Even before Vince McMahon brought professional wrestling to the mainstream, the land of sports entertainment has been extremely welcoming to any celebrity guests who felt like hitting the ring. Of course, the WWE CEO has been especially fond of the idea, and since his company is the biggest in the business, more celebrities have been attracted to his arenas than any other.
In theory, this should work out great for all parties involved. WWE, or whatever company the celeb appears in, gets the added boost and media attention Hollywood or TV fame brings. The performer in turn benefits from looking more like a team player, and they might even earn a little toughness cred depending on how things play out for them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that well, and it’s just as likely that both WWE and their special guest stars will suffer for daring try their hand at something new.
When celebrity wrestling is truly at it’s worst, there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about a famous face in the squared circle. In the wrong scenario, the idea of a celebrity even getting involved in the slightest can cause an otherwise talented wrestler’s career to come crashing down until they’re allowed to get back to other actual wrestlers. For the worst of the worst, keep reading to learn about 15 celebrities who ruined wrestling shows the moment they got involved.
15 LaVar Ball and Family
Anyone who doesn’t pay all that much attention to basketball or general sports media probably has no idea who LaVar Ball is, but people who do know his name almost certainly have an opinion on him. In as few words as possible, Ball is basically basketball’s first professional hype man, constantly talking up the skills of his two prodigiously talented sons Lonzo and LaMelo Ball, making the whole family minor stars in the process. Ball also has noteworthy business success with his Big Baller Brand, but none of this explains why he went toe to toe with one of WWE’s top superstars in The Miz on a random episode of Raw. As if the basic idea wasn’t pointless enough, LaVar’s son LaMelo garnered extreme controversy by insisting his dad beat The Miz’s ass, albeit with even harsher language, managing to drop the n-word into his statement. Apparently, the entire segment was unscripted, with the Ball family demanding Miz simply “wing it,” which could explain why it was such a mess.
14 Jeremy Piven and Ken Jeong
Because some celebrities in wrestling don’t really do all that much before leaving the industry forever, all it takes is one small mistake to mock and insult them forever. During the heavily criticized “guest host” era of Raw, this problem came up almost every single week, although never worse than when Entourage star Jeremy Piven was given the gig. Piven’s crime was minor, albeit major in significance—when talking about the company’s next big Pay-Per-View, SummerSlam, he got the name wrong and called it SummerFest instead. That show happened to be the second biggest WWE event of the year, making it pretty clear Piven didn’t care about the company or wrestling at all, and was just there for the paycheck. His co-host/friend/loud and annoying sidekick Ken Jeong was no treat either, screaming into the microphone and mocking his own appearance later that week on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
With all due respect, Butterbean may not be a traditional in the same sense as most others on this list. He’s certainly the least “famous” in the mainstream, though this isn’t to downplay his accomplishments whatsoever. In fact, while not all that notorious outside of his chosen field, the fact Butterbean was an expert boxer known for knocking his opponents out with little difficulty made him a perfect sports entertainment guest star. The catch is that Vince McMahon made a huge mistake in how to use this information, hiring Butterbean to compete in an actual boxing match against plan old wrestler Bart Gunn. It took the pro fighter all of 34 seconds to knock Gunn silly, making the former WWE Tag Team Champion look like a total joke. Since Gunn had just defeated half the roster in legit boxing matches, all of wrestling looked just as weak and pathetic as he did, leaving Butterbean the only person coming out of this experience looking strong.
12 Jay Leno
Once upon a time, WCW held a highly promoted Pay-Per-View for a crowd of rabid motorcycle enthusiasts, and the main event began with the hokey intro music to The Tonight Show. Believe it or not, this was in no way a joke, but rather the beginning of Jay Leno’s career as a main event professional wrestler. 48 years old at the time and known primarily for sycophantically chuckling at bad celebrity stories, no one understands what WCW was thinking by making the talk show host suddenly engage in a feud against the company’s top star, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Sure, the two had chatted a few times on Leno’s show, and Eric Bischoff’s smarmy approximation of the nWo Tonight Show was a silly way to spend a Nitro. However, actually putting Leno in the main event of a major show against a former World Champion made everyone look crazy. To his credit, Leno tried his best in the match, but then again, all this meant was WCW and Hogan looked ridiculous for selling his offense.
