9 WWE Superstars who you may not know have competed in other sports
WWE is home to some of the biggest names in the sports entertainment industry. Many stars from the wrestling ring have gone on to find success outside the industry. John Cena, Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Mickie James are some of the big names that successfully used their in-ring success to make it big in the entertainment world.
Similarly, there are a few superstars in WWE who competed in other sports before making it big in the company. These individuals used their athletic abilities to make it big elsewhere before signing with WWE.
Goldberg, Roman Reigns, and Ronda Rousey are some of the big stars who competed in other sports before becoming wrestlers. However, let’s take a look at nine WWE superstars who you may not know competed in other sports.
#9 Top Dolla recently joined WWE
Top Dolla made his way to WWE NXT in 2020. He is currently part of Hit Row, a faction led by Isaiah "Swerve" Scott. The giant superstar is looking to make an impact early in his career, and his recent matches have shown that he has the potential to make it big.
What many fans may not know about Top Dolla is the fact that he has a lot of experience in American Football. The WWE Superstar has played for a few NFL teams, including the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and Seattle Seahawks.
WWE.com described the recruit in the following way after he signed with the company:
“Anthony Francis is a 6-foot-5, 330-pounder with five years of NFL experience under his belt. The former defensive tackle played for the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.”
Top Dolla is one of many WWE Superstars who tried their hand at American Football before competing in the wrestling ring. He could become a breakout star for the company in the years to come.
#8 Commander Azeez is another WWE Superstar who played American Football
Commander Azeez is currently playing the role of Apollo Crews’ bodyguard on WWE SmackDown. Before moving to the main roster, Azeez was part of the NXT roster and even featured on WWE’s first Netflix film ‘The Main Event.’
Before entering the wrestling ring, Azeez played American football as an offensive lineman. He played for various teams in the Polish American Football League and the German Football League.
In 2015, Azeez bagged his first National Football League (NFL) contract after he was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. After his release from the NFL, Azeez signed his first WWE contract. WWE introduced him with the following words on their official website:
“Standing 6-foot-9 and weighing 350 pounds, he is a former professional football player who had stints in Poland and Germany. Most recently, he spent the 2015 preseason with the Minnesota Vikings as an offensive lineman.”
Azeez has helped Apollo Crews retain his Intercontinental Championship title on several occasions on SmackDown. He could end up getting a major push owing to his size and strength in the ring.
#7 Kyle O’Reilly played Rugby before becoming a WWE Superstar
From being a tag team wrestler, Kyle O’Reilly has turned his fortunes around 180 degrees in the past six months on WWE NXT. O’Reilly has received a few NXT Championship matches in recent months, something that he never did during his early days in WWE.
Before joining WWE, O’Reilly used to play rugby during his years in Canada. Speaking to talkSPORT, KOR has revealed that he played rugby in high school and learned a few important things from the competitive sport.
“I was in grade 12 (senior year). I played Rugby all the way through high school in Canada, and we did a big fundraising tour to go to Ireland, Wales and England for two weeks to play a bunch of teams over here. It was an incredible experience, but we got our asses kicked in every match, because you guys are savages when it comes to Rugby!
A couple of us were 18 so we were hitting the pubs between the matches, and if you’re not doing that then you’re doing rugby wrong! That’s something we learned. Rugby is a gentleman’s sport, you fight each other on the pitch, then you go for beers and celebrate together. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.”
The WWE Superstar is looking to make it big in NXT before possibly moving to the main roster. He is a superstar who can change the landscape of any brand he performs on.
#6 Baron Corbin knows how to throw some punches outside WWE too
Baron Corbin is arguably one of the best mid-card heels WWE has today. Corbin has played many despicable characters in the company over the past several years and has managed to stay relevant without winning many championships.
Many fans are aware of the fact that Corbin was previously a football player in his college days and later joined the NFL. The WWE Superstar signed with the Indianapolis Colts, followed by the Arizona Cardinals, for some time.
During an interview with News-Press Now, Corbin revealed that he became interested in becoming an amateur boxer as soon as his coach pitched the idea to him.
"I played a lot of physical sports in high school, and I was done with those, so it was something else to get into so I could unleash some aggressiveness."
“We both love boxing and MMA and we kind of style ourselves after that. We throw really nice punches and they do a lot of damage. I think he saw that when I was in NXT, a little bit of himself in me and the style I have, a big guy who can really move. So every time he's around, I always make sure to spend 15, 20 minutes talking to him about wrestling and my career.”
Corbin is currently going through a pretty good character change that can help him get to the top once again. He could well end up getting a shot at the WWE Championship soon in his career.
