The WWE is thriving and has become captured a significant portion of mainstream sports fans, but that doesn’t mean the business couldn’t use an infusion of new talent to come along and add to the many controversies and storylines. The organization still has the venerable John Cena and a cast full of developing stars, but much of the front-line talent is getting up there in age. Taking a look throughout the ranks of the other professional sports, there are some rather interesting characters possessing many of the skills and attributes required to become stars in the WWE. Training is part of every sport and these athletes have what it takes to learn the ropes and meet the demands of what can be considered to be a rather grueling sport.
From the physical players in the NFL to the likable sluggers of the MLB, there are are fair share of scary characters and imposing figures in both sports as well as the NBA and NHL. Many of these professional athletes have the physical tools necessary to enable them to learn many of the moves that are currently popular in the WWE. A good number of them also have nasty reputations or compelling ring names, while others have the size or disposition to power any storyline that comes their way. It is fun to think of all the possibilities that these athletes would be able to present to any production of the WWE.
The following 20 athletes might not necessarily the biggest or baddest players in each of their particular sports, but they are all rather interesting characters that could captivate wrestling fans. Each athlete has qualities making each one of them unique candidates to perform well in the ring with their athletic backgrounds giving them a fighting chance to achieve success in the wrestling ring. On a case by case basis, it is certainly interesting to consider the potential that each one possesses to add even more entertainment value to the constantly evolving WWE.
20. Albert Pujols, 1B – Los Angeles Angels
Signature Move: Dominican DDT, a more dramatic version of the well known move
Albert Pujols has been one of the best hitters in baseball for quite some time with his rare combination of average, patience at the plate and power. For such a powerful man, Pujols is quick with his feet and hands, while being solid enough at 230 pounds to hold his own in the ring. WWE could use the well liked Dominican slugger who could even don a mask to appeal more to Hispanic fans who miss Alberto Del Rio. Instead of the rich snob that was Del Rio, Pujols could be more of a leader of the unappreciated working class.
19. Justin Smith, DE – San Francisco 49ers
Ring Name: The Cowboy
Justin, “The Cowboy”, Smith has been a fixture on the San Francisco 49ers defensive line for the last seven seasons. He is an accomplished pass rusher who has the strength and speed to fight off or avoid blocks and be a big factor in stopping an opponent’s running game. He has a motor that never turns off and a sometimes unpleasant disposition that would work well in the various storylines of the WWE. Smith is easy to interview, is a charismatic Ed Block Courage Award winner and has all the physical tools necessary to make a successful transition. Smith could work alongside Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan or Luke Harper and bring even more of a country bumpkin influence to the WWE. In either case, Smith could be the perfect exaggerated redneck character entering the ring accompanied by a couple of beautiful female managers in their daisy dukes.
18. Zdeno Chara, D – Boston Bruins
Signature Move: Cross Check Clothesline, a clothesline opponent swung off the ropes
Zdeno Chara is a large figure in the sport of hockey with his 6-foot-9, 255 pound frame. The Bruins defenseman is the tallest player to ever play in the NHL and one of the biggest as well. Chara, a native of Slovakia, is only the second European born and trained captain to ever win a Stanley Cup, which he won with Boston in 2011. He is a brute, good athlete for his size and would be an interesting addition to the WWE. Chara can certainly handle the physical demands of wrestling and would be scary coming off the ropes. He also speaks seven different languages and can be rather charismatic outside the ring. He could even give Damien Sandow a run for his money. His size is something Vince McMahon would surely love to push.
17. Legion of Boom – Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks, “Legion of Boom”, is considered to be the best secondary in the NFL with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all earning Pro Bowl honors for 2014, and Byron Maxwell establishing himself opposite Sherman as well. They are all feisty, good tacklers and extremely athletic, capable of delivering big hits as well as blanketing receivers with tight coverage. The group, as a whole, lacks the prototypical size of most wrestling tag teams, but what they lack in size they can make up for with Richard Sherman’s mouth. Sherman is a showman, showboat and always has something to say, making him a perfect fit for the WWE. Chancellor is a solid 235 pounds and both Thomas and Maxwell carry over 200 pounds of sculpted physique.
