With over 4 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you're throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or settling a long-standing argument about Star Blazers continuity. But follow enough links, and you get sucked into some seriously strange places. We explore some of Wikipedia's oddities in our 4,295,938-week series, Wiki Wormhole.
This Week’s Entry: List of celebrities involved with WrestleMania
What It’s About: When the World Wide Web debuted in the early 1990s, it held the remarkable promise of being a repository for the entirety of human knowledge. University researches had been using the internet to share their findings, and soon every ordinary Joe and Jane would have access to all of the wonders of human discovery. What we didn’t take into account, is that the sum repository of all human knowledge is about one percent scientific wonder, about about 90% stuff like which non-wrestling celebrity has made the most appearances at WrestleMania (Pete Rose, four times, once while dressed as the San Diego Chicken). This page answers this, and so many other burning questions about who was stilling on the sidelines when the folding chairs started to fly.
Strangest Fact: The first name on the (alphabetical) list may be the most surprising—Steve Allen, original Tonight Show host and virtual inventor of television comedy, was on hand at WrestleMania VI to witness Brutus Beefcake end Mr. Perfect’s undefeated streak and interview a team known as the Bolsheviks. Mary Tyler Moore also had a front row seat, reinforcing the incongruous comedy legends theme of the evening.
Controversy: This is a rare Wikipedia page with no discussions about the content. But a parade of infamous people have appeared at WrestleMania over the years, including watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, alleged Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers, spray-tan enthusiast Snooki (who participated in a tag-team match), and worst of all, Reba McEntire (she knows what she did).
Thing We Were Happiest To Learn: In what has to be the classiest pro wrestling championship on record, WrestleMania VI, the first one to take place in Canada, opened with Robert Goulet singing “O Canada.” Liberace also put in an appearance at 1985’s original WrestleMania as a guest timekeeper.
Thing We Were Unhappiest To Learn: Hulk Hogan and Mr. T made the rounds on the talk show circuit to promote the first Wrestlemania, in which they were to be tag team partners. While appearing on Hot Properties, a talk show on Lifetime, Hogan put host Richard Belzer in a chinlock—a move that cuts off the flow of blood to the brain. Belzer fell to the floor, unconscious and bleeding. He sued Hogan for $5 million dollars, which was settled out of court. We’re pretty sure this means pro wrestling is part of the Tommy Westphall Universe.
Also noteworthy: A few of the non-wrestlers have actually gotten into the ring over the years. Besides the aforementioned Snooki and Mr. T, New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor fought Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI; boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. took on The Big Show at WrestleMania XXIV; Donald Trump apparently got “physically involved” in a WrestleMania XXIII event called “Battle of the Billionaires,” in which he was merely supposed to be backing wrestler Bobby Lashley; and Wrestlemania II included a 20-man battle royal that included six NFL players, most notably William “Refrigerator” Perry (André the Giant was the last man standing). Also noteworthy: Never averse to selling out, the Adidas-loving Run-D.M.C. wrote “The WrestleMania Rap,” which they performed at WrestleMania V.
Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: As part of Wikipedia’s “let no word go unliked” policy, when the article mentions that singers, actors, and models have appeared at WrestleMania over the years, helpful links to the pages on singing, acting, and model (person) are there to explain things to the uninitiated.