Meet 11 Filipino-American Pro Wrestlers
Professional wrestling may have had its roots in the West, but there’s no doubt that the Philippines is wrestling country. From the days of Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker back in the 80s to local wrestling superstars performing in homegrown leagues like the Philippine Wrestling Revolution and Manila Wrestling Federation, there’s no denying that Filipinos have a soft spot for the hard action these modern-day gladiators and entertainers put on in the ring.
While the pandemic has put a stop to local matches, pro-wrestling is still bringing in the crowds in the U.S. And along with increased popularity in recent years, there have been wrestlers of Filipino descent that have attracted huge followings in America, here in the Philippines, and elsewhere across the world.
We're sure there are others out there, but let’s get to know 11 of the most high-profile active and retired Filipino-American wrestlers:
Benito “Benny” Cuntapay a.k.a B-Boy was born on December 28, 1978 and has been a fan of wrestling since he was four years old, according to this interview. He was a former CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling) heavyweight champion and has picked up a whole slew of other achievements over the years. He has talked about falling in with the wrong crowd when he was younger and was in and out of juvenile hall. Fortunately, he got his act together and went on to have a successful career in pro-wrestling.
Based on his most recent posts on his social media, B-Boy is still active in wrestling through the Level-Up Professional Wrestling School, which he set up in San Diego, California.
2| Fallah Bahh
Born on August 12, 1985, Francis Flores aka Fallah Bahh began his wrestling career in 2005 for the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF). While he was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, he has roots in Nueva Ecija and carries the nickname “The Filipino Sumo” because of his heft. He has since racked a number of wrestling titles across different promotions, including the WrestlePro Tag Team Championship (with KM) and Last Frontier Championship.
3| Dave Bautista
Perhaps the most famous in this list, Dave Bautista is well-known not just as a pro-wrestler but as an actor. Born on January 18, 1969, his mother is of Greek descent while his father is the son of Filipino immigrants. He has talked about growing up in poverty before pursuing bodybuilding and then wrestling to turn his life around.
Between his first match in 1999 until his retirement in 2019, Bautista became a superstar in pro wrestling, winning numerous matches and being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame (although the ceremony has since been postponed because of COVID-19). He also won his one and only match in mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2012. Of course, many audiences know him today as a professional actor after having appeared in movies such as Spectre, Blade Runner, the upcoming Dune, and as Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel movies Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, Volume 2 and the upcoming Volume 3; and Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
4| Shotzi Blackheart
Ashley Louise Urbanski aka Shotzi Blackheart was born on March 14, 1992 in Santa Clara County in California. She is of Filipino and Polish descent. In an interview with GMA News, Shotzi talked about growing up with a Filipino mom who used to cook lumpia for her and her classmates every Friday, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with pan de sal instead of the typical American white bread.
Shotzi began her pro career in California performing in independent wrestling promotions before signing up with the WWE in 2015. She has won the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship with Ember Moon and was named Breakout Star of the Year at the NXT Year-End Awards 2020.
5| Kayden Carter
Allyssa Lyn Lane aka Kayden Carter was born May 20, 1988 in Winter Park, Florida to a Jamaican father and a Filipina mother. She has a tattoo of the Philippines’ national flower, the sampaguita on her left shoulder.
She wrestled in independent promotions in her home state of Florida during the early years and won The Crash promotion’s Women’s Championship in January 2018 before signing with the WWE in July of the same year.
6| Jeff Cobb
Jeff Cobb was born on July 11, 1982 to Filipino immigrants in Hawaii (his maternal grandparents were born in Cebu). His parents later relocated to Guam when Cobb was 11 years old. In 2004, he represented Guam in the men’s 84-kilograms wrestling event at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. By 2009, he had turned pro, initially for Action Zone Wrestling in Hawaii before making appearances in a few independent promotions in California. He signed with Lucha Underground in 2015, then Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla in 2016, and a few other promotions until he made his debut with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) in February 2020.
Cobb was in the Philippines in 2019 when he made an appearance at the PWR Special: Homecoming event against PWR champion Quatro.
7| Scott Lost
Scott Epperson, whose fighting name is Scott Lost, was born on June 8, 1980 in Sta. Cruz, California. He started wrestling professionally when he was 20 years old in 2000. Three years later, Lost co-founded Pro Wrestling Guerrilla with five other wrestlers. It has since become one of the biggest independent wrestling promoters in the U.S. West Coast. Lost himself has racked up numerous titles across different promotions for the 10 years he was a wrestler.
In 2010, at age 30, Lost hung up the wrestling outfit and pursued a childhood dream of becoming a comic book artist. He is proud of his Filipino roots and even posted a drawing he made in support of his Filipino and black heroes for the Black Lives Matter movement.
8| TJ Perkins
Theodore James Perkins was born September 3, 1984 in Kansas City, Missouri. His mother is from Manila and he has spoken extensively about growing up being exposed to Filipino culture. He started training to be a wrestler at 13 in Los Angeles, California and made his professional debut in 1998, wearing a mask because he looked too young to be performing in the ring. He also adopted the nickname “Pinoy Boy.” He has since made appearances all over the world in numerous performances for different promoters, including as the masked character Manik, which fans the world over have come to love.
He visited the Philippines in 2019 for the PWR Special: Homecoming where he was up against local wrestling star Jake De Leon.
9| Kona Reeves
Kona Reeves’ real name is Noah Gregory Kekoa Haaheo Pang-Potjes. He was born on June 5, 1991 and he is of mixed heritage. “My mother is Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino and Spanish. My father is Dutch and Indonesian, hence why I have the finest ethnic background. I know you’re jealous,” he said in an interview with WWE.com.
Reeves started training and performed for independent promoters in 2013, most memorably winning the WXW Heavyweight Championship as Noah Kekoa in September that year. He signed with WWE one year later and adopted the name Kona Reeves in November 2016.
10| Joaquin Wilde
Joaquin Wilde is Michael Paris in real life but has also gone by the names DJ Z, DJ Zema, Michael Montecarlo, Shima Xion, and Zema Ion. He was born on October 5, 1986 to a mother from Pampanga and an American father who died when he was only five years old. Wilde has since spoken about proudly being raised in a Filipino household by a single mom.
As with many other wrestlers, Wilde began his professional career performing in independent promotions. His colorful stage persona attracted the attention of a Japanese promoter who invited him to tour Japan in 2006. After bouncing around different promotions, he signed with WWE in May 2019.
11| Kris Wolf
Kris Hernandez aka Kris Wolf was born on August 12, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois to Filipino parents. She spent much of her growing-up years in New Jersey and lived for six years in Japan after a breakup. After working for a few years as a photographer, she took to the ring and became a pro-wrestler in 2014.
Wolf has since performed for independent promotions all over the world, including the U.K., Ireland, North America, and Europe. After only five years as a pro, she announced her retirement in 2019 because of injuries. She got married to her partner in January that year and had her final match the following April.