WWE: 8 Current Superstars and Their Soccer Club Counterparts
Professional wrestling and soccer; surely they are at the polar opposites of the sporting spectrum?
One is scripted with predetermined outcomes, and the other competitive and unpredictable. One is largely an individual pursuit; the other one of the most team-oriented sports in existence. One is verging on being a monopoly; the other consists of thousands of teams from every corner of the planet.
The contrasting comparisons go on.
Yet despite this antithesis, a number of parallels have somehow emerged between the two.
Of course, I’m not saying that professional wrestlers’ characters have been developed with the sole intention of personifying the fortunes of soccer teams, but in a strange twist of fate we can sometimes see the trials and tribulations of such teams allegorised in our favourite WWE superstars.
In a bizarre deviation from convention, this list takes a look at eight professional wrestlers whose careers have rather peculiarly been mirroring some of the top world soccer clubs.
All I ask if for you to approach this article with an open mind, not to mention an certain degree of light-heartedness.
Dolph Ziggler: Arsenal
As an Arsenal fan myself, I can very much empathise with Ziggler’s current WWE situation.
For months he has been on the fringe of the main event scene with nothing but a Money in the Bank contract and a whole host of defeats to show for it.
Arsenal have also struggled to win in recent memory, finishing in the top four but without winning the league for the last eight consecutive seasons. Two League Cup finals and a Champions League runners-up medal during this period represent a scenario similar to that of Ziggler: close but no cigar.
Furthermore, both are renowned for their abilities to look good in defeat. Ziggler is lauded for his fantastic selling and in-ring work, while Arsenal are widely accepted as having one of the most sophisticated passing games in all of Europe.
The most impressive perennial losers; it’s a somewhat unwanted tag but one that unites Ziggler and Arsenal FC.
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth: Celtic
The current Tag Team champions have both enjoyed decent singles careers with the company. Both have won the US Title and Kingston is a three-time Intercontinental Champion.
Celtic have also enjoyed their fair share of silverware, having won an incredible 43 Scottish Championships.
But both face something of an issue: a lack of competitiveness.
It’s no secret that nowadays, the WWE’s tag team division has deteriorated into a shadow of its former self, with a very limited group of pairings, hardly any of which have even had a glimpse tag team gold before.
And since Rangers’ unfortunate demise that saw them plummet into the Scottish Third Division, Celtic are now in a similar predicament. Both are the big fish in small ponds, and though they are dominant in their respective fields, their reputations are tarnished slightly by a lack of equal and credible competition.
Cody Rhodes: Liverpool
Liverpool are a club entrenched with history. No English club has won more European Cups, and they boast an impressive 18 League Championships to their name.
However they have missed out of the title for 22 successive seasons, in what is their longest barren spell since the Second World War. Their recent failure to emulate their past successes places them firmly in the shadows of their more legendary forefathers.
The same can be said for WWE’s Cody Rhodes.
His father, Dusty Rhodes, is a WWE Hall of Famer, and he has a brother, more commonly known as Goldust, who has won 11 titles during his years with the company.
Cody, however, has so far failed to replicate such achievements. One of the most promising current WWE superstars, he appears destined to be a future main-eventer, but for the time being he has been shunned to mid-card obscurity.
Thus, both Rhodes and Liverpool FC are linked by their illustrious predecessors, and the fact that neither have truly been able to leave their mark on present day proceedings.
Alberto Del Rio: Chelsea
There are few others who can compete with their financial muscle.
The same can be said for Alberto Del Rio’s current gimmick as the “Mexican Aristocrat." Any one of the vast array of cars that he drives to the ring would look perfectly at home pulling up to Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.
And it’s not just financially that the two draw likenesses. Del Rio is widely criticised for his style. Many fans claim his persona to be boring, and his limited moveset, comprising mainly of martial arts kicks and armbreaker variations, hardly dispels this accusation.
The Blues are also criticised for adopting a slow tempo, which is sometimes attributed to their aging squad. This, coupled with the fact that they are from London and thus have five local rivals in the Premier League alone to contend with, makes Chelsea one of the least-liked teams in England.
A mountain of wealth, almost matched by the level of their unpopularity; Del Rio and Chelsea have much in common.
