Long before the WWE became a true global entity, stars from all over the world were already flocking to the company to work for Vince’s father. In fact, all over the territories, there were wrestlers from all over ready to work. Many of them were willing to also play off people’s stereotypes to become “evil foreigners.”
Fritz Von Erich is a perfect example. The beloved Texas promoter was born and raised in the Lone Star state, but that didn’t stop Stu Hart from booking him with Waldo Von Erich as evil German brothers for his Klondike Fed. It doesn’t stop there, Barry Darsow was one of the famed Minnesota boys, and he played an evil Russian, Krusher Khruschev before becoming Smash and later the Repo Man. That’s only the tip of the iceberg - here are 10 WWE Wrestlers Who Played A Completely Different Nationality.
10 Muhammad Hassan
The world had grown up and found itself pretty quickly when Muhammad Hassan rolled through the WWE. Portrayed by an Italian-American, he was asked to play a nasty Arab-American fed up with how his people had been treated. Tragically the real world imposed its will on the wrestling business.
When this sort of gimmick used to be easy cheap heat, real-world events derailed any future plans the WWE had for this guy. The real-life Marc Copani was released and retired shortly after.
9 Santino Marella
It had been a long time, if ever since the WWE had a purely comedic character. Santino Marella made hundreds of fans laugh over the years.
He was originally brought in as “The Milan Miracle,” a WWE fan going to a live Raw event in 2007, defeating Umaga for the Intercontinental Title. His tenure lasted nearly ten years and the Canadian born superstar never broke character, and his accent just kept getting thicker.
8 Razor Ramon
As the story goes, Vince McMahon had not seen the film, Scarface by the time Scott Hall walked into his office with the idea for a Cuban gimmick. If he had, he probably would have never signed on for a character like Razor Ramon.
But Hall and this faux Cuban accent wound up becoming a massive success, despite he being as Cuban as Al Pacino was in the movie. Hall, of course debut in WCW trying the same voice on for size, but the WWE would sue their rivals and attempt to show that they owned the gimmick by slapping it onto Canadian born Rick Titan.
When the original Sin Cara was feuding his old rival Hunico, he has brought in his friend Camacho to help him out. Camacho certainly looked the part of Hispanic street thug, with bandanas and bicycles; all of the stereotypes that Konan made famous over a decade prior in WCW. Not only was Camacho not at all Latino, he is part of a wrestling legacy.
He is one of the sons of the legendary King Haku and currently works for New Japan alongside his brother as part of the Guerillas Of Destiny.
6 Nikita Koloff
There’s living your gimmick and there’s what Nelson Simpson did. Another wrestler from the fabled Minnesota area, Simpson worked as the Russian Nightmare, Nikita Koloff. He spoke in broken English both on and off-camera. But he also spoke broken English in a Russian accent to his friends in the locker room.
Guys like Arn Anderson would get annoyed and remind him that he’s a Minnesota boy! Koloff also legally changed his name in 1988, but he is most definitely not from Communist Russia.
Just about every wrestling fan knows exactly who the Anoai family and their members are. But most of them, if any have ever worked under the family name. But the mighty Yokozuna might be the only one didn’t work as a Samoan.
The Hall Of Famer worked the memorable gimmick of a Japanese Sumo Champion that no one could defeat. Clearly it worked, for nearly a year; Yoko held the WWE title. Plus, up until his cousin, the Rock did it with Cena, he and Bret were the only superstars to main event back-to-back WrestleManias.
4 Mr. Fuji
Plenty of old-school (but not that old) fans are scratching their heads a little right about now. The Devious One, Mr. Fuji had spent his entire career playing off plenty of people’s fears of the Japanese, that dated all the way back to World War II.
Throughout his entire career as a tag team champion with Professor Tanaka or as a manager who looked like Odd Job, Fuji never revealed that he was actually born and raised on The Big Island of Oahu, Hawaii.
3 Kofi Kingston
The moment the fans really, really got behind the current WWE Champion, Kofi Kingston, it was the exact kind of wrestling magic that is real, which is the best kind. What wasn’t real at all at first was Kofi’s heritage.
All of his original vignettes and most of his year on the main roster with ECW, he was working as a Jamaican, complete with a Rastaman accent. Unfortunately, some who didn’t understand that he was playing a character got upset that he was “turning his back” on his Ghana lineage. The whole ordeal was dropped during a promo where he used his real voice and HHH comically questioned, “aren’t you supposed to be Jamaican?”
2 Rusev And Lana
10 Ways The Bulgarian Brute And The Ravishing Russian Got The Shaft could be another article for another time. But for now, the WWE tried to have their own version of Ivan and Ludmilla Drago. But the powers that be forgot that having him lose to John Cena wouldn’t do him any favors. Neither did the back an forth about where they’re both from.
Rusev hails from Bulgaria, hence his nickname. Lana, while she does speak fluent Russian and lived in Latvia for a time is actually an All-American girl. Neither of them are members of the Russian nation.
1 The Original Sheik / Sabu
Billed from the Syrian Desert, the Original Sheik was one of the first hardcore wrestlers, utilizing fire in many of his matches. His nephew took all of his teachings and ramped them up ten-fold as Sabu. But neither of them have any connection to the Middle East.
Both men were born in the states - Sheik from Lansing, Michigan and Sabu was born in New York. ECW would occasionally play with this by billing the Hardcore Legend from Bombay, Michigan.