For many years, professional wrestling was treated like a circus sideshow by the rest of the entertainment industry. Indeed, for most of its existence, the wrestling industry has been looked down upon and avoided by any but the lowest ranked celebrities.
That all changed in the 1980s, when Pro Wrestling exploded onto the mainstream stage. The primary architect behind this water change was Vince McMahon, Jr. When he took over what was then called the WWWF from his father, Vince McMahon Sr., the first change made was to throw out the old 'regional' model for the business.
Vince McMahon Jr. also reached out to then-fledgling cable channel Mtv in hopes of creating a connection between sports entertainment and the music industry.
The gamble paid off, with millions tuning in to see the War to Settle the Score, a bout between Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. The match also involved rocker Cyndi Lauper and 1980s icon Mr. T.
From there, other celebrities have either been approached by the WWE, or sought out the company themselves.
From Sugar Ray Leonard, who lost a fight to Gorilla Monsoon, to Arethra Franklin, who sang the US national anthem at Wrestlemania, celebrities were lining up to be involved with the WWE product.
Here are the ten best celebrity appearances in WWE throughout the company's history, ranked by how well the appearance was received by fans and critics.
#10 Donald Trump
Long before he was elected the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump was known to audiences as the reality show host for The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice.
Trump was brought in as a sort of rival businessman to Vince McMahon. McMahon, in the storyline, took their friendly competition too seriously and the conflict was stirred up. Eventually, a proxy match was scheduled for Wrestlemania 23.
Bobby Lashley would be Trump's champion, while Vince McMahon picked Umaga. Whoever's champion loses would have their head shaved live in the ring.
In order to insure a fair contest, Stone Cold Steve Austin was assigned as special guest referee.
The fixture will always remain as one of WWE's most popular Wrestlemania segments as Lashley defeated Umaga to give Mr Trump the onus.
The trio of Austin, Trump and Lashley then went on to shave Mr McMahon's head bald live on television, much to the delight of those in attendance.
#9 The Muppets
In 2011, the WWE was experimenting with guest hosts for RAW. Some, like William Shatner, were well received. Others, not so much.
A surprising turn of events led to a guest hosting gig by Jim Henson productions' Muppets characters.
Hornswoggle had some hilarious interactions with the stuffed puppet characters, but the funniest moment was probably The Celtic Warrior Sheamus claiming to be genetically related to the red haired Beaker Muppet, as well as the two feisty old men curmudgeons who criticize every nuance of pretty much everything.
The special Halloween night presentation was seen by many as a harbinger of the PG era to the WWE.
The only reason this guest stint didn't appear higher is the surprising decision not to have John Cena extensively interact with the Muppet characters. Given his appeal to children, WWE might have considered a longer segment with them.
Many critics believe that the guest host setup of the WWE did more damage to the business than good. But the WWE always saw the business side of things and they didn't complain.
#8 Mike Tyson
Way back in 1998, the Attitude Era was in full swing. Stone Cold Steve Austin was by and large the face of the company, even though he had never held the World Heavyweight championship.
That was set to change at Wrestlemania 14, where Shawn Michaels was set to defend the championship against Austin in a match many saw as a change of guard. However, the WWE wanted to make it seem as if Austin might not be able to capture the vaunted belt.
Mike Tyson was assigned as a special enforcer for the HBK/Austin match. But shortly before the event, Tyson would reveal a Degeneration X t-shirt, and even join Triple H and HBK for the famous 'x chop.'
This cast doubt on Austin's victory, but at the PPV Tyson would pull a double turn and betray HBK. When Shawn Michaels tried to berate Tyson, Iron Mike laid him out with a brutal haymaker.
#7 Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris is a legendary martial arts movie star and internet meme icon whose career stretches back all the way to the 1970s.
Chuck Norris parlayed his success in the martial arts world into an acting career. His first role came in the Bruce Lee film Return of the Dragon, where the two icons fought in the ancient Roman Coliseum.
Norris went on to star in dozens of movies, including the famous Missing in Action series. By the 1990s, Norris was starring in his own television Show, Walker, Texas Ranger. The show was so popular that WWE invited Norris to be the outside enforcer at Survivor Series in 1994.
Despite being announced as Chuck Norris, the actor dressed and acted like his Walker character from the television show.
He prevented outside interference in the Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker match and kicked Jeff Jarrett soundly, making him an effective if somewhat forgotten celebrity enforcer.
The fact that even the Undertaker required Norris' assistance is a testimony to the latter's stature.
#6 Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart went from stand-up comedy to acting roles, until he found his niche hosting Comedy Central's The Daily Show. The famous left-leaning program poked fun at political discourse in the United States and around the world, making Stewart a hero and cultural icon.
But there was one hidden fact about Jon Stewart that the general public were unaware of; he's a major fan of pro wrestling. After his stint as host of the Daily Show ended, Stewart wound up appearing as part of a storyline between Seth Rollins -- the WWE Champion -- and John Cena, the US Champion.
