There are lots of ways NBA veterans can spend their offseasons in prepartion for the upcoming season. If they’re longtime veterans, you would assume those players would take time off, let their body heal up..maybe spend time with their families.
Shaquille O’neal, recently aquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the supposed shining knight to LeBron’s title hopes has been spending his offseason a little differently. Last night on WWE’s flagship show, Raw, Shaq appeared and even got in the ring and mixed it up a little with WWE’s The Big Show.
Since it happened and since we have some other instances of this to compare it to, let’s evaluate it.
Shaquille O’neal who is a professional basketball player, has never been one to be considered a gym rat, so who was to expect that he actually would have prepared himself to step into the ring with other professional wrestlers? As to be expected, Shaq moved around a little bit, and then tried doing what could be classified as a “move” when he shoulder tackled the Big Show, though I think his execution wasn’t quite there.
Now there must be something about the squared circle that inevitably attracts “basketball players” to it. And amazingly enough, The Giant or The Big Show is usually involved.
First there was Dennis Rodman’s turn to take on the Big Show.
Nobody really flinched when Rodman appeared on WCW programming, and why not? For all intensive purposes Rodman actually looked like a wrestler. He even had a nickname worthy of the ring, “The Worm” and he fit in quite well with the heel group, N.W.O.
In this match, his first, Rodman didn’t exactly bring down the wrestling world. Most of the in-ring work was done by Hollywood Hogan (which is scary in itself) but Rodman did get a chance to square off with Big Show (then known as the Giant) right in the beginning of the second video.
Rodman didn’t really do much in terms of wrestling, except maybe oversell a bear hug. He then quickly scurried out of there.
He had a few more moments in the ring in this match, and actually executed some nice elbows to WCW star Lex Luger. Overall though Rodman’s showmanship was well done and I did like his in-ring persona. I think he was athletic and crazy enough (watch him on Celebrity Apprentice) to actually make a pretty good wrestler had he pursued that career.
Our final NBA’er to step into the ring was NBA veteran Karl Malone. This one was a little less expected. While Rodman and Shaq both have personalities that would translate to the ring, one wouldn’t really think Malone would be the wrestling type, but, alas he appeared anyway.
Malone actually figured heavily in what was arguably the peak of the entire company of WCW when he helped their biggest star (Goldberg) defeat their biggest heel (Hollywood Hogan) for his first ever WCW championship.
Watch it here at the 4:00 minute mark:
Malone then wrestled in his one and only match in WCW, teaming with Diamond Dallas Page to take on Hollywood Hogan and “The Worm” Dennis Rodman at Road Wild.
Here’s the match:
You can watch part 2 here.
With these other guys only appearing in the ring once, we’re going to disregard Rodman’s performance in this match - at this point he was a seasoned vet – and just concentrate on Malone’s.
I must say, the Mailman again delivered. He took some legitmate bumps, executed some pretty stiff clotheslines and even pulled off an actual wrestling move when he body slammed Hogan and Rodman (not to mention that flawless Diamond Cutter on Curt Henning in the Goldberg match). He even had the presence of mind to go for the cover after completing the move.
So how do these guys rank?
Well granted its not based off much, but I’d be hard pressed not to say Malone was the class of this group.
Malone took bumps, delivered some pretty technical moves and was involved in a huge angle (Goldberg/Hogan). Rodman would be next, his combo of charisma and in-ring work was pretty stellar.
Which brings us to Shaq. I’m not a huge fan of Shaq but I will say he has the size, personality and showmanship of a wrestler. I have no doubt that the Big Turnbuckle could thrive as a wrestler if he could ever get past the “commodity” stage, but in his (so far) lone performance I’d have to say Shaq brings up the rear.