The WWE has been coupling other-worldly entertainment with ringed wrestling for eons now, with diesel competitors talking trash, whooping ass, and acting out elaborate story lines to fan delight. Success in the industry is sometimes predicated on boldness of character (the legendary Goldust), strength (big dog Roman Reigns), or high-flying might (the Lucha Dragons), and some huge celebrities have graced the ring (from Donald Trump to Snoop Dogg).
If the two biggest prerequisites for WWE stardom are physical prowess and character vibrancy – then there are some professional athletes around the globe who would be perfect fits for the ring (as proven in Shaq's WrestleMania 32 appearance).
From professional basketball, football, soccer, swimming, and tennis competition I will go through the 20 best WWE prospects, some individuals, some tag-teams, and one magnificent stable, and how they might fit into the ongoing drama as prospective heels or faces in WWE lore.
To make it in the WWE, you need presence, a killer name, a distinctive personality, charisma and a good look. Oh and there's one other little feature of what makes a great wrestler; you have to be a great athlete. While professional wrestling isn't recognized as a sport, the industry has some of the best athletes in the world, so we've only chosen some of the best to add here. These athletes have the qualities listed above and with a good gimmick, would be able to thrive in WWE.
20 Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese Pulverizer
Cristiano is an already-controversial figure who takes his shirt off and flexes so often you’d think his team Real Madrid was a WWE stable. The cocky son of a gun is like a Portuguese Randy Orton just waiting to pop into the ring and drop some sort of soccer-themed finishing move (maybe a classic Booker T Scissors Kick?). Ronaldo is loved by many for his skill and physical ability, but hated by more for his incessant bravado and general douchery – making him a perfect fit for the WWE's love of bad guys, good guys, and the volatile in-between.
The European charisma, gelled hair, and tight pants make Ronaldo a natural heel for Americans to hate on, while strong legs, a love of shirtlessness, and his dedication to acting (the Portuguese flair for on-field flopping) make him a perfect candidate for wrestling stardom.
19 D'Angelo Russell: D'Angelo Of Los Angeles
Continuing on the heel path we find the newest NBA pariah, the snake in the Los Angeles grass and the millennial falcon of snitches: D'Angelo "swag-hater" Russell. D'Angelo has come under media fire and peer ire in recent weeks for a publicized snapchat video where the marital martial Russell goaded his teammate Nick "Swaggy P" Young into what seemed to be a confession of his extramarital activities. While Swaggy's fiancée Iggy Azalea and dedicated monogamists were quick to applaud and defend D'Angelo's fight for the sanctity of holy matrimony, most fans and peers in the NBA have condemned Russell for the violation of brotherhood and privacy.
Given such controversy and D'Angelo's young age coupled with a professional basketball physique, Russell ought to make a fine addition to WWE drama either in-ring with his slow, lanky stylings or behind-the-scenes as a videographer with his beloved camera.
18 Tim Tebow: The American Apostle
For the devout Christians unsatisfied with D'Angelo Russell's dedication to matrimony, there is a light ready to spring from the tunnel of professional mediocrity: the gun-slinging, god-loving big-boy-QB himself, Tim "Sing a Hymn" Tebow. Tebow's post-touchdown prayers sparked a nationwide trend of 'tebowing' as the big man carved out a great collegiate, and subsequent pretty-good professional, career, leaving him with fame, popularity, and a yearning for continued physical success.
Tebow has the looks of a WWE star (kind of a larger John Cena) and his colorful Christian character and comeback-kid timeline make him an excellent piece for the puzzle that is WWE storytelling. Just imagine the glory that could be Tim’s pinning move: a Tebow pose with the weight of his knee subduing opposition.
17 Alexander Ovechkin: Putin's Punisher
Alexander Mikhailovich "Alex" Ovechkin is a 6-foot-3, 240 pound, Russian hockey star who has earned seven All-Star nods since his selection as the no.1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. Known for toughness and shot velocity, Ovi has an asteroid named in his honor (by Leonid Elenin: the “Asteroid 257261 Ovechkin”) and (if my advice is taken seriously) he might make a legendary transition from the rink to the ring. A huge and dominant athlete with the face of a Soviet war hero who defends mountain-ranges at night, Alexander is a perfect candidate to renew the Soviet trope in wrestling entertainment that has, since the departure of Nikolai Volkoff, been left unfulfilled.
