Wrestling Icons Who Don't Look Anything Like They Used To

Not every wrestler stays the same forever. Some, like Hulk Hogan, have maintained roughly the same look over the years, while many have gone from what can only be called professional peacocking, to a completely different look. Here are some wrestling icons who don't look anything like they once did.

The Rock

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has certainly made a few image and style changes since he first stepped into the ring in 1996. His first bout featured the future Hollywood star as Rocky Maivia, and fans immediately reacted to the guy by ... booing their hearts out.

It's not hard to see why fans didn't shine to the future king of Hollywood right away. His costume looked like something pulled out of the bargain bin in a dollar store. At times, he sported a cape-like checkerboard thing with feathers and blue streamers reaching down below his waist. He also wore blue bracers and blue elbow pads. It wasn't long before Johnson ditched the Rocky Maivia gimmick, demanded to be called simply The Rock, switched to regular trunks, $5000 shirts, and a single, black People's Elbow Pad. Fans immediately embraced the new persona, and Johnson went on to become the burly Hollywood icon he is today.

Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho has always been something of a rock star wrestler. He actually fronts the band Fozzy, so that description isn't just a figurative one. While today, he proves he's a huge rock star by, well, being one, in WCW, he let his glorious hair define his look. That isn't to say that he just had some impressive blond locks—he teased the hell out of it to look like he just rolled out of bed after a night of downing three bottles of whiskey and killing a bear with nothing but his hands.

He also required additional security, which ... for some reason came in the form of an elderly, toothless, overweight fellow who wore a cutoff white t-shirt he clearly marked with a Sharpie to read "Jericho Personal Security." No doubt Jericho might have needed his additional security to keep the fans away, so they didn't steal his arm-length finger gloves or even to make off with a cut of his glorious mane of hair.

The Undertaker

Mark Calaway didn't begin his career in the ring as the badass Undertaker — it took a few attempts before he settled on the infamous look.

Back when he first came onto the professional wrestling scene, he was known as Texas Red (pictured), and looked absolutely nothing like he does now. Texas Red was a fairly simple look compared to his later gimmicks — he sported black trunks, a black vest, black and white arm bracers, a long mullet tied into a ponytail, and a mustache-less beard. That's ... pretty much it.

He transitioned through several other gimmicks, mostly variations on Texas Red, before arriving in the then-WWF and finally becoming The Undertaker, and are we glad he ended up where he is now. If The Undertaker could go back in time and meet up with Texas Red, Taker might end up with some extra work to do back at the funeral home.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin

People who don't follow wrestling probably know who Steve Austin is, what his nickname happens to be, and what he looks like. He's been seen in television shows and film since his turn in The Longest Yard in 2005, so his bald badass image has been pretty solidified in the public for more than a decade.

Of course, like everyone else in this article, he didn't start out looking like the physical embodiment of an ass-kicking like he does today. His original persona came with a clean-shaven face, long blond hair, and the name Stunning Steve. It wasn't so much that he looked different, due to the long, blond hair he sported — it's that the hair was a major part of his act. He joined a tag team known as the Hollywood Blonds alongside Brian Pillman, where their locks were something of a centerpiece.

Stunning Steve didn't catch on much, and neither did his hair, which he cut to a relatively normal length before becoming The Ringmaster in WWF. He soon shaved it all off when becoming Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1996, as a means of permanently separating himself from Ringmaster, which a gimmick he despised. Probably because McMahon wouldn't let him manage a stable of trained lions and acrobats.

Triple H

Hunter Hearst Helmsley, better known simply as Triple H, went through a few changes on his way to becoming an Executive Vice President for WWE, a position he currently holds.

Triple H entered the ring in 1992 as the pun-licious Terra Ryzing, but soon moved into the persona of Jean-Paul Lévesque (pictured), a hoity-toity French-Canadian aristocrat he debuted in 1994. His look was accompanied with a snobbish attitude and demeanor — he pretty much embodied that guy in an '80s movie who was a rich jerk everyone wanted to punch. Triple H adopted a few more, decreasingly snobby, increasingly meaner gimmicks, before finally entering the business world in 2010 as a short-haired, besuited executive for WWE.


While most wrestlers change their gimmicks over time, they tend to at least look a little like they once did. That can't be said for Dustin Runnels, who began his career performing as Dustin Rhodes in 1988. Rhodes looked pretty much like any other wrestler of the day — he wore flashy clothes and bleach-blond hair, but the look didn't have much memorable flair.

That may be why he eventually altered his gimmick into his current persona, Goldust, where he can't help but be memorable. Even Runnels' Goldust look has gone through some pretty drastic changes. These days, he tends to wear a skin-tight black-and-gold bodysuit with some killer face paint, but he's also come out in a full gold suit while sporting a blond wig and all sorts of accessories. Then there was his "Artist Formerly Known As Goldust" days, where he was ... certainly memorable, but in all the wrong ways.


Kane is one of the more enduring characters in WWE history, but he started his career with a much different, far stupider look. When he first hit the mat for the WWF, he did so as Isaac Yankem, DDS: Jerry "The King" Lawler's private dentist. Yep.

As a (sigh) wrestling dentist, Yankem wore a white doctor's shirt with black wrist braces. He sported a dirty blond mullet of curly hair, a goatee, and what had to be the nastiest looking teeth on the planet. It looked like dental equipment made for a Tim Burton movie about a sadistic dentist who enjoyed causing pain. Jacobs only held onto the dentist gimmick for year before transitioning into Kane, though not before spending another year impersonating another wrestler, because WWE is weird.


