In honor of WrestleMania 33, members of the PTBN Staff has gathered to create a series of 33 lists, all dedicated to the rich history of WWE’s grandest spectacle. Each contributor assigned a ranking of 1-10 and votes were tallied accordingly. We will be releasing one list per day, with the final list to be posted on April 1, 2017, the day prior to WrestleMania 33! Be sure to share your feedback with us on social media! You can view the complete series here!
Day Ten: Best WrestleMania Sports Celebrity Performances
Others Getting Votes: Bill Fralic – WM2 (13), Joe Frazier – WM2 (10), Billy Martin – WMI (9), Shaquille O’Neal – WM32 (9), Mr. T – WMI & WM2 (7), Russ Francis – WM2 (6), Tommy Lasorda – WM2 (6), George Steinbrenner – WMVII (6), Chuck Wepner – WMXV (2), Dick Butkus – WM2 (1), Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders – WM 32 (1)
10. Butterbean – WrestleMania XV (21 Points)
Highest Ranking: #5 (Tim Capel & Chris Jordan)
In late 1997, boxing super heavyweight Butterbean signed a two PPV deal with the WWF. After wrestling Marc Mero in December of that year, The Bean was put on ice for over a year. After Bart Gunn shocked the wrestling world by winning the ill-fated Brawl For All competition in the summer of 1998, it was decided that Gunn would go toe-to-toe with the professional slugger at WrestleMania XV. It was a bad idea. Butterbean knocked Gunn into unconsciousness within the first minute after a soul crushing right hand on the second knockdown of the young bout. It was a memorable showing and the live reaction to the final knockout blow is an underrated WrestleMania moment.
9. Lawrence Taylor’s All Pro Team – WrestleMania XI (22 Points)
Highest Ranking: #4 (Steven Ferrari)
As Lawrence Taylor prepared to make his pro wrestling debut against Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI, it was quite clear that he better come prepared with backup to combat Ted DiBiase’s Corporation. Enter the All Pro Team. Taylor assembled a cadre of current and former players to come together and watch his back in Hartford that night. The excitement and energy the All Pro Team brought to the build and events that night can’t be understated as a part of why the match worked so well. Plus, it gave us Steve McMichael and Kama brawling on Raw.
8. Ronda Rousey – WrestleMania 31 (33 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Scott Criscuolo & Steven Ferrari)
At the time of WrestleMania 31, Ronda Rousey’s star was one the brightest there was in all of sports. Still undefeated and reigning as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Rousey, a notorious wrestling fan, found herself front row at the biggest event of the year. And then she found herself in the ring alongside The Rock in a showdown with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. The segment ended with Rousey trapping Stephanie in an armbar before taking down The Game and planting many seeds about a future for Rowdy Ronda in WWE.
7. Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I (35 Points)
Highest Ranking: #4 (Chris Jordan & Steve Riddle)
With so many combustible elements at play in the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania, the decision was made to bring in an additional troubleshooting referee to keep things under control from outside the ring. Enter The Greatest. Muhammad Ali took his perch at ringside but was quite active during the bout, taking his job very seriously and adding even more legitimacy to the spectacle as it unfolded. It was a huge get that only helped cement the progress the WWF made that afternoon in MSG.
6. William “Refrigerator” Perry – WrestleMania 2 (47 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Glenn Butler)
In trying to up the ante for WrestleMania 2, the WWF doubled down on the celebrities and stars and integrated them fully into the show even more so than a year earlier. A big part of the draw was a battle royal in Chicago featuring WWF superstars and NFL all pros going at it to determine who was the best pro athlete. And if you are in Chicago in 1986… there was one name you had to have as part of your show: The Fridge. Hot off a Super Bowl title (and touchdown), the Fridge was one of the standouts in the match. After a great showdown with Big John Studd, his night ended, but the image of their battle is one of the most iconic in WWF history.
5. Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III & IV (49 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Glenn Butler, Mike Eller & Brian Bayless)
More legendary for his work off the field than on, Bob Uecker was a perfect personality to add into the broadcast team mix in 1987 and 1988. From his on air tussles with Jesse Ventura to his stalking of Vanna White to his all time classic interview of Andre the Giant, The Uek is one of the most beloved and iconic celebrities to ever show up at WrestleMania.
4. Floyd Mayweather – WrestleMania XXIV (52 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Jason Greenhouse)
If any professional athlete in 2008 was a match made in heaven for a WrestleMania bout, it was Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Brash and unbeatable, Mayweather was always open to anything that line his pockets with tons of cash. Enter Vince McMahon. Initially positioned as a face against the slimmed down but mammoth Big Show, it was quickly clear that WWE fans wanted to boo Money just like everyone else. Things were made more ambiguous and it all crested just in time for one of the best celebrity matches in wrestling history. Show would take a brass knux aided KO punch but the well designed match was filled with such strong mayhem and picture perfect storytelling that Money was an easy choice for this list.
3. Lawrence Taylor – WrestleMania XI (60 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Neil Trama & Brian Bayless)
With their popularity sagging and a WrestleMania set to be held in the tiny old Hartford Civic Center, the WWF felt it needed a big time hook to make 1995’s event a draw. So, they turned to local legend Lawrence Taylor to run a three month angle with bruising heel Bam Bam Bigelow with the culmination to happen in the Main Event. Taylor threw himself into the project, training hard and doing his part of the promotion. The hard work showed in Hartford as he and Bigelow shocked many fans and pundits by putting a near perfect celebrity match. Taylor won and while the new eyeballs that had tuned in may have not stuck around, he did his part in creating a buzz for a product that had lost it long ago.
2. Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV (78 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Neil Trama, Tim Capel, Steven Ferrari, Chris Jordan, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
Iron Mike Tyson. The man that helped turn the WWF around in 1998 checks in at #2 on our list. For most of 1997, the WWF product was red hot but it didn’t quite have the eyeballs on the product. They needed the match to light the fire… and Tyson was a blowtorch. From his first in ring appearance on Raw where he got into a shoving match with Steve Austin, Tyson was all in. Whether it was as part of DX or when he revealed that it was all a rouse in counting the fall for Austin, Tyson was a major catalyst for the spike in ratings and success that would follow WrestleMania.
1. Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV, XV & XVI (83 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Scott Criscuolo & Mike Eller)
Pete Rose tops our list on the back of his three consecutive memorable WrestleMania appearance, all of which included run-ins with Kane. In 1998, Rose was the guest ring announcer for Kane’s match with Undertaker but got things started by trolling the Boston crowd with some fantastically delivered Bill Buckner jokes. He paid the price though, as Kane leveled him with a chokeslam. The next two years he reemerged, each time sneaking up on Kane looking for revenge. And each time he was laid to waste, with even more insult coming in 2000 when he was force fed a Rikishi stink face. Always the gamer on the diamond, Rose kept up that reputation during his turn with WWE, he was always up for anything, no matter how humiliating it was.