5 Times Shaquille O’Neal Stepped Into the Pro-Wrestling Ring
After weeks of trash talk Shaquille O’Neal will finally step foot in an All Elite Wrestling ring. The NBA legend and analyst is set to team up with newcomer Jade Cargill to face Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet in a mixed tag team match on the March 3 episode of Dynamite on TNT.
This anticipated showdown is just the latest in a number of appearances Shaq has made in the pro wrestling world over the years. Whether it was supporting a friend or getting physical himself, the lifelong fan created his share of memorable moments. Let’s take a look.
Shaq Hits the Beach
In 1994, Shaq was entering his third season of NBA play with the Orlando Magic. The Orlando Arena (Amway Arena today) not only served as the team’s hometown venue, but it was also where World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Bash at the Beach pay-per-view event would take place July 17. Decked in the trademark red and yellow of Hulkamania, Shaq cut a promotional video alongside Hulk Hogan leading up to the Hulkster’s WCW debut against world champion Ric Flair at the big event. O’Neal sat ringside on the historic night and presented the Hogan with the title after he defeated the “Nature Boy.”
Shaq Hosts WWE ‘Raw’
More than 15 years later, in 2009, O’Neal served as guest host for the July 27 episode of WWE’s Raw show. It didn’t take long for the natural entertainer to get involved in the proceedings. An altercation with Chris Jericho led to Shaq naming himself special enforcer for his new rival’s main event. When the basketball great saw injustice committed, O’Neal ripped off his referee shirt and hit the ring to back up the tag team Cryme Tyme (JTG and Shad Gaspard), who were opponents for Big Show and Jericho (collectively known as Jeri-Show). The 7-foot Shaq coming face-to-face with Show created quite the visual. Even today, there are still fans clamoring for an official one-on-one battle of these Goliaths.
Shaq Makes An Impact
O’Neal reunited with Hulk Hogan for a backstage segment on Impact Wrestling in August 2013. Hogan was having issues at the time with a group known as Aces & Eights, led by Bully Ray. Shaq assured the Hulkster he had his back if he needed it. The Hall of Famers embraced and Shaq flexed his arm—or “24-inch python,” as Hogan calls it. The appearance was welcome to Impact, which needed the mainstream appeal Shaq provided.
Shaq shocked the world participating in the 3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 in Texas on April 3, 2016. Before more than 100,000 fans inside AT&T Stadium, O’Neal stood fearless against a ring full of WWE superstars. Among them was a familiar rival in Big Show. Before the two giants could get reacquainted, Kane interrupted them by attempting to chokeslam both at the same time. Shaq and Show worked together by chokeslamming Kane instead. In what is technically O’Neal’s first official match, he was able to eliminate Damian Sandow by sending him over the top rope. Looking at the towering figures as viable threats, a group of wrestlers teamed up against Shaq and Show to take them out. Despite Baron Corbin winning the battle royal trophy, it was O’Neal who made the headlines.
Shaq Is Elite
During the November 11, 2020 edition of Dynamite, newcomer Jade Cargill teased that O’Neal was coming to AEW. Not only that, but he had his eyes set on Cody Rhodes. Cargill, an apparent Shaq protégé, and Rhodes’ wife Brandi got into a few skirmishes in the weeks that followed. One onscreen tussle in this story left Brandi with a broken arm. AEW announcer Tony Schiavone rounded up Shaq and Brandi for a sit down interview during the December 9 episode of Dynamite . The conversation broke down when Shaq suggested Brandi watch Cargill to get pointers while she recovers from her injury. Not having it, Brandi took Schiavone’s water and threw it in O’Neal’s face. O’Neal challenged Cody to a match during the AEW Dynamite Awards that streamed January 27. Brandi and Cody recently announced they were having a baby, which meant Cody needed a new partner for the March 3 showdown. The young up-and-comer Red Velvet stepped up to the plate.
Can Shaq put all his pro wrestling experience to good use and lead his team to victory?
AEW Dynamite, Wednesdays, 8/7c, TNT