Much like strippers, porn stars and folks in the Witness Protection Program, pro wrestlers live their lives and perform for thousands - MILLIONS - under made-up names. Unless, of course, you actually thought someone was really born with the name Dolph Ziggler. Here are 15 Superstars working in the WWE and the names their mommas gave 'em
15. Dean Ambrose
This Cincinnati native (and this writer's favorite wrestler) was born Jonathan Goode. He began his wrestling career under the name John Moxley and was as well known for his blood soaked hardcore battles as he was his wrestling ability and microphone skills. Goode is still billed as being from Cincinnati but now resides in Las Vegas.
14. Roman Reigns
Born Leati "Joe" Anoa'i in Pensacola, FL, the 2015 Royal Rumble winner and WrestleMania 31 headliner was originally a member of the NFL. He played for the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars as a Defensive Tackle before moving on to the WWE - which might explain his Running Spear finisher.
Born Miroslav Barnyashev, the "Bulgarian Brute" known as Rusev is actually from Bulgaria (in contrast, one of the most notorious "Russian" wrestlers of all time, Nikita Koloff, was actually a guy from Minnesota named Nelson). He currently resides in Nashville, TN where he lives with his girlfriend - who also happens to portray his on-screen manager, Lana.
12. Bray Wyatt
While he plays supernatural cult leader Bray Wyatt on WWE TV, Windham Rotundo is actually a pretty normal guy in real life - relatively speaking. He's the son of former WWE star Mike Rotundo - more popularly known as Irwin R. Shyster - and the brother of another WWE up-and-comer, Bo Dallas (aka Taylor Rotundo).
One of the more underrated superstars on the WWE roster, Atlanta native Ron Killings has led an interesting life in and away from the ring. After making an attempt at a music career, Killings was encouraged to give pro wrestling a try by a friend of his. After debuting as K-Kwik, Killings eventually became R-Truth and has been entertaining fans around the world ever since.
10. The Big Show
Paul Wight, aka The Big Show, is often compared to the legendary Andre the Giant, and for good reason. Both suffered from the disease acromegaly, which caused both of them to grow to incredible size. Unlike his on-screen "father" (it's... a long story and it involves WCW), Wight had a procedure to halt his condition, allowing him to live a long, healthy life. Wight was also an accomplished student athlete in his younger days, as well.
9. Seth Rollins
Currently the Money in the Bank contract holder and one of the top heels (bad guys) in the WWE, Seth Rollins was born Colby Lopez in Buffalo, Iowa. Like a lot of the current up-and-coming stars in the company, Rollins has had a lot of experience in the independent scene and, like Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens and former WWE star CM Punk, was a former Ring of Honor World Champion.
8. Damien Sandow/Mizdow
Pictured here with Mike "The Miz" Mizanan, Damien Sandow (or "Mizdow", as he's currently known), is currently Mizanan's "personal assistant" on Raw. He was born Aaron Haddad in Worcester, MA and actually began his WWE career under the name Austin Idol.
The first Irish-born WWE Champion, Sheamus was actually born as Stephen Farrelly in Dublin, Ireland. Farrelly started his career wrestling across Ireland and the UK before getting a tryout with WWE. He made in WWE debut in June of 2009 and by December was WWE Champion. How's that for being an overachiever?
Ryback = Ry (from Ryan Reeves, Ryback's real name) + Back (as in Silverback Gorilla, an animal Reeves's friends frequently compared him to). It's an unusual ring name, to be sure, but it's light years better than his previous name and gimmick - Skip Sheffield, cowboy wrestler! This Las Vegas native attended his first WWE live event when he was eight years old and was hooked since, leading to main event matches and a love of Applebee's.
Currently the oldest regular performer on the roster (at 47), Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane) has been a presence in the WWE since well before the Attitude Era. After working in some of the southern territories in the US, Jacobs made his first appearance in WWE as Issac Yankem, DDS. - a wrestling dentist. He then transitioned into "fake Diesel", playing the character originally filled by Kevin Nash before jumping to WCW. He finally found a fit in 1997 as Kane, half-brother of The Undertaker.
4. The Undertaker
When Mark Calaway entered the WWE in 1990 and was told that he was going to play a character based on a mortician from the Old West, we suspect even he had no idea how enduring it would be. But, like all great characters, The Undertaker has evolved over the years - from a supernatural wizard to a demonic cult leader to a vicious biker to an undead mixed martial artist (we think).
While the Undertaker will be taking on Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31 this year, there's one opponent fans really want to see him take on at the Show of Shows...
Steve Borden began his pro wrestling career as part of a team of body builders in the 1980s called Powerteam USA. He would eventually move on to form a tag team called The Blade Runners with a fellow member of that stable - a member who would go on to become The Ultimate Warrior. Borden, however, would go on to join Jim Crockett Promotions, which would become WCW, under the name of Sting. After decades, Sting will be making his WWE wrestling debut at WrestleMania 31 this year against...
2. Triple H
He's gone by a number of names in his career: Terra Ryzing, Jean-Paul Levesque, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and, finally, Triple H. Born Paul Levesque in New Hampshire, Triple H started out in bodybuilding as a means to getting into pro wrestling. He's now an executive with WWE while still occasionally making appearances at events.
1. Dolph Ziggler
Before he was a former two-time World Heavyweight Champion, before he was the "Show Off", before he was the guy who told everybody his name, before he was an evil male cheerleader - Nick Nemeth was one of the greatest amateur wrestlers to ever come out of Kent State. Since then, he's become one of the top stars in WWE and has also found success as a touring comedian and actor.