WWE has a long history of celebrities showing up to wrestle, and an almost-as-long history of those celebrities half-assing their appearances. While the primary purpose is for these famous people to just show up and promote something without getting injured, it’s why wrestling fans might generally be wary of someone coming in and beating a wrestler who is there week in and week out. The first night of WrestleMania 37 was not one of those instances. On Saturday, Puerto Rican musician and megastar Bad Bunny came in fully committed to the surrealism, and left as an example of what a guest can do to actually contribute to the show.
By all accounts, including his own, Bad Bunny is a huge wrestling fan, and he’s famous enough to get to live out something that he probably practiced with his friends as a kid. He’s also famous enough to not want to embarrass himself in front of an audience, so he put in the work to train for what ended up being a 15-minute match. Bad Bunny reportedly rented a house in Orlando just to be closer to the WWE Performance Center, and he worked with Adam Pearce and Drew Gulak, two wrestlers with coaching experience.
I’ll admit, I was worried at the very start of Saturday’s match. Bad Bunny had a great entrance on a big rig truck, then started off throwing some pretty terrible punches, and it seemed that he was going to play it safe after all. But the moment I realized that Bad Bunny would go all in was when he started getting his ass beat.
Selling for opponents is such a big part of pro wrestling that even industry veterans can’t do correctly, but Bad Bunny came in ready to make the entire process look as legit as possible. It helped that he was tiny compared to everyone else in the ring, but he really threw himself around and acted like a pure babyface in distress, which made the eventual comeback from his tag team hit all the better. His partner for the night, Damian Priest, didn’t have to do much thanks to Bad Bunny’s acting chops, but when the horribly nicknamed “Archer of Infamy” did come in, he made sure to keep his celebrity partner involved, including in a perfect double Falcon Arrow spot:
The Miz and John Morrison also deserve credit for selling for Bad Bunny as well as anyone on the roster would, as they helped guide him through his spots. There were no lulls in this match. Though Miz was the main antagonist, my favorite spot, and one that WWE will surely play for years in video packages, involved Morrison helping Bad Bunny through a Canadian Destroyer, which is not a move that regularly pops up in mainstream wrestling, even when there isn’t a celebrity involved:
The Canadian Destroyer was the moment I realized that this was easily the best non-athlete celebrity wrestling guest spot I had ever seen. The previous holder of that title was actor Stephen Amell, formerly of The CW’s Arrow and similarly an avid wrestling fan, who came into SummerSlam in 2015 and put on a great little match that followed a similar blueprint as Bad Bunny’s: Celebrity comes in, gets beat up for a while, hits a big spot, wins. It was very impressive at the time, and remains so, but Bad Bunny threw in about three other big spots in what was a better match overall. Hell, he was better than a lot of athletes who come moonlight in WWE; Rob Gronkowski didn’t hit a Canadian Destroyer.
There are better guest performances in recent memory—former Colts punter Pat McAfee had a banger of a match in NXT last year, and former Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams at Impact is still the gold standard for me—but it’s wild that one of the most famous musicians in the world came in and shined so brightly. The feud with Miz and Morrison was booked perfectly, and the match was structured in a way that was both surprising and exciting in turn. Having a guest who isn’t bored or ashamed of being a part of the weird world of wrestling can do wonders, and WWE should make it happen more often.