Professional wrestling is violent, bloody, vicious, and…religious? Well, maybe not usually that last one, but at least a few wrestlers have found some deep connection with their faith shortly after stepping out of the ring. Some of them were even way into Jesus while they were getting between the ropes, and made their religion a part of their wrestling character, although the fact no wrestling promoters appear on this list should explain why that doesn’t usually fly.
Wrestling and ministering don’t necessarily seem to go hand-in-hand, but it's worth pointing out not all ministering is heavy duty religious work. While most of the men on this list are actual men of the cloth, others are ordained in unique and fringe churches that have less to do with God than they have to do with official clerical work. Nonetheless, all of the people on this list are able to preside over marriages, baptisms, funerals, exorcisms, or anything else you might want a minister present for. If you’re looking to plan a wrestling themed wedding and you need someone to read the vows, read on to learn 15 solid picks, and find out which wrestlers went on to become ordained ministers.
15 Marc Mero
“Marvelous” Marc Mero first came to fame as a wrestler as Johnny B. Badd in WCW. As Badd, he was a multi-time WCW Television Champion, before jumping to WWE, changing his character name to his real name, and soon after winning the Intercontinental Championship. Mero didn’t hold the championship for long, but he remained a notable name in WWE for the next few years, in large part due to his actual wife and valet, Sable. Sable eventually eclipsed Marc’s fame, and the two divorced in 2004. Not one to take wallow in misery, Mero reformed himself after his divorce and retirement from wrestling and became a motivational speaker. He was later ordained as a minister in 2013. Mero continues giving inspirational speeches to this day.
14 The Honky Tonk Man
People who have kept up with The Honky Tonk Man’s career since he left the WWE are probably the most shocked to see him on a list about ordained ministers, so here comes the rub of an article like this. You don’t necessarily need to have any strict religious background to become ordained; you just need to find a church willing to let you go through the paperwork. Enter the Universal Life Church, well known for having a simple online process to become a minister, which plenty of celebrities, including wrestlers like Honky, have undergone and achieved ordination. Most people who become ordained under the Universal Life Church do so primarily in order to be able to officiate weddings, so really, an Elvis impersonator should be one of the first suspects to go through the process.
13 The Rock
Much like The Honky Tonk Man, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment history is ordained through the Universal Life Church. We have absolutely no doubt that The Rock has the fire and passion of an old time Southern minister that could get any congregation on their feet, but in fact he went through the process for the same reason we alluded most people do—to act as the official at a friend’s wedding. This friend was a YouTube personality named Nick Mundy, and although The Rock calls him a friend, Mundy still found it a huge surprise that The Great One showed up at his house. The surprise only ballooned when The Rock explained it was Mundy’s wedding day, and Rocky was the one hearing their vows.
Konnor currently wrestles as one half of The Ascension with his partner Viktor, and as of this writing is undergoing his second suspension due to a violation of the WWE Wellness Policy. Perhaps the real Conor O’Brian will use this time to reflect, as he, like Rocky and Honky, is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. Unlike the other two who seemed to do it mostly for entertainment purposes, Konnor seems to have actual religious aspirations, considering he was quoted in the ULC newsletter as being interested in learning about religion. Konnor was ordained in 2013 and continues to violate his company’s drug policy, so we have to assume he’s not learning too much.
11 Johnny Angel
It's strange enough to go from a wrestler to a minister, but Johnny Angel has everyone beat on the surprise factor, in that he’s also a former division leader with the Ku Klux Klan. Thankfully, events in his life transpired and lead to a full reformation, and Johnny became an anti-racism preacher after finally seeing the light. Angel was never a hugely successful wrestler, but was gaining some traction as a manager who could incite crowds into a hateful rage in the late 80s. Shortly thereafter, he decided to transition into inciting a different kind of hate as a Klan leader. After spending some time in prison and realizing the system was the problem and that it could only be fixed by people of all races loving one another and working together, Johnny looked to the Bible for guidance and started preaching the gospel. Johnny passed away in October 2014.
10 Bobby Fulton
Bobby Fulton is best known as one half of the classic NWA tag team The Fantastics with his partner Tommy Rogers. The team engaged in legendary and shocking hardcore for the time feuds against The Sheepherders and The Midnight Express, winning the NWA United States tag team titles twice. In the 90s, Fulton started working as a solo performer on the independent scene, once even wrestling his former partner in a singles match on Raw, which he believes helped inspire the Lightweight division. Fulton gradually transitioned from the ring to the cloth starting when he became a born-again Christian in 2003. Fulton was ordained shortly after and continues to preach to this day. He still occasionally wrestlers as well, but is rumored to be undertaking his retirement tour.
Slick is one of the few legendary WWE managers yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t seem to affect the Doctor of Style’s outlook on life in the slightest. Slick debuted as the new lead heel manager after Freddie Blassie retired, meaning he controlled some of the biggest and baddest monsters in the 80s WWE. But Slick’s transition to religion may not be that surprising. He was also once known as Reverend Slick, and presided over the doomed fake wedding between Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee on Raw in 2012. The holy routine was more than just a gimmick, as Slick has actually been an ordained minister since before he ever joined WWE, and he pastored a small local church the entire time he worked for the company. Slick continues to preach in Louisville, Kentucky as of 2015.
