It hasn’t been uncommon to see a celebrity of some sort appear or even compete inside a wrestling ring. Celebrities from all avenues of entertainment have been used in a match whether it has been on a Wrestlemania or other big show. Countless stars from movies, TV, comedy, music, sports and even politics have been involved in professional wrestling for a very long time. For some, it was just a pay day to promote a show, movie or album…but for other famous names, they were actually fans of the wrestling business themselves. Today on the blog, we take a look at some of pro wrestling’s most famous fans.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was a life long wrestling fan. At a young age, he met wrestler ‘Gorgeous Geroge’ whom Ali modeled his own personality after. Ali once was quoted as saying…“When I was 9, I saw a wrestler on television named Gorgeous George. He said, “I’m beautiful. I’m so pretty that if a sucker touches my face, I’ll kill him. If he messes with my hair, I’ll pummel him.” I said to myself, “That’s a good idea. I am the greatest, I’m pretty.” And then I took it a little further than he did.” Ali would step in the ring with the likes of Gorilla Monsoon and Antonio Inoki and was a guest referee at the inaugural Wrestlemania.
Bob Dylan grew up watching professional wrestling as a kid and as an upstart musician. He remembered watching Gorgeous George at a wrestling show and said this about the experience….
“Gorgeous George roared in like the storm for a match, his blond curls flowing, his eyes flashing with moonshine.”
Gorgeous George threw the young musician a wink and seemed to mouth the phrase, “You’re making it come alive.” “That was all the recognition and encouragement I would need for years to come.”
‘Blondie’ singer Debbie Harry was also a big wrestling fan who would wear wrestling T shirts at her concerts before wrestling tees were a big thing. She also hung out backstage at wrestling events with many wrestlers and personalities like Captain Lou Albano.
Comedian and actor Andy Kaufman loved professional wrestling very much. It led Kaufman to try and become a part of the act himself as a heel down in the Memphis territory where he feuded with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. He also starred in a Broadway play about pro wrestling in 1983 called ‘Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap’ along with fellow fan Debbie Harry.
Elvis Presley was a bigtime wrestling fan who would often hang out backstage to watch wrestling shows because he was too popular and recognizable. His favorite wrestler was a man named ‘Treacherous’ Treach Phillips and Elvis even dated wrestler Penny Banner early on. Jerry Lawler also revealed that there were plans on Elvis entering the squared circle to wrestle against him in a karate vs wrestling match in 1977 before Elvis passed away.
Comedian Groucho Marx was a wrestling fan, who often had wrestlers like Haystack Calhoun and Judy Grable on his show ‘You Bet Your Life.’
The Beatles became wrestling fans in the early 1960’s when British Wrestling exploded and became quite popular. They hung out with various wrestlers at concerts and events including the ever popular tag team of the Royals…Bert and Vic.
Sylvester Stallone is an avid supporter of pro wrestling. He was used a variety of wrestlers in his movies including Hulk Hogan and Terry Funk and also auditioned Kerry Von Eric and Nikita Koloff to be in his films.
Former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant had attended a few WWF shows when the promotion was on tour in the United Kingdom. In particular, Plant and his son Logan were at Summerslam at Wembley Stadium in 1992.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was introduced to pro wrestling after becoming friends with the late, great Bruno Sammartino. Schwarzenegger has attended WWE shows and has been involved in some angles on television.
Macaulay Culkin has been regularly attending shows for years. As a popular child actor, he and his brother would often be seen ringside at WWF shows. As Culkin became older, he became quite critical of WWE and how they book matches. He even offered to become a consultant in WWE, but was turned down. Culkin still attends independent shows and has even entered the ring and wrestled a bit.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is not only a big supporter of pro wrestling, but has also attended several events from different promotions and even uses certain wrestling gestures during his touchdown celebrations.
Former adult film star Tom Byron has been around pro wrestling for a number of years. His best friend is former porn company owner and XPW promoter Rob Black. Byron has attended several ECW and XPW events and has also been friends with the likes of Big Dick Dudley, Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer and Justin Credible. He has also worked behind the scenes for XPW in their video editing department.
Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara
Actors and real life married couple Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara have been spotted at several wrestling events in the Los Angeles, California area. Most notably, PWG aka Pro Wrestling Guerrilla shows.
Speaking of Sofia Vergara…her ‘Modern Family’ co star Eric Stonestreet is also a big wrestling fan. He’s attended several WWE shows and happens to be personal friends and business partners with Brock Lesnar.
