Before Pat McAfee, 9 Other Sports Stars With Major Appearances In Professional Wrestling


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Pat McAfee and Charly Caruso at WrestleMania 35

Professional wrestling has lengthy had a convention of bringing in skilled athletes to participate in huge marquee matches. Again within the top of the “Monday Night time Wars,” WCW took benefit of the on-court animosity between Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman in the course of the 1998 NBA Finals for a tag-team match on the Bash on the Seashore occasion. WWE (then-WWF) has finished it time and time once more with everybody from Tremendous Bowl champ Rob Gronkowski to basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, and now it appears like former NFL punter and present talkshow host Pat McAfee might be becoming a member of their ranks.

Because the wrestling world anxiously awaits in-ring debut of the longtime Indianapolis Colts punter towards former NXT Champion Adam Cole at NXT Takeover XXX, now’s the right time to look again at a number of the largest names within the sports activities world who made a serious look within the skilled wrestling.

Shawn Michaels tending to Adam Cole after being punted by Pat McAfee

Pat McAfee

Pat McAfee hasn’t technically made his in-ring debut with WWE’s NXT model, however the two-time Professional Bowl punter has been a serious a part of a storyline involving his upcoming Takeover opponent Adam Cole greater than two years after precipitated the Undisputed Period chief a victory at an Indianapolis home present. The feud went mainstream in July 2020, when Cole appeared as a visitor on McAfee’s podcast and the 2 did what so lots of the greats earlier than them did, they’d a blowup that blurred the road between actuality and kayfabe (wrestling make-believe) and despatched the web ablaze. Not lengthy after, the 2 acquired into one other heated dialogue at a taping of NXT which ended with McAfee punting Cole’s head. The match between the 2 was made official the following day.

Dennis Rodman with NWO on Monday Nitro

Dennis Rodman

There has by no means been knowledgeable athlete higher suited to enter the world {of professional} wrestling than five-time NBA Champion Dennis Rodman, who was a part of two main WCW pay-per-view matches on the top of his profession. Beginning in March 1997, the colourful defensive mastermind of the Chicago Bulls fashioned an enduring bond with NWO chief Hollywood Hulk Hogan and even served as his tag-team accomplice in a dropping effort at that yr’s Bash on the Seashore. Rodman would return the next yr for one more match as Hogan’s accomplice, this time squaring up towards his NBA Finals opponent Karl Malone, who teamed with Diamond Dallas Web page. The match wasn’t something to write down house about, however again in the summertime of 1998, it was all anybody may speak about and resulted in a large number of the pay-per-view buys for the corporate’s huge summer season occasion.

Karl Malone and Hulk Hogan tie up at Bash at the Beach

Karl Malone

Dennis Rodman could have been efficient as a heel, however his 1998 Bash on the Seashore opponent Karl Malone gave the impression to be extra as much as process for the wrestling aspect of the efficiency as a substitute of the sensationally efficient heel work (there is not any query that Rodman was the most important villain within the league on the time). Like I mentioned earlier, their tag-team match wasn’t must-watch tv by any means, however WCW wasn’t actually identified for its ring work on the time, aside from the excellent and underutilized cruiserweight division. Rodman, the NWO, and hundreds of thousands of wrestling followers all over the world knew that Malone was critical about his dedication as quickly as they noticed him enter the ring and deal with the match the identical method he’d deal with an NBA Finals matchup.

Shaquille O'Neal, Kane, and Big Show square up at WrestleMania 32

Shaquille O’Neal

It ought to be no shock that Shaquille O’Neal has been concerned with skilled wrestling all through his profession, nevertheless it’s loopy that he has solely had one match, particularly for somebody who would have slot in so effectively again in his glory days. Certain, Shaq made just a few appearances right here and there within the 1990s and past, however he did not formally enter the squared circle till WrestleMania 32 the place he participated within the Andre the Large Memorial Battle Royal and had a confrontation with Large Present earlier than being eradicated by a big group of wrestlers. It appeared like the 2 would meet face-to-face for actual the next yr at WrestleMania 33, however nothing got here of it.

