When a celebrity enters the ring with wrestlers, it epitomizes the term "sports entertainment." Most of Raw, SmackDown or PPVs are filled with arm drags, hip tosses and Russian leg sweeps, but the entertainment value is just as important. It's hit or miss when a celebrity makes an appearance. It's similar to when a comedian tries out a new joke, as sometimes it goes over fantastically well and sometimes it flops. A recent example of a flop would be when Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb performed a skit on Raw where they were swinging wine bottles at each other. The segment was met with jeers and several "deer in the headlight" looks from fans, as they weren't sure what was going on. As this train wreck went on, you could literally see fans leaving their seats and jogging up the stairs to take a bathroom break. You win some, you lose some.
But the point of this article is not to be a Negative Nancy, as the number of awesome segments involving celebrities vastly outweigh the flops. These appearances usually leave the audience with a huge smile. Sometimes the lines are even blurred as the celebrity will partake in an actual match, in a pay per view!
Wrestling purists will argue that a celebrity has no place in the squared circle, but the fact of the matter is that it attracts attention from people who aren't hardcore fans. They see someone they can identify with and it lures them in. It also adds shock value, which is what "the attitude era" was all about. Needless to say, the attitude era was a huge success.
Here are the top 15 celebrity appearances in wrestling history!
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15 Arnold Schwarzenegger Appears on SmackDown
He might be the most unintentionally funny man on the planet, and, of course, this appearance was no exception. Fifteen years ago, Schwarzenegger joined Jerry "The King" Lawler and Michael Cole in the commentators booth. Triple H and Road Dogg were in the ring against The Rock and Test (RIP) and Arnie stole the show. He delivered hilarious one-liners like: "I think The Rock has all kinds of things up his sleeves, he's really (trails off)...I can SMELL WHAT HE'S COOKING!" Towards the end of the match, special enforcer Stone Cold Steve Austin lost control, and Arnie decided to give him a hand and tossed him a steel chair. Austin then promptly cracked Triple H over the head with it so Test could get the pin. Triple H was obviously vexed with Schwarzenegger and took a swing at him, but Arnie ducked, hit him with a right backhand, and then pounced on the champion!
14 "Pee Wee" Herman Appears on Raw
This one had some intense shock value because the disgraced "Pee Wee" Herman hadn't made many appearances since...the infamous incident (Google it, this is a family site). It was a significant appearance because the crowd wasn't very welcoming at first and there were more than a few jeers. You'd think John Cena was coming to the ring! Pee Wee was Raw's special guest that night and he kicked off the show with a promo, with the help of The Miz, and he actually won the crowd over as they engaged in an exchange that was actually quite funny. Pee Wee used his famous "word of the day" gimmick, which happened to be the word "ring." When The Miz yelled at him to "GET OUT OF MY RING," Pee Wee and the crowd erupted. He also used his famous: "I know you are but what am I?" line, which infuriated The Miz even further. The segment ended with The Big Show (dressed in Pee Wee attire) coming to Herman's aid and disposing of The Miz and Alex Riley.
13 Joe C Appears on Raw
Joe. C's appearance tends to fly under the radar but it was memorable. Joseph Calleja was basically Kid Rock's sidekick, as he would appear in his music videos and on stage at his concerts. Joe suffered from coeliac disease, which attributed to his dwarfism. He only reached 3 feet and 9 inches tall. In his autobiography, Mick Foley maintains that he saw Joe. C swearing up a storm backstage, and started asking who was this rude child that was cussing, until he was informed that Joe. C was an adult. Oops, foot in mouth!
During Joe. C's appearance, he had encounters with the always comical Edge and Christian. They kept referring to him as "Mini-Me" and had an infamous segment where Edge and Christian stuffed him into a garbage can and whacked it with a steel chair. They then picked up the can and smashed it against the wall with these parting words: "Can't wait for the new album."
Joe. C was clearly a good sport about everything and took his disease in stride. He passed away at the age of 26 in November, 2000. His life was brief, but he certainly made the most of it.
12 Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor at WrestleMania XI
This wasn't just an appearance, an actual match took place at the granddaddy of em all, WrestleMania! The feud between Bam Bam and Taylor began at the Royal Rumble when LT was sitting ringside as a guest of Diesel, and Bam Bam saw him laughing after his match. Bigelow angrily confronted Taylor and while LT extended his hand as a peace offering, Bam Bam was having none of it and shoved him to the floor, and it was on!
WWE promoted the heck out of the match to garner as many eyes as possible. It's not everyday that you see a star linebacker in a match at WrestleMania (actually, it was the only time). The match itself wasn't exactly a back and forth war as LT basically got whaled on the entire time. To his credit, he took some major bumps as he got body slammed, head butted and had the near 400 pound Bigelow jump off the top rope and land directly on his chest. Taylor managed to rally with a clothesline, and then another clothesline off the top rope, and that's all it took!
11 Pete Rose Gets Tombstoned at WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose will be remembered for three things: gambling on baseball while he was still an active player, running over (and injuring) catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game as he secured the winning run, and getting Tombstoned by Kane at WrestleMania.
