Over the years, professional wrestling has proved to be an increasingly popular avenue for footballers – whether that be inside the ring, or simply as a spectator.
And whilst footballers cannot just simply set foot inside a wrestling ring and take part in a five-star match, the two sports do have a few things in common.
Firstly, the high fitness levels in both sets of athletes is comparable. As is the sheer will to put in a top-class performance every time they enter the ring or the field of play.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen various examples of footballers getting themselves involved in wrestling storylines, without actually being required to do any wrestling themselves.
Let’s take a look at four footballers who have appeared in wrestling:
When Manchester United defeated Preston North End 3-1 in an FA Cup tie in February 2015, some accused Wayne Rooney of diving to win a late penalty.
That the aftermath of this involved WWE, Stone Cold Steve Austin and even then-PNE striker Kevin Davies was something probably no-one was expecting.
That’s because Preston-born then-WWE star Wade Barrett questioned the penalty decision, and called out Rooney on Twitter.
That sparked some hilarious exchanges, including Rooney jokingly suggested pulling Stone Cold out of retirement and Barrett’s proposal of a tag match involving himself and Davies against Austin and the United striker. Imagine.
Of course, that never happened – but their ‘rivalry’ was rekindled when WWE travelled to the UK for their traditional November shows.
Rooney was in the stands for the Manchester edition of Raw, and after a brief exchange of words, slapped Barrett.
Cue Barrett heading to Old Trafford and posting this brilliant tweet:
The pair were on good terms outside of the ring though, with Barrett posting a photo on Twitter featuring himself, Sheamus and Cesaro with Rooney and ex-United team-mates Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs.
Upon his retirement from football in 2018, Norwich hero Grant Holt signed a professional wrestling contract with World Association of Wrestling (WAW).
Come September of that year, Holt had been entered into a 40-man Royal Rumble.
He arrived in the ring as the last entrant, much to the delight of the crowd in attendance.
After eliminating an opponent with a clothesline, he then dropkicked another over the top rope to claim the Crusher Mason Memorial Trophy.
He made his singles debut a few months later against Brad O’Brien. However, despite looking set to win the match by pinfall, he was then attacked by three other wrestlers.
Stuart Tomlinson was forced to retire from football in 2013 after a serious knee injury, and took up professional wrestling.
Starting off in the WWE Performance Center, Tomlinson took the ring name Hugo Knox.
He would go on to appear at an NXT live event the following year, and defeated Tye Dillinger – who later appeared on SmackDown – in a singles match.
Former Hoffenheim goalkeeper Tim Wiese retired from football at the age of 32 and was soon linked with a move to wrestling.
In June 2016, he accepted an offer from Triple H to train at the WWE Performance Center for what the WWE described as “an extended period“.
The German had a goal of being ready for the live events in his home nation at the beginning of November – and achieved that goal.
He appeared at the live show in Munich and teamed with Sheamus and Cesaro in a winning effort, showing off some good moves in the process.
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