Last week, CM Punk was at MKE Wrestling as a hooded man.
The purpose of his appearance was to interfere with the main event, turning back the clock to deliver a Go To Sleep that got people to sit up and take notice. This got me thinking – when else have we seen the greatest cameos in Wrestling. For the purposes of this article, I am taking cameo to mean a one-time or extremely short-term appearance for a promotion or brand that the wrestler is not known for. A good cameo has the power to sit long in the memory, longer than a one-off appearance has any right to, and often it sends shockwaves through the wrestling world if done well. Below are my personal five favourite cameos, including one that I was lucky enough to be in the building to see with my own eyes.
5. Jushin “Thunder” Liger – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
First up is one that takes seeing to believe, Jushin Thunder Liger in NXT. The Japanese veteran came to America for WWE in a rare collaboration between NJPW of Japan and the American corporation. Jushin’s Opponent at TakeOver: Brooklyn was the princeliest and prettiest Fashion Police member, Tyler Breeze. One day that will be an answer in an extremely niche pub quiz, but until then it’s a heck of a match and a once-in-a-lifetime cameo, especially as it’s looking more and more likely that there won’t be a return for Mr. Liger.
4. Mr. T – WrestleMania I
Next is another moment that is shocking to learn about in hindsight, Mr. T was at WrestleMania I. In the match, he teamed with Hulk Hogan to take on the team of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. As a match, it is interesting to say the least. It features Mr. T, Muhammad Ali and Liberace, and next to Hulk Hogan, Mr. T looks genuinely quite pale.
As a cameo Mr. T’s role is quite extraordinary: to have your debut match at WrestleMania would be seen as a lofty ambition even to the most jaded of fans. To have your debut match in the main event of WrestleMania is a dream best conceived by a local resident of the fabled cloud cuckoo land. To top it all off, to actually win your debut match, in the main event of WrestleMania is bordering on pure ludicrous. If you could write a better story you would be accused of fiction, but this episode from the history of WWE is part of the mainstream appeal that helped make Mania successful and shaped the future of WWF/E. A cameo with huge importance and with present-day eyes, knowing the personal views of some of the participants, it is a cameo most shocking.
And don’t forget guys – treat your mother right.
3. Dakota Kai – PROGRESS Chapter 71
Sometimes cameos can originate from the necessity of plans being thrown awry. Once such occurrence was last year at Progress Chapter 71: F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S where Tegan Nox (then Steffanie Newell) was scheduled to take on Jinny in a title bout. Unfortunately, the day before wrestling for NXT at Download, Tegan got injured and by the day of Progress, she was wearing a knee brace. Fortunately for the paying crowd, there was a more than able replacement in her Team Fly Kicks partner Dakota Kai. For me, it was a hugely surreal moment, as I had seen her wrestle a lot on NXT and now an actual WWE person was wrestling where I was in the crowd. I find it hard to describe and quantify the difference between WWE wrestlers and those on the independent scene, but there’s just something special about them. All in all, a cameo that will live long in the memory and I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a Progress regular and miss that show.
2. Stephen Amell – SummerSlam 2015
As with WrestleMania I, the world of celebrity can often produce unlikely cameos, such as Drew Carey being in the Royal Rumble one year as well as Michael Che and Colin Jost being in this year’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. At SummerSlam 2015, Stephen Amell (of Arrow fame) showed up to pair with Neville to take on Bad News Barrett and Stardust. This match was especially notable, not just for the crossover appeal of Arrow, but also because it was a really good match that didn’t leave Stephen looking out of his depth at all. He took like a duck to water to the world of professional wrestling and it certainly helped that he was in the ring with such accomplished athletes who are now the talk of the independent scene since their departures from WWE.
Amell and Cody are good friends out of the ring – Cody has appeared in a few episodes of Amell’s show Arrow, and Amell wrestled against Christopher Daniels in a one-on-one match at Cody’s All In show. Amell has said he was done with wrestling after that match, but with Arrow finishing up in 2019 and AEW having a lot of hype behind it, could Amell be tempted again?
5. Pete Dunne – Royal Rumble 2019
My final favourite cameo curiously features a wrestler that is best off forgotten. That being said, it was a definite pleasure to see Pete Dunne on the main roster, taking on Enzo Amore on Raw. This was memorable, but Pete wasn’t done there, this January, he was part of the men’s Royal Rumble match as entrant number 18. This was huge and BritWres Twitter seemingly exploded with a combination of pride and joy when the unmistakable noise of Pete Dunne’s entrance music hit. It feels amazing to watch the young lad from Birmingham look a million dollars on the NXT stage, but to see him on the global platform that is a WWE big four Pay-Per-View really was a big deal. I can’t wait for the day that his appearance on the main programming is commonplace but until then, a cameo like that is amazing.
I’m sure there are cameos that I’ve missed out, but those are my five favourites. Do let me know dear reader which cameo from wrestling past is your favourite; let us know in the comments section below.