If there are two fandoms that fit perfectly together, it is comic books and professional wrestling. When looking at WWE superstars, it is easy to see the similarities. Villains (heels) terrorize people and cheat to win while cutting corners and trying to undercut authority. However, there are then the heroes (faces), who come in and try to defeat them. They have oversized battles with the action escalating until they finally have their final confrontation and — most of the time — the hero stands triumphant and proves that good will always overcome evil in the end. While some might argue that villains win more in wrestling than they do in comics, there are still times where they get their comeuppance and face the punishment for their crimes.
With that said, it is obvious why professional wrestlers themselves seem to largely have a great love for comic books. Some have moved on to write comic books while others have taken on what they called dream roles in comic book movies. Others have even brought their love of comics to the squared circle, where they let the world know that they are a comic book geek — like many of their fans. Here are 20 secret connections between wrestling and comics.
20. JESSE VENTURA CAMEO IN BATMAN & ROBIN
There are two professional wrestling stars in the movie Batman & Robin, as well as two WWE Hall of Fame members. The first former wrestler and the lesser-known is Robert Swenson. He was a former wrestler from WCCW (where the Von Erichs wrestled) and WCW for a short time. He played Bane in the movie, although his character disappointed many fans.
The second wrestler didn’t even get credit for his role, despite the fact that he is a WWE Hall of Fame star and the former Governor of Minnesota — Jesse “The Body” Ventura. The Body was an Arkham Asylum prison guard in the movie. As for the second WWE Hall of Famer, that would be Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who starred as Mr. Freeze and was an inductee to the celebrity wing in the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class.
19. SABRETOOTH WAS A FORMER WCW WRESTLER
X-Men also had a former professional wrestler in the cast for the first movie in the franchise. Tyler Mane was a wrestler who competed in New Japan as Gully Gaspar and then in WCW under the name Big Sky, thanks to his standing 6 ft. 7 in. His tag team partner was actually none other than Kevin Nash, who wrestled aa Vinny Vegas at the time.
Mane retired from wrestling in 1992 and went to Hollywood. His first major movie role came in X-Men in 2000 as Sabretooth. He only lasted for one movie in the role though, with Liev Schreiber replacing him. Mane picked up an even bigger role seven years later when he portrayed Michael Myers in the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, as well as its sequel.
18. ROBOCOP ACTUALLY APPEARED IN WCW
WCW did some crazy things in the early ’90s — possibly trying to match the cartoony nature of the WWE at the time. It even brought in Chucky from the Child Play movies at one point. However, in 1990 at the Capital Combat pay-per-view event, WCW brought in none other than RoboCop to help Sting in his battle with the Four Horsemen.
The pairing was a way for WCW to help promote the upcoming release of RoboCop 2. For longtime professional wrestling fans, Gordon Solie remains one of the most respected announcers in history, but at this event he had to announce that RoboCop had shown up and called the action as he came down and saved Sting, helping to chase off the Four Horsemen. According to Jim Cornette, it really was RoboCop actor Peter Weller who showed up at the PPV and portrayed the character he made famous.
17. ANDRE THE GIANT IN CONAN THE DESTROYER
When he wasn’t bodyslamming and bearhugging people in the WWF, Andre the Giant starred in a few iconic Hollywood movies. The Eighth Wonder of the World had a substantial role in The Princess Bride as Fezzik and took on the role of Bigfoot in the sci-fi TV series The Six Million Dollar Man.
However, there was also a role that Andre never got credit for. In the 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger sequel Conan the Destroyer, Andre the Giant wore a giant rubber suit and portrayed the monster Dagoth. Once again, two future WWE Hall of Famers fought to the death as Arnold’s Conan battled the giant deity portrayed by Andre. On a side note, Dagoth also happens to be a Marvel Comics supervillain as well — an enemy of Doctor Strange.
