Worlds Collide: Classic Moments in Football and Wrestling

Rob Gronkowski gets in on the action at WreslteMania 33
Image from WWE
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In honor of the “Big Game,” we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite instances where the worlds of football and wrestling collided.

Football and wrestling have been intertwined for decades. From one-off television appearances to members from both sides changing professions, to even being in the main event of WrestleMania, there have been many classic moments. 

Some of which include:

Rob Gronkowski’s WrestleMania Moment(s)

Gronk is no stranger to being on the biggest stage. The all-pro tight end has been to the Big Game five different times throughout his career, and this Sunday, this will be his sixth trip.

But how many can say they’ve also been a part of wrestling’s grandest stage?

In 2017, Gronk appeared on the WWE Wrestlemania 33 preshow, providing an assist for his good friend Mojo Rawley (also a former football player, but more on that later) in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Three years later, Gronk would sign a contract with WWE and appeared as the host of Wrestlemania 36, and won the 24/7 Championship on the second night of the event by pinning R-Truth.

The Grass is Greene-r

Celebrity involvement on a wrestling show is nothing new. Sometimes it’s as a guest host on a weekly show, other times it’s a cameo appearance on a pay-per-view event.

And sometimes, it’s to mix it up in the ring with some of the biggest names in the business.

Kevin Greene was an NFL Hall of Famer, champion, and lifelong wrestling fan. He loved it so much, he briefly pursued a career in it when his NFL schedule allowed. In the summer of 1996, Greene made appearances in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and even mixed it up in the ring with the likes of The Giant and the villainous stable, the nWo. While it may have been a little rough, and sure his move set was limited, he earned praise from his peers and the WCW front office for his commitment to his craft. He would later have to stop making appearances for WCW after signing a deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 1997, which included a “no wrestling” in the contract.

Privately, he had discussed a full-time jump to WCW when it became likely he would be cut by the 49ers, but ultimately, his wrestling career never truly came to fruition. In 1998, he signed with the Carolina Panthers and never looked back.

Go Clay Go

Days after winning it all, the Green Bay Packers appeared ringside during a taping of WWE Smackdown when it passed through town, all holding replica championship belts. Later on in the show, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews appeared as a special guest referee, helping Edge retain his World Heavyweight Championship in a match against Dolph Ziggler.

Bear Down Total Nonstop Action

Before it became known as Impact Wrestling, it was NWA – Total Nonstop Action (TNA for short), and before they had a weekly television show, they ran weekly pay-per-views. One show in particular, #79 to be precise, Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher made an appearance after being called out by former manager Don Callis and Jonny Fairplay (of Survivor fame), and proceeded to clear the ring.

Though he received a warm reception from the crowd, this would be his last appearance for the company. Reportedly, the Bears front office prohibited him from making any future appearances for fear of injury.

From Football’s Main Event To Wrestlemania

Last but not least, let’s take a trip back to back to 1995, where in the 11th WrestleMania, the main event was a singles match between Bam Bam Bigelow and NFL great Lawrence Taylor. While the match itself drew mixed reactions (reportedly, Taylor could barely stand up after the match was over), it did gain the company some mainstream press during a time when business was down.