It’s Christmas time… for some. For the Jewish ones among us, it’s Chanukah – the festival of lights, doughnuts and seriously unhealthy foods.
So, to honour that wonderful festival where we light candles for eight nights, here are my Top Eight Jewish (currently active) wrestlers.
Drew Gulak, and, for that matter, his brother Rory, is one of the toughest Jewish men on the planet. His technical style is sound, but he can beat you up with just his fists if he needs to – hence why he made for a fantastic Cruiserweight champion this year. He’s also pretty adept at putting together some of the best Powerpoint presentations the WWE Universe has ever seen. This kind of falls in line with the mantra that Jews like to argue… because we do.
Drew’s Judaism is something he’s proud of, as his brother Rory told the Jewish Telegraph earlier this year (hey, got to plug my day job somehow!). He went on the 2010 Birthright trip to Israel, where he trained with the suddenly-booming Israeli Pro Wrestling Association in Netanya.
Rory is also a formidable fighter, travelling the world training the next generation of wrestlers, while also having standout matches wherever he goes.
I long for Rory to join WWE so that there can finally be a stand-out Jewish tag team.
Born in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Noam Dar was WWE’s first-ever Israeli wrestler…although all mentions of that quickly disappeared and he became just another Scottish wrestler.
Dar always elicits a good crowd reaction, especially whenever he returns to Scotland. He’s now re-joined ICW on-loan from NXT:UK, which means he’ll finally get the push he’s deserved for so long.
He also taught his best friend Grado some Hebrew, when, at the launch of the failed version of World of Sport Wrestling, Grado told me he could say “SHALOM” in the most Scottish accent possible.
How could I do a list of the Top Eight Jewish wrestlers and not include the legend that is Bill Goldberg? He made it cool to be Jewish and still does to this day. He’s probably the toughest Jew on the planet, and could legitimately kick pretty much anyone’s arse, in a ring or not.
Of his Jewish heritage, he wrote in his 2001 autobiography I’m Next:
“At the beginning, I thought that being Jewish would be a detriment and I didn’t want to make it an issue and I never would have let WCW make it an issue. When someone did make an issue out of my religion, it was because other Jews liked the fact that I was a wrestler and I was surprised – I thought they’d shun me for it. I imagined that people wouldn’t cheer me, that they’d see nothing but a big Jewish guy out there with long curly sideburns; wearing a big yarmulke, carrying a huge torah, spinning in the ring like a dreidel.”
I always pop whenever Goldberg returns. So proud.
One of the most underrated females of all time, Victoria is indeed one of the tribe. Although not born into it, she converted several years ago and has always said she’s proud of her newly-found Judaism.
She has a Hebrew tattoo on the back of her neck and does actually have Jewish lineage dating back to a synagogue in California.
She’s probably the toughest Jewish female walking the planet today. She ain’t the Hebrew lady to mess with.
Matt Sydal is literally a champion Jewish wrestler. He’s the current Israel Pro Wrestling Association champion. Not much is known about his Jewish background, other than the fact that he is Jewish. Maybe he should come on the TWMTalks Podcast to discuss it…?
Also, he’s a High Flying Hebrew. I just had to get that in somewhere.
All Elite Wrestling’s shining star MJF wouldn’t be where he is if it weren’t for his Judaism, but not in a good way.
For it was an antisemitic attack that made him stand up for himself and become the tough S.O.B that stands before you on television every Wednesday night.
He told Cody (Rhodes) before they fell out:
“When I was growing up, I played American football. For those who aren’t aware, I am Jewish — although the name probably gave it away. There were no other Jewish kids on my football team, so it was an adjustment. The other kids didn’t exactly love the fact that there was this Jewish kid taking their spot. When I had the first day of practice, I beat out all of the other kids who had been playing longer than me for the middle linebacker spot. The next week these douchebags walked up to me and said ‘hey, Jew boy’ and threw rolls of quarters at me and told me to pick them up. I was pretty floored and it messed me up pretty bad. I went home and balled my eyes out pretty bad. I realised that you had to kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be and I was never going to allow myself to be bullied ever again.”
I’m proud to call him a fellow Jew.
How could I leave out the self-proclaimed Creative Rabbi of WWE? Paul Heyman is an absolute legend, one of the best things to ever happen to the wrestling industry and has no equals on a microphone.
And, during his client Brock Lesnar’s feud with Goldberg, he became the first person to say kaddish (the Jewish mourners’ prayer) in the ring live on Monday Night Raw. Jewish Twitter was a sight to behold that night!
Now, David Starr and I disagree on a lot of political issues, but the Cream In Your Coffee is, without a doubt, one of, if not the best independent wrestler out there today.
David has spoken at length about his Judaism mainly to me here and has made no bones about showing how proud he is to be one of the tribe, either. He recently wrestled in Israel, wearing the flags of both the Jewish and Palestinian states on his trunks in a message of peace.
He might be your favourite wrestler’s favourite wrestler, but I think he deserves a new Jewish nickname at this time of year – The Oil In Your Menorah.
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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @ACailler. Thanks for reading!