We fans of the graps love seeing our favourite wrestlers lock-up in the ring, and we hate seeing anybody try to mess with that. Although it may bring in some more casual viewers, most of the time, us full-time fans collectively grown when we have to witness yet another celebrity, manager, commentator, or authority figure step inside the ring as we know of the horror that will likely come. However, from time to time, these non-grapplers can surprise us all by putting on a very entertaining show. In fact, there’s enough of these anomalies for me to make a whole list out of them. So here they are, my Top 5 Matches Involving Non-Wrestlers.
For this list, I have decided not included battle royals, royal rumbles, or any sort of multi-man matches, otherwise it would be overrun by WCW War Games matches, and the 2001 Royal Rumble. I’ve focused solely on one-on-matches as the non-wrestler(s) play a much stronger part in the match, and thus are much more responsible for how entertaining it is. With that being said, let’s begin.
If this was a list of the best celebrity feuds or appearances, Andy Kaufman would be at the top of it, without question. Andy Kaufman was a beloved comedy actor that appeared on some of the biggest shows in America, such as Taxi and Saturday Night Live. In the early 1980s, due to his love of the sport, Kaufman regularly made appearances in Memphis-based wrestling promotions as the self-proclaimed “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World” – he would choose women randomly from the crowd, and defend his title by pinning them to the mat in an amateur wrestling style match.
His appearances eventually caught the attention of Jerry Lawler, who began feuding with the Inter-Gender champion. The two even appeared on Late Night with David Letterman at a time where wrestling was not on nationwide television. Mid-interview, Lawler was sensing that the appearance wasn’t going as well as he hoped, so he decided to punch Kaufman in the face, something which left viewers in shock and confused as to how real the whole situation was.
The segment has gone down in wrestling history because of how groundbreaking it was, and how much exposure it brought to the business. Tragically, Kaufman died two years later in 1984 from lung cancer at the age of 35, but his contributions to comedy and wrestling were never forgotten. Kaufman even appears in a couple of wrestling video games, and his feud is mentioned in detail in Jerry Lawler’s documentary, It’s Good to be King, as well as Man on the Moon, a biographical film about Kaufman’s life.
Although he may not have been involved in a match of high enough quality to place on this list, it can’t be denied that Andy Kaufman is one of the greatest celebrity contributors in wrestling history.
Shane McMahon is one of my favourite performers of all time…but is he a wrestler? It’s something I’ve debated heavily over ever since I first decided to make this list. It’s true that he has never been a full-time wrestler, but it would feel like an insult to call him a “non-wrestler” considering how impressive his athleticism is, and his ability to put on great matches. In fact, in 1999, Shane won PWI’s Best Newcomer award, and was ranked the 245th best wrestler in the world in the PWI 500, so taking that into consideration, there is no possible way I can class Shane O’Mac as a non-wrestler, although if I did, he would definitely top this list.
5. Earl Hebner vs Nick Patrick – WWF Invasion 2001
When I first saw this match as a child, I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Seeing little Earl Hebner hit that mini spear made me giggle for a week straight, so it’s always had a special place in my heart. Simply because of nostalgia and entertainment purposes, this infamous Invasion match had to earn a place on my list. If you’re looking for a laugh, just watch this match.
4. Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow – Wrestlemania XI
Although it definitely did not deserve the main event spot at wrestlemania (yes, a non-wrestler vs Bam Bam Bigelow went on last at the biggest show of the year), this was not a bad match by any means. Admittedly, the pace was a little bit slow, yet still a decent showing from the two nonetheless.
Unlike most celebrities who appear inside the squared circle, Lauren Taylor was a believable force in the ring, thanks to his size and NFL background, so seeing Bam Bam Bigelow being dropped by L.T’s shots was a convincing sight.
Purely for Taylor’s impressive efforts alone, this match definitely deserves a place on my list.
3. Big Show vs Floyd Mayweather: No Disqualification Match – Wrestlemania 24
This was less of a match, and more of a spectacle, more of a moment.
The build-up to this encounter was epic: it saw the return of Big Show, one of the most recognisable names in sport stepped into the ring, and even saw the giant having his nose broken.
On the night, the fur-clad Mayweather stormed to the ring sporting signs of his vast wealth, and surrounded by his entourage. Floyd really was one of the biggest active sports stars in the world at the time so his appearance was monumental, especially considering it wasn’t just a one-off in-ring segment, it was a highly promoted match at the biggest show of the year with plenty of build-up.
