On Tuesday, World Wrestling Entertainment aka WWE announced that William Shatner will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in a ceremony on April 6th. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony will be conducted virtually and live-streamed on several platforms including the WWE Network and Peacock, NBC’s streaming service.
Shatner’s WWE Career
Shatner has a long history with the wrestling organization. His first in-ring appearance was in 1995 in Jerry “The King” Lawler’s “King’s Court.” Shatner had quite the confrontation with “The King,” monkey flipping him across the ring.
Shatner returned to the ring the very next week, this time as a cornerman. He threw his support behind Bret “Hit Man” Hart, who was feuding with Jeff Jarrett. Though Shatner was supposed to be a sideliner in that confrontation, he took to the ring when Road Dogg threw himself into the fray. Shatner sent him stumbling across the ring with a big punch, then slammed him into the ropes.
Shatner’s involvement in the promotion wasn’t limited to the 90s, however. In 2007, he was given the honor of inducting Lawler into the Hall of Fame. He also returned to the ring in 2010 as a special guest host, during which he performed dramatic reinterpretations of each wrestler’s entrance music and used his Priceline Negotiator character to settle in-ring feuds.
“I’m going to admit it now: I missed a career when ‘Star Trek’ was over. I should have gone into wrestling as Captain Kirk.”
Shatner’s in-ring and out-of-ring appearances aren’t the only connection between Star Trek and WWE. In fact, multiple famous wrestlers have made appearances in the Star Trek universe.
Tom Magee was a professional wrestler back when WWE was still the World Wrestling Federation. He did a four-year stint with the promotion from 1986-1990. He left wrestling in 1990 to pursue a career in acting, which took off pretty quickly. The same year he guested on the show Designing Women and landed a role in the movie DragonFight.
In 1991, he made his one and only appearance in the Trek-verse. In the season four episode “Devil’s Due,” Magee played the Klingon deity Fek’lhr, who served as the guardian of the realm where dishonored Klingons were sent when they die. Basically, the character was the Klingon version of the devil.
Magee was unrecognizable under an elaborate mask and haggard wig. He was onscreen for less than a minute, but in that time he managed to deliver a powerful speech about the Klingon version of Hell.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Back when “The Rock” was more wrestler than actor, Dwayne Johnson appeared in one episode of Star Trek: Voyager. At the time, The Rock was at the height of his pro-wrestling career with WWE. He was one of the promotion’s iconic personalities, and he brought that personality to his Star Trek role.
In the episode “Tsunkatse,” Johson played a powerful alien called “The Champion,” who rule the ring at an underground alien fight club. Johnson stepped into the scene as if he was entering a WWE ring and even gave his signature “The Rock Eyebrow.” The character was pitted against Voyager’s own Seven of Nine.
During the match, Seven warned her adversary that “resistance is futile,” though her warning proved to be wrong. She fought well, but she was eventually knocked unconscious by Johnson’s character.
Johnson’s incredible talent as a professional wrestler was quite apparent in his Star Trek appearance. He used several popular moves against her, ultimately taking her down with a harsh body slam, and finishing the job from there.
Tommy “Tiny” Lister
Another veteran from the WWF days, Tommy “Tiny” Lister also played Klingon in the Star Trek universe. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lister had a very short career with WWF, wrestling under the moniker Zeus for just one year. In 1990, he left wrestling to pursue acting full-time. Lister had already done some acting by the time he broke into pro wrestling, but his career really took off in the 90s. He became a regular fixture in television and films.
In the series premiere of Star Trek: Enterprise, Lister played a Klingon named Klaang whose ship crashed landed in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. This was the first contact between Klingons and humans. The crew of the newly christened Enterprise got tasked with returning Klaang to the Klingon homeworld Qo’nos.
Though Lister was covered with the typical Klingon prosthetics, his distinctive face was still recognizable to many of his fans. The arc of the first two episodes of Enterprise revolved around Lister’s character, giving him much more screentime than other pro wrestlers who appeared in the Trek-verse.
Big Show aka Paul Wight
WWE icon Big Show also made his one and only Star Trek appearance in Enterprise. In the fourth season episode “Borderland,” Paul Wight played an Orion slaver on Verex III. According to StarTrek.com, Wight has the distinction of playing the first male Orion ever shown in a Star Trek episode. In the Trek-verse, the Orions are best-known for their slave girls, who are willing to do just about anything to please their masters.
At the time that Big Show appeared in the Trek-verse, UPN was the home of one of WWE’s most popular shows, Smackdown!. So, Wight’s role on Enterprise was definitely a promotional move for the network.