8 "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel
“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel was an intentional copy of Ric Flair in many ways, but one way in which their careers veered dramatically was long term success. Flair continues to be successful in WWE into his 60s, while Landel never quite made the big leagues, after getting addicted to drugs and blowing his first big shot while still in his 20s. Landel struggled with addiction while essentially being blackballed from the wrestling industry, and tried to lift himself up through religion. Proving it doesn’t always quite work, Landel was far more jaded than most of the men on this list, and quit the ministry after a few short years. Speaking of the ministry, Landel said, “It’s become a business…It’s not a far stretch—the ministry and the wrestling business. There are a lot of common elements.” Landel maintains that regardless of his feelings towards ministering in general, he was sincere in his connection to God when he made his effort at joining the profession. Landel passed away in 2015.
7 Marc Lowrance
Marc Lowrance was never quite a wrestler, but he is still a very important name in wrestling history. Lowrance was at first the ring announcer, and then play-by-play announcer, and then eventually one of the most important figures in World Class Championship Wrestling. The family antics of the Von Erich family may have been on the darker side of things, but Lowrance fit in perfectly with the wholesome image they attempted to portray. When announcing, Lowrance would end broadcasts by telling viewers to attend a “church of your choice,” reasonably prefacing his second career as a minister of the United Methodist Church. Lowrance still makes occasional legends appearances at WCCW conventions with his longtime broadcast partner, Bill Mercer, but spends the majority of his time as a preacher.
6 Fray Tormenta
Fray Tormenta never worked for WWE, ECW, WCW, or any company that was a major name in North America. Heck, he never worked for AAA or CMLL or any company that’s a big name in his native Mexico, either. That hasn’t changed him from becoming possibly one of the best-known Mexican wrestlers in modern history, through a very unlikely source: Jack Black made a movie about him. Tormenta was the real life basis for the 2006 comedy Nacho Libre, and just like Black’s character in the movie, Tormenta was active as a priest and a pro wrestler at the same time. Just like in the film, the real life Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez was a drug addict who turned his life around and founded an orphanage. He donned a mask and performed as Fray Tormenta to fund the best life he could provide for the children, keeping his identity a secret so he would be taken more seriously as a wrestler.
5 Ranger Ross
Most of the wrestlers on this list have some sort of name value, but we wouldn’t fault you if you don’t recognize Ranger Ross. An actual United States Army Ranger, Robert Ross, Jr. briefly worked for WCW in the late 80s and had a slightly notably match against The Iron Sheik at Clash of the Champions VI, but he blinked out of mainstream consciousness very shortly after that. He still occasionally wrestles, but spends far more of his time as a minister, which is appropriate since he spent years in seminary school before ever lacing up his boots. Little is known about Ross’s career as a minister, which is fair enough considering there was also such little interest in his career as a wrestler.
4 Tully Blanchard
Tully Blanchard is a WWE Hall of Famer as one of the original members of the legendary Four Horsemen. He was a vicious and dastardly wrestler in the ring, winning the NWA United States Championship and various tag team championships with his long time partner, Arn Anderson. While the other members of the group stuck around for a few decades, Tully disappeared from wrestling in the early 90s, at which point he “let Jesus take over [his] life.” Tully now runs the Ring of Truth Ministry, and does a great deal of work preaching to prisoners in particular, telling them about his struggles with addiction and using what he learned to help them turn their lives around. Tully’s daughter Tessa recently debuted for NXT.
3 Ted DiBiase
“The Million Dollar Man” is often cited as one of the greatest wrestling heels of all time, and surely there was never another entertainer who so summarily presented exactly what was so vile about the deadly sin that is greed. Despite that, DiBiase retired as a wrestler in 1993 and spent a few years as a manager and an announcer before becoming a Christian minister full time in 1999. DiBiase founded the Heart of David Ministry, spreading the message that Christianity is more than a religion, as he thinks it is also a way of life that requires a daily personal relationship with Jesus. Like many wrestlers on this list, DiBiase made his conversion while overcoming a drug addiction he developed throughout his wrestling career. DiBiase travels the world with his ministry spreading this message, only on rare occasions having time to stop by on Raw and appear in silly segments usually pretty unbecoming of a man of the cloth.
2 Nikita Koloff
Nikita Koloff is the only man on this list who arguably has fame as a preacher equal to that of his fame a wrestler. Koloff’s family was one of the three families featured on the Lifetime network’s Preachers’ Daughters, a reality show focused, obviously, on his daughters. Koloff became extremely depressed and quit the wrestling industry after the death of his first wife in 1989, but started to see his life turn around when he became a born-again Christian in 1993. Koloff now works as an evangelist, traveling to 70 or more churches each year with his Koloff For Christ Ministries. Koloff’s second wife was also a pastor, and their daughter Kolby is a Christian rock musician. The Koloff’s don’t just keep religion in the real family, either…
1 Ivan Koloff
Although Nikita’s "Uncle Ivan" wasn’t his real uncle, the two obviously had a lot in common in terms of their career paths. Like so many others on the list, Ivan turned to Jesus in 1996 after years in the wrestling industry left him addicted to a mess of painkillers and other dangerous drugs. He started his mission with God by traveling to churches and spreading his testimonial of reform, and eventually became an ordained minister himself and according to his web site, he currently runs Bound to Be Soul Mates Ceremonies. Chances are if you want “The Russian Bear” to officiate your wedding, though, you might want to act fast—he’s also suing WWE due to concussion related health problems. Then again, maybe his faith will help him survive the battle.