a four year Bachelor’s Degree in History. It seems that company attracts quite the crowd. Kofi Kingston used to be an employee at Staples before emerging onto the scene in the WWE as an exciting talent. Did this position bode well for his kayfabe Jamaican origin? Did he practice doing backflips into shipping popcorn and styrofoam? Was life so tough that he slept in boxes in the warehouse? Who knows, but could you imagine Kofi pitching you toner on a Tuesday morning? I’m sure ending up as a professional wrestler was not the idea Staples had when creating it’s “corporate ladder.”
19. The Great Khali – Cop
The Great Khali is about as nimble as the oak tree growing in your side yard. He is most likely just as much in the way when attempting to mow his lawn. So it is very difficult to believe that Khali would be chasing down people who stole fruit in India. He certainly is an intimidating fellow, however, and probably did well at taking people down within arm’s reach. It is also kind of hard to believe that Vince did not instill the policeman gimmick for him at some point. Either way, Khali locked up people for a living before he was a sports entertainer.
18. John Cena – Limo Driver
Cena might be the face of sports entertainment today, but he did other things prior. Sure, he is excellent in freestyle rapping putting. Yeah, he was in the military at some point and has done a ton of positive things since being involved in the WWE. But did you know he was a chauffeur? John Cena drove a limo, professionally, before he ever made it big. Makes one wonder if he ever gave a Vince McMahon a lift? Going against all odds while offering hustle, loyalty, and respect in getting your rich butt to your destination.
17. Steve Austin – Loading Dock
Helping define who he is as a human being, Steve Austin used to work on a loading dock. While he did this during his early days of wrestling, he would find himself booking matches himself and going about it all alone. This is an example of the struggle that was mentioned earlier. This was before “Stunning Steve” and “Paul E. Dangerously” in the days of WCW. Most can imagine though that Austin probably enjoyed the challenge of doing this all while drowning himself in “Steveweisers.” It most likely fueled the fire he used in his feud with Vince during the Attitude Era.
16. Brock Lesnar – Farmer
Suplex City evolved from a small farm in Webster, South Dakota. Brock Lesnar dominated through college and was pushed to the moon when he came into WWE. He did not really ever have a paying job or have to suffer to make ends meet. However, living and working on a farm is funny to think about when it comes to Brock. Imagine Lesnar milking cow utters and petting goats on a farm. Strange concept isn’t it? That type of up-bringing with the hard work and dedication involved surely helped mold Lesnar into who he is today. His expansion to the NFL and UFC can be thought of as the product of working on a farm.
15. Kurt Angle – Sports Broadcaster
While winning a gold medal and being involved in wrestling had already started for Kurt by 1997, he did not reach the WWE until a year later. The flopped attempt by Paul Heyman to bring him to ECW had already occurred, too, but Kurt still had to pay the bills. In 1997, Kurt Angle was a local sports broadcaster on Pittsburgh’s local Fox affiliate WPGH-TV. Couple that with doing commercials for local pizza chain Pizza Outlet and he was a local celebrity in the Steel City. Doing commentary had to certainly help his mic skills when we went to the WWE later on.
14. Scott Hall – Bouncer
Scott Hall was discovered when he was a bouncer at a night club. His huge physique made him the prime suspect for a wrestling career. Being as charismatic as he was, I am sure he was adored by underage people with fake IDs and bumbling drunks that assumed they could take him in a fight. Wrestling saved Hall at that time thanks to some trouble he got into. He only recently fessed up to that trouble in an interview, as the occurrence happened in the early 80s. On the opposite end of that spectrum, we may have never gotten a Razor Ramon or even the nWo.
13. Road Warrior Hawk – Butcher
The Road Warriors are definitely one of the greatest tag teams of all-time. Starting off in Minnesota, Hawk and Animal found themselves as kings of the area before making it big. While being a king of the area, Road Warrior Hawk had to make some extra change. He did so by being a butcher. While one would think that maybe Hawk would have went with the name Animal instead of vice versa, he took out his extra aggression by carving pig and cow carcasses in the cold. Pretty animalistic, right? Maybe he had a keen eye for good meat, hence the name Hawk? I doubt it’s tied together.
12. Sting – Gold’s Gym Owner
Sting was always the athletic type. He played football and basketball in high school and strived to be a bodybuilder. There was once a time when Sting had no ambition what-so-ever to become a Wrestler. During this time, Sting co-owned a Gold’s Gym. Supposedly, he had no television access to witness any wrestling events. It took him going to a WWE event in Los Angeles and witnessing Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, and Andre The Giant perform to get the itch to wrestle. It worked out pretty well for Sting. What’s better, being the face of a random Gold’s Gym or the face of a long running wrestling promotion?
11. Chris Jericho – Front Man for Fozzy
Imagine having a job doing something you love that financially supports doing something else you love? Chris Jericho has it figured out. He is the long running front man for the band Fozzy, and was doing this before he was wrestling. When he was rocking the long hair in the 90s, his charisma and voice were perfect for both a band and an entertainer. It was an excellent way to promote his band, as both sides would grow along with each other. He’s now a decently large rock star, along with being a legendary wrestler, so he’s done pretty well for himself.
