WWE in Phoenix: 5 current superstars with strong ties to Arizona

Ex-Cardinals, ASU alums and a Valley resident
Posted at 12:11 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 18:49:21-05

WWE is about to descend upon the Valley for five full days of wrestling fun -- and several superstars with strong ties to Arizona are going to make the trip.

WWE's current stars include a pair of Arizona State alums, a pair of former Arizona Cardinals and a Phoenix resident who currently holds the most prestigious title in pro wrestling.

Nearly everyone already knows of the Bella Twins, who graduated from Scottsdale Chaparral High School and are often spotted around the Valley. But here's a rundown of five other WWE stars who you might not know have strong ties to the Phoenix area. (Note: You'll be able to meet some of these stars at WWE Royal Rumble Axxess at Phoenix Convention Center this weekend.)

1. Daniel Bryan

The current WWE champion just so happens to be a Valley resident. Bryan (real name: Bryan Danielson) has been one of WWE's most popular stars for years. A four-time WWE champion, Bryan was forced to retire due to injury but made his return last year. A longtime fan favorite, Bryan became a villain when he cheated to win the WWE title from A.J. Styles in November. He is set to face Styles in a WWE championship rematch at the Royal Rumble, and he will sign autographs at a Premium VIP session at Axxess on Friday.

Bryan is married to Brie Bella. They have a daughter together and own a home in the Valley. Bryan told ABC15 last year that he loves the hiking and food options in the Phoenix area -- but since he's originally from Washington, he's a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan.

2. Baron Corbin

Corbin (real name: Tom Pestock) briefly played as an offensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts before joining what was then known as Florida Championship Wrestling and is now known as NXT. He moved up through the NXT ranks and is now a WWE superstar on Monday Night Raw. He won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 in 2016, and he recently spent time as Raw's on-air general manager. He will sign autographs at Friday's Axxess session.

SEE ALSO: What exactly is NXT?

Corbin is still friends with former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald -- and Corbin wouldn't mind getting Fitz in the ring at some point.

3. Mojo Rawley

Rawley (real name: Dean Muhtadi) played college football at Maryland and spent time as a defensive lineman with the Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. He became training partners with former Cardinals star D-lineman Darnell Dockett and is a close friend of the Gronkowski family. Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski helped Rawley win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 33, one year after Corbin won it. Rawley also recently appeared in a music video with Gronkowski.

4. Vanessa Borne

Some Valley sports fans are already familiar with Borne (real name: Danielle Kamela). A Scottsdale native, Borne is an alum of Chaparral and ASU. She went on to become a Cardinals cheerleader, Phoenix Suns dancer and FOX Sports Arizona personality. Borne made her NXT debut in 2016 and has steadily moved up the ranks of the women's division. She will sign autographs at Axxess on Friday between 6 and 8 p.m., and she will compete in a match at the beginning of the Saturday afternoon and Sunday Axxess sessions.

5. Tucker Knight

Knight (real name: Levi Cooper) was a All-American wrestler at ASU, and he finished in eighth place at the NCAA Wrestling Championships in 2011. After earning his degree at ASU, he signed with NXT in 2013 and now forms half of the popular tag team Heavy Machinery with another former star collegiate wrestler, Otis Dozovic (real name: Nikola Bogojević). Knight and Dozovic were just promoted to WWE's Raw brand, and they wrestled (and won) their debut match Monday.