What the Premier League and WWE Have in Common
This weekend saw WWE’s biggest annual event, Wrestlemania. Excitement for the event even spread to the Premier League when we saw QPR’s Bobby Zamora perform a professional wrestling style “big boot” on Wigan Athletic's Jordi Gomez.
So we’re asking what other traits do the Premier League and WWE share?
In WWE they’re called “heels”, in the Premier League we call them “pantomime villains”.
They’re the figures we boo, the figures we love to hate and they play up to the crowd’s disapproval of their actions.
Ted DiBiase and El Hadji Diouf.
Ric Flair and Robbie Savage.
Vince McMahon and (not strictly just the Premier League) Sepp Blatter.
And, judging by his attempts to instigate an eleven-on-one handicap match at the end of last season, Joey Barton could probably fall into both categories.
Big Names Can Be Too Popular
In WWE, John Cena is their biggest star, their biggest individual brand. In the Premier League, it’s Manchester United.
Both United and Cena are very successful, however they are resented for it in some circles.
In the football world, there are people labelled as “ABUs” (Anyone But United) – people who hate Man United.
Some people will almost always support United's opponent, regardless of who they are, for many reasons. Be it for how many trophies they have won, the perceived "bias" of referees towards the Reds or due to people being generally freaked out and confused by the faces Phil Jones pulls.
Whereas in the professional wrestling world there are “smarks” (a portmanteau of "smart" and "marks" - a term for wrestling fans). Smarks don’t necessarily cheer for who the WWE creative team wants them to and, at the moment, there is no one more indicative of this then current WWE Champion John Cena.
Cena is being pushed as WWE's main star, like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan before him, and some fans hate that.
If you're curious, Nick Houser explains here why some WWE fans hate Cena, a person they’re meant to cheer for..
One of the most infamous incidents in 90s wrestling was The Montreal Screwjob. An incident when Bret Hart faced Shawn Michaels in what would be Hart’s last match at WWE (or, as it was then, WWF) before jumping ship to rival company WCW.
It was planned before the match that Hart would beat Michaels. Unbeknownst to Hart, however, Vince McMahon and other WWE staff conspired in ringing the bell in the middle of the match, claiming Hart had submitted to Michaels' Sharpshooter, when he actually hadn't.
Bret was certain he was going to win, but the victory was heartlessly taken away from him. Sound familiar, footie fans?
Let’s go back to QPR v Wigan this weekend. We saw what could be considered the Premier League's answer to a screwjob. In fact the match played out like a classic wrestling match.
They started off level, but QPR then looked at a disadvantage – a red card, maybe a wrestling equivalent of being hit with a steel chair. But the crowd willed them on and they managed to hold their own and get back in it.
Then, all of a sudden, they looked like they were going to win. The fans were roaring.
But cruelty struck, with the opponents getting a last minute winner. A wrestling version would be a quick roll-up pin that took the heart-broken loser by surprise.
Like Bret Hart left for WCW, QPR will almost certainly leave the Premier League for the Championship.
Larger Than Life Managers
Last month the wrestling world said goodbye to Paul Bearer, one of the most iconic managers in professional wrestling history.
Looking at the likes of Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter in WWE today, the performance of managers can often overshadow the performance of some of the wrestlers.
Similarly in football the manager will always be held accountable for his team’s performance and, in the same sense, be as (if not more) important than the players.
But they are not the only similarities between Premier League and WWE managers. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase publicly flaunted his personal wealth. In a similar way, Harry Redknapp's fortune was made famous by Her Majesty's Revenue And Customs.
Just like “The Mouth Of The South” Jimmy Hart was famous for his trademark jackets, what would Arsene Wenger be without his three sizes too big coat?
And let’s not even start with the Zeb Colter and Paolo Di Canio comparisons.
A WWE wrestler without his iconic theme music is no wrestler at all. Likewise, some Premier League teams have their entrance music too.
Hulk Hogan had “Real American”, Shawn Michaels had “Sexy Boy” and now Fandango has “ChaChaLaLa”. In the same way, Liverpool has “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, Everton has “Theme From Z–Cars” and Man City has “Blue Moon.”
Football has had its dramatic exits too, worthy of a WWE storyline. Kevin Keegan leaving on a helicopter in full kit, anyone?
WWE has its monsters, wrestlers that are big, powerful and scary. But so does English football’s top flight.
For every Kane, Undertaker and Big Show there is a Premier League counterpart.
The size of Chris Samba, the strength of Nemanja Vidic and David Moyes’ angry stare is something straight out of a horror film.
They Act Hurt, but They Rarely Are
In wrestling it’s called “selling” a move, reacting to a maneuver performed on you as if you are hurt. When it's done in wrestling it's a good thing.
In football it’s called “diving", and when it's done it's a bad thing.
The most common place for when the WWE and the Premier League cross paths is when we see the Ashley Youngs, Luis Suarezs and Gareth Bales of the world reacting to a tackle like they’ve just received a Stone Cold Stunner.