The lives of wrestlers outside the ring may surprise you. Wrestling and traveling around the world in this line of work will leave you with enough stories to tell friends and family about for years, but these stars of today can tell plenty of stories from their lives outside of the ring, as well!
Being a professional wrestler is a crazy line of work full of its ups and downs and everything in between. The sheer travel schedule is enough to burn anyone out, let alone the physical exhaustion of putting on a show almost every night of the week. Wrestlers go above and beyond to entertain the fans.
Homage will be shown to these multifaceted superstars. Here is a unique look into the lives of five wrestlers outside the ring.
1. Asuka and Her Life in the Gaming and Beauty Industry
The Empress of Tomorrow has been a WWE revelation since joining the company back in 2015. In less than three years, she’s had a streak that surpassed Goldberg’s, a record-breaking NXT Women’s title reign, became a main roster star, and had one of the top matches at WrestleMania 34.
Asuka’s career has been nothing short of impressive. What makes Asuka even more empowering is the fact that her life outside of the ring is incredibly impressive, as well.
The Empress began her career in 2004 before having to briefly retire in 2006 due to chronic nephritis.
To save you a Google search, "Nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys and may involve the glomeruli, tubules, or interstitial tissue surrounding the glomeruli and tubules."
Fortunately, the love she had for wrestling did not fade, and she returned when she was healthier the following year.
Before her professional wrestling career began in 2004, she worked as a graphic designer. During her year-and-a-half off from wrestling, she returned to her graphic designing, this time taking it a step further and opening up her own graphic design agency.
If that wasn’t enough, she also wrote articles for Xbox Magazine. Asuka is a very keen gamer and designed graphics for the Nintendo DS. Her credentials are outstanding, but it doesn’t even end there. Asuka ran a beauty salon, too!
Kanako Urai, then known as Kana, was interviewed by Gordman of gordmansgametreasure.com, where she gave a glimpse of her unique life:
Gordman: "Konnichiwa Kana (Asuka)! At first, thanks for your precious time. I really appreciate that. When did you discover your passion for video games for the first time?"
Asuka: "I was hooked for the first time by Metroid & Goemon."
Gordman: "Which consoles and handhelds do you own?"
Asuka: "Famicom (NES), Disk System, Super Famicom (SNES), Sega Mega Drive, Mega-CD, GameGear, PC Engine, CD-ROM 2, GameBoy, GB Advance, Nintendo 64, 64DD, WonderSwan, Nintendo DS, DSLL, DSi, 3DSLL, Wii, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox360, PlayStation, PS2, and PS3."
Gordman: "Would you give away the secret of how many games you have in your private collection?"
Asuka: "About 3000 for all of my consoles."
Gordman: "Please explain to our readers exactly what you do in your job."
Asuka: "I’m a professional wrestler. And I run a design office and a beauty salon. By design, there are things you have to design, like the characters of two software titles (Nintendo DS). And I produced this 30 mobile software."
(Note from Gordman: The beauty salon is called "Another Heaven" and is placed in Yokohama)
Gordman: "I read that you like the products from Rockstar Games. Which are your favorite series (like Midnight Club or Grand Theft Auto) from Rockstar Games?"
Asuka: "Red Dead Redemption."
Gordman: "In wrestling, your entrance theme is called "The Sun Rises" by Rei Kondo from the game Okami. Is there anything special for you in relation to this wonderful game?"
Asuka: "OKAMI is the best game. Then, the main theme of the game ("The Sun Rises") is best."
Gordman: "My website is dedicated to the Sega Master System. What do you think about this cult console from the ’80s and ’90s?"
Asuka: "I love Sega. It is also my motion capture "Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown". I am particularly fond of Mega Drive (Rampart, Crying, Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Granada)."
Gordman: "Arigatou, Kana! I wish you all the best in the future!"
3000 games! SmackDown Live is truly not ready for Asuka.
2. Braun Strowman and His Career as a Strongman
Adam Scherr (formerly known as Braun Strowman in WWE) has the size, the looks, the charisma, and considering he debuted on the main WWE roster with only eight months of in-ring experience; he can do a decent job in the ring, too.
