Being a professional wrestler can be a test for anyone starting their career. It takes a lot of patience and determination to succeed in the industry, and some of these talents find success by signing with major promotions.
These ten WWE the superstars began their journey the same way and are now at the peak of their careers competing for globally recognized promotion. They had similar paths to get to where they are today, and they would have nothing but gratitude looking back on their journey. With that said, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see what these ten WWE Superstars looked like ten years ago.
Doudrop is making huge strides in the professional wrestling industry with her sudden rise to the main event stages in WWE’s Women’s Division. She’s not like the regular Vince McMahon-type wrestlers, but she has the talent and in-ring abilities that have earned her the recognition she deserves.
Doudrop competed on the UK independent circuit as Vyper around this time ten years ago, and she faced other future WWE Superstars like Nikki Cross and Kay Lee Ray on several occasions.
She’s now set to challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble, and we have to wait and see if she can dethrone Big-Time Becks to become the new champion.
9 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has been on a rollercoaster ride in WWE with plenty of ups and downs so far. But he remains hopeful of letting the authorities behind the scenes know his talents and making it to the main event level.
He was doing exactly the same thing ten years ago, but with the goal of qualifying for a major promotion like WWE. He competed in the independent scenes for promotions like CZW, Evolve and AIW under the name Uhaa Nation.
Apollo Crews has made a career out of trying to prove himself wherever he goes, and fans are waiting for WWE to recognize his efforts and give him more opportunities in the coming days.
8 Nikki ASH
Nikki Cross was competing exclusively on the UK independent circuit around this time a decade ago, as Nikki Storm. She made her work known among all independent companies in the UK, which earned her multiple opportunities to compete for various promotions such as Pro-Wrestling Eve and World Wide Wrestling League.
She even held the EVE Championship and the W3L Women’s Championship back then and even held the latter title for 751 days.
She is now embroiled in a feud with former partner Rhea Ripley which could play out in the coming weeks and at the Women’s Royal Rumble match.
seven Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler started her professional wrestling career in 2015, but she was no stranger to combat sports as she was already an established MMA fighter.
By 2012, Shayna Baszler had already competed in 20 MMA fights across multiple promotions and had an impressive 15-7 record. She had two fights in 2012, with the first against Sara McMann, which she lost by unanimous decision. The second came against Sarah D’Alelio, which Baszler won by submission.
She signed with WWE in 2017, and despite her success in NXT, she was unable to replicate the same on the main roster. She’ll be competing in this year’s Women’s Royal Rumble match, and we have to wait to find out if the Queen of Spades will have a dominant outing.
Ricochet’s professional wrestling career began in 2003, and the high-flying superstar had done almost everything he could in the independent scenes before making his way to WWE in 2018.
If we look back at Ricochet’s career ten years ago, he had fun competing for promotions like Dragon Gate and Evolve. He enjoyed three title reigns during the period, with two Open The United Gate Championships and one Open The Brave Gate Championship.
He held championships in consecutive years from 2011 to 2019, but his run for the WWE United States Championship was his last in the last two years, and he finds himself struggling to climb the ladder to achieve prominent places on WWE broadcasts.
5 Tommaso Ciampa
Tommaso Ciampa was a mainstay of NXT throughout the Gold & Black era. His feuds with Johnny Gargano and his two NXT title reigns defined his dominance over the brand.
Ciampa had a brief stint in WWE from 2005 to 2007, when he appeared as one of Muhammad Hassan’s lawyers and was attacked by The Undertaker, then appeared in a few matches on Velocity and Heat.
After his release, he put his talents to use on the independent circuit, and in 2012 Ciampa found himself becoming a Ring of Honor regular. He faced several future superstars like Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Cedric Alexander. He continued to appear for ROH until 2015 when he re-signed with WWE.
4 Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali started his professional wrestling career in 2003 and worked his way up to various independent promotions. In 2012, he primarily competed in the Oglesby, Illinois-based promotion Dreamwave Wrestling, where he was a former World Champion.
He signed with WWE in 2016, and despite having tons of potential, an early injury robbed him of all his momentum, and he hasn’t recovered from the lackluster booking since.
Mustafa Ali is in the midst of a difficult phase in his career where he is like a caged bird deprived of freedom. He announced on his Twitter account that he had requested his release from WWE, but his plea was rejected by the promotion, which did not grant his release.
3 Chad Gable
Chad Gable, current Raw Tag Team Champion, was an accomplished amateur wrestler in 2012 and even represented the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Gable already had some exposure to professional wrestling as he competed for Midwest Pro Wrestling from 2003 to 2004 before focusing on amateur wrestling. He returned to the professional wrestling ring in November 2012 and competed for Pro Wrestling Battleground, and continued training until he moved to WWE in 2014.
After a few ups and downs, it looks like Gable has found some success in the tag team division with partner Otis, and fans are only expecting big things for the talented wrestler.
2 Damien Priest
Damian Priest began his career as a professional wrestler in 2005 when he competed as Luis Martinez for Old Time Wrestling until 2007. After a few years away, he stepped into the ring again in 2012 to Monster Factory Pro Wrestling as Punisher Martinez.
He then became well known to fans after signing with Ring of Honor in 2015, where he is a former ROH Television Champion. He signed with WWE in 2018 and won the NXT North American Championship. He picked up the same momentum on the main roster and has an impactful run as United States Champion.
Before heading to a professional wrestling ring, Matt Riddle was an accomplished MMA fighter with an 8-5 career record. He had 10 of his 11 fights in the UFC, and in 2012 he had three fights and won two while the result of his fight with Chris Clements was changed to a no contest after Riddle failed. to a drug test after the fight.
He began his professional wrestling training in 2015 and debuted for Monster Factory Pro Wrestling. He signed with WWE in 2018, and after a brief stint in NXT, he made his main roster debut in 2020 and is now one of the main superstars on the Raw roster after teaming up with Randy Orton for form RK-Bro.
Before entering the world of professional wrestling and becoming larger than life WWE Superstars, these wrestlers worked out on a regular basis.
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