Top Nine WrestleMania Athlete Performances
By Lou DiPietro
Sometimes, sports and entertainment collide…and sometimes, it happens in sports-entertainment.
As we chronicled a few weeks ago in The Niner, WrestleMania is biggest day on the WWE calendar. But it's not just for the wrestling - a handful of celebs are seen at 'Mania every year, and the sports world often dabbles into the WWE Universe as well.
The Yankees will have a big WrestleMania presence this year, as a handful of Bombers will be on hand at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Landshark/Dolphins/Sun Life Stadium to witness the action live this weekend. With that in mind, we submit our list of the Top Nine Athlete Performances at WrestleMania.
MUHAMMAD ALI (WrestleMania I)
Although Muhammad Ali didn't really need to do much as the "outside referee" for the main event of 1985's inaugural WrestleMania, we feel we would be remiss if we left "The Greatest" off any list that he qualified for.
AKEBONO (WrestleMania 21)
The same WrestleMania that saw John Cena become the face of WWE also saw this Hawaiian-born Sumo Champion dispatch poor Big Show in a minute-long Sumo Match. Can't win 'em all ... or any, really, if you're Big Show, whose WrestleMania record dropped to 0-6 at that point.
ERIC "BUTTERBEAN" ESCH (WrestleMania XV)
Bart Gunn's "reward" for winning WWE's 1998 "Brawl for All" toughman contest was a 'Mania date with Butterbean. It took the super heavyweight a mere 35 seconds (and one vicious right hook) to knock Gunn into the middle of next week and pretty much end his WWE career.
BOB UECKER (WrestleManias III and IV)
"The Ueck" got a ringside seat for the first time in his life when he was the guest ring announcer for the epic main event at WrestleMania III. The following year, poor Bob left WrestleMania IV speechless after having Andre the Giant's hamhocks wrapped around his neck in the interview area.
WILLIAM "THE REFRIGERATOR" PERRY (WrestleMania 2)
Fresh off the Bears' win in Super Bowl XX, "The Fridge" shuffled to the Rosemont Horizon to compete in a 20-Man Battle Royal at WrestleMania 2. He didn't win, but Perry's performance was so memorable that when 'Mania returned to Chicago 20 years later, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
MIKE TYSON (WrestleMania XIV)
As the special referee for WrestleMania XIV's main event, Tyson counted the pinfall that made Stone Cold Steve Austin the WWE Champion for the first time. Moments later, "Iron Mike" showed off his hands of stone by kayoing former champ (and alleged associate) Shawn Michaels for arguing the decision.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER (WrestleMania XXIV)
After punking out Big Show at an earlier WWE PPV, Floyd Mayweather put his "Money" where his mouth was by defeating Show (albeit under dubious circumstances) at WrestleMania XXIV. But when the angry giant came looking for him afterwards, Floyd fled faster than you can say "Manny Pacquiao."
LAWRENCE TAYLOR (WrestleMania XI
A confrontation at the 1995 Royal Rumble led to Lawrence Taylor main-eventing WrestleMania XI against Bam Bam Bigelow. He had his doubters, but after getting some sugar from rappers Salt-N-Pepa (who sung him down to the ring), LT proved that he could cut the WWE mustard by pinning Bigelow.
PETE ROSE (WrestleManias XIV, XV, and 2000)
Pete Rose's bad comedy routine at WrestleMania XIV earned him a Tombstone Piledriver from Kane. The following year, his masquerade as the San Diego Chicken earned him a second. Want to guess what happened to poor Pete in 2000? Oh well ... at least he's in the WWE Hall of Fame.