Since Vince McMahon took over the WWE from his father, the place a wrestler is billed to be from has held quite the importance. His biggest star, Hulk Hogan, was made to be such a beloved figure due to his patriotic US look. On the contrary, Vince also created foreign characters such as the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Their roles were different and they became some of the biggest villains in wrestling history.
It isn’t as important these days, however McMahon does use this tactic for storyline purposes from time to time. For example Lana has always been billed as being from Russia. However as you’ll see in this article that isn’t necessarily the case. We’ll include various other examples similar to Lana. In some cases the WWE might have fooled you into believing the wrestler was actually from a certain destination. In this article we specifically look at some of the most surprising names that really come from the US and 10 other surprising names that come from north of the border, Canada.
From some of the most beloved wrestlers of our time like Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio to the current crop such as Akam and Kyle O’Reilly, we take a look at the lesser known US citizens and those that have a passport from Canada. Enjoy folks and like always, be sure to share the article with a friend. Let's get started!
20 From The US: Rey Mysterio – Chula Vista, California
We wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Rey Mysterio was born in Mexico. After all, he’s typically referred to as one of the best talents (hailing from Mexico) in WWE history. Mysterio also began his wrestling journey at the age of 14 back in Mexico. However what most tend to forget is that the 619 artist is actually from California, the location he still calls home today.
Following his WWE exit Rey took part in several shows back in Mexico. He’s a huge star overseas despite his US passport. However he’ll be back in the US for at least two years as he reportedly signed a multi-year deal with the WWE.
19 From Canada: Bobby Roode – Peterborough, Ontario
A veteran in the wrestling business, some fans tend to forget about Roode’s Ontario background. In terms of work Roode briefly worked the indie scene out in Canada during the earlier portion of his career. He also worked in the Team Canada stable with TNA. However looking at photos of him back then you wouldn’t even recognize the Glorious One.
His wrestling career has been spent predominantly in the US. He relocated to Orlando after signing with NXT. Roode also spent time in Virginia living in the area with his wife and three children. These days he’s one of the few WWE stars residing in Canada. He’s currently living in Toronto.
18 From The US: Rikishi – San Francisco, California
A member of the Anoa’i family it would make sense to associate Rikishi with his Samoan bloodline. Heck during his WWE days the company introduced Rikishi as hailing from The Isle of Samoa. They weren’t telling us the whole truth! Damn you, Vince.
Rikishi is actually from San Francisco, California. The veteran enjoyed quite the run with the company during his prime in the early 2000s. These days the Hall Of Famer is happily retired and residing out of Florida. Aside from watching his kids turn into tag team legends, Rikishi keeps busy with various meet and greets across the US.
17 From Canada: Santino Marella - Mississauga, Ontario
The "Milan Miracle" should have been named "the Mississauga Miracle".... Santino’s background (billed as being from Italy) proved to be a focal point in his main roster call up. He wasn’t the best developmental talent at the time but he lucked into a position when the company needed an Italian presence for a show in Milan. His debut was a memorable one as he came out of the crowd and won the IC Championship! It was a hell of a debut.
He maintained the gimmick throughout his WWE run. Marella was typically introduced as being from Calabria, Italy. These days he’s retired from the business heading back home to Canada (not Italy), opening up his own MMA facility.
16 From The US: Jim Neidhart – Montebello, California
Like Rey Mysterio, Jim Anvil is typically linked to Canada. Following his brief football career Anvil left the US heading to Stu Hart’s wrestling school. He continued on the same path during his WWE career teaming up with Bret Hart as a member of the Hart Foundation. Despite being born in the US, Neidhart was typically seen carrying around a Maple Leaf flag during the late 80s and 90s.
During his final days Neidhart called Wesley Chapel, Florida, his home. The wrestling world lost a great man in mid-August of 2018. Here’s to hoping he gets a rightful induction into the WWE’s Hall Of Fame.
15 From Canada: Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers - Calgary, Alberta & Burnaby, British Columbia
Gama Singh is Jinder’s uncle. The former wrestler hails from Punjab, India – the same area that Mahal and the Singh brothers are billed to be from on WWE television. However this isn’t entirely the case.
