Wrestlers Who Appeared On Non-Wrestling Reality Shows

Reality television and professional wrestling have more parallels than many realize. For one, there is a performance aspect that weighs heavily in both professions. Both reality television stars and pro wrestlers have to be fit to perform for the cameras when the red light goes on. In some cases, there might even be a competitive aspect to a reality show that mirrors the pro wrestling hierarchy. While matches may be scripted, the hierarchical nature of the profession can mirror the real world just as reality television shows are meant to.

In the most extreme cases, both wrestling and reality shows can rely on the element of surprise and shock value to attract viewers. However, while television ratings are becoming more obsolete in the modern landscape, the top wrestling companies in North America are continuing to steer into reality-based content.

WWE has produced three reality shows in "Total Divas," "Total Bellas" and "Miz & Mrs.," while AEW backed a similar show titled, "Rhodes to the Top" during Cody and Brandi Rhodes' tenure with the company. As a result, reality television and wrestling should continue to be intertwined for the foreseeable future. Here are 21 wrestlers who have appeared on non-wrestling reality shows in the past.

John Morrison - Survivor

While one of the most recognizable "Survivor" players of all time, Johnny Fairplay, mustered a brief career in pro wrestling after his controversial appearance on the show, John Hennigan stands out as the only wrestler to appear on the long-running survival show. Perhaps best known by his most frequently used name in WWE, John Morrison, Hennigan appeared on "Survivor: David vs. Goliath," Season 37 of the show that aired in the spring of 2018. To keep things interesting the show has steadily introduced different gimmicks to retain viewer attention. The "David vs. Goliath" theme pitted castaways into tribes based on their degree of success in life. Hennigan, a four-time world champion (including his stint as ECW World Champion), became a member of the Goliath tribe.

According to his CBS profile for the show, Hennigan's motivation for joining "Survivor" was a shot at the $1 million cash prize. The wrestler lasted 22 days on the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji before getting voted off. He finished 12th out of 20 competitors. His elimination came during a hectic tribal council where two of his rivals used immunity idols, which exclude the user from consideration for elimination. However, his approachability, openness and honesty earned him additional fans for his time on the show.

Maria Kanellis - The Celebrity Apprentice

During her initial run in WWE, diva Maria Kanellis took a brief hiatus from the ring to be a contestant on "The Celebrity Apprentice." The Donald Trump-led show, a spin-off of the original series, "The Apprentice," featured celebrities divided into two "corporations" where they completed business-related tasks with the ultimate goal of being named the next "apprentice." Such tasks included promoting and selling products, raising money for charity, and creating advertising campaigns. While the original show saw previously unknown contestants vying for a lucrative position under Trump himself, the celebrities competed to win money for a charity of their choosing.

Kanellis appeared on the third season of the celebrity incarnation in 2010 and generally gave a good account of herself. She nearly made it to the end of the competition, with Kanellis ultimately "fired" by Trump in Week 10. As a result, she raised $20,000 for her chosen charity, the Make-a-Wish Foundation. "It's very real," Kanellis said of her experience on the show during her appearance on Kayfabe Commentaries' "YouShoot." "We weren't needed to be told what to say. If you have Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Osbourne and Bret Michaels, they'll give you exactly what you want. You forget the [cameras] are there."

Goldberg - The Celebrity Apprentice

Maria Kanellis was not the only pro wrestler to be featured on "The Celebrity Apprentice." Former WCW and WWE star Bill Goldberg also featured as a contestant on the show, and in the same season as Kanellis, no less. However, Goldberg was unable to raise any money for his charity, the Specchio Family Foundation in support of "Sons of the Fallen." Watching celebrities interact with Donald Trump in a semi-serious environment was one of the biggest draws of the celebrity version of the show. Needless to say, Goldberg had his fair share of interactions with the man who would later become the 45th president of the United States.

