In recent years, the term “professional wrestling” has been slowly waned away from usage on WWE television. Instead, the product is “sports entertainment,” and it features “Superstars” not wrestlers. If the line gets blurred too much, though, the competition becomes self-mockery. Fans can only suspend their disbelief so far.
Professional wrestling organizations have been inviting celebrities as early as the 70s. Why? To not only gain a new audience, but also to blur the lines of professional wrestling and pop culture. It’s a rather ingenious idea if you think about it.
Some celebrities have done well in their brief appearances in the world of wrestling. This past SummerSlam, Stephen Amell, star of “Arrow,” had a decent display in his match. Mike Tyson’s work in WWE did well for the company. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a few others also had respectable roles. Lawrence Taylor, or L.T., is the stand out here for his entertaining contest with Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI.
Yet others belonged nowhere near the ring. The following is a list of 10 Celebrities We Wish Never Appeared In The World Of Professional Wrestling.
10. Mr. T
The only reason why Mr. T is on this list is because his presence on WWF television came at a time when the business was still very much protected. Ironically, in a segment where Hulk Hogan put comedian Richard Belzer in a front neck lock and knocked him out on television to protect the sanctity of the sport, Mr. T was sitting beside Hogan. That shows, in fact, that Mr. T was considered one of the boys. (Side note: Belzer sued the Hulkster for $5 million for the incident.)
And one of the boys he became. Mr. T was in the main event of the first ever WrestleMania PPV. He had another match at the following WrestleMania, a boxing contest with the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. With several other contests in WWF and WCW under his belt, Mr. T was not a bad performer by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just shocking that he was considered a legitimate threat without any previous experience at a time when wrestling had reached its mainstream appeal.
9. Donald Trump
Donald Trump didn’t actually wrestle a match with the WWE, but the controversial business executive was featured predominantly in a major story line. In what was deemed “The Battle of the Billionaires,” Trump butted heads with the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon.
In the contest, the two billionaires brought a wrestler each to represent them, and the loser’s head would be shaved. McMahon brought Umaga who was defeated by Trump’s Bobby Lashley. Enter Trump’s defining moment in WWE: forever ridding the world of McMahon’s luscious slick-back afro.
Trump had several more moments in WWE, and he even bought the company from McMahon in a future story line. Still, Trump has no business near a wrestling ring (unless he’s tapping out to Bernie Sanders).
8. Dennis Rodman
In another life, Dennis Rodman would have been an amazing professional wrestler. He’s got the size, athleticism, and a great deal of charisma. His public PR stunts would have better served his persona as a wrestler than a basketball player. But nobody can doubt the benefit Rodman gave the Chicago Bulls’ championship teams.
Basketball is where he should have stayed. Hanging around as hype man for Hulk Hogan is one thing. But actually stepping into the ring? What is it with Hogan having matches with non-wrestlers? This trend continues down the list.
Rodman teamed up with Hogan in a contest against a fellow NBA player (see below) in a contest that should not have taken place. Perhaps if Rodman had trained a bit more, he could have put on a better show. The match could have been more story than competition, and it wouldn’t have stunk so much. But consider a match of more than 20 minutes where two basketball players exchanged nothing but rudimentary wrestling moves. Sweep this one under the rug.
7. Floyd Mayweather
To be fair, Floyd Mayweather Jr. did a lot right in the buildup to his encounter with The Big Show. The truth is, Mayweather would be an absolutely perfect professional wrestler. He is arrogant and bold and doesn’t take prisoners. He doesn’t care if he’s loved or hated as long as he’s winning. He has a persona that would translate over to wrestling with high success.
The reason Mayweather is on this list is all about Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather’s time in WWE was in 2008, where he defeated The Big Show in a Money vs. Giant No-Disqualification match at WrestleMania XXIV. Mayweather had been hesitant about fighting The Pac Man until they finally met on May 2, 2015, after time had worn Pacquiao down. Had Mayweather been serious about a contest between the two best boxers in the world, he would have done it much sooner. Instead, he spent time in wrestling in between picking opponents he knew he would beat.
6. Karl Malone
Karl Malone was the other participant in the contest with Rodman and Hogan. He teamed up with Diamond Dallas Page to take on the nWo. Whereas Rodman had the persona of a wrestler, Malone was little else than a prop used for his size. Sure, at 6’9” and 250 pounds, Malone is an imposing figure. But when you move like molasses in the ring, there’s no obvious threat. Perhaps the bookers should have had Rodman and Malone slug it out with their fists instead of attempting wrestling moves.