Though it seemed Rollins and Stewart were at odds with each other, Stewart wound up hitting John Cena with a steel chair, allowing Rollins the win.
Stewart would later explain that he wanted to prevent Cena from breaking Flair's record number of title reigns. The comedian and commentator would pay for his sins with an Attitude Adjustment in the middle of the ring.
#5 Drew Carey
In 2001, comedian Drew Carey rode high on the success of his wildly popular sitcom, the Drew Carey Show. The program is well known for having outrageous or even downright silly story lines, such as when Drew's secretary drugged him and had him shipped to China.
Much like Jon Stewart, Drew Carey was a big wrestling fan. He was invited to the Royal Rumble as just a special guest, but after a conversation with Vince McMahon, Carey wound up booked into the battle royal himself! When Carey asked if the match was hard, Vince replied that he himself had won it (which was true.)
The insertion of Carey into the Rumble was one of those 'anything can happen' moments in the WWE. Drew Carey came face to face with Kane and tried to bribe his way out of a beat down with cash.
Kane, of course, has no interest in the affairs of mortal currency, and was about to chokeslam the comedian to Hell when Raven inadvertently saved the day. Carey eliminated himself from the match, probably the best decision he'd made all night.
Drew Carey is also a WWE Hall of Famer who was inducted into the celebrity wing of the event.
#4 Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather is one of the most accomplished boxers in the history of the sport. His technique and speed have made him a very wealthy man, and his fame has spread beyond the world of professional pugilism.
Fans were intrigued when the rumors started circulating that Mayweather might be making an in-ring appearance at WrestleMania.
But when his opponent wound up being the Big Show, a man who dwarfed him by three hundred pounds, the level of excitement went through the roof.
The match was hyped up by Show kneeling down and begging Mayweather to give him his best shot. Mayweather obliged, breaking the Show's nose and setting the stage for a no-holds barred confrontation at Wrestlemania.
Mayweather won the hardcore match, making him undefeated both in the WWE and at Wrestlemania, an egregious accolade indeed, though much happened to the show's chagrin.
Big Show has been WWE's lab rat for facing celebrities from different walks of life. Akebono, Floyd and Shaq are just some of the popular names.
#3 "LT" Lawrence Taylor
Our next entry in the list features the first, and only, main event appearance by a celebrity in WrestleMania history. Ironically, it was also the first and only main event appearance by Bam Bam Bigelow.
Lawrence Taylor was on top of the pro football world in this era. His athleticism, charisma, and no nonsense approach made him a hero to children all over the USA. LT, as he was nicknamed, was also a big fan of pro wrestling and the WWE in particular, so he jumped at the chance to wrestle at Wrestlemania.
The build-up was expertly handled. LT was ringside for the Royal Rumble and laughed when Bam Bam Bigelow was eliminated from the event. A confrontation at ringside led to the match being made for Wrestlemania XI.
For a non wrestler, LT did an outstanding job, selling Bam Bam's offense and using a shoulder tackle from the top rope to defeat the Beast from the East.
#2 Stephen Amell
Stephen Amell is just one cool guy.
The star of the CW's Arrow program almost single-handedly redeemed comic book shows on network television. His love of the comic books and the Oliver Queen character led to him working behind the scenes of the program as well, creating a product that pleased both comic book fans and critics.
Not only was Stephen Amell a comic book fan, he was also a major fan of pro wrestling. He wound up wrestling against Stardust and King Barrett, and took the role as seriously as any other.
Amell's natural athleticism and willingness to take bumps made for, arguably, the best in ring performance of any celebrity involved in a WWE event in history.
Stephen Amell impressed his opponent Cody Rhodes, and the two became quick friends and continue to perform together at special events.
The highlight of Amell's WWE match remains his suicide dive that took out both Cody and Wade Barrett, setting up the win.
#1 Mr. T
A long time ago, there was WrestleMania. The event was not the first Pay Per View in wrestling history, but it certainly was the biggest.
Held at the height of the Rock and Wrestling connection, the event was hyped up beyond belief, not just in the world of wrestling but in the mainstream media outlets as well.
One man can be thanked for so much interest; Mr. T. The 1980s icon was hugely popular, starring in films like Rocky III opposite Sylvester Stallone and acting as BA Barrackus in the popular A Team television program.
Mr. T was not a trained wrestler, so he was paired with Hogan in a tag team match against Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff.
Because Mr. T wasn't trained, the heels mostly immobilized the television star with genuine wrestling holds. Mr. T rankled at the treatment, but his appearance definitely generated a ton of interest not just in WrestleMania but all of pro wrestling as well, raising its status in the eyes of the masses.
There you have it; the Ten best celebrity appearances in WWE history. Questions or comments? Please leave them after the article, and as always thanks for reading!