WWE Superstars and their X-Men '97 character equivalents

Looking at the hit Disney+ show's expansive roster alongside that of WWE's to see who fits the mold of the Mutant pantheon.
SmackDown / WWE/GettyImages

The acclaimed X-Men '97 Disney+ series is set to conclude its first season this coming Wednesday, wrapping up after what has been an emotionally gripping continuation of the animated series from the 1990s.

What undoubtedly makes the series and the wider X-Men universe so compelling are the characters central to the lore. As Mutants, they are societal outcasts for the most part even despite some possessing immense, world-altering powers. And it's this moral pendulum that pushes them to extremism, activism, and/or heroism.

Obviously, without much of the nuance that X-Men characters possess within a much richer narrative setting, the WWE roster is, likewise, a self-contained pantheon of characters very much outside of the wider sporting society. WWE Superstars have been typically given aliases upon arrival and are kept from the outside world - AEW, NJPW, TNA, etc. - and one might even go one step further to liken the WWE Performance Center to Professor Xavier's School for Mutants; the PC being itself a school for the exceptionally gifted.

There is also a stigma that comes with professional wrestling itself, WWE is often looked at with a grimace from fans of legitimately competitive sports like MMA or boxing. So in a way, WWE Superstars and professional wrestlers in general are something of a societal outcast within the sporting industry.

So, with the X-Men '97 series wrapping up and an admittedly fun premise to explore within the WWE roster, let's take a look at the Superstars who embody some of the world's greatest superheroes.

Author's Note: I will attempt to keep this as spoiler-free as possible for those who have yet to watch the show. There will be instances and examples used to support each point, but essential plot details will be kept to a minimum as best as possible. Regardless, proceed with caution.

Honorable Mentions: Seth Rollins as Gambit | Charlotte Flair as Scarlet Witch | Bobby Lashley as Cable

1: Jade Cargill - Storm

Jade Cargill
Backlash France / WWE/GettyImages

"A Storm is coming...."

Jade Cargill literally informs the audience of her super-Mutant counterpart prior to each and every entrance. She has also taken the entire wrestling industry by storm after making her debut less than four years ago, conquering both AEW as the inaugural and longest-reigning TBS Women's Champion and WWE, making her debut only in January's Royal Rumble before adding to that with pay-per-view victories at WrestleMania and Backlash. The latter of which she captured the WWE Women's Tag titles alongside established stalwart Bianca Belair.

Storm is relied upon by her team to bring decisive power to the table. And she does just that in spades. Much in the same way that Cargill has proven to be a decisive powerhouse during her matches. She is also a remarkably underrated intellectual for the group, with a good head on her shoulders but all the same drowned out by of characters like Professor X, Beast, and Magneto.

Likewise, Cargill has proven to have the mentality for greatness. She conducts herself with eloquence in and outside of wrestling, carrying forward her own message in nothing but an organic way. Whether that's describing why she left AEW for WWE, addressing her own shortcomings very candidly, or simply asserting what it is she brings to the table, Cargill exemplifies that of someone exceptionally gifted but cognizant of the wealth of experience she can tap into from her peers.

2: Cody Rhodes - Cyclops

Cody Rhodes
Backlash France / WWE/GettyImages

Cyclops is often overlooked by casual fans as a secondary to the likes of Wolverine. The leader of Charles Xavier's team, he provides a firm yet steady direction for his colleagues to follow. Even if that direction isn't wholeheartedly accepted by others.

Much in the same way, Cody Rhodes is the anointed leader of the locker room. And while he may not be a glamorous option like Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, exuding overt personality during their respective runs at the top, he has proven to be nothing if not solid in his own role as leader of the locker room.

Need someone to handle the harsh questions in a press conference? Rely on Cody Rhodes. Need someone to pick up the baton? Rely on Cody Rhodes. Even prior to his title run, the first time that WWE had ever even glanced at Rhodes as the number one guy, he was putting in the work to show he was worthy. Only one man has entered a WWE pay-per-view with an unattached pectoral tendon, and leave it to Cody Rhodes to be the one to do it. He gives, literally, every fiber of his being to the sport. At the time there were no guarantees he would even get the crown, further exemplifying the parallels between him and Cyclops.

A leader who leads without question, without the promise of praise, without acting selfishly, and with undying allegiance - for better or worse - to his mentor. One thing X-Men '97 has been credited for is the comic-accurate depiction of Scott Summers as a worthy leader. Rhodes' title run seems to be doing just that for the "American Nightmare".

3: Paul Heyman - Magneto

Solo Sikoa, Paul Heyman
Friday Night SmackDown / WWE/GettyImages

There were a number of names that stuck out to fit the billing of the master of magnetism. Magneto is one of the longest-running characters on the X-Men roster, albeit fleeting between anti-hero and supervillain, but still holds high esteem in the eyes of long-time friend Professor X despite their differences.