Rapper, actor and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg is not only a big wrestling fan having participated in ring for both WWE and AEW, but his cousin just so happens to be WWE star Sasha Banks as well.
Both the 39th President of the United States Jimmy Carter and his mother Lillian were huge pro wrestling fans. They would often watch Georgia Championship Wrestling with one of their favorite wrestlers being Mr. Wrestling II. The wrestler was even invited to Jimmy Carter’s presidential inauguration, but turned the invite down when secret service demanded he have to unmask at the event.
The 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt was known to practice Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling in the White House’s Oval Office. Roosevelt was a big pro wrestling fan with his favorite wrestler being the ‘Russian Lion’ Georg Hackenschmidt. In fact, Roosevelt was once quoted as saying…“If I weren’t President, I’d want to be George Hackenschmidt”
Actress Danielle Fishel first fell in love with pro wrestling at 16 years old, when Vader was a guest on her show ‘Boy Meets World.’ She remained a fan ever since, often attending shows and expressing her desire to become a manager of wrestlers one day.
‘The Great One’ Jackie Gleason certainly had a great appreciation for pro wrestling. He would portray a wrestler in a sketch on his TV show that also involved wrestlers like Arnold Skaaland, Lou Albano and Skull Murphy. Gleason would have wrestler John Heidemann on his show numerous times. Gleason also did a publicity angle with Harley Race in Miami. Jackie Gleason refused to shake Race’s hand and then Race started badmouthing Gleason which led Gleason to punch Harley in the face. It is also rumored that Gleason convinced the director of the movie ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’ to cast wrestler Haystack Calhoun for a role in the film.
Iconic television host Regis Philbin was a huge wrestling fan who often had wrestlers as guests on his numerous shows. Phibin interviewed the likes of Freddie Blassie to The Destroyer, to Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin.
Hall of Fame baseball player Wade Boggs was a big wrestling fan. So much so, he was good friends with the late, Curt Hennig. Boggs would often be seen at various events.
Adult film star Kendra Lust not only is a fan of wrestling, she also has become quite friendly with several wrestlers including Dana Brooke, Dolph Ziggler, Karl Anderson and Bill Goldberg. She is admittedly a huge fan of the Nature Boy Ric Flair and she has often gave predictions of pay per view shows on podcasts and on radio shows.
Rapper Wale considers himself to be “Hip Hop’s number 1 wrestling fan.” He has written, produced and performed songs that have a lot of wrestlers names in the lyrics. Wale has appeared at several WWE shows and written theme music for NXT 2.0. He also has shown up to various indie promotions and has considered starting his very own independent wresting promotion. Wale said his fandom started at a young age watching WWF on television on Sunday mornings because he as he said…’My family didn’t have cable and that was the best thing on at the time.’ His appreciation for pro wrestling just grew more and more as he got older.
Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal is not only a fan of pro wrestling…he has often appeared in storylines and matches for various companies including WCW, WWE and AEW.
Academy award winning actor Matthew McConaughey revealed that he has been a wrestling fan since he was eight years old. He admitted once getting kicked out of a wrestling show years ago, for spitting on King Kong Bundy. His current favorite wrestler is Drew McIntyre, but says his all time favorite wrestler is ‘Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
The Stone Sour and Slipknot vocalist has attended WWE and NXT shows in the past. He has even gotten physical in an angle by slapping Baron Corbin during a match. Taylor has used Chris Jericho, Corey Graves and Corbin in cameo roles for a music video as well.
TV host and actress Maria Menounos is big WWE fan. She was worked with the company on several projects. She has been used as a presenter and interviewer on shows and even wrestled a match or two herself. Menounos has also been spotted ringside attending WWE events that she wasn’t personally involved with.
We all know that the famed pianist Liberace was the guest timekeeper at the very first Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in 1985. Liberace’s wrestling roots go deeper and farther than that one time appearance. Liberace said that he and his mother used to watch professional wrestling on TV as a young man and that wrestling was a way to bond with each other.
Liberace also claimed that Gorgeous George once sent his family a lavender turkey for Thanksgiving one year.
There are countless other celebrities from different forms of entertainment that are or were fans of the business. For instance, actor and former WCW world champion David Arquette continues to support wrestling by appearing and at times wrestling at shows. Actor Freddie Prinze Jr and guitarist Bob Mould would become creative writers for WWE and WCW respectively. Singers Billy Corgan and Toby Keith would not only be fans, but also become financial backers for different wrestling promotions.