When you get right down to it, professional boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, and wrestling are all combat sports. And while there are certainly differences between them, they have a lot in common too. That’s why we see so many pro-MMA fighters and big-name boxers make the crossover to the world of WWE. Well, that and many other reasons.
Over the years, some of the octagon and the ring’s hardest hitters have made the move to what was WWF, but ended up changing its name to WWE in 2002. Years later, this crossover trend continues. Here’s why!
A Similar Skill Set
When Brock Lesnar, Josh Barnett, Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, and Ken Shamrock stepped into the WWE ring, they brought a number of new signature moves with them. This list includes the Double-Leg Takedown, Jab, Overhand, Round Kick, and Trip.
Similarly, the knowledge of footwork, their agility, and their ability to punch ensured boxers like Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Ricky Hatton, and Tyson Fury held their own when they strode into the WWE arena.
Dan “The Beast” Severn has his Fury Punch. Matt Riddle has his Arm-Trapped Elbow Strike. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made headlines more than once for The Flying Crossbody. The Undertaker is synonymous with the Tombstone Piledriver move. And John Cena has his iconic Toehold Facelock.
The moves themselves may be different, but what they have in common is that they’re devastating to opponents in the ring and can be used in all three disciplines.
Doing Some Damage Control
Professional boxers run the risk of developing Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury. MMA fighters may suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy due to brain damage by the end of their careers. The fact of the matter is that both these professions carry significant consequences for athletes.
Long-term damage is very likely when your job is to withstand sustained physical attacks from people who know how to hurt you badly.
WWE fighters have been hurt in many tragic instances, and there is a level of physical danger they confront each time they participate in a match. But, at the end of the day, these matches are carefully scripted events, and the risk of serious injury is kept to a minimum. This makes them somewhat less risky, especially for older fighters.
It’s Good, Clean Fun
With millions of fans worldwide, it stands to reason that we’ll find some WWE admirers in the world of boxing and MMA. Many of these fighters end up getting involved in WWE because they’re straight-up fans. Arjan Singh Bhullar, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Ronda Rousey, and Roy Nelson have all expressed their admiration for WWE.
This means that fighters won’t view getting involved in WWE as some kind of demotion. Instead, they’ll look at it as a dream come true!
It’s also great for the growth of WWE, as interesting and exciting crossovers bring a new generation of fans. And with new fans come more money, more interest, an increase in sponsorships, and so much more.
Which brings us to the next point.
In terms of audiences, there is a big crossover between boxing, WWE, and MMA. This means that athletes established in the worlds of Boxing and MMA are often actively sought out by WWE. So, fighters going head-to-head with wrestlers wouldn’t have to start at the bottom of the pile in terms of earnings.
The big players in WWE earn a lot of money. Average wrestlers take home a base salary of between $500,000 and a million dollars a year. But when you’re Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, or Seth Rollins, and you already have an established following, this amount skyrockets to between $7.5 million and $15 million. And that’s before income from merchandising deals, sponsorships, and other endorsements are taken into account.
This kind of money is an excellent incentive for anyone to get into the WWE ring.
Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number In WWE
On average, professional boxers hang their gloves before turning 40, and the same is true for MMA fighters. Because of the scripted aspect of WWE, however, there’s no right age for these wrestlers to leave the ring. Stars who take good care of themselves can keep going at the highest levels for a long time, sometimes into their 50s.
The nature of competitive sports means there’s always someone younger and better than you snapping at your heels. After a time, your body just can’t keep up the way it used to. But this isn’t a requirement for sports entertainment.
The legendary Bobby Lashley is 45 years old. Shelton Benjamin and Robert Roode are 46. Rey Mysterio is 47, and R-Truth is 50. WWE makes it possible for fighters to keep doing what they love for adoring audiences for longer.
The Lust for Power!
It’s natural to want to prove you’re the best at doing what you love. Skilled athletes adore a challenge, so taking their hardwon skills into a new setting is an appealing prospect. What’s better than winning in the boxing ring or an MMA cage? Winning a WWE match, too!
Along with the many external reasons professional fighters have for branching out, the greatest athletes are powerfully intrinsically motivated too. There is the sheer enjoyment they experience when they’re fighting. There’s the thrill of a challenge worthy of them that will, at the very least, elevate their already considerable skill. And there’s the irresistible allure of exploring their potential.
Boxers and MMA fighters’ crossovers with the world of WWE have injected a valuable amount of vitality into wrestling. Seeing these masters of their games in a new setting makes the event we’re watching much more enjoyable.
Statistics show that boxing is rapidly growing in popularity. This growth means that WWE should get an injection of new talent in the not-so-distant future too. Here’s to the pros that have already made the transition, and the many more crossovers to come.