Fans of the WWE would likely agree that professional wrestling is not an easy job. With the hours that wrestlers put in for training, the physical stamina and strength required, and all while keeping up an entertaining persona, it’s a wonder how anyone can do it. So when many of them step out of the ring, they have a tendency to accomplish some truly remarkable things.
1. Trish Stratus, Wrestler and Philanthropist
Before stepping into the ring, Trish Stratus was a fitness model, but this model proved she could do much more than just pose for the camera after her first year of competition. That year, in 2001, Stratus won her first Women’s Championship and the next five years, and seven titles, would solidify her place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Post-WWE, Stratus became a television personality and philanthropist, involving herself with organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, Dreams Take Flight, and the Special Olympics. Former fans of the now-cancelled shows like Armed & Famous and The Second City’s Next Comedy Legend may also recall seeing Stratus try her hand at acting.
2. Lita Goes From Wrestling to Punk Rock
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Amy Christine Dumas, better known by her ring name Lita, first began wrestling in Mexico for a year before signing on to the WWE in 1999. During her time in the ring, she was a four time WWE champion and winner of the WWE Women’s Championship.
Post 2006 retirement, Lita formed a punk rock band called The Luchagors, touring throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition to singing and performing, Lita is well-known for her love of animals, even becoming the founder of a charity called Amy Dumas Operation Rescue and Education (A.D.O.R.E.).
3. Bret “The Hitman” Hart Embraced His Artistic Side
Considered on the WWE website to be the “greatest technical wrestler in WWE history,” Bret Hart held championships during the five decades of his wrestling career. In addition to his championship titles, Hart, aka “Hitman,” helped WWE gain an international following after becoming the first Canadian to earn the title of WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Hart isn’t all brawn and no brains though. Outside of the ring, the Canadian heavyweight champion is known both for his acting and his poetry, and some of his poems have been featured in the autobiographies of his fellow wrestlers. As an actor, Hart appeared in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and in an episode of The Simpsons. Outside of paid work, Hart contributes to cancer awareness as well which is also due to his own experiences.
4. That’s Mayor “Kane” to You
The crowd was roaring on the date of June 28, 1998 when Kane stepped into the ring and dethroned the then-champion and poster boy of the WWE’s attitude era, Stone Cold Steve Austin in a First Blood Match. Who would’ve guessed, ladies and gentlemen, where Kane would go once he stepped out of the ring?
Outside of the ring, and out of the mask, Kane goes by the name Glenn Thomas Jacobs, a man active in the political sphere. Post-wrestling, Jacobs had toyed with the idea of running for office for a while, and finally made his move where in August 2018, he became the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.
5. Shawn Michaels Goes From Wrestler to TV Host
Considered by the WWE itself to be one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot in the ring, Shawn Michaels is a four time world champion and a WWE Heavyweight Champion. Known by his nicknames, “Heartbreak Kid” and “Mr. WrestleMania,” Michaels made his mark not just as a champion, but also as an entertainer, particularly with witty lines like, “I’d like to thank mom and dad, just for the genetics.”
Out of the ring, Michaels turned to working in television, and became the host of the outdoors TV show, Shawn Michaels’ MacMillan River Adventures, where he travels around the world with his close friend, Keith Mark, and hunts for big game.
NEXT: This next wrestler has had some incredible accomplishments outside the ring.
6. Nikki Bella Goes in to Business and Media
Nikki Bella smashed on to the scene in her November 2008 debut on Smackdown along with her twin sister Brie. The two used what they called their “Twin Magic” to win a WWE Divas Title in 2011 and 2012. In March 2013, Nikki Bella returned to WWE after a brief sabbatical, and would later attain the record for longest held reign of the Divas Champion title.
Both Nikki and her twin Brie retired in March 2019, and in spite of no longer wrestling, the two sisters kept busy. First, was with the launch of their Nicole + Brizee body and beauty line, later to be followed up with their podcast known as The Bellas.