In an interview with Roman Atwood of "The Untold Stories," Goldberg labeled his time on "The Celebrity Apprentice" one of his "most miserable experiences." "He was a piece of work, man," Goldberg said of Trump. "I knew that dude wasn't gonna be the most popular guy in the world when I figured out that he really didn't have any social skills. Like, zero. You'd go up and you shake his hand, and he has no social skills. He doesn't know how to interact with a person one-on-one without putting a front up. He was uncomfortable." Despite his best efforts, it took the future WWE Universal Champion six weeks to get "fired."

Luchasaurus - Big Brother

AEW star Luchasaurus, real name Austin Matelson, appeared on the 17th season of "Big Brother" after a near-three year run on WWE's developmental brand Florida Championship Wrestling (and later "NXT"). WWE let the former Judas Devlin go after he suffered a hip injury, and he would not be seen in a wrestling ring again until 2016. While recovering from his hip injury, Luchasaurus joined the cast of "Big Brother," a fairly basic reality show airing on CBS. The show follows a group of contestants, known as HouseGuests, who are sequestered inside a custom-built house outfitted with cameras and microphones recording their every move 24 hours a day. Contestants are "evicted" weekly, with the last remaining contestant being entitled to a $750,000 cash prize.

Matelson, who did not shy away from his career as a professional wrestler during his time on the show, lasted 89 days in the house before being evicted. He placed fifth and became a fan favorite for his easy going personality, though he did not earn the honor of America's Favorite HouseGuest (which comes with a $25,000 prize). He had his share of run-ins with twins Julia and Liz Nolan along the way, even dating Liz for a spell after their time on the show.

Robbie E & Brooke Adams - The Amazing Race

Robbie E, real name Robert Strauss, and Brooke Adams of TNA Wrestling became the first and only pro wrestlers to appear on the hit CBS reality show, "The Amazing Race" in 2014. The show sees teams of two embark on a trip across the world. At every destination, each team must compete in a series of mental and physical challenges, at which point they learn their next checkpoint in the race. Teams are gradually eliminated throughout the competition until one team completes the race and earns a prize of $1 million. Strauss and Adams acquitted themselves well throughout the competition, leaning on their athletic background to reach the 12th and final leg of the race and take fourth place in the show's 25th season.

In a 2017 interview with Wrestling Epicenter, Strauss was upbeat about his time on the show but believes TNA could have done more to highlight the run he and Adams had in the competition. "I mean, a thousand percent [they could have]," Strauss said. "We were on the roster. We were on one of the biggest reality shows of all time. Currently. Not before I was on Impact. Not after. While I was on Impact. Granted, it was mentioned. It is what it is. I love our show. But, I do think it could have been more." Strauss is currently signed to WWE on its "NXT" brand as Mr. Stone, while Adams has been out of wrestling since 2017. The pair are no longer dating and even broke up before production ceased on the show, with Strauss proposing to his ex-wife in 2015.

Kenny King - The Bachelorette

Former Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling star Kenny King became the first wrestler to appear on a season of the hit ABC show "The Bachelorette" in 2017. "The Bachelorette" (a spinoff of "The Bachelor") focuses on one bachelor or bachelorette per season with distinguishing characteristics who must get to know a house full of men or women through one-on-one dates, group outings, cocktail parties, and later visits to the final four contestants' hometowns. Week-by-week, the bachelorette sends hopefuls home through "rose ceremonies" until one rose remains, at which point an engagement proposal may be possible.

King appeared as a contestant on Rachel Lindsay's season of the show. Lindsay is etched in history as the first Black "Bachelorette" for a franchise that has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. King fared well with Lindsay, but ultimately finished ninth after voluntarily deciding to leave the show. However, the show highlighted King's strong bond with his daughter, Makenzi, who made an appearance on the "Men Tell All" special that typically airs before the season finale. While King's time on the show did not end in an engagement, the former X-Division champion appeared on the spinoff show "Bachelor in Paradise" in 2018, but once again left the show under his own power for personal reasons. King eventually met the love of his life, however, and got engaged back in 2020.

