July is coming to an end and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for the annual Shark Week on Discovery Network. This year, Shark Week is returning bigger and better than ever as special host, former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, will take fans through a week of shark-related programming kicking off on Sunday, July 24th. In addition, AEW offered synergistic programming to its sister network, holding a shark cage match on Dynamite along with several ads, both televised and in-arena, to tease and promote the upcoming event. And as you’ll soon learn, this is not the first time wrestlers and sharks- or shark week- have been connected. And no, I’m not talking about TNA/Impact‘s Shark Boy…
Shark-Shooter: A History of Wrestlers, Shark Week, and Sharknado
Cable TV’s longest-running special event, Shark Week first premiered on July 17, 1988. The week began as a way to shine a spotlight on debunking misconceptions about sharks in an attempt to help aid conversation efforts. It was an instant hit so it returned year after year, growing in popularity and reach (it is now broadcast in over 72 countries) with each new edition. Shark Week became so popular in fact, that other networks began counterprogramming with their own shark-related specials. The most notable of which was of course SyFy’s cult classic, Sharknado.
Normally airing in conjunction with Shark Week, the Sharknado franchise felt like a fever dream from the second it premiered its first movie. Sharknado debuted on July 11, 2013 to the tune of 1.3 million viewers, and a huge Twitter reaction as people watching couldn’t believe their eyes, and people not watching couldn’t believe that such a film was real. But it was very real, and with each additional broadcast of Sharknado that year, curiosity and more importantly viewership grew, topping out at 2.1 million during the film’s third re-broadcast. By the time Sharknado 2: The Second One came out the following year, it had developed a huge following as the film premiered to a SyFy record 3.9 million viewers.
Starring Tara Reid and Ian Zierling as husband/wife sharknado-fighting duo, Fin and April Shepard, the Sharknado films were as mesmerizing as they were ridiculous. They were as dumb as they were entertaining. They were quite literally car crash TV that had, also quite literally, jumped the shark after the first five minutes of the first movie. But despite the ludicrosity of humans defending the world against shark-filled tornadoes, these movies became a television event that year after year, was not to be missed. By the time the franchise ended in 2018, it had become a parody of itself with more self-referencing gags than one may have thought possible, and more celebrity cameos than you could list. It also spawned a spin-off, video game, and social media presence that rivals even the biggest box office films today. Quite frankly, the movies were so bad, they were good. Because as it turns out, people enjoyed the formula that made these films so horrible and yet so fantastic at the same time: sharks, natural disasters, sharks inside of natural disasters, and of course, a plentiful amount of celebrity cameos.
With the exception of the first movie, there have been dozens of celebrity appearances in the remaining five films in the franchise, running the gamut from B and C-list celebrities, TV personalities, musicians, Hollywood actors and actresses, and more. Many of those stars ended up meeting their fates at the fins, er jaws, of the sharknadoes, proving that no level of fame offered safety from this shark-based phenomenon. One other group of celebrities that had a prominent role in these Shark Week-inspired films, were wrestlers. Yes, wrestlers, many of whom made their acting debuts while making cameos, big and small, in these films.
Wrestlers Have Made Cameos in All but Two of the Six Sharknado Films
Kurt Angle opened the floodgates for wrestler cameos when he debuted in Sharknado 2: The Second One as the unnamed chief of the New York City Fire Department. Angle’s cameo was short and sweet, as he appeared at the end of the film, watching Zierling’s character ascend the Empire State Building to cut a shark in half.
Angle’s cameo was followed by a duo of former WWE stars as both Chris Jericho and Maryse made appearances in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Maryse’s cameo was largely uneventful as she only showed up briefly. But it was long enough for her character, a police guard working at the White House, to pull a gun on Zierling’s character as she tried to prevent him from getting through the gates. As the only female wrestler to ever appear in these films, however, Maryse’s cameo was certainly memorable. However, perhaps the best cameo to date was that of Jericho, who checked the box of many Sharknado guest stars: spend a few moments on screen before dying in spectacular and often hilarious fashion. In his turn as Bruce, the roller coaster operator, Jericho attempted to convince the movie’s main characters to flee to safety. He was unsuccessful and in the end paid the price, finding himself the victim of a shark that landed on the roller coaster’s tracks. And as he always has throughout his wrestling career, Jericho, who also starred in AEW’s Shark Week-themed shark cage match, sold his death like a pro.
The fourth film, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, saw Seth Rollins take on the role of AstroTech Lopez. And while Rollins’ scene did not offer him a chance to “superkick that storm into the dark ages” as he wanted, AstroTech Lopez’s role was pivotal to the movie’s plot. Rollins’ character is credited with placing the formula that prevents a sharknado from destroying Mount Rushmore, into one of the AstroTech machines. The Architect certainly came through for the movie’s heroes with that one.
In Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, it was John Morrison‘s turn to confront the sharknadoes, sharkicanes, and other shark-related natural disasters that had arrived by the time the fifth film rolled around. While Jericho had the best (and only) death scene of the wrestlers involved in the franchise, Morrison had his own distinction as the only one who actually fought a shark and possibly lived to tell the tale. Morrison played Rodolfo, a character who showed up to help Fin and April as a favor to one of the film’s other main characters, Nova. Morrison is the only wrestler to cameo who actually had multiple scenes as his second scene featured him fighting a group of sharks, using his wrestling moves to do so. Perhaps, wrestling a shark to death wouldn’t be the best strategy but Morrison made it work, even getting to utter his catchphrase, “Who else wants to go to Slamtown?” While Morrison’s death was never shown, it is reasonable to expect he’s fate was sealed off camera as he was last seen fighting a handicap match against several sharks.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on wrestlers, Shark Week, and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.