So it feels somewhat natural to say Paul Heyman is WWE's masterminded master of magnetism. Firstly, nothing speaks to a level of magnetism in WWE than someone like Heyman, a pariah to Vince McMahon owing to his time at the helm of ECW. He made his way through the doors of the promotion he had warred with only to become one of its most-esteemed masterminds.

Brock Lesnar, The Big Show, Alundra Blayze/Madusa, CM Punk, and of course Roman Reigns rank among Paul Heyman's Brotherhood of Super Mutants. Akin to the way Magneto placed his faith in the likes of Juggernaut, Mystique, and Pyro. The "Paul Heyman Guys" exemplify the symbiotic relationship that Erik Lehnsherr builds with his wards, combining to accomplish one another's goals for - by and large - the benefit of all parties involved. Not an inherently evil man, but one who understands the assignment and goes about it any way they can.

4: Gunther - Juggernaut

"The Ring General" GUNTHER
Monday Night RAW / WWE/GettyImages

The Juggernaut is the personification of the phrase, "Unstoppable Force," and once he picks up steam it is nigh-on impossible to slow his roll. He does get stopped, quite frequently in fact, but the idea is that he will always be a threat both in the aura and physically unless one has prepared themselves for the fight of their life.

Gunther has proved to be that during his time with WWE. He came, saw, and conquered NXT UK to win the United Kingdom title from Pete Dunne, continuing the pain train for 870 days before being ultimately stopped by Ilja Dragunov.

Then he came to the main roster and did almost the same exact thing with the Intercontinental Championship until WrestleMania earlier this year. Now the train looks to be going yet again with "Der Ring General" looking to be crowned King of the Ring, running through Sheamus for the third time straight in the opening round of the competition. Gunther is very much the unstoppable force within the WWE Universe.

5: Becky Lynch - Jean Grey

Becky Lynch
WrestleMania 40 / WWE/GettyImages

Jean Grey is well above being the most powerful Mutant on a raw basis, as a conduit for the Phoenix Force, an intergalactic entity of sheer unadulterated energy. The Phoenix Force is essential to the Dark Phoenix plotline depicted in the comics and the X-Men '97 precursor series. Not only providing her the power to save herself and the team but later poisoning her mind and metamorphosing Grey into an antagonist to her teammates.

That parallel translates directly to Becky Lynch and her own transformation from "The Man" to the "Big Time," as well as her subsequent redemption arc to become once more the hero fans have come to love. What separates Jean Grey from her Mutant powers is her humanity, the fallibility of someone so powerful and yet scared of what that can do to her and those around her. Lynch blew up commercially once she blew up metaphorically towards her former best friend, Charlotte Flair, allowing 'dark forces' to take hold after her humanity let her down time after time again. She appeared to have it under lock and key, becoming a hero in the fans' eyes as she stormed the castle of Flair and Ronda Rousey to capture all titles.

Then when she returned, it was clear that the darkness had got to her as she underhandedly defeated the heroic Bianca Belair, only returning to her humanity when her dark side had lost the battle. One might say that 2019 until now has been Lynch's Dark Phoenix saga.

6: Finn Balor - Nightcrawler

Demon” Finn Balor
WrestleMania 39 / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

In just the name alone, Finn Balor's juxtaposition as either himself or "The Demon" speaks to this parallel. The Nightcrawler is a spindly, agile, flexible character demonstrative of his in-universe circus background.

From Apollo 55 to Prince Devitt, to NXT, until the main roster iteration seen today Balor has been just that. His fast-paced, explosive offense proved to challenge the likes of Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, and Brock Lesnar. Obviously, Balor doesn't teleport in the literal sense like Nightcrawler, but he has shown to pop up whenever he is needed. This has been especially the case during his run with the Judgment Day.

While a little more villainous in its nature, he has proved quintessential in keeping Damian Priest's run, first as Mr. Money in the Bank and now as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, atop the Raw brand alive. As well as lapping up the spoils of war in his own right as a two-time WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champion. Continuing the parallels, Balor's contributions often go unappreciated just as Nightcrawler can find himself undervalued within the X-Men.

7: Thea Hail - Jubilee

Jubilee is notably the youngest of the core X-Men team capable of releasing energy blasts akin to fireworks. Characterized by her youthful innocence and excitable gung-ho attitude, Jubilee is one member always ready to do whatever possible to prove her value to the team.

Thea Hail has embodied that attitude since making her debut in NXT at, similarly, such a young age. As part of Chase U, she has been - aptly - a little firecracker always desperate to carry the group forward. It was she and Jacy Jayne who tried to save the group earlier this year when its fictional academy hit financial struggles, and when Jayne turned, Hail came to the realization that it was her bubbly personality that brought out the best in herself.

She is personified, like Jubilee, by her over-the-top enthusiasm for everything and her desire to do good. Jubilee may have the ability to cast fireworks, but Hail is literally a firecracker in human form.