The contest itself was fairly boring. Although the hype surrounding the match helped WCW with mainstream media coverage, the match left wrestling fans wondering what they had witnessed.
5. Drew Carey
Of all the surprise entrants who’ve entered the Royal Rumble, Drew Carey is the most unbelievable. Yes, the comedian was inserted into the 30-man battle royal to earn the right to face the WWF Champion at WrestleMania. Although Carey belonged nowhere near the ring, his comedic presence carried over well.
Unlike another comedian who appears later in the list, Carey was portrayed as an outsider who posed no legitimate threat. His presence in the Rumble was him standing around, impressed by the action. Kane was not impressed, however. In the only real action Carey got himself into, Kane grabbed him by the throat, ready for a Chokeslam. Raven saved the day, attacking Kane from behind. Carey then jumped over the top rope, eliminating himself from the match.
While the comedian was funny in his appearance, he only had a shot because WWE was plugging his upcoming Improv All-Stars PPV. Keep promotional deals away from the ring.
Contrary to popular belief, not everybody in New Jersey is familiar with this reality star. In the words of legendary wrestler William Regal, Snooki and her cohorts “besmirched” the image of the state’s residents. Leave that program for those who care about it, right? Well, not when it’s presented to you in the WWE.
What began as a brawl in the ring on Raw with Layla El and Michelle McCool (wife of The Undertaker), developed into a match at WrestleMania. Snooki teamed up with Trish Stratus and John Morrison to take on the trio of Dolph Ziggler and LayCool. Can you believe this match was the match right before the main event – the WWE Championship match? And after the epic encounter between Undertaker and Triple H? This belonged on the pre-show. No, scratch that. It belonged nowhere.
3. Jay Leno
Jay Leno had a contest in WCW. Against who? You guessed it, Hulk Hogan. Once again DDP was thrown into the contest. I guess the theory was you had one worker to take the stink off the other three. But we still smelled it guys.
Eric Bischoff, the WCW’s Executive Director and on-air evil boss persona, tagged with Hogan against the team of Page and Leno. Bischoff is no monster, but he has acclaim in various fighting styles including amateur wrestling and a black belt in karate. Does anybody believe that Leno posed a threat to either Bischoff or Hogan?
The idea of Leno taking Hogan down is laughable. This was another feud that should have remained over the microphone and not between the ropes. The only good that came out of this for Leno is that many wrestling fans began watching his program after the rivalry picked up steam. That is because most of us were kids and didn’t know any better.
2. Muhammad Ali
In a match that could have been the biggest cross-promotional encounter in the history of both boxing and professional wrestling, we have a contest that everybody involved would do well to pretend never happened. The build-up to this match was incredible, and it was at a time when most people still believed that pro wrestling was in fact a credible combat sport.
Muhammad Ali squared off against Japanese mega-star Antonio Inoki. Consider him the cross between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan. Inoki’s the founder of Japan’s top promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as one of the most dominant forces the world of pro wrestling has ever seen. If done right, this bout would have propelled both sports into the stratosphere of popular culture.
Instead, the encounter was less of a fight and more of a draw. Both men stood at a distance, hesitant to hit the other with any real strength. Of course, Ali wasn’t expected to perform like Ric Flair, but his overall non-performance is what is so disappointing. A problem with closed-circuit television prevented many people from access to the fight. Perhaps that is for the best. As we’d all do well to forget.
1. David Arquette
David Arquette is a name that puts a sour taste in the mouth for many wrestling fans. Not because they particularly dislike the guy. But because he was involved in one of the biggest shams in the history of the industry. For one brief moment in time, the actor reigned as WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
His connection to WCW was the result of a movie deal. To be fair, if you watch “Ready to Rumble” as a wrestling fan and not as a film critic, it’s not a terrible experience. But for that experience to spill over into the actual ring, there’s a serious problem.
Arquette himself is not to blame for this decision. He has since been overly apologetic to wrestling fans for what he was forced to do. The blame for this one lies solely on the shoulders of Vince Russo. As a writer during the WWF’s notorious Attitude Era, Russo moved over to WCW and continually tried to push the envelope. He considered controversy more important than competition. Russo has also gone on record as saying that he feels championship belts are meaningless in wrestling because the action is predetermined. Well, he certainly did his best to make the WCW World Heavyweight Championship look meaningless for a brief moment in time.