This is my first installment of the weekly Top 10 article, which I hope will spark some fun and lively debates amongst the reader base. I chose to take a different approach with the first Top 10 because we all know that we will eventually discuss: “Top 10 IC Champs” and “Top 10 Wrestlers Who Never Won a World Title”, and although those conversations are always fun to have, I went with one that we don’t usually discuss. So, the inaugural Top 10 discussion will be: “Top 10 Pro Wrestling Celebrity Interactions That Failed.” Now, it’s hard to judge what a “failure” constitutes since a celebrity always brings in outside eyes and publicity, but they don’t always work as well as the promoters would like. For every Mike Tyson in 1998, there’s a Snooky. With that being said, let’s start the conversation.
10. Snooky wrestles at WrestleMania XXVII
This show was in 2011, and although I went on a wrestling hiatus from 2003-2008, I remember this match. I don’t know how or why it happened, but I remember it. This edition of WrestleMania emanated from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in front of 71,617 people in attendance and did over 1,000,000 buys. Based on those numbers, it’s hard to say this was a flop. However, if we look at the rest of the card, we had an appearance from The Rock; John Cena lost to The Miz, allowing Miz to retain the WWE Title in an underrated feud, in my opinion. Edge defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Title. Cody Rhodes beat Rey Mysterio in another underappreciated rivalry, Randy Orton and Punk, Undertaker and Triple H in a No Holds Barred match (Undertaker went 19-0 here). So, the card was stacked for the most part and had some solid feuds and matches. This Mania was also marred by two matches that were kind of letdowns. Michael Cole beat Jerry Lawler in Lawler’s only WrestleMania match, which seems impossible seeing as how he debuted in 1992, and a six-person intergender match with John Morrison, Snooki, and Trish Stratus against Dolph Ziggler and LayCool. Now the WWE tried to surround Snooki with some decent star power and talented workers, but even with the Jersey Shore show’s peak in 2011, we were in Atlanta, and the crowd wasn’t interested. The match only went 3:16, so there’s that.
9. Drew Carey appears at the Royal Rumble in 2001
I was just about to turn 16 years old here at this Rumble match and found the Carey segment in the Rumble funny. I still do in fact. Vince McMahon invited him to participate in the Royal Rumble match, and this was when Mr. McMahon was doing vindictive things to people for no reason. Little did we know what would happen in two months between him and Austin, but that’s for another day. Carey came in at #5 after Jeff Hardy, Bull Buchanan, Matt Hardy, and Faarooq had all already eliminated each other. Carey was having some fun in the ring alone until it was time for #6 to come out. The lights went out, fire lit up the stage, and out walked Kane. Once Kane got into the ring, Carey took one look at him and eliminated himself from the match. We never really heard from Carey again in wrestling. Kane would last until #29 and was eliminated by the aforementioned Steve Austin. This was also the Rumble match, now known as the “Hardcore Rumble,” thanks to Raven introducing weapons. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t hurt to have Carey in the match because he didn’t actually get physical, but it just begs the question of why he was there to begin with. The Honky Tonk Man also appeared on this show at #12. Meanwhile, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Steven Richards were not in the match (Richards appeared in the corner of Ivory during her Women’s Title match against Chyna). Again, Carey’s appearance didn’t hurt anything, it’s just forgettable.
8. The entire run of celebrity guest hosts in WWE
This was another forgettable time in the WWE. With no authority figure like a commissioner or GM, the WWE was trotting out a laundry list of celebrity guest hosts weekly. Jeremy Piven, Hugh Jackman, Bob Barker, Seth Green, Mark Cuban, The Pittsburgh Steelers O-Line plus Ben Roethlisberger, Shaq, the list continues. We have celebrities and athletes who aren’t wrestlers and probably don’t watch wrestling or make wrestling decisions…ok. Although this period did produce some memorable moments like the face-off between Shaw and Big Show, Sheamus slamming Cuban through a table, and Chris Jericho’s appearance on the Price is Right (on the Raw stage), there were also a lot of shows like the ZZ Top episode and Pee Wee Herman. Some backstage interaction, but that was about it. This celebrity guest host era started on July 15, 2009, when Donald Trump bought Monday Night Raw and did an entire episode commercial-free. The following week, McMahon “bought it back,” but a stipulation in the contract was that a celebrity guest host would lead Raw weekly. Altogether there were 79 celebrity guest hosts. Eventually, they adopted the Anonymous GM, which I don’t know if that was better or worse, and then got rid of that also. Oh man, I just remembered the Al Sharpton episode. Now I have a headache.