16. GANGREL WAS BASED ON A COMIC / RPG CHARACTER
There are a number of reasons that former WWE Attitude Era star Gangrel will never enter the WWE Hall of Fame. Gangrel helped introduce the world to Edge and Christian, as the three were known as The Brood — a gang of vampires in the WWE. While both Edge and Christian went on to become world champions, Gangrel left the WWE after three mostly injury-plagued years.
When asked about not being invited to many WWE events since his release, Gangrel said that there were no hard feelings. Instead, the WWE did not have the rights to use the name Gangrel anymore. See, the name was copyrighted by White Wolf and the WWE licensed the name, but that agreement lapsed and the WWE can’t use the name anymore. Gangrel said that is why he was known as David Heath in the WWE Encyclopedia.
15. HURRICANE HELMS WAS BASED ON GREEN LANTERN
There is the obvious homage to comic books in the WWE and then there is Hurricane Helms, a character the former Sugar Shane Helms used to slam fans up the side of the head with comic book love. Helms is a huge comic book fan and even has the Green Lantern’s power symbol tattooed on his arm. When he got a chance to play a superhero in the WWE — even as a lower mid-card star — he jumped at it.
Helms lifted his entire look from Green Lantern, from the colors to the superhero poses. He then picked up an interesting sidekick in the big Samoan Rosey, who has since sadly passed away. A bit of interesting trivia is that Rosey is none other than the big brother of current WWE superstar Roman Reigns.
14. RVD OWNED A COMIC BOOK STORE
Rob Van Dam is an interesting story. The man started his career in WCW but really took off and became a superstar in ECW where he electrified audiences with his aerial moves, martial arts skills and his complete lack of concern about anything but having a good time. RVD also had an interesting look, borrowing somewhat from Jean-Claude Van Damme and adding a personal touch with his individually designed airbrushed wrestling tights.
RVD is also a monster comic book fan and one of the things he did with his money was open his own comic book store. When asked, former Impact Wrestling star Christopher Daniels said if he wasn’t a wrestler, he would own a comic book shop. RVD did both with RVD’s 5-Star Comics in Long Beach. The store eventually closed its doors in 2006.
13. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS WAS SPIDER-MAN
Christopher Daniels might be the best professional wrestlers in the world to never get a good run in the WWE. He has held the Ring of Honor world title and was a huge star in TNA Impact Wrestling, where he had amazing matches with current WWE superstars AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. At the age of 47, he will likely (and unfortunately) never get that WWE run. However, Daniels did something few of his contemporaries ever got to — he went one on one with Macho Man Randy Savage.
However, it wasn’t a real match but one in a movie. Macho Man portrayed Crusher Hogan in the first Spider-Man movie — the person Peter Parker had to beat to win money after he got his spider-powers. It wasn’t Tobey Maguire in the mask during the match, though. It was Christopher Daniels playing Spider-Man and battling Macho Man for the world to see.
12. CODY RHODES WAS A SUPERVILLAIN
Cody Rhodes is the son of one of the greatest professional wrestling stars of all time — The American Dream Dusty Rhodes. When Cody made his WWE debut, he was sent into action as a second generation star with Ted DiBiase Jr. and Randy Orton. However, as time passed, Cody started to get stuck with various gimmicks that ignored his actual wrestling skills. It all came to a head when WWE gave him a version of his brother Goldust’s gimmick and called him Stardust.
Cody gave the gimmick his best shot. He said he wanted it to be different from Goldust and tried to make Stardust a comic book villain in the world of the WWE. While the WWE often neglected the character, Cody tried his best to make it work. He even started a feud with a fan — Stephen Amell of Arrow — and the two had a match. After that, Cody got a role in Arrow — as an actual comic book villain.
11. ALEXA BLISS MEETS HARLEY QUINN
Alexa Bliss held the WWE women’s title on both SmackDown Live and Monday Night Raw and remains a prominent professional wrestling sensation. However, the Alexa Bliss in real life is nothing like her evil, bullying character on the screen. Instead, Bliss is kind of a geek, loving both video games and comic books.