In wrestling there is no off-season, which translates into a lot of shows and they often get all blurred together. But there are certain moments that go down in infamy and will stay imprinted in a fan's mind forever. Pete Rose getting Tombstoned was certainly one of those moments. Rose grabbed the microphone and started cutting a promo on the Boston crowd, bringing up their World Series slump (at the time) and then referred to them as "the city of losers." Kane and Paul Bearer made their way to the ring to interrupt the promo, and no words were said as Kane casually picked up Rose and gave him a wicked Tombstone!
10 Muhammad Ali, Special Guest Referee at WrestleMania I
His appearance wasn't as chaotic or memorable as some of the other ones (Mr. T's was, more on that later), but Ali is the greatest boxer of all time, and he was the special guest referee in the main event at the first WrestleMania ever, so how could we possibly exclude him from the list?
The match was a tag team contest between Hulk Hogan and Mr. T against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. The "Louisville Lip" simply observed for most of the match and kept himself out of trouble until chaos ensued and Ali was forced to intervene. Everyone ended up in the ring whaling away on each other and Ali managed to restore order and even cracked Piper with a punch that sent him flying out of the ring!
9 Drew Carey Competes in the 2001 Royal Rumble
Carey's efforts were so fantastic that it even earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. He was extremely funny in there and the commentary by Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler only added to the hilarity. Carey made his way to the ring as Matt and Jeff Hardy were grappling and managed to eliminate each other, leaving him as the only participant in the ring. He had a huge smile and proceeded to celebrate as Lawler shouted in his high pitched voice: "DREW'S DONE IT! DO YOU REALIZE WHEN THIS IS OVER DREW COULD BE GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA?!"
The next participant was none other than Kane. He was very stoic as he made his way to the ring as he took his time. Drew extended his hand as a truce offering, but when that didn't work he meekly offered Kane money from his pocket. Kane then grabbed Carey and it looked like he was going for a ride until Raven saved the day, racking Kane in the back with a kendo stick. Drew then promptly (and wisely) eliminated himself.
8 Donald Trump Shaves Vince McMahon's Head at WrestleMania 23
We all knew what the result was going to be even before the match started. There was no way Donald Trump was going to shave his legendary mop. But even though the ending was basically given away, it was still a treat to see McMahon on a barber's chair getting his head shaved.
The stipulation was quite simple, a classic hair vs. hair type match. It was Bobby Lashley vs. the late Umaga. If Lashley won, McMahon had to get his head shaved and if Umaga won, then Trump would be the one in the barber's chair. The problem with too many special guests is that the crowd focuses too much on them, rather than the actual match. This was no exception as Donald Trump himself was ringside the entire time and Stone Cold Steve Austin was the special guest referee. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining affair, and at one point Austin got incapacitated by Umaga and Shane McMahon appointed himself as the new referee. But we all knew what was up, McMahon was ultimately going to get buzzed! McMahon should have got an Emmy for the acting he did while Austin and Lashley forced him into the barber's chair. His facial expressions and dialogue are always awesome but he really killed it on this night: "I DON'T DESERVE THIS, DAMNIT! DON'T DO THIS TO ME! AHHHHHH."
7 Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman vs. DDP and Karl Malone at Bash at the Beach
YES, you read it correctly, a WCW match cracks the list. Normally when a pro athlete enters the ring, there's a satirical element that's apparent because he/she truly has no idea how to wrestle and is simply there for entertainment's sake. This was not the case with Karl Malone, as he simply stole the show, and had an incredible physique to go along with it. While Rodman was basically a sideshow, Malone worked the crowd as if he had been a wrestler all his life. He looked like he was in his element as he was delivering choke holds, clotheslines and even multiple body slams. Hogan did a masterful job at selling Malone's moves, but his strength was quite impressive as he easily scooped up a near 300 pound Hogan and dumped him to the mat. It's a shame DDP and Malone ended up losing that one via cheesy interference by The Disciple.
6 Shaq Confronts The Big Show on Raw
Shaq's confrontation with The Big Show was compelling because fans had seen something that they had never seen before. Believe it or not, The Big Show has been in the WWE for over fifteen years (time flies). He's essentially faced everyone on the WWE roster but up until that point, nobody really matched him in size. The Undertaker was probably the closest, but even at that, Show was considerably bigger. People like to rag on The Big Show, but there hasn't been anyone like him since Andre The Giant.
When Shaq ripped off his refs shirt and got face to face with Big Show, it was an eye opener as to how big Shaq truly is because they were literally eye to eye. It also threw WWE's "worlds largest athlete" moniker squarely out the window. During the confrontation they both went for choke slams at the same time, then Shaq delivered a clothes line. Too bad, would have liked to have seen more from them.
