WrestleMania and celebrities have gone hand-in-hand since the show’s very first incarnation, which featured a wide array of guest stars from Liberace to Muhammad Ali. Over the years that followed, a litany of celebrities have played a variety of roles in making WrestleMania a huge spectacle. They’ve been announcers, referees, interviewers, and a select few have even gotten into the ring. There have been so many celebrities tied to WWE that they have their own wing of the WWE Hall of Fame, and rightly so, because while there have been more than a few disastrous guest stars at WWE’s biggest show, quite a few of them have managed to create some of WrestleMania’s most memorable moments.
10. Snooki, WrestleMania XXVII
Okay, so the bar for celebrity involvement isn’t set that high, but be patient, we’re still relatively low on the list. And we have to give those who actually participated in a match a little bit of a bump, as in the case of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, a name you might recognize if you were one of the truly ridiculous number of people who watched the fake reality show (redundant, we know) Jersey Shore. Snooki’s match was controversial before it even got underway, as tag partner John Morrison allegedly was upset that WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus was chosen to fill out their team instead of his girlfriend, Melina, one of several alleged reasons why Morrison ended up leaving WWE later that year. The good news is, Snooki didn’t embarrass herself, and actually pulled off an impressive handspring elbow, which is really all you want from your celebrity wrestlers. Frankly, it makes her a more valid candidate for the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame than Drew Carey.
9. Mickey Rourke, WrestleMania 25
Mickey Rourke made a massive career comeback in 2008 for his role in a small indepedent film titled The Wrestler, playing a broken-down wrestler struggling with obscurity in his later years. It even garnered Rourke an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and as part of an attempt to promote himself for the award, Rourke began making overtures towards appearing at WrestleMania. WWE was more than happy to have such a high-profile actor associate themselves with pro wrestling, and began setting up what was expected to be a match between Rourke and veteran wrestler Chris Jericho, who began mocking Rourke on TV for pretending to be a wrestler while Jericho was out there actually being one. Unfortunately, Rourke’s campaign did not find favor with Academy voters, and it was implied that his ties with WWE actually hurt his image. The irony of Oscar voters not liking a guy nominated for pretending to be a pro wrestler for associating himself with pro wrestling is not lost on us, but Rourke was forced to distance himself and the match was called off. Sadly, Rourke would not win the Oscar, and ended up attending WrestleMania anyway, even getting into the ring and knocking out Jericho with some well-placed punches to put a cap on that feud.
8. Maria Menounos, WrestleMania XXVIII
This journalist and host of several different entertainment newsmagazine shows endeared herself to WWE audiences during a stint as a Special Guest Host of Raw, when she actually wrestled a match on the show and looked better than half the Divas currently employed by WWE (granted, at the time, that wasn’t saying much). Menounos, a lifelong wrestling fan, would make several more wrestling appearances with the company, including her biggest moment at WrestleMania, as part of a tag match with Kelly Kelly against Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres. Menounos again came off looking tougher than half the roster, wrestling the match with two cracked ribs, and earned herself a few more fans in the process. Sadly, the match was largely forgotten, as most Divas matches have been at WrestleMania since the days of Trish Stratus and Lita (although, hopefully not for much longer). These days, Menounos continues to be closely tied with WWE, and has become a regular host of the Hall of Fame red carpet pre-show.
7. Lawrence Taylor, WrestleMania XI
It hasn’t held up well, in retrospect, but LT’s match against Bam Bam Bigelow was long held up as the standard by which other celebrity matches were held. A low bar, to be sure, but this match was one of the few on that year’s card that wasn’t considered boring, a disaster, or a boring disaster, and now stands as a testament as to how under-rated Bigelow actually was as a worker, dragging the inexperienced football star to a watchable affair. While WrestleMania XI as a whole was seen as part of the lowest point in WWE history, no one can fault WWE for the effort they put forward in making Taylor-Bigelow feel like one of the biggest matches ever. They assembled an entire team of NFL players to corner LT, they had Salt ‘n’ Peppa sing him to the ring (kids, ask your parents who that was), they even made it the main event of the show over top of the WWE Title match. At the time, people were convinced that Taylor should continue wrestling, but looking back on how exhausted he was after the match, it’s probably for the best that he didn’t.
6. Floyd Mayweather, WrestleMania XXIV
Honestly, the booking of the eventual Mayweather-Big Show match was a huge mess of conflicting characters and crowd reactions, as WWE couldn’t decide right up until the match who was supposed to be the good guy and who was supposed to be the bad guy. Show returned at No Way Out and menaced both Rey Mysterio and Mayweather, purportedly as a heel, leading to Mayweather bloodying Show’s nose in what was portrayed as a heroic act. However, Mayweather did not endear himself to WWE fans (which probably wouldn’t shock anyone who had followed his boxing career), and at the absolute last second, Mayweather ended up working their WrestleMania match as a bad guy, although Show still took the loss despite essentially now being portrayed as a hero for defending the nobility of pro wrestling against the invading boxer. With all that said, nobody can accuse Mayweather of not earning his money during this match, as he let Show treat him and some of his entourage like rag dolls before eventually resorting to dirty tactics in order to secure the victory. Because of that, what had looked like a disaster heading into the show ended up actually being one of the highlights of WrestleMania that year.
