The best wrestler guest appearances on television come from Kane, Mick Foley, and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
From the A-Team to Baywatch, wrestlers have made guest appearances on shows big and small, usually in episodes centered around a fight club or an actual wrestling match. Not counting Hulk Hogan, the greatest performer of all time that had his own series at one point, these guest stars range from WWE Hall of Famers to an ECW superstar that somehow appeared on the most popular sci-fi show of the time. Guest spots can range from cringe-inducing to some of the best episodes ever, but all of the ones on this list are fascinating and notable, either because of the wrestler or the show, and a few, are the best episodes in the series.
10. Kane – Smallville
Kane, the Big Red Machine, may have starred in his own horror movie, See No Evil, which was famously released on May 19, but he also made an appearance on Smallville. This wrestler guest appearance is similar to most of them on this list, with the Season 6 episode “Combat,” centered on an online fight club, dominated by one-half of the Brothers of Destruction. Glen Jacobs, the man that plays Kane, is the current Mayor of Knoxville County, Tennessee, and he is capable of giving great speeches, but as with most of his time in the WWE, his time on Smallville was relegated to various grunts and groans.
9. Bret Hart – The Simpsons
Bret “Hitman” Hart may be the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be, but he’s also one of the only WWE stars to be immortalized as a citizen of Springfield. Appearing in Season 8, Episode 21, “The Old Man And The Lisa,” Bret Hart’s only in a single scene as a potential buyer for Burns Manor. A small footnote among the long list of The Simpsons guest stars, the appearance was a dream come true for the superstar, a lifelong artist himself, and though brief, he’s still considered one of the better celebrity cameos in over 30 seasons of the show.
8. Booker T/Scott Steiner – Charmed
WCW wrestlers were usually relegated to guest-spots on Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise, but toward the end of the company’s run, champions Booker T and Scott Steiner made an appearance on Charmed as wrestlers from hell. “Wrestling with Demons” aired during Charmed’s third season, and while the wrestling match was the highlight, both WWE Hall of Famers were overshadowed by the other guest star, Buff Bagwell….kidding, Ron Perlman also appeared in this episode.
Not the only wrestler guest appearance to reduce the struggle between good and evil to a match within the squared circle, Charmed stands out as one of the rare times Scott Steiner has crossed over into the mainstream. Wrestling fans can understand why Hollywood would be hesitant to give the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy a look because of his habit of saying whatever came to his mind when given a live mic.
7. Rob Van Dam – The X-Files
Given Rob Van Dam’s experience later on in martial arts films (check out his rather impressive IMDb), it’s not too surprising to learn he made a wrestler guest appearance on a series, but what is shocking is it was on The X-Files. The Season 7 episode “Fight Club,” centers around Kathy Grifin as doppelgangers that leave destruction in their wake, but Rob Van Dam plays the in-ring opponent of their boyfriend, Bert. This is the only time an ECW wrestler appeared on a mainstream series, which is a good thing, really, who would want to see The Sandman on say, The Drew Carey Show?
6. Lita – Dark Angel
Lita was a ground-breaking performer that paved the way for women’s wrestling to be where it is today, but it was while filming the Dark Angel series finale, “Freak Nation” that her career almost came to an early end. While executing a hurricanrana, Lita broke her neck on the set, an injury that would end up leading her to retire in 2006. Jessica Alba’s breakout series was declining in popularity when Lita made her wrestler guest appearance, but it was an enormous moment for WWE female wrestlers.
5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Star Trek: Voyager
Before he was the biggest movie star in the world, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, and he made no secret of his desire to become an action star. In the Star Trek: Voyager Season 6 episode, Tsunkata,” The Rock played the Pendari Champion, a master of the Tsunkata matches that goes toe-to-toe with Seven-of-Nine. The role didn’t let him demonstrate the full range of his acting ability or wit, but it did give a showcase for the raw, natural charisma that would make him a superstar.
4. The Bushwackers – Family Matters
Long after Family Matters became about the wild adventures of Steve Urkel, Luke and Butch, known as the Bushwackers, made a wrestler guest appearance in the Season 5 episode, “Psycho Twins.” This is one of the few times it’s acknowledged in-universe that wrestling is staged, with the Psycho Twins working with Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) and Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), until they find out Carl is a cop, prompting them to “go off script” and try and hurt their opponents. Luke and Butch, once famous for their bloody hardcore matches, were the perfect performers for a family-friendly sitcom as their careers were winding down.
3. Mick Foley – G v E
GvE (or Good vs. Evil) was a short-lived series about agents of Heaven trying to stop the forces of Hell from corrupting the human world. Season 1 episode “Sunday Night Evil” featured Testicules, a wrestler that made a deal with a devil to become a WWE superstar. Naturally, the agents recruit Mankind, Mick Foley playing himself, making his first wrestler guest appearance after becoming one of the hottest acts in the WWE and a New York Times best-selling author as well. Foley always had a gift for horrible storylines (“Lost in Cleveland” is the best example), so the campy nature of the series was perfect for his quirky sensibilities.
2. Vader – Boy Meets World
Vader, one of the most dangerous men to ever perform in the squared circle, held the title of “best wrestler guest appearance” for years with his guest spot on Boy Meets World. Corey (Ben Matthews) and Shawn (Rider Strong) agree to help Frankie gain the love of his father, Vader, by helping at his wrestling match, which happens to be at the same time as Topanga’s (Danielle Fishel) Sweet 16, but that’s alright, it was solved thanks to Flintstones logic. By running between the match and the dance, the two are able to attend both, even if they appear with Vader’s trademark face mask at the dance, and of course, it all goes wrong, but it’s a very fun episode.
Notably, Vader’s opponent for his match is Jake “The Snake” Roberts, another wrestling legend. But what makes this one of the best wrestler guest appearances of all time is Vader switching between his ring persona and being Frankie Jr’s father at the drop of a hat. As with the Bushwhackers, Vader found the perfect tone for the family-friendly sitcom and starred in one of the best episodes of the long-running show.
1. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was one of the greatest wrestlers turned actors, putting in a classic leading-man performance in John Carpenter’s They Live, and then in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Season 5, “The Gang Wrestles For The Toops,” he gave the best wrestler guest appearance of all time. As Da Maniac, a wrestler that the gang hires for a tribute show, Piper slowly reveals to the group that he’s actually a maniac, and it’s not just a character inside the ring. If that was his only appearance, he’d be at the top of the list, but Da Maniac came back four seasons later.
In Season 9, “Mac And Dennis Buy A Timeshare,” Da Maniac appears uninvited multiple times, interested in the timeshare and in selling Invigaron. From randomly smashing a lamp to ranting incoherently, Piper does a convincing job playing an insane wrestler, thanks to a gift for physical comedy and wild facial expressions.