In case you weren’t aware, the 33rd annual WrestleMania will be taking place tonight in Orlando, Florida. For those of you who don’t follow wrestling, it’s basically the WWE’s version of the Super Bowl. All of the year’s biggest rivalries come to a head in grandiose fashion. It truly is the biggest wrestling event of the year.
One of the reasons that WrestleMania has stayed afloat is celebrity involvement. The WWE brings in celebrities to try and appeal to a wider demographic. They don’t just do this at WrestleMania, either. They also have brought in pop culture icons for guest-host roles, concerts and, believe it or not, matches. Seriously. Snoop Dogg actually speared a trained professional wrestler. Alas, such is the crazy world of wrestling.
Actors, musicians, television hosts, athletes and whatever Snooki is have all been involved in wrestling. Believe it or not, the Chicago Bears actually have a pretty rich history in the “sport”.
The Bear who is perhaps the most known player with a wrestling history is Steve McMichael. The defensive lineman of the 1985 Super Bowl champions actually had a solid four-year run in the now-defunct WCW. He even won the United States championship! Many a foe fell victim to McMichael’s “Mongo Spike“.
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Fellow defensive lineman and fellow Super Bowl champion William Perry also made a notable appearance in wrestling. The Fridge participated in a battle royal match at WrestleMania 2. The match featured other NFL stars, but famous wrestlers as well. Wrestling in front of a Chicago crowd, Perry was a huge hit with the fans. While nobody expected the football players to hold a candle to their wrestling adversaries, Perry actually held his own. He eliminated WWE Hall of Famers Tony Atlas and Big John Studd from the match to a thunderous ovation. While he didn’t win the match (that honor went to Andre the Giant), he made a big impact.
Chicagoans likely know Mike Adamle as a former Bears player who turned to reporting for NBC 5 later in his career. However, wrestling know him more as a former wrestling announcer and general manager. That’s right, Adamle was the general manager of Monday Night Raw for a few months in 2008. He was known for his many mistakes while announcing, including calling wrestler Jeff Hardy “Jeff Harvey”.
Former Bears running back Kahlil Bell also gave wrestling a shot. Back in 2015, he was named as a finalist to compete on the TV show Tough Enough, where contestants battle it out to try and get a WWE contract. While Bell didn’t end up making it on the show, it was interesting to see that he came close.
This final player didn’t actually play for the Bears, but he came incredibly close. Back in 2007, a defensive tackle from Georgia Tech named Joe Anoa’i was entering the NFL Draft. He was coming off of a 12-sack season and was named first-team All-ACC. He met with Bears staff for a pre-draft visit – he even got to talk with then-head coach Lovie Smith. Anoa’i didn’t end up getting picked in the draft, and was out of football by 2008. Luckily for him, he found his true calling: wrestling. Fans may know Anoa’i as Roman Reigns, a three-time WWE champion whom many believe to be the new face of wrestling. He takes on The Undertaker tonight at WrestleMania 33 in one of the main events.
– Jacob Infante is a National Editor for cover32 and also covers the Chicago Bears. He can be followed on Twitter @jacobinfante24.