Throughout the history of pro wrestling, the game has thankfully taken itself less and less seriously as time has progressed. Back in the old days, the thought of a celebrity cameo was practically unheard of, as the matches were supposed to represent the actual physical strength and skills of the competitors. Bringing an unqualified person into the ring, even as a referee or manager, would be a flagrant and inexcusable breaking of kayfabe.
By the time the late ‘90s rolled around, people realized that wrestling was more about entertainment than actual competition, and the writers and producers suddenly had a lot more freedom in their storylines and casting options. Enter a whole slew of celebrities in a variety of roles, including some who jumped into the ring. At first, this latter group only included people who could pass as legitimate athletes, but the rules became a bit more relaxed in more recent bouts.
However, there is still only a small group of wrestlers who have actually lost to non-wrestlers in fights. (For purposes of this article, a non-wrestler is defined as anyone whose primary job is something outside of wrestling, and a fight is defined as a match or a prologue to a match that just occurred.) In this article, we will examine the short list of wrestlers who were beaten in this fashion.
16 Sting & Kurt Angle
TNA seemed fixated on getting Adam "Pacman" Jones into their company, even if it meant he couldn't actually get involved in anything physical. While serving a one-year suspension in the NFL, Pacman signed a deal with TNA. Due to contractual reasons with the NFL, Pacman could not actually do anything physical, but despite that, he was placed in a tag team with Ron Killings and the duo was dubbed "Team Pacman."
Before you knew it, a tag team title match was booked between Team Pacman and the team of Sting & Kurt Angle. Jones wasn't able to get physically involved in the match so he basically stood on the apron as Killings got the pin following a disagreement between Sting and Angle. So in the record books, it will always go down as Sting and Angle, two legends of the business, losing to Ron Killings and... Pacman Jones.
14 Bart Gunn
While Bart Gunn didn't really job to Butterbean, as the Brawl for All tournament involved legitimate fighting, this is the equivalent of WWE sending one of their own to be slaughtered. Sure, Bart Gunn had proven himself to be quite the tough guy, defeating his fellow pro wrestlers in the tournament but WWE must have known that Gunn really had no chance in defeating a professional boxer in Butterbean.
It only took 30 seconds before Butterbean knocked Bart Gunn out, which ended one of the worst ideas in the history of wrestling. Overall, it was an embarrassment for the company and the loss proved to be the downfall of Bart Gunn's run in WWE. The company has since admitted that the whole concept was one of their worst ideas ever and needless to say, they will never try anything like it again.
13 Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
Maria Menounos is a genuine wrestling fan but it was pretty ridiculous that WWE would put her in an actual match, at WrestleMania no less. While Menounos actually wasn't bad in the ring, the team of Maria and Kelly Kelly defeated Eve Torres and reigning Divas Champion Beth Phoenix at WrestleMania XXVIII.
It was pretty baffling that this match took place at WrestleMania, rather than the Divas Champion defending her title against a top contender. Instead an Extra correspondent got some offense in and actually scored the deciding pin on Beth Phoenix.
There's nothing wrong with using celebrities, particularly when they're actual fans of the industry like Menounos. However, this was a case of WWE taking it a little too far.
Because of this, Menounos got undeserved heat the following year at WrestleMania XXIX when she inducted Bob Backlund into the Hall of Fame.
12 Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool, & Layla
Celebrities usually aren’t very good natural wrestlers, but reality TV stars are barely celebrities, so maybe we shouldn’t be so shocked that Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi actually had a few good moves in her one-and-only WWE bout. The setting was WrestleMania XXVII and the tag team matchup was John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla). The three-minute match saw Stratus and McCool doing most of the work (Ziggler and Morrison never even got into the ring), but Snooki was eventually tagged and she hit McCool with a backflip and a springboard elbow in the corner.
With McCool on the canvas, Snooki finished her off with a cartwheel that turned into a splash for the win. It was clear fans at the event were shocked at this display, as their boos faded after the successful completion of the aforementioned moves. Nevertheless, many people were still unhappy with the reality star’s cameo at wrestling’s biggest event, but at least she earned it with some legitimate physical skills.
11 Stardust & King Barrett
Actor Stephen Amell, best known for playing Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in the Arrowverse television franchise (Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow), also happens be a pretty avid wrestling fan in real life. After some speculation and rumors, Amell finally got his wish to work with WWE and appeared on the May 25 and August 10, 2015 editions of Raw in scuffles with Stardust. Eventually, Amell participated in his first and only match with the promotion at SummerSlam 2015 on August 23, teaming up with Neville to face Stardust and King Barrett in a tag team bout.