The three actually have a passport from Canada, with Jinder being from Alberta while the Singh Brothers aren’t too far from BC. The three enjoyed one heck of a push - Jinder in particular due to his India roots. Mahal became a big time player as the WWE tried to make a massive push towards the audience overseas in India. The play fell short but Jinder enjoyed a push he’ll never forget during that time-frame.
14 From The US: Lana – Gainesville, Florida
Props to Lana for keeping in character back in 2014 via Twitter. However hardcore fans know that she was just trying to salvage her Ravishing gimmick. Not only did Lana attend university in the Florida area but she also grew up there as well. In truth, she did spend time during her earlier days overseas in Latvia.
Prior to the WWE she spent time in both music and acting. Joining the company in 2013 she was immediately paired with Rusev and as they say, the rest is history!
13 From Canada: Rosa Mendes - Vancouver, British Columbia
Speaking of Divas, Rosa was another former WWE star that was never deemed to be from Canada during her run with the company. Instead, the company continued to bill her as being from areas that start with “San.” Among the areas were, San Jose, Costa Rica, San Juan, Puerto Rico and San Mateo, California. What about Sas-katchewan, Canada? Nope.
It isn’t common knowledge but Rosa is from Vancouver. Since her WWE days she’s been residing in the US and that includes her current life away from the company and as a happy mom. She’s planning a return to the ring once she heals up from a current injury.
12 From The US: Mustafa Ali – Bolingbrook, Illinois
"My vision is a lot bigger than being the first wrestler of a background to do something," he told Al Jazeera. My mission is to erase as many preconceived ideas, barriers and stereotypes as I can.”
Such an impactful statement and goal from the 205 Live star. However what’s typically forgotten about is the fact that Ali hails from the US (Bolingbrook, Illinois), and not Pakistan. However he is of Pakistani descent and he’s fully relishing the role since joining the company. Surprisingly he is also billed as being from the Illinois areas on WWE television.
11 From Canada: Kyle O’Reilly - Delta, British Columbia
The 31 year old Undisputed Era member is currently living out his dream. He expressed great joy about being included in the WWE’s recent 2K video game. Prior to his WWE career Kyle was known for his strong run with Ring of Honor. However, most typically forget about his origins with ECCW. Heck, most forget he’s from Canada altogether!
Surprisingly the talent is from Vancouver (those who have been paying attention probably already know this). However most associate the talent with a US background given his work with various US indie promotions outside of the WWE. These days O’Reilly is typically working in the Orlando area with NXT. That’s going to change with a main roster promotion looming.
10 From The US: Zelina Vega – Queens, New York
She is of Puerto Rican descent. So perhaps the WWE chose a play on this, billing the manager of Cien Almas as being from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It only makes sense since Almas is from (and billed as being from) Mexico. However Zelina is a New Yorker, born in Queens, New York City.
She calls Tampa, Florida home these days. Zelina settled in the Florida area during her successful stint with NXT. Her role alongside Almas helped elevate the Superstar. Both are now important components to the main roster on SmackDown Live. Still only 27, she has quite the future ahead.
9 From Canada: Tyler Breeze - Penticton, British Columbia
The knowledgeable wrestling enthusiast might be aware of Tyler’s background considering he trained with the great Lance Storm, a prominent former WWE star from Canada. However to most average fans out there, they might believe that he hails from Daytona Beach, Florida - his apparent home while using the Tyler Breeze gimmick.
Breeze is actually from BC and his real name is Mattias Clement. He went by Mattias Wild during his earlier days wrestling on the indie scene over in Canada. The 30 year old is a member of the main roster these days. However he recently returned to NXT joining the Live event loop.
8 From The US: Sin Cara – El Paso, Texas
The original Sin Cara played by Mistico entered the WWE with a world of hype. That version of Sin Cara was in fact from Mexico City. The wrestler was set to become the next Rey Mysterio. However shortly after, he was replaced by the current guy portraying the gimmick due to an awful run.