Looking the way he does, it probably comes as no surprise that his past involved lifting heavy things.
Braun Strowman began what would ultimately lead him to WWE in the late-2000’s, competing in strongman competitions. Strowman dominated the amateur scene.
Speaking to Peter Rosenberg of ESPN, who also has a working relationship with WWE, Strowman had this to say about his amateur contests, "It wasn’t too fair to the guys I went out there and competed against. Most of my contests were that way until I reached the pro level."
Strowman earned his pro card after winning the NAS US Amateur National Championships in November 2011. It was from that moment on where Strowman would get more competition.
His path to professional wrestling, however, began in the process of becoming a pro. At the 2010 Arnold Classic, Strowman met another strongman, this year’s WWE Hall of Famer, Mark Henry.
Continuing his conversation with Peter Rosenberg, Strowman spoke of Mark Henry’s influence in getting him to where he is today.
"He’s been a man that I’ve looked up to for a long time. He’s the biggest reason I’m a superstar today. He took a liking to me and saw that not only did I enjoy going out there and lifting the weights, but I was a ham," Strowman said.
"I enjoyed getting the crowd involved. The louder they screamed for me, I felt like the stronger I became. I fed off that energy."
Mark Henry had this to say on Strowman, "I knew he wouldn’t crack in front of an audience."
"WWE noticed that too, and the rest is history," said Strowman.
Although Braun Strowman was released from WWE in June 2021, his future in wrestling still looks bright. We look forward to seeing where his career goes from here.
3. Chris Jericho – Author, Professional Wrestler, Rockstar, Legend.
Y2J’s journey as a wrestler is unprecedented. He has performed at a high standard his whole career, even now at the ripe age of 47, having arguably one of the best matches of his career back in January 2018 against Kenny Omega at the Wrestle Kingdom 12 event.
It’s well documented that for Chris Jericho, life is busy on the road. He has a considerable amount of commitments outside the ring, too, as he takes time off to do shows with his band Fozzy. But the success he’s had with the band should not go unnoticed, especially when you look at the origin of it.
In the early days of Fozzy, before ever knowing they would become as big as they did, he had a gimmick tied to the band. Jericho played a funny persona named "Moongoose McQueen." Through Moongoose McQueen’s eyes, Fozzy had formed in 1980 and had a tragic backstory! To give you an idea about the kind of character Moongoose McQueen was, he tells interviewer Danny Shipman the tragic story.
"A true rock and roll tragedy. In 1980, the greatest heavy metal band of all time started, but only punk and disco were all the rage at the time. Nobody would sign Fozzy. Nobody would even give us a chance, except one guy: Masami ‘Sammy’ Tonami of Big Happy Mountain Rock Records in Japan.
"[Masami] Took us to Japan, signed us to a 20-year exclusive record deal saying ‘Fozzy may only record and play in Japan.’
"Well, when we got there, I think this is after about two or three months, he went out of business, and we were stranded in Japan with no money, no record deal, nothing.
"We were destitute; we were swimming in poverty. So what we did is we still created some of the greatest songs of all time, still recorded some of the greatest songs of all time, scraped together [as much] money as we could to make demos in downtown Tokyo, and we made the demos, and we sent them to record labels all across the world.
Moongoose McQueen continues to develop the story to a tragic place.
"What happened, you ask? The underground took over, and bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, The Scorpions- they stole Fozzy’s songs and replayed them and re-recorded them, claiming them to be their own! And they made millions of dollars while Fozzy was broke and destitute in Japan.
"Now 20 years is over, and Fozzy has returned to the United States to reclaim our crown as the kings of heavy metal, to reclaim our songs, to reclaim our legacy! And to reclaim our glory as Fozzy, the Kings of heavy metal."
With the band picking up steam after their self-titled album ‘Fozzy’ and ‘Happenstance,’ the Moongoose McQueen persona wore off, and Jericho took a more serious approach to the band, which has now played all over the globe.