Rob Gronkowski at WrestleMania 33

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is undoubtedly extra well-known for being a three-time Tremendous Bowl champion with the New England Patriots or his look because the “White Tiger” on The Masked Singer Season 3, however the lifelong wrestling fan has proven up on WWE tv a number of instances all through his profession and is even a one-time champion. “Gronk” first appeared at WrestleMania 33, the place he helped his real-life pal and WWE famous person Mojo Rawley safe a victory within the Andre the Large Memorial Battle Royal. He would present up once more three years later to host the two-night WrestleMania 36, throughout which he would turn out to be the 24/7 Champion, a title he would till being pinned in his yard by R-Reality two months later.

Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 34

Ronda Rousey

Not like nearly everybody else on this listing, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey had a prolonged run in WWE, throughout which era she was concerned in among the finest matches at WrestleMania 34 and was part of the primary female-headlined WrestleMania the next yr in her triple menace match towards Becky Lynch and Charlotte Aptitude. Throughout that point, Rousey had a collection of stellar matches towards everybody from Alexa Bliss (who she squashed at SummerSlam 2018 to safe the Uncooked Ladies’s Championship), Sasha Banks, Bayley, and the aforementioned Lynch and Aptitude. With just one loss throughout her one-year run on the high of the division, Rousey cemented herself within the hallowed halls of wrestling historical past.

Big Show and Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania 24

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather is one other a type of personalities from the world {of professional} sports activities that was made for wrestling, and that turned a actuality in 2008 when the undefeated boxing famous person went up towards the a lot bigger Large Present for a no-disqualification match at WrestleMania 24. Held proper earlier than the principle occasion World Heavyweight Championship match between Edge and The Undertaker, the Mayweather/Large Present spectacle performed out extra like a cartoon than a wrestling match and principally consisted of the boxer attempting to flee the attain of the large grappler and depended upon his entourage to distract his opponent and safe a victory.

Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania 11

Lawrence Taylor

Two-time Tremendous Bowl champ and Professional Soccer Corridor of Famer Lawrence Taylor has the distinct honor of being the one skilled athlete on this listing to safe a victory in the principle occasion at a WrestleMania. Two years after his profession on the gridiron got here to an in depth, Taylor discovered himself in the course of a feud with the late Bam Bam Bigelow following an interplay ringside on the 1995 Royal Rumble. Gearing up for his or her primary occasion singles match at WrestleMania 11, the 2 opponents, and the present general, acquired quite a lot of mainstream press contemplating that one of many largest stars of the NFL of the 1980s and early 90s was within the last bout on the “Grandaddy of the All.”

Mike Tyson, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14

Mike Tyson

Boxer Mike Tyson’s look because the visitor enforcer at WrestleMania 14 in 1998 not solely helped cement the legacy of WWF’s Perspective Period, it additionally helped usher in Stone Chilly Steve Austin’s reign as WWF Champion and the most important star on the earth {of professional} wrestling. Main as much as the match between Austin after which champion Shawn Michaels, Tyson seemed to be in Michaels’ nook and was always moving into arguments and bodily confrontations with the Texas Rattlesnake. That partnership did not final as Tyson turned on the Heartbreak Child and revealed an Austin 3:16 shirt earlier than serving to Austin safe a victory, creating one of the vital iconic moments in wrestling.

Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali fighting in Tokyo

Muhammad Ali

It’s principally forgotten now, however boxing legend Muhammad Ali as soon as entered a wrestling ring towards the good Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki for an unscripted exhibition match in 1976. The bout, which was held in Tokyo, was the topic of controversy on the time as a result of odd algorithm Ali’s camp pressured Inoki to agree upon for the match to happen. In the one-on-one contest, Inoki was barred from performing any wrestling strikes, so he laid flat on the bottom and kicked Ali all through the match that led to a draw. As a result of variety of kicks acquired in the course of the struggle, two blood clots fashioned in Ali’s legs, which based on The Los Angeles Instances, nearly resulted in an amputation because of an an infection.

The Muhammad Ali/Antonio Inoki struggle might need been seen as a farce on the time, and nearly ended badly for the previous world champion boxer, however its legacy continues to be felt right this moment on the earth of Combined Martial Arts, particularly in Japan. A 2013 article in SB Nation’s Bloody Elbow credit the match with inspiring the founders of MMA promotions like Pancrase and Satisfaction to usher in a brand new period of shoot combating. See, every part at all times comes again to skilled wrestling.

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