Over the course of the past several decades, we have witnessed some of the greatest Superstars grace the WWE Universe with their presence and wrestling talent. Ever since Vince McMahon bought off WWE from his father, the wrestling genius has given us some of the biggest stars in the business.
Although most of these Superstars end up retiring as WWE wrestlers, there are a few who go on to do bigger and better things. A point comes when the said Superstar becomes bigger than the wrestling business that they once used as a stepping stone. Let's take a look at five WWE Superstars who became bigger than the business.
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#5. John Cena
The former WWE Champion came into the business in 2002. Cena spent some time in WWE's developmental territory, OVW, for a while before coming up to the main roster.
In one of the most popular segments in SmackDown history, Cena accepted Kurt Angle's challenge for a match and almost ended up defeating the former Olympic gold medallist. Thus kicked off one of the greatest WWE careers of all time. By the time WrestleMania 21 rolled around, Cena had become one of the two most popular Superstars in the company, with the other one being Batista.
He won his first WWE Title at WrestleMania 21, and it didn't take fans much time to realize that WWE was shoving Cena down their throats. Cena became one of the most controversial Superstars of all time, getting mixed reactions everywhere he went.
After WrestleMania 32, Cena started appearing a lot less and started focusing on a movie career. Cena is one of the most recognized athletes in the world and is extremely popular amongst the kids because of his likable persona and the stuff he does with Make-A-Wish. He has come to a point where he doesn't need WWE and is looking forward to making a mark in Hollywood, just like The Rock did back in 2002.
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Dubbed as "Deacon Batista" upon his debut, The Animal came in as a sidekick to D-Von Dudley. He soon became a member of the notorious faction, Evolution, that consisted of the likes of Triple H, Ric Flair, and another rookie, Randy Orton.
By 2005, Batista had become a World Champion and the biggest Superstar on Monday nights. His intimidating look and incredible physique landed him a role in the James Bond movie, Spectre. He didn't look back and is now an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the biggest franchises in the world today.
Although Batista has become a legit Hollywood actor, his passion for professional wrestling makes him come back time after time. Days before his movie "Avengers: Endgame" will release, Batista, is all set to battle Triple H at WrestleMania 35 on April 7th. Batista's mainstream recognition is bound to boost buy rates for the annual extravaganza.
#3. Hulk Hogan
The Immortal one can be considered as the first Superstar who became bigger than the business. Hogan's over the top persona caught Hollywood's eye, and he was given a role in the Sylvester Stallone-starrer Rocky III. Soon after, he became the biggest name in professional wrestling. WWE's association with Hollywood gave birth to the Rock 'N' Wrestling Era, with Mr. T and Hogan main eventing the first WWE WrestleMania in 1985.
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Hogan had become a legit celebrity. He had his own merchandise, action figures, DVDs, and a whole lot of other stuff selling like hot cakes in stores across America. In 1996, Hogan turned heel due to his waning popularity.
Hogan made a name for himself in Hollywood and has starred in loads of movies till date.
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#2. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar came in at around the same time as the likes of John Cena and Batista.
His incredible stature soon made him a force to be reckoned with, and he captured the WWE Title from The Rock at Summerslam 2002. Lesnar had perhaps the greatest rookie year in WWE history, as he went on to win the Royal Rumble match in 2003, and became the WWE Champion at WrestleMania XIX.
Brock ran roughshod over the SmackDown locker room for a year, before leaving the WWE to focus on a possible NFL career. An injury crushed Brock's NFL dreams and he began working for NJPW. Soon after, Lesnar joined the UFC and became one of the biggest stars there. He came back to WWE on the Raw after WrestleMania 28.
Brock had become bigger than the WWE at this point. He carried tons of mainstream attention back to the company. Ever since then, WWE has been securing Brock Lesnar for a string of perk-filled contracts. Lesnar's contract allows him to miss multiple Raws and PPVs in succession, forcing the fans to dub his reign as being "The reign of terror".
#1. The Rock
Dwayne Johnson was a bubbly babyface when he came into the WWE as Rocky Maivia. The fans soon grew tired of this gimmick and began chanting "Die Rocky, die" during his matches.
This resulted in a character change, and the rest is history. The Rock became one of the biggest Superstars of the Attitude Era, alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin. By the time 2002 rolled around, The Rock had become a recognizable face in Hollywood. His exceptional mic skills had helped him kick start a movie career and he never looked back.
The Rock came back to WWE in 2003 as Hollywood Rock, an annoying egomaniac whose head had become plagued with Hollywood fame. This persona of The Rock went on to become one of the greatest characters to ever step foot inside the ring.
At this point, The Rock is one of the highest paid Hollywood actors and is perhaps the most recognizable WWE face in the world.