The Putin/Obama rivarly has rekindled the American sparks with our communist counterparts and the prospects of Ovi attacking American stars like Seth Rollins with a patented hockey-stick make for some exciting developments in WWE.
16 Antonio Brown: The Man of Steel
Few across the globe are as inherently likable as NFL superstar, Antonio Brown. From the dazzling smile (pause) to the on-field acrobatics, from his terrific parenting to his lego-block hair, Tony B is an endearing star, role model, and absolute beast on the gridiron. A prime receiver is already a good fit for the physical profile of a WWE star, but Tony's qualities don't stop there. The 4x Pro-Bowler has a flair for entertainment, as a participant in “Dancing with the Stars” he brought fans to tears by dancing with his son and he has stolen the hearts of internet memers worldwide with his block-shaped ‘lego’ mohawk.
If you combine Antonio’s physical capacities with his character (he supposedly bakes delectable cookies), you’ve got yourself a high-flying star ready for WWE fans, and their mothers, to love.
15 Robin Lopez: Sideshow Rob
The seven-foot, afro’d behemoth Robin “Sideshow Rob” Lopez has already brought wrestling entertainment to the NBA where he holds down the paint for the Knicks. Ever since a young, gangly Robin was ignored by mascots who thought he was too old for their attention, he has been on an endless crusade of retaliation – handing costumed strangers their doom whenever possible in opposing stadiums. RoLo is a natural fit for the WWE with his enormous stature, reddish afro, and deep, gravelly voice, but his personality and penchant for showmanship would make him a bonafide star.
The big fella is admittedly a huge fan of Disney, so he should be easily committed to costumes and theatrics – and with his hate of mascots, one can only imagine how ruthless he would be with masked crusaders like Kane, Kalisto or little El Torito.
14 Conor McGregor: The Luck of the Irish
We’ve seen WWE stars make the transition to UFC, but never the reverse (Lesnar was WWE first). Conor McGregor is a prime candidate to change that. McGregor is a tiny Irish monster with more tattoos and attitude than teenage rebels and with a talent in mixed martial arts that could easily be segued into wrestling stardom. With quotes like: “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready,” and “There’s two things I really like to do and that’s whoop ass and look good.”
It’s obvious Conor has the WWE smack-talk angle down. The Irish heritage might also help. He certainly would be a more interesting Irish star than Sheamus.
13 The Carolina Panthers (Stable) - Cam's Cats
Our first non-individual of the list (still have a couple tag-teams left too), and it’s a sizable stable. The Carolina Panthers roll deep with some charismatic characters, controversial figures, and have already gotten in trouble for pulling a WWE-style move in the NFL: brandishing baseball bats and talking trash to Odell Beckham Jr. during pre-game warmups.
Star QB Cam Newton has fully adopted his Superman persona and is dying to don an actual cape, so we know his WWE costume – and with fans divided over loving him for his treatment of children (always giving the touchdown ball to a kid in the stands) or hating him for perceived unsportsmanlike conduct (sourness following the Super Bowl loss), the Panthers stable is sure to garner mass attention.
12 Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The Zlatan
Zlatan, as a superstar soccer player, has the physical aptitude to hang around as a mainstay in the ring. Zlatan, as a 6'5, ponytailed Nordic savage, has a strong enough look to capture fan attention.
Zlatan, is an unabashedly cocky juggernaut who talks about himself in the third person and has the quality of character so vital to WWE drama. At this point, it's hard to separate the true Zlatan quotes from the false, but here are some gems: When asked what he bought his wife for her birthday, "Nothing. She already has Zlatan." On a Swede-less World Cup, "A World Cup without Zlatan is not worth watching." Need I say more? The guy is a perfect fit for the arrogant, Scandinavian socialist that WWE writers didn't know they were missing.
