When you envision a professional wrestler, images of jacked up jocks probably come to mind for most of you. You probably see a locker room full of men and women who do nothing but lift weights and train all day.
What you probably don’t picture is a backstage area that’s riddled with comic book fans, gamers, cosplayers, and all kinds of other nerds. As it turns out, there are lots pro wrestlers out there who are most definitely huge nerds! One of us!
1. Xavier Woods
When it comes to wrestling nerds, Xavier Woods aka Austin Creed has to be on the top of the list. The man started a gaming YouTube channel called UpUpDownDown that has attracted some of the top performers within the WWE (and outside of the company, as well). He’s been spotted at comic con, PAX, and plenty of other nerd conventions. He and his faction The New Day often work video game references into parts of their on-screen personas including working songs from games like Zelda into his trumpet play (yes, his character even plays the trumpet).
2. Kenny Omega
Outside of the WWE, Kenny Omega aka Tyson Smith sits atop the nerd throne. While he’s considered by many to be the greatest wrestler in the world today, he’s also considered to be one of wrestling’s biggest nerds. Many of Kenny’s wildly popular t-shirts feature video game themes, and he even names many of his in-ring moves after video games (the “V Trigger” is a particularly awesome move he does in just about every match and his finisher is called “The One Winged Angel,” which is a pretty deep cut). He even came to ring fully decked out in a Destiny 2 costume once!
3. Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder, or Matthew Cardona as he’s known in real life, lets his geek flag fly high, even though his in-ring character is that of a Long Island super bro. Outside the ring, he’s an avid collector of action figures, including those based on his colleagues in the wrestling world. He’s also a big fan of the comic book world, going as far as posting a photo of himself sporting an Infinity Gauntlet he received for his birthday from his girlfriend.
4. Cody Rhodes
Much his fellow The Elite member Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes (born Cody Runnels) can often be seen sporting video game-themed costumes on his way to the ring for some huge matches. Before leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling to found All Elite Wrestling, Cody rocked a badass Metal Gear-inspired bit of gear to the ring. Oh, and he has a Triforce tattoed on his hand in case you still wanted to question his nerdiness.
5. The Big Show
The Big Show doesn’t seem like the kind of wrestler who would be a nerd, but looks can be deceiving. The giant has been said to be a huge fan of Destiny and Destiny 2. Paul Wight, as he’s known in real life, has said that at one point he was “in [the] top 1% light, grim and k/d ratio,” meaning that not only does play Destiny, but he plays a lot. And he’s damn good at the game, too.
6. John Cena
When it comes to wrestlers who have made it in the celebrity world, John Cena (who uses his real name in the ring) is one of the first people that comes to mind (behind The Rock, of course), but he’s also a huge nerd in more ways that one. A simple look at his Instagram reveals a man who spends an inordinate amount of time messing around in Photoshop. Aside from Photoshop, he’s also posted plenty of video game screenshots, including those from old school gems. He’s also admitted to being a huge fan of anime, citing his favorite movie as Fist of the North Star.
7. Seth Rollins
Colby Lopez aka Seth Rollins is the current top good guy in the WWE is easily one of the best wrestlers in recent memory, both in terms of personality and in-ring work. But outside of that, he’s also super into nerd culture and many of the aspects that come with it. You’ll often see him making appearances on Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown channel winning at various games (he’s nasty at Madden). He’s a huge fan of both Star Wars and Harry Potter, having named moves after both franchises at various points in his career.
8. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio loves comic books, and he’s never been shy about making it known during his professional wrestling career. Even as recently as WrestleMania this month Rey sported ring attire based on comics—this time his gear was inspired by the villain Mysterio. He’s also worn costumes inspired by Daredevil, Flash, Captain America, and even The Joker.
9. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks, aka Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado is often seen playing video games with Xavier Woods on UpUpDownDown, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her being a nerd. Banks is actually a giant fan of Sailor Moon. If you dig into her social media, you’ll often see her sporting clothing representing it. On top of that, she’s worn ring gear inspired by superheroes like Wonder Woman in the past.