Celebrity involvement in professional wrestling has been deeply rooted for decades. A great tool for cross-promotion, building a new audience, and re-build any lost audience, fans fondly remembered roles played by Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, among many other noteworthy names in the entertainment industry.
Professional wrestling went through a long argument on if it was really a sport but that never stopped athletes from undoubtedly sports such as basketball, boxing, MMA, and other leagues from not only attending wrestling events but being involved in the show in some capacity.
10 Giannis Antetokounmpo
AEW went through Milwaukee in August 2021 for both Dynamite and Rampage tapings. Before Rampage, AEW President Tony Khan came out on stage with an AEW World Championship title belt. Khan complemented Milwaukee and their newly crowned NBA Championship team before introducing Bucks star and the 2021 NBA Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Khan presented Giannis with the title belt he was holding as “The Greek Freak” went down to the ring to pump up the crowd; He would later be seated in the front row for the rest of the show. In what was a publicity move, his appearance was posted online which got AEW some extra attention through sports and media outlets. Back in December 2017, WWE featured him in a digital exclusive backstage interview.
9 Jeff Bagwell
Jeff Bagwell was a big name in the MLB during his career, being an NL MVP, 4-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, 3-time Silver Slugger recipient, and a Gold Glove recipient by the time WWE rolled into the house. of his Houston Astros in April 2001 for WrestleMania 17. Being a major figure in the city of Houston, Bagwell, with fellow Astro Moises Alou, attended the event and was interviewed during the show by Jonathan Coachman at ringside after the Chyna-Ivory match.
The footage of this interview has been vaulted but the story was told on the podcast Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard. Conrad Thompson recounted that in the interview Bagwell said something along the lines of ‘wrestlers are great actors’. Prichard’s response and thoughts on Bagwell cannot be quoted but for the obvious reason, this segment was only kept to the live PPV broadcast.
8 Wayne Rooney
Wrestlers are fans of sports teams and athletes just like the common fan. Wade Barrett, for example, is a fan of Preston North End FC. In 2015, Barrett took a shot on Twitter at English soccer star Wayne Rooney who was with Manchester United at the time and also their captain. In November that year, Raw rolled into Manchester and in attendance was Mr. Rooney himself.
Barrett had a segment on the show with Sheamus where he had a microphone in the ring and started a tirade on Wayne. Barrett made a comment about Rooney’s son which earned Wade a slap from Wayne when he approached the footballer at ringside.
7 Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews III served as a linebacker for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers for the majority of his career starting in 2009. In early 2011, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, and days later, WWE was in Green Bay for SmackDown. The main event that night was Edge defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Dolph Ziggler.
In addition to the main event being a world title match, Vickie Guerrero served as guest referee. After attempting to spear Edge, Vickie seemingly hurt herself and had to sit out at ringside. After Edge delivered a pair of spears to Ziggler, Clay Matthews appeared on the stage in a referee’s shirt and ran down to the ring to count the pinfall for Edge to retain.
6 Ben Roethlisberger & The Pittsburgh Steelers
WWE has never been shy to capitalize on relevance. During the guest host phase that Raw had started in 2009, Wilkes-Barre in the Pittsburgh area played host to an edition of Raw that October. Earlier in the year, the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII and the team played a role in the show, starting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being the guest host of the show.
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Ben would announce some matches but was also confronted by Chris Jericho and Big Show but he was backed up by his gridiron offensive line as well as Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The Steelers would join DX in their signature crotch chop and pyro, and would all be decked out in DX merch.
5 Lonzo and LaMelo Ball
WWE held a Raw in Los Angeles in late June of 2017. Days prior was the NBA Draft and the Lakers took PG Lonzo Ball with the 2nd overall pick. As the newest Laker and young sensation, it was a treat for the LA crowd to see Lonzo at Raw along with his younger brother and future NBA draft pick LaMelo, who was just 15 at the time, along with their father LaVar.
Big Baller Brand was there to appear as guests on a segment of Miz TV which took a very bad turn. LaVar and The Miz chirped each other to where they went face to face and in a live microphone, the young LaMelo shouted a derogatory racial term jokingly. This seemingly prompted WWE to rush out Dean Ambrose who ended the segment awkwardly by saying, “I like free t-shirts.” His music immediately hit.
4 Enes Kanter
The NBA’s New York Knicks parted ways with their center Enes Kanter in early 2019 on less than ideal terms. After receiving a role demotion, he was waived and left the club. Later in the year WWE was at Madison Square Garden for Raw and before the show, Enes Kanter was welcomed to the arena to a sea of boos by the crowd.
24/7 Champion R-Truth would come down to the ring and after appearing to be on good terms with Kanter, Enes shoved Truth down to the mat and pinned him to win the 24/7 Championship. Kanter would unzip his jacket to reveal a Boston Celtics jersey, the team he had recently just signed with but had yet to debut for. Truth would sneak up from behind and roll up Kanter to reclaim the title.
3 Adam “Pacman” Jones
Impact Wrestling while under the name TNA Wrestling capitalized on an NFL controversy in 2007. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was suspended 1-year for violating the NFL player conduct policy. While serving his suspension, TNA made a move to sign Jones to a contract. The deal was done with the Titans ordering that Jones not be in any physical roles.
TNA worked around this and would book him for a PPV match at No Surrender, teaming with Ron Killings to challenge Kurt Angle and Sting for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Killings worked the physical portions of the match but “Pacman” would actually get the pin on Angle to become a champion in professional wrestling. A month later the duo would drop the titles to AJ Styles and Tomko with Consequences Creed competing in Adam’s place.
2 Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Elite MMA star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made a crossover to professional wrestling. WWE used Jackson in June 2010 as a guest host for Raw but he had a more substantial role with Impact Wrestling when he debuted with the company in June 2013, almost immediately getting into a confrontation with Kurt Angle.
A month later “Rampage” would join the Main Event Mafia faction but he would not make his in-ring debut for another month, taking part in a 10-man tag on the August 22nd. Impact, being part of the winning team. Jackson would leave Impact shortly after due to an upcoming fight he had with Bellator MMA. Jackson would reveal in 2014 that he was not impressed with how the company was operated.
1 AJ Pierzynski
A 2x All-Star during his MLB career, Silver Slugger recipient, and World Series Champion with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, AJ Pierzynski made an appearance on WWE. Raw in September 2009 but years prior appeared at a TNA Wrestling Impact taping in December 2005 with team strength trainer Dale Torberg to present members of the roster with memorabilia from the World Series. Unbelievably, also along with Torberg and Pierzynski was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
A small brawl would break out with the Diamonds in the Rough faction which set up a match for the Turning Point PPV days later; Torberg would with Sonjay Dutt, and Chris Sabin with the group accompanied by Pierzynski to face Diamonds in the Rough. At the PPV, Pierzynski would hit Simon Diamond in the head with a home plate to help his side get the win. Torberg and Pierzynki would return to TNA PPV at Against All Odds 2007 where AJ accompanied Torberg in a match against Lance Hoyt who had fellow MLB player David Eckstein in his corner.