Although they are now famous, several top WWE Superstars initially did not want to become professional wrestlers.
In a recent interview with Claibs Online, superstar and on-screen official Sonya Deville disclosed that she initially wanted to become an actress or MMA fighter before finding WWE. She even took acting classes when she was only 12 and got into MMA at 16 before becoming a professional wrestler several years later.
Likewise, a few other top superstars initially intended on pursuing other careers away from the squared circle. However, they later decided to become in-ring performers for different reasons.
Here are five current WWE Superstars who initially didn't want to become wrestlers.
#5. WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns initially dreamed of becoming an NFL player. The Tribal Chief played football in high school and college. After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft in April, he joined the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent a month later.
In an interview with Muscle & Fitness, Reigns disclosed how his NFL dreams were shattered when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
"I signed with the Minnesota Vikings for a rookie camp when I was a free agent. That's where they did all those medical tests on us. It was where they did an initial blood test and that was when I found out I was 70 to 80 thousand white blood cells. I had no idea what was going on. They sent me back home and that's where I was diagnosed with leukemia," he said.
Later in May 2007, the Minnesota Vikings released Reigns from his contract. Three months later, the Jacksonville Jaguars added him to their roster. Nevertheless, the team dropped him after only five days.
The Head of the Table then joined the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League (CFL). After only one season, the team released Reigns from his contract. The 36-year-old then retired from professional football.
As his short football career ended, Reigns decided to pursue a career in professional wrestling. He joined WWE in 2010 and has been with the company for more than a decade now. The Tribal Chief is currently the Universal Champion and one of the top wrestlers in Vince McMahon's company.
#4. WWE legend Randy Orton
Randy Orton is one of the greatest superstars in WWE history. The 14-time world champion joined Vince McMahon's company in 2001 and has been an active professional wrestler for more than two decades. However, being an in-ring performer was not Orton's first career option. Instead, it was his last.
Before becoming a WWE Superstar, The Viper enlisted with the United States Marines. Nevertheless, he received a bad conduct discharge in 1999. Later that same year, Orton began working at a gas station. He then started thinking about following in his father's footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler.
In an interview with the Kurt Angle Show, the 41-year-old revealed that wrestling was his last career option at the time after already exhausting all his other options.
"I came home one day, and I was like, 'Dad, I’m working mid-night at this gas station. I’m gonna be 20 next year, I wanna try and be a professional wrestler. I wanna give it a shot.' (...) I didn’t realise back then how much hard work some of these guys that I know now, consider close friends, how hard these guys have worked to get what they are. I just had to ask my dad to pick up the phone (...) They flew me up and were giving me a… it was like a $250 a week contract to start to train to become a professional wrestler. So it was really I exhausted all my options that I allowed myself to have at that point in life," he said.
Despite this, Orton has become a legend in the wrestling industry. He is currently active on Monday Night RAW.
#3. WWE SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair
Despite being the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair, Charlotte Flair never wanted to pursue a professional wrestling career growing up. Instead, she played volleyball in high school and college. She also worked as a personal trainer before joining WWE.
In an interview with Chasing Glory in 2019, Charlotte revealed why she did not want to pursue a wrestling career earlier in her life.
"Honestly, no. I always went to the shows and wanted to take my friends when I was in college, like you’re talking about, bringing my volleyball team, but seeing the women during that time period I just never, like Bayley, I played sports my whole life. I was a tomboy … not a tomboy but, I kind of was a tomboy, so I just didn’t see myself as Stacy Keibler or Torrie Wilson, Trish [Stratus] or Lita. So I was like, 'Oh I’m athletic, I could do the moves.' But I just didn’t see myself as a Diva. So I don’t know if that’s kind of why I didn’t really care about it," she said.
Despite this, Charlotte's life changed in 2012 when she accompanied her father and brother, Reid, to a dinner that she was initially not invited to with WWE Executive John Laurinaitis. Ric and Reid were initially meeting with Laurinaitis to discuss Reid's chances of getting a WWE tryout. However, Charlotte was the one who received an unexpected offer.
"I was with my little brother and one of the producers and Johnny Laurinaitis at the time was like, 'Why aren’t you doing this?' And I think he just said it to me to kind of encourage my brother, to kind of light a fire under him to do what was needed to get into the company. So I was like, maybe if I do this, my brother will get on the right path and I can help him," she added.
The Queen joined Vince McMahon's promotion later in 2012 and has become one of the top superstars on the roster in the following years. She is currently active on SmackDown. The 35-year-old now holds the SmackDown Women's Title.
#2. WWE NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose
Although Mandy Rose is currently one of the biggest names on NXT, she initially did not want to become a professional wrestler. In an interview with Table Talk w/ DVon, God's Greatest Creation disclosed that she was not a big wrestling fan growing up.
"Well, to be honest, I didn’t always watch wrestling growing up. I watched here and there, but I wasn’t a huge diehard fan until I got a little bit older and I started kind of watching a lot of Trish Stratus, and Lita, and a lot of the women – Beth Phoenix," she said.
Before joining Vince McMahon's company, Rose pursued a career in fitness. She participated in and won several fitness competitions. Her trainer and her ex-boyfriend then urged her to participate in Tough Enough in 2015. Despite not winning the contest, Rose joined WWE later that same year.
In an interview with TalkSport in 2020, The Golden Goddess stated that although she did not grow up wrestling, she has the strength and athleticism to succeed in WWE.
"I didn’t grow up wrestling. I was an athlete, I have my own background and experience and I could see that stigma people have on pretty girls. They’e just here to look good and blah, blah blah. But that’s not me. I have a good athletic background, I’m a bikini world champion, I’m strong etc, so it is something that I have to prove. But, I do think now is where I’m feeling more confident in the ring," she said.
Rose currently holds the NXT Women's Championship. Last week, she defeated Kay Lee Ray in an NXT Women's Championship match to retain her title.
#1. WWE legend Brock Lesnar
Like all previous entries on this list, Brock Lesnar initially did not want to become a professional wrestler. The Beast Incarnate did not even watch wrestling growing up as a child.
In an interview with ESPN's Face to Face, the former WWE Champion revealed that he only started watching WWE when the company wanted to sign him.
"I didn't grow up as a pro wrestling fan. I never watched pro wrestling as a kid. The first time I'd ever seen pro wrestling or ever had the desire to even watch it, I was already a senior in college when the company approached me and wanted me to participate with the programme," he said.
In his autobiography Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival, Lesnar disclosed that despite never being a wrestling fan, he decided to join WWE because the company offered him guaranteed money.
"My dream was never the Olympics. It was to win the NCAA Heavyweight Championship. I achieved my goal, and I knew in my heart it was time to move on (...) I was thinking about trying either professional football or professional wrestling (...) The NFL was going to have to wait. I was being offered a sure thing, and was going to become a professional wrestler. Again, it was really simple. WWE offered me guaranteed money, including a big signing bonus with no strings attached (...) I signed the biggest development deal in WWE history (...) I hadn't even watched five minutes of pro wrestling in my life. All I knew was that I was a poor kid with student loans, and I was being offered more money than I'd ever seen in my entire life," he wrote.
Lesnar joined WWE in 2000 and made his main roster debut two years later. He then left in 2004 before returning to the company in 2012. The Beast Incarnate is now one of the greatest superstars in WWE history.
The former WWE Champion recently won the 2022 Men's Royal Rumble match. He will now challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 38.
The 44-year-old will also attempt to recapture his WWE Title when he competes in the WWE Championship elimination chamber match next Saturday at the Elimination Chamber premium live event.