Involving celebrities in WWE programming is nothing new. Vincent J. McMahon purportedly rejected the idea of booking Andy Kauffman in WWE because it would hurt the credibility of the product (a decision Jerry Lawler and his territory benefited from greatly). His son from him has never shied away from using famous names to generate extra buzz, though. Mr. T and Lawrence Taylor each main evented WrestleManias, and, most recently, Bad Bunny became the epitome of a celebrity fans would love to see wrestle again. Floyd Mayweather, Snooki, and Maria Menounos have all worked matches at the biggest show of the year as well. With that lineage in mind, Johnny Knoxville is not the most left field choice to book into a ‘Mania feud, and may well represent an ideal fit for his role.
Johnny Knoxville’s Peak Popularity Coincided With WWE’s Attitude Era
Johnny Knoxville’s main claim to fame is all about his involvement with the Jackass franchise. The brand apexed with its own TV series aired on MTV across three seasons from 2000 to 2002. That period just so happened to coincide with WWE’s Attitude Era and immediate aftermath. While there are parts of WWE that are better off today, there are certainly parts that are not given wrestling was about as hot as it has ever been at the time.
More than an incidental overlap in time, the shared success of WWE and Jackass went hand in hand. Just as WWE pushed its product to the edge with over the top violence, sexual overtones, and strong language, Jackass targeted a very similar young, predominantly male audience with juvenile pranks and stunts. So, twenty years later, it stands to reason WWE would book a figure from outside the WWE sphere that lapsed fans might remember from a similar time of their lives to when their wrestling fandom peaked.
Johnny Knoxville Is Willing To Take A Beating
One of the tricky parts of booking celebrities in pro wrestling is they have to learn the craft of sports entertainment in order to achieve any level of success. Snooki may have been the ultimate example of how a bit of athleticism and willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone can go a long way. She was n’t a fighter, but her ability to do a hand spring set her up to deliver a key spot that made her look competent in the ring while more experienced performers all around her protected her in a six-person tag team format. Meanwhile, Bad Bunny raised the bar for celebrity visitors via his complete commitment to the wrestling endeavor that set him up to carry the lion’s share of the work load for his tag team match at WrestleMania 37.
Johnny Knoxville isn’t a professional athlete or known to be a fighter. What he does bring to the table, however, is a complete willingness to absorb physical punishment. Indeed, a part of the Jackass ethos was the main people taking hits and falls as part of the stunts they pulled off. More to the point, Knoxville’s earlier visits to WWE included him taking punishment from Umaga and The Great Khali. That’s not to mention his appearance of him in the underwhelming 2022 Royal Rumble for which Knoxville arguably offered a highlight in not shying away from bumps and big moves either.
Johnny Knoxville Needs WWE As Much As They Need Him
The best cases of celebrities working with WWE tend to be defined by both sides being equally interested in working with one another. WWE embraces celebrity endorsements whenever they can get them, and Johnny Knoxville working a match at WrestleMania 38 not only provides that kind of collaboration, but also offers something genuinely different to diversify the two-night ‘Mania card.
Knoxville needs WWE, too. While he still has name recognition, he has only made noteworthy TV and film appearances sporadically in the last fifteen years or so. Jackass Forever dropped in theaters this February, and it stands to reason Knoxville’s Royal Rumble appearance was an effective promotional tool for that project. Staying on WWE TV for an angle to culminate in his WrestleMania singles match with Sami Zayn only pushes name out there to a relevant audience all the more.
While most wrestling purists aren’t thrilled about Johnny Knoxville working a one on one match at WrestleMania while so many full time talents aren’t getting that opportunity, he’s nonetheless a good fit to draw more eyes to the company and take an entertaining beating in the process. Moreover, Sami Zayn’s a highly skilled hand sure to make the match comes off as well as it possibly could. Better yet, while it’s usually not a good idea to bet against a celebrity in WWE, it would also fit Knoxville’s ethos perfectly for him to take a lot of punishment play to the crowd in the process of losing. That makes for a refreshingly unpredictable celebrity wrestling scenario.
Reports have stated that ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin will return to the ring at WrestleMania 38. His last wrestling match took place 19 years ago.
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