7. John Cena Goes From A Wrestling Rapper to a Wide Screen Wonder
Stepping on to the mat with his trash-talking rapper persona, many might’ve thought that John Cena was just a passing phase. But in 2005, Cena proved that he would throw down more than just rhymes after he defeated fellow wrestler JBL and earned his first WWE world championship title. But this wrestling champion didn’t just stop there – Cena then went on to earn another 16 world championships, setting a WWE record.
Cena’s dedicated ethos of “hustle, loyalty, respect” seemed to work for him outside the ring as well after he landed the lead role in his first feature, the 2006 film, The Marine. Since then, Cena’s roles have included lead parts in Ferdinand, Blocker, and Bumblebee. The wrestler is also known for his charitable causes, often donating his time to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation.
8. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Never Left the Spotlight
“Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?!” Fans of The Rock will recognize this catchphrase which preceded the opening of his grand entrances. Noted as having an “electrifying” stage presence (hence his nickname, “The Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment”) The Rock helped to usher in WWE’s “Attitude Era” of the 1990s and early 2000s, which coincided in some of WWE’s highest ratings.
Not only was The Rock a superstar in the ring, but outside the ring Dwayne Johnson has become a leading man in numerous Hollywood films. His most successful box-office hits include The Mummy Returns, The Other Guys, Moana, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Hobbs & Shaw.
9. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin Stayed in Wrestling
Originally entering the ring under the moniker “The Ringmaster,” in 1996 Steve Anderson officially re-branded himself as one of the WWE’s poster-boys of the “Attitude Era,” under the new title, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Described as the “fighter for the common man,” Steve Austin’s loud, brash, and vulgar attitude won him adoration from the crowd.
After holding 19 championships, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin retired for medical reasons. He never went far from the ring though. After hanging up his belt, Austin went on to become the Co-General Manager of the professional wrestling TV program, Raw. In 2011, Austin was picked to host the WWE reality series, Tough Enough!
10. Antonio Inoki Found Success in Wrestling and Politics
According to the WWE, Antonio Inoki is a living legend in his homeland of Japan, having gone toe-to-toe in the ring against world champion boxer Muhammad Ali in 1976. Alongside Ric Flair, he headlined two shows in 1995 in North Korea, and the crowds those fights drew ended up going down in history as the largest audience ever in professional wrestling history.
Inoki got his first taste of politics in 1989, while still wrestling professionally. That year he was elected to the Japanese House of Councillors and successfully negotiated for the release of Japanese hostages from Iraq. He was reelected to the House in 2013 and served for 6 years before retiring in 2019.
NEXT: You won’t believe how this next wrestler succeeded after hanging up his belt!
11. Adam “Edge” Copeland Is Still On the Screen
Stepping into the ring in 1996, Edge’s style and attire might’ve given him a greater resemblance to a country singer. But as fans and colleagues would soon realize, this Canadian native was not to be underestimated. Edge became one of the most decorated wrestlers in WWE history, winning 31 championships, including the World Heavyweight Championship, a record seven times.
Hopefully Edge found a wall sturdy enough to hang all those belts, because by 2011, he decided to retire from wrestling. Since then, Edge (whose real name is Adam Joseph Copeland) has moved to television and the big screen. His most recent role has been that of Ketill Flatnose in the fifth season of the History Channel show, Vikings.
12. Paul “Triple H” Levesque Loved WWE so Much He Married Into It
If searching for WWE champions is your thing then look no further than Triple H, whose bids for championships have put him against the likes of The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even WWE Chairman Vince himself, Vince McMahon. Those championship fights were worth the sweat and strain, with his titles earning him a place in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019.
Out of the ring, Triple H received a lot of media attention after he married Stephanie McMahon, whose parents, Vince and Linda, are majority shareholders of WWE. The two have worked together to establish the cancer fund, Connor’s Cure, named after a WWE fan. Triple H hasn’t completely left the WWE behind however, eventually becoming the Chief Operating Officer of the organization.
13. The Dastardly Rich, Ted DiBiase
Known for leaving $100 bills behind for his vanquished foes, Tel DiBiase was the “Million Dollar Man.” Even though he would begin each fight by barking orders at his manservant, Virgil, this WWE wrestler was more than capable of taking care of himself. He was the first WWF North American Heavyweight Champion and, along with his other titles, is considered one of the best WWE villains in its history according to the organization itself.