16. Richie Incognito, G – Buffalo Bills
Ring Name: Billy “The Bully” Brewster
Richie Incognito might be a poster child for inappropriate locker room and off the field behavior, but that could be used to his advantage in the WWE. Incognito has enough football talent to be selected to play in the 2012 Pro Bowl and is a hulking figure and decent athlete possessing great physical strength. Incognito’s antics might not play well in the politically correct NFL but in the WWE his reputation and behavior could offer many compelling storylines. Incognito would be one of the best heels to come along in quite some time. Imagine a match between Ryback and Incognito. Both men would throw each other around the ring, flex their extremely large biceps, exchange menacing scowls, and certainly have plenty of trash to talk.
15. Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers
Signature Move: Kuechly Krunch, high flying dive off the turnbuckle used to crush opponents
Luke Kuechly is a great young talent at the linebacker position for the Carolina Panthers. The 2012 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year is already one of the best tacklers in the NFL, and on the fast track towards being one of the best linebackers to ever play on the inside. He works hard, learns fast and has terrific athleticism to go along with the perfect wrestling size. On top of that, Kuechly is a good looking guy who has plenty of star qualities. He is photogenic, can talk and carry a storyline and has the perfect wrestling physique. Kuechly might be required to do much more than tackle, but he is a great athlete who should be able to learn all the ring moves and throws. Kuechly bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times at the NFL draft combine, a figure that might help with Big Show or Mark Henry throws.
14. Miguel Cabrera, 1B – Detroit Tigers
Ring Name: Miggy “Marveloso” Morales
Miguel, “Miggy”, Cabrera is a rather large first baseman for the Detroit Tigers. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Cabrera is a mountain of a man guarding first base in the field or swinging at errant fastballs crossing the plate. He has belted 390 home runs thus far in his 12-year MLB career and even has the patience to wait for his pitch. The Venezuelan has a career batting average of .320, proving his has good eyes as well as a quick bat. If he can duplicate the movements in the ring as well as he can get his large body to swing a baseball bat, he could go a long way towards getting more South Americans to follow the WWE. Cabrera has been recognized for his involvement with the community through his foundation that supports various children’s causes.
13. John Scott, LW – San Jose Sharks
Ring Name: The Canadian Mountie
John Scott is one of the biggest players in the NHL with his 6-foot-8 height that carries the considerable weight of 270 pounds. The left winger of the San Jose Sharks is quite an imposing figure on the ice, thanks to his impressive size and tally of 125 penalty minutes accumulated in 56 games last season. Scott is best known dropping his gloves and taking an occasional swing. His experience with absorbing contact in hockey should prepare him well for the amount of abuse he would experience in the ring. There have been plenty of great Canadian wrestlers to come through the WWE, but John Scott could be the most intimidating of them all.
12. Dwight Howard, C – Houston Rockets
Dwight Howard was once hailed as Superman at one of the NBA slam dunk contests. At 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds, Howard is solid as a rock and incredibly athletic at the same time. He can get up and down the court and get above the rim with great ease. The 8 time NBA All-Star led the league in rebounding five seasons in a row, and has always been able to make his presence known in the paint. Howard tries to have fun playing basketball and has a clean cut image that could make him a popular wrestler in the WWE. He has no real background in wrestling but has been able to absorb his share of punishment with often rugged treatment under the basket in the NBA. A devout Christian, Howard could take a page from the book of CM Punk and could be a character who infuses some manners and morality into the sport.
11. Mike Iupati and Haloti Ngata
Signature Move: The Polynesian Puch, a simultaneous punch delivered by both wrestlers at the same time
Haloti Ngata and Mike Iupati are both strong men who are built like the volcanoes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the big island of Hawaii. Both men carry over 330 pounds of muscle and are athletic enough to move around the playing field nimbly as well. Ngata, a defensive tackle, has 445 tackles and 25.5 sacks in 10 seasons of play. Iupati is a 3-time Pro Bowler at the guard position who loves to pull or trap. Both players would represent Pacific Islanders with a much larger, meaner and more aggressive Uso-like team with more size to make them intimidating. Their shear size alone would allow both of them to stand out in any wrestling storyline. They are both well-liked by teammates, but seldom are asked to carry a conversation. Maybe they could land Paul Heyman as a manager.