In all fairness to one of WCW’s biggest bombs, the Venn diagram of wrestling fans and rock and roll fans probably has a pretty big center. Chances are a decent portion of the WCW audience specifically enjoyed the musical stylings of KISS, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they wanted to see Gene Simmons spraying out fire on an episode of Nitro. In fact, they were so against the idea that WCW promoting that as a “main event” lead to the lowest ratings the show would ever receive. As if the miserable failure of the first WCW concert wasn’t embarrassing enough, KISS only agreed to do the show if a wrestler was soon introduced based on their music. The resulting career of the KISS Demon was just as pathetic and forgettable as the performance itself, simply reminding fans how outdated and irrelevant the once iconic rock band had become.
10 Master P
At the height of the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars, it made perfect sense that either WWE or WCW would try and get the approval of a mainstream rapper to enhance their street cred, so to speak. Unfortunately, neither company had a single executive that knew anything about rap, meaning the closest they came was the Insane Clown Posse and Master P’s No Limit Soldiers. In fairness to ICP, they at least cared about wrestling enough to try their best in both companies, while Master P’s stint in WCW was a complete bomb from beginning to end. The main problem is that Master P was presented as some sort of heroic rap icon, when most WCW fans were southerners who much preferred the country-fried wrestlers who mocked him. Also, even people who actually like rap generally saw Master P as a joke, his career based almost entirely on hype alone. The result was fans turning out en masse whenever P or his squad were anywhere near the ring.
No matter how one felt about the show on a personal level, it can’t be denied that Jersey Shore was a cultural phenomenon of sorts when it was on the air. If nothing else, more teenagers and college aged viewers were tuning in to watch the self-professed “guidos” drink themselves into oblivion on MTV than did watch Raw every week, so it almost makes sense that Vince McMahon would ask the most visible member of the cast to get involved. What he forgot to factor in is that few people outside of the Jersey Shore audience particularly like Snooki, let alone give her much of a second thought at all. Those that do generally didn’t respect her all that much. This meant promoting her in a high profile WrestleMania match was considered a joke from the start, and a waste of both her tag team partners and opponents.
8 Pacman Jones
Okay, so a good number of the names on this list were questionable to say the least, but only TNA did something outright idiotic when hiring a celebrity to get in the ring. Every other name on this list, even the fictional ones, could have theoretically entered a wrestling ring to compete at one point or another. In the case of controversial football player NFL, it was legally impossible for him to actually compete, and yet TNA found a way to make him Tag Team Champion despite this. By doing so, Jones became one of the few humans to win and lose a title without ever actually wrestling in a single match, simply standing on the apron and never once tagging in as Ron Killings did all the work. Luckily, TNA quickly realized how stupid this was and let Consequences Creed defend the title in Jones’s place.
Here’s where the list starts getting really goddamn weird, and as per usual in such an instance, we have WCW to thank for the madness. In late 1998, the company was firmly off the rails, with company executives way too busy trying to deal with top stars to put any effort into planning their undercard. This meant midcard talent like Rick Steiner occasionally had nothing to do, despite being popular enough select parts of the crowd still wanted to see them. To try and fix this problem, on a random October episode of Nitro in the lead to Halloween Havoc, the Dog-Faced Gremlin hit the ring for an interview only to get interrupted by the murderous children’s doll Chucky. It should go without saying this creature was entirely fictional, having originated in the Child’s Play series, and it’s not like he could actually challenge Steiner in the ring. In fact, Chucky couldn’t really do anything aside from giggle a bunch and make fans wonder what the hell he was doing arguing with Rick Steiner.
It was bad enough when Chucky the Doll started mocking Rick Steiner from the comfort of Nitro’s big screen. Believe it or not, though, WCW did something about a hundred times worse almost a full decade earlier. Well, technically, it was the NWA that produced this ridiculous bomb, but it’s not like there was much of a difference at that point. After Ted Turner purchased the brand and started crafting it into his own company, there was an active effort to infuse various movie and pop culture elements into the product, including the then very popular RoboCop series. The problem is that RoboCop was obviously not real, so for him to suddenly appear at Capitol Combat in 1990 as Sting’s friend was absurd. Naturally, RoboCop also saved Sting from a beating courtesy of the Four Horsemen, which served to make all of WCW’s top stars look like jokes at once.
