0 of 5
Of the many matches slated to take place on the two nights of WWE WrestleMania 37, The Miz vs. Bad Bunny has the best chance of being the biggest sleeper contest of the weekend.
The build to the bout has been all over the place over the last two months, but the effort has been apparent from everyone involved, specifically from the singer. He went from being someone who was largely unknown by the WWE Universe to a fan favorite, if only because of the dedication he’s shown to the business.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider’s report in February indicated that he was willing to learn at the Performance Center and take his in-ring debut seriously. That’s more than can be said for most celebrities WWE brings in solely to make mainstream headlines for a day.
That’s obviously part of it with Bad Bunny as well seeing as how he performed at the Grammys and even brought the 24/7 Championship with him to Saturday Night Live. However, he’s a genuine fan of the product and is bound to go all out come Saturday.
A tag team bout also involving Damian Priest and John Morrison would have been ideal, but The Miz vs. Bad Bunny in a straight-up singles match should be a spectacle, if nothing else.
The same can be said for these other celebrity matches from years past that exceeded expectations and left their mark on WrestleMania history.
1 of 5
The first few years of WrestleMania were filled with more appearances from celebrities than almost any other period in its history. Wrestling was becoming a pop-culture phenomenon around that time, and everyone from Muhammad Ali to Cyndi Lauper wanted to be a part of it.
You can’t talk about celebrity WrestleMania matches without mentioning the main event of the inaugural installment: Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Hogan could have easily defended his WWE Championship against Piper and it would have been a marquee match, but getting The A-Team star involved made it that much bigger.
The buildup was done well, with Mr. T becoming an on-air ally to Hogan and the two joining forces to take out two top heels in Piper and Orndoff, flanked by the dastardly Bob Orton Jr. Everyone was excited to see how he’d do inside the squared circle, and he did not disappoint.
Having him in there with a pro such as Hogan was the best thing WWE could have done, as he wasn’t required to carry the contest and was wisely kept limited. He looked good whenever he was called upon, though, leading to Hogan pinning Orndorff for the victory.
The bad blood between Mr. T and Piper led to a boxing fight between the two the following year, which wasn’t nearly as entertaining. That said, there’s no telling what would have become of WrestleMania had it not been for the success of that first main event.
2 of 5
Back when Jersey Shore was all the rage in 2011, WWE predictably jumped on the trend by bringing in Nicole Polizzi, who portrayed “Snooki” on the show, for WrestleMania season. It wasn’t until mid-March that she appeared on Raw and the company started building toward her match at the event.
It was clearly a last-minute addition based on how thrown-together it felt. She teamed with Trish Stratus, who was semi-retired at that point, and John Morrison to take on the trio of LayCool and Dolph Ziggler, who was fresh off a 15-minute reign as world heavyweight champion.
Nothing about the buildup was overly enthralling, but Snooki did as well as she possibly could with what she was given to do.
What most fans probably didn’t know was that the reality TV star was extremely athletic and had a background in cheerleading, so she wound up making the most of the time she had in the ring at WrestleMania XXVII, including her cartwheel splash on Michelle McCool to score the win for her team.
The match had every reason to be a train wreck, but Snooki turned a lot of heads with her impressive performance and left a lasting impression on the WWE Universe. She hasn’t been back since, though she has expressed interest in wrestling again and outdoing herself from last time.
3 of 5
Unlike the tag team match that headlined the first-ever installment of WrestleMania, Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor had no business being the main event of WrestleMania 11. That said, it was way more enjoyable than a majority of the WWE Universe tends to give it credit for.
Today’s fans may not see it as anything special on paper, but WWE managed to create a big-fight feel for it in the weeks preceding the pay-per-view with the many heated exchanges Bigelow and Taylor had.
The former New York Giants linebacker still had major mainstream appeal at that point in his career and thus his involvement with the event scored WWE a ton of coverage.
Bigelow is one of the most underrated performers in the history of the company, so that coupled with Taylor’s athleticism made for a better-than-expected bout. It’s by no means an instant classic, but compared to other celebrity matches at ‘Mania, he fared better than most.
Truth be told, it was one of the few saving graces of what was an otherwise atrocious WrestleMania in 1995. For as little as that show had to offer, Taylor and Bigelow at least did the best they could and kept the crowd engaged throughout.
Had it not been for the NFL star’s personal struggles in the years that followed, he would have been an obvious inductee for the WWE Hall of Fame’s celebrity wing.
4 of 5
Following the mainstream attention Snooki’s WrestleMania performance generated in 2011, WWE wasted no time in doing it again a year later, this time with someone the WWE Universe was much more familiar with: Maria Menounos.
The Extra host had previously appeared for WWE on two occasions between 2009 and 2011, once on Raw and then at Tribute to the Troops. She competed both times, did relatively well and won.
Her history with Beth Phoenix led to her being involved with the Divas tag team match at WrestleMania 28, where she paired up with Kelly Kelly to take on The Glamazon and her partner, Eve Torres.
The then-Divas division was such an afterthought at the time that Menounos taking part was better than the women being left off the card entirely, which was what ended up happening the next year.
The tag team setting allowed for Menounos to be limited and kept her physicality short and sweet. Interestingly enough, she suffered two cracked ribs while training for Dancing with the Stars before the contest yet was willing to work through it like a champ.
There have been far worse WrestleMania outings from women who wrestled for WWE full-time and weren’t injured. The match was exactly what it needed to be and, more importantly, Menounos came out of it looking terrific.
In an alternate universe where she actually pursued pro wrestling, she would have done exceptionally well.
5 of 5
Floyd Mayweather Jr. set the bar for celebrity matches at WrestleMania with his outing against Big Show at WrestleMania 24, and it’s highly unlikely it will ever be topped—even by Bad Bunny.
The bout was supposed to see the boxer and Big Show team up against the duo of Batista and Rey Mysterio before an injury to The Master of the 619 caused those plans to be changed. WWE went with Big Show and Mayweather in a one-on-one affair instead and was way better as a result.
While Mayweather’s above-average abilities as a boxer ensured he wouldn’t look out of place in the wrestling ring, it was his showmanship that made him the perfect fit for WWE. Having a fantastic foil in Big Show was a huge help and created a compelling dynamic for their highly anticipated encounter.
Both guys had heel tendencies going into the event, but it hardly mattered once they locked up because fans were ready for a fight. Mayweather getting creative and finding ways to avoid getting his comeuppance from Big Show masterful, and any time he endured punishment at the hands of The World’s Largest Athlete, the crowd came alive.
The atmosphere was electric for this one and every moment packed a punch, both literally and figuratively. It was a win-win with Big Show putting in one of his best WrestleMania performances and Mayweather proving he could hang in a completely different world.
If Bad Bunny can come anywhere close to topping the magic Mayweather made with Big Show in 2008, he will have earned even more respect than he already has from fans, as this is the undisputed measuring stick when it comes to celebrity matches at WrestleMania.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.
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