John "Bradshaw" Layfield's (JBL) current look is a far cry from one of his earliest gimmicks: Justin Hawk Bradshaw, an energetic cowboy decked out in a black stetson hat and brown vest. He would brand his opponents in the ring, but would use ink instead of actually branding them, because wrestlers are such wimps. Oh well, no gimmick is perfect.

The schtick worked for awhile, but eventually, the real Bradshaw would come out: a rich Texan sporting a suit and tie almost exclusively. Today, when not working for WWE as a commentator, he can most often be found working as a guest panelist on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom. The gimmick of a wealthy businessman works, because that's pretty much what he is these days.

Jesse "The Body" Ventura

Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura wasn't always the stringy-haired politician/conspiracy theorist we know and love today. He actually got his start professionally as a wrestler back in the 1970s. Fans knew him as "The Body," and he entered the ring sporting a pretty flashy look, as was common at the time. His hair was nice and long like it is today, but it was far less wild and crazy, and more of a "make fun of my man-bun and I will end you" kind of look. He also had a bit of hair gracing his upper lip, and tended to wear leather jackets with a lot of fringe down the arms.

As he moved from the ring into announcing, he would often wear a suit ... a pink suit, which he sometimes accessorized with a feather boa. You could try making fun of him, but he was a Navy SEAL before becoming a wrestler, so tease at your own risk.

Scott Steiner

Few professional wrestlers have gone through the physical transformation Scott Steiner has undergone. When he first began wrestling in the '80s, he looked like an all-American poster-boy wrestler, with an impressive mullet, clean-shaven face, and he kept his gimmick grounded by not going character-overboard like some of his colleagues.

He no longer looks anything like he did when he was younger, but not because he's now in his mid-50s — it's due to his packing on an entire human's worth of muscle on top of his already impressive physique. Steiner started to show an impressive gain in mass in the mid-1990s, which brought with it some (many) steroid allegations, which he denied. His gimmick evolved into a chainmail-wearing brute, with muscles that could only be described as abnormally large. Worst of all: the glorious mullet was no more.


The Raven we all know and love didn't start his career looking like an old guy trying to fit in with his goth, teenage kid. When he first started wrestling in the 1980s, he embraced a much flashier image as Scotty Flamingo. He was flamboyant, sporting a bedazzled jean jacket with pink fringe under the arms, along with a pink headband and a surfboard that he never actually used.

A lot of what made this gimmick work (and not work) was his attitude and obnoxious behavior, but it just wasn't him. It's no wonder, then, that he eventually abandoned this look and took on the role of Raven, the look he has retained for years. Gotta keep reppin' the goth kids, after all.

Papa Shango

Charles Wright was a mainstay in professional wrestling since his debut in 1991 as Sir Charles. That gimmick didn't stick for very long before he embraced the controversial character Papa Shango, a voodoo practitioner who carried a skull, which he would use to manipulate the lights in the arena. Magic! He would also curse (not in the naughty way — the spooky way) and cast spells to force his opponents to revisit whatever meal they ate most recently.

As gimmicks go, Papa Shango was a pretty cool-looking one. His face was painted to look like a skull, and he wore a ridiculous hat with a feather in it. Though he's mostly retired now, most fans know Wright as the Godfather—a pimp look so completely different from Shango, most fans probably wouldn't even recognize him as the Voodoo practitioner. Though both wear ridiculous hats.

Joey Mercury

Most professional wrestlers go through style and gimmick changes to shake things up. Joey Mercury's look ended up changing not out of a desire to start fresh, but rather due to a rather nasty accident.

Mercury began his career looking pretty badass. He sported long, dark, braided hair down to his shoulders, and maintained an incredible physique. Unfortunately, he suffered what he called a "career-ending injury" during a bout in 2006, when a ladder crashed down on his face, shattering his nose. He required plastic surgery and was out of action for months, due to the severity of the break. He returned to the ring a short while later wearing a protective face mask, but was eventually let out of his WWE contract, and retired. These days, he sports a suit and tie due to his gig as a producer and announcer for WWE, though he does return to the ring on occasion as a (easily tossed-around) member of the heel J&J Security.

Johnny B. Badd

These days, Marc Mero doesn't look anything like a wrestler. He founded a nonprofit called Champion of Choices, an anti-bullying group, and has spent most of his time looking like a regular guy. But when he premiered as a professional wrestler back in 1991, he didn't look like a regular anything. He was Johnny B. Badd, a villainous spoof on Little Richard. Badd came onto the scene with shoulder-length hair, a mustache, a tutti-fruity attitude, and little else.

Aside from his WWE stint as "Wildman/Marvelous" Marc Mero, he largely stuck with what worked, and continued to perform as Johnny B. Badd until he retired from the ring in 2006 and started focusing entirely on motivating kids.

Bull Nakano

Bull Nakano sported a unique look, which could best be described as "the last person you would want watching your kids." She spiked her hair a good eight inches above her head, shaved the sides, wore a variety of fancy jackets, and painted blue, veiny lines all over her face. She looked like she jumped right out of a Mortal Kombat game, and decided to vacation in professional wrestling.

Comparing Nakano then to her image now, you'd never guess they were the same person. That's not just due to the lack of blue-line makeup all over her face — she actually looks like a normal person these days. She left professional wrestling and became a professional golfer, even qualifying for the LPGA in 2006, so the change in image likely had a lot to do with that.