WWE-Inspired Wrestling Moves in the NFL, NBA and College Football
Fans won't likely ever see a zone blitz in a WWE ring, but WWE-type moves have popped up in the NBA, NFL and college football.
We know LeBron James is a WWE fan after his Ric Flair comment. It appears from checking out these videos of athletes infusing pro wrestling with their sports that he isn't alone.
A German suplex or a sleeper hold is everyday fare for the WWE world. It's far more startling when those moves appear on a basketball court or football field.
From LaMichael Fanning's penalized maneuver to Kevin McHale's infamous clothesline, here are some of the most memorable and jaw-dropping WWE-style moves in sports.
German Suplex: LaMichael Fanning
Missouri running back Russell Hansbrough cut to the right side of the field when he felt a massive arm wrap around him. Fanning had caught him, a lion with his paws around a gazelle.
Shocking the game's announcers, Fanning lifted Hansbrough from behind and sent him to the turf, evoking images of Kurt Angle.
About this penalized play, The Huffington Post wrote, "If Alabama defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning doesn't reach the NFL, he may have a future in professional wrestling."
As gorgeous as that German suplex was, they may be right.
Chokeslam: Tarvaris Jackson
Chris Clemons appears to be a fan of The Undertaker. He took a move out of Taker's playbook in a game against the Minnesota Vikings.
After throwing an interception, Tarvaris Jackson sprinted toward Asante Samuel in the hopes of preventing a touchdown. Instead he met then-Eagle defensive end, Clemons who lifted him high into the air before sending him crashing into the end zone.
All that moment needed was Jim Ross screaming, "For the love of God, what a chokeslam!"
Headlock: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Fans watching the 1985 NBA Western Conference Finals got a bonus mini-wrestling match thrown in.
Denver Nuggets center Danny Schayes and Magic Johnson got into a shoving match in the second game of the series. Johnson explained in Thomas Bonk's Los Angeles Times article that a Schayes elbow to Johnson's chin started the whole fracas.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rushed in and clamped on a headlock.
The hold sent both men to the ground where Abdul-Jabbar squeezed his opponent like a boa constrictor. Referees ejected the center/wrestler and the Lakers went on to lose the game 136-114.
Abdul-Jabbar won the wrestling match, though, as well as the series.
Spinebuster: Dallas Washington
Arkansas safety Dallas Washington called on his inner Arn Anderson as he planted a USC player to the ground.
The USC kick returner found himself lifted into the air before hurtling backwards onto the grass. The Arkansas crowd popped after the hit.
Too bad Arkansas couldn't win the game on a three-count, because that spinebuster on the turf would have gotten them that for sure. Instead, USC won the 2006 game 50-14.
His WWE-inspired tackle against USC may not have affected the outcome of the game but survives as the most video-worthy moment from that Saturday.
Leglock: Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy, to no one's surprise, is no Ken Shamrock.
In a 1998 playoff game between Van Gundy's Knicks and the Miami Heat, Van Gundy tried to break up a fight between Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson. He locked onto Mourning's calf in perhaps the ugliest wrestling hold ever.
Van Gundy looked terrified as he clutched Mourning in the center of the storm.
Mourning did not tap out from the hold, but he was suspended for two games.
Suplex: Charles Martin
Packers defensive tackle, Charles "Too Mean" Martin ended the Bears' hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champs in 1986 when he smashed Jim McMahon with a move that could have easily gotten him a pinfall.
On a third-down play, McMahon avoided the rush and threw an errant pass right into Packer Mark Lee's hands. Long after he'd thrown the pass, McMahon found himself in Martin's arms, crashing shoulder-first into the ground.
It looked like a failed German suplex, crashing McMahon awkwardly on his side rather than flipping him over fully.
The NFL official who ejected Martin for the wrestling move told the Chicago Tribune, "It was at least 20 seconds after the interception. I don't think he had an awareness of how late it was, or that the play was over. McMahon was walking to the sideline, had relaxed, and he picked him up and smashed him to the ground."
Sleeper Hold: Keith Bogans
Paul Pierce shot a pass to Leandro Barbosa, who headed towards the basket. Barbosa had no idea what was coming next.
Defender Keith Bogans borrowed a move from the WWE toolbox and snaked his arm around Barbosa's neck.
Bogans needs to work on his technique, though. He didn't use his right hand to tighten the hold and didn't slip Barbosa's chin into the crook of his elbow. Someone should show him Dolph Ziggler clips.
Spinebuster: Mark Davis
Shawn Bradley appears to weigh next to nothing with that beanpole frame, but the now-retired NBA center was actually 275 pounds during his playing days. It's even more impressive how easily Mark Davis lifted him up and delivered a modified spinebuster on the hardwood.
Davis' wrestling move isn't very pretty, though.
The former Golden State Warrior needs to follow through more and use his weight to drive his foe into the ground if he wants to do the move properly. Refer to Triple H's version for more information.
The incident is one of the more memorable moments in both men's careers. Perhaps it's better to be mentioned as the guy who slammed Shawn Bradley than the guy who averaged 5.5 points for his career.
German Suplex: Rolando McClain
What is it with Alabama defensive players and German suplexes? Is Nick Saban having his guys watch videos of Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit?
Rolando McClain, former Alabama linebacker and current Oakland Raider, made Danny Amendola pay for making a short catch in the middle of the field.
McClain grabbed him from behind and then suplexed him on the 50-yard line. His technique is not as impressive as fellow Crimson Tide standout LaMichael Fanning's, but McClain celebrates the hit with gusto regardless.
Never mind the 15-yard penalty; McClain may have been more interested in showing off what he can do to TNA and WWE scouts.
Clothesline: Kevin McHale
A play that is said to have changed the dynamic of the 1984 Finals turned a layup into an impromptu wrestling match.
Game 4 of the series between the Lakers and the Celtics is often remembered for Kevin McHale's shot on Kurt Rambis and with good reason. As admitted by players in the game, it transformed the series and affected several players other than Rambis and McHale.
Magic Johnson wrote in his biography My Life that "when the Celtics intimidated us with their physical game, we just rolled over."
Rambis was on his way to the hoop, for what seemed like an easy layup. McHale charged in and clobbered him with his left arm. His famous clothesline is reminiscent of Dynamite Kid's version.
Edge-O-Matic: James Harrison
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has long had a reputation for hard hits and in 2005 even thumped a Browns fan.
Nathan Mallett ran onto the playing field during a Steelers vs. Browns game and received a crushing blow and a pair of handcuffs for his efforts. Drunkenness inspired Mallett to insert himself into the action.
Harrison pulled out a move that looked a lot like WWE Hall-of-Famer Edge's Edge-O-Matic.
It looked at first as if Harrison was going to deliver a German suplex, but instead slammed Mallett's head down and followed with a modified keylock.
After the incident, Mallet made major changes in his life. He said during a Bleacher Report "Why We Watch" feature, "I started to think about church. I started to think about God. I started to think about all the things in life and where I was at and where I felt I should have been."
In that case, it sounds like quite a few folks could benefit from James Harrison wrestling them to the ground.