15 of the Best Professional Wrestlers from Texas
Here we are taking a look at 15 of the best professional wrestlers who either came from Texas or are simply known for their connection to the Lone Star State.
We are taking a look at the best wrestlers from Texas for several reasons: WWE Raw coming from Houston this week, the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame opening in Wichita Falls, and just because its a good excuse to talk about some good ol' wrestling.
To clarify, not everyone from this list was necessarily born in Texas. One's Canadian, one is from Louisiana, and another is a fellow Arizonian, but they are very well known for their Texas connections.
It’s not hard to remember Steve Austin as a Texas guy with a nickname like “The Texas Rattlesnake”. Steve Anderson was born in Austin, TX, later changing his name to Steve Williams after his parents divorced and his mother moved to Victoria, TX and remarried. Austin grew up in Edna, TX and earned a full scholarship to University of North Texas. Austin started wrestling in Dallas during the merger of World Class Championship Wrestling with Continental Wrestling, forming the Universal Wrestling Federation. After his time in WCW, Austin had his historic run in WWF as the most successful wrestler in the history of the promotion. Since retiring due to injuries, Austin has been splitting his time between his home in Los Angeles and his ranch in Tilden, TX, known as the Broken Skull Ranch and the site of his competition reality series.
Dusty’s persona as the everyday man who is the son of a plumber wasn’t difficult for Rhodes since its exactly who he was. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Dusty is one of several iconic wrestlers to come from the football program at West Texas State (now West Texas A&M). Best known for his time in NWA/WCW, Dusty ended up creating his own promotion in Atlanta called Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, and ended his career and life in Orlando with WWE, working with their up and coming talents in Orlando-based NXT.
Born in Louisiana, Booker Huffman grew up in Houston and ended up spending 19 months in prison for a string of armed robberies of Wendy’s locations around Houston. Raised by his brother, Harlem Heat tag-team partner Stevie Ray, Booker got into wrestling with his brother and broke in for the Western Wrestling Alliance. Later, Booker became a mainstay in WCW, being the final U.S. and World Champion when the company was purchased by WWF. Booker stayed with WWF/WWE for several years, becoming World Champion and King of the Ring. Booker left the company for a time, working for independent promotions and TNA, returning to WWE as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble. Booker has remained with the company, retired from in-ring, working as a commentator. He was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and spends his off time running his own promotion with his brother, Reality of Wrestling, in Houston.
Though born in Alberta, Canada, Blanchard grew up in San Antonio and, like several wrestlers on this list, played football for West Texas State University as a quarterback and defensive end. He broke into wrestling with his father’s promotion in San Antonio, but it was his run for Jim Crockett Promotions in the NWA where Blanchard became a star. A founding member of the Four Horsemen, Blanchard left the promotion with Arn Anderson to work in the WWF. Blanchard was set to return to WCW and reform the Horsemen when he failed a WWF drug test and his WCW deal was cancelled. Since then he’s made sporadic independent appearances, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and his daughter Tessa (born in San Antonio) became WWE’s second third-generation female superstar when she debuted in NXT.
Born in Sweetwater, Barry Windham had his debut match at the age of 19 in Odessa. Windham was a respected mid-card wrestler, winning tag titles in WWF and singles titles in the NWA, but broke into headlining when he was brought into the Four Horsemen after the team kicked out Lex Luger. Windham went on to hold nearly every title in the NWA/WCW from the TV title all the way up to winning the NWA title from The Great Muta. To cap off his list of accolades, Windham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen, making him the first second-generation Hall of Famer, being inducted after his father.
Born in Hammond, IN, Terry and the rest the Funk family relocated to Amarillo, TX where Terry and Dory Jr. grew up. Funk, like Hansen, Blanchard and Dusty Rhodes, Funk is a veteran of the West Texas State University football team, also competing in amateur wrestling there. Funk’s long career took him all across the country and even to Japan, competing in ultra-violent death matches there with his longtime friend Mick Foley. Announcing his retirement more than KISS, Funk finally hung up the boots in 2015. Never straying too far from Texas, Funk owned a ranch in Canyon, TX for many years.
The son of the late, great Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Runnels has carved out his own legacy in the world of professional wrestling. Born and raised in Austin, Dustin started his career in the tone of his father, looking like a younger version of the American Dream. Dustin eventually ended up in WWF as the cutting edge, sexually ambiguous “Goldust”. Once the character started pushing further into a Marilyn Manson style of shock, Dustin left the WWF to return to WCW, bouncing back to the WWE four more times as on-screen talent and a backstage producer, currently wrestling in the tag team “Golden Truth” with R-Truth.
