Five Professional Wrestlers Who Are Mirror Images of Soccer Players

Jack WoodfieldFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2013

Five Professional Wrestlers Who Are Mirror Images of Soccer Players

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    Comparisons between professional wrestlers and soccer players have become few and far between in this modern world of breaking news and live event coverage.

    However, I have attempted to answer the age-old question of exactly which five sports entertainers most naturally compare to some of soccer's current greats.

    Soccer and pro wrestling are not renowned for their obvious similarities, but being a British resident, I can assure you that featured coverage of both is excessive across a variety of television channels.

    The antics of Santino Marella and Shane McMahon are examples of the two phenomena blending in recent years, with the British wrestling crowds often vociferously receptive to soccer references.

    Here I'll hope to show you how there are numerous contrasts to be made between the athletes in both professions, who aren't as dissimilar as you would think.

The Undertaker: Ryan Giggs

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    The Undertaker has become a one-of-a-kind institution in the wrestling world, making his debut for World Class Championship Wrestling as Texas Red in 1984, before embarking on a historic career.

    Having debuted for WWE in 1990, Undertaker became the youngest WWE Champion in history back in 1991, establishing himself as a main event player early in his tenure.

    Now at the age of 47, Undertaker wrestles once a year, to defend his undefeated WrestleMania streak, but over the years he has found ways to adapt his game and remain relevant.

    In 2000, his "Dead Man" gimmick was dropped in favour of a transformation into the "American Bad Ass," a biker who chewed tobacco and loved to fight.

    To ensure the continued vibrancy of his finishing moves, Undertaker introduced the Hell's Gate to his repertoire in 2008, a submission move which saw him claim the World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania 24.

    Coincidentally, Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut in 1990 and went on to become the most decorated player in English football history.

    Beginning his career as a flying left winger, Giggs has become a holding midfield general in recent years, adapting his game as the years caught up with the Welshman.

    Having signed a new one-year deal on March 1, Giggs is now poised for a 24th straight year in the United first team when the 2013-14 season begins in August.

    At 39, Giggs shows no signs of slowing down, and alongside Undertaker, it will be a sad day when both men retire from their respective professions.

CM Punk: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    CM Punk is widely recognised as one of best talents that pro wrestling has produced in recent years.

    His constant referral to himself being the "Best in the World" is hard to refute, given his supreme vocal and in-ring ability that has earned him extraordinary success in WWE.

    His 434-day WWE Championship reign, which spanned the entire 2012 calendar year, is the longest in the modern era, but he has still yet to headline a WrestleMania.

    The reason for this is that in John Cena, WWE have created a merchandise selling monster that has become the all-conquering face of a generation.

    As a result, Punk defended his WWE title halfway through many pay-per-views in 2012, while Cena's spotlight predominantly shone in the main events.

    Few footballers could relate to this pain more than Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Renowned as one of the greatest players in the sport's history, Ronaldo's talent is undeniable, with the Portuguese wizard amassing an astounding goals to games ratio during his career.

    He also holds the world record transfer fee from when Madrid paid Manchester United £80 million for his services, but he has missed out on several accolades due to the presence of one man.

    Lionel Messi, a four-time Ballon d'Or winner, has the honour of being universally recognised as the world's best player.

    The Barcelona forward, who broke the record for goals scored in a calendar year in 2012, has often hogged the limelight ahead of Ronaldo, winning more medals in the process.

    In that vein, Punk and Ronaldo are travelling a very similar career trajectory, and for the time being, both will have to continue settling for second place.

Jeff Hardy: Mario Balotelli

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    During his second WWE tenure, Jeff Hardy arguably morphed into the company's most popular superstar; such was his enigmatic appeal for kids and adults alike.

    Hardy was the underdog that finally broke through the glass ceiling and captured the WWE Championship at Armageddon 2008, inspiring a generation that perseverance can lead to success.

    Admittedly, most of the obstacles Hardy had to overcome were through his own doing, with his WWE release in 2003, and suspensions in 2007 and 2008 all relating to drug use.

    Throughout his issues, Hardy always retained the devout backing of the WWE Universe, and in TNA now, where he is World Heavyweight Champion, he is as popular a draw as the company possesses.

    Hardy has always been somewhat of a cult icon in the wrestling world, and in the football landscape, few players have a more controversial, divisive career than Mario Balotelli.

    The supremely talented AC Milan striker spent just three years in England at Manchester City, but chalked up enough memorable moments to garner a cult following amongst fans.

    Reportedly, Balotelli once set fireworks out of his bathroom window, threw darts at a City youth player, struggled to put a bib on before a game and took City to a Premier League tribunal over a fine.

    Jose Mourinho once described Balotelli as "unmanageable," but having scored twice against Manchester United in a 6-1 win; the Italian became much loved by City fans before his exit in 2013.

    Both Hardy and Balotelli have had their issues, but when the two put their minds to the job at hand, they are world beaters on their best days.

Dolph Ziggler: Yaya Toure

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    Dolph Ziggler's losing run in 2013, which currently stands at one win in 10, is criminal for a man possessing the briefcase for a World Heavyweight Championship match.

    The Money in the Bank holder is an exceptional WWE talent, with his renowned selling skills and ability to compete in engaging matches making him a delight to watch every week.

    In many respects, Ziggler always delivers. He may not triumph as much as he should, but his matches over the last 12 months with John Cena, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton have shown he can be relied upon to steal the show.

    With the self-appointed moniker of the "Show Off," Ziggler clearly recognises his value as a dependable hand to produce in the ring, no matter who his opponent is.

    In regard to important contributions, one man in the football world that has made more than his fair share in recent years is Manchester City's Yaya Toure.

    In 2011, Toure scored the winning goal in City's FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United, as well as the only goal of the final against Stoke City.

    As City chased for the Premier League title the following season, Toure's efforts were branded "dominant," as he netted a brace in the penultimate game of the season against Newcastle as City won their first league title in 44 years.

    Toure started the 2012–13 season with a goal in the FA Community Shield in the 3–2 win over Chelsea, but similarly to Ziggler, Toure has failed to hit top form in 2013.

    Regardless, both athletes remain prized stars in their respective fields, and their absences would inevitably be felt should they ever leave their current employers.

Kurt Angle: Lionel Messi

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    While Hulk Hogan, The Rock and John Cena are the household names synonymous with professional wrestling, Kurt Angle is arguably the best to ever compete inside the squared circle.

    A 1996 Olympic gold medallist in heavyweight freestyle wrestling, Angle made the transition to pro wrestling in 1998 when he signed with WWE.

    Angle went on to hold every currently active male championship in WWE, competing in renowned rivalries with Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and Triple H.

    Upon moving to TNA in 2006, Angle became a Triple Crown Winner and in 2010, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter named Angle the Wrestler of the Decade.

    When it comes to best of the football world, as previously touched upon in this slideshow, that man is Lionel Messi.

    Messi's records, accomplishments and trophies increase by the day, and he is widely regarded as one of, if not the greatest player to ever compete in the sport.

    His most recent accolade came as he scored in his 17th successive La Liga game on Saturday, breaking a world record which according to his club Barcelona has stood since the 1930s.

    While Messi's career goes from strength to strength, Angle's is winding down, but few will deny that when both men hang up their boots, they will be regarded as the two of the best ever to grace their industries.

    Jack Woodfield is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @JWoodfield365