Shaquille O’Neal finally made good on his promise to participate in a WWE match during last night’s Wrestlemania 32, and he couldn’t have been happier to finally be in the ring and ready to rumble.
Shaquille O’Neal, the former superstar NBA center, was certainly no stranger to the world of WWE before last night. In fact, his days of WWE involvement go back to before he retired from basketball. Shaquille hosted Monday Night Raw back in 2009, for example. O’Neal has also vowed multiple times to participate in an actual match, but he had never actually done any more than spectate or moderate matches until yesterday evening’s event.
After years of waiting, the 100,000+ fans that WWE’s official site reports were filling Arlington’s AT&T stadium last night were shocked and delighted to see Shaquille O’Neal, the 7-foot-1 and extremely intimidating living legend, enter the ring for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and wreak havoc. Reports of the incident mirror that sentiment.
“It wasn’t necessarily a shock to see Shaquille O’Neal at WrestleMania 32,” writes The Washington Post, “but the fact that he actually got into the ring and competed in a match? Yeah, that was unexpected.”
But arguably the person that was the most pumped about Wrestlemania 32 and who had anticipated his appearance the most was O’Neal himself.
“You could tell that Shaq was super excited for the match, because he damn near sprinted to the ring,“ reports Uproxx.
The huge grin you could see on O’Neal’s face as he approached the ring and the heated, jarring performance he gave once he was in the center of the action was further evidence of the point that he was having the time of his life. Where was that performance during 1996’s Kazaam, Shaquille?
In terms of the actual match, O’Neal did a lot better than many non-wrestlers fare when they make guest appearances in WWE bouts, executing very proficient-looking punches and grapples that impressed fans.
The main event that O’Neal was involved in was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, a huge cage match in which many contestants are put in the same ring to duke it out. The WWE did not go easy on Shaquille, pitting him against major wrestling superstars like Big Show and Kane. Of course, O’Neal towered over even the largest of his competitors, but, unfortunately, most of the other wrestlers in the ring ganged up on O’Neal to throw him out of the ring.
All told, Shaquille’s WWE initiation lasted less than five minutes, but it is still pretty impressive that Shaquille, as a complete newbie to WWE action, managed to knock one of his opponents – Damien Sandow – out of the ring before being thrown to the court-side mat himself at the same time as Big Show.
O’Neal may not have won, but he loved the experience, it seems. Not long after the match concluded (the eventual winner was Baron Corbin), Shaquille posted a photo to his Instagram in which he has his hand outstretched towards the camera in a powerful pose. The caption simply reads “had fun tonight.”
Other surprise guests at WWE’s Wrestlemania 32 included an almost 60-year old Diamond Dallas Page and John Cena.
Now that Shaquille has fought in a WWE match and confirmed that he liked it, maybe we’ll get to see him again soon. It’s even possible that, with some training, he could become a WWE regular – he certainly has the bulk for it.