After much back-and-forth, the conclusion came when Amell dove off the top rope and landed on both of his opponents, and Neville finished them off with his patented Red Arrow. Although the match was trivial in the grand scheme of things, Amell’s performance (specifically his dive on Stardust) earned him a Slammy for the “Celebrity Moment of the Year.”
10 Bam Bam Bigelow
At Royal Rumble 1995, Bam Bam Bigelow lost his match against Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid and was heckled by the crowd in response. Bigelow then pushed NFL legend Lawrence Taylor, who was sitting ringside, and challenged him to a match. Although the resulting bout was a one-off appearance, Taylor trained extensively with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Diesel to prepare for it. The fight was not only heavily promoted, but also the final one at WrestleMania XI. After an early clothesline knocked Bigelow out of the ring, the match went back and forth with Bigelow repeatedly kicking Taylor and putting him into a Boston crab submission, and Taylor responding with a suplex.
The match ended when L.T. delivered a forearm after he jumped from the second rope, and he covered Bam Bam for the win. The former NFL great apparently did the appearance solely for the much-needed cash, which reportedly amounted to $500,000.
9 Big Show
Floyd Mayweather Jr. may not be a professional wrestler, but his boxing credentials were nevertheless enough to get him into a match against Big Show. The feud began when Mayweather jumped a security gate to help Rey Mysterio defeat Big Show at WWE’s No Way Out on February 17, 2008, and Big Show responded by challenging the boxer to a no disqualification bout at the upcoming WrestleMania XXIV. After slipping from the big guy’s clutches numerous times during the match and delivering a barrage of body shots, Mayweather and his crew attempted to leave the arena, but Big Show brought him back.
Just when it seemed Mayweather would be defeated via chokeslam, one of his accomplices hit Big Show with a steel chair and Floyd pulled off his gloves to finish the match with a pair of brass knuckles, which knocked Big Show out. Mayweather was declared the winner.
8 Eric Bischoff & Jeff Jarrett (& Tank Abbott)
As part of a tie-in with the upcoming release of the film Ready to Rumble, actor and wrestling fan David Arquette was brought into WCW storylines in April 2000. He first feuded with Eric Bischoff and the New Blood stable on April 12, and later formed alliances with Chris Kanyon and Diamond Dallas Page, both of whom helped him defeat Bischoff on the April 24 episode of Monday Nitro. On the following Thunder, Arquette and Page participated in a match against Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett, where the man who made the winning pin would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Shockingly, the winner was David Arquette.
Although the actor held the title for less than two weeks (successfully defending it once versus Tank Abbott), fans were outraged that the WCW would pull such a ridiculous stunt. Apparently Arquette himself was against the move at first, and only reluctantly agreed to go along with the plan. In response, he donated all the money he earned from the WCW to the families of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and Darren Drozdov.
7 Chris Jericho
Although rumors had surfaced that Mickey Rourke, star of The Wrestler, would appear in an actual match sometime in 2009, it didn’t exactly pan out that way. Instead, Rourke had a part in WrestleMania XXV following a bout that saw Chris Jericho facing and defeating veterans Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, and Roddy Piper. During Jericho’s post-match celebration, he challenged Rourke to come into the ring and fight him, after the actor had previously challenged the wrestler in a recent press conference, saying, “Chris Jericho, you better get in shape, because I’m coming after your ass.” Although the two danced around for a minute or so, Mickey eventually landed one big hit on Jericho, knocking him to the ground.
Ric Flair then entered the ring to raise Rourke’s hands high in victory. Although it didn’t count as an official match, this bout accounted for more than just a trivial scuffle, as the two actually sparred for a bit in the ring.
6 Diamond Dallas Page
Although Dennis Rodman was named a member of the nWo stable and is occasionally still referred to as a former pro wrestler, he really just started wrestling during his suspension from the NBA in the 1996-97 season after he kicked a cameraman in the groin, and also while nursing an injury himself. Still, his star power at the time got him into a couple major matches. Rodman’s first appearance was alongside Hulk Hogan in the final bout of Bash at the Beach 1997, squaring off against Lex Luger and The Giant. Hogan and Rodman were bested in this bout, but the duo returned to avenge their loss at Bash at the Beach 1998. This time, they emerged victorious, albeit over two new foes: Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone. Rodman would later go on to win the first ever Celebrity Championship Wrestling tournament in 2008, but obviously that was not against any pro wrestlers.