7. Mr. T at WrestleMania II
The story of WrestleMania I is widely known now. The inner financial workings and happy accidents that took place along the way leading up to the show will be covered in an article one day; I’m sure of that. However, the huge selling points were a star-studded card, the allure of Madison Square Garden, and a titanic main event. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Supposedly, if this show had flopped, Vince McMahon would’ve been selling hot dogs on the street corner after his business empire fell. I don’t know if I necessarily believe that, but the stakes were high regardless. As we all know, the show was a smash hit, and the rest, as they say, is history. They tried to run WrestleMania II from three different locations to better the atmosphere and increase the scope of the show’s power. Hour one was in New York, Hour Two was in Chicago, and Hour Three was live from Los Angeles. Each hour had its own unique main event. Chicago’s was a battle royal that featured some Chicago Bears players, including William “Refrigerator” Perry. Los Angeles was led by Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy for the WWF Title inside of the big blue steel cage. New York would get a call back to WrestleMania I when Mr. T and Roddy Piper had a boxing match. I’ve heard Piper tell stories of this match, and I tend to believe him because there is video evidence of the match to back up his claim. First, these two legitimately did not like each other. According to Piper and other wrestlers of the era, Mr. T came in and thought that he was king for a day and gave most of the locker room little respect. People like Piper, Orndorff, Orton, and others had paid their dues and thought that the main event of a mega show should’ve gone to one of them and not an outsider. According to Piper, during the boxing match, Mr. T was supposed to hit Piper with a left hook causing Piper to fall through the ropes and out of the ring. Mr. T missed the punch by a few inches, and although Piper still went with the spot, he was now angered because of the gaff. The moment Piper threw the stool at Mr. T, according to Piper, was to p*ss Mr. T off so he would want to actually hit Piper. As Piper said: “I’d rather you knock my teeth out than hit me with a popcorn punch.” Mr. T would win by DQ, but Piper, along with most of the fans, ignores the fact that this match ever happened.
6. Leslie Nielsen and George Kennedy at SummerSlam 1994
The search for the real Undertaker was on. The Undertaker had been gone some rising to…wherever he rose to after the Royal Rumble in 1994 when he lost to Yokozuna and every heel from the past 40 years in a casket match. Throughout the summer, the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase said he had found the Undertaker and even revealed a pretty decent Undertaker stand-in in the form of Brian Lee. However, this angle was doomed from the word go, and now we’re adding in the two stars of Naked Gun investigating the whereabouts of the real Undertaker. Throughout the entire SummerSlam show, the typical buffoonery of the Naked Gun movies was taking place, and even though it was funny in the movies, it was wasted space inside the confines of a wrestling PPV. They eventually did find the real Undertaker…when he appeared. Neat.
5. Butterbean at WrestleMania XV
Where to start with this? I could easily write up an entire article on the sheer stupidity of the Brawl For All tournament, but we will shelf that for right now. Regardless, it did take place and saw the unlikely hero of Bart Gunn and his trusty left cross take the crown. His prize? Fighting the true boxer and prizefighter who was known for spectacular knockouts, Butterbean. If you’re a younger fan and are unfamiliar with Butterbean, he truly was fascinating in the 1990s. He was considered a “super heavyweight” since he weighed well over 350 pounds, and because of this, he could not fight in traditional sanctioned boxing matches. In the fights he did have, the majority of them ended in a knockout, punishing knockouts. Instead of the traditional purpose of a tournament that would give some bragging rights or a title match, they literally put Bart Gunn out for slaughter. Now, Bart Gunn would have an MMA career of sorts later, going 1-1, and a successful wrestling career in Japan, but he pretty much had to disappear from the US wrestling scene because this was essentially the end of his career in the WWF. Gunn started with the WWF in 1993 as one half of the tag team known as “The Smoking Gunns” with Billy Gunn. The Smoking Gunns, all in all, were a successful tag team, but Billy broke off and floundered for a bit before finding Road Dogg Jesse James and DX. Bart Gunn would find the New Midnight Express in that god-awful NWA Invasion angle with Bob Holly and Jim Cornette. In 1998 he would win the Brawl for All, beating Bob Holly (the only one he didn’t knock out), then Dr. Death Steve Williams, beat The Godfather, and Bradshaw in the finals. After sitting at home for several months after this win, he was brought back to TV in February to begin training with Ray Rinaldi in preparations for Butterbean. He lost in 35 seconds after being knocked down, then knocked out. Shortly thereafter, he was released and never heard from again in the WWF. By the way, Butterbean’s record is 77-10 with 58 knockouts and 4 draws.
