Wrestling: Ohio is a hotbed for talent on national, international stages


If you’re looking to scout pro wrestling talent, Florida is a good location, and the tri-state area in the Northeast is solid, too, but when asking top talent their origins, the Buckeye State seems to be a common response.

Ohio has produced quite a bit of pro wrestling stars on a national and international level. Must be something in the water…or Roman Burger.

Here’s a list of past and present wrestlers from Ohio who you may know.


Dean Ambrose

Alexa Bliss

Tony Borne

Dana Brooke

Big Bully Busick

Sami Callahan

Ethan Carter III (EC3)


Jake Crist

Caylen Croft

Matt Cross (M-Dogg 20/Son of Havoc)

Angelo Dawkins

Danny Doring

Derrick Dukes

Bobby Fulton

Charlie Fulton

Jackie Fulton

Sawyer Fulton

Johnny Gargano

Jackie Gayda

Jeff Gaylord

Jerry Grey

Wildcat Chris Harris

Jessicka Havok

Samantha Heights

Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno)


Faye Jackson


Lou Marconi

Linda Miles

Dr. Bill MIller

The Miz

Derick Neikirk

Nick Nero


Briley Pierce

Brian Pillman

Madison Rayne

Raymond Rowe (War Machine)

Perry Saturn

Macho Man Randy Savage

Shark Boy

Al Snow

Vivian St. John

Sassy Stephie

Michael Tarver

Les Thatcher

Shag Thomas

Zachary Wentz

Frankie Williams

Dezmond Xavier

Dolph Ziggler

Recently, Ohio’s Matt Cross (aka Son of Havoc on Lucha Underground and M-Dogg 20) responded to the question, “How come Ohio breeds so many good pro wrestlers?”

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Cross said: “It definitely does and at somewhat an alarming rate. I don’t know if I can theorize why [chuckle]. I suppose our other sports’ teams are so notoriously bad and have been for so long that we needed to find an area where we could just excel in [chuckle].

“The wrestlers of the world — or at least the Cleveland and Ohio based ones — have stepped up where maybe the other teams have slacked.

“It really is incredible. You have like Dolph Ziggler and EC3 and Ray Rowe and myself and Johnny Gargano and Sami Callihan, and the list goes on and on. There’s so many guys [and girls] out of Ohio and so many out of Cleveland. It is strange. Maybe that will be a future topic of discussion or book or something. It’s worth exploring.”

In August, Ohio’s Johnny Gargano discussed Ohio wrestlers.

Gargano said: “I think Ohio makes a certain type of person — like we’re used to adversity; we’re used to being told we’re not going to do something and then proving people wrong.”

In June, Ohio’s EC3 responded about some from Cleveland.

EC3 said: “Cleveland has sprouted off some pretty good talent…Al Snow’s from Lima, so that doesn’t count for Cleveland.

“Gargano, Ziggler, Miz, myself [do], and a few others I’m probably leaving out. We’ve all had different paths to wrestling success. Miz came from MTV, and he always loved wrestling. Ziggler was an accomplished amateur and loved wrestling. Gargano was a guy from the independents who caught fire at the right time and was in the right place at the right time in NXT.”

Their in-ring/on TV success inspired other locals.

In a January 2016 interview, Ohio’s Dana Brooke said: “It’s a small world. Dolph Ziggler’s high school [St. Edward High School] was our rival [Holy Name High School], and my neighbors actually grew-up with Mike The Miz, and they went to Normandy [High School in Parma]. I knew of him, because we would watch ‘The Real World’ [on MTV] when Mike was there.”

Maybe it’s not the water but rather the food.

Some famous Ohio wrestlers whose father/family is in the food business in Ohio.

EC3 (Kirtland City Tavern – Burgers, American fare)


Johnny Gargano (Gargano’s – Italian)


The Miz (Mr. Hero- Burgers, Subs)


Maybe it’s the lightning.

Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling birthed many wrestling stars for the indies and bigger stages since the 1990s. Respected wrestler/coach JT Lightning trained and/or booked them. Cross dubbed Lightning the Godfather of Cleveland wrestling. Lightning died in 2011 from throat cancer, but his legacy lives.

Next: Ranking The Top 10 Female Superstars Of 2017

NOTED: Ohio’s LeBron James is a WWE fan, and when he won NBA titles for the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, WWE sent him a replica WWE title belt.

NOTED: Cleveland’s own Drew Carey is a WWE Hall of Famer in the celebrity wing.

NOTED: Mr. Baseball Bob Uecker, who portrayed a broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians in the hit comedy movie  “Major League,” is also a WWE Hall of Famer in the celeb wing.