Steve Maclin during his time in Afghanistan

6 WWE Superstars who have served in war zones

Before joining Vince McMahon's company, several WWE Superstars had enlisted in the United States military. A few of them even served in war zones.


Bobby Lashley, for example, followed in his father's footsteps and joined the military after graduating from college. WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash also enlisted after his basketball career ended due to injury.

While some of these WWE Superstars got stationed in the United States or military bases in peaceful areas overseas, others had to serve in war zones. A few of these former wrestlers even participated in World War II. Others served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Here are six WWE Superstars who have served in war zones. You can watch our video on the same topic as well.

#6. Former WWE Superstar Jaxson Ryker


Jaxson Ryker decided to join the United States Marine Corps two years after graduating. He served in several countries during his four-year stint as an active Marine. The former member of The Forgotten Sons also participated in the war in Iraq.

In an interview with Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends, the 39-year-old opened up about his experience serving in a war zone:

"You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. I was a truck driver and a machine gunner. It's one of those things where you have to be constantly aware of roadside bombs. It was a scary situation, but thank God I came home alive," he said.

Ryker kicked off his wrestling career in 2001 while still in the military. The former Lance Corporal used his weekend off-time to compete in independent promotions while stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

After competing for nine years on the independent circuit, he joined IMPACT Wrestling (FKA Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) in 2010. He spent five years in the company, during which he won a few titles, before leaving in 2015. Two years later, he joined Vince McMahon's company.

The former Marine spent nearly four years in WWE. Last November, the company released him from his contract due to budget cuts.


#5. Former WWE Superstar Steve Maclin


In November 2007, former WWE Superstar Steve Maclin (FKA Steve Cutler) enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He spent four years in active duty before being discharged in November 2011.

During his time in the Marine Corps, Maclin was a Machine Gunner with the Second Battalion 8th Marines Weapons Company. He spent several months fighting in Afghanistan. In an interview with, the 34-year-old opened up about serving in a war zone, confessing that he loved being on the front line.

"I served at a time when the war in Iraq was transitioning back to Afghanistan. My time in the service is everything that I wanted to get out of it. I loved being on the front line. I know it sounds crazy, but why serve this country and not want to fight? (...) There were a lot of good times and a lot of bad times. There are some things I’m not ready to speak publicly about and other things that just shouldn’t be talked about. But we made the most of what we had and turned it into good," Maclin said.

Maclin kicked off his wrestling career two years after getting discharged from the Marine Corps. In 2014, he joined WWE, where he would wrestle for nearly seven years. The company released him from his contract in February 2021.


Maclin is currently active in IMPACT Wrestling. He recently announced his engagement to IMPACT Wrestling star and former WWE Superstar Deonna Purrazzo.

#4. WWE Veteran Dutch Mantell


Dutch Mantell was drafted into the United States military shortly after kicking off his wrestling career in 1970. The 72-year-old then participated in the Vietnam War as a member of the 25th Infantry Division.

In an interview a few years ago, Mantell revealed that he still thinks about his time in Vietnam daily, stating that he participated in the war because he loved his country.

"I think any boy who was over there with me thinks about it every day because I know I still think about it every day. And for 11 months and 27 days, I laid there in that rat-infested jungle and I don't appreciate someone coming out there and saying that I'm a loser and that I lost in Vietnam, because I did not lose in Vietnam. And whether the country was right or whether it was wrong, it's not up to me to decide, because I got drafted and it was my duty to go. (...) I went out of a sense of duty to my country because I love it," Mantell said.

Mantell received the Vietnam Service Medal for his service in the war. After returning to the United States, the former AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion continued his wrestling career. He worked for several promotions, including WCW, WWE, and IMPACT Wrestling.


#3. WWE Hall of Famer Jesse Ventura


Like Dutch Mantell, Jesse Ventura also participated in the Vietnam War. The 70-year-old served in the United States Navy for nearly six years between December 1969 and September 1975.