10. Jared Allen, DE – Chicago Bears
Ring Name: Skeeter McCoy
Jared Allen looks like he comes from a ranch in Wyoming or the back woods of Kentucky. He is a fierce competitor on the football field and hard to stop when he has a read on the opposition’s quarterback. Allen has racked up 134 quarterback sacks in only 12 seasons of play. He is in 9th place on the NFL’s all-time sack leaders list and has been to the Pro Bowl 5 times. Allen has plenty of size, at about 270 pounds, and has the perfect looks to play a part of many WWE storylines. Looking a lot like a viking with his beard and somewhat scruffy appearance, Allen ironically spent six seasons playing for them in Minnesota. He can play the role of a moonshiner from Kentucky, rancher from North Dakota, or a cowboy from Wyoming with his small town mentality and almost Bohemian appearance.
9. Steve MacIntyre, LW – Norfolk Admirals
Signature Move: Big Mac Attack, a barrage of blows to the head and chest
Steve MacIntyre is a well known enforcer who has bounced in and out of the NHL since he entered the league in 2008. He has been a participant in several epic NHL fights and has 175 penalty minutes in his brief appearances in 91 NHL games. He once averaged over 200 penalty minutes a season for three consectutive years. He is no stranger to getting physical and has a reputation as being one of the best fighters to recently play in the NHL. He is big, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, tough, and athletic enough to play many seasons of the physically demanding sport of hockey. As long as Vince McMahon doesn’t slap him witha ‘Goon’ gimmick, he should be fine.
8. Cain Velasquez, Fighter – MMA
Ring Name: El Jefe
Cain Velasquez has plenty of experience on the mat, with a record of 110-10 in high school wrestling carrying him over to the MMA. He is currently the Heavyweight Champion in the UFC, with a 13-1 record in MMA. Velasquez is gritty and tough with plenty of skills he could bring into the wrestling ring. At 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Velasquez has the terrific size, physical attributes, and the added bonus of his Mexican heritage, to make a big impact in the WWE. He is quick and strong with incredible endurance and great work ethic that would enable him to quickly learn all the moves. He could be a part of a storyline that glorifies luchadores Mexicanos and brings more Mexican wrestling culture and traditions into the lineup of the WWE. El Jefe could be the new face of the working class WWE fan and someone you wouldn’t want to get upset.
7. Vladimr Klitschko, Boxer – Ukraine
Ring Name: Peter, “The Great”, Pushkin (Russian heel)
The Ukrainian boxer, and current reigning WBO, WBA, IBF and more Heavyweight Champion, has a professional record of 63-3. Klitscchko is currently in the midst of a 21 bout winning streak, elevating him to the status as one of the most successful heavyweights of all-time. He has been a dominant force in the heavyweight division with a long run of being what amounts to the undisputed champion in the heavyweight class. He is tough, fierce and fast, and his role in the wrestling ring could highlight his great athleticism. He has carried 245 pounds before and could bulk up even more for the sport without lacking any quickness or speed. He could play the part of a villain in a storyline or take a jab at Russia with a stereotypical Russian wrestler role, ahem Rusev.
6. Brett Keisel, DE
Ring Name: Alaskan Assasin
Brett Keisel looks like he belongs on a WWE stage. His hair often looks wild and unkempt matching his long mustache and ear to ear full length beard. Keisel is big at 6-foot-5and 285 pounds, and has enough athleticism to produce 408 tackles, 30 quarterback sacks and 37 passes defensed in his 14-year NFL career. He brings a look and level of energy that could be used to scare the Wyatt brothers and opponents who get in his way. In addition to his caveman-like appearance, Keisel is a tough football player who could adjust to learning how to toss his opponents around the ring and impose his will on the mat. He could be part of any storyline where a cold weather mountain man or recluse was a requirement. He also speaks freely and can do more than hold his own when facing the press.