Chyna - The Surreal Life

The late Joanie Laurer, better known to wrestling fans as Chyna, appeared on the popular VH1 show "The Surreal Life" back in 2005. The show follows the lives of a group of celebrities over two weeks as they attempt to co-exist living together in a Hollywood mansion. Early seasons of the show featured troubled, controversial celebrities battling personal demons, and Chyna was no exception. The season saw her interact with fellow celebrities such as Christopher Knight of "The Brady Bunch" and Verne Troyer of the "Austin Powers" movies. However, Chyna's behavior during the season did her reputation no favors.

One of the most surreal moments of Chyna's time on the show had to do with her boyfriend at the time, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. One day, Waltman arrived at the house with flowers but wound up engaged in a full-blown screaming match with his girlfriend and eventually had to be forcibly removed from the set. Like Chyna, Waltman battled his fair share of demons during the mid-'00s but blamed the show's editing for demonizing him. "They showed us walking out to the pool and then they edited out about the next 30 minutes or so of her antics and over-acting for the cameras," Waltman wrote in a statement on his website. "She tried to accuse me in front of the cameras of abusing her and I had to remind her that this has never happened and that she struck me in the face several times breaking my nose and destroyed my apartment, causing me to be evicted, because she found out I slept with Jenna Jameson four years prior to her and I getting together."

Maven - The Surreal Life

Maven Huffman, the inaugural winner of WWE's Tough Enough competition, is no stranger to reality television, which is perhaps why VH1 cast him as the second wrestler to appear on "The Surreal Life" after Chyna. However, his introduction to the show was unique in the context of other wrestlers appearing on non-wrestling reality television shows.

Maven joined fellow cast members Alexis Arquette, Florence Henderson and Steve Harwell from Smash Mouth, among others on the sixth season in 2006, but only after winning a contest known as the "15 More Minutes of Fame Reality Hunk Pageant." The pageant saw the announced cast members choose the final male cast member from a pool of five contestants with reality television experience who had to complete a series of contests until one man remained. Maven won out over former stars from shows such as "Big Brother," "The Real World," "American Idol," and "Survivor." Maven painted his experience on the show in a positive light in a 2014 post on his official Facebook page.

CJ Perry - The Surreal Life

As of this year, Chyna is not the only former female wrestler to have appeared on "The Surreal Life." VH1 revived the show for 2022 and featured former WWE superstar Lana, also known by her real name, CJ Perry. Perry spent the season living alongside celebrity housemates such as former NBA champion Dennis Rodman, actor Frankie Muniz, and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Perry teased an incident that occurred with Rodman during their time in the house during an interview with Busted Open Radio. "Dennis Rodman is Dennis Rodman," Perry said. "He lives up to all the hype. He lives up to all the opinions that anyone would have of him and, at the same time, I'm a strong believer that he knows what he's doing, and he knows reality television. I would hang out a lot with him. Also, we were the only two drinkers on the show. I think some things might have to do with a generational difference, a little bit of how we look at stuff. It's like, 'No, you don't just have to retire at 35 because your generation did that.' We're evolving and changing. So that was a little bit of a pushback, but then there was actually a specific situation that happened that I don't want to give away." The Surreal Life reboot debuted on October 24, 2022 and is still currently airing.

CM Punk - Ghost Hunters

As CM Punk struggled to find his way as a debuting superstar on WWE's ECW brand, he received some extra exposure for an appearance he made on the show, "Ghost Hunters." The show, which aired on the eponymous network his show "ECW on Sci Fi" did at the time, joined hosts Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson for an all-night, live investigation of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which is recognized as one of the most haunted hotels in America. The hotel even inspired author Stephen King's novel "The Shining," which inspired the Jack Nicholson movie of the same name.

However, Punk's appearance on the show did not necessarily serve as an endorsement of ghosts from the nine-time world champion. In fact, Punk admitted he felt bad about his dismissal of the hosts' methods. "See, I feel bad because those guys are really, really awesome," Punk told Loudwire. "They would be like, 'oh, there's a cold spot,' and the camera would cut to me and I'd be like, 'the window's open.' I felt like I was a real big buzzkill, but I was tired. It was a long travel." Needless to say, Punk and the hosts did not encounter any apparitions during his six-minute spot on the show.

