Favourite Five

Five Forgotten Wrestler vs Sportsperson Matches

Daniel McIver looks at five times people from other sports entered the realm of professional wrestling.

This past week, we’ve seen not just one but two wrestlers come face to face with someone across the ring that isn’t necessarily from the same one they are used to.

On Monday Night RAW, Braun Strowman had to be pulled apart from boxer Tyson Fury whilst, following his win over Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship, Brock Lesnar was dropped by the ex-UFC competitor (and man who knocked Brock out for real) Cain Velasquez.

However, this isn’t an anomaly in the wrestling industry. Throughout history, there have been several examples of non-wrestling sportspeople cutting it up with professional wrestlers inside that old squared circle AND HERE’S FIVE OF THEM. ENJOY IT.

5. Umaga vs Jackass

Right… I’m counting this because Steve-O once described the members of Jackass as ‘extreme ******* sportsmen’ so it counts. So here’s the story. WWE apparently entered into an agreement with Jackass to start a ‘WWE vs Jackass’ storyline that basically would have just had Johnny, Steve, Chris, Ryan, Jason and Bam getting the crap beaten out of them in creative ways. This all started with Steve-O and Chris Pontius turning up to RAW and getting in the face of The Samoan Bulldozer.

Both members of the stunt show were destroyed by the big man however Steve clearly found it funny. When attempting to no-sell Umaga’s offence, Steve got up from the canvas. What then followed was essentially mutually assured destruction as Umaga just dropped Steve hard. And he stayed down. Sadly, nothing else happened with the storyline after the Chris Benoit tragedy but… what could have been.

4. Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki

This one is a bit different. In one corner; debatably the most famous boxer of all time. A man who defined a generation and fought against the system to reach the top of his game. In the other, a man who defined a sport in the far east and was on a tirade to prove that professional wrestling was the superior form of fighting. It’s always going to create magic.

Now, regardless of the match quality itself (which was fought under special rules), this needs to be spoken about by everyone who is either a boxing, MMA or professional wrestling fan. As many attribute this match, which took place on the 26th of June 1976, to be the birth of modern day mixed martial arts. If that’s not a big enough reason to go and watch it, I don’t know what is.

3. Kane vs Pete Rose

We now jump to a more comedic style which certainly is a surprise if you see half the members involved. Between 1998-roughly 2003 when he unmasked, Kane was treated as a god amongst men. Apart when it came to professional baseball player who, at the time, was 57; Pete Rose. For some reason that was never really explained, Kane hated Pete Rose. He despised him and did literally everything he could do destroy him.

This all ended with Pete Rose getting tombstoned at WrestleMania 14. It apparently hugely brought in the baseball audience to WWF at the time so it worked. It’s still weird though.

2. Bam Bam Bigelow vs Lawrence Taylor

This is probably the most well known instance on this list due to the fact it, inexplicably, main-evented a WRESTLEMANIA. Y’know, the peak of the wrestling calendar. Yeah, it was main evented by a non-wrestler. But y’know what. Taylor REALLY gave it a go.

The guy could have just stood still, threw a few punches, allowed Bam Bam to sell and then pick up a cheap win that would have massively turned the crowd against the former NFL linebacker. But he didn’t. He bumped, he went to the top rope, he did everything to try and give the crowd their money’s worth and, allegedly, almost collapsed backstage due to how exhausted he was when he was done. Absolutely, fair play to the guy. Definitely a WrestleMania moment worth remembering.

1. Shaquille O’Neal in the WrestleMania 32 Battle Royal

When you ask a wrestling fan; ‘Hey, what’s the worst WrestleMania of the last few years?’, many would answer Mania 32 in Dallas, Texas. With one of the most soundly rejected main events of all time and an undercard that offered nothing apart from two great matches (Banks vs Flair vs Lynch and the IC Ladder Match), it’s understandable that you may have forgotten about this battle royal entirely. But I haven’t! No sir, I remember everything negative in wrestling, as is my curse and blessing.

However, even I forgot about the moment the three time MVP, Shaquille O’Neal just… decided to turn up and get involved in a match. For no describable reason. He isn’t even from Dallas. He’s from pissing Newark. Regardless, Shaq turned up, pushed a bunch of guys and then was quickly eliminated with it never being mentioned again.

Jesus, 32 really was dreadful.

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