The match began with Mayweather using his superior speed to dodge Show’s barrage of strikes, that is until the big man finally got his hands on the money man, as well as some of his entourage. To everyone’s surprise, Floyd wasn’t afraid to take punishment from big bad Paul Wight, and sold it convincingly too, he even tried to leave the match because of how much abuse he was taking. After being dominated by the bigger man for most of the match, Money Mayweather managed to remain undefeated in the ring thanks to a low blow, multiple chair shots, and a punch aided by a golden knuckle duster.
Despite this match being the reason the KO Punch is being used as Big Show’s finisher (you can read my opinions about that move by clicking here and here), this is one instance of Show’s giant stature being booked perfectly, and is some of the big man’s best work in his entire career.
Not only is this one of the biggest high-profile appearances in wrestling history, it has got to be the best celebrity match of all time in my opinion.
2. Bill Alfonso vs Beulah McGillicutty – ECW: As Good As It Gets 1997
The story goes that back in 1997, Bill Alfonso, a manager employed by ECW at the time, was found by Paul Heyman to be in talks with WCW, which to Pauly was like communicating with the devil. Alfonso felt so bad for his deception that he stayed with ECW. Paul begrudgingly allowed him to do so…at a price. In order to keep his job, Alfonso, a man not trained in the art of professional wrestling, had to have a match, against Tommy Dreamer’s girlfriend, Beulah McGillicutty. Apart from appearing in some intergender tag matches, and had even managed to pull off a couple of moonsaults in those bouts, Beulah had no prior wrestling experience either.
On paper, this match sounds fucking terrible – a former referee that’s never had a one-on-one match facing a former model that also never had a one-on-one match. So why is it number 2 on my list? Well, this is some of the most brutal six and a half minutes you will ever see in wrestling. It’s actually one of my personal favourites because it’s so obvious that the two are putting everything they have into this masterpiece of a car crash, and judging by the amount of blood he lost and the punishment he endured, it’s fair to say that Alfonso definitely earned his job back. Paul Heyman has gone on record saying that this match is one of his favourites in ECW history because of how brutally bloody it is.
It may not be a technical masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, and it is completely void of any professional wrestlers, but it is an incredible piece of hardcore storytelling.
Stephen Amell 6-Man Tag Team Match: Summerslam 2015 – The match itself wasn’t all that special, and it wasn’t as high profile as some of the other matches featured on the list, but it definitely deserves a mention thanks to Amell’s athleticism and commitment to the match.
Mr T Tag Match: Wrestlemania – Although the in-ring quality wasn’t good enough to be included in the list, this match has to be mentioned due to its importance in the history of wrestling. This history tag team bout main-evented the first ever Wrestlemania, and without Mr T’s celebrity bringing mainstream interest into the WWF product at the time, wrestling may never have turned out to be as big as it is today.
- Vince McMahon vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 22
This top spot could have easily been taken by Big Vinny Mac’s encounters with his son Shane at Wrestlemania 17 and Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 19, but it’s his bout against Mr Wrestlemania himself that has clinched it. After all, it was the PWI Match of the Year in 2006, and considering one of the participants wasn’t a full-time wrestler, that is no small feat whatsoever.
Although he had a small amount of match experience under his belt, right next to his giant grapefruits, McMahon was still sixty years old at the time, and even if he was a full-time wrestler by trade, to be able to take such a catastrophic beating and put on such an entertaining display at the same time is extremely impressive at that age, regardless of experience.
Most of this match revolves around Vince getting his comeuppance, and enduring a bombardment of torture, yet that’s simply just Vince playing his role perfectly. With interferences from the Spirit Squad and the aforementioned fruit of Vinny’s supposedly gigantic loins, Shane O’Mac, the chairman certainly doesn’t try to beat the Heartbreak Kid alone, which leads to some fantastic moments. If you like seeing a fully grown man have his face shoved into his ageing father’s posterior, this is the match for you.
Of course this match isn’t a marvel of technical wrestling, but not everything we watch has to be. It is one of the most brutally entertaining matches we’ve seen in the last year, and was a fantastic end to an amazing feud. After everything he had been put through, watching Shawn sore from the top of that giant ladder onto the trash can-wearing McMahon was such a satisfying sight.
Not only is this my best match of all time to feature a non-wrestler, it’s one of the most entertaining Wrestlemania matches ever. When a performer is lacking in technical ability as Vince was, the match needs theatre in order to be interesting, something this bout is overflowing in, right down to Vince holding up the middle finger as he was being stretched up the ramp. If I re-made this list in twenty years from now, I’m sure this classic would still be holding onto that top spot.
Think I’ve missed something out? Let me know by tweeting @HairyWrestling, or leave a comment below.