Johnny Knoxville And The ‘Jackass’ Crew’s WrestleMania Debut Was Ludicrous (And Ludicrously Fun)

As a teenager, while my WWE-loving friends were obsessing over The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Big Show, I was that obnoxious kid who reminded them at every opportunity that wrestling “wasn’t real.” I was not fun to be around. I’m sorry, Kyle, for the time that I said “Bret Hart? More like Bret Fart.” I didn’t mean it. My anti-wrestling snobbiness was particularly dumb and hypocritical because it’s not like I didn’t enjoy watching proudly shirtless dudes beat the crap out of each other. I loved Jackass.

Actually, let me rephrase that: I love Jackass. Jackass Forever is one of the best movies of 2022, and while I won’t go so far as to call myself the biggest fan on staff (that honor belongs to Vince Mancini, who ranked the greatest Jackass movie stunts of all-time), I am enough of a giant hand connoisseur that I made the trek to Arlington, Texas, this weekend to watch Johnny Knoxville settle his feud with Sami Zayn at WrestleMania 38.

But first, some background. These two have been going at it since January when Knoxville announced that he was going to participate in the Royal Rumble while promoting Jackass Forever. Zayn said that he wasn’t qualified for such a high-profile event, and quickly eliminated Knoxville from the Rumble. Things have only gotten more heated since then. Zayn was kicked out of the Jackass Forever premiere; there was a SmackDown attack; and Knoxville “leaked” Zayn’s phone number on a banner attached to a plane that flew over Los Angeles. “So yesterday, Sami Zayn got my personal phone number and was texting and stalking me all day. So today, for my birthday, I am flying his phone number over Los Angeles. 407-574-1532. See ya at WrestleMania, Shnookums,” Knoxville said. Zayn received more than 300,000 text messages and 250,000 calls.

This brings us back to Wrestlemania 38.

Knoxville vs. Zayn was no regular “anything goes” match. It was a live-action cartoon. Knoxville, looking like Artie, the Strongest Man in the World from The Adventures of Pete and Pete, took out a trash can, stop sign, and crutches from underneath the ring. (Chekov’s stop sign would make a return appearance.) Zayn, who should play Tormund’s brother in a Game of Thrones spinoff, was thrown on a table full of mouse traps, zapped by a taser, and had his nuts crushed by a bowling ball. Other members of the Jackass crew came out to help Knoxville, including Chris Pontius, a.k.a. Party Boy, who wiggled his butt in front of Zayn while wearing even fewer clothes than Brock Lesnar, and Wee Man, who got the biggest pop of the match when he body slammed Zayn.

Other highlights include: Knoxville setting off an airhorn near Zayn’s ears; Zayn’s “Sami Zayn Forever” pants; me having to explain who Chris Pontius is to the guy in his 60s sitting next to me; Zayn getting smashed by a giant hand; and the 78,453-strong crowd going wild the first time the Jackass theme song was played. I never thought I would hear the Minutemen in the Dallas Cowboys stadium, but here we are. For that, and many other things, I want to thank the Jackass guys (and girl — Rachel would have been great at WrestleMania). The match ended when Knoxville, with assistance from Wee Man and Pontius, tased Zayn, who got trapped in a comically large (and slightly malfunctioning) mouse trap. The winner: in his WrestleMania debut, Johnny Knoxville.

I’m sure there are some wrestling traditionalists out there who didn’t enjoy the slapstick nature of the match. To them I say:

I can’t believe I ever thought wrestling wasn’t great.

You can watch every WrestleMania on Peacock.