5. Cam Newton, QB – Carolina Panthers
Signature Move: Hurri”cam”rana, a move made famous by Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston
Cam Newton is not your prototypical quarterback. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Newton is fast, agile, and blends this athleticism well with his more than adequate size. What makes Newton particularly interesting for the WWE is his great appeal to the younger generation, cultivated by his charitable work with children and exposure on “Get Out and Play” television spots, children’s award shows and children’s programming. He tries his best to be a model citizen with his positive energy, good manners and pleasant disposition. He would be a hero to the younger generation in the ring and play up to adults with his ability to be fun loving and have good wit. Cam Newton has the star quality, good size, positive storyline potential and athleticism to help carry the WWE into the future. Hey, if he’s the Superman of the NFL, he could have a great rivalry with John Cena.
4. James Laurinaitis, LB – St. Louis Rams
Signature Moves: Powerbomb, Lifting DDT
James Laurinaitis is a tackling machine on the St. Louis Rams defense. In six years of play, Laurinaitis has amassed 743 tackles and 15.5 quarterback sacks. He is a fierce competitor with good size and fitness that keeps him from giving up on plays. Laurinaitis has all the athleticism and strength required to be a natural fit for the WWE and he just so happens to have the wrestler looks and pedigree as well. James is the son of one of the Road Warriors, Road Warrior Animal. Wrestling and the WWE is in his blood. Laurinaitis certainly knows how to do double leg takedowns and has even had his fair share of throws and tosses in the NFL. It would not take long to get him comfortable in the ring and consider all the great storylines his presence would add to the show.
3. Ndamokung Suh, DT – Miami Dolphins
Ring Name: “Indomitable” Suh
Ndamokung Suh is a fiercely competitive defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins who has been known to sometimes step over the line from his days in Detroit. The league leader in fines for misconduct, Suh has a nasty reputation to contrast with his stellar all-star play on the field. He anchors the inside of the defensive line, using his superior quickness to get his 305 pound body in the perfect position to make plays. He has registered 239 tackles, 15 passes defensed, and 36 quarterback sacks in five seasons of NFL play. He is now the league’s highest paid defensive player. Suh is actually a nice man off the field and can play the part of face or heel. He is agile, strong, extremely athletic for a 300 plus pound big man and carries with him a menacing scowl. He has the ability to speak to fans and can fit in with a variety of wrestling styles and storylines in the WWE.
2. J.J. Watt, DE – Houston Texans
Signature Move: The Swat Slam, a modified choke slam with more movement and flair
J.J. Watt has quickly become one of the most recognizable defensive linemen in the NFL today. It helps that Watt is a tremendous athlete, works as well with the media as he does with kids, and plays the game with a motor that never turns off. He is large, 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, fast, 4.8 40-yard dash, and can even be a high flying threat with his 37″ vertical leap. As one of the most dynamic athletes currently in the NFL, Watt would be a natural in the ring with his presence, cheerful disposition and good looks to help catapult him to stardom.
Watt would be strong enough to throw the Big Show and Mark Henry while being agile enough to mix it up with John Cena and Randy Orton. He would be the heir apparent to John Cena with his ultra-clean image and youthful personality that attracts most kids. His work with children outside the NFL with television spots and charity work would certainly be a bonus and help attract the younger generation to the WWE.
1. Rob Gronkowski, TE – New England Patriots
Ring Name: Gronk Kowski
Rob Gronkowski is a physical marvel for a tight end. Big and fast, Gronkowski is able to maneuver his 265 pound body to get in position to pluck a multitude of different throws out of the air. He has 4,379 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns up to this point of his five year NFL career. “Gronk” has a tendency to get into the end zone or make conversions on big third down plays. What makes him unique, is his personality that would be a breath of fresh air for the WWE. Gronkowski does his best not to take life too seriously and prefers the party lifestyle and having a good time. He is a tremendous athlete and has the body to match, but what makes Gronkowski special is that he is hard to dislike. Even if he has suffered from some minor lapses in good judgement, Gronkowski is charming enough to save himself. He could be the “now” generation of the WWE.
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