11 Pro Athletes Who Tagged In To Pro Wrestling
A few weeks back it was announced that Wrestlemania 28 will be held at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, April 1. Only 4 matches officially scheduled so far (the main event being John Cena vs. The Rock) but this is the WWE, so you know there will be tons of surprises.
One of the most awesome rumors floating around out there on the intertubes is that the one, the only, Shaquille O’Neal, will be taking part in a throwdown against Big Show. Who started this rumor? Shaq, obviously. And WWE is emphatically denying it, which means it’s almost certainly true.
Of course, pro athletes have always had a penchant for hopping over the ropes and into the wrestling ring. Big Show vs. Big Aristotle would just be the latest (and possibly greatest) example. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait another 33 days to find out if this actually goes down.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at 11 other notable cases of athletes tagging in.
The Chicago Bears’ William “Refrigerator” Perry was one of the first star athletes to appear in a WWF event. He competed in Wrestlemania II in 1986 along with fellow NFLers Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Jimbo Covert, Ernie Holmes and Harvey Martin. None of these guys was able to beat Andre the Giant, however, who went on to win the event.
11. Refrigerator Perry at Wrestlemania 2
In 1995, the New York Giants’ Lawrence Taylor—then a retired Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players in the history of football—got into the WWF ring. He went head to head with the 390 pound Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania XI and won.
As you can see from the clip, he had a lot of his NFL buddies on hand for moral support. It was very sweet of them.
10. Lawrence Taylor at Wrestlemania XI
Here we have two former NFL players who decided to give pro wrestling a shot after their football playing days had ended.
Former DT Steve McMichael was one of the guys ringside at LT’s match against Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania XI. Apparently he liked it so much, he decide to try wrestling himself, joining the WCW under the ring name “Mongo.”
Later, former DE/LB Kevin Greene would join WCW as Mongo’s tag team partner. However, he was betrayed by Mongo, and the two eventually squared off in a revenge match—which Greene won.
9. Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs. Kevin Greene
Reggie White was another great NFLer who was at LT’s side at the 1995 Wrestlemania match against Bigelow. At later events, he would feud with Steve “Mongo” McMichael, eventually squaring off against him in a match at the WCW’s Slamboree in 1997. Unfortunately, the Minister of Defense did not come out victorious.
Here’s a clip from that match:
8. Reggie White confronts Steve McMichael
Floyd Mayweather jumped into the ring in 2008 after being taunted by Big Show. When Big Show told him to give him his best shot, Mayweather did, punching the behemoth in the nose. Then Mayweather and his buddies fled the ring in terror as Big Show chased after them. It was all pretty embarrassing.
Later, Mayweather actually faced Big Show in a no-disqualification match at Wrestlemania XXIV—which Mayweather won by knockout, thanks to a pair of brass knuckles.
Mayweather claimed he was paid $20,000,000 for the match. But of course, that is absurd, and the claim was obviously just part fo the stunt.
7. Floyd Mayweather’s punch ‘n run
Mike Tyson’s hopped into the wrestling ring on several occasions. This little fracas is what got it all started. It led to Tyson serving as en enforcer at Wrestlemania XIV, where he knocked Shawn McMichaels out with one punch. In 2010, a noticeably chunkier Tyson made another WWE appearance in which he started as Jericho’s partner before revealing that he was really a DX ally...at which point he punched Jericho and knocked him out.
6. Mike Tyson
The Mailman got into the ring while he was still playing basketball. At a WCW match in 1998, he came out to taunt Hollywood Hogan and ended up bodyslamming the wrestling legend. Later, at WCW’s Bash at the Beach, Malone would face off against Hogan and another big NBA star in his only official pro wrestling match. Unfortunately, Malone lost.
5. Karl Malone stares down Hollywood Hogan
Hollywood Hogan’s partner in that 1998 match against Karl Malone? Yep, it was Dennis Rodman, who actually had a pretty steady 3-year pro wrestling career.
4. Rodman partners with Hollywood Hogan
This confrontation between Shaq and Big Show from 2009 is the reason for all the buzz around this year’s Wrestlemania. Obviously, the people who run the WWE would have to be morons not to have these two face off in Miami on April 1.
3. Shaq’s Big Show Showdown
Disgraced baseball legend Pete Rose will do, say, or sign anything for a buck. So it’s no surprise that he showed up as a guest announcer at Wrestlemania XIV in 1998.
The event was held in Boston that year, and Rose taunted the crowd about the Red Sox’s championship draught and the disastrous Buckner through-the-legs play from the 1986 World Series. Thus, the audience went bonkers when Kane came out, picked Rose up, and performed a tombstone on baseball’s all-time hits king.
2. Pete Rose gets tombstoned
Muhammad Ali famously referred to Joe Frazier as “the gorilla in Manilla” in the leadup to Ali-Frazier III. But in 1976, Ali actually jumped into the ring to face another gorilla—legendary pro wrestler Gorilla Monsoon.
At the time, pro wrestling was not the entertainment mainstay it is today. This was long before the WWF came along with its bi-weekly shows on basic cable. So having the greatest boxer of all-time jump into the wrestling ring—and getting bodyslammed—was a pretty big deal for the sport.