Pete Rose has accomplished many great things in the world of sport. As a Major League Baseball player he won three World Series rings, three batting titles, a most valuable player award, rookie of the year award, two Gold Gloves and had 17 All-Star appearances. To say he has done it all would be an understatement, but until 1998, he was missing his moment — a special moment in sports entertainment.
There is something that Pete Rose is not as well known for in the sporting world and that is his involvement with the WWE and his three Wrestlemania appearances. When interviewed at the Niagara Falls Sport Expo on Saturday about his wrestling involvement Rose began to get quite animated.
“They really know what they are doing,” Rose told SLAM! Wrestling. “When I worked for them I did a Wrestlemania in Philly, I did one in Boston, I did one in L.A.”
Baseball’s all-time hit king made his WWE debut on March 29, 1998, at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, for Wrestlemania XIV. In the past, the WWE had employed celebrities to add a bit of glitz to its annual major show. This edition featured not only Rose, but the badest man on the planet, ex-heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson as well.
Pete Rose was slated to be the special ring announcer for the match pitting The Undertaker against Kane. Rose proceeded to insult the Boston crowd until he introduced Kane. The Big Red Machine picked up “Charlie Hustle” and gave him a tombstone piledriver.
The following year, Wrestlemania XV took place on March 28, 1999 at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to Kane’s match with Triple H, the San Diego Chicken appeared at ringside and disrupted Kane’s pre-match routine. The chicken attacked Kane but to no avail as Kane fought back. He ripped the chicken mask off the assailant’s head revealing Pete Rose to the audience. While Rose wanted revenge for the previous year’s attack, he was once again on the receiving end of a tombstone piledriver. Rose enjoyed his participation with the WWE.
“They (Wrestlemania) were all fun except the one time I was the San Diego Chicken and Kane threw me up against the ring and almost broke my back,” recalled Rose with a twinkle in his eye.
Rose’s last appearance at Wrestlemania happened on April 2, 2000 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. Kane and Rikishi were facing off against Degeneration X stable mates X-Pac and Road Dogg in a tag team bout. Kane and his partner were victorious on the day and soon Rikishi was joined in the ring by the tag team Too Cool and the San Diego Chicken for a celebratory dance. Kane attacked the Chicken believing it to be Rose, when Rose ran into the ring to attack Kane with a baseball bat. Rikishi took the bat from Rose and Kane gave the former major leaguer a chokeslam.
Then the real trouble began.
“Then of course Rikishi stinky faced me,” recalled Rose with a laugh. “I will get even with him for that. He smelled like perfume. He put perfume all over himself. It was fun.”
When asked about his time with the WWE Rose has nothing but fond recollections and kind words for the wrestling organization.
“I have nothing but good memories from Vince (McMahon) all the way down,” said Rose. “I have never met anybody connected to wrestling who wasn’t a good guy including Pat Patterson, [Jerry] Lawler, Big Show, Undertaker, Steve Austin; John Cena is unbelievable.”
As for his adversary, Rose had a surprising response. “Kane, I had great times with Kane. It was just a lot of fun.”
Pete Rose may not be enshrined in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his accomplishments in sports entertainment have been recognized by the WWE.
“I’m in the WWE Hall of Fame,” Rose said with a smile. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (celebrity wing) by his old rival Kane the evening before Wrestlemania XX in 2004.
Rose enjoyed his time with the WWE and still likes the product today. “It is the best entertainment on TV. No question about it. They have grown and grown and grown. I watch them every Monday night from my home in Las Vegas,” confessed Rose. “But Vince is such a nice guy and he started that thing out and just kept working at it and working at it. He knows how to create a star, man … the storybook and the lines who is a good guy this week and who is a bad guy this week.”
Caleb Smith had another cool adventure at the Niagara Falls Sports Expo, interviewing Pete Rose, Tugbout/Typhoon and Howard Finkel. He also got to meet Angelo Mosca, and perhaps most impressively, Dan Murphy from Pro Wrestling Illustrated!