Big Show: Bayern Munich
Big Show has been dubbed the world’s largest athlete, billed at seven feet tall and weighing over 440 pounds. As a Grand Slam champion, he is one of the most decorated superstars in the WWE.
But as of late, his fortunes have taken a turn for the worst. Despite being in the main event frame, he has often fallen to the likes of John Cena and CM Punk.
Having held the World title for a measly 45 seconds last December and suffered an embarrassing defeat to Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship in April, Big Show has at times been portrayed as something of a laughingstock amongst the WWE faithful.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, have endured a similar fall from grace. Despite being the most successful German side in history with 22 League Championships, their dominance has wavered in recent years, with just one Bundesliga title in the last four seasons.
Historically, they are also one of the most successful sides in Europe, but losing two Champions League finals in just three years has further tarnished their global standing.
Both can be considered the fallen giants of their professions; Big Show, literally, and Bayern Munich, figuratively. It is a rare instance of role reversal, whereby the metaphor is for once in the soccer industry rather than wrestling.
Triple H: Juventus
Juventus have found more fame through scandal than silverware in recent years. The calciopoli debacle of 2006 saw the Turinese relegated for the first time in their history, while this past summer’s betting disgrace saw manager Antonio Conte suspended for 10 months.
Despite such infamy, the club are still remembered as one of the greatest teams of all time, having amassed 28 Serie A titles, nine Coppa Italia wins and two European Cups.
Triple H has an equally wide range of accolades. The 13-time world champion is a Grand Slam winner, who also won the 1997 King of the Ring tournament and the 2002 Royal Rumble match.
But his career has also been somewhat controversial. His marriage to Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, saw him face heavy criticism from WWE fans.
While accusations of him “sleeping his way to the top” persist, it must be acknowledged that he was a star before their engagement in 2002, and would probably have reached the top even if he hadn’t married into the McMahon family.
Triple H and Juventus—two sporting entities who have deservingly achieved legendary status—overcoming their share of controversies along the way.
CM Punk: Barcelona
Despite missing out on the Champions League and La Liga titles last year, Barcelona remain perhaps the greatest club side in the world. The tiki-taka style that they pioneered over the last few seasons saw them at times become unplayable.
Fourteen trophies from their last four campaigns, including the record-breaking sextuple of 2009, are testaments to this, as Barcelona have become the best and perhaps the most innovative side of this generation.
And speaking of the Best in the World, WWE Champion CM Punk is all too keen to remind us that he is indeed the greatest professional wrestler in the world today.
His array of moves make him one of the most aesthetically pleasing performer on the WWE roster today, and his refusal to refer to himself as a “superstar” really shows his old-school pro wrestling roots.
Such an approach somewhat mirrors that of Barcelona, who are considered real footballing purists and perhaps the most entertaining team in the world.
Barcelona’s nickname “Los Cules” could also be applied to CM Punk in some of the more obnoxious and attitudinal promos that he has become so famous for.
John Cena: Manchester United
In typical WWE fashion, I chose to save the showcasing of John Cena until last.
Super Cena, as he is mockingly dubbed my many WWE fans, can do no wrong. He has been the face of the company and the most celebrated and successful superstar for a number of years now, and still to this day finds himself in the main event scene.
Such dominance is very similar to that of the all-conquering Manchester United, who have remarkably won the English Premier League 12 times in the last 20 seasons. Their nearest rivals are Arsenal and Chelsea, with just three wins apiece during this period.
This superiority makes the Red Devils the most likely match to John Cena, as well as the fact that the two have a fairly unique ability to completely split an audience in two, drawing both adulation and criticism in equal measure throughout the world.
Cena’s absence from the WWE title picture also coincided with Manchester United’s surrendering of the Premier League trophy to neighbours Manchester City last season.
With the 2012-13 campaign underway, and Cena once again challenging CM Punk for the WWE championship, could this be the start of a return to glory for both parties?
The WWE is an industry in which anything can happen.
Scratch that, almost anything; the chances of the paths of the WWE and soccer intersecting are slim to none.
But nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this brief amalgamation of the two very unique worlds.
I’m sure it’s not a topic that many of you have considered before, but if you have any thoughts on this subject then feel free to comment below, and don't forget to keep it civil.