Outside the ring, the “Million Dollar Man” dropped his infamous moniker and instead became a Christian minister. He has traveled the world, delivering sermons to churches, camps, and conferences, and his book, Every Man Has His Price, is both an autobiography and testimony to his religion.
14. No Break Could Stop Bill Goldberg From Winning
After staying undefeated in singles competitions from 1997 to 1998, Bill Goldberg became a popular figure of the professional wrestling boom which lasted from the late ’90s to the early 2000s, and was marked by an increase in popularity and interest in professional wrestling. He had a long break from wrestling between 2004 – 2015, and two years after his return, Goldberg had already won the WWE Universal Championship.
Out of the ring, Bill Goldberg is a color commentator in the mixed martial arts arena, and has promoted numerous well-known events. His most recent gig is as the host of the History Channel’s show, Forged in Fire: Knife or Death.
15. Kurt Angle Trades in his Belt and Titles for a Suit and Tie
In 1998, Kurt Angle signed on to the WWE (which at the time was actually the WWF) and after just a few days of training, had his first on-screen debut. According to the WWE, his rookie year was considered to be the greatest in history and involved winning four championship titles. But Angle didn’t stop there. Over the course of his 21 year career, Angle has won a total of 21 championships.
Angle may not be a wrestler anymore, but he hasn’t totally left the ring. In 2017, the former champion became the general manager of the WWE program, Raw. Finally, in September 2019, Angle accepted a new position as a backstage producer for the WWE, replacing his wrestling uniform for a suit and tie.
NEXT: This next wrestler accomplished some surprising feats after his WWE career ended!
16. Dave Bautista Goes From the Ring to the Stars
A towering presence in the arena, Dave Bautista holds the record for longest reign as World Heavyweight Champion at a total of 282 days. This heavyweight champion has declared retirement three times (most recently in September 2019), only to return to the ring after two of those times, much to the surprise of fans.
Out of the ring, Bautista made a name for himself in Hollywood, first as the villain Brass Body in The Man with the Iron Fists, and as Drax and Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. The former heavyweight champion turned Hollywood star is due to appear in the lead roles in the upcoming 2020 films, My Spy and Army of the Dead.
17. Mick Foley Shows off His Softer Side
This wrestler has gone by many names, but whether you are talking about “Cactus Jack,” “Mankind,” or “Dude Love,” you are talking about the three time world champion and 11-time world tag team champion, Mick Foley. Foley was known to keep fighting no matter the physical cost, which earned him yet another nickname, “The Hardcore Legend.”
Foley isn’t just a fighter though, he’s also a writer, having appeared numerous times on the New York Times bestselling list. His works include five memoirs, four works of children’s fiction and two published fiction novels. The writer-wrestler is also a committed activist whose charity work revolves primarily around helping children.
18. Jesse Ventura Pretty Much Does it All
A former Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War, Jesse Ventura turned to wrestling from 1975 to 1986 under the name Jesse “The Body” Ventura. While wrestling, he made a name for himself with his infamous tag team known as The East-West Connection. By 2004 Ventura had been honored with an inauguration to the WWE Hall of Fame.
In 1999 the former Navy SEAL and WWE wrestler ran for, and was elected, Governor of Minnesota where he served one term. Since then he has become a Harvard visiting fellow as well as the host of several political talk shows. Ventura has also floated the idea of running for President, and based on his history, it seems like there might not be anything this man can’t do.
19. Mark William Calaway aka “The Undertaker” Undertakes the Real Estate Business
First introduced in WWE’s 1990’s Survivor Series, Mark Calaway initially went under the name “Mean Mark” Callous before being re-branded by the WWE as “The Undertaker.” A four time WWE and three time World Heavyweight Champion, his greatest accomplishment is arguably his 21-0 winning streak at The Show of Shows.
In addition to wrestling, Mark William Calaway’s “The Undertaker” persona has been the subject of a series of comic books by Chaos! Comics. More recently, Calaway has become a real estate investor and, along with his ex-wife Sara, establish the Zeus Compton Calaway Save the Animals Fund to help pay for expensive treatment for large dogs.
