Coming off the NFL Conference title games and with the Royal Rumble less than a week away, what better time than now to go through some of the biggest moments NFL players have had in wrestling. Both the WWE and WCW have tried to incorporate athletes from other sports with varied degrees of success. Here are some of the highlights.
Clay Mathews steps in as referee on Smackdown
Coming fresh off of the Packers Super Bowl Win last year, Clay Mathews stepped in for an injured Vickie Guerrero to secure a victory for Edge on Smackdown. The Packers left no doubt of being wrestling fans all year, and this certainly capped off a hell of a run.
Steve McMichael vs Reggie White at Slamboree 1997
WCW already put former Bear Steve “Mongo” McMichael on their roster, and since he was a train wreck in the ring, what better way to make him look good and give him a decent angle by putting him in a match with Packer great Reggie White. Gilbert Brown was in White’s corner to make sure the two competitors weren’t the fattest people in the arena that night, and unintentionally distracted the ref long enough for Mongo to lay White down with a steel briefcase (because people always carry documents in those). White retired a year later. Coincidence?
Kevin Green ringside at Clash of Champions
Linebacker Kevin Greene came out on the side of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage to act as enforcer against Ric Flair and The Giant. That didn’t work too well as Flair beat Savage with the help of some brass knux, but what really made this interesting was the timing. Greene was with the Steelers in 1996, and was set to play the Cowboys in the Superbowl just 5 days later. His team didn’t know he was going to appear in the show until they were watching it on TV. Whether that helped Dallas win 27-17 is anyone’s guess, but I still don’t thing Pittsburgh was too happy with their Hulk Hogan look alike.
The Giant vs Kevin Greene on Monday Nitro
WCW just loves putting football players in the ring. Kevin Greene made his ring debut in a tag team match with McMichael (who turned on him for the Four Horsemen), but this match led to Greene facing The Giant (Big Show of course) at 1998’s Bash at the Beach (the proposed tag match never happened). Greene lost but the match has some meaning as it was among the last times a football player would be allowed to compete in professional wrestling. The NFL teams started requiring “no wrestling” clauses in Greene’s contracts, and by the looks of things that became the norm.
Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow at Wrestlemania VI
When you think about football players wrestling (and I know you all do) this is the match that people usually think about. Taylor heckled Bigelow during the 1995 Royal Rumble, and Bam Bam got into a shoving match with LT ringside, igniting a feud that would culminate in the co-headline match at Wrestlemania VI. As a kid this blew me away as it was the first time I had ever seen an athlete from any other sport actually complete in a match. Not only that, but it turned lumberjack style with Taylor brining in a bunch of his NFL buddies (including White and McMichael). LT had a decent forearm too.
Art Donovan announces at King of the Ring
This may be the greatest piece of wrestling history ever. The 1994 King of the Ring took place in Baltimore, Maryland. To gain more local interest, the WWF brought in Baltimore Colts legend Art Donovan to be a guest commentator for the entire show. Unfortunately for his broadcast partners Gorilla Monsoon and Randy Savage, Art likely just heard what wrestling was an hour before the show. The result is just magic. Imagine watching wrestling with your grandpa. Now imagine putting that on pay per view and charging 40 bucks for it. That is the 1994 King of the Ring in a nutshell. Note the number of times Art asks for the weight of the wrestlers, and how Monsoon and Savage gradually just ignore him. Enjoy.