Stacy Keibler - Dancing with the Stars

One could argue former WWE diva Stacy Keibler's appearance on ABC's hit show "Dancing with the Stars," marked the beginning of the end of her time in wrestling. Keibler appeared on the show while under WWE contract and helped the company gain copious amounts of positive mainstream exposure. The premise of the show is self explanatory, with celebrities competing in a weekly dance competition alongside professional dance partners over a full season. A panel of expert judges grade the celebrities' performances on a weekly basis, and weekly eliminations are conducted in conjunction with a fan vote until a winner is crowned.

Keiber, who was favored to win the competition by oddsmakers according to People Magazine, placed third in the second season of the show alongside her dance partner, Tony Dovolani, with viewers at home becoming acquainted with one of the most visible female characters in WWE. One judge, Bruno Tonnioli, eccentrically labeled Keibler "a weapon of mass seduction." However, WWE were never able to capitalize on Keibler's newfound mainstream popularity as she left the company in 2006 to focus on her life outside the ring. She has since gone on to dabble in acting, and even dated actor George Clooney for two years, but has since been largely retired from celebrity life.

John Cena - Manhunt

While John Cena sought to earn a WWE contract, he paid his bills through unorthodox opportunities coordinated by Rick Bassman, his de facto agent and trainer at Ultimate Pro Wrestling in Los Angeles. One of these opportunities came about when Bassman helped a cash-strapped Cena earn a role as the host of the short-lived UPN reality TV show "Manhunt" in 2001. While Cena would go on to later appear on the channel as a wrestler competing under his real name on "SmackDown," he first appeared on "Manhunt" as bounty hunter "Big Tim Kingman."

The show's contestants were depicted as "fugitives" having to make it across Big Tim's island, with a $250,000 cash prize awaiting the sole survivor at the end of the competition. Cena, along with several other actors portraying bounty hunters had the job of "hunting down" trespassers on the island with paintball guns. The show ended up being a colossal flop, making it just six episodes before being canceled by the network, and the experience created a lifelong rift between Cena and Bassman over money. Bassman told the WINC Daily Podcast Cena made a snide remark to him after receiving news of the deal, though it is not known if this had to do with Cena being unimpressed by the figure or Bassman taking 10 percent of the $40,000 payday.

Mick Foley - Celebrity Wife Swap

Given the strength of the bond Mick Foley seems to have with his wife, Colette, it may have come as a surprise to wrestling fans to hear "The Hardcore Legend" would be appearing on ABC's "Celebrity Wife Swap." The show's premise is in the title, as celebrities trade spouses with one another for one week as viewers are given an inside look as to how much two households can differ from one another. Foley swapped wives with actor Antonio Sabato Jr., taking on Sabato's then-wife Cheryl, who Foley found differed completely from Colette. While Colette seems to accept Foley for the low-maintenance individual he is, Cheryl imposed a 65-item to-do list on the WWE legend and urged him to clean up his appearance with a beard trim and haircut.

While both couples seemed to have learned a thing or two from the experience, Cheryl offended Colette when the two couples got together at the end of the 45-minute episode, calling her out for keeping a messy house. This prompted Sabato to call out his own wife, telling her he can't necessarily be the "perfect person" she wants him to be all the time. The actor's comments set his wife off and he had to spend the remaining five minutes of the episode attempting to defuse the situation. The couple divorced in 2018 while the Foleys remained a happy family and even dabbled in their own reality show, "Holy Foley" on the WWE Network.

Chris Jericho - Celebrity Duets and Dancing with the Stars

While in WWE, Chris Jericho made appearances on a pair of reality shows. He became the second WWE superstar after Stacy Keibler to appear on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in 2011 while on sabbatical from the company. Jericho and his dance partner, Cheryl Burke, took eighth out of 12 contestants, but while he did not fare as well as Keibler, Jericho enjoyed his time on the show, calling it "one of the hardest things he's ever done." "Anybody that's done it, I don't care if you're on for one week or if you win the damn thing, it is not easy to be on 'Dancing With The Stars,'" Jericho told the "Kicking It with the Koves Podcast."