While the whole Guerrero family is famous in Mexico and El Paso, none of the family saw success near that of Eddie Guerrero. Eddie was born and raised in El Paso, moving to Mexico to start his wrestling career. He caught the attention of American wrestling fans when he debuted in Extreme Championship Wrestling. Soon after, Guerrero moved to WCW, then later WWF/WWE after hitting the glass ceiling in WCW. Guerrero’s career hit its peak when he defeated Brock Lesner for the WWE Championship. Unfortunately, Guerrero passed away in 2005, and was laid to rest in Scottsdale, AZ rather than El Paso.
Stan ‘The Lariat’ Hansen is recognized as one of the toughest men to ever be in wrestling, and the most popular American wrestler in Japan. Another wrestling icon to come from football at West Texas State, Hansen was known for a rough and realistic style in the ring, due in part to Hansen’s poor eyesight. Hansen was one of the first American wrestlers to find major success in Japan, reportedly making more overseas than he ever did in the states. Winning the world title for the AWA, Hansen was stripped of the title when he refused to return to the company in favor of a tour in Japan. Before returning the belt, Hansen destroyed it by running it over with his truck. Recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he’ll always be remembered for his notorious match with Vader in Japan where he knocked Vader’s eye out of its socket.
Born in Silsbee, Mark Henry began his power-lifting career in high school after an injury forced him out of football. He won the National High School Power-lifting Championships in 1990 and set teenage lifting records for the squat, 832 lbs, and total, 2,033 lbs. After high school he continued his power-lifting in Texas, becoming a three-time Texas state champion and setting state and national records. Henry would continue lifting, winning several competitions and training for the Olympics, when in 1996 he caught the attention of Vince McMahon who offered Henry an unheard of 10-year contract for guaranteed money, remaining with the company 20 years later.
Born in Sweetwater, John Layfield initially seemed to be heading towards a professional football career. In college he played for Abilene Christian University and was a two-time first-team of the All-Lone Star Conference. Switching to professional wrestling, Layfield began in Texas with the Global Wrestling Federation with his Sweetwater connection making him a storyline cousin to the Windham family. While working his way up the ranks in WWF/WWE, Layfield became highly successful in the world of finance. Instead of returning to his home state, Layfield reportedly spends his time away from the WWE commentary table at his home in the Bahamas.
Born in Chandler, AZ, Michael Hickenbottom was born into a military family, so they moved several times in his youth until ultimately settling in San Antonio, TX. Michaels would go on to play football in high school on Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, then enrolling at Southwest Texas State University before deciding to dedicate his life to professional wrestling. Moving from territory to territory, Michaels finally ended up in WWF and settled back down in San Antonio, where he lived until recently after accepting a full-time position with WWE as an instructor for NXT and moving his family to Orlando.
With his debut and early career around Louisiana and Georgia, many forget that Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts was born in Gainesville, the son of Grizzly Smith. After arriving in WWF, Jake was a fan-favorite for several years before turning on Randy Savage. Jake ultimately left WWE for WCW with the hopes of being their main villain. After dealing with personal problems such as alcoholism, Jake tried a return to WWF in the 90s, but quickly left and fell back into his old, destructive habits. Jake has recently turned his life around with the help of his old protégé Diamond Dallas Page, chronicled in the documentary ‘The Resurrection of Jake the Snake’ and culminating with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
He may have been billed from Death Valley when he became The Undertaker, but Mark Callaway is a Texas boy head to toe. Born in Houston, Callaway first went to school at Angelina College in Lufkin, TX, later enrolling at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. Callaway broke into the business at the world famous Sportatorium in Dallas for Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling, later moving on to WCW, ultimately ending up in WWE as The Undertaker. Not getting too far from his Texas roots, Callaway and his wife, former WWE Divas Michelle McCool, now live in Austin.
Quite possibly the most famous wrestling family of all time, the Von Erichs were synonymous with Dallas and Denton. Being the top draw for father Fritz’s World Class Championship Wrestling, viewers in Texas saw the Von Erich boys grow up, and mourned with the family when the eldest son David passed away while on an overseas tour in Japan. David’s memorial show at Texas Stadium drew a record-breaking crowd, culminating in Kerry Von Erich winning the NWA title from Ric Flair, an accolade David was in line to win.