The four-time NBA champion went head to head with AEW star/Vice President Cody Rhodes in a mixed-tag match. AEW women’s wrestler Red Velvet teamed with Rhodes while Jade Cargill made her in-ring debut as Shaq’s partner.
Despite initial criticism after the match’s announcement, Shaq’s first time in the squared circle produced one of pro wrestling’s most entertaining moments featuring a non-wrestling mainstream personality. His charisma and massive size helped Shaq look natural; if he wanted to, he could become AEW’s biggest celebrity attraction.
Unfortunately, there have been other celebrities who haven’t had the same breakout performance as Shaq. Their time in the ring was either an awkward mess that failed to draw the reactions that the people in upper management thought they would or an ill-advised booking decision that hurt professional wrestling’s already negative perception of being considered a legitimate sport.
Here are some celebrities that never should’ve stepped foot in a wrestling ring.
LaVar Ball’s obnoxious antics during his son Lonzo Ball’s NBA rookie season made headlines for all the wrong reasons. His arrogant praise of his son’s talents caused issues with players, coaches, and analysts who felt Lonzo wasn’t the player his proud papa made him out to be. Looking to capitalize on the heat Lavar received as a real-life heel, WWE invited the Ball family to appear as guests on an episode of Monday Night Raw in June 2017.
LaVar, Lonzo, and LaMelo Ball appeared with The Miz and his wife Maryse during a MizTV segment. Many assumed that LaVar’s over-the-top temperament would mesh perfectly with the larger-than-life personas that inhabit WWE. But this trainwreck celebrity moment consisted of LaMelo dropping the n-bomb on live television and LaVar’s unnecessary overacting and shirt removal.
WWE often enlists celebrities to help promote their marquee events like Wrestlemania. In 2015, they made comedian Jon Stewart guest host of their Summerslam pay-per-view. Stewart’s wrestling fandom and organic sense of humor made him a great host until he got involved in the championship match between Seth Rollins and John Cena.
Stewart hit his “good friend” John Cena with a steel chair so that he couldn’t break Ric Flair’s record of being a 16-time world champion. Not only was the kayfabe reason behind Stewart’s involvement completely ridiculous, but WWE’s overutilization of Stewart in this capacity wasn’t wanted nor needed.
One of the biggest head-scratchers in pop culture history is the marriage between pop icon Britney Spears and former backup dancer turned house husband Kevin Federline. But his rivalry with John Cena in 2007 is something wrestling fans are still pondering to this day.
Federline’s WWE appearance felt like a white guy who thought he was Black picked a fight with a professional wrestler in a 7-Eleven parking lot. His victory over John Cena on an episode of Monday Night Raw is a booking decision that still warrants scrutiny. Having a D-list celebrity beat their biggest star gave the mainstream the impression that WWE superstars may not be the tough guys people think they are after all.
Celebrities will agree to guest appear on WWE programming even if they aren’t familiar with the company or professional wrestling. They’re a global brand with millions of fans, so using their platform to promote an upcoming project is the best kind of publicity. However, Jeremy Piven’s role as a guest host on the August 3rd episode of Monday Night Raw proved a little knowledge goes a long way.
Piven and his The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard castmate Dr. Ken Jeong’s awkward WWE spot saw them play a little too hard to the crowd. Piven also famously flubbed his line referring to WWE’s SummerSlam as “SummerFest.” His dive off the top rope into the arms of John Cena was a photo-worthy moment, but Piven’s SummerFest blooper highlights WWE’s desperation for mainstream attention during its guest host era.
Drew Carey is one of the most beloved figures in television history. He delighted millions with his brand of wholesome entertainment as the star of his TV series The Drew Carey Show and as the host of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Price Is Right?. But Drew’s likability didn’t register with the WWE Superstars at 2001’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
After being placed in the Royal Rumble match by a spiteful Vince McMahon, Drew almost suffered a Chokeslam to Hell from Kane. But Drew eliminated himself before Kane could get the chance to finish the job. Carey’s spot in the Rumble match is an entertaining celebrity moment, but his place should have gone to a wrestler who would’ve benefited more from the opportunity.
At one point, WCW reigned supreme in pro wrestling. The popularity of the NWO stable infiltrated pop culture, and celebrities like NBA stars Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone and rapper Master P indulged in the hysteria surrounding wrestling at the time. One celebrity whose appearance had people talking for more bad than good reasons was David Arquette.
To promote the film Ready to Rumble starring Arquette, Scott Caan, and various WCW stars, the company decided to make David Arquette its world champion. WCW received the coverage it was seeking from popular entertainment outlets, but it came at the expense of its most prestigious title.
Arquette getting involved without winning the title would’ve been accepted by fans. But the decision to do so still leaves a bad taste in many fans and pro wrestling luminaries’ mouths.
WCW looked for anything to boost its ratings once WWE finally started to win the Monday Night Wars. They used celebrity appearances to enhance their shows but suddenly became dependent on them as the company’s popularity declined. Having The Tonight Show host Jay Leno wrestle in a match is an example of said dependency.
Leno tagged with WCW star Diamond Dallas Page to take on Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff at 1998’s Road Wild pay per view. The comedian managed to secure the win for his team, but Hogan overselling a wrist lock from an unathletic Jay Leno showcased the lengths WCW were willing to go to regain ground after losing their number one spot.
If WWE could go back in time and not have Donald Trump involved in Wrestlemania 23, they probably would make the same decision to include him. The McMahons’ solid relationship with the former president is public knowledge, as Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, was Trump’s Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Trump himself is a member of WWE’s celebrity Hall of Fame.
Donald Trump’s billion-dollar on-screen feud with Vince McMahon saw WWE try to make the twice impeached former president a fan favorite, but WWE fans didn’t buy into it. Despite his pandering to the crowd and Wrestlemania win that resulted in McMahon having to shave his head, the crowd’s response to Trump was simple foreshadowing.
The only upside to watching Trump’s WWE appearance is him eating a Stunner courtesy of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Did we leave out a celebrity you wished didn’t step foot in the ring?
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Original posted at www.popdust.com