8: Kofi Kingston - Bishop

Kofi Kingston
Featured Session: Reigniting Fan Engagement at Live Events- 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals / Stephen Olker/GettyImages

There is perhaps no one more timeless on the WWE roster than Kofi Kingston, capable of performing at each and every level including the world title picture. So it would make sense that the time-travelling Mutant, Bishop, fits the billing of the first African-born WWE World Champion.

Aside from their respective abilities to prove quintessential at the right time and place, Bishop and Kofi Kingston share another power in common. Bishop has the ability to harness incoming energy and re-direct it in concussive blasts. Again, Kofi doesn't literally possess that power. But how else could one describe "KofiMania" than Kingston harnessing the energy of chances missed, opportunities unafforded, and re-directing it to catapult himself into the world title picture he had never been intended for?

Furthermore, what other way can the New Day be described than a trio who thrives on the power of positive energy? Harnessing that support to propel themselves to stardom across all boards when they were strapped with a gimmick designed to be DOA as they neared the cutting block. Kofi Kingston has made a career of taking adversity - energy - and re-directing it into his character, harnessing it in whatever form it came and making the most of it. WWE's timeless conduit of energy.

9: Roman Reigns - Wolverine

Roman Reigns
WrestleMania 40 / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

"He's not a bad guy. He's not a good guy. But he is the guy."

This is the one most would have been searching for, undoubtedly. Wolverine is the franchise player for the X-Men, the undoubted face of the group amongst the wider audience, and one of the more iconic names in the wider Marvel universe. Who else truly fits that mold but the "Tribal Chief" who has been the franchise player - love him or hate him - over the past decade?

Wolverine is often, rightly so, categorized as an anti-hero more so than a cookie-cutter good guy. He is prepared to go beyond the moral remit to attain victory, even if it does go against the values set forward by Professor X or Cyclops. The latter which he clashes with more often than not, as seen with Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns over the past year. While this does stretch beyond what's seen in the X-Men '97 series, there have been times when Wolverine has been antagonistic towards fellow heroes such as The Hulk or Spider-Man too, running parallel with the way Reigns was presented against the likes of John Cena and The Undertaker when he was a babyface.

Looking beyond his personality, Wolverine is a semi-manufactured Mutant, part of the 'Weapon X' program which saw his skeleton bonded with molten Adamantium. Sure, he was gifted prior to that, but 'Weapon X' experimentation is what gives him his signature metal claws and nigh-on indestructible frame. Reigns was similarly an exceptionally gifted talent who went through a manufacturing process within WWE. He was made semi-indestructible during times when the sheer heat from fans would have caused WWE to course correct and look elsewhere, the company always having faith that Roman would ride the waves to arrive at calmer, prosperous waters. And he did just that when he was allowed to truly do things the way he wanted to, much like Wolverine found himself a better standing after leaving 'Weapon X' behind for the X-Men.

And if all of that wasn't enough to merit the comparison, Wolverine has a healing factor which makes him almost impervious to conventional attacks and even capable of surviving certified t-shirt makers for anyone but him. Within the wrestling context, Reigns has kicked out almost every finisher intended to keep him down for the count. Outside of wrestling, Joe Anoa'i is continuously keeping leukemia at bay, flexing his own healing factor as the face of WWE even despite that.

10: Triple H - Professor X

Paul "Triple H" Levesque
Friday Night SmackDown / WWE/GettyImages

The patriarch of the X-Men, the grand mentor for all of the exceptionally gifted students, and an otherwise powerful hero forced off of the field through injury. Triple H, perhaps now more than ever, fits the billing of Professor X to a tee.

Professor X is a Mutant who came through during a wholeheartedly different world. But he was someone that had the right look, his mutation not manifesting itself physically but rather in his mind, and it undoubtedly helped him in his cause. The same can be said for "Papa H," a good worker by all accounts if nothing extraordinary but his true power stemming from the mind. Triple H was a sure-fire Hall of Famer based on his in-ring career. But it's actually outside of the ring that he has weaved himself into the very fabric of WWE.

The current Chief Content Officer under TKO's hierarchy, Triple H has assembled his own school of exceptionally gifted students. The likes of Becky Lynch, Finn Balor, and Cody Rhodes have all felt the benefit of having "The Game" at the helm, either with WWE on the whole or when he was the mastermind behind NXT. He even had Paul Heyman singing his praises at this year's WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. As mentioned before, operating on the idea that Heyman is Magneto, there is but one Mutant who has truly captured the master of magnetism's adulation and his name is Charles Xavier.

Professor X is someone who has to make use of his immense power while confined to a seated position. Triple H is no longer able to wrestle due to his cardiac health and is thus confined to direct the WWE product from a seated position. And yet, despite all of their shortcomings, both manage to lead naturally and to great effect. As the years go on, presumably with WWE under his leadership, Triple H will likely continue to demonstrate this comparison as more and more names come through the school and into his X-Men - the WWE main roster - and truly demonstrate that he is the bald professor atop WWE. However, Shawn Michaels may well contest that with his leadership of NXT.