4. Mr. T pops up at Bash at the Beach 1994
Ah, the early WCW run for Hulk Hogan. After leaving the WWF after King of the Ring 1993, when he lost the WWF title to Yokozuna after a camera blew up in his face, Hogan went off to greener pastures filming a new television show, “Trouble in Paradise.” As the legend goes, Ric Flair went to Eric Bischoff and told him to get Hogan and even set up the meeting, and we know what happens after that. Bash at the Beach was his first match with WCW as he would take on Ric Flair for the WCW World Title. Accompanying Hogan to the ring was manager extraordinaire Jimmy Hart. Shaq, who was a rising star in the world of the NBA dominating at Center for the Orlando Magic, and Mr. T. His WrestleMania I partner, had been largely invisible in the early 1990s. For whatever reason, he showed up again here. With the name value of having Shaq there, the decision to bring in Mr. T is confusing at best. Even more confusing is the same Hogan character, who had started to hear boos in 1992 while still in the WWF, was back again with no changes or tweaks, and although the WCW crowd was initially excited to see him, the novelty would wear off. By 1995 he was feuding with the awful Dungeon of Doom and even main evented Starrcade 1994 when he took on Brutus Beefcake…I’m sorry, the Butcher. After the Flair match at Bash at the Beach, Hogan would win the title in his WCW debut, and Mr. T would not be seen again in the wrestling world until he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, which is another story for another day. That reminds me, I need to call my mom.
3. John Wayne Bobbit cuts his way onto the WWF scene
Not only is this one of the most cringeworthy things on wrestling television ever, but this is also arguably one of the dumbest storylines of all time. Let’s relive it. Val Venis, a porn star playboy, was making a name for himself in the WWF largely because he fit right in with the Attitude Era, but let’s give the man in lavender his due; he was also a very good wrestler, all things considered. There was also a stable of Japanese wrestlers Dick Togo, Sho Funaki, Men’s Teioh that went by the faction name “Kaientai” and their manager Wally Yamaguchi or…Yamaguchi-san. Yikes. Wally had a lovely woman accompanying the group to the ring every night who was Wally’s wife. Not a very smart move, mainly because I don’t remember her tripping any opponents or ripping off her skirt like Miss Elizabeth. Eventually, as porn stars are apt to do, Val started to pine after Mrs. Yamaguchi and would even make a sex tape with her because that’s a normal progression of a relationship. An incensed Yamaguchi would start to threaten Val that he would “choppy choppy your pee-pee.” This would eventually lead to Val being kidnapped, and we would eventually see him in a room backstage naked, tied up with his hands over his head and his Valbowski swinging in the breeze while Yamaguchi has a sword. I’m not making any of this up if you didn’t see this. As Wally goes for the choppy, the lights go out, and Val is rescued. The following week we would find out that John Wayne Bobbit is the one who saved him. Val would bring him into the ring and make several penis jokes while John was in the ring, and luckily that was as far as the angle went. Truly terrible.
