Celebrities appearing on wrestling programming has been around since Wrestlemania 1.
The then WWF brought in multiple famous faces from pop culture to bring up the show buys. It brings a crossover element to it, bringing in some non-wrestling and some lapsed fans. We’ve seen it countless times across all companies, some bigger than others. Every Wrestlemania, we have a famous face, or faces, perform America the Beautiful, with the occasional extra performances.
However, we don’t get many celebrities appear in an actual physical role, less so in an actual wrestling match. We never expect anything from these stars because they’re in a world we never expected them to be but we do get pleasantly surprised by certain people from all over the entertainment sphere. As much as I would love to put Mr President, Donald Trump, in this list, his physicality with Mr McMahon at Wrestlemania 23 is not good enough.
Stephen Amell – WWE, ROH & AEW
This entry is the one that made me want to write this list. People who know me know my love for Stephen Amell and the TV show he was the star of, Arrow. Amell grew up an avid fan of professional wrestling and was constantly lobbying for a guest spot on RAW in 2015. Eventually he was granted his appearance and was tentatively lined up for a match against Stardust at SummerSlam 2015.
Amell would appear on RAW in the front row, being confronted by the former and future Cody Rhodes. Amell would return in August in a more physical capacity; jumping the barricade, entering the ring and shoving Stardust. We got the usual backstage segment with Triple H who got Amell to sign a hold harmless agreement and set up Stephen Amell & Neville, the Green and Red Arrow, vs. Stardust and King Barrett.
At the show after Amell hit a huge dive from the top rope to the outside, Neville hit the Red Arrow for the win. This set up a friendship between Rhodes and Amell, with the former appearing on Arrow as Derek Sampson, and Amell being an honorary member of The Bullet Club and The Nightmare Family. Amell would later appear in a 5-on-4 handicap match in Ring of Honor, teaming with other Bullet Club members Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks against SCU and Flip Gordon.
When All In was announced by the company we now call AEW, Amell would receive his first ever singles match against Christopher Daniels on the main card. He would lose to The Fallen Angel, ending his unbeaten streak, but again showed a knack for the wrestling business.
David Arquette – WCW
Considering Arquette is now actually a wrestler for American independent promotions, primarily competing in deathmatches, this one is slightly tainted.
In 2000, Arquette starred in the WCW based Ready to Rumble, which brought him into the actual world of wrestling. He immediately was brought into storyline, jumping the barricade and confronting Eric Bischoff and his New Blood stable. Arquette would form an alliance with Chris Kanyon and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page, both men aiding Arquette in a singles victory over Bischoff. The following week, he teamed with DDP against Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett in a tag team match, where the man who got the pinfall would receive the WCW Heavyweight Championship.
Would you have guessed it, Arquette got the pin and would receive the coveted strap. Arquette would only hold the title for 12 days and appeared on just two shows – an episode of Nitro and the Slamboree PPV. The former was a comedy skit in which his 3,000 Miles to Graceland co-star Kurt Russell laughed when he was informed that Arquette was champion.
He also appeared to give the title back, before defeating Tank Abbott to retain, again with the help of DDP. At Slamboree, he lost the title to Jarett in a Triple Cage Match, also featuring DDP, after Arquette turned on his ally to hand the win to Double J. Arquette made two more appearances after losing the title, the first calling his friendship with DDP a ‘swerve’ before receiving a Diamond Cutter. The second was interfering in a match between Buff Bagwell and Kanyon at New Blood Rising.
One good thing did come of this. Arquette didn’t feel like he deserved to be in that position, so the money he made from WCW was donated to the families of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman and Darren Drozdov.
Mr T – Wrestlemania 1 & 2
The first man to be physically involved in wrestling from a different background – the mohawked man who pitied the fools. Appearing at the first two Wrestlemanias, both in physical matches, he basically paved the way for the future crossover stars.