Their album ‘Judas’ was a huge success, with the song Judas itself clocking in at over 48 million YouTube views (at the time of this writing), reaching number one on various Billboard charts, number 5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs and being played as Jericho’s theme song in AEW and New Japan. Fozzy is now flying higher than ever!
Jericho, who is very media-friendly, did a sit-down interview with Mike Karolyi of irockradio.com, speaking about the band’s recent success. Chris jokingly refers to Fozzy as a "seventeen-year overnight sensation."
"There are three or four other songs in the chamber that are just as good as ‘Judas,’ and I think now, with all the work that ‘Judas’ has done in building the profile of the band, that the door’s been kicked open. I expect the next single, which will be ‘Painless,’ to waltz right through the door."
And waltz right through, it did. Approaching 2 million views on YouTube and also hitting top 20 on the Billboard Rock chart.
Jericho being a multi-talented star, has many fans, and he gives a classy insight into what he’s like with his fans, "I always try to at least say hi to everybody, and take a picture — it takes three seconds," he said.
"Even people outside the bus, the last thing you want to do after a show is go and sign autographs and take pictures… but, you know, what kind of a jerk would I be if I didn’t? ‘Cause I was one of those kids. Ronnie James Dio told me — we played a show with him once — and he had a bunch of people at the gate, and he went and signed pictures for all of them.
"I was like, ‘Do you do that every night?’ He said, ‘Absolutely. You have to give people their moment. You’ll never remember this day, but they’ll never forget it. They’ll either remember you being nice to them or not nice to them.’
"Thankfully, most of the time, when people say ‘I met Chris Jericho,’ [they say,] ‘He was really nice.’ There are a few people who say, ‘He was a real dick,’ and I apologize for that, but hey — nine out of ten ain’t bad!"
Author, professional wrestler, rockstar, legend.
4. – Mustafa Ali – Police Officer Turned Wrestler
During WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic, you may have heard the commentators mention in passing that Mustafa Ali was once a police officer.
Mustafa Ali worked incredibly hard to provide for his family; he would often pull double duties. Straight after wrestling a match, without any time to shower, Mustafa Ali would get dressed and serve his shift as a police officer.
He kept quiet to his coworkers about his life on the side, doing his best to keep a low profile as he didn’t want the attention.
"What’s up with you?" was a regular question among the workplace seeing as Ali would sport a fresh new wound or black eye after his matches.
His father sadly passed away. Being a father in his own right, Mustafa could only wrestle locally around Chicago, despite offers to go overseas and wrestle in counties like Japan, Germany, and Mexico — the pay-check just wasn’t big enough to leave his family for.
Ali’s life changed forever when Brazilian wrestler Zumbi had visa issues and wasn’t able to participate in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic. Ali received the call to head up to Orlando and compete in his place.
Subsequently, Ali lost in the first round, but showed enough promise and signed a full-time contract with WWE, allowing him to wrestle full time and leave the police force. He has taken this opportunity and shined through with bright colors, showcasing his abilities and becoming one of the company’s top stars.
It wasn’t always easy to balance the wrestling with his day job. Ali spoke about this with ESPN.
"Yeah, it sucked, man. There were days I’d wrestle at 9 o’clock, and afterward, I often didn’t shower and would just throw on sweatpants. I had my police gear in the car and would rush to get to the station by 10:30, clean myself off as best I could, and be ready for my shift by 10:59."
Daniel Bryan mentioned Ali worked as a police officer in Chicago during his first-round Cruiserweight Classic matchup. One of the dispatch officers was watching that night, and word got around. His unit finally found out about his wrestling habits.
"When I eventually came back to roll call, everyone was staring and smirking at me. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ And they said, ‘How was your vacation?’ I told them it was a lot of fun, but they kept pressing. ‘Where did you say you went again? Who did you go with?’ She took a picture and sent it around to everyone, so yeah, they eventually found out." Ali revealed.
Mustafa Ali sure has a bright future ahead of him and is doing his family proud.
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