20. James Hellwig aka “The Ultimate Warrior” is the Ultimate Philanthropist
Originally hailing from Crawfordsville, Indiana, James Hellwig, aka “Ultimate Warrior,” caught the crowd’s attention with his comic book-like appearance and for quickly dispatching his opponents in the ring. One of his arguably most memorable moments was in 1990, when Hellwig won the WWF Heavyweight Championship after he pinned none other than Hulk Hogan.
After retiring in 1998, Hellwig began campaigning the WWE to create an award which recognized the hard work put in by all the behind-the-scenes staff. After his death in 2014, the WWE introduced the Warrior Award, and later the Unleash Your Warrior breast cancer awareness campaign, both in his honor.
21. Lawrence Wendell Pfohl aka “Lex Luger” Overcomes Adversity
Known in the ring for his impressive physique and for possessing an array of powerful wrestling maneuvers, Lawrence Wendell Pfohl was given the moniker “The Total Package.” Better known by his ring name of Lex Luger, he challenged for every title in the WWE organization, and was voted Most Popular Wrestler of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 1993.
In October 2007, Pfohl suffered a nerve impediment that led to him losing all movement in his arms and legs. While things may have looked dire for a time, by 2008 Pfohl was able to walk with the use of a cane. His experiences, along with his wrestling career, were later recorded in his 2013 memoir, Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption.
NEXT: These wrestler’s accomplishments out of the ring are far more powerful than a WWE body slam
22. Hulk Hogan Put His Face Everywhere
Born Terry Gene Bollea, the man who would come to be known as Hulk Hogan would also become, according to IGN, one of the most popular pro-wrestlers ever to step foot into the ring. The six time WCW World Heavyweight Champion’s larger than life persona caused an actual legal dispute with Marvel, since fans were inclined to compare Hogan to the Incredible Hulk.
Out of the ring, Hogan has earned almost 30 acting credits either starring or guest starring in numerous film and television roles. He has also been the face of various products, like a blender known as the Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer and a grill, The Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill.
23. Page Joseph Falkinburg aka “Diamond Dallas Page” Is Positively Unstoppable
Known in the ring as “Diamond Dallas Page,” Page Joseph Falkinburg was actually a coach before becoming a wrestler. Diamond Dallas Page was able to shine in the ring where he became a WCW World Heavyweight Champion and a WWF European Champion.
Out of the ring, Page is a fitness instructor, motivational speaker, writer, and actor. His most recent book was published in January 2019. It’s title, Positively Unstoppable: The Art of Owning It, includes a forward from friend and former pro wrestler Mick Foley. In addition to writing, Falkinburg is the owner of the successful yoga studio, DDP Yoga. The studio’s workout and eating plan were featured on Good Morning America after it helped a disabled veteran lose 140lbs.
24. The Head Honcho Himself, Vince McMahon
Not only is Vince McMahon the big boss and chairman of the World Wrestling Entertainment company, but he’s been known to enter the ring as a fighter more than a few times. Known in the ring simply as Mr. McMahon, he is also a two time world champion and 1999 Royal Rumble winner.
It seems as though promoting wrestling runs in his veins, as both McMahon’s grandfather and father were wrestling promoters. After purchasing the WWE (then called Capitol Wrestling Co.) from his father in 1982, McMahon transformed it into a global empire with a listing worth of $5.71 billion. Talk about a gut punch!
25. Kevin Nash, Actor and Wrestler
When Kevin Nash first stepped into the ring, it wasn’t to wrestle, but rather as a steely, sunglassed, ringside enforcer for the WWE. Ambition seemed to get the best of him, and in 1990 Nash made his debut under the name Diesel. By 1994 Nash had won all three titles compromising the WWF Triple Crown; a world championship, singles championship, and tag team championship. Currently, Nash has won a total of 21 championships.
Outside the ring, Kevin Nash is lighting up the big screen, appearing in films like The Longest Yard, Grandma’s Boy, John Wick, and Magic Mike XXL. Nash has also become an outspoken advocate for gay wrestlers in the business, declaring in an interview with wrestlingfigs.com that, “Intolerance is injustice.”
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