There was no specific build to Mr T’s appearance at the first Wrestlemania but it’s clear Vince McMahon threw everything at these celebrities to appear and to make his show larger than life. Mr T would team with Hulk Hogan in the main event of the show, defeating ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and ‘Mr Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff. It has come out that Piper and various stars didn’t like Mr T because he didn’t pay his dues to the wrestling business, which doesn’t surprise me considering it was in 1985. In Hogan’s autobiography, he revealed the Mr T nearly left before the show started after his posse wasn’t allowed entry to the building.
In between the two Wrestlemanias, Mr T would compete in a boxing match at Saturday Night’s Main Event, defeating ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton. This would set up his second Wrestlemania match, a boxing match against one-half of the heel team from the first Show of Shows, Roddy Piper. In typical heel fashion, Piper lost in the fourth round after bodyslamming Mr T and attacking the referee.
Mr T would go on to make various sporadic appearances in wrestling, either in non-physical or limited physical matches but would always have his name etched in history, coming full circle in 2014 when he was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame.
Floyd Mayweather – Wrestlemania 24
It is still a brilliant visual to this day – the 5ft 8in Mayweather squaring up to the 7ft Big Show.
The seeds were planted at the previous WWE show, No Way Out, where Big Show returned after an injury to address the fans, before giving up and attacking Rey Mysterio, who was injured at ringside. Mayweather, who was front row, leaped the barricade and got into the face of The Giant. Big Show got onto his knees to be the same height as Floyd, resulting in a punch combo and a legitimate broken nose for Big Show.
The match was made for Wrestlemania 24, with a no DQ stipulation put in place, something Mayweather would use to his advantage. They would also add that the winner could be determined by pinfall, submission or knockout. At the event, Mayweather would play keep away from Show for the majority of the match, before using weapons to his advantage to keep on top, ultimately knocking out Big Show using brass knuckles which kept his unbeaten record.
Fitting with Mayweather’s personality, he made it very public at the money he received for this match: $20 million. He would make another appearance in WWE in 2009, costing Big Show and Chris Jericho a tag team match against MVP and Mark Henry.
Mike Tyson – Wrestlemania XIV
One of the most iconic calls in WWE is Jim Ross screaming in the lead up to Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 14.
“Tyson wants Austin, Austin wants Tyson!”JR, 1998
Tyson was brought into WWE as the ‘special outside enforcer’ seemingly to keep D-Generation-X at bay and away from the match. Despite this, he seemingly sided with them in a scuffle with Austin, where JR made his famous call. Michaels would enter the event unbelievably confident of his chances of winning, with not only DX but The Baddest Man on the Planet at ringside.
After a referee bump, both men were left to themselves with Tyson on the outside. Michaels would go for the Sweet Chin Music for it to be countered into a Stone Cold Stunner. Tyson would slide in the ring and count the three – a quick count I may add – giving Austin the WWF Championship.
After the match, Austin threw a t-shirt of his at Tyson to the confusion of the boxer but he would parade around the ring holding shirt emblazoned with ‘Austin 3:16’ up. Michaels would stir and notice Tyson’s actions, looking genuinely heartbroken before he began to shove the boxer, ripping the t-shirt out of his hand and attempting to punch Iron Mike.
That would not happen. Tyson would reverse and knock out HBK, raise the hand of The Rattlesnake and leave the arena alongside the new WWF Champion.
Tyson would surface in WWE once more, this time in a segment alongside Chris Jericho in 2010. He would team with the future Le Champion in a tag match against DX, given his past with them. However, Tyson would turn…again. Tyson ripped off his shirt to reveal a DX one, aligning with Triple H and Shawn Michaels, 12 years after turning on them.
Due to the famous moment in 1998, Tyson would reappear in wrestling this year for AEW. He presented the TNT Championship to the winner Cody whilst also acting like an enforcer, chasing off Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Tyson would also show up on Dynamite the following week and get into a brawl with Chris Jericho, reigniting that feud from 2010 and possibly setting up a match somewhere down the road.
All of these and more are one of the reasons to love professional wrestling. The crossover appeal is endless and sometimes gets everyone hyped for the potential. With multiple companies cropping up and becoming larger and more financially stable, celebrity appearances will always be a thing.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!