In one corner of the ring was a 56-year-old man standing 5-foot-11 and maybe 200 pounds. He had collected more hits than anyone in MLB history — 4,256 to be exact — and fought plenty of times on the field, but in a wrestling ring exactly zero times. Yes, I’m talking about Pete Rose AKA The Hit King or Charlie Hustle.
The other corner? A 7-foot behemoth of a human being that tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds in his heyday. Kane was a three-time world champion and one-half of the WWE’s Brothers of Destruction along with The Undertaker. He was also nicknamed “The Big Red Machine.”
Naturally, Vince McMahon’s organization decided to pit a key player from the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine against The Big Red Machine himself. Let’s just say Rose didn’t last long.
Kane Tombstones Pete Rose at WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose was serving as a guest ring announcer at WrestleMania XIV on March 29, 1998, in Boston when Kane grabbed him by the throat.
The WWE superstar picked up the MLB legend and should-be Hall-of-Famer, flipped him over and delivered a mean tombstone pile driver. Rose’s body sat lifeless in the ring, and he was taken off in a stretcher.
“Pete always was a good sport and for a son of a b*tch that had never been turned upside down. To put your head in between somebody’s legs and get tombstoned, it takes balls. Big baseballs…This guy had no fear and he enjoyed having a good time,” longtime WWE announcer Jim Ross said on his podcast in 2020.
“I don’t know and I may be wrong on this but it sure makes a good story [but] I believe we paid him in cash…I think one [WrestleMania] we did because I think he wanted to go somewhere, meaning a casino…he did good, he probably made 25 grand.”Advertisement
Twenty-five thousand dollars? Just to get tossed on his head? That’s gotta be the easiest money Rose ever made… in a wrestling ring.
The hilarious moment was one of a few Rose made as part of a running storyline in the ring. The following year he appeared dressed as the San Diego Chicken and “fought” Kane against at WrestleMania XV. At WrestleMania 2000, he was “stink faced” by sumo wrestler Rikishi. He also joined Kane in a Halloween commercial for WWE’s pay-per-view event No Mercy 2002.
By 2004, Rose and Kane had apparently settled their beef. The professional wrestler inducted baseball’s hit king into the WWE Hall of Fame as a celebrity in 2004. Hey, it’s not the hall of fame he’d hoped for, but it’ll do.
The WWE has housed pro wrestling monsters like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Randy Orton, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Triple H and Big Show. There aren’t many wrestlers that boast Kane’s size, and Rose can say he was dropped on his head by the WWE legend.
As for Pete Rose ever wrestling again? I wouldn’t bet on it.