Professional wrestling is all about the personalities of the performers. It’s not just the personas and outrageous outfits either. It’s the real cultural differences between these wrestlers that are so celebrated in this world.
Organizations like the WWE do not get enough credit for bringing talent from so many cultures together. Throughout the decades that the WWE has operated, we have seen performers from every continent come together and give everything they have to this sport. Here are the multicultural origins of some of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers of the past and present.
The Iron Sheik
The Iron Sheik is a classic wrestling icon from the golden era of the sport. His real name is Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, and he was born and raised in Iran.
Long before he ever came to the US, Vaziri was a wrestling standout and earned a spot on the Iranian Olympic team, competing in the 1968 Summer Olympics. He then moved to the US in 1970 where he became an assistant coach for several US Olympic squads. It’s through his connections here that he eventually was introduced to professional wrestling and the rest is history.
Just the name Sheamus instantly lets you know where this wrestler is from. This is because the name is continuously used throughout pop culture with examples like Irish poet Seamus Haney, Seamus Finnigan from the Harry Potter series, and even a leprechaun named Seamus that hosts the Pots of Luck casino on an online gaming platform. Feel free to get it here if you’re into this type of quirky entertainment, but the crux of the matter is that Sheamus is an identifiable name, so when it came time for Stephen Farrelly to choose a ring name that represented his upbringing, there was only one option in mind.
Farrelly was born in a suburb of Dublin in 1978. He started off his professional wrestling career around 2004 in local Irish promotions before moving on to bigger events in Britain. After a few years building his reputation, he was signed by the WWE. Sheamus has since gone on to become one of the most famous wrestlers on their roster, and the first Irish World Champion.
Óscar Gutiérrez, better known as Rey Mysterio, is one of the best Mexican wrestlers ever and has achieved everything a wrestler could ever hope to in his celebrated career. While he was born in California, Mysterio’s Mexican roots run deep, and he is especially beloved by Hispanic wrestling fans on both sides of the border.
Before signing with the WWE in 2002, he wrestled in various organizations in Mexico and Europe. His career is legendary, as he is a three-time World Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, three-time Cruiserweight Champion, and most famously, a four-time Tag Team Champion.
Kanako Urai was born in Osaka, Japan, and it’s here that she first developed her love for wrestling. As all fans know, Japan is huge for professional wrestling, but few wrestlers ultimately make it over to the US.
Asuka is a rare talent who grinded her way through the local and international circuits for over 15 years before making it to the WWE. She has found her home among the wave of female wrestlers that the WWE is promoting. Asuka has won the SmackDown Women’s Champion and Women’s Tag Team Champion titles. Most fans would consider her to be one of the most polarizing female wrestlers in the organization today.
Solofa F. Fatu Jr. quickly became a spectacle in the WWE for his absurd ring behavior and outrageous antics. Coming from a long line of Samoan wrestlers, he knew what his fate would hold from an early age. At 6’1, 425lbs, Rikishi was massive and easily dwarfed some of his opponents. In over a decade of wrestling for the WWE, he won the Intercontinental Championship, and Tag Team Championship, commonly playing up his role as a heel along the way.
Andre the Giant
André René Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant, is a French wrestler who reached the absolute heights of fame in the WWE thanks to his larger-than-life physique. His billed height was 7’4, with 520lbs on his frame. Simply put, Andre was massive, and he wrestled alongside the most famous talents of all time like Hulk Hogan, Terry Boulder, and Abdullah the Butcher.
While he was destined to become one of the most iconic wrestling personalities of all time, his origins were very quaint. He was born to Bulgarian and Polish immigrant parents and lived on a farm in his formative years. In the early 1960s, he moved to Paris in search of work and was spotted by a local wrestling promoter. From here, Andre would go on to make history.