In an interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Body opened up about his experience in the Vietnam War:

"I have one (tour to Vietnam) as a Navy SEAL and then 17 months in Southeast Asia and I'll just tell you this: Until you hunted man, you haven't hunted yet. (...) You need to understand the feeling of what it's like to go into the field and know that your opposition can take you out," Ventura said.

Despite this, in another interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Ventura disclosed that he never saw combat despite serving in a war zone.

"To the best of my knowledge, I was never fired upon," he said.

The WWE Hall of Famer earned the Vietnam Service Medal for his efforts during the war. After returning to the United States, he kicked off his wrestling career. He competed in several promotions, including WWE.


The former Navy Seal retired from professional wrestling in the mid-1980s. He later became an actor and politician.

#2. WWE Hall of Famer Freddie Blassie

Wrestler of the Week: "Classy" Freddie Blassie (February 8th, 1918 - June 2nd, 2003)

· NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion
· Regarded as one of the greatest heels in professional wrestling
· Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (2003)
· World War 2 Navy Veteran

#ProWrestling #Legend
6:08 AM · Jul 7, 2019

Freddie Blassie served in the United States Navy during World War II. The former NAWA World Heavyweight Champion enlisted in 1942 and spent four years in active duty, during which he served in the Pacific theater. He even ended up in New Guinea before the war ended.

In his book "The Legends of Wrestling: 'Classy' Freddie Blassie: Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks", the wrestling legend opened up about his experience in World War II.

"As far as the war went, there was always the feeling that we were on the verge of jumping into something deadly. (...) I'm happy to say that I was nowhere near Hiroshima or Nagasaki when the United States put an end to our adventure in the Far East. In fact, I survived World War II without ever shooting at another human being. From the South Pacific, I was shipped to Washington State, then shuttled back to St. Louis so I could be discharged," he wrote.
Take some time today to remember the late, great, Freddie Blassie on his birthday.
7:00 AM · Feb 8, 2019

After the war, Blassie worked in several wrestling promotions, including WWE. After nearly 50 years in the industry, the World War II veteran retired from professional wrestling in 1986. Eight years later, he entered the WWE Hall of Fame. On June 2, 2003, Blassie passed away aged 85.


#1. WWE Hall of Famer Paul Boesch

The legendary Paul Boesch in his office in Houston. His office was filled with Wrestling related memorabilia. Photo by George Napolitano ⁦@Starshot9
4:54 AM · Oct 16, 2021

Paul Boesch kicked off his wrestling career in the 1930s. However, he put his career on hold in 1942, enlisting in the United States military to fight in World War II.

The wrestling legend was a lieutenant in the American 121st Infantry, 8th Division. He fought in several battles in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany, including the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest. He later wrote a book, "Road to Huertgens: Forest in Hell", documenting his experience during the war.

Boesch described his feelings while his G Company of the 121st Infantry tried to gain and hold ground under heavy fire during the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.

"Faster and faster the shells came as if Satan himself urged the gunners on. Shell fragments, rocks, and clumps of dirt rained down. The air became nothing but acrid, choking dust filled with confusing, terrorizing sound. (...) I lay there, hugging the ground and holding my steel helmet in an iron grip. At last I spotted a few feet away, a small crease in the earth, a tiny mark of erosion barely three inches lower than the soil I was burying my face in. But three inches looked like the Grand Canyon, and I wormed my way into the crevice and wriggled into it," he wrote in his memoir.

The WWE Hall of Famer earned several medals and awards for his service during the war. After returning to the United States, he returned to wrestling.

Boesch bought Houston Wrestling and entered into affiliations with a few other promotions, including WWE. After shutting down Houston Wrestling, he joined Vince McMahon's company. He worked there for only a few months before retiring in 1987.

From the files of the Arcadian Vanguard Wrestling News archive: Paul Boesch - “World War II’s Most Decorated Soldier Wrestler”
1:27 AM · Nov 12, 2020

The World War II veteran passed away in March 1989, aged 76. Last year, Boesch entered the WWE Hall of Fame.

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Edited by
Jacob Terrell
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