Of all the celebrity cameos in professional wrestling, football players work the best, not least because they look the part. Their physiques often match up to the guys in the ring, and so when they get involved it doesn’t look quite as silly as, say, Jon Stewart helping Seth Rollins retain the world championship.
Plenty of wrestling fans hate almost all celebrity cameos, but I think ones by football players generally work. They are among the most memorable. There’s the WrestleMania 2 battle royal, which featured William “Refrigerator” Perry eliminating Big John Studd. Lawrence Taylor actually headlined WrestleMania XI against Bam Bam Bigelow. One time I was at WCW Nitro as a teenager and the fans taunted the Eagles’ offensive line with the gesture for an offensive holding penalty. Not really a cameo—but memorable nonetheless.
Okay, nothing involving a football player was a five-star classic. But aside from Pete Rose’s long-running feud with Kane, what’s better? You’re either getting football players or you’re getting Gennifer Flowers.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was another successful celebrity cameo this year. At WrestleMania, he helped Mojo Rawley win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, getting beer thrown on him by the villainous Jinder Mahal before entering the ring and taking him down. (Sadly, the Patriots reportedly had no problem with Gronk’s cameo.)
Last night, SmackDown was in Boston and Gronk was again in the front row. During a match, Mahal came out to talk trash with Gronk. Rawley shoved Mahal into the barricade. “You want to throw a drink at me, big boy?” Gronkowski yelled before tossing his beer onto Mahal.
(You’ll note Gronk’s friend recently traveled through time to a Hot Topic in the early 2000s to buy that “How to pick up chicks” shirt.)
Mahal, for his part, sold it as if Gronk had thrown sulfuric acid on him. Back in the ring, Rawley hit a running punch on a beer-soaked Mahal and got the three. He dove into the crowd afterwards to celebrate.
Honestly, can Gronkowski throw beer at Jinder Mahal every time WWE is in Boston? It’d make for a good running gag.