5 Robert Wuhl
Chances are anyone not watching HBO during a very specific point in the late 1990s is currently asking themselves, “who the heck is Robert Wuhl?” The reminder he starred as the title character in HBO’s sports based sitcom Arliss probably doesn’t help all that much either, though it is integrally relevant to why Wuhl showed up on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro in July of 1999. In fact, known celebrity Robert Wuhl didn’t even appear as Robert Wuhl, but rather his fictional character Arliss Michaels, suggesting WCW and his sitcom somehow exist in the same universe. Making matters worse, rather than do some bit about how Arliss was suddenly interested in promoting wrestlers, he only stopped by WCW to get an up close glimpse at basketball player Dennis Rodman, who was making his third random appearance in the company – more on that later. For now, let’s just focus on how meaningless and devoid of humor all things Arliss always were.
4 Mr. T (In WCW)
In stark contrast to just about everyone else on this list, Mr. T actually had a few great moments in the wrestling ring. Vince McMahon certainly thinks so, rewarding the man with an induction to the WWE Hall of Fame, which many fans feel was well deserved. However, we’re not talking about Mr. T’s stint as Hulk Hogan’s partner and Roddy Piper’s rival in the 1980s. Almost a full decade later, long after The A-Team was off the air and people had stopped caring about its star, Mr. T returned to the wrestling world in WCW, and this time around, the results were significantly less legendary. It was fine when Mr. T clumsily refereed a cage match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, but it all went to hell after he stepped in the ring himself to face Kevin Sullivan. Their match was one of the worst in Starrcade history, featuring Mr. T somehow winning despite his arms clearly being stuck in his shirt ¾ of the bout.
3 Dennis Rodman
If nothing else, Dennis Rodman definitely brought eyes to WCW, as he was amongst the most notorious men in the sporting world when he joined the nWo. Had he never actually stepped in the ring, merely wearing the black and white to make “Hollywood” Hogan and others look cooler by association, there would have been no harm nor foul to the wrestling world. Unfortunately, as should have probably been expected, WCW decided to put Rodman in the ring for a number of very high profile encounters, and naturally, the non-wrestling Worm always managed to annihilate main event wrestlers in his every match. Sure, he lost against Lex Luger, The Giant, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, but not until after he made it clear he was their professional equal as a wrestler. This suggested absolutely anybody in the NBA could show up and best 90% of the wrestling world, not a perception WCW should have strived towards.
2 Jimmy Fallon
Unlike everyone else on this list, Jimmy Fallon almost did the unthinkable by ruining a wrestling show without even showing up on the card. Ultimately, he got to the building on time to do a quick smile and wave, but there was supposed to be a lot more to Fallon appearing on Raw’s 25th anniversary special that didn’t happen simply because The Tonight Show host was extremely late to the gig. At least that was the original report, with insiders suggesting if Fallon arrived earlier, he would have interviewed various legends and given the show’s history a bigger focus. However, once this hit the Internet, WWE quickly refuted the suggestion, saying that while there were dozens of rewrites for the show, Jimmy Fallon had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, some fans might suggest Jimmy Fallon has never done anything entertaining in his awful career, so even having him show up on Raw to smile and wave was an insult in and of itself.
1 David Arquette
Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the phrase “wrestle crap” had to know this one was coming. WCW has been dead and buried for over 15 years now, and yet fans will never forget when the company reached their absolute nadir, crowning an untrained Hollywood comic actor as the World Heavyweight Champion. In the defense of the man in question, one David Arquette, the Eight Legged Freaks and Ready to Rumble star really didn’t want to go through with it. A wrestling fan himself, Arquette knew that even if he won the Big Gold Belt by pinning Eric Bischoff in a weird tag team match, the damage to the title would be virtually irreparable. Unsurprisingly, Arquette was completely correct about this, not that WCW head writer Vince Russo cared. It was far more important to Russo that the company get free publicity, which they did via the cover of USA Today, albeit in an incredulous, unflattering piece. Turns out there is such a thing as bad publicity, because WCW was out of business less than a year later, with many fans pointing to this moment as their point of no return.