10. Sheamus – Personal Security Guard for U2/ IT Support
Ireland. Where booze rains from the heavens. It is also where Sheamus comes from. The biggest thing besides Jameson to come out of Ireland? The band U2. Sheamus made money before wrestling by offering personal security to Bono and company. Nothing like dealing out Brogue kicks to fans throwing empty bottles at the people you are protecting. On top of this, Sheamus actually had a career in Information Technology. Imagine calling a help desk and having Sheamus yelling at you, asking “are you not entertained with your customer satisfaction?” Sheamus is also adding diversity to his career by being cast as Rocksteady for the new Ninja Turtles movie.
9. Kevin Nash – Professional Basketball Player
Kevin Nash is a monster, so it’s no wonder that he was suited for basketball when he was younger. He was actually pretty good too. Nash began his career with the University of Tennessee. This was until he punched out his coach and continued to party too hard. So he upped his game and hopped across the pond to Europe to play basketball professionally. He played for multiple teams until tearing his ACL in 1981. Nash did a few different things before eventually jumping into the sports entertainment industry. He worked as a NATO officer in Germany, an assembly line worker at Ford and finally a floor manager at a strip club. Some people just discover their talents later in life.
8. Bill Goldberg – NFL Player
A standout defensive tackle at the University of Georgia, Bill Goldberg had a quick career in the NFL, being on the rosters of the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Bill also was the first player ever cut by the Carolina Panthers. Seeing as he was the first player cut for an expansion franchise, he figured maybe it was time for a change and gave wrestling a try over at WCW. He had the physique and the look to fit the mold, as he was heavily groomed to be pushed to the top. However, having a chance to play in the NFL is always a good thing, especially if you manage to stick around for more than a year.
7. Bruno Sammartino – Strongman
Have you ever seen the World’s Strongest Man competition on ESPN? You know, where the enormous guys pull eighteen wheelers with their teeth? Well, to make some money, Bruno Sammartino did things like this before he got into professional wrestling. The high school he went to lacked a wrestling program, so he worked out at the University of Pittsburgh. To help make money, he did strongman stunts and was eventually put on television where a local promotion took notice. Would you have paid to watch Bruno push a dump truck up a hill? There’s not much else to do in Pittsburgh.
6. Jesse Ventura – Bodyguard for the Rolling Stones
Before he was a wrestler, Ventura was an ex-Navy Seal and part of the Mongols biker gang. There is no other way to prove your toughness than being part of the biker gang that took The Hells Angels head on. Luckily, Ventura dipped out right before their war broke out and found himself fending off fans of the Rolling Stones to earn a paycheck. Ironically, The Hells Angels, his gang’s rivals, also had experience working security for the Stones and had a member actually stab someone at a show, live. At least management for the Stones knew how to choose their protection.
5. Hulk Hogan – Bassist/Musician
Hulk Hogan was once just a local celebrity in a popular band in Tampa, Florida. While attending the University of South Florida, Hogan played bass for the band Ruckus. Playing an abundant amount of shows and making some money, Hogan eventually dropped out of school. He worked out at a local gym that was usually occupied with wrestlers. These wrestlers would go and watch Ruckus every night. One night, Jack and Gerald Brisco took notice and eventually got Hogan into the business. Would the band have gotten further without Hulk slappin the bass? We all know wrestling would not be the same.
4. Jimmy Hart – Teenage Heartthrob
Speaking of Hogan, “The Mouth of the South,” Jimmy Hart, clearly earned that nickname prior to his management career in wrestling. The man was a vocalist in the 60s band The Gentrys who had a hit record with 1965’s “Keep on Dancing.” The group eventually broke up after some other successful singles, but the money and fame had been created. Jerry Lawler eventually brought him into the Memphis scene where Hart would eventually become one of the most iconic managers of all time. Already rocking the voice, he really didn’t need that megaphone, but it sure did add to his persona.
3. Macho Man Randy Savage – Professional Baseball Player
Macho Madness had a life before wrestling. Prior to dropping elbows and preaching about the best nonsense known to man, Savage saw some success playing professional baseball. No, he never made it to the majors, but he had four years of minor league experience. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of high school as a catcher, but soon was moved to the outfield where he saw stints in the Reds and White Sox organizations. Macho played 289 games in four seasons with .254 batting average, 16 home runs, and 66 RBIs.
2. The Miz – Reality TV Star
Remember when The Miz was on MTV’s The Real World? Neither do I, but he constantly bragged about wanting to become a professional wrestler. He actually did pop up on several seasons of the Real World/Road Rules challenges, along with a few other reality shows. As an actor, he still knew his calling. He also managed to win a World Championship in WWE that no one wants to talk about. At this point of his sports entertainment career, he’s using the “Hollywood” gimmick, where he name drops WWE movies that he was in.
1. Paul Bearer – Mortician
In case you didn’t know, Paul Bearer (Paul Moody) was a mortician prior to becoming involved in professional wrestling. He used that nameplate to become The Undertaker’s caretaker. Sure, he had other roles prior, but eventually using his previous career to push his career in the wrestling industry was the best possible way of using a past real-world job as a gimmick. Paul’s ability to deliver in presentation and on the mic arguably make him the best manager of all time. However, having the strangest real-world job mixed with the strangest gimmick puts him at the top of our list.
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