5. Mr. T, WrestleMania I
As always, we feel compelled to remind you that we pity any fools who do not express an appreciation of Mr T. He may have only been an actor, but we can’t think of many people growing up who was portrayed a more of badass than the man who played B.A. Baracus on The A-Team, and also his show-stealing role as Clubber Lang in Rocky III. That’s right, Lang was the real star of that movie, come at us. It was that film, of course, that put Mr. T in the same circle as the man who would shortly afterwards become the biggest star in professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan. And when Vince McMahon created WrestleMania, it was based around a main event featuring Hogan and Mr. T teaming up as partners in one of the biggest spectacles the world had ever seen. While Mr. T was no athlete, he held up his end of the match due to his aura on invincibility and superhuman charisma, and was a definite factor in helping make the very first Mania so memorable. Mr. T would return for the second WrestleMania, facing Roddy Piper in a worked boxing match, and is also responsible for what will likely go down as one of the most remembered induction speeches when he entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.
4. Cyndi Lauper, WrestleMania I
Modern wrestling fans might not understand how big of an influence Cyndi Lauper actually had on WWE. When her first album in 1983 made her legitimately one of the biggest stars in the world, she brought WWE along for the ride due to her friendship with future WWE Hall of Famer “Captain” Lou Albano, who appeared in the music video for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and WWE Superstars would continue to make appearances in her videos throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s, in what came to be known as the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection”. Lauper’s involvement was behind MTV broadcasting the first live wrestling show on cable, which included the first live women’s wrestling match. The show, titled “The Brawl To End It All”, is generally recognized as WWE’s first step towards becoming the global cable TV phenomenon it is today. The culmination of Lauper’s ties to WWE saw her accompany Wendi Richter to the ring at the very first WrestleMania for her Women’s Championship match against long-time foe The Fabulous Moolah. Oddly, everyone involved in “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” is currently enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame, except for Lauper herself, an oversight which will hopefully be corrected at some point.
3. Donald Trump, WrestleMania 23
Future President of the United States (just in case, for future generations, this was a joke when we wrote it) Donald Trump’s fingerprints are all over WrestleMania history. He hosted WrestleMania IV and V from Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, he was interviewed by Jesse Ventura during WrestleMania XX in New York City, and in his biggest and most important appearance, he was in Bobby Lashley’s corner against a Vince McMahon-backed Umaga in what was promoted as “The Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania 23. During the match, Trump made sure to get physically involved, taking out Vince at ringside in a spectacle of two ridiculously rich senior citizens fighting that the world has never seen before or since. He also was the recipient of one of the worst Stone Cold Stunners in history, which we’ll forgive since he’s not a wrestler and basically had no idea how to sell the move. And in the climax of the match, Trump, along with Lashley and special referee Steve Austin, shaved Vince McMahon bald. How might history have changed if Trump had lost that fateful match and been forced to shave his…let’s call it ‘hair’ instead of Vince? And why haven’t Trump’s political opponents simply started airing a series of vignettes showing Trump in a wrestling ring in order to embarrass him?
2. Mike Tyson, WrestleMania XIV
It’s still hard to believe that WWE, a company that was allegedly so close to going out of business in late 1997 that they purposely broke a twenty-year guaranteed contract with Bret Hart because they claimed they couldn’t afford to pay it, somehow managed to pony up a reported $3 million to bring the Baddest Man on the Planet in for WrestleMania, the show which ended up kicking off the Austin Era for real. Tyson was heavily involved in WrestleMania, too, and ended up counting the pin which gave Stone Cold the WWE Title, and knocking out Shawn Michaels in HBK’s final WWE appearance for several years. You might say he literally knocked Michaels out of wrestling, although it was actually a crippling back injury that did the job. In any event, almost as important as Tyson’s Mania duties was his heavily hyped first appearance on Raw which saw him go face-to-face with Austin, triggering a shoving match and eventually, a pull-apart brawl that was replayed everywhere in world for weeks leading up to WrestleMania (and for years to come on highlight reels).
1. Pete Rose, WrestleMania XIV, XV, 2000
Poor Pete Rose. The guy just can’t get into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame despite being its all-time hits leader, just because of a little thing like gambling on baseball while he was an active player and manager. But there can be no doubt that if there is one celebrity who deserves his spot in the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame, it’s Charlie Hustle, who appeared at three straight WrestleManias during the height of the Attitude Era, and got his ass kicked by Kane on a regular basis. Pete Rose was such a great heel at WrestleMania XIV, he turned Kane, who had only recently debuted and was still the scariest force of evil in wrestling at the time, into a good guy for a brief second, when Kane interrupted Rose mocking the audience by giving him a Tombstone. Rose was out for revenge the next year, dressing up as the San Diego Chicken in an attempt to ambush the Big Red Machine, to predictable results. A third, more devious ploy followed at WrestleMania 2000, where Rose sent out a decoy dressed as the Chicken, then attacked Kane and his tag partner Rikishi from behind with a bat. Alas, Rose was never successful in getting the upper hand on Kane, as his third appearance upped the humiliation ante, by having Rose the recipient of a Stinkface. We’ll say this for Rose, he never gave up, even though he almost certainly should have.