Jericho also once appeared on an "American Idol" esque show, "Celebrity Duets" on Fox back in 2006. Despite having a second career as the lead singer of his hard rock band, Fozzy, Jericho fared much better as a dancer than a singer, at least in the world of reality television. He was the first contestant eliminated on a show that partnered celebrities with professional singers as they performed duets in front of a panel of judges and a live studio audience. Jericho performed two songs on the show. The first, "Mendocino County Line," was performed alongside country singer Lee Ann Womack, and he went on to perform "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" with English performer Peter Frampton.

Marty Scurll - Take Me Out

Prior to his days wrestling in Ring of Honor, now disgraced British wrestler Marty Scurll made an appearance as a contestant on "Take Me Out," a well-known British reality TV dating show that used to air on ITV. The show focused on one single man at a time, who had three "rounds" to woo one of 30 women on stage with his looks, personality, and information about his background, occupation and testimonials from friends and family in the form of pre-recorded videos. In Scurll's episode, real-life friend Jimmy Havoc made an appearance. As for the women, many of the eligible contestants marveled at Scurll's physique but expressed apprehension over his career choice as a professional wrestler.

Nevertheless, Scurll fell into the category of contestants to successfully close the show with a date, choosing Bianca, a fashion student. The show also gave viewers an inside look into Scurll's date with Bianca, which saw the couple go off-road racing before sharing some cocktails. The two seemed to hit it off and even hinted at the possibility of a second date, but after going on a few more dates, "The Villain" revealed in a 2012 interview with Social Student the couple was not long for one another.

The Rock - Lip Sync Battle

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a massive name in both wrestling and Hollywood circles, went on one of the tamer reality television shows, "Lip Sync Battle" in 2015. The show, which was inspired by a popular segment on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," pits two celebrities competing in a "lip-sync battle" against one another for the duration of the episode, with the winner taking home a championship belt, not unlike the ones The Rock used to win on a routine basis. The show is hosted by LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen provides color commentary.

The Rock actually appeared on the show's very first episode, competing against Fallon, the innovator of the concept, in a battle for the ages. The Rock performed "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift and "Stayin' Alive" by Bee Gees, which matched up against Fallon's performances of Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)" by Harry Belafonte and "Like a Prayer" by Madonna. In the end, the live studio audience declared The Rock the winner of the inaugural "Lip Sync Battle," with "The Great One" adding yet another title belt to his extensive collection.

Kurt Angle - Pros vs. Joes

Kurt Angle, a wrestler notorious for his competitive spirit, made for a natural guest on the competition reality show, "Pros vs. Joes." The show, which aired on Spike TV, the then-home of TNA Wrestling programming, matched amateur competitors in a series of athletic contests related to the expertise of the athletes they were competing against. The last remaining "Joe" at the end of the season would be eligible for a $100,000 grand prize.

Angle teamed with basketball player Kendall Gill and former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith in the first episode of the season. In Angle's challenge, a pair of amateurs had to wrestle a three-minute period with the former Olympic gold medalist inside the TNA six-sided ring. The "Joe" to be taken down the fewest amount of times would be declared the winner. The challenge also happened to occur in the pouring rain. Angle ended up taking amateur Steve Ruff down eight times in the three minute period, while Dallas Robinson got taken down seven times, making it 15 total takedowns for the Olympian. When he wasn't competing, Angle was an enthusiastic presence on the sidelines during Gill and Smith's challenges, always good for a quality soundbyte.