2. David Arquette wins the WCW World Title
There are many things to talk about and tangents to take based on this one event. For one, it’s WCW towards the end, this specific booking decision and what they were trying to accomplish (and it did work to a degree), the aftermath, and so many things. But for now, we will focus on this singular event. How did we get here? WCW had gotten into the movie business when Ready to Rumble was created and starred Goldberg, DDP, Randy Savage, Kanyon as a stunt double, Oliver Platt, Scott Caan, and Joe Pantoliano with Arquette. Trying to both promote the film and utilize the star power of Arquette, the decision was made for David to win the WCW World Heavyweight Title in a tag team match on an episode of Thunder. All of the words in that previous sentence are correct. The match was specifically Arquette and DDP against Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. Arquette was beaten and battered earlier in the show but valiantly returned to the ring to spear and pin Bischoff while DDP was pinning Jarrett. Still, the ref counted Bischoff’s shoulders down, making Arquette the champion. There are a few reasons why this one is not #1, but there are also a few reasons why it should be #1. Why it should be #1 is obvious, but let’s not discount the fact that this was on THUNDER. Not a PPV, not even an episode of Nitro, Thunder. As far as why it isn’t #1, well, in a vacuum, the publicity did work. The outside world took notice of WCW for a moment as this had never been done before. Although it may have intrigued some, it was essentially the last straw for the WCW faithful. DDP had also mentioned that when Arquette was told he would be crowned champion, Arquette wanted nothing to do with it and even tried to get out of it. Add in Arquette’s wrestling career in the last few years to prove his love of the business, plus him giving his PPV payoff after his title win to Brian Pillman’s family, and Arquette has redeemed himself to most people. So below the surface, there are some redeeming qualities to this win, but a few years prior, WCW pulled another stunt with no redeeming qualities, which is why this is #2. So, what’s #1?
1. Jay Leno and DDP take on Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff, Road Wild 1998
If you think about it, 1998 may have been one of Hogan’s worse years in the industry. Now a full two years into the nWo gimmick, this version of Hogan was also starting to get stale. The group was just trampling people with no signs of stopping, with the two exceptions being DDP and Goldberg, who went into this show as the World Champion after just beating Hogan in the Georgia Dome on Nitro. You can say what you want about Eric Bischoff, but the man knows how to drub up some business. Knowing that the company needed a shot in the arm as the WWF was in full Austin 3:16 mode, he started looking outside wrestling for some buzz. Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone were featured earlier in the summer, and those two certainly held up their end of the bargain. But let’s go back to Hogan’s 1998 for a moment. At Souled Out, he was on the show but didn’t wrestle; SuperBrawl VIII, he lost to Sting for the vacant world title after the debacle at Starrcade 1997 Uncensored, he fought to a no-contest with Savage inside of a steel cage which makes no sense. At Spring Stampede, he was in a tag match in a Bat on a Pole match, didn’t appear at Slamboree, another tag match at Great American Bash, the Malone and Rodman match at Bash at the Beach, the match we’re about to discuss from Road Wild, the worse War Games ever when he was chased out of the cage by the Warrior, the disaster with the Warrior at Havoc, then didn’t appear at World War 3 or Starrcade. Not exactly a banner year. Now, heading into this match at Road Wild, WCW needed some buzz, so Hogan and Bischoff invaded the Jay Leno set and took over the show in a legitimately genius move. It did a great job getting some outside attention, and they would continue the trend by having Hogan and Bischoff doing their version of the Late Show on WCW Nitro. Indeed, we’re headed for Hogan with Eric Bischoff in his corner against DDP and Jay Leno in his corner. If only. Hogan and Bischoff v DDP and Leno. I’m sure it wasn’t intended, but Kevin Eubanks from the Leno show walked with them to the ring, and he was absolutely ripped. Why not Eubanks? This match was not good and hit rock bottom when Leno was performing offensive moves on Hogan (an arm twist, to be fair). It angered the veterans and started turning off some fans from the show. We weren’t angered enough to stop watching, but we were perturbed. With back-to-back celebrity main events in consecutive pay-per-views, plus the Warrior going Baby Huey all over WCW, this was when some holes started to appear in the WCW ship.
If you enjoyed this list, I’ll be doing these every week and again to invite some good conversation about your memories of wrestling. So let’s get it going, hit me up @TStephens91 and, of course, @PWMania on Twitter, and let’s start the discussion, what are some of your…less than favorable celebrity moments in wrestling. Also, if you enjoy wrestling from the past and all of the pop culture, movies, music, sports, and news from the time, make sure to listen to the Filter Free Popcast every Tuesday with me, Dolla’ Bill Dave, and Timmy C.