Mick Foley believes Mike Tyson was the biggest celebrity appearance in WWE history after the company brought in the former boxing champion for WrestleMania 14 in 1998.
When it comes to celebrity appearances in pro wrestling history, there are a lot of big names that have had roles in WWE and other wrestling companies. Many fans credit the usage of celebrities being a big part of WrestleMania 1 with names like Muhammad Ali, Liberace and Cyndi Lauper all garnering a lot of attention.
The main event of WrestleMania 1 also featured a celebrity with an actor named Mr. T. teamed up with WWE Champion Hulk Hogan against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Hogan and Mr. T won of course, but the fact that Mr. T proved that he belonged in wrestling showed that celebrities can have a huge impact in the world of pro wrestling.
Fast forward to WrestleMania 14 in 1998 when WWE decided to bring in Mike Tyson as a special guest enforcer for the WWE Title match between Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. While Tyson appeared to be on Michaels’ side going into the match, he ended up counting the pin for Austin after the original referee was knocked out. Post match, Tyson also punched Michaels in the jaw to lay him out while Tyson would go on to celebrate with Austin.
Mick Foley recently did a podcast about the 1998 Royal Rumble when he appeared in the Rumble match three times as his “Three Faces of Foley.” Tyson was also at that Royal Rumble as he famously said “Cold Stone” when talking about Austin during an interview on that show.
On his “Foley is Pod” podcast about Royal Rumble 1998, Mick Foley talked about Tyson’s presence at that year’s WrestleMania.
“It does feel big. Big to the point where I remember being on one of those Legends roundtables, right before Mania? You may have seen it because I left there feeling kind of disrespected. I was stomped on by the panel when I said that Tyson was the most important celebrity we’d ever had, I got jumped on for that! ‘What are you trying to say, [WrestleMania] wasn’t big without it [Tyson’s involvement]?’ Yeah, it was big… but it was big within wrestling.”
At the time of WrestleMania 14, Tyson was suspended from boxing due to biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, so people thought Tyson was legitimately crazy due to his actions in the boxing ring. All of that also made Tyson a major sports star, which provided a boost to WWE as Mick Foley mentioned.
“Tyson made it big in the mainstream. That was really important, it was really difficult to get mainstream coverage. [Tuesday morning] it was everywhere. It was one of the best things WWE had ever done. I think it was the biggest celebrity appearance that we’ve ever had. Mike and [Steve] Austin, hitting the news around the world, that was really important.”
Lastly, Mick Foley also spoke about how Tyson was a legitimate wrestling fan that loved being part of the show.
“He was such a big fan and that becomes infectious. Because we know who’s there… people who clearly don’t want to be there [at wrestling], and there are people who just love [wrestling]. Mike was one of those guys who loved it.”