• Nathan Smith


Wrestlemania weekend has now been and gone, with many tuning in to catch the biggest annual event in pro wrestling each year.

While the likes of Sasha Banks and Roman Reigns put on fantastic matches, the possible show stealer from the two nights of action was Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny.

The famous reggaeton artist defied all expectations as he pulled off some incredible moves nobody would expect a celebrity to be able to do.

This got me thinking about which footballers have traded the grass pitch for the squared circle, so here are five footballers who have stepped into the wrestling ring…

Wayne Rooney

The biggest name on the list, Wayne Rooney’s involvement in wrestling was a very short but entertaining moment on WWE’s flagship show Monday Night Raw in 2015.

WWE were in Manchester for Raw, and Rooney found himself in the front row, accompanied by his family and also at the time Stoke midfielder and former team mate Darren Fletcher.

It was set to be a usual show for Rooney to enjoy, until King Barrett grabbed the microphone and started to cut a promo on the Manchester United captain.

Barrett fired shots at Manchester United, saying that unlike him and Sheamus, Rooney and Man Utd were not ‘championship material’.

Barrett also offered Rooney out for a fight but after going to the outside to square up to the footballer, Barrett was met with a swift slap to the face which sent the former Intercontinental champion down.

While Rooney never quite stepped in the ring, we saw his fighting skills in a leaked video where Phil Bardsley cleaned him out, so it was for perhaps the best Rooney stayed out of the squared circle.

Grant Holt

After a long and storied career playing across England, Grant Holt was looking to start a new chapter in his life, as his playing life was winding down.

The at the time the Barrow striker looked towards the Wrestling business as his next step, as signed with Norfolk based promotion World of Association Wrestling, otherwise known as WAW.

Holt’s in ring debut was a success, winning a 40-man royal rumble, as he recovered from almost being thrown over the top rope and connected with a dropkick to eliminate his opponent and secure the victory.

The Norwich legend took wrestling seriously, as he trained for a full year before making his debut and he put that training to good use as he also won his first singles match, and went on to wrestle with former WWE superstars Billy Gunn and Rene Dupree.

It is not known whether Holt will return to the ring, but you have to give it up to him for the amount of effort he put in before he made his debut.

Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams was one of Swansea’s key components in there rise to the Premier League, marshalling the defence and establishing himself as a Welsh National team mainstay.

Williams was never one to back down from a fight, so it was no surprise to see him mix it up in a wrestling ring.

Despite not actually getting involved in a full blown match, Williams participated in an in-ring angle with Welsh wrestler ‘Mean’ Tommy Dean.

While no footage of this can be found, Williams has been spotted and had pictures taken with at wrestling events previously, so it was clear he was a fan of the sport.

He has yet to get back into the ring but having recently retired, who knows what’s next for the former Swansea skipper.

Tim Wiese

The Tim Wiese that played football and the Tim Wiese that wrestled for the WWE look like two different people.

While at Hoffenheim in 2014, Wiese bulked up tremendously, weighing over 250 pounds which caused his release and subsequent retirement, as his body was no longer suited to professional football.

However, it was suited to professional wrestling, as the former Germany international received an offer to train in WWE’s developmental facility in 2016, after previously appearing as a guest timekeeper at a 2014 WWE house show in Frankfurt.

Wiese accepted this offer and would go onto to make his debut as ‘The Machine’ at a house show in Munich later that year, where he teamed with Cesaro and Sheamus to defeat the Shining Stars and Bo Dallas.

Unfortunately for Wiese, that was it for him in the ring as he left the company in 2017 and played one final comeback match for German non-league side SSV Dillingen, where they lost 2-1.

Barri Griffiths

Out of everyone on this list, Barri Griffiths is the least known footballer by far.

Griffiths plied his trade at lower league Welsh side Porthamdog FC, where he played at centre back, but a knee injury brought an early end to his career.

After a stint on Gladiators in 2009, Griffiths headed to WWE developmental company FCW, where he adopted the name Mason Ryan.

Ryan was built like a star, and won the FCW world championship just months after arriving at the company.

He was then called up to the main roster in 2011, where Ryan joined the Nexus stable and went on to work alongside the likes of CM Punk, John Cena and Randy Orton before being released from the company in 2014.

While he never quite reached the top of the WWE, Ryan turned a failed football career into a short but solid pro wrestling career, where he worked for the biggest company the sport has to offer.