Many of wrestling’s biggest moments have come from entertaining celebrity cameos. Who could forget Cyndi Lauper’s appearance at WWE’s first WrestleMania, managing Wendi Richter, who went on to regain the Women’s Championship that night? Or that time Jay Leno feuded with WCW’s Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff, and the latter duo tried to take over The Tonight Show?
Whether it was Aretha Franklin singing “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania 3, or the Muppets popping up backstage during a 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw, stars of different backgrounds have left their indelible mark on the squared circle — so much so, that WWE introduced a celebrity wing of its Hall of Fame with the 2004 induction of former MLB All-Star and manager Pete Rose.
We could talk until we’re blue in the face about all the stars who’ve dropped by for a fun-filled appearance, but we’d rather just narrow it down to those who went the extra mile and fought in the ring. With the focus on the top in-ring performers, that eliminates celebs like Snoop Dogg (who performed Sasha Banks’ theme at WrestleMania 24) and Muhammad Ali (who performed referee duties at WrestleMania 1).
Read on for our list of the best celebrity wrestlers of all time (in no particular order) and let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
The famed recording artist became the top streaming artist on Spotify, made history with the first all-Spanish album to top the Billboard 200 albums chart, won a Grammy, and then lived out his childhood dream of becoming a WWE wrestler. After a few short Raw appearances in 2021 — during which he won the 24/7 title — the musician teamed up with Damien Priest to fight The Miz and John Morrison at WrestleMania 37. He left a huge impression on fans and wrestlers alike with splashy moves throughout the match, like his crowd-pleasing Canadian Destroyer (watch video above). He’s had plenty more memorable in-ring moments since then, including showing up at Royal Rumble 2022 to eliminate Sheamus. It’s unclear if or when he’ll return to the ring, but he’ll likely be welcomed back with open arms.
The Jersey Shore star (aka Nicole Elizabeth LaValle) turned heads when she teamed up with John Morrison and Trish Stratus to face Dolph Ziggler and Lay-Cool at WrestleMania 27. A former all-star cheerleader, Snooki showed off her athletic skills in the ring with fun moves like a roundoff back handspring elbow and a cartwheel into a belly splash. Reflecting on the experience during AOL’s BUILD Series, the reality-TV vet revealed that she only had an hour of rehearsal the night before the big event. “They realized I picked up everything quickly because I’m a cheerleader [and] a gymnast,” she said. “They were like, ‘You could do flips? Awesome! Let’s throw this in.’”
Few celebrities can say they main-evented Wrestlemania like this NFL Hall of Famer. Although he didn’t have much training and was thrown into a match to sell tickets, the former New York Giants linebacker still impressed while competing against Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania 11. His daring move off the top rope alone (watch video above) was a gallant effort that put him above many other celeb fighters.
The Arrow star showed off stellar moves, including a heroic leap from the top rope, while teaming up with Neville to face Stardust (aka Cody Rhodes) and King Barrett at SummerSlam 2015. Amell returned to the ring in 2017, this time teaming up with the Rhodes’ Bullet Club to face SoCal Uncensored and Flip Gordon at Ring of Honor: Survival of the Fittest (where he put a man through a table!).
He made his singles match debut in 2019 at ROH’s All In, holding his own against legendary wrestler Christopher Daniels. After sustaining a fractured hip from that bout — forcing him to email Arrow EPs Greg Berlanti, Beth Schwartz and Marc Guggenheim ahead of a stunt-heavy Season 7 episode — he vowed to hang up his wrestling boots until the show ended. (Note: Arrow’s series finale aired in January 2020.)
Amell currently stars as Jack Spade in the wrestling drama Heels; Season 2 is expected to premiere on Starz sometime this year.
Rodman has accomplished many things, including five NBA championship wins and a pretty cool WCW stint. Making his debut on the March 10, 1997 edition of Nitro, he was inducted into the NWO after siding Hollywood Hulk Hogan. He went on to make several more appearances, even skipping NBA finals practices during the 1997-98 season. He eventually convinced fellow NBA star Karl Malone to join him in a match at the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view in 1998 (watch video above) — Rodman teamed with Hogan to face Malone and Diamond Dallas Page — where they both put up a pretty good fight. While Malone didn’t return ring, Rodman went on to feud with Randy Savage in 1999.
A key part of good wrestling is being believable, and that’s what Mike Tyson excelled at. Sure, he didn’t have the fancy moves like some of the others on this list, but his brawl with Stone Cold Steve Austin (watch video above) on a 1998 episode of Monday Night Raw felt like a real fight and remains one of the most iconic moments in WWE history. He even turned on Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14, and was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2012. The boxer most recently returned to wrestling in 2020, to feud with Chris Jericho on AEW: Dynamite.
The first WrestleMania was a huge risk for Vince McMahon, and it proved to be wildly successful, partly because of Mr. T’s involvement. Teaming up with Hulk Hogan in the main against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, the TV and film star proved to be just as captivating in the ring with seamless moves, including back-to-back body slams. He spent the next year building up an iconic feud with Piper that peaked with a highly anticipated boxing match at WrestleMania 2. His WWE legacy was cemented in 2014, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Arquette’s short-lived WCW Championship reign in 2000 is considered one of the worst moments in professional wrestling, but the issue was never his in-ring talent. The actor trained with wrestlers Chris Kanyon, Diamond Dallas Page and Shane Helms (aka WWE’s The Hurricane) for his starring role in the 2000 film Ready to Rumble, and learned to be a decent wrestler. (He even took a mean bump through a table from Randy Orton on a 2010 episode on Monday Night Raw.)
Still, Arquette’s sullied wrestling reputation followed him for years, and he returned to the ring in 2018 to prove his naysayers wrong — a journey documented in the 2020 film You Cannot Kill David Arquette. Although his brutal deathmatch against Nick Gage was horrific (and nearly cost him his life), his efforts on the indie circuit, including a well-executed match against AEW’s Jungle Boy (watch video above), deserves major props.
The YouTube star trained with both The Miz and Shane Helms before making his in-ring debut at last year’s WrestleMania 38. “He has exceeded the bar every step of the way,” the Miz said. “This kid is on another level.” Paul also impressed fans and Paul Levesque (WWE’s Head of Creative), who put him in the main event of last December’s Crown Jewel pay-per-view against reigning champion Roman Reigns. After holding his own against the company’s top performer, the social media prankster again sent fans into a tizzy at Royal Rumble 2023 thanks to this jaw-dropping mid-air collision with Richocet (watch video above). He’s only getting started, but the celeb-turned-wrestler has already proven that he’s the real deal.