11 Rob Gronkowski: The Gronk
Who will fight Zlatan, Ovechkin, or Ronaldo? Who will contend with these foreign neanderthals impinging on American soil? There are two routes that Patriots star TE Rob Gronkowski might take, and neither is the touchdown play Tom Brady probably has planned for this coming season. Gronk can either become Tim-Tebow-2.0 by shouldering the weight of America's pride and using that bionic arm-brace to clothesline our competition, or, Gronk can embrace the party-boy lifestyle he is known for by Gronk-spiking his way to a WWE legacy of f***ing s**t up and laughing it off.
Remembering his rendezvous with adult film star Bibi Jones, his beer-chugging during the Patriots '14 parade, and the pictures of him raving with glow-sticks and presumably rolling face – the second route seems most likely. That's good, because it also seems ridiculously entertaining.
10 Shaquille O'Neal: Big Diesel
So this idea has actually been adopted by the WWE in the past, but it's so perfect that it should really be revisited. The big Shaqtus that is Shaquille O'Neal, one of basketball's greatest forces ever, is a hilarious guy whose excellence in showmanship and physical bouts almost rivals his skill for self-given nicknames. The big man is a rounded seven-footer with the physique to embarrass even the staunchest Big Show fans, as made abundantly clear by this year's WrestleMania 32.
A reserve officer of the Los Angeles Port Police, Shaq's devotion to justice is only rivaled by his passion for trash talk, remembered most vividly in his "Kobe, how my ass taste?" freestyle. Huge in both personality and circumference, Shaq could even bring back the “Kazaam” costume to really spice things up.
9 Britney Griner: Grime-Time
Speaking of large basketball players, maybe it's time for a woman in WWE to hold her own against brutish male counterparts. Britney Griner is a 6'8, 25-year-old beast who has made the WNBA All-Star Game in each of her seasons thus far. Britney can dunk and obliterate opposing shot attempts in both the American and Chinese leagues she dominates in year-round, or she can take some time off to become the greatest individual female wrestler ever.
Britney Grime Time is already a suitable stage name and it might be cool to have a female wrestler not chosen specifically for her buxom attributes, but because she can fling opponents around with ease.
8 Ryan Lochte & Michael Phelps: American Aqua
This duo's moral versatility means tremendous storyline potential. Lochte and Phelps are American champions for their Olympic patriotism, but also subjects of public admonishment. Phelps' picture with a bong set thousands of incensed civic guardians ablaze, so he is easily painted as having forsaken the potential of his country's prestige for tokes of the devil's grass. Lochte's shame comes in public doubts of his intelligence and his family's character, who came under heat for racist comments during a candid "Closing Time" interview about their Beijing Olympic experience.
The Lochte/Phelps duo is therefore gifted with all WWE essentials: the athleticism to beat or get beaten up, the moral versatility to suit drama's needs, and excellent costumes to match their walk-on song: U.S. Olympic speedos and goggles, embodying the mission of the “Star-Spangled Banner” (Marvin Gaye’s version of course).
7 Boban Marjanovic: Bob
This one is a little too easy, but it has to be done. Since the days of Andre the Giant, we've known that regularly-sized people enjoy watching the extra-large. The humongous, especially when matched by understated and sometimes timid personalities, are just exciting. Andre was a behemoth in unitard, a fantastic jumbo Frenchman with the composure to star in "The Princess Bride," the personality to excel in the WWE, and a magical anecdotal legacy (he reportedly once drank 128 beers in one sitting).
I'm not sure Boban would enjoy the WWE, because coach Gregg Popovich has tried to shield him from media exposure, but the big fella has an incredibly unique face and has already captured the hearts of NBA fans league-wide. If a Google search of Boban's handshakes out-entertains most television, then I imagine his in-ring human-shaking would win Emmys.
6 Draymond Green: Green, Mean, Fighting Machine
The Golden State Warriors are having an historic season and a vital cog to the winning machine is trash-talking baller Draymond Green, a hefty 6'9 with a combination of overzealous physicality and bravado that would easily transition into wrestling entertainment. From the beef with comedian Kevin Hart to his constant on-court dialogue to the obnoxious All-Star Weekend fur coat, Dray is no stranger to acting like a WWE superstar.
While his fan-given nickname, BDD (Big D**k Dray), might have to change for a PG audience, that’s an easy fix for his manager: the quintessential WWE manager, mother Mary Babers-Green. Dray's mom has been the NBA’s Paul Heyman for years now, constantly talking smack and strategizing on her son's, and his team’s, behalf – and if she brings her son to the ring, Golden State fans might finally enjoy a real sport’s championship.
