The Best and Worst Celebrity Guests in WrestleMania History
Celebrities have been a tradition for a quarter of a century at WrestleMania. Sometimes the results of the celebrity appearance turn out a little better than others. Here’s a list of the worst and best WrestleMania celebrities:
10. Alex Trebek – Guest Interviewer, WrestleMania VII
The Canadian quizmaster held his own at WrestleMania VII. As Gene Okerlund was emceeing a backstage segment, he introduced “Jeopardy’s own Alex Trudeau, er, Trebek”, who he claimed was his longtime friend. Without batting an eye, Trebek called his “friend” Gene “Jim”. Later on, he got to interview Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and feigned terror in the presence of Jake’s python Damien.
9. Willie Nelson – Musical Guest, WrestleMania VII
The tradition of singing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania goes all the way back to the second edition, where Ray charles belted his world-famous version of it. Since then, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Reba McEntire, Little Richard, Boyz II Men, Ashanti, John Legend, Michelle Williams, some chick from the Pussycat Dolls, and Jake The Snake’s sister have all turned in their own renditions. When Willie Nelson was approached with the task, he did it his way. The Red-headed stranger decided instead to sing “God Bless America”, and did so with Willie’s inimitable style.
8. Cab Calloway – Boxing Judge, Wrestlemania 2
It’s Cab Calloway. At WrestleMania. Really. That actually happened. Try and wrap your head around that one. Cab fucking Calloway.
7. Burt Reynolds – Guest Ring Announcer, WrestleMania X
Burt’s role was to introduce the night’s main event. He walked down the aisle to the ring with guest timekeeper Jennie Garth, which seemed like a difficult task for both. He then proceeded to fumble with the cue cards due to his injured hand, blatantly read everything from the card (including “I’m a huge fan of his” and “in my opinion”) right before fumbling the name “Rod-dy Piper”. I don’t know if he was drunk or hopped up on pain meds for his hand, but whatever it was, it was great for about 5 minutes of trainwreck entertainment.
6. Muhammad Ali – Referee, WrestleMania
Sure, it had Mr. T, Liberace, Billy Martin, and Cyndi Lauper; but nothing legitimized the first WrestleMania like having arguably the most famous living person in the world in a major role in the main event. Ali served as the second “enforcer” referee outside the ring (a role that Mike Tyson would go on to perform thirteen years later), getting involved in an altercation with “Ace” Bob Orton along the way to helping to ensure that justice was served.
5. Lawrence Taylor – Wrestler, WrestleMania XI
When Giants Linebacker LT got involved in a shoving match with Bam Bam Bigelow at the 1995 Royal Rumble, it made headlines. For the first time, the term “Sportscenter Moment” was extended to a WWF event. The build between the Beast from the East and the future Football Hall of Famer was well done, and led to a match that received so much mainstream publicity that it was made the main event of the night. The match itself was surprisingly good considering the participants, despite concerns from within that it made the WWF’s stars look weak. But the bottom line is this: Taylor may have singlehandedly kept the WWF from going out of business in 1995, so that counts for something.
4. Morton Downey, Jr. – Guest on Piper’s Pit, WrestleMania V
If you don’t know who Morton Downey, Jr. was, I assure you he was no relation to the guy who plays Tony Stark. Downey was a loud-mouthed, chain-smoking talk show host who helped to usher in both Jerry Springers and Rush Limbaughs of the world. In 1989, he was at the top of his game, and appeared in a memorable skit in the ring with Brother Love and Rowdy Roddy Piper, where he repeatedly blew smoke in “The Rowdy One”’s face until he received a face full of fire extinguisher for his troubles.
3. Mr. T – Competitor, WrestleMania & WrestleMania 2
Mr. T was one of the most involved celebs in WWF history, to the point that it’s almost unfair to call him a “special guest”. He and Hogan had been appearing at regular WWF events together for months, and were part of the major promotional blitz, hitting the talk show circuit and even hosting Saturday Night Live together just hours before teaming up in the main event against villains Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. The heroes reigned triumphant, but T wasn’t done with his time in the WWF. A year later, he returned to face Piper one-on-one in a boxing match, which he won by disqualification. Mr. T holds the distinction of being 2-0 at WrestleMania, giving him one of the best won-loss records in WrestleMania history.
2. Bob Uecker – Interviewer, Commentator, Ring Announcer, WrestleMania III & IV
Uecker earned his way into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame this year, and it’s mainly based on one performance. If nothing else, his one segment interviewing Andre The Giant alone puts him on this list. The sight of Andre’s colossal hand on Uecker’s shoulder (which Uecker called his foot) and the subsequent throttling received by Mr. Baseball is the stuff video packages were made for. Their interaction was one of the most memorable moments of an enormous Mania, which led to Uecker getting the call back for a second go-round in 1988.