Bliss even challenges fans at comic conventions to beat her at a video game when they come to get autographs. To really show her love for comics, Bliss has implemented her love of cosplay into her outfits for major events. When she came up from NXT, the first outfit design she wore to the ring was influenced by Harley Quinn. Bliss said she loves Harley and wanted to use the character’s look to show her love of playing a villain in the WWE.
10. JERRY LAWLER IS A HUGE SUPERMAN FAN
Jerry “The King” Lawler is professional wrestling royalty, and not just in name. He has been around for a few decades and went from one of the most successful wrestlers in the old territories to one of the most successful announcers in the WWE. However, when he is not wrestling, Lawler has a few hobbies of his own. He collects a lot of geek items — mostly coke products and comic book memorabilia.
King has a full-sized Superman figure in his collection and told Fox News in an interview back in 2013 that it was his love of Superman that convinced him to try to become a professional wrestler. Lawler has a full closet of Superman shirts as well, for when he wants to really portray the Man of Steel. Interested in Superman art? Lawler is also an accomplished comic book artist!
9. REY MYSTERIO: COSPLAYER
While someone like Hurricane Helms took on the gimmick of a comic book superhero and Stardust tried to make his character a comic book supervillain, Rey Mysterio simply took his love of comic books and cosplayed every time he came out to the ring. Most of his costumes and masks were pure Luchador-styled, such as what he wore in his 2018 return at the Royal Rumble. However, there were moments that he really went all out with his comic book love — and most of them came at the biggest WWE show of the year.
As a 5 ft. 6 in. wrestler in the world of giants, Rey Mysterio really is a superhero for kids all around the world. He dressed that way, too. At WrestleMania 20, he wrestled as The Flash. He went to WrestleMania 25 as The Joker and at WrestleMania 27 as Captain America.
8. SGT. SLAUGHTER WAS AN OFFICIAL MEMBER OF G.I. JOE
Sgt. Slaughter originally started wrestling as a rough and tough brawler in the ’70s, but his gimmick as a Marine drill instructor was perfect for him to transition into the cartoony gimmicks of the WWF in the ’80s. It was at that time that Sgt. Slaughter was as much a cartoon hero as Hulk Hogan, The Junkyard Dog and Koko B. Ware.
Sgt. Slaughter finally went all the way when he made the crossover jump to the G.I. Joe cartoons, toy line and comic books as a character and actual member of the military team. His first comic book appearance was in G.I. Joe #48. Things became awkward for kids who loved G.I. Joe when Slaughter turned into an Iraqi sympathizer character in 1990 and became the most hated heel in the WWF.
7. EL SANTO WAS A SUPERHERO
When it comes to comic books and professional wrestling, nothing holds a torch to Mexico and Lucha Libre wrestling. The Luchadores are all based on the comic book and fantasy action movie mythology. The heroes are called tecnicos and the villains are called rudos, and almost all of them wear masks that they never remove — wearing them even when they are out in public, but not wrestling.
The perfect example of this is El Santo, a man who started wrestling in the ’30s and who fathered a son known to the world as El Hijo de Santo. El Santo even had an arch nemesis in the Blue Demon, who he feuded with for decades. Outside of wrestling, El Santo was the hero of a comic book series that ran for 35 years and a movie franchise that spawned over 50 films.
6. JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER WAS AN ANIME CHARACTER
Mexico is not the only place where professional wrestling meets with comic books, as Japanese wrestling also incorporates comics, anime and movie characters into their lifeline. Stars from the WWE like Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero went to Japan and wrestled under masks with colorful names like The Lion Heart and Black Tiger.
One of the most famous Japanese professional wrestlers is the man known as Jushin Thunder Liger. After starting his career known as Fuji Yamada, he changed his name to Jushin Liger in 1989, named after the character from the Go Nagai anime. He even took on some of the characters traits, such as powering up in matches. As the anime grew, Liger also grew in popularity and ended up branching out in the United States as well.