5 Triple H (& The Miz)
As a lifelong bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger has plenty in common with professional wrestlers, so it’s no surprise he got along with a lot of the guys and appeared on WWE SmackDown in 1999 to promote his upcoming film End of Days, even sitting at the announcer’s table. It was a bit of a surprise, however, when the Governor passed a metal chair to Stone Cold Steve Austin to aid in his match against Triple H and Test. This solidified the win for Austin, and an angry Triple H confronted Arnold immediately after the match. Schwarzenegger responded by knocking down Triple H and unleashing a barrage of punches on him while he was down.
Arnold also appeared in an in-ring Raw segment in 2014 alongside Hulk Hogan and actor Joe Manganiello, where the three large dudes all roughed up The Miz and threw him out of the ring. Neither of these were official matches (though the former was a post-match segment), but both ended with Arnold in the ring, hands raised high in victory.
4 Rowdy Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (& Kevin Sullivan)
Although Mr. T’s Wikipedia page lists him as a “former professional wrestler” and he’s in the WWE Hall of Fame, he really only got into four matches (if you don’t count his appearances as a guest referee) - all with the WWE, and two of them were actually boxing bouts. Want a bit more evidence that he’s not really a pro wrestler? When Mr. T and his entourage showed up for his first match (a tag team with Hulk Hogan against Rowdy Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff) at the very first WrestleMania in 1985, security wouldn’t let him in, and Piper later admitted that he and some of the other wrestlers disliked Mr. T because he was an actor and never paid his dues as a pro wrestler.
T considered simply leaving, but Hogan convinced him to stay, and the two ended up winning the match. Nine years later, Mr. T participated his his second and last wrestling bout, defeating Kevin Sullivan at Starrcade 1994.
3 Shawn Michaels & Chris Jericho
While taking a break from boxing, Mike Tyson tried his hand at wrestling, making his first appearance as an enforcer at WrestleMania XIV. Tyson ended up joining the bout and delivering the knockout punch to Shawn Michaels, which helped Stone Cold Steve Austin win the title match. Two years later, Tyson was back in the wrestling ring, and this time he was paired with Chris Jericho in a match against D-Generation X in the January 11, 2010 edition of Raw. However, when Jericho’s back was turned, Tyson removed his shirt to reveal a DX t-shirt he was wearing underneath.
Having just turned on Jericho, Iron Mike then delivered yet another knockout punch, and Michaels pinned Chris to seal the win for D-Generation X. Tyson’s pair of appearances were brief, but the two victories still landed him a spot in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, with Shawn Michaels and Triple H there to induct him.
2 John Cena
Britney Spears’ ex-husband and unamusing rapper Kevin Federline first appeared in the WWE in a couple of Raw altercations with John Cena in October 2006. This led to K-Fed assisting Johnny Nitro in a match against Cena, which saw Federline slap Cena across the face at one point. He also assisted King Booker in a Champion of Champions match on Cyber Sunday in November 2006. However, K-Fed didn’t officially compete in match until he squared off in a no-disqualification against John Cena on the New Year’s Day edition of Raw, which Federline (a natural heal) won thanks to interference by Nitro and Umaga. As upsetting as this travesty was (probably even for Cena haters), it’s hard to hate on K-Fed too much, as he was well-received by the WWE cast and crew, and was apparently a pleasure to work with.
As a side note, I also have to give K-Fed some credit for poking fun at his fleeting fame in a hilarious 2007 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Super Bowl commercial that is honestly one of my all-time favorites.
1 Hollywood Hogan & Eric Bischoff
Following the success of WCW’s Hog Wild on August 10, 1996, the event became an annual fixture for the next few years as Road Wild, with Hulk Hogan always competing in the final bout. On August 8, 1998, Hollywood Hogan and manager Eric Bischoff were paired up in a tag team match against Diamond Dallas Page and, inexplicably, Tonight Show host Jay Leno (with appearances by Kevin Eubanks, The Disciple, and Miss Elizabeth). But not only was Leno part of the match, he actually competed, executing a couple moves that were sold by both of his opponents.
Of course, the WCW wouldn’t allow Leno’s team to win...except for the fact that they did. But surely they wouldn’t let Leno do any of the important work...except for the fact that he got the winning pin. However, the pin was placed on Eric Bischoff, and not Hogan, because that would have been truly crazy, right?