#5 Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) is a gold medalist outside WWE
MVP is still phenomenal in the ring himself and could give fans some great matches before hanging up his boots. Not only is MVP good in the wrestling ring, but he is also great at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Apart from his accomplishments in wrestling, MVP has won The World Master Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship 2019 in the Masters 4/Male/Purple/Ultra-Heavy Category. That’s not all, as MVP won a gold medal in the IBJJF Masters tournament in 2020 as well.
He took to Twitter to explain the gold medal he’d been holding during a photoshoot with his then-Hurt Business partners:
“For the people that have been asking what medal I'm holding in this photo, let me inform you. On Saturday I won a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship competing in the IBJJF Masters tournament. The Hurt Business had an eventful weekend! Now you know."
The WWE Superstar helped the company carry on RAW during the pandemic era and put together a great faction known as The Hurt Business. Since then, MVP has helped several superstars get a lot more screen time and pick up a few crucial victories.
#4 Ridge Holland is looking to take WWE by storm
WWE is always looking for tough men and women who can give their best in the wrestling ring. The company signed Ridge Holland to WWE NXT UK not too long ago and has already seen the superstar rise quickly.
What makes Holland tougher than many other WWE Superstars is the fact that he used to play rugby during his early days. The NXT star played for various clubs and also made an appearance for the Hull Kingston Rovers in the Super League.
The company has brought the superstar’s rugby career into the spotlight to build his character. Holland’s WWE profile reads as follows:
“What do you do if you’re deemed too dangerous and too reckless for the rough-and-tumble world of professional rugby? If you’re Ridge Holland, you move from the pitch to the ring and start busting skulls there instead.”
The superstar suffered a setback early in his career on NXT after he picked up a freak injury. He’s one man who can come back stronger and make a name for himself on NXT and the main roster in the years to come.
#3 Big E is a powerhouse in WWE
Big E is not new to WWE, yet he is still looking for his first world title in the company. Before starting his WWE career, Big E was a collegiate football player at the University of Iowa. However, what many fans don’t know is that Big E was a powerlifter and a USA Powerlifting champion.
He took part in the USA Powerlifting meet in 2010 and broke all four raw powerlifting records in the state of Florida in his weight category.
Speaking to WWE.com, Big E has revealed that he can bench press 575 lbs and has never seen anyone in person press more weight than him. Now that proves that Big E is not just made up of the power of positivity.
#2 Veer (Rinku Singh) became a star in a completely different sport before joining WWE
WWE Superstars have been all around the world and some have competed in various sports. In 2018, WWE signed Veer and soon moved him to the NXT brand.
Veer can now be seen working alongside former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. What many fans may not know is that Veer is a baseball pitcher who’s well-known in many parts of the world.
In 2008, Veer won a reality TV competition in India titled “The Million Dollar Arm.” Before appearing on the show, he had also tried his hand at cricket and javelin.
Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Veer revealed how he transitioned from being a baseball player to becoming a wrestler.
“I wanted to share the journey of Rinku Singh,” Singh said. “I want to put a smile on peoples’ faces all around the world, inspire them and share my story with them. So many kids can relate to it, and WWE allows you to do that.”
“When I put on the [baseball] uniform, I was a totally new human,” Singh said. “Now I feel like I did when I would put a baseball uniform on. It’s game time. There’s new energy. I’m ready to go out there and perform.”
The superstar is currently in his early days in WWE. He will likely go on to become a top wrestler for the company in the years to come and build a massive fan-following from the sub-continent.
#1 Charlotte Flair has had some success outside the WWE
Charlotte Flair is arguably the most successful woman in WWE. The Queen has won several championships during her career, and could well end up with the highest number of world titles to her name in WWE.
While the WWE Universe knows about Flair’s achievements in the ring, many are unaware of the fact that she excelled in many different sports from a very young age.
Speaking to USA Today Sports as part of Girls Sports Month, the former RAW Women’s Champion revealed her early sporting achievements.
“It’s really what’s catapulted my career from the get-go. I was a gymnast for almost eight years then was in cheerleading, played basketball and volleyball. I just happened to pick up volleyball quickly. Those experiences are the only reason that I picked up wrestling so quickly. I had all those different backgrounds so I had used so many different movements.”
Volleyball is one sport where Flair has found some success. She has won two NCHSAA 4 A State championships for volleyball. She was also the team captain and player of the year in 2004–2005 for Providence High School.
The Queen is currently ensuring that she remains the top woman in WWE. She has a good chance to surpass her father’s success in WWE.