1. Pete Rose – Various Roles, WrestleManias 14, 15, 16
Despite a wretched performance on the Pre-WrestleMania edition of Monday Night Raw in 2010, Pete tops the best list because of the role he played in three straight Manias around the turn of the Millennium. The WWF was under heavy scrutiny following the 1997 “Montreal Screwjob”, so the idea behind the celebs at WM14 was that they were all people who had been publicly disgraced. Pete Rose came out as a guest ring announcer for the epic Kane vs. Undertaker showdown, and ran down the Boston Red Sox’s infamous 1986 World Series performance. After a well-placed Bill Buckner rib, Kane came to ringside and tombstoned Charlie Hustle for his efforts. The following year, he dressed up as the San Diego Chicken and tried to gain revenge on the Big Red Machine, but was again tombstoned. In 2000, Rose sent out a decoy chicken to distract Kane so he could come after him with a baseball bat, but this time got a tombstone and a Rikishi stink face.
In 2004, Rose was honored as the first entry into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Who inducted the ballplayer? None other than Glen “Kane” Jacobs, the man who delivered three straight humiliations to Pete at Mania.
Honorable Mentions: Snoop Dogg (Emcee – WM24), Cyndi Lauper (Valet – WM1), Joan Rivers (Announcer – WM2), Mickey Rourke (Attendee – WM25), Eric “Butterbean” Esch (Competitor – WM15), Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (competitor – WM24), Motörhead (Performer – WM17 & WM21), Run-D.M.C. (Performer – WM5)
10. Kim Kardashian – Hostess, WrestleMania XXIV
Kardashian is famous for having a big ass and a sex tape. Otherwise, she has proven herself to be more or less useless. Her vapid lack of charisma was put to use to announce the night’s attendance and interview such notables as Mr. Kennedy.
9. John Menick – Guest time keeper at WrestleMania 2
Who the hell is John Menick, you ask? Well, if you remember the fast food wars of the early 1980s, then you probably remember the plight of “Herb”, the man who had never tried a Whopper. Yes, Virginia, there was a period in time where burger joint commercials could make pseudo-celebrities out of old ladies yelling “where’s the beef?” and skinny nerdy dudes. Herb got to reap the benefit of his 15 minutes of fame by ringing a bell at Mania 2.
8. Clara Peller – Guest time keeper at WrestleMania 2
See the last entry. Peller was the aforementioned “Where’s the Beef” lady. I think she was technically legally dead by the time Mania 2 rolled around.
7. Jonathan Taylor Thomas – Guest Time Keeper, WrestleMania XI
Yes, that kid from Home Improvement got to participate in WrestleMania 11 at a mere 13 years old. You’ll notice a lot of people on the “worst list” fill the role of Guest time keeper, because it’s about as useless a role as one can fill.
6. Ozzy Osbourne – Valet, WrestleMania 2
Mania 2 had a ton of celebrities of varying degrees of greatness. One would think Ozzy being there would be topping a list of goodness, but this was 1986, and Osbourne was so messed up on whatever the hell he was on that he did nothing more than stand there shaking as the British Bulldogs faced the Dream team for the WWF Tag Team Titles. Ozzy’s shaking became so noticeable that announcer Gene Okerlund was forced to acknowledge it at one point.
5. Limp Bizkit – Musical Guest, WrestleMania XIX
Not only did we have to hear the acme of crappy nu-metal bands perform “Crack Addict” (the actual title song WWE chose to be the event’s theme), they got to come out a second time to do “Rollin’”, the Undertaker’s theme at the time.
4. Nicholas Turturro – Guest Announcer, WrestleMania XI
If this were John Turturro, it’d probably be on the ten best list. Unfortunately, it was his little brother Nick, who is pretty much only known from NYPD Blue. Turturro was spastic and annoying and altogether useless in his Mania role, conducting one of the most ridiculous interview segments with Sycho Sid in history — which, if you’ve ever heard a Sid promo, you know that’s saying a lot.
3. Kid Rock – Musical Guest, WrestleMania XXV
Kid Rock’s performance was pretty awful unto itself, but the fact that his medley of craptacularness took up so much time that it bumped the Colons vs. Miz & Morrison match from the Pay-Per-View and downplayed all of the returning “divas” for the battle royale he was there to promote was the real sin here.
2. Rhonda Shear – Guest time keeper at WrestleMania X
Do you remember Rhonda Shear? I’m going to guess the answer is no. If you’re reading this and you do, it’s probably because you remember the commercials for USA Up All Night during WWF programming in the early 1990s. The big-haired blonde had won beauty pageants and worked as a comedian but was largely forgotten in popular culture by the time the main event of WrestleMania X was done. The real crime here is that Shear got to appear at Mania, while her predecessor, Gilbert Gottfried, never had the chance.
1. Susan St. James – Guest commentator at WrestleMania 2
Really? Kate from Kate & Allie? Did the WWF think that having her as a guest would put a single butt in a seat? Possibly, but I’m sure the main reason she was there was because of her marriage to Dick Ebersol, President of NBC Sports. Regardless, she knew nothing about wrestling, and the fact that she was paired with Vince McMahon, a horrible announcer himself, made matters even worse. Mrs. Ebersol helped to render one third of WrestleMania 2 almost completely unwatchable.
Dishonorable Mentions: Cathy Lee Crosby (Commentator – WM2), Gennifer Flowers (Announcer, WM14), Marla Maples (Timekeeper – WM7), Regis Philbin (Commentator – WM7), Steve McMichael (Valet, WM11)
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