Hunico is the man with the gimmick these days, and he isn’t from Mexico like the former. Instead Hunico is from El Paso, Texas. The company chose to keep this under wraps nonetheless, as Hunico is still billed as being from Mexico City.
7 From Canada: Eric Young - Florence, Ontario
Not only is Eric Young from Ontario, Canada, but he was also sporting a Team Canada shirt during his earlier days with TNA. We don’t blame you a single bit if you didn’t catch on, as Young looked completely unrecognizable during his earlier days in the 2000s.
He finally joined the WWE after almost two decades outside of the company. Rarely is anything mentioned discussing Young and his connection to Canada. Instead he is billed as being from the place that he currently resides in, Nashville, Tennessee. WWE Superstars Rusev and Lana also live in the area.
6 From The US: Tamina – Vancouver, Washington
Tamina isn’t billed as being from her actual home of Washington. The company remains insistent on billing Snuka as being from the Pacific Islands - this is likely due to her relationship to late father Jimmy Snuka.
Nowadays Snuka remains on the sidelines. She’s had various nagging injuries to deal with in the last couple of years. At the age of 40, shaking off that ring rust might be a lot harder. She’s keeping busy outside of the company as a proud mother of two. There is no timeline for a return at the moment.
5 From Canada: Akam - Abbotsford, British Columbia
Like Jinder and The Singh Brothers, Akam is billed as being from Punjab, India. His partner is from the Netherlands, however WWE bills Rezar as being from Albania. Both are quite misleading as Akam is from British Columbia. In fact the 25 year old competed for Canada as a freestyle wrestler during the 2011 PAG. Akam almost made it to the 2012 Summer Olympics but merely missed out due to losing in a tournament just prior.
WWE loves to scout amateur wrestlers. It was the legend Gerald Brisco who found Akam and eventually signed him to a deal.
4 From The US: Brian Pillman – Cincinnati, Ohio
The late Brian Pillman is a wrestler that 90s fans can easily confuse for being a performer out of Canada. Not only was he a member of the Hart Foundation but following his football career, Pillman moved to Canada getting his training at the Stu Hart dungeon. He remained in the area taking part in the Calgary promotion, Stampede Wrestling. He earned his stripes in Canada before making the transition to WCW.
As we said, the connection to Canada continued during the 90s as he paired up with Bret Hart joining the WWE. He was a terrific performer and well ahead of his time. The business lost a great talent far too early.
3 From Canada: Vampiro - Thunder Bay, Ontario
Fans of Vampiro might remember that talent getting completely squashed with WCW despite his big potential at the time. What was meant to be a passing of the torch turned into a complete burial of Vampiro when Sting forced a victory over the upcoming talent. He was never the same.
He spent is earlier days over in Mexico with the likes of CMLL and later, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide. These days he spends lots of time with Lucha Underground, a promotion that features lots of Latin wrestling stars. For those reasons Vampiro isn't typically thought of as being a wrestler hailing from Ontario, Canada.
2 From The US: Chris Jericho – Manhasset, New York
Nope. This is not a mistake or a typo; Jericho is often regarded as Canada’s pride and joy in the wrestling business. However, despite growing up in Winnipeg, Chris actually originated in the New York area. Why? His father Ted Irvine played in the NHL. At the time he was a member of the New York Rangers. Following Ted’s retirement he moved the family back to Winnipeg – the place Jericho calls home.
Chris got his first training in Canada, though he wrestles away from the country for the most part. Along with his WCW and WWE run, Jericho can be found wrestling overseas with New Japan.
1 From Canada: Kenny Omega – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Speaking of New Japan, we now turn our attention to another great performer out of Winnipeg: Kenny Omega. Ironically the two Winnipeg-born stars have locked it up in the past and current rumors are once again linking the two to a possible rematch bout. Perhaps WWE fans might see the two lock it up in a WWE ring someday. Hopefully that takes place sooner rather than later with Jericho getting up there in age.
These days Omega spends most of his time with the New Japan promotion. He might make the move to the WWE sooner rather than later. You can bet the Great-White-North audience will eat up every bit of that once the time comes.