David Otunga - I Love New York

Although the original vision for "WWE NXT" in 2010 incorporated reality TV show elements, one of the "contestants" on the inaugural season, David Otunga, appeared on an actual reality show years prior. "I Love New York," a VH1 dating show, followed Tiffany "New York" Pollard on her quest for love. The popularity of the show proved significant at the time, as it drew the channel's best series debut ratings ever. The show lasted two seasons, with a second season being necessitated by the winner of the first season, Tango (Patrick S. Hunter), ultimately failing in his quest to become Pollard's soul mate.

As a result, a second and final season would be ordered with Otunga appearing on the show under the name, "Punk," as all the contestants starred on the show under nicknames. Although he fell just short of winning Pollard's heart, Otunga wound up with a celebrity partner anyway, getting engaged to singer and actress Jennifer Hudson in 2008. The couple had one son together but separated in 2017.

Trish Stratus - Armed and Famous

After stepping away from the wrestling ring in 2006, former women's division fixture Trish Stratus tried her hand at law enforcement in the 2007 reality show "Armed and Famous." The opportunity to do the show came about when Paul Heyman mentioned her name to CBS executives who greenlit her for the opportunity. The show followed five celebrities in their pursuit of becoming reserve police officers for the Muncie Police Department in Muncie, Indiana. Stratus starred alongside fellow celebrities Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, and Jason Acuña. Following their graduation, the celebrities then embarked on legitimate police calls with fellow officers of the department.

Unfortunately, the show will never be completely seen as CBS only aired the first four episodes before shifting broadcasting rights to VH1. There is evidence to suggest the network saw the show as an important part of its programming, as it aired opposite of "American Idol" on Fox. However, just four episodes aired with CBS claiming it had no intention of releasing the remaining three episodes. "The thing that jumps out at me [about Trish] is that she's very compassionate, very good with kids," Muncie Police Chief Joe Winkle told the New York Post. "[She] would have a good chance to get on a police department, whether it was in Muncie or anywhere else."

Hulk Hogan - Hogan Knows Best

"Hogan Knows Best" was a reality documentary television series that followed the lives of Hulk Hogan, his then-wife Linda, his daughter Brooke, and son Nick. The show aired for three years between 2005 and 2007 on VH1 and inspired a spinoff centered around Brooke Hogan known as, "Brooke Knows Best." Prior to the show's creation, VH1 had spent a few years trying to start a project with Hogan. The network's original pitch for "The Hulkster" came on the heels of WrestleMania 18, but Hogan declined.

The rising popularity of pop star celebrities Britney Spears and Hillary Duff, however, caused "The Hulkster" to desire the same trajectory for his daughter, which ultimately swayed him to greenlight the project. The show reportedly could have continued past its fourth season, but a litany of issues involving the Hogan family, including but not limited to Hulk and Linda's divorce and Nick's felony charge for reckless driving and underage drinking. "Hogan Knows Best" drew mostly negative reviews from critics, with Anita Gates of The New York Times writing in 2005 that there is "nothing to this new show other than his persona, and mostly that's not quite enough."

The Miz - Various

Mike "The Miz" Mizanin may be the biggest wrestling star to come from a background in reality television, but also appeared in a slew of shows after making it to the main roster in WWE. The former "Real World: Back to New York" star has most notably appeared on MTV's "The Challenge" as both a participant and host on at least five different seasons, but has also appeared on shows such as "Battle of the Network Reality Stars," "Ghost Hunters" and "Fear Factor." His "Fear Factor" appearance is particularly noteworthy, as it happens to be the same episode in which one of the contestants attempted to fight host Joe Rogan after an unsuccessful challenge with the future WWE champion being the one to break it up. The Miz and fellow "Real World" alumnus Trishelle Cannatella ended up winning the episode's $150,000 grand prize.

The Miz has gone on to start his own reality show, "Miz & Mrs.," which airs on the USA Network. The show follows The Miz and his wife Maryse as they attempt to juggle their personal and professional lives. The Miz has also made appearances on other WWE reality programs such as "Total Divas." After initially making in-roads with WWE through the $1,000,000 Tough Enough competition, The Miz has since gone on to serve as a judge, coach, and host on subsequent seasons of the show.

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