While celebrities stepping into the ring is nothing new in 2023 when Mr. T competed at WrestleMania I things couldn’t have been more different.
Although other celebrities had wrestled before, notably Andy Kaufman against Jerry Lawler in the CWA, Mr. T’s match in the main event of the first-ever WrestleMania was on a different level. At Madison Square Garden on March 31st, 1985, the star teamed with Hulk Hogan to defeat Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper with Muhammad Ali acting as “Special Guest Enforcer.”
In the years after the event, Roddy Piper admitted that he and others weren’t overly enamored with the A-Team star coming into the company and landing in the headline spot.
In a recent interview on the comPODres podcast, Mr.T said that some within were jealous and felt he wouldn’t be able to hold his own.
“When I came in, at first, some of the wrestlers were a little jealous. Number one, they didn’t know I could bring it. I was a wrestling champion in the city of Chicago. I knew how to wrestle. They didn’t realize the business of wrestling. Vince McMahon brought me in to elevate wrestling. Those guys, sure, they had been around and had it hard. I’m bringing light to wrestling, and they didn’t see that. They were a little jealous at first. They thought that, me coming in that I couldn’t hold my own. They found out real quick.”
Mr. T Returned To The Ring At WrestleMania II
Building on the real-life issues between the pair, Mr. T entered into a rivalry with Roddy Piper and the pair met in a boxing match at WrestleMania II, which Piper lost.
Mr. T went on to make further appearances in both WWE and WCW, before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.
H/t to Fightful