5 Mike Tyson: Pigeon-Whisperer
In his prime, Mike Tyson was a certified monster whose gloved performances probably protected him from suitable abduction by mental institutions. Mike's talents in physical decimation and profanity delivery spurred a tremendous fighting career and caused millions to wonder whether his mental instability was as debilitating for himself as it seemed to be for his unfortunate opponents. From threatening to 'romance' his competition until they loved him to suggesting he might eat their children, Mikey "Magic Mike KO" Tyson and his tattooed face brought wrestling entertainment to the boxing ring without any encouragement.
Following a departure from fighting and into acting with classics like "The Hangover," it would be a huge missed opportunity if the WWE doesn’t get a wizened Mike and his trusty flock of pigeons to make some cameos in the ring.
4 Serena & Venus Williams: Compton's Conquerors
The Williams sisters are one of the world's greatest athletic tour de forces, a familial tag-team of unprecedented excellence. Serena and Venus have done everything from dominating individual tennis competition (69 titles for Serena, 49 for Venus) to devastation in doubles (43 titles combined, undefeated except for getting 2nd place in a 1999 competition) to tabloid rumors of romance with Drake. The sisters have the athletic capacity to handle business in the ring and while their no-nonsense, pro-Tennis-player approach might restrict the dramatic thirst of WWE writers, they're practically guaranteed fan-favorites.
Plus, there's an easy choice for their outfits as Nike seemed to think Serena's 2004 US Open competition was Monday Night Raw as she was dressed in a studded, denim outfit that she had to change out of at half-time.
3 Blake Griffin: Blakeamus Maximus
Arguably the best comedic actor in the NBA, Blake Griffin's jokesy KIA commercials and lulsy "Broad City" cameo certify his excellence as a scripted showman, while his stand-up act and random interviews suggest some improvisational skill. Blake also seems to have a little of the crazy and aggressive, sometimes violent side so needed for WWE stardom – as once evidenced in his treatment of NBA rims, but most proven by the hand he fractured in punching a Clippers associate this season over 'undisclosed reasons.'
Blake has the size and athleticism to treat the ring to an absolutely delightful sauntering, and I'm sure that he would dominate ladder competitions if the belt was closed, painted orange, and mounted horizontally. If his acting aptitudes can balance their yin with the yang of his 'passionate' outbursts, then Jake the Snake might find a successor in Big-Bounce-Blake... the Snake?
2 Tiger Woods: Mr. Lova-Lova
Probably my favorite of the possible athlete-turned-wrestlers, Tiger Woods' career has played out in a fashion so extraordinarily dramatic that writers are left envious of life's creativity. A global superstar chased down by a Scandinavian wife for a series of blatant extramarital liaisons, only to be vindicated by his prescribed problem with sexual addiction – the guy is practically destined to be a fan-favorite villain in WWE lore.
A buff golfer notorious for a public sex scandal, Tiger entering the ring alongside multiple female wrestlers and using an outlawed 9-iron on the monogamous-avenger D'Angelo Russell or Christian-value-crusader Tim Tebow is WWE drama that practically writes itself. With "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred as entrance music (or maybe "Mr. Boombastic" by Shaggy), Tiger's career would be incredible.
1 LeBron James: Le Baron
It has to be done. In basketball's modern era there has been no heel as omnipresent as LeBron James. Kobe has his fair share of haters, but LeBron has been the subject of infinite memes and public outcry with burned jerseys and furious tweets galore. The 6'8, 250 pound media savant has elicited drama and public interest from his high school days, to "The Decision," to the betrayal of Cleveland for a Miami super-team, to their super-betrayal and his return to Cleveland, to getting coach David Blatt fired, to unfollowing the Cavaliers' Instagram, and hopefully all the way to the WWE.
In a world just as obsessed with emotional narratives as on-court substance, LeBron’s constant attention (just Google LeBron hairline memes) is fantastic for business. If King James can't win a basketball title for "the Land," then he should definitely bring home the next best thing – a WWE world championship title belt.
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