5. RAVEN’S ICONIC COMIC QUOTES
Scott Levy enjoyed an interesting career in professional wrestling. He started out as an arrogant manager called Scotty Flamingo in WCW and Johnny Polo in the WWF. However, he really hit it big when he left for ECW and became Raven. As a self-professed lifelong comic book fan (he loved the Marvel Knights series and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman at that time in his life), he incorporated comics into his gimmick.
Raven often wore either grunge and metal band shirts or — in some cases — Sandman shirts to the ring under his black leather jacket. He also cut very cryptic promos and many times incorporated lines from classic comic books into his promos. Raven eventually used his wrestling fame to get a gig writing Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #14.
4. HULK HOGAN PAID MARVEL TO USE THE NAME HULK
When Hulk Hogan started out his career, he was known as Terry Boulder, but soon took the name Hulk Hogan (rumor has it this was after Hogan appeared on a talk show with Lou Ferrigno and was larger than TV’s Hulk). After a stint in the AWA, Hogan jumped to the WWF and became their biggest star as the company broke out of the territory format and went worldwide. With the new publicity and fame, Marvel Comics didn’t seem happy to hear of a man called “The Incredible” Hulk Hogan as a professional wrestler.
The WWF made a deal with Marvel Comics where Marvel owned the name and the WWF licensed it from them. When Hogan left for WCW, that company began to license the name as well from Marvel. By 2005, Hogan was filthy rich and finally just paid Marvel for the rights to always use the name.
3. CM PUNK’S HOMAGE TO THE THING
CM Punk has always been a huge comic book fan. When he finally made it big in the WWE, Punk even started to pay homage to things he loved in his matches. One of those things was when he came out after his theme music started. He would kneel down, pretend to pick up dirt, check his invisible watch and then yell “It’s Clobberin’ Time” before heading down to the ring.
Yes, CM Punk used The Thing’s tagline before every match. Like other wrestlers before him, Punk also used his fame as a WWE superstar to get into other things that he loved. Before he used his fame to get a UFC match, he used it to convince Marvel Comics to let him write for them. CM Punk wrote the intro to the deluxe edition of Avengers vs. X-Men and then he wrote comics based on Drax the Destroyer, Master of Kung Fu and Thor.
2. CHRIS JERICHO STOLE HIS TAGLINE FROM WOLVERINE
CM Punk wasn’t the only WWE superstar to steal a tagline from a comic book character. Chris Jericho has gone through more character changes in his WWE career than almost anyone and seems like he is pushing his creativity every chance he gets. Whether it is his wrestling promos, his podcasts, his books, his band Fozzy, or anything else he wants to do, Jericho is a huge success in all aspects of his life.
That really means that he is living his tagline: “I am the best in the world at what I do.” He even named one of his books with the tagline in the title. However, what some may not realize is that Jericho said he got the idea from the tagline from Wolverine, where the actual quote from Hulk #181 was: “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice.” Want more geek love? Jericho named his son Ash after the Evil Dead character.
1. STING BASED AS THE CROW AND THE JOKER
It is almost common knowledge to professional wrestling fans that when Sting went into the rafters after the nWo invaded WCW and got rid of his bleached blonde hair and All-American persona, he took on the persona of the comic book/movie character The Crow. With the baseball bat, the long trench coat and face paint that mimicked Brandon Lee, Sting became The Crow.
However, true professional wrestling fans that also followed the various non-WWE and WCW promotions knows Sting went one step further. When he arrived in TNA Impact Wrestling, Sting was still in his Crow persona. However, there was a point where Hulk Hogan and others were driving Sting a bit nuts. That is when Sting smeared his face paint around and started to mimic Heath Ledger’s Joker character from The Dark Knight, homaging yet another comic book character.
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