5 Cyndi Lauper Corners Wendi Richter at WrestleMania I
Wendi Richter and Leilani Kai deserve the bulk of the credit, as they put on one of the best women's matches of all time. Unfortunately with women's matches (now referred to as Divas matches), it oftentimes results in a lot of slapping, hair pulling and half-hearted attempts at actual wrestling moves. It resembles more of a cat fight than a wrestling match. Richter and Moolah put on such a technical match, you'd think you were watching Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels.
Lauper's involvement in the match only added to the success. She was wonderful at ringside as she encouraged Richter, pumped up the crowd and even bopped Moolah on the head. She did everything a manager is supposed to do and did not overstep and take away from the match itself. It ended with a Wendi Richter victory and a fun celebration at the end.
4 Floyd Mayweather vs. The Big Show at WrestleMania XXIV
It wasn't just a one and done appearance for the boxing king, as he actually had a feud with The Big Show that lasted several weeks. The build up to this match was actually way more intriguing than the contest itself. In one particular instance on Raw, Big Show got on his knees and mocked the much smaller Mayweather, which prompted Floyd to throw a combination of punches right in The Big Show's face. It doesn't sound all that perplexing, but when the camera zoomed in on Show's face, it was more than apparent that his nose was actually broken (like real life broken). Blood was pouring out and it was also bent in the wrong direction. To this day, nobody knows if The Big Show told Floyd to hit him as hard as he could (which wrestlers have been known to do, to maximize the realism) or if Floyd took it upon himself to "put it on him" as they say.
The match itself was just alright. Big Show did the best he could with what he had available. Mayweather obviously wasn't willing to take major bumps that could potentially hurt his boxing career, but Big Show still managed to demonstrate feats of strength and managed to make it mildly entertaining. Oh yeah, Mayweather won the match with a steel chair.
3 David Arquette Wins the World Title on Thunder
This is without a doubt the most ridiculous celebrity moment on any wrestling show and may have been the nail in the coffin for WCW. First of all, the optics of this match made no sense. It was Diamond Dallas Page and David Arquette vs. Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. The special stipulation for this match was that whomever got the pin fall, would be crowned champion. The World Title changing hands in a tag team match? That can't possible be a thing. But keep in mind, WCW was on its last legs and was looking for any type of attention/viewership.
Bischoff was putting a good beating on the actor, to the point where they ended up backstage and Bischoff came out smiling and yelling: "No more David Arquette!" DDP hung in there against two men, and when it appeared that the match was all but lost, Arquette came stumbling back to the ring, landed a spear on Bischoff and pinned him for the win! David Arquette became the World Champion and the wrestling world collectively groaned and asked WHY?!
2 Mike Tyson as Special Enforcer at WrestleMania XIV
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the main event at WrestleMania XIV, right up until moments before the match. For one, Tyson was at his peek in terms of erratic behavior and nobody really knew what to expect from him. Secondly, Shawn Michaels was suffering from a potential career ending back injury and this would ultimately be his last match for over four years. Michaels was risking his overall well-being by even partaking in this match because doctors had strongly advised he would never wrestle again. He felt that WWE wasn't appreciative enough that he was sacrificing his health for the good of the company and was threatening to not drop the belt to Austin or simply not even show up. He eventually decided to do the match and "put Austin over," as they say in wrestling. There's a rumor that The Undertaker intervened and made sure that Michaels didn't pull any funny business as he was one of the most respected wrestlers backstage (and still is).
Considering how banged up Michaels was, the match was quite good. Tyson started off the match firmly in DX's corner as he donned a DX shirt and even had his own theme music. As the match went on, Michaels got on his nerves and he ended up clocking him. The action went back and forth and Austin ended up finishing it with a stunner and a quick count from Tyson. This win unofficially kicked off the Austin Era!
1 Mr. T and Hulk Hogan vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff at WrestleMania I
This was the main event at the inaugural WrestleMania. As mentioned above, Muhammad Ali was also involved in the match as the special guest referee. But all the buzz surrounded Mr. T as he was a handful to work with, to put it mildly. There was a natural distain between Mr. T and Piper. Despite how difficult Mr. T was being, it has to be noted that a lot of people had issues with Piper, as he was very brash and had a tendency to pop off with just about anyone. As Piper stated in an interview, Mr. T thought he was above everyone and if you ruffled his feather he'd simply threaten to leave and at one point, he did. In Hogan's autobiography, he claims that Mr. T got in a car and attempted to storm off until Hogan intercepted him and talked him out of it. He maintains that Mr. T was a nervous wreck all day and that his nerves were getting the best of him.
To surmise, the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania was about a hair away from going up in flames. Had this happened, who even knows if the WrestleMania pay per view would go on to be WWE's kingpin?
Was it a technical masterpiece? Absolutely not (none of Hogan's matches were, but that's a story for another day). But it was still a genius move by Vince McMahon. Mr. T had a ton of momentum and fan support behind him at the time, so he was the perfect tag team partner for Hogan. Their opponents were also perfect because they were just such masterful heels. Putting "Cowboy" Bob Orton in their corner was just icing on the cake. Mr. T didn't look all that bad either as he nailed some solid moves, including a few hip tosses and a fireman's carry.
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